Annual Parish Resume 2021
As you are all aware the past twelve months has been very difficult for everyone, in many different ways, including the work of the Parish Council. During the first “lockdown” we had to cancel our Annual Parish meeting, which is usually held in March each year, at short notice. We are however going to hold a virtual Annual Parish meeting on Tuesday 20 April 2021 but in a slightly different format than usual. We will publish further details nearer the time.
In the meantime we have decided to publish this résumé of a few of the activities we have been involved with during the past year, which has nevertheless been very busy, and also try to give you a flavour of what we anticipate getting involved with in the coming year.
It all started with “lockdown” which we had to address quickly, although it did lead to us not holding our April Parish Council meeting, but we soon came to terms with the situation and, like many others, started to take advantage of technology and used Zoom to hold Virtual Parish Council Meetings. Whilst we have had some hiccups along the way the technology has worked well and enabled us to continue conducting our business for the benefit of the community. This is a facility where anyone can join the meetings and we would welcome as many of you as possible to get involved and take an interest in our work.
In addition to not being able to hold face to face Parish Council meetings progress with our emerging Neighbourhood Plan was also affected. The document was completed during the year and we were planning to go out to public consultation in the Autumn as one of the final stages towards getting it adopted. Unfortunately, it is still on hold.
We would like to thank the continuing hard work of the In Bloom team who have continued to work through this period despite some mixed messages from the Parish Council who, like many others in the early days of the pandemic, were trying to find their way through the guidance. Rest assured our actions were meant to be in everyone’s best interests.
We have continued to deal with Highway matters, including pursuing traffic calming measures, working with the City of York Council. It has not been as quick a process as we would have liked but we have agreed that the old out of date road signage will be replaced on Common Road where traffic coming out of the industrial estate will be warned about the vehicle weight restrictions through the village and directed towards the A1079. We have also been successful in re-instating the 30mph vehicle activated speed sign on Common Road on the approach to the village. We have also persuaded City of York Council to install new ones on the two other approaches to the village on York Road and Church Balk which we hope will happen shortly. We are also heavily involved with our Ward Councillors in pursuing the creation of a path/track alongside the length of York Road from the hump back bridge to the A1079. If successful this will mean that there will be a much safer means by which pedestrians and cyclists can enter and leave the village. In fact, this small section is the missing link of a safe route from Stamford Bridge to York and beyond. Watch this space.
We also own the Scouts and Guides building which in normal times is used by over 100 children a week and is a valuable asset which is supported by the Parish Council. Unfortunately, they have not been able to use the facility during the past twelve months but that does not mean things have stopped. We have taken the opportunity to undertake some minor internal enhanced works and I hope some of you will have noticed that we have resurfaced the exterior areas of the building. All this has been made possible by Ward grants.
During the year many of you will have seen the Planning Application submitted for a housing development of over 70 houses on Eastfield Lane. This naturally raised emotions especially for those people who lived near the proposed development. Ideally, we would have liked to have held a public meeting to discuss the matter but that was not possible. We did however canvas about 100 properties in the immediate vicinity to make people aware and to understand their views. As a consequence, the Parish Council, along with over 50 others, submitted a response opposing the planning application. All these documents can be found on the City of York Council Planning portal. We understand that the City of York Council has asked the developer for more information to support the planning application by March. Another one to watch out for.
In the Autumn we decided to commence work on opening up the next section of the Cemetery ready to bring it in to use in 2022. It is early days yet but we have already planted over 800 saplings to create boundary hedges thanks to the help of many volunteers from the Parish and also Holtby Parish.
As many of you who use Intake Lane know, there has been a parking problem for a number of years and we have been working with the City of York Council for over two years to come up with a solution to address this problem which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. You will have seen the work that has been undertaken, which has generally been very well received, although we appreciate there are one or two people who have expressed their concerns. We always
knew that it would not meet everyone’s approval, and that it would not solve the problem entirely, but hopefully it should go a long way to ease the situation and everything has been done with the involvement of the affected residents.
Like everyone else it has also been an unusual year for the Hassacarr Nature Reserve and our thanks go to the volunteers who have continued to work, when permitted, to maintain the reserve for the huge range of wildlife. It was of course sadly impossible to host any children's groups, or the school, during 2020 including the annual children's activity day during the summer. Some of the reptiles and beetles may have been relieved not to have been repeatedly fished out of the ponds but hopefully something like normal service will be resumed later this year. One feature of the lockdown has been a major increase in numbers of local people visiting the reserve and we hope this will raise support for the reserve. The downside is the increased numbers of dogs, especially those with owners who think the signs asking them to keep their pets on a lead do not apply to them. This has had an impact on some of the wildlife, including rare species, and it would be appreciated if people (and dogs) took extra care whilst walking through the area.
We have also been keeping an “eye” on the Travellers who are “camped” out on the Stamford Bridge Road. We are liaising with the City of York Council and our Ward Councillors regarding the matter but nothing is going to happen until we get back to some normality whenever that may be.
Most of you are aware that the Doctors Surgery on Petercroft Lane has been closed for the past year and some of you have expressed concern as to whether it will reopen or not. We have made enquiries with them and they have assured us that it will reopen at sometime, although at the moment they cannot give us any indication as to when that will be, which is good news as we certainly do not want to lose this facility.
We have replaced all the 11 Salt Bins around the village some of which were either too small or in a bad state of repair. They will be in situ for use during the winter and removed for cleaning and taken into safe storage during the summer months. This should ensure that their life expectancy will be extended and that they will be kept topped up with fresh salt.
During the year we have introduced a Tree and Hedgerow policy for the Parish which we hope that you will find interesting and useful in planning your garden. All the details can be found on our website.
For those of you who are not aware the Activity Park is not a City of York Council facility but was funded by a lottery grant and constructed by local contractors. We own the site and the equipment and pay for two professional safety inspections each year which is undertaken by independent organisations. We also contribute towards the general maintenance and grass cutting carried out by a volunteer group. This small group of volunteers also carry out routine litter clearance plus visual safety checks every week. We appreciate the support of our Ward Councillors who have assisted with the funding of a number of capital projects over the years. It was with great sadness that we were forced to close the park under Covid restrictions for nearly four months last year, an exercise which we hope will not have to be repeated. We urge users to use the park in a safe and responsible manner although it is regrettable that we have had to report occasional incidents of damage and anti-social behaviour which causes additional unnecessary work and costs to address. We remain desperately short of volunteers and ask that users consider giving up some time to spread the workload so that this much valued facility can remain in operation for many years to come.
The past year has been very difficult for the Playing Fields and Sports Club but when it was possible sport was played and the club was open. All the volunteers in each section worked very hard, and this task cannot be underestimated, to ensure Covid guidelines were followed and risk assessments completed. Together with furlough/grants and some careful budgeting the organisation has survived and now eagerly looking forward to the next year which is looking a lot more hopeful. We would like to thank all those who gave their valuable support during this difficult time which did give a window of opportunity to update records and allow a good tidy up to be undertaken. In fact during lockdown a new website and Facebook page was designed in order to improve the communications network.
So far as our finances are concerned, whilst we have relied on £30k of Ward grants which we would like to thank our two Ward Councillors for, once again our annual expenditure is expected to exceed our income which means that we have to transfer monies from our reserves to balance the books. This is not ideal but our only regular source of income is from the Cemetery, Allotments and the Precept. For the second year running, whilst it is not sufficient, we have agreed to increase the Precept by 10% which may seem a lot but it actually works out at only an additional 0.33 pence per household. What can you buy for that amount of money?
During the year we have had three Parish Councillors leave the Council and we would like to thank them for their services. One of the vacancies has already been filled and we are currently advertising the other two vacancies.
From a Communications point of view, we changed our website provider and introduced a new website at a reduced operating cost. We hope you find that it is a much friendlier user experience than before and we would encourage you to use it on a regular basis to find out about everything that we do for the community. We try to keep it as up to date as possible and introduce new material from time to time.
As we move forward, we hope that we will be able to progress our Neighbourhood Plan and see it through to a successful conclusion. This will mean that once it is adopted, it will become a statutory document and will have to be taken into account when considering, amongst other things, the planning process including planning applications.
In Bloom will continue their good work which will include the replacement of some damaged benches around the village. We have also taken the opportunity of awarding a new grass cutting contract, after inviting tenders, to complement their work which will include the cemetery for the first time.
From a Highways point of view, we hope that some headway will be made in respect of the path/track along York Road and that it will have moved forward significantly towards a positive conclusion. It will not be for the want of trying.
We will be looking to undertake some more work on the Scouts and Guides building undertaking the replacement of the doors and windows with the aid of a Ward grant.
So far as the Planning Application for the housing development on Eastfield Lane is concerned all we can do at the moment is see how this develops and respond accordingly.
We will continue the work on opening up the next section of the Cemetery ready for 2022. This will also unfortunately involve taking down a mature ash tree which is in a very dangerous condition. We will also continue working on the eastern boundary hedge to improve its’ condition.
Everyone is now very excited and looking forward to all the sports recommencing and the indoor activities and gym re-opening at the Playing Fields and Sports Club. There are plans to encourage more people to visit the Sports Club with additional music nights and food evenings. It is very much hoped that the village will support this wonderful facility. You will find out about everything that is happening on the new website and Facebook page. The people who run the sections continue to do a brilliant job and if anyone is interested in helping in anyway then please make contact. It is amazing that the facilities are still run by volunteers but the bonus is seeing people of all ages participating and enjoying sport and there is a pleasant bar area where you can have a drink and watch sport on tv or sit outside and watch live sport. There are currently 265 adults and 252 children involved in varying activities and enjoying the facilities which we would like to see maintained for a very long time to come.
We intend to undertake some more work on the Precept with a view to improving our financial situation bearing in mind the activities we get involved with for the benefit of the community. This may well mean that we could be looking to increase the Precept next year by more than 10%. If so, we will provide a full justification to support the increase.
We would like to fill the Parish Councillor vacancies with suitable applicants who are prepared to give added value to our services as well as getting some satisfaction from their input. We look forward to seeing new faces joining and bringing their individual knowledge and expertise to the work of the Council.
Whilst technology has allowed us to conduct our business via virtual meetings we hope that sometime later this year we will be able to resume our Parish Council Meetings as before around a real table on a face to face basis.
We are concerned about the level of Communications we provide and that they reach everyone. You will find much more information about the items mentioned in this résumé on our website and notice board on York Street which is soon to be replaced. In addition, we frequently use the services of The Grapevine magazine and This is Dunnington Facebook page to whom we give our thanks. However, we are always open to suggestions as to how we can improve in this area and would welcome any feedback good or bad.
Chairman: Cllr Gill Shaw, 14 Holly Tree Croft, Dunnington, York, YO19 5RG
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Clerk: Julie Bone, 43 St James Close, Rawcliffe, York, YO30 5WL
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