As I write my report to you as Chair of the Parish Council, I reflect on the year and what it has brought for us all.
Council Tax bills have already dropped through letterboxes - yours and mine -and all other members of the Parish Council who are, of course, local people. I make the point of your Parish Councillors being local people as all decisions taken are made with considerable local knowledge and understanding, with care for our parishioners, who are family, friends and neighbours. All are approachable and unpaid; no payments or allowances for those who are elected to serve on the Parish Council. We are one of over 80,000 local Councillors in England – a number which is growing year on year as more areas make the decision to create a Parish Council to represent them and bring local issues to the attention of the Principal Authority on behalf of the local community.
You will have seen a rise in the overall council tax this year from Wakefield MDC but no rise in the Parish Council precept. This remains at £57,600 as it has since 2016.
The year-end accounts of income and expenditure can be viewed on the Parish Council website (www.sitlingtonparish council.gov.uk). If you do not have access to the internet please contact the parish office who will be happy to provide you with a copy. The Parish Council strives to be as transparent and open with how public money is spent.
Like every other organisation the Parish Council sets a budget which is monitored regularly as the year progresses and like every other organisation, we have assets, liabilities, underspends and overspends and a Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loan. The Parish Council also has responsibility to manage and maintain two cemeteries and three areas of allotments.
Here are examples of how money is spent to keep and improve facilities in your community:
Many of you will remember that in common with other similar organisations, Netherton Working Men’s Club found itself in difficulties. The Parish Council secured a PWLB loan to purchase the building and let it to the newly- organised Netherton Sports and Social Club. This has worked very well with an energetic committee and the Parish council working together and the Club goes from strength to strength.
The Parish Council work closely with Netherton Village Hall Trust to provide community facilities. It has been well-used by various organisations throughout the year. The installation of CCTV recently has been supported by the Council and it is hoped that this will reduce anti-social behaviour around the building.
There is an active Friends group who raise funds and organise events solely to assist with the up-keep of the hall.
Denby Grange Sports Club is another example of the Parish Council supporting volunteers and it has continued to award an annual grant to help with grounds maintenance. This is a facility used by all ages for sporting and other activities and a valuable asset in the community.
Emroyd Common is a wonderful facility for leisure for all in the parish. For many years it had been neglected and the Parish Council developed ambitious plans for it. Work began in 2017 and progressed slowly supported not only by the Parish Council but also by an active Friends group. With considerable work from a member of the Friends group, the Parish Council were successful in obtaining a grant of £40,256 from the Suez Communities Trust to complete the work of Phase 1. As we reach the end of the fiscal year, Phase 2 work to finish the circular path has commenced, this time supported by a grant of £53,726 through Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd (WREN) funded by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.
We live in a lovely area and it needs to be cared for. The Parish Council are active in helping with this in a number of ways: Sitlington in Bloom with beautiful planters around the villages (with plans to provide more in the coming year), regular organised litter picks, the Great British Spring Clean is gathering momentum at the moment. Benches to commemorate the end of WW1 have been placed in our two cemeteries. All of this enhances the appearance of our Parish. It continues to work closely with the dog warden and others to try to reduce the blight of dog fouling with which we are plagued. The Council is working on a programme of placing defibrillators at accessible points around the parish. The plan is to supplement the initial four defibrillators with further ones in the coming months. A refurbishment of Netherton playground will be progressed in the coming year.
The Parish Council are aware of the issues of road safety in our villages and the Golden Rivers, commissioned by the Parish Council last year, confirmed concerns of speeding through Midgley, Netherton Lane and Upper lane in the Netherton Ward, New Road and Old Road in Middlestown Ward. It also provided information on the particular problem presented by Blacker Lane. The Parish Council will continue to work closely with the Police and Wakefield District Council on all road safety matters affecting roads in the Parish.
The Parish Council has for a number of years paid into the Police Safe Scheme which enables Police officers working overtime to attend to the priorities raised by the Council at its monthly meetings. The Safe Scheme co-ordinator regularly attends these monthly meetings and provides a full report – these can be viewed on the website or by contacting the Parish Office. Some of the priorities in the past year have included: speeding on the roads, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping. A recent meeting with our police, including the District Commander of Police in Wakefield, agreed the principles of the Safe Scheme and confirmed the continued support of all parties.
This year we will be working on a new Parish Plan, the last one was 10 years ago. Consultation documents are already out via the excellent Coxley News or on the website and Facebook page. Please complete and return your questionnaire as we need your views to plan for the next 10 years. We will also be having public meetings where we hope you will come and have your say.
The Parish Council has been brought into the 21st Century by having a presence on Facebook and Twitter to engage with as many residents as possible to keep you updated on the hard work taking place on your behalf.
Finally, I commend fellow councillors and staff to you for the work they have undertaken in the past year and will continue to do so for the benefit of our Parish.
Chair of Sitlington Parish Council
A copy of the report can be downloaded here