Annual Town Meeting 2018 – Report of the Chairman of Winslow Town Council:

Report of the Chairman of Winslow Town Council:

WINSLOW TOWN COUNCIL – ANNUAL TOWN MEETING 19 APRIL 2018

Welcome to the 2018 Annual Town Meeting.  We have a slightly different format this year, in that my report incorporates news of the business conducted by the committees over the last year.  Later on, under item 7 there will be an opportunity for you to join in a Question and Answer session. (Questions to me please and I will ask the relevant members or Clerks to respond).  We also have some display stands for you to view at the end of the meeting and Councillors will be on hand to endeavour to answer any questions you may have.

It was a great shock this week that we learnt of the death of our newest Councillor, Colin Cruse.  Our condolences go out to his family at this very sad time.

At the tail end of last year, we reluctantly had to accept the resignation of our friend and colleague Cllr David Barry, a previous Mayor of Winslow.  David successfully took over the chairmanship of Amenities many years ago.  He had a wealth of local government experience and was a real pleasure to work with.  We wish him well for the future.

AMENITIES is now in good hands under the chairmanship of Cllr Gordon Wiseman.

This committee has responsibility for the operation of devolved services, street furniture (including cycle racks, dog & litter bins and bus shelters), the main playground, Jubilee Games Area, Outdoor Fitness Area, the recreation ground, the Furze Lane burial ground, the allotments, landscaping and the Public Hall car park.

Winslow won the Michaelis cup for the ‘Best Kept Small Town’ in Bucks, beating Marlow and Olney to 2nd & 3rd places.  The Lord Lieutenant’s presentation was on the 16 September and was well attended by myself, as Mayor, residents and others who had made a significant contribution to winning the cup.

Topics of note this year include:

  1. Effective management of the devolved services, to ensure smooth running of grass cutting schedules and weed spraying. The general ethos is to ensure that Winslow is kept as tidy as practically possible and where necessary, should the District or County Council fail in its responsibilities, that we carry out the necessary work and recover the cost whenever possible.
  2. We have carried out a review of the town’s CCTV cameras, their positioning and focus in light of the forthcoming new privacy legislation. The committee have defined the purpose of each camera within the Council’s updated CCTV policy and completed the necessary privacy impact assessments as required by current law and guidelines. As a result of the updated policy and assessments, several of the CCTV cameras have now been decommissioned.
  3. Replacement practice goals for community use have been provided at the Recreation Ground, fitted with small mesh net to comply with current Health &Safety advice.
  4. Unfortunately there is a continued theme of vandalism or anti-social behaviour within the playground and Park resulting in items having to be repaired or replaced, all costs which mount up.
  5. The Furze Lane Burial Ground, being adjacent to the railway and the proposed contractor’s construction compound, is affected by the recent detailed planning applications by East-West Rail. The committee have made the applicants aware of the extreme sensitivity of this area and the strict control that must be exercised on adjacent works when an interment is planned or in progress. We will continue to monitor this aspect of the new railway very carefully indeed.
  6. The Council Communication Procedure and Communication Policy have both been updated to remove ambiguities and to include dealing with social media.
  7. It is expected that now the infrastructure projects have been completed in the Tomkins Park and Arboretum, this important town asset will come within the remit of the Amenities committee, so that we can facilitate its further improvement and amenity value for residents to enjoy.

DEVELOPMENT – under the chairmanship of Cllr Trish Cawte.

Fifty one Planning Applications were considered.

We successfully defended a Gladman appeal of the Glebe Farm development application and received £33,000 in costs.  Fought an appeal for residential development at Buckingham Road Industrial Estate, which has now been withdrawn and we have applied for costs in that regard.

We have responded to the draft plan consultation for the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan and opposed excessive additional housing numbers.

Discussions are ongoing with Network Rail/East West Rail Consortium and the Department of Transport on the new rail station and service.  Discussions are also taking place with Bucks County Council on the parking at the station.  Also with Buckinghamshire County Council, Network Rail and Bloor Homes re improvements to Furze Lane and the A413 north of the town.

We submitted opposition to Wycombe Local Plan which is attempting to add additional housing into the Vale of Aylesbury.  We also have ongoing discussions with developers at as early a stage as possible, to ensure proposed developments are in accordance with the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan.  We continue to monitor other potential developments such as Verney Junction Garden Village, housing developments around Calvert, the Oxford Cambridge Expressway route and associated development in the growth corridor.  We commented on the proposed site of the pedestrian crossing on the A413 Buckingham Road near the petrol station, parking on the cycleway and attend ‘walkabouts’ with Buckinghamshire County Council to monitor road and pedestrian pavement defects.  We have recommended the future appointment of a volunteer Tree Warden for Winslow.  The outside meetings attended are: North Bucks Parish Planning Consortium, Winslow & District Local Area Forum and Local Council Planning Liaison Group.

 FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES under the chairmanship of Cllr Llew Monger.

The main issues for the Finance & General Purpose committee in the last year have been to oversee the committee budgets and the setting of the Council’s precept for 2018-2019.  The 7% rise in the precept reflects increased operational costs and loan repayments in respect of the purchase of 28 High Street.  We were faced with difficulties finding alternative premises for the Council’s offices and Chamber.  If suitable premises had been available to rent, this could have proved very expensive.  We even considered a porta cabin as a last resort.  In the end we negotiated the purchase of 28 High Street from Aylesbury Vale District Council and as such now have a good community asset.  Refurbishments are well under way, with an area upstairs which will soon be available as an office hub for community and commercial hirings.

This committee considers grant applications from local organisations and oversees the management and recruitment of Council staff.

Discussions are presently taking place with Buckinghamshire County Council regarding the proposed demolition of existing buildings at the Winslow Centre site, including the Youth Centre and the relocation of existing users.

Cllr Hugh Morton reports that the New Community Hall Steering Group completed their work, at the end of last week, gathering information from the users of the present Public Hall and those who participated in the surveys.  We are pleased to report that the number of people represented in the surveys was considered very good for such a project.  The Group was made up of those in the town who volunteered their time and it was chaired by Derry French.  The Council awaits the final version of the draft requirements, so they can start investigating the possible options and costs.  We would like to thank all who participated, particularly Derry and the Steering Group committee.

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To conclude this report, I have very much enjoyed representing our Town, both locally and further afield, in my capacity as Mayor during the last year.  When I was elected Mayor and Chairman of the Council last May, I made the decision to carry out the role for just one year and it is hard to believe that next month it will be time for someone else to take on the role.  It has been both an honour and a privilege to serve our Town and carry out the various jobs which are part and parcel of being the Mayor, including Chairing the Council meetings.  I would like to take this opportunity and hope you will join me, in thanking our Local, District and County Councillors, the Clerks and staff for their time and efforts over the last year.

Cllr Wendy Castle

Mayor and Chairman

Winslow Town Council

 

 

 

 

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