Elmore Parish Council: Chairman’s Annual Statement
Account Balance: Once again I can report a healthy state of affairs regarding our finances. We ended the last FY with a balance of £5,968 in the bank. Looking at our Financial Forecast, and taking into account the planned income and expenditure, the balance at the end of this FY will be much the same. Credit for this should go to our Clerk, Dorie Jones who has managed to locate and secure various grants to alleviate our expenditure.
Audit: Our internal audit has been conducted successfully we have observed ‘due diligence’ concerning our accounts by reviewing the balance and expenditure at every meeting over the last 12 months. The final accounts will be posted on the website in accordance with the Transparency rules.
Precept: Last year we decided to raise the Precept by 3% , having not had any increase for the previous 6 years during the recession – on average this made a small difference of around 30p per household. Although it is not our intention to increase the precept in line with inflation, we will keep the matter under review.
Projects: Our expenditure has been focused on Community Based Projects – for example:
1st Aid Training
This trend is likely to continue to benefit the community.
Security and Crime
Sadly, since the last Annual Meeting in May 2017 there have been a series of thefts and burglaries within the Parish.
Last year I reported that there had been 4 burglaries within a 4 month period – in the last 12 months there have been a further 8 burglaries and thefts. Notably the theft of lead from the Church roof, which also caused considerable structural damage, costing some £10,000 to repair.
There seems to be a pattern regarding these thefts – sometimes a car or an unmarked white van is seen cruising around the area and even seen entering farmyards – if challenged they make some feeble excuse about looking for a colleague they thought was there! It is significant that many of these vehicles have either Irish number plates or eastern European plates such as Romanian.
I have tried to keep residents in the picture as events occur by e-mailing those for whom I have contact addresses. The exchange of information is vital for all our security, no matter how trivial you may think it might be. I will continue to use the database for the passage of vital information.
The lack of a Police presence in rural areas, triggered by their own reducing budget, has meant that individuals need to be more vigilant and take sensible precautions to alleviate the danger. Over the last year I have put notices in the parish magazine, The Bridge, regarding what can be done. Our local PCSO has promised to increase patrols in the area but these have been few and far between.
The Gloucestershire Police Authority has also re-opened Quedgeley Police Station. Previously our nearest contact was the Barton Street Station.
It would be fair to say that I have struggled to get straight answers from Fastershire and GCC regarding the installation of the new fibre throughout Elmore.
The latest information I have is that drilling under the River Severn was due to take place in February but we are still awaiting an actual start date for the work. The Fastershire website states that work is due to start on the Elmore/Longney project in June 2018 – but seeing is believing.
I have been reliably informed that the fibre connections will be activated as they are laid and Gigaclear will not wait until the whole project is complete.
The cost of installation for householders is causing me some concern as I estimate that the average household may have to pay up to £500 to get the fibre connected in their houses by Gigaclear. Those properties with longer drives, or special requirements, may have to pay a lot more.
What is not clear at the moment is whether or not we can contract another ISP to connect ourselves to the fibre rather than use Gigaclear’s services. e.g. Sky.
Parish Councillors – Elections in 2020.
The next Parish Council election is due to take place in May 2020. Bearing in mind that both Councillor Trevor Jones and myself, as Chair, are planning to retire then, we would like possible candidates to express some interest. Sadly, the lack of interest in Parish Council matters is evident from the audience at this Annual Meeting – with only one attendee.
We will keep the future of your Parish Council under constant review, including exploring the option for amalgamation with a neighbouring parish.
John Field, May 2018
The Chairman’s annual address
Finance: The Elmore Account has remained healthy throughout this last FY and the balance at 31st March stood at £6,278.32 but when the contingency commitments are taken into account we have some £4,618 available with no major projects planned as yet for this FY. Although some ideas are under consideration.
Verge Cutting: This year GCC’s Highways Authority has agreed that Parish Councils within Severn Voice can run their own grass cutting contracts and be paid by GCC as though we were the main contractor like Amey. Therefore, we have, along with the other Severn Voice Parishes, opted to participate in this scheme for a one year trial period and if it is successful the contract will roll over. GCC only required their contractor (Amey) to do one cut of the verges and two cuts of the splays for visibility and safety. We will now be getting two cuts of the verges and three cuts of the splays.
You may have noticed that our verges have recently been cut as part of this contract, if there are any views or complaints about the way they have been cut please pass your comments to myself or The Clerk.
Broadband: In August of 2014 BT promised to deliver super-fast broadband to Elmore via their cutting edge technology using a microwave signal to fire broadband across the canal. Sadly, we have waited in vain for nearly 3 years for BT to provide a viable broadband service into Elmore and they have steadfastly been dragging their heels; indeed, they have pointedly refused to connect us to the new Back Haul system they claimed would be the answer to our dreams.
Fastershire, which is a joint venture by Gloucestershire and Herefordshire County Councils, has also been frustrated by BT’s unwillingness to deliver faster broadband to isolated villages and settlements, so last year they signed a contract with a different company, Gigaclear, to deliver ultra-fast broadband to many Cotswolds villages. Based on the success if this project Fastershire has entered into a new contract with Gigaclear to provide ultra-fast broadband to the remaining isolated areas in Gloucestershire, including Elmore.
This new GCC contract with Gigaclear, worth over £10m, has now been signed. The full details of the new contract haven’t been published yet and we await the schedule of the roll-out. We are in area 3E and we are hopeful that we will be included in the early stages of scheme.
Gigaclear intend to lay a new fibre-optic cable, totally independent of BT’s system, to deliver ultra-fast broadband speeds to the whole village of up to 50Mbps. Previously our telephone lines in the main part of Elmore came from the Hardwicke Exchange while the houses at Elmore Back were connected to the Minsterworth Exchange. This new Gigaclear system will be connected to what is termed the ‘Dark Fibre Network’ which runs throughout the UK and will include the whole village.
Regardless of take-up by residents the fibre-optic cable will be laid throughout the village but this will be invasive, as a new trench needs to be dug thus causing some measure of disruption. Terminals will be placed outside every house and only connected once the residents have
signed-up with Gigaclear.
Costs: We have been told that the cost per household will be in the region of £40 per month for the basic tariff with an additional one-off connection fee of £100. There is no compulsion to sign-up to have the fibre-optic cable connected so don’t feel pressurised. However, it should be noted that Gigaclear have a reputation for ‘hard-selling’ and are likely to send out representatives to knock on doors to gain customers. Individuals can register their interest online (without commitment) at the Gigaclear website: www.gigaclear.com
Current telephone contracts: Residents should be mindful of their existing contracts with whoever is their current ‘In-Service Provider’ (ISP). Bearing in mind that the Gigaclear system is totally independent of the existing telephone lines operated by OpenReach and BT it may be necessary to continue to run two contracts side by side until one expires.
Sky TV etc. It is not clear yet whether the Gigaclear fibre-optic cable will carry Sky TV or similar products so relevant questions need to be asked when the Gigaclear representative knocks on your door.
Timescale: we have been informed that Gigaclear will commence the work in June/July but as the schedule hasn’t yet been published we have no idea when we will see them in our area. We will keep you informed of if we hear of any progress.
New rubbish scheme: Stroud District Council introduced a new rubbish collection scheme last year and, after a few minor teething problems, this seems to be working well and has exceeded all expectations with over 500 tons of food waste being collected each month while the amount of rubbish going to land fill has halved and is already at a level which is half of target set for 2020.
Parish Councillors: It is important for the village to maintain its own governance but this cannot be done if we do not have enough Councillors. Last year I highlighted the problem that both several Councillors wished to retire and would like to hand over the reins to younger candidates.
I also put a notice in The Bridge indicating that if we don’t get enough volunteers then it may well be necessary to amalgamate with our neighbouring village of Longney.
We can accept new Councillors at any stage in the year by co-opting them and do not have to wait for the next election in 2020. So, if you are interested please contact either The Clerk or myself.
After a few months being without a website after it was hacked, we’re pleased to have Elmore Parish back online!
Hope you enjoy the information you will find on our website, we’re always open to comments and suggestions as to what else you might like to view here.