CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT. 2015 to 2016
STILLINGFLEET PARISH COUNCIL
On the 7th May 2015, there being only seven nominations, the following councillors were elected: Paul Elmhirst, John Cook, David Swinglehurst, Terry Harrison, Alison Spaven, Judith Pollock and James Atkinson. Paul Elmhirst was appointed chairman. Richard Daniel was subsequently co-opted on the 14th May and on the 6th August, Lesley Collingridge was co-opted.
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. All our meetings are open to the public. We own and administer the village green (with the benefit of a Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for which we receive a grant). We maintain and pay for street lighting 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. North Yorkshire CC also hold public meetings in Selby.
Police and Community Action:
There are several schemes which are designed to deal with problems in the community. We support Neighbourhood Watch and Ringmaster. The Selby District (Eastern Area) Community Engagement Forum gives every parish in the district a chance to raise issues face to face with Selby councillors and officers.
A questionnaire was delivered to all residents setting out various proposals for improved traffic control. The (low) response to that survey was considered by the Parish Council and an approach was made to the highway authority to see if a roadside footpath could be extended for a short way along York road.
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 future 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. Planning law in general is going through great changes, but 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.
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) 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 services is a concern. The strict enforcement of the weight restriction over Cawood Bridge means that the old Arriva buses are too heavy. A service is being provided by Utopia which uses smaller buses, but does connect with Sherburn in Elmet.
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 number of grants. 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.
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 a significant number of 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. 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 will be set out on the Parish Council website. Please note that the Environment Agency has introduced rules which mean that all septic tanks discharging into a water course will have to be replaced by sewage treatment plants by 2020. Failure to do this will render you liable to prosecution.
The village now has an optic fibre connection through to Escrick which means that a high speed internet connection is now available to almost all inhabitants.
Thanks to the efforts of Alison Spaven, the Parish Council now has its own website www.stillingfleetparishcouncil.org Please have patience with its content and format, as it is still being developed.
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, and all my fellow councillors for their help and good humour over the past year.
Paul Elmhirst (Chairman, Stillingfleet Parish Council)