Parish Clerk’s Report for May/June 2017
by Wickhambrook Parish Clerk
Litter pick cancellation and reschedule. Too posh to pick…
No too old to get cold! I am afraid this was the reasoning behind cancelling the litter pick scheduled for Sunday 5 March, plus the strong winds and driving rain. The decision was made just one hour before start time of 11.30 a.m. on health and safety grounds as much of the litter picking is from roadside verges and it was felt our volunteers would face too many hazards. The meeting point was manned to inform anyone hardy enough to turn up for the event and we had some very dedicated litter pickers to turn away, many thanks to them for their fortitude and commitment. The weather took a turn for the better and one family decided to carry on clearing many bags of rubbish, later advertising their efforts on the community facebook page. The litter pick has now reached a wider audience so well done and thank you.
Our rescheduled event took place on Sunday 2 April when the weather was kind and we had a good turnout with many bags full of litter for St Edmundsbury Borough Council to collect. The hot spot this time was the layby outside the school which had bottles and cans as well as food wrappers, all cleared away by some of the villagers who had volunteered for the first time and were kept busy. Other areas of the village had feedback of less litter than usual so good news from some vicinities. The usual huge thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event.
Memorial Garden starting point
As regular readers of the Parish Council pages in The Scene will be aware a grant of £8,000 has been awarded by Tesco Groundworks for the creation of a memorial garden at the cemetery. As part of the bidding process for funding, a photograph of the site intended for this purpose had to be submitted and it is so interesting and gratifying to see what a difference has already been made.
The two photographs show how the initial clearance work has allowed the wild spring flowers to flourish and already what was a slightly derelict old part of the cemetery has adopted a new feel.
The light and space is now apparent and the area at the rear of the plot, reserved for the scattering of ashes, has been cleared and is waiting for dry conditions to be levelled. The thanks of the Estates Committee must go to the contractor who has gone the extra mile and produced a plan showing the design of hedging and benches in place. So far so good and it will be very exciting to see the garden evolve. Watch this space!
Local Council Award Scheme
The weather has affected many events in this report and the presentation of the Local Council Award Scheme Foundation Certificate scheduled for the Parish Council meeting on 24 February had to be postponed until the meeting on 30 March due to traffic problems preventing the representative from the Suffolk Association of Local Councils attending.
The Parish Council is extremely pleased to have been awarded the Foundation Certificate.
It is an acknowledgement of the dedication shown by the elected Councillors as the award demonstrates that the council has a strong commitment to excellence in public service. In gaining the award the Parish Council is now able to use the logo shown to promote good governance in Wickhambrook. The certificate was presented by Mr David Wheeler, the SALC Area Chairman for our area and SALC Board Member who kindly attended the meeting and made the presentation to the Chairman of Wickhambrook Parish Council, Mr Paul Couzens. Wickhambrook Parish Council is one of only a few Parish Councils in Suffolk to have gained this award and it was a moment for all the Councillors to be proud of.
Annual Parish Meeting
With the date for the Annual Parish Meeting, 19 May, fast approaching many of the local clubs and societies have offered reports on their activities over the last twelve months. We are looking forward to an interesting and entertaining evening and hope as many parishioners as possible will come along. The evening also incorporates the Alf Hicks Biscuit Barrel award presentation which this year goes to Mrs Maggie Elers. Maggie is a member of the Wickhambrook Carnival Committee and works tirelessly on behalf of the village to ensure this magnificent event takes place and it is in recognition of time and effort freely given to benefit the village, over many years, that this award is given. After discussing this year’s nominees the Councillors were unanimous in choosing Mrs Elers for the 2017 presentation.
Grit spreading volunteer list
An unseasonal topic I know but luckily last winter very few volunteers needed to spread the grit from the many heaps around the village as icy roads were not too problematic. I am asking anyone who is already a volunteer and is prepared to continue or indeed any new volunteers, to contact me with name, address and telephone number to enable the list to be current for next winter. Anyone who is placed on the list via this process will be automatically covered by the Parish Council insurance, please ask for details if you wish to know what this entails. I look forward to hearing from volunteers either by email: or telephone 01440 821861. Thank you.
Contribution from a lay member of the Estates Committee
This edition has welcome input from Mr Roger Merry who undertakes the inspections of the play areas and equipment at the recreation field. Roger writes:
Last edition Julian Girling wrote about trees in the Parish and his role in inspecting and reporting on these living organisms. By the nature of the job it is less easy for me to be as interesting and philosophical as Julian concerning my role as Playground/Teen Project Inspector. The only common factor is that like Julian I look at surroundings and equipment on a weekly basis to try to avoid accidents by children and the general public whilst they are using recreational sites in the Parish.
A while after taking on the job I went on a training course run by the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents where I learnt that some things that I had been doing before were wrong, so I had to rethink the process and develop new reporting forms. In these days of litigation where nobody takes responsibility for their own actions and the owner of the land or equipment can be blamed for the most trivial of accidents, public liability insurance is a must and if not taken seriously there are grounds for non-payment of the claim. For example, one doesn’t usually give a thought to how quickly a playground gate closes, in case one child follows another who has opened it and gets hit in the face – I witnessed such an accident and I must admit it can be very distressing. The actual accepted time is 5 to 8 seconds. So, whilst I am being slightly cynical there are many things that are very sensible. On the other hand, the plethora of notices we have to put up is ridiculous – recently I was told to put one up to warn people passing through a low entrance in case they hit their head whilst looking at another notice! Nowadays there is a raft of paperwork on a weekly basis involving questions on each piece and part of the Playground and Skate Park equipment, the surfaces, overhanging trees and bushes etc. Coverage of mechanical wear and tear and damage is sensible but common sense and responsibility of the user for their own actions (for example trip hazards) is a thing of the past. Thus I regularly spot and rectify trip hazards, wear and tear of surfaces, wear and tear of equipment, vandalism, graffiti and empty overflowing bins. I occasionally have repair sessions with the help of my colleague Andy Harris which we find very therapeutic after the paperwork.
So at the end of the day you, as parishioners, can rest assured that you and your children are as safe as we can make you whilst attending and using our play areas.
Crime report for your attention please
One of the two wooden bridges that link the footpath from the end of the Duddery to the By-way heading towards Ousden was intentionally damaged over the weekend of 1 and 2 April. As shown in the two photographs the damage was extensive and the vandalism has occurred on the step up to the bridge and in the centre making it extremely dangerous and difficult to see immediately if approached from the other side.
This is a well-used route by walkers of all ages and had a child run ahead the consequences could have been dreadful. It has been reported to Rights of Way Officer Glyn French at Suffolk County Council who took immediate action and taped off the damaged parts until a repair can be made. Due to the nature of the criminal damage it has also been reported to Suffolk Police with a crime reference of 37/26852/17. If anyone has any information at all regarding this incident please ring Suffolk Police using 101 and giving the crime reference number. The fact that it must have taken considerable force to inflict such damage may be an indication of the type of person or persons responsible. This is an extremely serious issue and had it not been reported quickly and action taken, it could have resulted in a horrible injury to an adult or child.
Recent Planning Applications:
Recent planning applications considered by the Parish Council over the last six weeks:
DC/17/0196/FUL Boyden End House, Boyden End. Equestrian workers dwelling. No objection
Decisions made by St Edmundsbury Council over the last eight weeks:
DC/16/2409/VAR + Amended application Plot 2, Columbine Cottage, Nunnery Green. Revised scale and design. Approved
DC/16/2802/FUL Land adj Whitehouse, Church Road. Change of use from agricultural to equestrian. Approved
DC/17/0189/LB Rolfes Farm, The Duddery. Structural repairs of outbuilding listed building. Approved
DC/17/0215/HH Giffords Hall, Giffords Lane. Open air courtyard including pavilion. Approved
DC/17/0210/FUL Wickhambrook Primary School. New timber buildings to provide two classrooms. Approved
Parish Council Meetings
The date for the next meetings are Annual Parish Meeting Thursday 18 May, Annual Parish Council Meeting Thursday 25 May, Parish Council meeting Thursday 29 June. The next Estates committee meeting will be held on Thursday 8 June. All meetings begin at 7.30 p.m. and are open for everyone to attend.