The Parish Council municipal year is once more drawing to an end and it gives me great pleasure in presenting my annual Chairman’s report to the parish.

2019 is election year, not only at Leeds City Council but also for your Parish Council. Clifford Parish Council is made up of 9 councillors and therefore there needs to be more than 9 nominations for a poll to be held. At the time of writing this report in early April, I have just been informed by the election office at Leeds City Council that only 6 nominations have been received so no poll will take place. Your council will discuss how they will seek to fill the three vacant seats at their next meeting. Parish councillors represent the people living in their local area at the closest level to the community; when decisions are being made they are there to put your views across to. If you have an interest in the affairs of the community and would like to be considered to be co-opted onto the council I encourage you to speak with either the clerk or any current member of the Council to find out what is actually involved.

Your parish council continues to have a good working relationship with the local police. Whilst Clifford is a low crime area all residents are reminded that it is not a no crime area. There have been a number of incidents over the past year of anti-social behaviour at various locations including Northways Field, to the rear of the village Hall and even at the allotments. This anti-social behaviour includes drinking, drug taking and ‘racing’ of cars and motorbikes and damage to parked cars. We are aware that Clifford is not the only village suffering these problems, with neighbouring communities experiencing similar problems. The police request that anyone who witnesses this behaviour to report it directly to them either by telephoning 101 or reporting it on the Police website. This behaviour does affect the lives of many of our residents and we all need to work together to rid our parish of it. To help achieve this, your parish council funded the installation of CCTV to the Village Hall in January and it has already proved useful, when the Village Hall was broken into.

Speeding vehicles through our village have been a constant problem and over the years the council has worked with both the police and Leeds City Council Highways to see what could be done to reduce the problem. Currently Leeds City Council Highways are consulting on the introduction of lower speed limits on the roads throughout our parish with the majority of roads around us having a maximum speed limit of 20mph and with 30mph on other roads. With the local knowledge that your parish councillors have, we were able to have an input into the initial proposal with many of the suggestions being adopted into the final proposal.

Your parish council were delighted to provide funding for the refurbishment of Clifford Community Sports Ground on Rhodes Lane. This funding has come from the monies received in Community Infrastructural Levy, generated by the building of the Shires Grove. A major drawback of the clubhouse had been the lack of mains electricity which has now been installed; previously power came from a generator which was not ideal. Further improvements include better insulation, new changing room facilities, new kitchen and fresh décor. The clubhouse and grounds are now an ideal venue for a whole range of events and are available to hire through the football club. The parish council have provided a lease on the ground to Clifford Football Club, whose junior teams are based there with over 200 children playing football regularly each week. Thanks must go to Councillor Tony Blackmore who took on the project management of this refurbishment and has helped to deliver a tremendous new asset to our community and beyond.

On Remembrance Sunday residents of Clifford turned out in force to remember all those who fought and died for our country in all conflicts but this year especially the men who took part in The Great War – World War One. It was very appropriate that Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday should fall on the same day this year, one hundred years to the day that the armistice agreement was signed to bring WW1 to an end. Clifford Parish Council believed it was only right that they should lead the organisation of the remembrance events within the parish, a task that was almost two years in the planning. Together with Clifford Local History Group a booklet with biographies of all the men lost from our village was published and delivered to all households. A team of volunteers knitted over three thousand poppies to dress the village war memorial and the gates of the churches and along with an illuminated poppy light at the war memorial and this made for a very impressive display. Clifford also took part in the Remembered charity art installation called There But Not There. The seated silhouettes of Clifford Tommies were a symbolic returning of the fallen to the spaces they left behind. At 6.00am, Clifford’s commemorations started with a lone piper playing beneath St Edwards Church Tower joined by over 100 residents followed by the annual service of remembrance where nearly five hundred people gathered to remember those who had fallen from our community. In a change to the usual reciting of the Roll of Honour by one person, members of the congregations scattered around the war memorial called out the names. This represented the fact that men lost from our community came from all areas of our village. Approaching 7pm residents gathered at Northways Playing Field to hear the Last Post being sounded followed by two minutes silence, an eerie experience in the dark night sky. ITV Calendar presenter Christine Talbot then stepped forward to light the beacon and once the beacon was a blaze the bells of St Luke’s and St Edwards churches rang out in celebration of the end of the First World War. A magical sound that filled the night air. Thanks are extended to all those who were involved in any way with the arrangements for this very special occasion and those who attend the events.

December saw the retirement of Peter Seed as Clerk to the council. Peter held this post for 7 years and carried out his duties with great professionalism. It had been a pleasure to work with Peter and he certainly made my role as Chairman easier. A presentation was made to Peter at his last parish council meeting as a thank you for all he had done. I reiterate my personal thanks once again to Peter and wish him a long and healthy retirement. With Peter’s retirement the council had to appoint a new clerk and the council was delighted to welcome Nancy Fairbairn to the post at the beginning of November. Nancy already had experience of being a parish council clerk with Kirk Deighton parish council before joining us. On behalf of the council I welcome Nancy into her new role and I am already enjoying working with her and look forward to a long working relationship.

As many of you are aware Jim Carroll sadly passed away on November 24th at the grand age of 94. Jim was a member of this council between 1993 and 2003 and I had the honour of serving with him but only for one year. Jim was very encouraging when I first stood for council and had a wish that younger people were represented on the council, me being only in my early thirties at the time! Once elected onto the council I soon realised why Jim had been so encouraging and that was so he could off load his position on the Community Involvement Team to me along with several large files which instead of filling up his shelves soon filled and continue to fill my shelves! Jim was a very well read man and even published his own book on the Northern Rising. He and his wife, Marie, also triumphed many times at the village show with their display of flowers and vegetables, and was a great supporter of many events in the village. Jim suffered with ill health over a number of years but bore it with great fortitude and courage, helped by his beloved wife Marie and his deep faith. Our thoughts and love go to Marie at this time.

As I mentioned earlier in my report four members of your parish council are retiring at the end of this municipal year and on behalf of the parish I would like to thank them all for their service to this parish.

Councillor Charlotte Glynn was co-opted on to the council in 2015 to fill one of two vacancies at the time. Charlotte has reflected a more youthful view to the council and has served on the planning working group but has found increasingly that balancing the demands of work and motherhood, and renovating her new home leaves little room for any other commitments.  

Councillor David Hill filled the second vacancy in 2015. Again David has served on the planning working group and several other lead member roles, and his work has been very helpful to the council. His legal background has also been of benefit to the council.

Councillor Andy Shaw has been a councillor for 12 years and has undertaken a wide range of roles over the years. Andy has been the lead on the  parish council website, sat on the planning working group, lead member for public rights of way and allotments and also editor of the Clifford Directory. Andy has also used his professional skills when new lights and their maintenance have been required for the village Christmas tree along with helping to erect and dismantle the tree. I have personally enjoyed working with Andy on various maintenance tasks around the parish which has not only made the community look better but has been undertaken with enthusiasm.

Finally Councillor Glennis Allan is standing down after serving her community as a parish councillor for over 20 years. Many will also know Glennis from numerous other organisations in the parish that she is involved with. My first task with Glennis was helping to organised the village celebrations for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 just as I was joining the council. Over the years Glennis and I have worked together on all of the village celebrations since then including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, lighting of the beacon for various occasions, Remembrance Services and Carols around the Christmas tree. Glennis has been the lead member for playground since the current one was installed, something Glennis is rightly very proud of.

Together these four people have given over forty years of service to our community, all voluntary without seeking thanks for what they have done but they all leave their mark on our village for the better. Once again I thank them all for their dedication to the parish council and your community and I shall miss working with them.

My attention now turns to all my fellow councillors. Your councillors carry out a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes which largely goes unnoticed, this could be studying all the planning applications which are submitted in the parish, continued work on the neighbourhood plan, meetings with contractors to discuss planned work, attending seminars, training events or representing your council on a wide range of outside bodies as well as the monthly meetings whose outcome seems always to increase their workloads. I wish to put on record my grateful thanks and appreciation to all my fellow councillors for all the work they undertake and the support they have given to me during the year. To the retiring councillors special thanks for all the work you have carried out on behalf of the parish during your time as elected representatives, take pride in what you have achieved and the contribution you have made to the life of our parish.

To you the residents of our parish thank you all for your continued support.

Councillor Nicholas P. P. Fawcett – Chairman of Clifford Parish Council 2018/2019

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