Each year the Chairman of the Parish Council presents a report to the Annual Parish Meeting detailing the major items of business over the previous 12 months.
HELLIFIELD PARISH COUNCIL
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT - MAY 2020
Last year saw a change of Council members. Councillor David Gooch resigned and Isobel Walton was co-opted in to replace him. Isobel has previously held the role of parish councillor and brings a great deal of experience with her. Our thanks to David for his many years of commitment and service and welcome back Isobel!
Unfortunately, there was a spate of vandalism in the village (picnic tables, benches, flower troughs etc.) which caused us concern. It’s a huge shame when this occurs because the cost of repairs could have been better spent on ongoing projects in the village. The police were informed and advised us that witnesses to vandalism or other criminal activity should always call 999 and report it immediately. This is far more effective than reporting the activity via Facebook.
Another ongoing problem in and around the village is dog fouling and we receive a lot of complaints about this. Also, many complaints are about “dog poo bags” being left in walls and hanging from bushes (you couldn’t make it up, could you?) Of course, it is the owners who are responsible and Craven District Council has the task of enforcing it but witnesses do need to come forward and be prepared to stand in court, if necessary, for the prosecution to be successful.
The Parish Council again provided hanging baskets and plants for the village along with the troughs at either end of the underpass and the village markers which volunteers have planted up and maintained throughout the year. It really is something that makes the village look pretty and nice so a special thanks to all who give of their time.
I’m pleased to report that the Street Light Replacement Programme is making good progress, with lights on Kendal Rd., Midland Terrace / Station Rd, Haw Grove, Skipton Rd and Thorndale St. being completed. The lights on Gisburn Rd, Main St and The Green are currently being worked on. This means very soon almost half of all parish lights will have been renewed.
We have also transferred our street light electricity supply to the new NYCC consortium which will realise further savings in excess of £1500 per annum.
A number of key repairs have been carried out on the Play Areas. In particular, refurbishment of the swings on Thorndale St playground and re-fixing the supports on the basket swing at Station Rd. Flagstones have been replaced with grass matting at Thorndale St and the ramp on the multi-play unit at Station Rd has been replaced and repaired. A new toddler seesaw was finally delivered and installed (after some difficulty). It is becoming obvious that we will need to also consider refurbishing the Thorndale Street playground sometime soon. Sadly, the children of the village have not been able to enjoy the playgrounds since March when the lockdown came into force which required councils across the UK to close all playgrounds. We can only hope we will be allowed to open them again soon but only once it is safe to do so.
There was no increase in the precept this year and donations were made to The Church, Royal British Legion, Hellifield Gala, Hellifield Beer Festival, the Village Magazine and “Time to Talk”(professional counselling for young people in the local area). We have also provided some financial assistance to Hellifield Community Coronavirus Help Group, something we really hope will be of benefit to the village. Special thanks to Joanne McNIcholls for setting up and coordinating the group.
Craven District Council finally adopted the new Local Plan and there were numerous Planning Applications we commented on. The Parish Council has objected to the following ongoing applications: Hellifield Peel, Granary and Keepers Cottage; Affordable Housing behind Townson’s: Affordable Housing at the top of Station Rd. Ongoing issues unsurprisingly continue at Gallaber Flash, Waterside Lane with the public rights of way and now another new application for lodges on the Flashes. The Parish Council has supported Councillor Moorby in his efforts to sort the Flashes debacle and has funded and attended 2 public meetings. We all currently await a Barristers report, which was due in February.
It feels like the village is being inundated by applications but our comments and objections often seem meaningless.
A group of Craven Parish Councils is being formed, principally to protest to our District Council about planning applications and the total lack of consideration they give to all parish comments. We agreed that Hellifield Councillors would attend this meeting, and that two cases would be put forward as examples of the problems we have. (Unfortunately, due to the Corona Virus lockdown, this meeting was postponed to a future unarranged date)
Traffic speeding through the village has been of concern, HPC have been in discussions with North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau and a volunteer Community Speed watch Group has been formed, their reports make interesting reading.
This year’s Christmas Lights were probably the best ever. HPC provided a tree, the village store raised funds for new lights and volunteers helped Councillors installing them. More volunteers are needed and we hope to hard-wire the whole site to make it easier this year.
The family of the late ex-councillor Lloyd Popay have donated a new memorial picnic bench and seat for the picnic area. These are ready for assembly anytime soon and a memorial plaque for Lloyd will follow.
There are no vacant allotments and currently no waiting list. The rent per square metre was increased slightly this year but we feel they are still excellent value for money.
During the heavy rain earlier in the year, there was a serious discharge of sewage into Hellifield Beck. Numerous residents and the Parish Council contacted the Environment Agency and they did attend and cleared a lot of it up. However, in summary the EA said that some discharge is permitted after heavy rainfall or snow melt. Discharges in dry weather, however, is not permitted.
Our Emergency Plan was updated with a few minor changes to contact details and an article was included in the Community Magazine reminding people of the plan. During the recent heavy rains, Councillors were monitoring the beck and potential flooding but fortunately, the Emergency Plan did not need to be activated.
Councillors and the Clerk attended various meetings and seminars during the year and we were proud to represent the village at the Remembrance Day service in November.
I’d personally like to thank our 2 part-time staff - Mary our Clerk and James our Handyman. Although I’ve said it before, we are very fortunate to have such good employees, without them very little would have happened, so thank you both.
And Finally, I’d like to thank all the parish councillors & other volunteers, without which our village wouldn’t be half the place it is. I can’t name you all but as Chairman, on behalf of Hellifield Parish Council, I thank you all so much for your valued input and contributions.
Councillor Brian Hugill
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