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Annual Report 2015/16

The Chairman’s Report

We have managed our budget to keep this coming year’s precept at the same figure as last year due to no capital projects being planned.  There will of course still be maintenance and improvements going on within individual committees. It has been encouraging that so many people have been speaking in the Democratic Half hour at the start of Parish Council meetings this year which helps us work on your behalf.  Our Neighbourhood Development Plan did not progress as planned last year due to concerns by the MHDC planners following their dealings with the SWDP. It has, however, now completed its Consultation Period when all parishioners will have had the opportunity to comment on the document. If all goes to plan now, we should see it ratified by the end of 2016. We will then have some protection from further speculative planning applications. Kempsey village is at present undergoing a massive expansion of new housing, the largest since the expansion of the 60’s and 70’s. We, as a parish council, tried to block some of these developments but even in conjunction with the planners at Malvern we failed to overturn government policy. The other major project that has blighted Kempsey throughout this last year is the infamous Ketch Roundabout. We, alongside our District and County councillors, have fought to improve the flow and access for drivers approaching from the south but we are constantly told that the road design is the best for safety. The good news story this last year has been the improvement in Broadband speeds due to the installation of ‘fibre’ cabling. The Community Youth Centre at Plovers Rise playing field has for a few years been experiencing difficulties and so last year, at the end of its twenty year lease, the Parish Council acquired the building to ensure that it continues as a youth facility and also an asset for general community use.

Recreation

The defibrillator, funded by The Grace Community, has been installed at the front of the pavilion. A number of training sessions have been held giving an interesting insight into the use and function of the device. The defibrillator is available for anyone to use in an emergency situation whether or not they have received training. Three pieces of outdoor gym equipment have been installed by the tennis courts, they have proved to be very popular and have been well used. A cricket ball stop net has been erected on the southern boundary of the playing field, and a 5m high football stop net system has been installed behind the goal posts on the same boundary. These systems have been effective in stopping stray balls from entering the adjacent agricultural field.  A preliminary investigation has confirmed that repairs to the pavilion roof are required to stop water ingress. Quotations for the work are currently being obtained. The whole playing field site is managed by Kempsey Sports Association to whom we remain very grateful. 

Planning

Once again we have been kept very busy having held 14 meetings at which we dealt with 65 planning applications.   On top of these applications we have consulted with MHDC and developers on street names for the new developments; Worcestershire County Council on parking restrictions around the Ketch car boot field; Norton Parkway Station and the proposed extension to the quarry at Clifton.  We also submitted responses during the SWDP consultation period, and to NHS England regarding the pharmacy application.  Our Chairman also spoke at the Planning Appeal Hearing for the application for 76 dwellings in Post Office Lane.  We also held 2 public consultation events.

The Environment

With the retirement of the Lengthsman, and the volume of work, interviews took place for an Assistant Lengthsman and a replacement Lengthsman. Two new people are now in post and doing an excellent job. Our thanks go to Roy Clarke for the sterling work he has done for the council for many years.

Tree roots opposite Napleton Lane have been lowered and the path re-tarmaced making it safe again for pedestrians. Many public footpath problems have been reported with a little success but not as much as hoped for due to cuts in the County Council Service.

More work has been undertaken in the Rocky woods; tree pollarding and cutting back the undergrowth. Repairs will soon be carried out to the areas of paths damaged by recent flooding. Sign stands have been purchased and historical content will be added to inform visitors to the area. Various waste bins have been maintained and new ones added.

Two areas of the main road verges have been earmarked for improvement this year. The undergrowth has been cut back by the Lengthsmen to prevent birds nesting there. Work will start shortly on removing all spurious vegetation and laying turf to make the areas look attractive.

Where vegetation is overhanging the main road making it difficult for people to pass by, the home owners have been asked to cut it back and have been fully compliant.

Community Centre

Due to the age of the building it has been subject to regular checks and repairs. The nursery has had walls insulated to reduce condensation, and the roof has had work carried out to the guttering, and loose and broken slates. For easier and safer access, the front drive has been widened to allow two cars to pass. Room 1 facilities are good and continue to be well used. The independent businesses that operate from the Community Centre continue to thrive.

Commons & Hams

Maintenance of the Commons continued during last year with mowing of Normoor and Stonehall Commons and extensive removal of gorse on Kempsey Common by Stump Cutters Ltd of Hereford. Clearance of residual timber off Normoor Common has also been carried out. Kerswell Green Common continues to be kept trimmed by a local resident for which the other local residents are appreciative. The community around Stonehall Common has undertaken gorse clearing and other maintenance works at their own expense. 

The Parish Council continues to receive complaints about the inconvenience caused to the public by certain horses grazing Kempsey Common and is seeking ways to reduce these incidents within the Commons bye laws established by the District Council. 

We are actively engaged with Natural England and graziers with stock on Ashmoor Common to implement strategies to control the prolific population of common rush and to encourage species diversity on the Common, consistent with its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. To this end the programme of annual cattle purchase by the Parish Council will be adapted to fit with a new grazing regime proposed by Natural England.

Information signs have been installed at all Commons locked gates for emergency vehicles needing to drive onto the Commons.

 

 

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