The Chairman’s Annual Statement May 2018 (click to read)

Elmore Parish Council: Chairman’s Annual Statement

Finance

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

Verge cutting

Defibrillator maintenance

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.

Broadband

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