CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2021

Once again, I am pleased to present what is now my fourteenth annual report on the activities of Highwood Parish Council – for the year ending 31st March 2021; this will follow the format of those presented in previous years.

The council has continued to meet remotely, but due to Covid restrictions, this has been via Zoom.

Accounts Up-to-date accounts have been produced showing that the PC enjoyed a healthy bank balance of £10,193.07 in the current account, and

£24,142.46 in the deposit account, a total of £34,335.53 at the end of the financial year.

Allotment site, Radley Green

No change in these; they continue to be leased to a local farmer producing an income for the council.

Children’s Playgrounds

The play-area (behind the village hall) is now essentially complete. The play equipment is securely fenced; there is an area for car-parking, enough to accommodate 3 – 4 cars, and two benches have been purchased by the parish council which are located in the grass area by the pumping station; these are both made from recycled plastic, and should outlast all of us. I should like to express my gratitude to Chris Bailey who kindly constructed the bases, and installed them at no cost to the council. The parish council also funded the construction of a short path, which allows easy access to the play-area from the village-hall car-park. The ‘old’ play area (which, it had been thought, might be returned to nature, along with a couple of benches for quiet contemplation) has had a reprieve – when it transpired from the results of a local questionnaire that, far from being eclipsed by the new play-area, it does in fact see a much greater use from residents of Edney Common, than any of us realised. The existing equipment therefore will continue to be maintained, and quotes are being sought to augment it with new items.

Christmas tree

As in 2019 and ‘20, the council provided a Christmas Tree which stood in front of the village hall.

Churchyard

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.

Councillors

We were joined by Kelly Latham-Permain as a new councillor, and again welcomed back Steve MacLean who re-joined the council.

Garages

Early indications are that the three Parish Council owned garages in Sparrows Close have all found buyers in their sitting tenants. The concrete apron in front of them, which had become a cause for concern due to its poor state of repair, has been dug out and replaced with a new fit-for-purpose concrete surface, all funded by the council; hopefully this will alleviate previously voiced fears. Our thanks to Chris Bailey for undertaking the work in an efficient and timely manner. It is hoped, now that this matter is out of the way, matter s may proceed to completion.

Litter Pick

The council had hoped to be able to organise another litter-pick around the parish, but these hopes were dashed by the Covid-19 emergency. However, the council has provided a quantity of litter-pickers and hi-vis vests (which are kept at the village hall) for any publicly-spirited parishioner to borrow, so they may collect litter on their wanderings. Notice Boards The five parish noticeboards (one for each hamlet) have all been kept in a good state of repair.

Parish Magazine

David Taylor has continued to produce an excellent bi-monthly parish magazine, the printing of which is funded by the council. We are extremely grateful to the small army of volunteers who distribute these.

Remembrance Day

As in previous years, the PC supplied a wreath for the War Memorial in November which was laid by at the memorial, although no service took place, due to Covid.

Speeding vehicles

While this continues to be a concern to many, Covid has seen to it that there were no Speedwatch sessions last year; but it is hoped that as restriction ease, further outings may be arranged. My thanks go to Cllr Peter Latham for continuing to organise these, when circumstances permit.

On a related theme, criticism of the siting of the speed-calming measures outside the primary school led to a site-meeting with our County Councillor and members of the Highways Department. The conclusion was that, as we have waited years for anything to be done to address the question of speeding vehicles, it was preferable to have something in place – albeit in a location which would not have been our first choice – rather than have nothing at all. The location was decided upon by the Highways Department using a variety of arcane factors, unknown by the parish council.

Thanks, over the past year, go to ….

• Clerk I should like to extend my thanks to Karen Kuderovitch who has capably performed the duties of Parish Clerk.

• Local Councillors 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 (albeit virtually) whenever they are able. I would like to offer my best wishes to John as he steps down for a well-earned rest from local politics – and offer congratulations to Mike Steel on his recent electoral success, and we look forward to working with him. …

And finally …

I should like to quote from the late Reginald Maudling who said … ‘There comes a time in every man’s life when he must make way for an older man’ … and having sat in this chair for 14 years, I thought it time I sat in one of the other councillors’ chairs … or better still, my armchair at home! For that reason, I shall not be seeking re-election as chairman … and am happy to become a ‘back-bencher’. I should like to express my thanks to all fellow councillors for their services, and their support, throughout the past year. This concludes my 2021 report.

Addendum Since completing my report in early May:

• On 20th May, our clerk, Karen Kuderovitch indicated that she was intending to resign, giving two months’ notice; (happily, she has been persuaded to stay.)

• Cllr Anne Mitchell resigned on 21 May with immediate effect.

• New play equipment has been installed in the ‘old’ play area