2020/1 Annual Report
It was an extraordinary year for the Parish Council, with only the March meeting being held face to face. Once we adjusted to virtual meetings, it became a good way for transacting business, enabling councillors to take part without leaving the safety of their own home – indeed it did not even require us to be at home if we had the chance to go away. It did not suit everyone though and the two new members who joined us at the beginning of 2020 left during the year. We also said goodbye to Richard Johnnes, who joined the Parish Council in 2014 but has moved with his family out of the Parish. We really appreciate everything that Richard has done in Up Hatherley, with an overhaul of the Village Hall and its facilities as well as encouragement for the Parish Council to be more proactive in the community. This leaves us short of members and we hope to encourage some new members to join us – particularly people living in the North and East of the Parish. It would also be excellent to see more diversity in members – more women, different ethnicities and younger councillors would really help with representing a broader spectrum of our community.
Police and Community
It has not been possible to launch new Neighbourhood Watch schemes, hold the planned meeting on Cyber Crime or organise youth activity as planned, but plans are well underway to get things in place as soon as it is permissible.
Unfortunately, we have seen some quite serious anti- social behaviour including arson near to Broad Oak Way and Morrisons and in the Windermere Road area. We agreed to fund the loan of a camera to see if we could catch the culprits. A reward is being offered for information leading to arrests and we are considering the funding of youth work targeted towards potential offenders.
The bike marking event that had to be postponed in January 2021 will be held outdoors at the end of May and plans are underway to publicise the event.
Footpaths and Open Spaces
During July and August and in response to the increase in the numbers of residents taking a daily walk, we delivered letters to 1400 homes around the open spaces in the Parish to find out what the views were on these areas, as well as finding out what interest there might be in volunteering. The response was very promising with a wealth of ideas and over 50 people offering their services as “green space volunteers”.
Progressing collective volunteer action has been tricky given the constraints posed by the pandemic, but we were able to hold a special meeting in August and agree several schemes to improve the open spaces in our Parish. Money was spent on the Broad Oak Way spinney and we are now awaiting a start on improvements to Caernarvon and Cheriton Parks, where the Parish Council is contributing £15K and CBC spending £40K. We have been able to incorporate suggestions from residents.
A start was also made on tree planting with 3 oaks marking the centenary of Cheltenham North Rotary club on Up Hatherley Way (more planned for the autumn) and CBC/the Forestry Commission planted over 200 native species saplings at the front of the Manor Farm Open space.
We made a new arrangement with CBC/Ubico and our two Parish Council greens are now mowed with cuttings being collected.
Following discussions with CBC, we will shortly see a trial extra bin on Fernleigh Green. If it is well used then this will help dog walkers in particular.
Village Hall and Communications
John Wells has taken over as lead for the Village Hall, with John Furley heading up IT/Communications. A surveyor is being appointed so that we can organise work to the hall roof (it Is 100 years old) and we now have a way of e-mailing councillors collectively as well as having a thorough review of our website to check it meets required standards.
Peter Worsley edited and produced an excellent edition of the Parish Record and, with several Parish councillors and volunteers helping, we didn’t need to pay for a delivery company, so avoiding errors in delivery.
Policy and Resources
Adrian Bamford continues to update the Planning Tracker and the Action tracker to enable us to monitor applications and keep an eye on progress with projects. The most controversial planning application this year was from Avenue Lodge, where the applicant is seeking to build a detached dwelling, having filled in a significant proportion of the pond and either failed to do the things that were previously approved or meet the conditions attached to those approvals. We took the time to speak to all the affected residents and made an objection. We await the decision.
Noreen Holden leads this group now and headings have been agreed for the Parish survey. Andy Ponting has been working on a draft of the questions and we should shortly be able to produce and organise delivery, possibly with GRCC help in analysis.
A revised Garden Competition has been launched in schools and in the community – no glitzy Awards evening – but something that entrants can take part in safely without the need for judges visiting schools and homes. Children at Lakeside School and Greatfield Park School are competing to see who can grow the tallest sunflower or the biggest mass of potatoes from a seed potato.
Although we could not have our usual Carol service on Fernleigh Green, we did host the Salvation Army’s one and only Carol concert which was a mobile service playing carols under lampposts around Up Hatherley on an incredibly cold night. We approved a £300 donation to the Salvation Army for the work that they do all the year round. We put lights on to our tree and lit it up every evening for a couple of weeks. We also had for the second year running a competition for children making home made decorations for the tree.
Through donations and volunteering, we have been actively helping with Food Poverty and in February, a Tuesday morning outlet of the Food Bank – the Lakeside Community project started up at St Margarets Hall.
Highways and Transport
Roger Whyborn leads this group and there have been regular meetings (face to face and virtual) with Danny from Highways, who is proving to be very helpful and proactive. Our VAS has been deployed at various sites around the Parish and the information collected has enabled us to demonstrate the best locations for the Police to step up action to catch speeding drivers.
Finally signage has been relocated on Up Hatherley Way on approach to the roundabout with Sunnyfield Lane/Cold Pool Lane. We await the start on work on a path so that residents can more easily cross Up Hatherley Way near that roundabout.
Working with Schools
We helped fund a track around the school grounds at Lakeside School so pupils could do a “daily mile” and contributed funds to barriers to help manage social distancing at the school. We are just about to agree financial help to enable Greatfield Park School to build a Cycle/Scooter storage area.
Recycling facilities at Morrisons
Andy Ponting raised the problem of fly tipping and mess around these facilities and we have been in contact with CBC, looking at how the situation could be improved.
I would like to thank every councillor on the Parish Council and our clerk Kathryn Oakey for all your help this year. It has been an incredibly challenging year where we have needed to think of all sorts of inventive ways to do things, but you have all risen to the challenge and been absolutely brilliant!
Sarah Bamford (Chair)