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Police and Crime Plan 2017 - 2021
Anthony Stansfeld, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley has recently published his new five year Police and Crime Plan which sets out the priorities for policing and other crime reduction organisations across the Thames Valley, including the response to regional and national threats.
The full plan can be found on the PCC website here and a short summary of the plan; it’s broad strategic priorities and how it has been developed is below.
Police and Crime Plan 2017 - 2021
This new Plan consists of five broad strategic priorities which are:
- Vulnerability – Managing demand on services through working together with a particular focus on mental health, elder abuse, hidden abuse, and the criminal justice experience for victims of domestic and sexual abuse
- Prevention and Early Intervention – Improving safeguarding in both the physical space and virtual space including tackling cyber crime, road safety, peer on peer abuse, hate crime and female genital mutilation (FGM)
- Reducing Re-offending – Targeting and managing harm and risk with a focus on substance misuse, violence involving weapons and offender management including perpetrators of domestic abuse
- Serious Organised Crime and Terrorism – Improving the local response including increased public awareness, promoting a ‘dare to share’ culture, and preventing violent extremism and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
- Police Ethics and Reform – Increasing the pace of change with a focus on improved support for victims, accelerated uptake of new technology, and improving the perceptions of police among young people
The priorities and aims in the Plan will be addressed in greater detail through the delivery plans of Thames Valley Police, the Office of the PCC and other partner service delivery plans, particularly Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs).
The plan was developed using a broad range of information including the evaluation of research documents, analysis of crime trends, horizon scanning to identify future trends and consultation with partners including the police and local authorities.
It was also informed by the views of the nearly 5000 residents of Thames Valley, including over 1000 young people, who took part in the PCCs policing and crime survey in 2016.
Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said “I am pleased to be launching the new Police and Crime Plan which sets out my priorities for keeping communities across the Thames Valley safe. The plan seeks to address current and emerging threats from crime over the next five years.
“I have kept my strategic priorities broad to allow organisations to interpret them to meet local needs but I will be working closely with partner organisations to understand how they will address the issues identified.
“The demands on policing and community safety concerns have changed over the last few years and my new plan reflects this. Issues such as mental health are placing a growing demand on police and partners, as has the increased reporting of domestic and sexual abuse. Hidden and/ or newly emerging crimes such as female genital mutilation, hate crime, honour based violence and cyber crime also need to be tackled. It is important that we work together to raise awareness of these crimes as well as bring to justice the offender and support the victims.
“To effectively take on this work there is a need for police to take advantage of new technologies, while at the same time continuing to foster the trust of the people they serve. My recent survey showed that adults were largely satisfied with the service provided by the police, however, young people’s perception of police was less favourable and I would like to see more work with young people to address this.
“As the recent tragedy in London has unfortunately highlighted terrorism remains a very real threat and the work in preventing violent extremism will continue. Serious organised crime must also be tackled and very vulnerable people, who are exploited as a consequence, protected.
“My new Plan focuses on many new and emerging issues for policing but more traditional crimes such as household burglary and rural crime will also remain a priority.
“Tackling new demand, as well as maintaining support for the investigation of more traditional crimes, won’t be an easy task. However, as recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspections have shown, Thames Valley Police is a force we can be proud of and I have faith that they will be able to rise to this challenge and continue to safeguard the communities of Thames Valley.”
PR and Communication Support Officer
Direct Line: 01865 541954 Internal: 300-6703
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
Thames Valley Police Headquarters
Kidlington OX5 2NX
Parish Council Spring 2017 Report
At the Parish Council meeting in January there was an extended discussion as to the appropriate precept, or income, which should be requested from CDC. The Parish Council has requested an increase in the precept from the current £9000 to £10000 for the forthcoming year. When the demand is issued, it is anticipated that the parish’s element of the overall council tax will rise from £26.14 to £29.04 for a Band D property’s tax for the year or 5.6p per week. The equivalent for a Band G property is likely to be from £43.57 to £48.41 per year or around 9.3p per week.
This is the second year running that the demand has risen by £1000. Councillors are aware that more is being demanded of the budget. In last year’s article on this subject it was noted that there was planned tree work on Parish Council owned land in Tower Road. This proved to be more costly than anticipated. We need to clear the unsightly fly tipped waste in New Road. CDC will not do this as it is on private land and the owner, the Penn Estate, is under little pressure to remove it as the entrance gate is not used. The Penn Estate has agreed to allow an earth barrier to be place at the road’s edge which, it is hoped, will dissuade further waste deposits. This will cost several hundred pounds. At the January meeting one feature of the discussion was a clear wish for the council to care for the ’look’ of the village and this item falls squarely into that category.
There is also a desire to install a new Play Area at the Jack Adams’ Field. As mentioned a year ago the existing Play Area is proving costly to maintain and the annual inspections lead to demands for running repairs. While this, and last, year’s budget set aside sums towards the purchase of new equipment they will be insufficient to properly furnish a new area. And any new site will have to be made animal proof and there will need to be provision for off road parking. This will be beyond the current level of reserves which will, in any case, be run down this coming year. But there is a desire that a start be made.
Another item, which we have deferred to the coming year which will be a significant item of expenditure, is the maintenance of the Christmas tree lights. They are due a service and will likely require rehanging. Separately the tree itself would appear to be changing its angle and its health needs monitoring.
The council has received a grant from the Amersham Local Area Forum of £3850, which represents approximately one half of the cost of providing yellow lines around the entrance to Hill Meadow. The Parish Council would be expected to match this sum. However, there are notable misgivings as to the wisdom of installing yellow lines both on aesthetic grounds and on the more practical grounds of making them effective. While Thames Valley Police remain concerned about the illegality of some parking in the area the police are not empowered to issue tickets. It would rely on visits from wardens in Amersham to provide sanctions.
Around the turn of the calendar year two new councillors joined to bring our number to seven, the maximum we are allowed. Craig Saunders and Guy Cornelius bring new skills and ideas with the added benefit of lowering the average age even if their arrival tips the balance of membership back towards a majority of males.
Chilterns Walking Festival
For details of this years Chilterns Walking Festival click on the link below:
Coleshill Public Footpath- Notice of Temporary Closure
Please click on the link below for details of a temporary closure to one of Coleshill`s public footpaths
Village Clean Up dates for 2017
Please see the link below for details of the Village Clean Up dates for 2017.
Parish Council Winter 2016 Report
For many, the most significant event during the autumn has been the closing of the Red Lion. Whatever the eventual outcome of the building and site might be the Parish Council has instigated the process of registering the pub as an Asset of Community Value which, if it is successful, provides a six month window of opportunity to a community group to be able to mount a bid for the Red Lion if it is put up for sale in the next six years. It is not the intention of the PC to front a group. Merely to arrange for CDC, if it agrees, to place it on a list of ACVs.
While I am loath to count our chickens...we do now have a date for the start of the resurfacing of New Road – 13th December. It is expected that the road will be closed for the balance of the week and possibly also on December 12th.
I hope that we might be rid of the unsightly telephone box by the pond. When we tried to have it removed two years ago we were told that, under a 1984 agreement with the Crown, BT had to leave boxes where there was not another within 1500 metres. This was in the premobile days. BT has just issued a consultation paper to gauge local opinion about the possible removal of a number of local call boxes. The details are on the village website. I note that the document shows that there have been four calls made from our box over the past twelve months.
I would hope that villagers will not object to its removal. The PC has replied to two enquiries about infrastructure needs, one from Thames Valley Police and one from BCC, despite it being the case that at all meetings with official bodies, and especially BCC, over the past three years there has been a steady drumbeat about the need for cuts, since central government has been reducing its grants to local authorities and moving towards a net contribution from counties in 2018/19. So any replies to such surveys have to accept that expectation that our wants and needs may be met should be pitched extremely low. For the record, we told TVP that our local priorities are: 1) a solution to the parking problem at Hill Meadow; 2) controls on aggressive doorstep selling and 3) fly tipping. We told BCC that our infrastructure priorities are: 1) a parking solution at Hill Meadow; 2) roads to be resurfaced; 3) reinstatement of white lines; 4) maintenance of drains and 5) a solution to subsidence in Barrack Hill.
Further interaction with the ‘authorities’ has been, and will be, around the proposed ‘modernisation of local government’ as the County is proposing a change to a single unitary council for the County thereby making district councils redundant or variations on two or three high level councils. Parish councils would be unaffected but relationships with a ‘superior’ council would probably be more difficult. There is then the parallel relationship with the, as yet complete, joint CDC and South Bucks Council. This putative body may be about to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy – a tax on developers to contribute towards new infrastructure demands that a new development requires, or which may suit the Council’s budgetary plans. Coleshill will not qualify for a 25% share of a CIL’s proceeds which those areas which have a Neighbourhood Plan will. We would be eligible for a 15% share and the PC needs to ensure engagement with this process and with the appropriate agencies.
The pressure from central government to restrict public sector expenditures referred to previously has taken the form of a 2% cap on annual taxes, any increase of 2% or more requiring a referendum. There is now a proposal that this form of control may be extended to parish councils or at least those with incomes of £500,000 or above. We have written objecting to this proposal fearing it may extend to all public tax raising bodies and pointing out that the suggestion sits awkwardly with the aspirations contained in the Localism Act.
Funding for Young Athletes
Please click on the link below for details of how Young Athletes can apply for funding:
Bucks County Council budget consultation for 2017/18
Buckinghamshire County Council launched its budget consultation for 2017/18 on Monday 7 November.
We would like to encourage as many people as possible to take part in this consultation as the results will feed into our budget setting process in the new year and will help us to decide on our spending priorities for next year.
This year’s consultation is very quick and easy to complete and we would like to ask for your help in raising awareness of the consultation and encouraging your local residents and communities to take part. Simply go to our website and click on the Take Part button: www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget
The survey will run until Sunday 8 January.
Please note there is only one over-arching consultation this year unlike previous years where we have created separate ones for residents and businesses.
Those who don’t have internet access can still take part by visiting their local library and making use of the free computer access there.
Consultation on removal of Coleshill village phone-box
Please see details below on the consultation being run by Chiltern District Council on the removal of the village phone-box by BT.
Chiltern Pools consultation
Chiltern District Council are currently running a public consultation on the future of Chiltern Pools in Amersham for more information please click on the link below:
Learning to use an iPad courses in Coleshill Village Hall
Colsehill Village Hall
Short Course - Learning to use an iPad – Beginners and Occasional Users
2 sessions of 2.5 hours – Friday mornings
Course fee - £40.00
Do you own an iPad and would like to learn how to use it with confidence?
You may have thought about buying one and would like some help in how you could use it.
Would you like to learn how to :
- Navigate your way around your iPad with ease.
- Use specific iPad applications and features such as the clock, access E Books ( reading books on line) and use the notes function.
- Down load apps ( applications)
- Browse the Internet and shop on line.
- Use the camera to take photos and videos.
- Set up an e-mail account and be able to send messages to family and friends with pictures attached.
Adult Learning – Buckinghamshire (BAL) are looking at running this short course in Colsehill Hill Village Hall.
The course would run over two sessions on a Friday morning.
You do not need to own an iPad as these are available to loan for free from BAL for the two sessions.
If you do have your own iPad you can bring this along to use.
BAL would like to gauge as to how much interest we would have from local residents before we proceed in setting up the course.
Places on the course would be limited to 12 and would be allocated on a first come first served basis.
If you would be interested in attending the sessions please contact Cathy Colsell for more information.
Cathy Colsell at BAL
Regional Coordinator – Chilterns
Learning for Personal Development
Community Learning Team
Buckinghamshire Adult Learning
Mobile phone number - 07730672402
Regional Co ordinator – Chilterns
Learning for Personal Development
Community Learning Team
Buckinghamshire Adult Learning
CHILTERN AND SOUTH BUCKS LOCAL PLAN (2014-2036) GREEN BELT PREFERRED OPTIONS CONSULTATION
From 31st October until 5pm on 12th December 2016* Chiltern and South Bucks Councils are consulting on 15 Green Belt Options they consider should be brought forward in the emerging Local Plan in order to help meet the development needs for the Districts. The Councils are consulting in order to:
- seek views to help determine their suitability for development;
- help understand views on what type of development should be sought if suitable and what type of requirements should be secured as part of development;
- enable comments on the evidence base that has informed the Consultation; and
- provide the opportunity for alternative options to be put forward.
* The close of consultation may be extended depending on the publication of key evidence base documents by the 31st October. If there are any changes to this date they will be published on the Councils’ websites (addresses below).
More details as well as the consultation document and response forms will be available on the Councils’ websites from 31st October: www.chiltern.gov.uk/planning/localplan2014-2036 or www.southbucks.gov.uk/planning/localplan2014-2036. Hard copies of the consultation document will be available to view in both Council Offices and libraries serving the Districts, check: www.buckscc.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/libraries/find-a-library/ for library opening times.
If you have any queries please contact a member of the Planning Policy Team on the contact details provided above.
Planning Policy Manager, Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils
Restoring the Record- Old paths and by-ways- Volunteers required
On 1st January 2026, it will no longer be possible to use documentary evidence to claim ‘lost rights-of-ways’ – the expression ‘once a highway, always a highway’ will become history. Any path, track, alleyway, bridleway, cut-through, etc. not registered on the Definitive Map could be in danger of being lost forever. Even old and still well-used, but officially unrecorded, paths and tracks may at risk.To lessen the possible impact of this, the Buckinghamshire Local Access Forum, Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers and British Horse Society have joined forcesto both help secure unrecorded paths for future generations to enjoy as well as ensuring that what is currently shown on the Definitive Map is accurate and that no anomalies exist.
If you are interested in volunteering for this valuable work then please click on the link below for more details.
HS2 August 2016 update
Please click on the link below to read the August update from HS2.
HS2 Property Compensation
Please click on the link below to find out about HS2 Property Compensation.
Your Councillor, Julie Burton, has asked that we note the following CDC message:
Don’t let these usual suspects end up in your mixed recycling bin or bag.
Every week, the Council have to leave many mixed recycling bins and bags uncollected as they contain items they are not able to recycle with the rest of the mixed recycling. Above are several items that commonly cause mixed recycling bins or bags not to be collected.
If the Council collect recycling bins with non-recyclable items in them, and take them to the recycling centre, the whole lorry load of recycling may be rejected. In these incidences, the mistakes of a few residents can ruin the efforts of those who correctly sort their waste.
With your help, in 2015, Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils were able to recycle 50,715 tonnes of recycling. If this waste had not been recycled, it would have cost a staggering £4,000,000 to dispose of. Recycling is also great for the environment – it saves energy to make things from recycled materials and recycling helps to reduce carbon emissions.
Residents in Chiltern and Wycombe are doing well, but with your help, even more waste could be recycled. Most of the waste produced by the average household can be recycled using the kerbside recycling service. The Council want to encourage residents to recycle as much as possible and therefore will not collect extra bags of general rubbish that may be presented alongside your refuse bin.
Keeping waste inside the bin, with the lid shut flat, helps to keep the collection crews safe and the local environment clean and tidy. If bin lids are not closed completely, when lifted by the lorry, items may fall out and cause an accident. Putting out extra bags of general rubbish and failing to close bin lids encourages vermin and can lead to some of the waste being spread as litter.
Car Speeding Test Results
Results from Speed Tube readings
One set of speed tubes was laid outside Cedar House/Robert Shaw Trust field, the other alongside the pond. Readings were taken from both, in both directions, over seven days – 14th to 21st March. [It should be noted that it is perfectly possible for traffic to generate no reading e.g. a Winchmore Hill resident travelling to the school would not generate a reading.]
Over the seven days there were 915 readings at Cedar House but only 616 at the pond. This significant difference could possibly be explained by school visitors, the majority of whom will make four runs per day or twenty per week. Figures given by Jenny Earp confirm that the school demographic may well be skewed to the north of the village (with Winchmore Hill children not triggering readings) and that this would therefore seem to explain much of the imbalance.
A further feature of the data concerns peak morning and afternoon/evening traffic. At Cedar House the peak a.m. volume is 95 at 08:00¹ while that for the pond is 44 at the same time. At Cedar House the peak p.m. volume is 86 at 17:00 while that for the pond is 73 at the same time. I would suggest that the differences might be attributable to commuters heading to and from Amersham station.
Speeding in general would appear not to be a problem, possibly suggesting that our perception of speed, as pedestrians, is over-estimated. The mean average of readings at Cedar House was 28 mph and at the pond 26 mph.
However, at the 85th percentile (“the speeds at or below which 85% of all vehicles are observed to travel under free-flowing conditions past a nominated point”), the 24 hour reading at Cedar House was 34 and that at the pond was 33. These figures, the average over seven days, suggest that there may be a speeding problem and legally that has to be the case.
At Cedar House the 85th percentile reading was highest at 37, taken during the hour beginning 06:00 (there were additionally readings of 36 at 07:00 and at 17:00).
Similarly, at the pond the 85th percentile reading was highest at 35 during the hour beginning 07:00 and 17:00, suggesting faster rush hour traffic.
The tubes do not appear to have led to lower speeds after day one.
At Cedar House:
There were 917 readings (131 per day): 423 one way; 494 the other
72.1% of the readings were of speeds below 31 mph and 92.3% below 36 mph
7.5% or 7.7% (rounding error) of the readings were at speeds above 36mph
There was no reading above the 41-46 mph bracket
There were three readings in the 46-51 bracket and one in the 51-56 bracket
At the Pond:
There were 616 readings: 345 one way; 271 the other
79.9% of the readings were of speeds below 31 mph and 94.6% below 36 mph
5.4% of the readings were at speeds above 36mph
There was one reading in the 46-51mph bracket which was taken at 17:00. But the total for that speed bracket shows zero so there has to be uncertainty as to the veracity of this reading.
There were two readings in the 46-51 bracket and one in the 51-56 bracket
The lack of consistency in the readings between the weekly totals of each speed bracket and the hourly totals of higher speeds has been noted above. It is also worth mentioning that there were only ten readings above the 4146 mph bracket or 0.7% of the total sample.
¹ Each hourly bracket contains data for an hour starting at the hour shown i.e.
17:00 is 17:00 to 18:00.
I have created six graphs from the data: both sites each way and the totals. The graphs below show the data as percentages.
Cedar House; south easterly (421)
Cedar House: north westerly (494)
Cedar House: total readings (915)
The Pond: southbound (345)
The Pond: northbound (271)
The Pond: both directions (616)
Annual Parish Meeting: 16th May 2016
Last year I explained why the PC decided not to take on some of the responsibilities of BCC. Those towns and parishes which had chosen not to take on devolved services were, a while back, asked to reconsider. We decided again not to participate principally because some pro bono legal advice confirmed our concerns that the contractual terms were onerous but official announcements from BCC confirmed the leitmotif of warnings that not only the county’s financial contribution to the devolution programme would run down to zero but that the county’s responsibilities generally would be limited to those of an essential nature and that we might have to take on even more responsibilities for little money and on contractual terms that made us uneasy. The parish council has, therefore, accepted that it is probable that there will be more demands on its budget as the county retires from all but those obligations which are deemed necessary for safety.
Because of this the parish council decided to increase the precept by £1000 per annum, although there were other reasons for the increase:
The Play Area has been requiring more expenditure on its ageing equipment and is now a significant item in our budget
Trees in Tower Road – we are about to work on the stretch of trees lining the road which has not been done for some time
We anticipate greater use of the clerk in monitoring BCC’s work or lack of it and when the latter putting in place remedial measures
Maintenance of required and desired reserves.
In the recent newsletter I compared our new Band G charge of £43.57 p.a. with those of other local councils:
from Chesham with a Band G charge of £180.88 to Chenies whose figures are £6500 and £82.17.
The parish with an electorate closest to our electorate of 455 is The Lee (579) whose precept is £11,000 and whose Band G charge is £45.60.
Coleshill’s Band G charge will, this coming year, be £43.57, an increase of £3.25 per annum or 6.25p p.w.
As with last year let me mention a few of the actions your council has taken in the year to end March and some of the issues that have been raised:
The flooding opposite Finlay Lodge was eventually cured last June;
The topping of the Barrack Hill triangle has been further delayed by the fiscal stringencies at BCC into this 16/17 financial year. We have just heard that this is due to take place in the week of 11th-15th July. Our county councillor, Tim Butcher, has pursued this matter;
Some more white lines were painted in July;
In the same month I and our district councillor, Julie Burton, met with CDC’s waste team to try and ensure the guidelines were adhered to. We have not been successful as our waste collectors are not following the guidelines...but this remains a live issue;
In September we submitted an application for a grant towards speed monitoring equipment to the LAF;
In October, along with three residents of Winchmore Hill, and the help of TVP, a group of volunteers used some loaned Community Speed Watch equipment at the pond to monitor traffic speed;
In November the cabinet member for transport, Mark Shaw, spent two hours looking at all our roads at our request. His visit was two days after the first written communiqué from BCC as to the extent of budgetary cutbacks, so good intentions faced an immediate headwind;
Last month Tim Butcher informed the parish council meeting that New Road will be resurfaced this year. Tim’s allocation of road projects had been cut from five last year to three this so we should be grateful to Tim for choosing one of our roads;
In December it was decided that the trees and hedges in Tower Road should be inspected for likely remedial work. A contract has been placed and work will commence as soon as the nesting season is over;
More recently the pavement in Hill Meadow which was below the road surface has been restored;
Currently we are attempting to get BCC or TfB to correct the cause of the flooding opposite the school;
I mentioned earlier that we had applied for a grant for speed monitoring equipment which, I am pleased to say, has been successful. This was prior to the speed tubes exercise, the results of which showed that there is no real speeding problem. The average speed over the week of March 14th-21st was 28 mph. This does mean that the grant of £1500 we have received for contribution to buying a speed monitoring device will not be spent on one. We are hoping that the LAF will allow it to be spent on an alternative use involving traffic in some way. Suggestions already received include more white lines, some roundels and alterations to the triangle at Hill Meadow/ New Road to allow larger vehicles to negotiate that area. Whatever is decided will most probably require some expenditures from our reserves;
I have written to Mark Shaw to remind him that when he left the village last November he suggested that we would expect to see an improvement in six months;
He replied last week noting the news about New Road and wrote that Magpie and Windmill are both under consideration for the 2017/18 programme but added that “However, following the recent announcement by the DfT that Buckinghamshire will receive nearly half a million pounds from the Pothole Action Fund this year, the team will be looking to see if either of these two roads will be eligible for repairs using this money. At this stage, I am not able to confirm but as the programme is firmed up for 16/17 we’ll have a better idea where the pothole funds will be allocated”.
Most of the actions in the above catalogue have involved the work and persistence of our Clerk, Lynda Jackson, and this is the appropriate moment for me to thank her for her tenacity this past year.
As you probably know, each councillor has both individual and collective responsibilities: –
Elaine covers finance as our RFO and, please note, we have had another clean bill of health from our auditor although, ironically, we have been chosen for an at-random examination this year which Elaine is more than confident we shall pass.
Sadly, Elaine has decided to resign as a councillor as family commitments are impinging on her life. I am, and we should be, most grateful for all her work in ensuring that our finances are in good shape.
Carol covers our responses to planning applications and, in addition, this year has organized, starting in February, monthly litter picking days. These have been successful in the sense that the three so far have each, in the space of usually less than two hours, collected over 100 kilos of rubbish. I am sure this should be seen as a success however dispiriting it might be to report 300 kilos of waste collected by village volunteers on just three occasions.
Mary monitors our fourteen kilometres of footpaths and liaises with the Chiltern Conservation Society on their state. Mary has also turned her attention to the parking at Hill Meadow which has caught the attention of the police.
Lynn is the guardian of the Play Area which in the past few years has, as I noted earlier, been a more significant item of our expenditures.
Jon Herbert who joined us in January has proved to be somewhat of a free spirit as he has set up, with his wife, a breakaway clean up group to ensure that Carol’s groups have a competing benchmark. Jon has been of great help with the Play Area and is staying in touch with the Common Management Group.
It is appropriate that I finish with the Clerk as I know that there are some items with which she continues to wrestle. I have mentioned the depressed road opposite the school, and there is a signage issue and other road related matters, but the other significant item is the mess by the triangle at the top of Magpie Lane where BCC/TfB have attempted, unsuccessfully, to cure a flooding or drainage problem. Lynda is having to determine whether CDC, the guardian of the Common, is privy to or has endorsed the work done by the county which has damaged that corner of the common. At a time of fiscal stringency, which is worsening, solutions take much time and we are fortunate in having a clerk with the patience to pursue what solutions may be available.
I know that we have not provided solutions to all complaints but I do hope that the above has indicated that we are not totally idle.
HS2 May 2016 update
To read the May update regarding HS2 please click on the link below.
Coleshill Cricket Club May newsletter
Please click on the link below to read Coleshill Cricket Club May newsletter
HS2 April 2016 update
To read the latest update on HS2 then please click on the link below:
Information site for new A355 link road
To find out more information on the new A355 link road in Beaconsfield then please click on the link below:
Speedtubes- results from the data taken
Please click on the link below to read a letter from the Chairman regarding the results of the recent Speedtubes installation in the Village.
The 2016/17 Precept
By January 31st each year each town and parish council needs to request the amount of its precept, or revenue requirement, from its district council. The large bulk of the precept is monies from, in our case, Chiltern District Council with a small element being in the form of a Revenue Support Grant which the district council will receive from central government. This latter element has been decreasing of late and central government support for the coming financial year has further declined so that it will represent only 0.3% of the parish’s income from sources outside the parish compared with 0.8% in the current year and 1.2% in 2014/15.
The Parish Council has requested an increase in the precept from the £8,000 of the past two years to £9,000 for the forthcoming year, made up of a precept from CDC of £8,975.20 and a central government Support Payment of £24.80. This is, ignoring the small element from central government, a notable increase, which, in contrast to the two small declines in the past two years, requires some explanation.
The question of ensuring that we have sufficient income for our budgeted needs is affected by how much of the county’s responsibilities for which we may have to be responsible in future. Bucks CC has been asking town and parish councils to take over some of its responsibilities - the devolution proposal - by signing a contract to take over services, in particular grass cutting, sign cleaning and path maintenance. The Parish Council recently confirmed its decision of last year and decided not to accept the county’s request to join Tranche 2 of its devolution proposal. Bucks CC, under increasingly tight fiscal restraints from the cap on its taxation raising powers, has been requesting that towns and parishes take on a number of the county’s responsibilities in return for a transfer of income. From the start of discussions about the programme it was clear that the amounts of money on offer would be unlikely to cover the cost of looking after the tasks we were expected to assume and that it was made clear that the amounts would decline during the four year period of the first contract, or tranche. There has been no change in that pattern in the proposed second tranche and in all meetings with BCC over the past two years there has been a steady drumbeat of warnings as to further fiscal stringency to come. This was put in writing in early November in a press release from BCC which, for the first time, formally confirmed these verbal warnings:-
“…..The County Council has announced a freeze on non-essential spending to ensure it can meet the rising cost of looking after the most vulnerable people across Buckinghamshire.
The Council is taking decisive action to address a possible budget shortfall of about £6m by March 2016, mainly due to increasing demand for social care for both adults and children….”
The Parish Council has accepted that it is probable that there will be more demands on its budget as the county retires from all but those obligations which are deemed necessary for safety. There was also disquiet as to the terms of the contract that BCC offered.
The decision to raise our income by around £1,000 was predicated on other considerations. Over the past few years the Play Area has proved to be a costly asset to maintain. In 2011/12 it absorbed £971, in 2013/14 £1,771 and in 2014/15 £881. The equipment is now of an age when it needs money spent on it and the required annual inspection is throwing up shortcomings in the site’s gate and fencing which need attention in order that the terms of our insurance policy are not compromised.
Councillors also anticipate needing to spend on tree work on Parish Council owned land in Tower Road on the periphery of the Jack Adams’ Field. There are several trees which are likely to need attention. We have, of late, been fortunate that CDC has paid for some costly tree work by the pond but there must be some uncertainty as to whether it can repeat its contribution given the tightening fiscal environment.
It is also expected that, whether BCC fulfil their obligations or not, the Parish Council clerk will probably need to spend more time monitoring activity or lack of it and, if the latter, organizing alternative operatives to do work that is perceived necessary.
Prior to the request for an increased precept, the Budget for 2016/17 had been prepared, discussed, amended and finalized. As adopted it shows a small shortfall in our bank balance at 31st March 2017 from our desired level of reserves. The latter is an aggregation of best practice reserves, such as six months operating costs, and some specific, prudent, reserves adopted by the council. The shortfall is after it is assumed that the request for a larger precept will be met.
It might be worth comparing Coleshill’s Band G charge with other towns and parishes in the Chilterns area of which there are seventeen which range, in total precept amounts, from Chesham at £872,014 and a Band G charge of £180.88 to Chenies whose figures are £6,500 and £82.17. [The lowest Band G charge is that of Chartridge at £20.07 and whose precept is £10,000]. The parish with an electorate (579) closest to ours of 455 is The Lee whose precept is £11,000 and whose Band G charge is £45.60. Coleshill’s Band G charge will, this coming year, be £43.57, an increase of £3.25 per annum.
Any meaningful change in our relatively low absolute precept of £8,000 will prove to be a notable percentage increase. But, for individual properties, the Parish Council element of the total Council Tax Demand is not an onerous sum. The move from £24.19 p.a. to £26.14 for a Band D property or just under 4 pence per week and from £40.32 to £43.57 or just over 6 pence per week for a Band G property is felt to be needed to cover the extra expenditures believed necessary to maintain the ‘look’ of the village.
Coleshill Cricket Club Spring newsletter
Please click on the link below to view the Spring newsletter from Coleshill Cricket Club.
Memory Support Service
If you are concerned about your memory, or know someone who is, then please click on the link below for details of the Memory Supprt Service.
If you would like to volunteer to be an Alzheimers Society Befriender and would like more information then click on the link below.
Legal requirement to microchip all dogs
The law is changing on 6th April.
All dogs (and puppies from 8 weeks old) must be microchipped.
Please click on the link below for more information.
Parish Council Autumn 2015 Report
The requests for more white road lines have had some success. At the last writing there were new line markings at the top of New Road and the foot of Barrack Hill. Then some appeared at the entrance to Chase Close, by the War Memorial and by Pooles’ Patch, the eponymous Pooles recounting the work happening around eleven at night. Frustratingly BCC/TfB do not pre-advise these events but did announce that when the works orders were issued the anticipated time to complete the (undefined) job would be sixteen weeks. So more may appear.
We have had advice that after many requests the road gullies will be worked on towards year end. Works in Tower Road, Village Road, Windmill Hill and Magpie Lane are due to start on 21st October. Then on December 3rd those in Barrack Hill, Chase Close and Hill Meadow are due to receive attention. One area in particular has been the subject of much nudging of TfB and that is the damaged verge opposite Finlay Lodge which is subject also to flooding. The clerk received the following advice: “An order has been raised to repair this area by installing approx. 25m of kerbing, re-setting the kerb weir gully and then top soiling the verge and reinstating the adjacent carriageway edge. This has been added to our minor works gang list and is currently programmed to be completed during w/c 26/10/15, however please note that this programme date is not a fixed date and programmes are highly likely to change for a number of reasons at short notice. We will attempt to keep you updated about any delays where we are made aware of them.”
Our clerk, Lynda Jackson, is receiving results from her considerable efforts in these areas.
We applied to the Amersham Local Area Forum for a grant to go towards the second stage of the Barrack Hill triangle, which has become a recurrent theme in our meetings for more than two years, and to contribute to some traffic monitoring equipment. We received a grant of £8400 but have still to learn how much it will cost to finish the triangle. But hopefully there will be some money left that will allow us to observe and measure traffic speed in the village.
We have also applied for a grant for some new children’s wooden play equipment. Repairs to the current equipment have become a notable feature of our budget over the past two years so it seems sensible to plan for some new features. If the application is successful and a budget can be met we would then have to think about whether the current Area or a new site would be the appropriate venue.
The water level of the pond has dropped and has caused comments and about the health of the fish. Rather than risk repetition of what is in another piece on this subject elsewhere it might be worth mentioning that the Parish Council discussed this at its last meeting. Concern was expressed that topping up the pond would introduce phosphates, the nutrients from which cause algae to develop in suitable conditions and create the blooms which are unsightly and use up the available oxygen in the water. Phosphates persist in the silt so it is hard to get rid of them. The Council was minded to let Nature take her course and accept that natural drawdown was preferable to introducing mains water.
The next Council meeting is on September 21st.
Advice on how to report a Road or Footpath problem to Transport for Bucks
Road, Verge & Public Footpath maintenance in Coleshill
Since taking over as Clerk to Coleshill Parish Council I have noticed that one of the most common complaints from residents is the state of the roads and verges in the Village. Bucks County Council are responsible for the maintenance of the roads, verges and public footpaths in and around the village. With ever increasing costs the task of maintenance, especially in small communities like Coleshill is becoming more difficult.
It is very easy to report a problem. Transport for Bucks have a website which is very easy to use. To report a pot-hole go to the link:
Using `drop down` boxes you will be asked to enter the location of the pot-hole and once reported Bucks CC must do a site visit to check if the pot-hole qualifies for attention. Once a pot-hole has been logged a reference number is issued this can be entered onto the website to track the status of the fault.
You can also log other highway faults, by going to the link below, which include:
- Grass cutting issues
- Hedges or trees that are overgrown or causing an obstruction
- Road lines, where they have worn away and it is considered dangerous e.g. outside the school
- Dangerous road surfaces
Residents can also report problems they find on public rights of way. These may include:
- Fallen trees
- Damaged signs, stiles, gates etc.
- Fencing problems
- Obstructions e.g. vegetation
Any of the above can reported by going to the link below.
If you don`t have a computer then you can telephone any of the above problems direct to Bucks CC the number is: 01296 382416 or Out of hours (01296 486630).However you log a fault you will always be given a reference number.
By encouraging residents to log faults as they come across them it is hoped that Coleshill will get repairs done more quickly.
Clerk to the Council
Parish Council Annual Report 2015
Annual Parish Meeting 10th May 2015 Chairman’s Report
While the subjects of growth, decay and waste, most recently in the form of expansionary trees, dead trees, drains and dog waste, lead to much consideration every year, the attempt by BCC to devolve some of its responsibilities to towns and parishes has absorbed probably more time in the past twelve months. This is a pretty important issue as the Localism Act early in the last parliament, together with Dave’s push for a Big Society, is designed to foster greater local responsibilities, although no one is pretending that those ideals are not dominated by tightening budgets and a cap on counties’ tax raising powers.
The services which were considered for devolution to parishes and towns are:-
- urban grass cuts (within the 30mph boundary);
- weed spraying, including noxious and injurious types;
- siding out of overgrown footways to reinstate full width;
- hedge cutting;
- public rights of way clearance to the parish boundary;
- maintenance works such as: cleaning of traffic signs, minor traffic sign repairs, trimming vegetation obstructing pavements and footpaths (or liaising with landowner to carry out where appropriate);
- checking for obstructions to pavements & footpaths;
- serving of hedge cutting notices;
- verge maintenance including clearance, soiling and seeding;
- reporting potholes.
The annual funding to CPC from BCC (for entering this programme) would have been £700 in 2015/16 falling to £690 in 2016/17. It would be a 4-year arrangement.
It became apparent that BCC had not prepared sufficient information on what we were expected to do in their stead nor the length of rights of way we were expected to maintain. It turned out that we have around 14 kilometres of rights of way in the parish. They had difficulty in providing maps of the areas on which they worked. It really was difficult determining what BCC had done in the past and it emerged that it was less than they were suggesting we do. Despite initiating talks with Amersham Town Depot to act as our agent for these tasks your council did not feel comfortable adopting the county’s duties. I should explain further why your councillors decided against pursuing an idea that would probably play well in the constituency i.e. local people taking responsibility for the care and maintenance of their locality and, if deemed necessary, raising parish taxes to balance the books. It became clear over several meetings that the amount of money on offer from the county would trend down but that alone would not have made us decide against accepting the responsibilities offered. The inability in getting accurate data had built up frustration with being able to assess the fairly meagre income initially offered against the costs and benefits of assuming local responsibility for the aforementioned tasks. But what decided the council to defer a decision for a year was the requirement in any contract for the parish to indemnify the county council against any claims. The idea of accepting a contract that required a parish with a precept of £8000 per annum to indemnify the county against a claim struck the council as irresponsible.
Let me mention a few of the actions your council has taken in the year to end March and some of the issues that have been raised.
- White lines: on balance there is a wish to have them. The anti camp suggests that they would encourage speeding. The majority pro group feels it would induce greater caution. We have got new lines where New Road meets Village Road and new lines at the foot of Barrack Hill. We still have a request out for more lines to be repainted.
- Flooding: we have got that near the War Memorial cleared up but we continue to press for that opposite Finlay Lodge to be cured.
- We have been told that the roadside gulleys are to be cleared.
- We were shocked to learn of the cost of emptying three dog bins as there had been no indication from CDC that there would be a cost nor that it would come to some £600 p.a. Dog waste and its cost has been a leitmotif for much of the year. We did get CDC to agree to shoulder some of the cost by stressing that the Common was their responsibility but also by engaging with the CDC staff.
- The War Memorial was cleaned prior to Remembrance Sunday on the 100th year anniversary but the process took many months as we sought a grant from the War Memorials Trust. Understandably in 2014 the Trust had many demands but we did get a 50% grant.
- We asked CDC to contribute more to the costs of maintaining the Common and the Pond and I am pleased to say that has been successful. This was in part prompted by the cost of pruning and tending to the two willows at the back of the Pond. I believe that greater engagement with CDC has helped achieve this financial help. I should at this point thank Graham Harris our representative from CDC for his work on our behalf. His role will now be taken over by Julie Burton, a past chair of the parish council.
Last year I mentioned that when I took over the chairmanship in May 2013 I had the aim of attempting to get the triangle at the foot of Barrack Hill off the agenda where it had been since December 2012. Both 2013 and 2014 passed before the first phase was completed only a few weeks ago. Our county councillor, Tim Butcher, has been more than instrumental in getting us this far. He would probably describe it as having been a character forming exercise. Certainly he has learned a good deal about the arcane commissioning and execution of such works. We are assured that the job will be completed by TfB but I regret that neither we nor Tim expect a work party to appear imminently. But, so far, thanks to Tim’s generosity and to effective lobbying by Cllr McGhee at meetings of the Local Area Forum, the work has not been a strain on our finances.
The Parish Council sees that a prime responsibility is maintaining the look of the village and I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking the Common Management Committee and its working party for their unpaid work in maintaining the Common and the Pond. I know that Graham Thorne has plans for planting at the Pond and for work to improve the quality of the water and he would want me to add “Please don’t feed bread to the ducks”!
Our finances remain in good shape although I anticipate that the reserves we have built up over the past two years under Elaine West’s stewardship will likely be run down this year. That is what they are there for – to make ‘lumpy’ expenditures more bearable. We intend to rebuild them. I am glad to be able to tell you that our accounts and financial ways have just been given a clear pass by our internal auditor.
It is entirely appropriate that I thank my fellow councillors, each of which has a portfolio to watch over and frustrations with which to deal, for making my job easier. And for those who have not met her may I introduce our new clerk Lynda Jackson? Lynda is the deputy clerk at Great Missenden and lives closer than our previous clerk, being close to the Chiltern Hospital.
Lastly, I would like, on behalf not only of the councillors, but I hope of the village, to thank Dick Ware for his service as councillor and as chairman. His wisdom, command of the pen and body of knowledge will be much missed. On behalf of the parish we would like to give Dick a gift of a fruit tree just in case his apple tree gives up the fight but change the fruit to greengage!
|Dick Ware with his greengage tree||Yout Parish Council at work|
Parish Council Spring 2015 Report
The pressures on local council revenue raising ability have continued into this year. Central government renewed the order to effectively cap county council tax bills by imposing the requirement to hold a referendum for an increase of anything in excess of 2%. So the principles of localism are subverted not by a ban but by imposing the costs of holding a referendum.
While councillors have been made more than aware that budgetary pressures will mean that Bucks County Council and Transport for Bucks will not fulfil some of their roles it was decided that, because council finances had been placed on a firmer footing with the establishment of healthy reserves, the Parish Council can absorb some of the costs of work that properly lie with the County. Your parish councillors voted to hold the parish precept, or tax, unchanged at its 2014/15 level for the forthcoming financial year.
The Council has decided to reinstate the democratic period, during which members of the public can address councillors and the public, at the start of our meetings. This will allow attendees to leave before the main items of the agenda are addressed. It is worth noting that, from September, Parish Council meetings will commence at 8.15 pm.
We continue to approach BCC/TfB (Transport for Bucks) about flooding, verges, white lines in the roads, the Barrack Hill triangle (the replacement of which, while promised, is still yet to happen *) and pot holes. All road-related issues are matters for the County and residents should address their concerns to BCC but also copying the clerk. A request for white lines at the bottom of Barrack Hill has been lodged by TfB with the acknowledgement, however, that pressures on the budget might mean an indeterminate wait.
It is unlikely to have escaped your attention that elections will take place on May 7th. This will include local elections, which in themselves will include elections for parish councillors. If you would like to stand for election to the Parish Council please contact the clerk using the contact details above. Nomination papers will be available from 2nd March and need to be returned to Chiltern District Council by 9th April. A link will be posted on the village website.
* Editor’s update: This is now scheduled to happen between 7th and 17th April, with three consecutive daytime road closures
Parish Council Winter 2014 Report
In the last newsletter this section dwelt at length on the proposals from Bucks CC to devolve some services to town and parish councils. At its October meeting the Parish Council decided against rejecting the idea but to defer its decision, a route that the County anticipated some councils would choose. Other than the concerns that the cost of what we were being asked to take on would be in excess of the monies being offered by BCC, and the fairly clear guidance that after four years there might not be a subvention from the county's budget at all, what swayed the decision was the strong sense that BCC had not prepared either fully or accurately for the project including clarification of the parish's liabilities in the future if roles were taken on. The threat of no subvention at all seemed increased when, at the meeting at which the vote took place, councillors heard that an Ofsted report into BCC's children's services deemed them to be inadequate, resulting in a drawing down of £4.8m of reserves to bolster that budget.
While the Parish Council has chosen to defer a decision to adopt responsibility for some services and leave them with BCC, it is in the expectation that the cutting of grass, the tending of hedges and footpaths and the cleaning of road signs will be deemed by the county to be of lesser importance than other statutory duties in future. This is a subject which will remain live for some time yet.
Staying with budgetary matters, we were advised by our district councillor at the November meeting that the budgetary exercise for 2015/16 that Chiltern District Council is about to undertake will assume that their central government grant will be cut again and that the District may have to be self-funding in five years time. The prospects for the foreseeable future are for the fiscal strictures at central government level to continue to permeate down to the lowest level of government.
One non fiscal cut that was tried was the removal of the telephone box at the Pond. I was approached by a very important resident asking that it be removed. My past experience in phoning BT, probably shared by others, prompted my approach by e-mail asking that a telephone box be removed. On the following day a caller from the sub-continent told me that she had arranged for a Jiffy bag to be delivered for return of the box. There was more than a momentary pause when I gave the dimensions as seven feet high by three feet square but she promised to return in ten minutes to discuss handling of our 'very huge box'. Ten minutes late she called about my 'very huge box' and gave me BT Openreach's number. It transpires that at the time of privatisation in 1984 BT signed an agreement with the Crown to provide emergency call facilities and to not remove a call box if there was not another within 1500 metres. So it stays and it has been cleaned.
The next cut we tried, and the attempt continues, is one of the three dog bins. When they were bought there was no mention of any cost to emptying them so we were rather taken aback to get a demand for £655 from CDC representing two weekly clearances at £2.10 per clearance of three bins over a year, considering that two of the bins are on the CDC owned Common. We have learnt that a weekly collection is not an adaptation with which the system can cope so we may resort to one on the Common being removed. Negotiations are ongoing.
Turning to less solid matters, the Pond has been a subject of discussion. Its condition, and possible ways to improve it, are covered elsewhere. Whatever is done, which will involve reconciliation of some conflicting views, is likely to present demands on the Council's budget as fish are removed, vegetation planted, barley straw introduced (to fight certain algae) and willows controlled. It has been thought sensible to make those managing the Pond into a working party of the PC so that this central and important asset of the village can be the responsibility of a wider group.
While each councillor has an area of responsibility, our income and expenditure, though smaller than those of most residents – our income is some £9500 – involves the raising and spending of public money and, as such, requires auditing. The accounts for the year ending 31st March 2014 were passed as clear by our internal and external auditors with no matters arising, a credit to Elaine West in her role as Responsible Financial Officer. At the time of writing the Council's finances are sound and our policy of allocating reserves for both specific and general items, which we have been able to do as a result of having been able to claim a significant amount of VAT back, should allow us to absorb 'lumpy' or unexpected items of expenditure for a while with greater equanimity. But the VAT repayment is unlikely to be repeated as to amount and if we do take on some responsibilities in due course from the County an increase in the parish precept should not be ruled out.
We have had the benefit of Linda Collison as our clerk since September 2013 and we and the village are measurably the better for her work and guidance. It is a great disappointment that a likely imminent house move will make it impractical for her to continue and I am confident that I speak for all councillors in saying that she will be missed.
The system for notifying villagers of planning applications which might affect them has been one of the many services to have suffered from central government’s severe – and continuing – reduction in its funding of lower tiers of government. Not so long ago, planning applications in the village would be accompanied by general notices on telegraph poles, as well as a reasonable number of neighbours receiving individual notification. Today, notices on telegraph poles appear haphazardly and it’s only immediate neighbours to left, right and directly in front who are sent their own letters.
This reduced service on the part of the District Council has led to a suggestion that the Parish Council might be able to do something to improve the availability of news about applications in the village.
In times gone by, the Clerk put up written details of new planning applications on the Parish Council noticeboard outside the Hall as soon as they were received from CDC. But when (as often happened) so-and-so questioned me as to why they hadn’t known about a certain application and was referred to the noticeboard, they would say that they never passed it/couldn’t be bothered to read what was on it and other such. Perhaps it didn’t matter so much then, as CDC’s own procedures were more inclusive. One way of enhancing general knowledge might therefore be to revert to putting up hard copy but I imagine we’d get the same responses (perhaps even more so, since walking isn’t as common as it used to be!)
The current system, which we moved to when we set up the village website, is that a full list of current and historic planning applications now appears there. As soon as I’m notified of a new application I ask Derek to update the website accordingly. There may be a few days’ delay in this process but I aim to be as prompt as I can. Derek at the same time very helpfully establishes a direct link to the CDC planning site, so that all you have to do is click on the reference number and you’re taken directly to all the documentation for that application. So another answer to the problem is that villagers who are able to should check the website on a regular basis.
The second feature of the current system involves the Clerk circulating by email a weekly list of planning applications produced by CDC. This needs scrolling through to discover if there’s anything new for Coleshill (and very often there isn’t) but the time needed to do this is minimal. If you’re not already registered, you need to do this first and you’ll then start receiving the list, together with other notices from CDC and BCC which the Clerk considers useful/relevant to villagers.
Formal registration is necessary to allow us to maintain a database of addresses in accordance with data protection regulations. Villagers have in the past been encouraged – by messages on the website itself and, initially, via the Newsletter – to sign up but we’re still a very long way from having a comprehensive village email address list. Only if we had that could we be sure that everyone received the weekly planning list.
So at the moment we’re very much betwixt and between. Those who regularly consult the planning list for which I/Derek are responsible and/or are on the circulation list for Clerk’s messages (and read them!) will be kept up-to-date on current applications. I’m not quite sure what we do for villagers who remain paper-based. We could put up physical notices again but, for the reasons mentioned above, this may not result in much practical improvement.
Another improvement that has been suggested is, when new applications are made, for the Councillors responsible for planning (me and Carol Hallchurch) to look carefully at who has not been informed by CDC, consider all who might have an interest and then alert them. While not wanting to shirk our responsibilities as Councillors I have to say that in practice this would present us with an almost impossible task in deciding who might have an interest. Where would one draw the line? It’s quite possible that the whole village would consider itself interested in certain applications. And, even if we thought we’d got the extra notifications right, there would undoubtedly be complaints from some that they’d been missed out. Even if we got it right, informing those we thought might have an interest would then involve phone calls (time and expense) when we had the relevant numbers and copying and posting through doors where we hadn’t. Emailing would of course be a lot simpler but that possibility’s already been excluded on the assumption that villagers should already have put themselves on the regular circulation list if they’re interested in receiving such material.
So for the time being can I simply repeat the request that if villagers are interested in being kept up-to-date on planning applications which might affect them personally in some way – or indeed the village as a whole in more general ways – they register their interest with Derek. If those of you who read this Newsletter regularly -- but do not have/are not interested in using the internet -- have any further practical suggestions about how we might keep you better informed, by all means give me a call and we can discuss them.
As a final suggestion, you could always come along to Parish Council meetings once a month, when current applications are always on the agenda!
Parish Council Autumn 2014 Report
We are faced with a decision as to whether we take responsibility for some services currently provided by Bucks County Council/Transport for Bucks following proposals to devolve tasks to parishes. As there are probable consequences for higher local taxation this piece will focus on this important consequence of the Localism Act and the pressures on public sector finances.
Devolution of Council Services & Local Taxation PLEASE READ!!!
Bucks County Council has proposed that certain of the services it provides be adopted by town and parish councils. The proposal was introduced on May 27th. It centred on grass cutting, hedging, footpath clearance and cleaning of road signs all within the 30 mph area. Each parish has been offered the amount of money that Bucks spent on these services last year. In Coleshill’s case this is £692 for the coming year (2014/15) and £683 for the following three years. At the initial and subsequent meetings it has been made clear that the monies available for these services will decline.
We have been offered the alternative of declining the proposed budget allocation and leaving responsibility for the aforementioned services with BCC/TfB but we have been left in little doubt that the quantity and frequency of their service will diminish. Were we to adopt that approach we can be reasonably confident that maintenance of footpaths and rights of way, cleaning of road signs and cutting of grass is unlikely to happen.
It is suggested that parishes form clusters to try and achieve some economies of scale. Having used the Amersham Town Council works depot twice recently to repair a fence and work on the willows at the Pond, and seen their range of equipment, it seems sensible to consider working with ATC as other local parishes already do. Whether ATC can replicate the work done by BCC/TfB for the sums offered by BCC remains to be seen but, as intimated above, the strong indication is that, whatever monies are being offered at present, the expectation is that the cost will increasingly fall on towns and parishes. This, clearly, will have consequences for the parish precept, that element of your council tax bill that relates to tax raised to fund the work of the parish council.
The pressures on the public purse are well known. At the county level we know that Eric Pickles instructed counties this year to hold any increase in their taxes to 1% or face holding a referendum. Bucks argue that the extra demands on their budget from, for example, the recently enacted Care Act mean that, with the tax cap, services considered to be of lesser import will need to be divested or devolved. Were central government to consider placing a cap on town and parish taxation in future, services will suffer unless there is a rise in volunteer groups. While we should acknowledge the work done by the volunteers of the Chiltern Society’s Conservation Group, its subvention from BCC is under threat. So, we face having to consider that the ideas behind the Localism Act – more responsibility at the local level - are likely to affect us in the form of either diminished maintenance, higher taxes or volunteers. To put into perspective what higher taxes might mean, if the cost of doing the things outlined in the first paragraph were to be double the £683 that BCC is offering an extra £683 on our current precept of £8,000 is 8.5% which, in terms of the parish tax element of council bills, would be an extra £2.09, or 4p per week, for a house in Band D and £3.46 or 6.6p p.w. for a house in Band G. It would be pleasing to think that volunteer groups are about to spring up to take on what are not particularly onerous tasks and BCC has indicated it can make available some money to purchase capital equipment but the parish council does have to decide which route to go down with, it is to be much hoped, the support of the majority of residents. If any resident has particularly strong and reasoned views on the subject please speak to any councillor or write to the Chairman or Clerk.
We eventually persuaded Transport for Bucks to solve the flooding problem by the War Memorial. We had hoped that a troop of volunteers would solve the problem but it needed a JCB, three men and two days but we seem to have got there. Now we need some consistent rain to test the work. So far the problem appears to have been solved.
The War Memorial itself has, at last, had its clean. We would have liked it to have been able to show its new condition behind the poppies on August 4th but we had agreed to wait the outcome of an application to The War Memorials Trust for a grant. Our application was successful but it meant that we had to wait until late August for the facelift to happen. With the lovely work done by the WI around the memorial cross to create a bee-friendly garden, the Village has a fitting site to remember the events of 1914-18 (the Memorial is inscribed 1914-19) and subsequent military engagements.
The triangle at the bottom of Barrack Hill continues to be a feature of our meetings. Our county councillor, Tim Butcher, has been trying to help our efforts to persuade Bucks CC that this road feature needs attention but both he and we are forced to realize the budgetary pressures that all councils face. While there is little doubt that its present condition is unsightly it is more questionable whether it presents a danger to motorists and thus rated as a priority matter in the roads budget. However, Tim has kindly made available £600 from his portion of the Community Leadership Fund to us to pay for an audit by the traffic department to determine what should or can be done. He has also found £2300 to contribute to costs. With that done we, through Tim, have been haggling over price and materials. Our clerk and Cllr McGhee coordinated a request for funds from the Local Area Forum and their efforts resulted in a grant of £10,000. This has yet to be proved sufficient to effect the work but we remain in negotiations with TfB to get this job done.
CPC Chairman's Report 2014
Annual Parish Meeting 19th May 2014: Chairman's Report
My predecessor, Dick Ware, was able in his report last year to reel off a list of achievements some of which were and are visible – for example, new Christmas lights, a Jubilee tree, new gates and water supply for the cricket club. And then there was the invisible fibre-optic broadband, where the Parish Council collaborated with others to bring it to the village. In contrast I regret that I cannot give you such a catalogue of achievements. This is not to minimize the work of your councillors but simply a reflection of just how long things take to resolve.
When I adopted this role a year ago I had an early aim of attempting to get the triangle at the foot of Barrack Hill dealt with and off the agenda. Both our and our County Councillor's efforts have moved the issue along but not yet to a conclusion. To get Bucks CC even to think about repairs involved an audit which in itself cost £600. We are grateful to Tim Butcher, our County Councillor, for paying for this aspect from his allocated funds. As there has only been one accident in the last twenty years (in 2001), the site was and is not considered a safety issue and thus not a priority. So despite our and Tim's efforts, the unsightly triangle has yet to be repaired. I say repaired and not replaced because we all realize that modern vehicles will reduce a grass triangle to mud quite quickly. The estimate we have received for the repair is for some £16,000. The amount was a shock, not least because it was at odds with an unofficial estimate given to me by a Transport for Bucks official of around £8,000 some ten days earlier. All very frustrating and the issue is still to be resolved.
The other work for which we have been trying to get a response from the CC is a clearance of the blockage to the drain by the War Memorial. The lake this creates is an irritant especially when traffic throws up water on to mothers and children at school delivery and collection times and on to the War Memorial itself. Again, requests seem to disappear into a great black hole despite the seeming good intentions of the two Local Authority Technicians who addressed the previous Parish Council meeting. I shall not dwell on roads and verges – it is a frustrating subject but we have to recognize the budgetary constraints on public bodies and the more severe problems of flooding elsewhere in the county earlier this year. For the future, however, may I ask all villagers to route questions on this subject through the Clerk but also accept that it is Bucks CC not the PC with whom responsibility lies.
I mentioned the War Memorial. This centenary year is the appropriate one for it to be cleaned and this will happen. The delay is because we deemed it right to seek a grant from The War Memorials Trust. That process is in hand and a contractor has been booked.
What have we achieved then? Sadly, some advances remain unseen. We have set up a Calendar of Events as a reminder of actions to be taken, whether it be the annual inspection of the Play Area, the payment of our insurances or the cutting of the hedge around the Jack Adams' Field. We were embarrassed last year to find that some necessary actions had been overlooked. However small a council we are, we do deal with public money and it is important that we have proper controls in place. I can report that we had our Annual Return signed off by our internal auditor last Friday, much earlier than last year and on time, and our bank balance has been enhanced by a significant VAT reclaim. We are grateful to our RFO, Elaine West, for her work in both these areas and for bringing greater order and clarity to our finances.
Our accounts now contain specific reserves for some items of expenditure which we think might occur or which are recommended as good practice. These include holding six months operating costs; the costs of one contested election; and a provision for unforeseen legal costs. We want to avoid lumpy and unexpected payments, as recently occurred at the Pond, which may compromise smaller but important expenditures to preserve the look of the village. One example of the latter is the repair to the fence between Porch House and White Roses. You may recall a car ploughed into it but, as we do not hold an insurable interest, we cannot claim against the driver and we cannot, as yet, find the owner of the land. So this work has been agreed and the order placed and will be paid for out of our funds.
One other successful initiative was a working party set up by the Parish Council to discuss options for the Jack Adams' Field. The results of their meetings have been a resurgence of interest in, and financial support of, the cricket club. They have also led to discussions of a possible re-siting of the Play Area there – which would be a longer term project requiring a good deal of further discussion.
I mentioned the look of the village and I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking the Common Management Committee and its working party for their unpaid work in maintaining the Common and the Pond. Chris Wege, who for some unaccountable reason has chosen to go on holiday today, leads these efforts and he has produced two booklets on the Common and the Pond both of which are for sale at a price subsidized by the parish council. If you would like a copy I ask you to get in touch with Elaine West.
It is entirely appropriate that I thank my fellow councillors, each of whom has a portfolio to watch over and frustrations with which to deal, for making my job easier. And, when we were at a low point last summer, with the loss of a clerk for several weeks the arrival of Linda Collison as our new Clerk transformed our work, brought order to our proceedings and made our jobs more pleasurable. Thank you all.
Pond and Common Management Plans
Management plans for the Village Pond and the Common have recently been revised by Chris Wege and published by the Parish Council.
Copies of the revised documents can be downloaded from the links below. A small number of hard paper copies are also available for purchase. For further details please contact Linda Collison, the Parish Clerk.
Parish Council Spring 2014 Report
The Pond featured in the last report and has again been a centre of attention. Whereas late last year the collapse of one of the larger willows required remedial work and vegetation had to be reduced, this past period saw a change to the demography of the pond. In late February two of the four types of fish were removed. The carp and feral goldfish were taken to new homes while the perch and rudd were left. This was on the advice of the contractor, who we intend to ask back as a speaker on a suitable occasion to explain the characteristics and ecology of the pond. He explained that carp are bottom feeders and stir up the mud contributing to the murkiness of the water. There were fewer carp than he had expected which was explained by evidence of, probably nocturnal, anglers as a number of Polish beer bottle were found on the bank! He has suggested that the high acidic level of the water be reduced and attempts made to feed the ducks with grain rather than bread.
On other aquatic matters, we have tried to interest the County Council to do something about the 'lake' by the War Memorial but, at a time when somewhat more serious flooding nearby persists, we have to accept that this problem ranks low in their priorities. We have established that there is a blockage and I hope that volunteers may achieve a solution.
The triangle at the bottom of Barrack Hill continues to be a feature of our meetings. Our County Councillor, Tim Butcher, has been trying to help our efforts to persuade Bucks C.C. that this road feature needs attention but both he and we are forced to realize the budgetary pressures that all councils face. While there is little doubt that its present condition is unsightly it is more questionable whether it presents a danger to motorists and thus rated as a priority matter in the roads budget. However, Tim has kindly made available £600 from his portion of the Community Leadership Fund to us to pay for an audit by the traffic department to determine what should or can be done. As a result of pressure from the Parish Council, and especially Dave McGhee, the demonstrably more dangerous deep ruts on the left side of Sampson's Hill as you leave Barrack Hill on the way to Winchmore Hill have been filled in and we are grateful for Tim's help with that problem.
At a recent Parish Council meeting, a villager asked if we could all think a little more about our external lighting and what we might do to reduce its impact. She felt that outside lights were often left on unnecessarily throughout the night and security lighting was frequently set too sensitively. While we all need safety and security when it's dark, it's undoubtedly the case that light pollution is an increasing problem. As well as interfering with our own pleasure in observing a clear night sky, artificial lighting can also adversely affect the natural behaviour of insects and birds.
Another issue mentioned from time to time in the democratic period concerns dog fouling. Although the bins on the Common and Jack Adams' Field have certainly had a positive impact, the impression is that dog owners are not always as tidy elsewhere. The verges around the Pond seem to suffer especially and all of us who enjoy looking at and walking round the Pond would be grateful if dog owners would do all they can to minimize the problem.
I mentioned our intention to have the War Memorial cleaned in the last report. We still intend to do this but it was considered sensible to see if we could get a grant from The War Memorials Trust. It will not surprise readers that in 2014 the demands on their budget mean an award of a grant cannot be known for a while so we have put the cleaning on hold until we learn how our application has fared.
On more mundane, but important, matters our clerk, Linda Collison, and Elaine West, our Responsible Financial Officer, have ensured that a number of standing documents required by law or by our auditors, such as Financial Regulations, a Fixed Assets Register and a Risk Assessment schedule, have all been updated. To these we have added a Calendar of Events to be produced at each meeting itemising actions to be taken throughout the year. The purpose of this is to ensure that actions, such as renewal of our insurance policies, do not rely solely on individual councillors or the clerk and thereby run the risk of being overlooked.
Our RFO has also introduced some sensible changes to our budget process incorporating the practice of reserving for six months' operating costs (a General Reserve), providing for an Election reserve, a Legal reserve, a Locum Clerk reserve (to cover three months' costs) and a Maintenance reserve. As a significant portion (over 60%) of our budget is needed simply to run the Council (i.e. the clerk's wages and costs & insurance premiums), leaving very little to fund projects, we were keen to try and ensure that we do not lose too much flexibility, were unexpected items to present themselves.
One further initiative has been a working party to examine the worth of, use of and possible changes at, Jack Adams' Field. The Council as the freehold owner of the land is mindful that, were the Cricket Club to give up their lease of their portion of the land, the Council, and thus the village, would have the cost of the extra maintenance required to keep the area in reasonable order. There will be a meeting to discuss this matter, to include the health of the Cricket Club, in The Red Lion on March 11th. As some positive developments came out of the initial meeting on February 25th I am hopeful that this next meeting can bind the club and the village closer together.
Returning to the budget, that for 2014/15 was ratified at the January meeting and the result is that there will be no change in the Parish's element of this year's local tax bills.
Coleshill Conservation Area
The Coleshill Conservation Area was established in 1992 and lies at the centre of the village, taking in some of our oldest buildings (such as Friar’s Vane and Forge House)as well as the later Jubilee Cottages. Click here to view a map of the area.
The District Council is just starting to review its 20 existing conservation areas and also considering whether to create new ones. Coleshill will not form part of the initial review phase but our turn should come within the next 18 months. At that stage we’ll be able to submit our views as part of the formal consultation procedure but it’s probably not too early to start thinking about it now. So, if anyone has any thoughts either on the Conservation Area as it exists today or on whether it should be extended (bearing in mind that there are strict criteria to be met before additions can be considered), please talk to any Parish Councillor or come along to a regular meeting and raise the issue during the democratic period.
Freeview Reception and 4G
You may have heard that the UK's mobile phone operators are moving to a new generation of equipment called '4G'. Some of the frequencies used by this new service fall in the bands previously used for terrestrial TV (Freeview)and for this reason, it's possible that some TV viewers will experience interference or disruption as the new services roll out.
In order to be affected by the interference, you need to be within a few hundred metres of a mobile transmitter and the mobile transmitter needs to be in the line of sight between you and your TV transmitter (probably Crystal Palace). For this reason, it's likely that only a very small number (if any) of Coleshill residents will be affected.
The mobile operators have collectively formed a company called at800 to help consumers who experience problems. They will automatically send a postcard with contact information to any households they think could be affected. If you receive one of these postcards, keep it safe in case you need to contact them at a later date.
The solution to the interference problem is to fit a small filter in the aerial feed to your TV/ PVR. They will supply a filter free of charge and extra filters can be purchased for a small fee. In some cases, if you have a rooftop amplifier fitted to your aerial, then the filter will need to be fitted on your roof. In this case, at800 will arrange for this to be done.
You can find more information by visiting the at800 website at https://at800.tv/ or you can phone them on 0808 1313800 (free from landlines) or 0333 3131800 (normal national rates apply).
Villlage Plan Questionnaire Results
Percentage results: roughly 10% return rate on questionnaire which is reasonable but probably not enough to warrant further development of plan unless further interest can be demonstrated by the public.
|YES %||No %|
|1. Member of village steering committee:||21%||79%|
|2. Attend meetings:||89%||11%|
|3. Complete questionnaires:||95%||5%|
|4. Participate in local referendum for VP:||84%||16%|
|5. How should expenditure be supported:|
Existing Reserves: 58% Increased Precept: 37% Financial Support from Residents: 2%
|6. Read the Newsletter||100%|
|7. Access the Website:||74%||26%|
|8. Happy with P. Council's communication:||79%||21%|
|9. Interested in becoming a Parish Councillor:
(two already councillors)
|10. Attend P. Council meetings:||63%||37%|
|11. Willing to be on e-mail list:||95%||5%|
On number 5, several residents ticked more than one option...
Carol Halchurch, September 2013
Changes at the Parish Council
At the July meeting, Elaine West was co-opted onto the Parish Council
At the same meeting, two resignations were announced.The chairman read out a resignation letter from Councillor Sarah Parker. He also confirmed the immediate resignation of the Parish Clerk, Penny Harris.
Sarah Parker's letter is shown below.
To Chairman Coleshill Parish Council
It is with regret that I will resign from Coleshill Parish Council with effect from 1st September 2013.
This transitional time before the next scheduled public meeting should provide CPC sufficient time to find a replacement for me.
I am very happy to takeover from Carol re recruitment of a permanent Clerk/RFO when I return from my three weeks away (14th August) should you wish me to do so. I understand that Cllr Hallchurch goes on vacation on 12th August.
If there is sufficient village wide interest, I will continue to work on a Village/Neighbourhood Plan as a resident. I presume Cllr Hallchurch will continue to liaise with the Steering Committee.
Due to my work commitments at Oxford University and the continued fragile health of my mother, I have insufficient time to devote constructively to CPC.
It is my hope that with regard to the use of CPC reserves and the financial situation the Coleshill Cricket Club finds itself in, that CPC will enter into constructive talks with the cricket club and the Village Hall Charity to find a use for the Jack Adams Field that offers more civic amenity to more residents of Coleshill.
Charman's Report 2013
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT at the AGM May 2013
A lot has changed in the last 12 months. We have two new co-opted Councillors, Sarah and Carol, and a new Clerk, Penny. We've also said hello briefly to Matt Bell and then goodbye again as domestic arrangements take him elsewhere.
More importantly, perhaps, we've established a new routine of monthly meetings. These are starting (it's a slow process!) to make our proceedings more efficient and they've also, it seems to me, led to the major additional benefit of allowing us to see more of each other and build up good working relationships.
We've been fairly active in terms of work of general benefit to the Village. Signs, a new gate, and mending a leak to the water supply at the Cricket Club are small examples of the sort of routine maintenance which will always fall to the Parish Council's lot. Of slightly greater importance (and certainly expenditure) was the replacement of our Christmas lights – a very welcome improvement after several years of slow deterioration.
We also now have a Jubilee Tree and a very distinguished hurdle round the sub-station. I should pay tribute here to the work of the Commons Management Committee, under Chris Wege's assiduous care, in keeping the Common and environs in such good shape.
Our other major achievement was, of course, finally persuading BT to bring fibre-optic broadband to Coleshill. While a number of factors will have influenced this decision and the Parish Council was only one element in the equation, I'm sure in my own mind that without our efforts we might still be waiting.
Planning applications were as numerous as ever. There have been 33 in the last 12 months but only 17 separate properties were involved. The practice seems to be growing of testing the water with one application which, when approved, then leads to more. While there's nothing necessarily reprehensible in this – people do, after all, have second thoughts – it sometimes appears, to this observer at least, to be a means of achieving approval for a collection of projects which would have attracted far greater scrutiny if all had been submitted as a single application.
To look forward now, I would point to the survey of villagers which we are conducting in order to gauge interest in constructing a full-scale Village Plan. The aim is to allow villagers as a whole to express their views on Coleshill's future development. Achieving any sort of consensus will not be easy but we felt we should set the process in motion. It's important to emphasize, though, that the Village as a whole will have to take ownership if it's to succeed. The Parish Council will of course be supportive but will not, once the initial survey is completed and analyzed, be taking the lead.
Finally, I should just confirm that I am stepping down from the Chair after this meeting. I'll be remaining as an ordinary Councillor but, as I said last August when agreeing to take on the responsibility, my agreement was on a short-term basis only. The position makes additional demands on my time which I'm anxious not to become permanent. I also hold several other Village positions and the potential for conflicts of interest is one I'd rather avoid if possible.
New Chairman for Parish Council
Al last night's Parish Council meeting, Dick Ware stepped down as Chairman (though remained as a Councillor) and Terence Prideaux was elected in his place.
Parish Council News - Spring 2013
At the beginning of the year we decided to move, on a trial basis, to regular monthly meetings from our previous practice of ad hoc sessions every couple of months or so. The idea is that, with shorter gaps between meetings, we'll become more focused in our discussions and decisions – and also go home earlier! I think we're gradually getting there but please come along and see (all the dates for 2013 are on the noticeboard). There's a small handful of stalwarts who come to meetings but we'd love to see more of you.
- Planning applications have always been viewable on the Village website. Thanks to an extremely helpful change recently introduced by our webmaster there's now a direct link to the CDC site, where all the documents relating to individual applications can be seen. Just hover over the application number on the list and click to activate the link.
- The "Jubilee Tree" (a mulberry) mentioned in the last Newsletter will have been planted next to the newly en-hurdled sub-station on Windmill Hill by the time you read this. We're having a wrought-iron guard and commemorative plaque made for it and aim to give it some more formal recognition on Village Day in July.
- Parish Councils are funded from a "precept" which constitutes a small part of your annual Council Tax. For some years the annual sum we've requested has remained unchanged at £6,500. This year we asked for an increase to £8,000. One reason for this was precautionary. With central government financial support for local government having already been cut – a process most unlikely to be reversed in the next few years – it will undoubtedly become more difficult in the future for Parishes simply to be given whatever they ask for, which is essentially the position now. We therefore thought it wise to plan ahead and add somewhat to our reserve.
- We've been discussing for some time now – but only in general terms – the possibility of establishing a Community Orchard in the village. This is a long-term project and may indeed never come to fruition but an essential first step is to identify potential sites and their ownership (see box elsewhere in this issue). With this knowledge, we'd then be able to approach owners about possibly selling or, perhaps more likely, leasing a piece of land. This would obviously require money – hence the desirability of building up reserves beforehand.
- Finally, broadband. We remain in contact with the head man at BT Retail and he continues to assure us that the necessary work will be done once weather conditions allow. I've given him the opportunity to come clean and simply admit that we're not going to be connected for the foreseeable future but he's declined to take it. His last message to me said that he had "an agreed specific programme of work in the area that will offer a significant improvement in speed using fibre". Let's hope he's as good as his word.
Broadband Update February 2013
Despite being given the opportunity to say that the connection of Coleshill to the fibre network will not happen in the foreseeable future, we have been told that it is still the intention to do the necessary work as soon as weather and ground conditions permit. Frozen and/or waterlogged ground is blamed for the lack of progress to date.
BT state that the work, when done, “will offer a significant improvement in speed using fibre”. We take this to mean (though may be wrong, as BT are very careful in the language they use) that the cabinet will be connected to a fibre link but not, of course, that there will be fibre connections to individual houses.
If BT fulfil their intentions this will undoubtedly be good news for the village and would mean we benefit from higher speeds earlier than if we had to apply for and be accepted by the BDUK funding pot.
19 February 2013.
Recent Developments at the Parish Council
Since the last Newsletter, we've held two meetings. There was a lot to discuss at each of them – and there's also been very welcome participation and suggestions from those loyal villagers who've braved the dark nights to attend our deliberations. The jury is probably still out on whether moving the "democratic" period to the end of the formal meeting is an improvement. It certainly serves the purpose of allowing villagers to make comments based on what they've heard during the evening – and these should in turn make our decisions at future meetings better informed. The main drawback (to non-Councillors anyway) is that "the public" has to sit through our ramblings before it can have its say!
One important development since September is that we are now at full strength again. Our seventh Councillor – Matthew Bell – was co-opted at the November meeting. Matt has lived in the village (in Magpie Lane) for the last four years and feels that he's now in a position to make a contribution to the Council's work. We're all delighted to have him on board. For those of you who don't know him, a likeness will appear on the website soon.
The saga of BT and the provision of their Infinity service to Coleshill is perhaps the most pressing issue on our agenda at the moment. The flier that we sent to all villagers in October was remarkably successful. Many thanks to the 60+ of you who signed up, within the space of a mere couple of weeks, to express an interest in subscribing. BT certainly can't pretend any more that the latent demand for their product doesn't exist – it's simply a matter of them providing us with the opportunity now.
My letter to BT's CEO in early November (copy on the website) prompted a speedy initial response from his office. At the time of writing this, however, I've got no further positive news to give you. It's become quite clear that internal communication within BT leaves much to be desired, as we've on several occasions found ourselves having to tell one bit of BT what another's doing. This is very gratifying in one respect but it certainly makes it difficult for us to have any confidence in what they tell us.
What we're trying to squeeze out of BT is a story which we can believe and we'll only be in a position to do that once they've carefully explained to us the steps they'll be taking to bring fibre-optic broadband to Coleshill. We're no longer prepared to accept the vague promises of installation by a certain date but want to know precisely how they're going to get us there. It's far better to have a convincing date – even if it's not until later next year – than be fobbed off again with evanescent promises.
Further information on progress will be posted on the website.
To end, two items on a lower-tech note. First, we've decided to mark the Jubilee Year in slightly more permanent fashion than via our celebrations back in June by planting a Jubilee Tree. After long thought and the taking of suitable arboreal advice, we've decided on a mulberry tree. This will be planted to the side of the newly-visible electricity substation on Windmill Hill and marked by a commemorative plaque. Sod-turning will take place shortly. Date and time again to appear on the website.
Secondly, by the time you read this, the Christmas lights should have been illuminated. After many years of service, the old set has had to be replaced and the new array – while inevitably not exactly the same as before – will we hope look equally cheery.
Fibre Broadband in Coleshill
We have recently received some very disappointing news about the provision of Fibre Broadband in Coleshill. Despite it having been in their programme for the past two years, BT have now admitted that the fibre cabinet that they have already installed in the village will not now be commissioned. The reason given was that the provision would be too costly. This information was extracted from BT in a series of email exchanges between Peter Clackett, one of our residents, and Ian Livingston, the Chief Executive of BT Group. You can read the full correspondence here.
Register Here to Help the Parish Council get this Decision Reversed
There is currently a government initiative to bring so called 'superfast' fibre broadband to rural areas that are otherwise uneconomic to serve. The Parish Council would like to get Coleshill included in this initiative and to this end it would be very helpful if as many residents as possible expressed their interest. The counties of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have got together and are currently conducting a survey of likely take-up. If you are at all interested, please go to the survey website and register your home or business.
The survey web address is http://www.superfastforherts.org/what/. Follow the links near the bottom of the page to register as a home user or a business. Filling in the form does not put you under any obligation to take the service.
The survey form includes a question about your current broadband speed. If you don't know your speed, you can do a speed test at http://www.speedtest.net.
As well as the Bucks/Herts initiative, BT themselves are also soliciting interest in their superfast fibre service. Since we have no fibre at all and a barely usable broadband service, let alone superfast fibre, it would also be very helpful if you could also register on the BT Openreach site at http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/. There is a 'Register Your Interest' button near the bottom of the page. Again, this puts you under no obligation to take the service.
When you register your interest, please also take a moment to complete our feedback form, so we have a record of the number of residents interested in this service.
Please understand that it is very important that as many village residents as possible, and especially businesses, register their interest as quickly as possible. The Parish Council will be writing formally to BT Group to express our frustration. Having a groundswell of support for fibre could be the catalyst needed to produce a change of heart.
Without this upgrade we will be stuck in the broadband slow lane for the foreseeable future with:
- Slow Internet browsing – even the simplest tasks taking forever.
- Slow emails – especially if they have large attachments.
- Poor performance for viewing shared photos etc.
- Poor performance for downloading or viewing movies etc.
- Poor online game playing (Ask your children how this effects them!)
- A disadvantage if you want to sell your home as many buyers want access to this technology
Checklist of Recommended Actions
- Register on Bucks/Herts Site - http://www.superfastforherts.org/what/
- Register on BT Openreach Site - http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/
- Advise us via the Village Website - Villagers' Broadband Feedback Form
Chairman, Coleshill Parish Council
Also known as 'Prestwood Blacks', these cherries were well known around villages such as Prestwood and Tylers Green. No doubt they were also grown in Coleshill. The small, dark cherries had an intense flavour and were especially good in pastry turnovers; just one of many local varieties of fruit tree that once grew in our locality, but are now rare to the point of extinction.
Each of these varieties has a story to tell – of origin (some date back hundreds of years), of chance preservation, of former culinary use. If the idea of a Community Orchard for Coleshill took root (!), this cherry and other fruit trees could be grown and preserved for the next generation to enjoy.
If a start was made before the end of 2012, the orchard could be called 'The Jubilee Orchard'. The Parish Council will be considering some of the practicalities of the idea, including possible sites, but one essential before it can come to fruition (!) is that enough people come forward to form a group of orchard 'Friends' and that a leader then emerges to carry the project forward.
I feel that running a small orchard just for fun would be an activity that some of our young people would also enjoy, at the same time learning a lot about the environment. If you are interested in this, or indeed have any other suggestions/offers of assistance, please contact me.
Village Neighbourhood Plan
What happens in your Parish affects you! Have your say by completing the Coleshill Village Questionnaire and get involved in with the Coleshill Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.
The Parish Council is keen that local residents are able to influence what happens in the Parish and to everyone who lives within it, for the immediate and the long-term future. Neighbourhood Plans are being produced up and down the country, with the purpose of decentralising power down to local level. All Neighbourhood Plans are designed for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of everyone living and working in the area.
It is hoped that there will be sufficient community interest in Coleshill to form a Neighbourhood Plan Working Group. If this is something that you would be interested in getting involved with please let Carol or Sarah know!
The first step in developing a Neighbourhood Plan is getting residents to complete a Village Life Questionnaire so that accurate baseline information can be gathered and studied. The questionnaire will seek information on: current village demographics, how long people have lived in Coleshill, where people work, transport usage/needs, whether different types of housing is required in the Village to satisfy residents changing needs, what is important to residents regarding educational provision, social/recreational services, protection and enhancement of the local environment etc. Obviously, this exercise has greater validity and relevance the more questionnaires are completed. Do look out for the questionnaires – we would be so grateful for your time in completing and returning them to us.
A bit more background on Neighbourhood Plans:
A Neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision as to what the community will be like to live and work in over the next twenty years and, hopefully, how that vision can be achieved. Any plan sets out sustainable policies for the use of land in the parish both with regard to conservation and future needs of the community. The results of this work should provide a plan that will be a material consideration in any future decisions involving planning applications, infrastructure and economic/housing development. Any Neighbourhood Plan developed for Coleshill will form part of the Chilterns District Plan and must reflect the views of the community but also conform with the policies contained in the District Plan. Before the plan can be adopted by the District Council, it will go before an independent inspector, appointed by the District Council, and be subject to a referendum in the parish where, under the current legislation of the Localism Act, 50% of those voting must be in favour of the Plan. This shows how important it is for as many residents as possible to be actively engaged in the development of any Neighbourhood Plan – being a member of the Working Group or attending community consultation meetings and completing the necessary questionnaires.
Carol Hallchurch and Sarah Parker