Well, at the beginning of a new year I thought I would take a look back at a pretty eventful and busy year in the Parish and some of the issues we have faced, some of the challenges we have worked on and some of the projects yet to come to fruition.
First though a disappointment over the school playing field and the Diocese turning down a request by the working group comprising the school, PTA, parents, Parish Council and CWaC to put some play equipment on the field. The reasons are not clear and whilst there was some vocal opposition from neighbours, the Parish Council will continue to search for a safe playground for the children of the village. It is worth noting, though, that some of the concerned parents who have children at the school have raised a petition to try and get the Diocese to change its mind. The petition can be viewed here it has already gained quite a bit of support and can also be signed in Rose Farm Shop. If you agree with its sentiment and objective please sign it too.
The village of Utkinton united to persuade CWaC Planning Department to reject a proposal to build up to 22 houses on Northgate field and, as we pressed the button to upload this piece we are still waiting for news. However CWaC have told us that it is likely that the developers may come forward with an alternative scheme – but for what, and when, we do not know. But your support during this year has been invaluable – thank you and thanks in particular to the ‘Green Space Action Group’ who put in so much effort to the comments about the application.
We welcomed a new Parish Clerk, Sandie McBennett, who joined us mid-year after Alex Stubbs decided that she wanted to focus on family and her other work. We wish Alex good fortune and hope that Sandie will be with us for many meetings to come.
The Parish Council used some of the ‘New Homes Bonus’ money (sadly since discontinued by CWaC) from developments across the ward to pay for the installation of a flashing speed sign on Quarry Bank just above the school. The balance will be used in Cotebrook for a 40 mph flashing sign just above the ‘Fox and Barrel’ on the A49.
Thanks to a donation by Judith and Matthew Grant we now have a defibrillator installed at Rose Farm Shop.
We started to look at another of our goals from the Parish Plan – a safe walking/cycling route between Utkinton and Tarporley. Right now we are looking at the feasibility with CWaC and a charity called ‘Sustrans’ and once we have a study done we will bring the results to the Parish for your views.
In a similar vein, the Parish Council approved proposals to move towards adopting a ‘Neighbourhood Development Plan’ – known simply as ‘The Neighbourhood Plan’ and this began in November and Councillor Priestner was asked to lead the project and Tony Dahill agreed to head up the steering group. They are in the midst of producing a flyer about the process for all households in the parish together with a request for residents to consider joining the steering group. The ‘NDP’ will become a legal document against which all requests for planning are considered. This doesn’t mean that the Parish is against development and, indeed, in the various housing needs surveys many have considered that some development may be appropriate – but it has to be the right proposal in the right place for the right reasons.
Finally, well almost, we are still seeking a willing resident from the whole of the parish to join the parish council – it only takes 11 evenings each year and can be very rewarding for what can be achieved. If you are interested please get in touch via the ‘Feedback and Comments’ page or email me direct.
And really finally, I’d like to express my thanks to anyone and everyone who has helped to make the Parish Council work, whether a Councillor, a resident or those from CWaC who give us so much support.
2017 promises to be a busy year and may I wish you and yours a peaceful, prosperous and healthy time.
Chair – Utkinton and Cotebrook Parish Council