This is not a report that I could have imagined I would need to write, before putting pen to paper I re read last year’s report to get a “feel” for its format. It was very succinct and optimistic, written by a chair with a wealth of experience in community affairs and expertise across many areas of the Parish Council’s responsibility.
I refer of course to the late John Newsome who unstintingly gave of his time and energy to this community for so many years. He is so much missed. With the family and community, the Parish Council mourned his passing.
I accepted the position of Chair and together with an excellent group of people serving as Parish Councillors we endeavour to live up to his standards as we carry on the business of caring for our community. There are several ways of remembering John and carrying on in this way is perhaps the most fitting, we remember he was also a keen and talented sportsman and will sponsor a cup for sports within Netherton School where he spent so much of his working life.
As Parish Councillors we are also well aware that we are care takers or custodians of your money and this is at the forefront of all our considerations; we need to give good value to our parishioners. Once again we have kept the precept at £57,600, although the council tax bills that have already been put through your letterbox will show a very small increase due to the way that all charges within the council tax are calculated and the number of single occupancy homes with a rebate. This means that we have spent wisely throughout the year and have plans for continued spending to improve facilities.
As spending cuts bite we find the Local Authority cannot maintain some of their routine spending, this has included provision of Christmas Trees in the villages. After much discussion we decided to buy “living trees”, they looked small last December but will grow and be there well into the future.
Our cemeteries have been the recipients of investment this year with repairs to walls, fencing etc and excellent grounds maintenance. The Allotments have also received extra care and we continue to hold on to the hope of being able to provide more plots in the future.
More bulbs have been planted in the villages with a beautiful show of spring flowers on our verges and grassed areas, we hope to be able to plant summer flowers this year also. The Parish Council have supported the Clean Up campaigns for litter picking and hope that this will continue as we make our villages more attractive.
The Parish Council continues to pay into and support the Police Safe Scheme. This gives us the opportunity to see members of the police force around the area and to request specific concerns to them.
As a council we are committed to promoting and assisting local groups and organisations and have continued to offer grants to facilitate this. If you have any such needs please complete an application form which can be found on the web site or ask at the Parish Office.
The Parish Council have three main assets: Netherton Village Hall, Netherton Sports and Social Club and Emroyd Common. With the excellent input from committee members and Friends’ groups we have continued to support and improve these community venues. We also continue with our commitment to support Denby Grange Sports Club in Overton.
For some time as a council we have been aware that accessing grants could be a way of getting extra funding but it is a lengthy and time consuming process. We have been successful in recruiting a very experienced local person to assist us with this and believe any funding accessed in this way to be a good investment. Areas which may attract grant funding include updating and revitalising the children’s playground and perhaps adding some outdoor sports facility, provision of more allotments, continued work at Emroyd Common and many others.
The council is fortunate to have the services of an excellent clerk and a caretaker at Netherton Village Hall who also assists her. We have purchased some specialised software so that they can keep records etc more easily and efficiently.
From the accounts you will see the spending on the above. You will also see that we have ongoing plans for our reserves which are presently held in the best way to attract what interest is available.
I thank all who have supported me in this new role and commend to you an excellent group of Parish Councillors and staff who are hardworking and aware of their responsibilities. We all look forward to another year of working with the community and building on the positive improvements to our environment in the coming year.
Councillor Ms Margaret Strong
Chair, Sitlington Parish Council
Chair's Report for 2015/16 can be viewed here