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Chairman’s Annual Report for Annual Village Meeting. May 18th 2016

by David Blincow - Chairman - 17:17 on 20 May 2016


Chairman’s Annual Report for Annual Village Meeting.  May 18th 2016

The newly formed council took office after elections in May last year when four new councillors took up office together with three from the previous council.  In February new Councillor Lesley Crosthwaite tendered her resignation siting workload and invitation was offered for a co-opted councillor from which there were two applicants.

Following a vote by all the remaining councillors Mr Rob Lond-Caulk was co-opted onto council.

Your council has been very active in its efforts to maintain the rural nature of Caston village and to try and carefully control the forces of change which are inevitably present.  Apart from routine business the council has been especially targeting control of building development and researching ways to moderate traffic speed on the village’s roads.

With the previous council having narrowly failed to avert the development of the old White House site despite best efforts the current council have raised objections and lobbied Breckland planners regarding four major developments in the village.  One was in Northacre where planning was refused and went to appeal which failed, one to build a bungalow in a back garden, which council regarded as backfill, and one on Attlebrough Road where, after discussions with the developer, the number of houses was reduced from eight to four and access roads were modified on safety grounds. There was one at the end of Dukes Lane which council supported.  The barn at the end of Dukes Lane is still subject to a demolition order which has still to be enacted.   The council are continuing to closely monitor all new development proposals and lodge protests where thought appropriate.  However, the local efforts on building control are becoming more difficult due to the government’s policy of “you shall build” and this is often overriding local wishes.

In February following consultations with parishioners, your council lodged with Breckland  Council a document entitled “Caston – A View to the Future”.  This was in response to and in conjunction with their Local Plan 2015 Consultation which outlined the way in which we wished to see our village progress.

We cannot halt change in the village but we hope to manage it to our requirements as best we can.

The other main thrust of your council’s efforts has been to try and introduce measures to moderate traffic speeds through the village.  In this respect a working group under the guidance of Councilor Jaki Porter has made significant investigations as to how this may be achieved.  This has resulted in the purchase of a SAM 2 speed advisory sign which can be placed in various places throughout the village and Council is currently pursuing the installation of “gates” to help highlight the start of 30 mph areas.  Council continue to be grateful to the help of the “Speedwatch” team of volunteers under the leadership of Mr Colin Bearne who carry out regular speed monitoring of vehicles.

An impending problem that will be facing council in the forthcoming year will be the condition of the parish’s trees.  Already we have had the trees at Coronation Terrace inspected by Breckland’s tree officer and remedial safety work will be required which could involve considerable expense for the parish.

I cannot close without acknowledging the work that has been undertaken during the last year, and seven and a half years before that, by our Parish Clerk, Alison Skipper.  This is Alison’s last meeting with council and she retires from the post today.  The Clerks job is not easy combining, as it does, the duties of record keeper, accountant, liaison officer and the person who ultimately in many cases carries out the wishes of the Parish Council.  We thank Alison Skipper for her extensive work in this respect.

I am happy that Mrs Joanne Blackman has agreed to undertake the roll of Parish Clerk for Caston and starts with us tonight.  Welcome Joanne and we look forward to working together with you as a council for the service of Caston’s parishioners.

During the past year your council has endeavoured to provide time at Council meetings for parishioners to voice their concerns and to provide opportunities for them to provide input on matters under consideration.   I sincerely hope that this policy will continue as it is up to the village as a whole to help shape the Caston of the future and this council is here to serve its parishioners.

One other thank you, again to Colin Bearne, who is the village’s home-watch officer.  Colin keeps us appraised of current risks to our properties and of the current policing advisories.  Colin works quietly away overseeing properties where occupants are away if he has been advised of the absences.  Thank you Colin for this valuable service.

Finally, I wish to thank my fellow councillors for the tremendous input they have made and for the excellent support I have had from them throughout this last year.  Not only have they provided informative input into our meetings but have supported the parish at other meetings, such as Breckland Planning, and in forming working groups together with other parishioners to investigate various topics and, with supporting information, have advised Council on proposed actions to be taken.

I sincerely trust that your Parish Council will continue to dutifully serve you in the year ahead.

David Blincow     Council Chairman  18th May 2016

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