Chairman's Report 2019-2020
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2019-2020
This year has been one of Change, Culvert, Coronavirus and Community.
Following the council elections in 2019 there were a number of changes to the make up of the parish council. My predecessor, Jane Goodwin stepped down as chair after over 20 years of being a councillor and latterly as chair, big shoes for me to fill! Emma Fulcher and Philip Hawkes did not stand for re-election. Brian Martin resigned December 2018 however he has continued as our footpath and speed watch rep and in the current clime we are all grateful for the maintenance he and his team do in keeping the footpaths great places to walk. Stebbing Parish Council (SPC) were joined by 4 new councillors – Bernard Bazley, Gary Barrett, Gary Spilman and Loftus Buhagiar. In addition SPC gained 2 new District councillors in Sandi Merrifield and John Evans. Sandi having her work cut out as both a parish and district councillor.
Planning has again dominated the work and expenditure of SPC particularly that associated with the proposed Local Development plans (LDP) for both Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Braintree District Council (BDC). This has now culminated in UDC withdrawing their local plan.
Apart from the LDP, routine planning applications take a considerable amount of time for the Planning Committee to consider and when some planning applications prove to be controversial SPC try and listen to the concerns of villagers affected by them and reflect that in their comments.
This has been more challenging of late with applications having to be dealt with taking into account social distancing and the lockdown of a number of SPC councillors.
It must be remembered though that SPC are only consultees as are all parishioners in planning matters and we would encourage parishioners to comment via the UDC website with their opinions.
The Neighbourhood plan steering group had continued to work hard for the last year and is nearing the end of its task. The draft plan is now ready for consultation before the next stage of the process. However due to the Coronavirus situation this has been put on a slower track.
Routine maintenance has proved effective in ensuring that Stebbing Green is kept to a high standard.
SPC continues to follow the maintenance programme that was advised some years ago by Essex Wild Life Trust Pleasingly the EWT representative continues to feel all is well with the green and commented that it was one of the few open grassland spaces of its type in Essex.
Highways and Street Lighting
Work began on the culvert in January 2020. Immediately followed by some very wet weather, a longer than expected time to build a footpath around the road closure, utility diversions extending into build time and then the Coronavirus. Work is now moving ahead on the replacement of the culvert, taking into account social distancing and we hope over the next few months to see it completed. SPC is very grateful to everyone for their ongoing patience in these difficult times.
There have been a number of issues on the B1057 through the parish. The main one being the incessant noise and speeding of motorcyclists at weekends on their way to Finchingfield .Highways has been working with Essex Highways (EH) and has secured funding for the design work completed last year to be put in place during 2020. Again this has been delayed through the Coronavirus situation but SPC are hopeful it will be completed in this financial year
There has been two areas of flooding on the B1057 which has impacted on Stebbing as it is the only way out for those living north of the culvert. SPC initially had success with getting both cleared however recently one has returned and SPC is awaiting EH further action
All three playing fields continue to be used by various age groups in the village.
To maintain them is very expensive and SPC apply for any available grants to help with costs particularly those associated with play equipment.
There has been ongoing maintenance of all fields throughout the year and they are all in good shape
So to my final 2 Cs –
Coronavirus and Community
SPC and the church quickly put in place a COVID committee and have set up a buddying system with those who have decided to self isolate. We have always had a great community spirit in Stebbing no more so than now. Let’s hope things will improve over the next few months and full village life can return.
Another example of Community is that the Village shop has been a lifeline for a number of people and due to self isolation has needed new volunteers to keep it open. The shop Manager Julie Gray has done a sterling job in maintaining stocks when hard to come by.
Stebbing Parish Council would not be able to undertake the essential workload that it does without its Clerk, Greg King. Who has also become part of the COVID team.
I would like to thank him for all his hard work, efficiency and sense of humour when liaising with contractors and parishioners, enabling all the many projects to be completed.
As Chairman I would also like to thank my Vice Chairman Christina Cant for all her support and relentless enthusiasm through out the year always keeping up the momentum needed to continue the fight against West of Braintree and Chairing the Green’s Committee.
Thank you also to the other Chairs of SPC committees for all their work throughout the year:
I should also like to thank all my fellow councillors who as volunteers work hard giving their time without payment for the benefit of Stebbing.
Judith FarrChairman Stebbing Parish Council