Old Updates

News (July, 2013)

 New from the Council (July 2013).  Published in the Parishioner Magazine

 DPC_July_DIP

 

Street Furniture
As you know, Councillors are aware of the state of litter bins, dog waste bins, grit bins and benches in the village.  The limited amounts of money available currently have been diverted to make it possible to remedy the situation quickly. Some new bins are being provided; others are being refurbished or replaced.

And as sales progress at The Maltings development over the next few years, the Council will receive additional funding through a scheme called Section 106. Priorities for spending these funds will be decided in preparation for this and may include more benches, and a bus shelter (for the Loddon Road) will be considered as these funds are released.

Meetings
The Annual Parish Meeting was held at the Village Hall on 20th May and attended by Councillors and seven members of the public, and the business conducted included the Chair and the separate Chairs of the advisory working parties reporting on activities throughout the year. Public participation saw a number of enquiries responded to by Councillors through the Chair.

This was followed by the Annual Parish Council Meeting with 2 members of the public in attendance. Statutory business included the appointment of Chair and authorisation of the financial returns. With no other Councillors nominated, Councillors Green and Weston agreed to continue in their capacities as Chair and vice Chair for a further year. Draft minutes of both meetings are displayed in the Post Office and are posted on the Council’s web site http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/ or alternatively available from the Clerk, John Smith on Tel: 01986 892235, Email: john@jo-an.fslife.co.uk

Our next meeting scheduled meeting is Monday 15th July. Please come!

Committees                         
The Council gets things done through using working parties. There are working parties for Planning & Highways; Maintenance and Environment; and Local Development & Community Planning. This ways of working ensures that Councillors now have specific and focussed responsibilities. Again more details are available from the web site, by contacting the Clerk, or from the Council Notice Board outside the Post Office.

 Julian Green
Chair, Ditchingham Parish Council

 

News (June, 2013)

New from the Council (June 2013). A Year’s Review. Published in the Parishioner Magazine

By the time that you read this, two significant opportunities for parishioners to influence local events, the Annual Parish Meeting, and the Annual Parish Council Meeting will have been held, and outcomes from these will be reported in July’s “Parishioner.” With a new Chair likely to be elected, as the retiring Chair, I take this opportunity to wish you well and to review the past year’s events.

The Dip: It is pleasing to see the Junior soccer goals installed by the Council in good use.  We are equally pleased to announce that work commences in May/ June on the construction of new skate board facilities and a youth shelter. This costly project was made possible entirely through grant funding; and the community should be grateful to Awards for All, our local Neighbourhood Board, NCC’s Community Construction Fund and the Norfolk Foundation for their support.  The Council extends its gratitude to those organisations and especially to Keith Weston and Jane Chadd, the Councillors who applied for the grants and who liaised with the young people.

Thwaite Road Play Area: Too soon to count our Chickens, we await the decision from the major funder (WREN) on our grant application for exciting updates to the play area. While only possible if the grant is awarded, this scheme costing some £39,000 is also supported by Ditchingham United Charities, South Norfolk, and this Council. We would like to thank all participants in our survey, and the subsequent ‘open morning’ that helped validate our preferred choice of scheme. The Council recorded its appreciation to those members whose sterling efforts drove this scheme forward.

Village maintenance: In addition to the larger green space that we maintain, (The Dip, Play Area, Churchyard and Cemetery etc.) the Council is aware of the poor state of repair of the smaller amenities that are its responsibilities (Litter and Dog bins, Benches and seats, Grit bins). Many of these amenities are now beyond their serviceable life or damaged beyond repair, and it is noted that many bins are either under-sized or inadequately emptied. The Council is seeking to address this unacceptable situation as soon as is practically possible.

The Precept: With a clear plan of action ahead, for the year (2013-14) the Council considered the challenges it faces, its existing maintenance liabilities; and potential new strategic goals. After some years of evident under-funding, at its November 2012 meeting it determined the precept to be £20,000. In round terms, with Ditchingham’s 1,630 residents (in 710 households), the 2013-14 precept equates to £0.24 per resident (£0.54 per household) per week. This relatively small sum enables your parish Council to carry out its duties for everyone’s benefit.

Ditchingham Maltings: After planning permission was granted in 2012 demolition activity was scheduled in accordance with the strict conditions of the Environment Agency (after the birds have nested and before the bats roost!)  Following a winter where little appears to have progressed, as the summer approaches (what summer we might ask?) it is encouraging to see that the contractors for PJ Livesey have now commenced work. This development will create 92 houses and 13 apartments.

Litter picking and Fly tipping: Some good news, and some not so good.  The good news is that we are pleased to announce that Ditchingham has ‘won’ the South Norfolk (Eastern Rivers) Big Litter Pick prize of £250. This event sponsored by SN, but organised locally was supported by some 30 local residents, who collected a full skip of litter and general rubbish. That’s good news, but it’s a shame that some members of the community seemingly chose to discard their rubbish for others to collect. It is also unwelcome news that there has been a significant number of instances of fly tipping (mattresses, tyres, and building rubble) in the village lanes. Both littering and fly tipping are a criminal offence and this Council welcomes the reporting, to enforcement agencies, of those culpable. So to everybody who helped, a very big thank you. Please see elsewhere in this magazine an insight into the ‘Big Litter Pick’ (some before & after images anyway!)

New Councillors: With the sad death of Peter Bent, Colin Mison was co-opted to the Council in May 2012; when Brian Pegg resigned we welcomed Gillian Ogden, similarly co-opted to the Council, in September 2012. Colin, a long time Ditchingham resident, has several years’ previous experience as a parish councillor; while Gillian, born and raised in Canada, moved to England in 1989 to study at UEA and has lived in Ditchingham since 2000.

Web Site: As reported last month, we are, at long last, pleased to announce that the Council has a ‘comprehensive’ web presence- http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/  Primarily intended to keep parishioners informed of the Council’s activities, we endeavour to keep the content current but maintenance is generally limited to posting of minutes and agendas although you will also find contact details of Councillors, with a brief autobiography, information on our committees and our policies, our finances, and other ‘news.’

New ways of working: Last, but not least, we are pleased to announce that we have completed some of the ‘boring’ but all too necessary work on policies and procedures. This includes full Terms of Reference for our sub-committees and working parties to ensure efficiency and objectivity in our decision making processes. This information is published on our web site at http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/files/2013/03/DPC_ToR_Draft08a1.pdf

Julian Green
Chair, Ditchingham Parish Council

News (May, 2013)

New from the Council (May 2013). Published in the Parishioner Magazine

March Council Meeting: We covered some significant business. As usual we commenced with informal ‘Parishioner Question Time’. This session opened  with a report from Richard Jenkin, founder of the Facebook conversation ‘Bungay UK Support Chicken Roundabout’ updating us on the group’s aspirations with regard to commemorating chicken roundabout… for more update on their ideas visit https://www.facebook.com/BungayUKSupportChickenRoundabout . Georgina Simmonds also presented ideas for a charitable event (fete) in the Dip in July where local groups could be invited to participate… again for more information please contact Georgina on 01986 895228

Formal business included reports from our advisory working parties with the Council agreeing that our Finance & Resources working party would meet in the near future to formalise recommendations to Full Council for our 2013-14 programme of activity, there being a number of bids for limited funding. Items on that agenda include: road signs, social action and engagement projects, and amenities (see also last month’s magazine, but more on this in our June update after our May meeting).

An important step was taken when we formally adopted Terms of Reference and Policies supporting our new Council working practices… details of which can be found on the Council’s web site (see also below) http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/category/how_we_work/governance/ .

County Cllr. Tony Tomkinson reported that, despite austere times, Norfolk County Council had been able to ‘freeze’ Council tax for yet another year. Having represented the Clavering Division for 10 of the last 12 years he would not be standing at the forthcoming elections and thanked the Council for the courtesy always shown him. We returned that sentiment!

District Cllr. Pauline Allen tabled her report, in the form of a new ‘Pauline’s Posting’ providing information on her activities on behalf of the Ward.

Web Site: we are at long last pleased to announce that the Council has a ‘comprehensive’ web presence… http://ditchinghampc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/ primarily intended to keep parishioners informed of the Council’s activities. We will endeavour to keep the content current, but maintenance is generally limited to posting of minutes and agendas. You will also find contact details of Councillors with a brief autobiography, information on our committees and our policies, our finances, and other ‘news.’  In the event that any reader should notice any error or omission, please contact the Clerk John Smith on john@jo-an.fslife.co.uk or telephone: 01986 892235.  In passing, we are looking for a ‘web master;’ while this position is unpaid the Council would welcome some voluntary support to fill this gap. So, if you are familiar with WordPress, and would like to help, please contact the Clerk.

Other things happening: You will be aware that over recent months the Council has been exploring road safety issues. The Council is proud to have acted as the pilot site for South Norfolk’s first Speed Awareness Monitor (SAM) initiative. Additionally we are exploring Community Speed Watch – a joint initiative with the police and the Safety Camera Partnership. If this is something that you feel is important, and would like to know more, please see separate details included elsewhere in this magazine.

Advance notice! On 20th May two annual meetings will be held at the Village Hall. Please come if you can. At 7.30pm the Annual Parish Meeting will be held (immediately prior to our next full Council meeting). This is a different meeting to the Council meeting. Here are some answers to questions you might have:

  • What is the purpose of the Annual Parish Meeting? To allow registered electors to discuss parish affairs and to pass resolutions thereon. This meeting is also an opportunity for the Parish Council and community group leaders to explain their activities over the last year… so this note is perhaps a reminder for those leaders to contribute; please call the Clerk!
  • Who can attend the meeting? And can I speak? Anyone may attend but only registered electors in the parish may speak and vote.
  • Who will chair the meeting? The Chairman of the Parish Council is obliged to chair the meeting if present. In his absence the vice chairman must preside if present. If neither is able to attend, then the meeting will elect a chairman from those electors present.
  • Will Parish Councillors be there? Although there is no compulsion, Councillors normally attend; they will speak if required, but the purpose of the meeting is to enable the ordinary electors to have their say.
  • Will notes be taken of the meeting? A written record of the meeting will be taken by the Parish Clerk to keep in a special book. The rules on the signature and admissibility of minutes are the same as those for Parish Council meetings.
  • How long will the meeting last?  As long as need be within reason; previously meetings in Ditchingham have lasted about 30 minutes… it really depends on those present and the number of questions and the discussions that are raised. 
  • Will the Press be there? If they choose! The rules for press admission are the same as any Council meeting.

 

The Annual Parish Council Meeting: will follow immediately after the close of the Annual Parish meeting. This also is a special meeting, when contrasted with the other five Council meetings in the year. At the annual meeting the Council: elects the chairman and the vice chairman; makes other annual appointments [to committees and advisory working parties] and makes resolutions on other business matters such as insurances,  risk management policies, etc.

 

Julian Green
Chair, Ditchingham Parish Council

News (2013, April)

New from the Council (April 2013). Published in the Parishioner Magazine

Big Litter Pick. Spring? The Easter break? Good weather? At least we hope so.  On Saturday 20th April Ditchingham is “doing its bit” by participating in the Big South Norfolk Litter Pick. By registering we have an opportunity to ‘win’ £250 to put towards our community, but that aside the real driver for this event is to improve local amenity. Please see the separate ‘advertisement’ in this magazine and the BIG posters located around the village; but in short we need you. We need about 30 volunteers. South Norfolk Council will provide hand-held litter pickers, hi-vis jackets, gloves and rubbish sacks so that volunteers can rid our local hedge rows and streets of litter.  If you are interested in volunteering, either in picking litter or in general organisation, or simply want more information, please contact the Clerk John Smith on john@jo-an.fslife.co.uk or telephone: 01986 892235.

But please don’t just think ‘organised events.’ You will recall that last year we reminded residents that our focus should always be on general litter and tidiness in the streets, in the hedge-rows, and in garden (not big stuff, but general rubbish.) So if you see it, then please bin it!  And also, as the weather warms up, if you have a hedge or verge that is ‘over-growing’ please think about foot path users and give it a trim or tidy too.

Highways and Footpaths. We all know that the winter weather will likely have taken its toll on roads and footpaths. Both Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk Council will be implementing planned maintenance programmes, but we can all help in respect of unplanned maintenance. If you are aware of a pothole, or other dangerous surface or kerb, through either winter weather or vehicle or other accident damage please report this to the Clerk (details as above). Alternatively, you can visit https://online.norfolk.gov.uk/highways/ and use the report form.

Grit Bins. On the theme of winter weather, the severity of the cold snap prompted some residents to write to the Council requesting that additional ‘grit bins’ are installed. Whilst acknowledging the potential benefit of more grit bins the Council has only limited resources and is unable to fund such requests directly. Ultimately the budget for these amenities is funded through the Precept, which is included in the Council tax and, whether for grit bins, or similar amenities,the Council evaluates such requests against its resources and budgets policy in order to prioritise demand on budget resources.

Strategic planning. What is that? Big words? Perhaps. That said, and noting the comments above, the Council, just like a domestic household must plan its activities and expenditure against its available resources. Last month you will have read that we set the precept (our income) necessary to maintain our budget for the new financial year (1st April 2013 – 31st March 2014). This budget is largely already committed on maintaining the status quo. Costs include the Clerk’s employment, grass cutting and maintenance in the recreation areas, burial grounds and other green spaces, and general administration expenses). Only a very small element is currently available for new projects; priorities for the coming year however will be discussed and agreed by our Finances and Resources Advisory Committee over the next few weeks.

Special Meeting. While the Council normally meets every second month, sometimes decisions must be made between scheduled meetings. This was the situation when, on 4th March the Council held a special meeting to confirm the location, funding and contractor for the Youth Shelter (stage 2 of the Dip project), and also confirmed the funding arrangements and contractor (subject to 3rd Party grant funding being agreed) for the Thwaite Road Play Area project. Full (draft) minutes available at the post office.

Advertising on the roundabouts. Some of you may have read an update in the EDP (8th March 2013) that Norfolk County Council’s attempt to install advertising boards on the county’s roundabouts has now been tested and met with refusal of planning permission by the County’s District Councils. This is consistent with your Parish Council’s policy.

The Council meets every two months – the next meeting is 20th May 19:30 in the Village Hall. It is your Council. Please come to the meetings; be part of the future.

 

Julian Green.
Chair, Ditchingham Parish Council

News (2013, March)

New from the Council (March 2013).  Published in the Parishioner Magazine

The Dip (Village Green): Many of you will be aware that the Council has been seeking funding to update the ‘Skate & Scooter’ ramps in the Dip. We are pleased to announce that, at our January meeting, the Council awarded the contract to develop this scheme to Highline Extreme, a Downham Market company. This scheme costing some £21,000 was made possible entirely through grant funding and the Council wishes to extend its gratitude to those organisations and agencies that made this possible. We hope that work on the ramps will be completed in about six weeks’ time and that our further efforts can now focus on the provision of the youth shelter.

At a personal level the Council recorded a vote of appreciation to vice Chair Keith Weston who, with Councillor Jane Chadd, has engaged throughout the entire process with the users (young people); the funders (Awards for All, ERVNB, and NCC’s Community Construction Fund) and the contractors that were invited to tender.

Budget and Precept: At one of its meetings each year the Council has to agree the budget (the amount it needs to spend) and the precept (that part of the Council tax it asks the collecting authority, South Norfolk, to collect from parishioners on our behalf.) Your Council has focussed on local needs and, at its November 2012 meeting, determined the precept to be £20,000 (confirmed at the January meeting). In round terms, with Ditchingham’s 1,630 residents (in 710 households), the 2013-14 precept equates to £0.24 per resident (£0.54 per household) per week. This relatively small sum enables your parish Council to carry out its duties for everyone’s benefit.

Localism: We seem increasingly to be made aware that there is ‘no more money…’  While some services and amenities previously offered by Central Government, the County Council, or District Councils are being withdrawn or reduced, some services and amenities are now being delivered at an increasingly local level. Some might call this Localism. This Council’s 2013-14 budget is designed to continue our programme of community renewals and initiatives.

Thwaite Road Play Area: In 1984, following an appeal in the “Parishioner,” a group of volunteers set up Ditchingham Play Association; it was chaired by the (then) new, young head teacher!  Over quite a short time, hard work and fund raising resulted in the waste ground on the Thwaite Road site being established and adopted as ‘play’ area and always popular with local families (and also with those who come from further afield). Over the years the equipment has been refurbished and added to, however those of you who currently use the play area will be aware that some of the equipment is now showing signs of age and the whole site would benefit from the introduction of some new and up to date pieces (especially for older children.) and this is why the Parish Council carried out its survey (February “Parishioner”) and why it is applying for grants.

In progressing this project the Council has sought proposals from four playground companies.  By the time you read this the plans will have been on show, the Council will have chosen its favoured project and we will be waiting for news on our grant application. This plan, with a total budget of some £35,000, looks to WREN as the major grant funder, with 3rd party funding from Ditchingham United Charities and South Norfolk’s Neighbourhood Grants panel, and with the Parish Council contributing some £3,000 from the precept.

While we must not ‘count our chickens’ we are optimistic that our grant application will be successful and that Ditchingham will once again have a modern safe play area to be proud of.

Highways Update: Regrettably last year’s surface dressing by NCC of roads in the village was not terribly successful. We have discussed the issue with NCC Highways who are aware of the problems but they are unable to rectify the situation until favourable weather conditions prevail [likely in the summer]. In the mean time if the loose chippings become particularly problematic please contact the Clerk and hopefully we can organise for NCC to include the problem area on their next mechanical sweeping round.

Hollow Hill. We can now confirm that NCC will improve ‘standard’ signage at Hollow Hill; work which hopefully will be completed in March!  Additionally, NCC has identified a match funding scheme that could allow this Council to erect some ‘intelligent’ speed initiated flashing sign These signs are hugely costly (around £7,500 each) and would normally be beyond the means of this Council, however the NCC scheme allows a 75% contribution towards costs with the Parish funding just 25% from its own resources… meaning that we could install a sign at a local cost of just £1,750. Something that we will be discussing at our next meeting.  

Chicken Roundabout: The Council discussed the roundabout at its January meeting concluding that it could not support the ‘campaign’ and has posted its official press release and a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on the Facebook page ‘Bungay UK Support Chicken Roundabout’.

Eastern River Valleys Neighbourhood Board: This forum is tasked with working with the Community to action community priorities and to help deliver community initiatives. The forum requires our ideas for improving the local area and you can help by coming to the next Neighbourhood Board meeting [Tuesday 5 March, 7:00 PM at Dining Hall, Hobart High School, Kittens Lane, Loddon, Norwich, NR14 6JU] or by contacting our Neighbourhood Officer” [Email: mbentley@s-norfolk.gov.uk Tel: 01508 533945]. Indeed the ERVNB contributed £5,000 grant funding to our Dip Project from their ‘Social Action’ fund… so thank you ERVNB!

Council Meetings and Dates: These are held in the Village Hall and the public are welcome to all of our meetings. While the public can not generally speak in the formal part of the meeting, our meetings include a public input forum before the commencement of main business. Those present can open discussion, question or challenge Councillors on matters on, or off, agenda. Please come along.

Council meetings are scheduled for the year ahead and advertised in the ‘Parishioner’ magazine and on the Council notice board. Our next scheduled meeting is at the Village Hall on 18 March 2013 at 19:30.

Julian Green.
Chair Ditchingham Parish Council