Annual Report 2021 – 2022
This year your council has been able to meet again in person, but initially we were socially distanced, masked and with the windows open. We have continued to meet at Vowchurch village hall as this affords more space for distancing.
During the year we accepted the resignation through ill health of our Chair Paul Mason, also of our past Chair Harry Franklin, and of Simeon Cole who no longer lives in the parish. We thank them all for their dedication in representing the residents. Happily we have now been joined by three new councilllors: Gabbie Franklin and David Cross for Michaelchurch and Graeme Deas for Vowchurch. We now have a full compliment of councillors, and they bring valuable skills to help our work on your behalf. We are fortunate in the able assistance of our clerk, Linda Cowles, who ensures the smooth running of our parish council.
We continue to employ a lengsthman to maintain the roadways and lanes, and as reported last year were successful in being granted extra funds to address some longstanding problems. This was completed by last May, but unfortunately some of the culverts have become blocked again. We would stress that in Herefordshire landowners are responsible for maintaining the ditches alongside their land. There is another tranche of money available this year for further works, but less money is available this year.
The issue of a speed limit on the B4348 remains. Each year the Highways Department draw up a list of proposed speed limits and these are prioritised. If there are some urgent requests then our application is likely to drop down the list, but the fact that it has been on the list for so long does mean that we are edging ever closer to it being enacted.
The issue of internet access highlighted in last year’s report continues to be a source of concern. Councillor Engel has, together with Councillor Toby Murcott of Bacton, been meeting with our Ward Councillor PeterJinman, and our MP Jesse Norman. Gigaclear have stepped back from their contract and there are now new approaches being explored to ensure connectivity for all in the future.
During the year Herefordshire asked parishes to review their Neighbourhood Plans, which we did. It was decided that our Neighbourhood Plan remained relevant and that no changes were needed. However we have engaged in the consultation on future development for 2021 – 2041.This is looking at where new housing should be built in the light of central government’s requirement for a given number of houses to be built within the county. We continue to consider planning applications and make comments.
Parish Councils were asked to consider preparing a resilience plan for their area. I am grateful to Councillor Chadwick for taking a lead on this. When it is completed it will be on the website, but we will also need to consider other ways of distributing the information in case of an emergency. Although we are unlikely to face the devastating floods that have occurred in parts of Herefordshire, extreme weather events such as Storm Arwen have shown us that we could have loss of power over a wide area, landlines down, damaged buildings or landslides.
You may know that the contract for Public Rights of Way and Traffic Regulation Order management is now ‘in house’ at Herefordshire County Council.. All the parishes have a volunteer footpath officer who will be walking each of the footpaths in their patch at least once a year and reporting any problems, but you too can report any problem online on the Herefordshire website.
We are grateful for the regular attendance of our Ward Councillor Peter Jinman at our meetings, for his ability to keep us informed of what is going on at county level, and too for the attendance of our local police.