Chairman's Annual Report
The Chairmans Annual Report for the last twelve months
Billingborough Parish Council
9th May 2016
Chairman’s Annual Report
At our Annual Parish Meeting held at the primary School on 9th May our Chairman, Councillor Mike King gave his annual report as follows:
“The past 12 months have seen steady progress in the affairs of the Parish Council and in maintaining and improving the village. This is despite the Council being beset by the problems caused by the previous Parish Clerk. We appointed a new Clerk, Michelle Free, in September and we are extremely grateful to her for the extra work she has had to put into the aftermath of this affair.
We have continued to be involved in planning applications in the village and 2015’s spate of planning applications has resulted in permissions for some 75 homes in the village which could take us to 100 if the remaining northern part of Grimer’s Yard is permitted for new housing. We have been concerned about flooding in the northern part of the village in particular and we instigated a Section 19 report under the Water Management Act 2010 after two homes in West Road flooded in May 2015. As a result the 11 new flats in West Road which are nearing completion have all sustainable soak away drainage (SUDS) of surface water which should minimise pressure on our old drains. We have also influenced the detailed design of these new homes.
A new Local Plan is being prepared for South Kesteven through to 2031. In our early comments we have given the view that the village has enough extant and likely housing permissions on brown field land without extending into surrounding green areas. We have lost one of our two pubs although a great job has been made in restoring it for residential use. Hopefully the Local Plan policies will be strong enough to ensure our last pub, the Fortescue Arms , remains.
Connectivity. We have at last seen supposedly ‘super-fast’ broadband connected to the whole village although many of us are finding that that the internet speeds are no faster. Some pressure from us may have helped resolve the problem of poor mobile phone signals for around six months. Strangely and positively the appearance of more buses in the village has defied expectation. We now need some bus stops!
Campaign –wise the Council, along with our District Councillor, played a big part in objecting to the apparent plans of the Environment Agency to not replace the pumps at Boston which control the water levels in the Forty Foot Drain. There were many local objections made to the so-called ‘options’. Sadly there seems to be no positive investment solution and the matter has been ‘kicked into the long grass’ represented by a new Lincolnshire committee with no local representation.
We have made minor improvements around the village with tree and shrub planting and continuously pressed the County and District Councils to carry out repairs to paths and street lights. Our Community Cleaner continues to do an excellent job in keeping the village tidy. By and large the problem of dog mess is far less widespread. However this is let down by a small number of persistent offenders in known and watched locations including the Recreation Ground. We have been appalled by the quantities of dog faeces deposited in the children’s play area. We are working to resolve this problem with the District Council but it is not easy and the co-operation of the whole village is needed to report offenders.
Some of our projects have been delayed and affected by the problems with our previous Parish Clerk. We have caught up and can report good progress on a number of items.
We have purchased a mobile speed detector which can be moved between sites in the village and we can report the digital recordings to the Police. We may make further investment in speed detectors subject to being satisfied about their working effectiveness.
New picnic benches have been purchased for the Recreation Ground and we are just waiting for a working party of volunteers to assemble them, thus saving money.
I am pleased to announce that our grant application to South Kesteven’s new Community Fund has been successful and we are getting some £9,000 towards the cost of new children’s play equipment for 5 to 14 year olds. This project should commence shortly.
Our largest project – the purchase and recreational use of the playing field area of the former Aveland Secondary School on Birthorpe Road is proceeding well. We believe we are on track for the infrastructure works, including the access road and car park to be completed this summer. However the critical path still remains the red tape of the negotiations between the County Council and the Secretary of State for Education and the Crown Estate to free the land up for the sale to us.
A new Billingborough Allotments and Gardening Association has been set up with a lot of enthusiasm about preparing and running up to 30 new allotments. At the same time we are making progress with discussions on the use of the remaining playing pitches by local football teams.
All in all I believe the Parish Council achieves a great deal in the village considering that its income from our 650 homes remains at only £13,000 a year. Much of this is due to the time and volunteering effort of the parish councillors and other villagers. I also believe that we have entered the new financial year stronger in respect of our financial and other systems. Many of the rules applying to bigger Councils also apply to us so this is a challenging requirement considering our limited resources. I would like to thank everyone involved.”