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
Chair, Ditchingham Parish Council