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Chairmans Report 2022

CHAIRMANS REPORT 2021-2022

This last year has seen many changes to the world we live in and to the Parish of Chalfont St Giles. The COVID pandemic has continued to have an impact on all our lives, effecting how we meet and greet people, how we have held meetings and how we have responded to changes in Government legislation.

We started 2021 with an election, this was the first contested election for the Parish Council for many years. Fortunately, the incumbent Parish Council members were all re-elected. I feel that this was an indication that our Parishioners were happy with how we have handled their precept monies and the services we have provided. During the following 12 months we received resignations from two councillors, Phillip Lea-Wilson who had served on the Parish Council since 2008 and Derry Vilcans-Moody who had served since 2019. Both Councillors made a significant contribution to the Parish during their time on the Parish Council and I am sure that you will join me in thanking them for their service. Two new Councillors were co-opted onto the Council, they are Tim Patrick-Smith and Jayne Webster, they both bring their own skill sets which enhance the abilities of the Parish Council as a whole.

 

The Parish Council held 45 meetings during the year and made decisions on services and activities that affect all of our Parishioners.

We commented on 160 planning applications, using our Neighbourhood Plan as guidance. We successfully opposed the large development of ‘affordable’ housing proposed for the site at High View. This was a green belt development on the outskirts of the Parish and was too large for the amenities available within the village. However, we also supported the development of 14 affordable houses on the site to the rear of Old Beams. We felt that this was more in keeping with our Neighbourhood Plan and was better serviced by the village amenities. We were very pleased when planning permission was granted for this development in March 2022.

We have spent many hours liaising with HS2 and their contractors Align, to ensure that their actions have the least effect on the village and the maximum benefit. The Tunnel Boring Machines have recently passed through Stone Meadow and under the River Misbourne. The residents directly above the route of the tunnel were offered hotel accommodation whilst the machines passed under their properties. So far we have not received any adverse reports about the progress of the machines. They are now on their way to Bottom House Farm Lane where they will meet with the ventilation shaft at that location.

We are working on a traffic calming plan which will be submitted to the HS2 Traffic Fund to try and obtain a grant to carry out the works to reduce speeding through the village centre.

We have carried out a number of events and projects over the last year:

  • We completely refurbished the paths of Riverside Walk after they had spent several weeks under water following the flooding of the River Misbourne.
  • We were proud to support the opening of the Community Fridge in Blizzards Yard car park and have committed staff hours to All Together Community to help the Fridge to run smoothly.
  • We created a Christmas Tree Trail around the village and Three Households to brighten up the area and spread festive joy.
  • We planned to hold the Christmas Lighting Event on the village green, however strong winds caused the event to be cancelled. The Christmas Window competition continued and the infant school children received a Christmas gift from the Parish Council.
  • We replaced the wooden bridge over the River Misbourne and re-opened the bridge with a fun duck race.
  • We held mini events for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to encourage footfall in the village centre
  • We assisted The Conservation Volunteers to carry out green projects on Riverside Walk and at the Recreation Ground.
  • We created a contemplative area on Townfield Lane called Trees of Hope.

We have supported village organisations by providing grants to: The Village Street Party, Chalfont St Giles Snooker Club, The Revitalisation Committee, The Chalfont St Giles Literary Festival and All Together Community for Christmas Hampers.

Our cemetery at Bowstridge Lane has been very busy this year and we created wildflower areas to enhance the unused parts of the cemetery to improve the experience of those attending the area.

The Parish Council own the recreation ground and over the last 12 months, work has been ongoing to provide new up to date leases for the clubs using the grounds and buildings. By charging the clubs a peppercorn rent, granting a 25 year lease with a 12 year break clause  we show our commitment to sport and healthy activities for the Parish.

We have also recently gone out to tender to provide new paths that will increase the accessibility of the recreation ground from Lagger Close to the car park and from the car park to the Bowling Club. These new paths will be installed in the next few months.

We are still working on improving the pond area, though the pandemic has delayed progress in this area, we are now applying for funding to carry out the works required.

We have offered our support to a group of residents who are running a campaign to create a new bus service from Chalfont St Giles to Little Chalfont.

We continue to provide grass cutting, dog waste bins, benches, street lighting and allotments to benefit all our Parishioners.

We have set our budget for the 2022/23 period and despite escalating costs we have kept the increase in precept to 3% with the cost to a band D property of £72.74 a cost of around £1.40  per week..

I would also like to thank our staff, Helen Griffiths our Clerk, Chris Hammock-Smith our new Head Groundsman and Kai Gilbert our skilled groundsman.

As Chairman of the Parish Council I feel confident that we have a team of Councillors and Staff that will see help to enhance and support Chalfont St Giles Parish.

Here are some historical reports:

CHAIRMANS REPORT 2019-2021

The Chairmans speech is usually an annual event, however due to Covid 19, a Parish Meeting did not take place last year so this speech will cover the period from 2019 to 2021

AS well as carrying out our usual works, there were three main highlights for the Parish Council in 2019:

The Neighbourhood Plan for Chalfont St Giles Parish, which includes Jordans, went to referendum in June and was an outstanding success with nearly 92% of the voters, voting in favour of the plan. This document is now consulted when we consider all the planning applications for the Parish.

In July we were announced the winner in the Best Kept Village Tindall Cup. This was a very special achievement as this is the cup winners cup, where all the winners from the previous year are in competition with each other.

We took over the Christmas lighting event for the first time and held a market on the village green. This is truly a village event with the church, schools and village charities all coming together to make a very special event.

And then we move on to 2020.

March 23 2020 saw the first Covid 19 lockdown. As the Parish Council is a corporate body, all our decisions must be made in meetings, and the lockdown threatened to restrict the business of the council. Fortunately, the law allows the council to delegate its functions to the clerk to carry out and we took this step to ensure that there was no break in the service provided to our parishioners.

Our play areas, tennis court, cemetery and sports clubs were closed to the public and the first lockdown began.

Fortunately, by 4 April 2020 the government brought in new legislation to allow the parish council to operate using remote or virtual meetings. We very quickly learned how to use zoom and began to hold our meetings online.

By the 20th of April we reopened the cemetery to allow families to be able to grieve. We dealt with lots of complaints about footpath’s and non compliance to social distancing rules.

To support our businesses, we started the Chalfont St Giles Business Support Group on facebook. We are very grateful to Councillor Derry Vilcans-Moody who used his business knowledge to steer the local businesses through the maze of information about grants and furlough.

The Parish Council offered support to All Together Community who had quickly moved to mobilise over 100 volunteers to give support to every street in the Parish.  We created ID cards for volunteers to allow them to move freely during lockdown and gain access to shops to go shopping for the vulnerable

The Parish Council applied for two major grants which were then passed to All Together Community to provide food parcels and support to those who were struggling during the pandemic.

Despite the restrictions:

  • we signed up for another two years of services devolved from Buckinghamshire Council.
  • We successfully campaigned for an improved bus service through Chalfont St Giles and Jordans.
  • We fought the planning application for a large development at High View
  • We commented on 150 planning application
  • We arranged a new green electricity contract for our street lights
  • We planted over 100 new saplings in the recreation ground
  • We installed three new benches in the parish
  • We provided the finance to two community spirited members of the public Alan Arnold and Andy Holloway who arranged for the High Street war memorial renovation

We continued to lobby HS2 to provide information about their works on the A413 and Bottom House Farm Lane. And we ensured that Barhale gave us as much information as possible about the new water main that was installed between Amersham and Chalfont St Giles.

The creation of the new Buckinghamshire Unitary Council has seen the creation of the ‘Community Boards’ and the Parish Council have councillors as members on all of the sub committees on the boards ensuring that our voice is heard in such a large council.

We have highlighted drainage issues with Transport for Buckinghamshire to have our drains and gullies cleaned to prevent the village centre from flooding. We carried out river maintenance to help to increase flow through the river and we will continue to ensure that the unique nature of a perched river on a chalk bed are high on the priorities of Buckinghamshire Council and their future flood planning.

We have been doing the preparation work for a renovation of the village pond and the surrounding area including the wooden bridge crossing. This will be a large and costly operation and we are currently trying to get grant funding for the proposed works.

We have given our support to the creation of a Community Fridge in Blizzards Yard Car Park to help to reduce food waste and help those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Despite the restrictions of the last 12 months, the Parish Council has not missed one working day. We have continued to provide help and support for our community during very testing times.

For the first time in many years the Parish Council had a contested election and as a testament to the good work that has been carried out by all our Councillors, I was very pleased to see that they were all re-elected. I add my personal thanks to the Councillors for the way that they have coped during the last 12 months, delivering and improving the services that we provide to our parishioners.

I would also like to thank our staff, Helen Griffiths our Clerk, Lee Butterworth our Head Groundsman and Kai Gilbert our groundsman. They have manged to work throughout the pandemic and have adapted working practices to keep themselves and others safe.

As Chairman of the Parish Council I feel confident that we have a team of Councillors and Staff that will see us through the next 12 months not matter what COVID restrictions are in place.

In 2020, the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council was cancelled due to the COVID 19 Pandemic.

In 2018/19 Chalfont St Giles Parish Council and Committees met on 53 occasions to consider the issues and events affecting the Parish.

The Neighbourhood Plan for Chalfont St Giles Parish 2014-2036 was taken through the examination stage and following a few minor amendments was accepted by the examiner.  The plan then went to Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils and there Mr Mark Jaggard the head of planning and economic development used his delegated powers to agree the examiners recommendations. The plan will now go to referendum on 13 June 2019. Please take some time to read the Neighbourhood Plan and vote at the referendum. Special thanks to John Bradley who headed the working party and who has worked diligently to bring the plan to referendum…..Chairmans Report 2019

In 2017/18 Chalfont St Giles Parish Council and Committees met on 51 occasions to consider the issues and events affecting the Parish.

‘The Neighbourhood Plan working party have taken the draft plan through two consultations and have now submitted the Neighbourhood Plan to Chiltern District Council who have recently completed their own consultation. The timetable for the next steps are decided upon by Chiltern District Council.  We could not have achieved this without John Bradley and we would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication. The Neighbourhood Plan will come to referendum, hopefully later this year.2017-18 Chairmans report