Once again, I am pleased to present what is now (ominously), my thirteenth annual report on the activities of Highwood Parish Council – for the year ending 31st March 2020. At the time of writing, we find ourselves in the most unusual circumstances; the whole country has been in a state of lock-down for some weeks, gatherings have been suspended, and this includes the parish council – which was unable to sit in May.
Up until then, the council had met every other month to conduct council business and, purely in alphabetical order, I should like to mention ….
Up-to-date accounts have been produced for 31st March 2020 showing that the Parish Council enjoys a healthy bank balance of £58,031 of which includes £10,000 as a restricted reserve.
Allotment site, Radley Green
In the continuing absence of any Highwood resident requesting to take up use of the allotments in Radley Green, these continue to generate an income for the parish council from a local farmer who leases them.
Now in the plural, the council is looking at reducing down to just one play area – namely the new one behind the village hall. One of the options being considered for the ‘old’ play-area (opposite the ex-Green Man P/H), is to ‘re-wild’ the site ~ and establish an area of woodland, probably with a bench or two, for parishioners’ quiet enjoyment.
In the ‘new’ play area, at the time of writing, fencing (to keep children in – and dogs out) has just been installed, and a car-parking area is being constructed. Designed to accommodate 3 – 4 cars, this will hopefully alleviate the need to park in Sparrows Close, which has been a source of contention with some of the residents.
A Christmas Tree was purchased, and placed in front of the Village Hall; this drew many favourable comments and so will very likely be repeated again this year.
The council has continued to fund grass cutting of the churchyard to ensure it remains in a tidy and presentable state; we also fund the cutting of several stretches of roadside verge.
After some early hiccups in the recruiting and retention of a parish clerk, we ended up with a locum clerk in the form of Karen Kuderovitch. After a few meetings with Karen as a temporary stand-in, the council was delighted when she accepted to take on the post on a permanent basis. Karen brings many years’ experience to the role.
I was saddened when earlier this year, for personal reasons, Steve MacLean, resigned from the parish council. As Councillor MacLean, Steve had done much for the council – and his expertise and energy – especially in the field of I.T. – will be sorely missed. I would like to offer him my grateful thanks for all his efforts on behalf of the parish.
Defibrillator & flag pole
Serving to illustrate the foregoing paragraph, a defibrillator was purchased by the parish council and is now installed at the village hall; training sessions were organised and attended by interested locals, who all hope they never to have to use it.
I should like give thanks to the village hall committee for agreeing to accommodate the device, to Cllr Steve MacLean for procuring and installing it – and to Bruce Forster who gave up many evenings to provide free tuition in its use.
The parish council also funded the flag pole, complete with Union flag, which now sits in front of the village hall. I should like to thank further the village hall committee for agreeing to accommodate the pole – and again, Cllr Steve MacLean for installing it.
Following the resignation of Mandy Martin from her role as Footpaths Officer, the council has been unable to find a replacement. We would be delighted to hear from any parishioner who would be interested in taking up the role. It is not particularly demanding and requires only that you are happy to walk the footpaths of the parish every month or so, and report any issues you come across to Chelmsford CC.
The three garages in Sparrows Close which were included in the package when the parish council bought the land behind the village hall have still not been sold. The clerk is engaging with solicitors to see where we are in the process.
The council made a grant of £500 to Highwood Primary school to help fund music provision.
The council had arranged to hold a Litter pick in March, but sadly this has had to be postponed, while the state of emergency lasts.
The five parish noticeboards have all been renovated where required – and that by Sparrows Close has been replaced with a smart new one. The council would like to extend its thanks to John Cousins who undertook this work.
David Taylor has continued to produce an excellent parish magazine …. now sadly ‘on hold’ as the printers used have shut down due to the virus emergency.
As in previous years, the PC supplied a wreath for the War Memorial in November which was laid by the Cllr Trevor Horsnell.
Something of a recurring theme at council meetings, Cllr Peter Latham continues to run ‘Community Speedwatch’ sessions, weather permitting. After many years of waiting, we now have speed calming measures installed outside the primary school; hopefully, before too long, there will be another set, further east along Highwood Road.
Thanks, over the past year, go to ….
Karen Kuderovitch has continued competently in her role as clerk, ably managing the affairs of the parish council – and to her I offer my thanks for all her work.
I should like to extend a sincere thank you to both of our local councillors, John Aldridge (of Essex CC) and Nicolette Chambers, (of Chelmsford City Council) who continue to offer help and support to the PC, as well as attending our meetings whenever they are able… finally, I should like to thank all my fellow councillors for their services throughout the past year.
This concludes my 2020 report …
Chairman – Highwood PC