CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT. 2016 to 2017
STILLINGFLEET PARISH COUNCIL
On the 26th May 2016, Paul Elmhirst was appointed chairman, Alison Spaven vice-chairman and David Swinglehurst Viilage Hall Committee representative. The other councillors are James Atkinson, Lesley Collingridge, John Cook, Richard Daniel and Terry Harrison. Sally Lewis was co-opted on the 1st December to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Judith Pollock who has moved away from the village.
What the Council does:
The Parish Council is the bottom rung in the ladder of local government administration. We normally have nine councillors. Our paid clerk is John Birch (who retired on the 31st March 2017 after many years of faithful service. He has been replaced by Hannah Breheney to whom we offer a warm welcome).
All our meetings are open to the public. We own and administer the village green (with the benefit of Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for which we receive a grant). We maintain and pay for footpath lighting (except Dale’s Court) and we contribute to the maintenance of the churchyard and cemetery. We have a range of statutory powers including the right to raise a precept (our precept forms part of the council tax which is collected by Selby District Council) to pay for what we provide. It amounts to some f,4,000.00 per annum.
Police and Community Action:
North Yorkshire police now operate the North Yorkshire Community Messaging scheme. This is a free service that any person can register for. It enables you to receive notification on crime and community news by phone, email or text. The Selby District (Eastern Area) Community Engagement Forum gives every parish council in the district a chance to raise issues face to face with Selby councillors and officers.
All parish planning applications receive close attention from the Parish Council. Our Village Design Statement (see the Parish Council website), which has been adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document by Selby DC, should ensure that all developments within the village comply with its provisions. However, Selby DC does not always insist on full compliance, which is disappointing. The Parish Council will do its best to change that response. The Parish Council also checks all planning applications within the Stillingfleet Conservation Area to ensure that they comply with the conservation policies of Selby DC and to ensure that any applications for development outside the village envelope are very closely scrutinised. Selby DC has now adopted its Core Strategy which will form the basis of local planning law for many years to come. The need for more housing and the wish to protect the local environment remain difficult matters to balance. A recent application has been made to establish a waste processing plant on the old mine site. The Parish Council has concerns about the development of the mine and its effect on the village.
This is a sensible precaution to help prevent accidents as well as being required by our insurers. Every year the Parish Council completes a risk assessment of those items (including trees and footbridges) and areas within the village which could become hazardous. Every effort will be made to spot new health or safety hazard throughout the year, but it would be appreciated if residents could also report potential problems to the Parish Council.
Although Stillingfleet flood defences held firm in the recent floods, flooding remains a live issue. In the event of serious flooding; please note that Terry Harrison is the contact. He is designated by The Environment Agency as Flood Warden for Stillingfleet and contact for inhabitants on the north side of the beck (his Tel No is 07980 451537) and Richard Daniel is the contact for those on the south side.
The reduction of bus services through Stillingfleet remains a concern. Cawood Bridge is scheduled for repair and strengthening in August 2017 which will mean closure for several weeks. However it is not yet known whether the strengthening of the bridge will result in an improved bus service.
The Village Green:
The Green gives Stillingfleet its character and makes it stand out from all other villages in the district, but it does not look after itself. The management of the village green is carried out under the terms laid down in the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme by Natural England, for which we receive a grant of around f,2,300.00. The terms include grass cutting times, grazing methods and other works. which are intended to create a species rich grassland providing a habitat for a variety of insects, birds and other animals. Unfortunately no grazier is currently willing to graze sheep on the green because of dog poo which leads to abortion in ewes. Without the grant from Natural England there would have to be a substantial increase in the parish rate to maintain the green.
The Parish Council owns and administers the village green (including the road verges) for the benefit of all residents. A leaflet is available setting out details of the history and administration of the green and its surrounds. Copies have been delivered to every household. It can now be found on the Parish Council website (see below). Please note that parking on the green and verges is not permitted (designated car parks excepted).
Fortunately, the green does not suffer from dumping of household rubbish although residents are reminded not dump grass clippings or garden rubbish at the edge of the green. While most of the village dog owners pick up after their dogs, a very few do not, which is unpleasant for everyone else and is a disease risk, so please remember to go equipped when dog walking.
Another perennial problem is domestic drainage. There are many drains under the green taking run off from septic tanks and treatment plants into the beck. Some of these are ancient and some are shallow and some are prone to blockage. Many are uncharted. The problem is exacerbated by surface water run off, springs and underground run off from soakaways and land drains. Future development around the green may require new drains or the renewal of old drains as well as new access drives. The Council has approved a policy to deal with these matters in a consistent way that is clear and fair to householders and developers details of which have been set out on the Parish Council website.
A group of residents is keen to create a play area in the village where children can enjoy activity on playground equipment such as swings and climbing frames. Extensive enquiries have been made to see if any land owners would be willing to allow their land to be used, but none was. The only alternative would be to allocate part of the village green for such a play area, but that suggestion has resulted in an informal petition being presented to the council to oppose such a step. The council has suggested that an area in the south western corner of the green might be an acceptable site for a play area and have agreed for the play group to explore the possibility and to make a presentation to all the residents of their proposals. As this is such a sensitive issue with strong views on both sides the parish council is considering how best to proceed. It is likely that a questionnaire will be circulated once a detailed proposal (including planning and finance) has been prepared.
The village now has an optic fibre connection through to Escrick which means that a high speed internet connection is theoretically available to almost all inhabitants.
The Parish Council now has its own website It now contains a lot of information about the parish council and our proceedings, but we are also taking steps to keep it up to date. it will be administered by our new clerk Hannah Breheney.
The Parish Council is not responsible for the administration of the Church yard. (That is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council) However, the Parish Council does contribute to the cost of upkeep of the churchyard and cemetery. Finally, my thanks to John Birch our clerk until 31st March 2017 and all my fellow councillors for their help and good humour over the past year.
Paul Elmhirst (Chairman, Stillingfleet Parish Council)