Chairman’s Report 2020

As I sit down to write this report one issue dominates my thoughts, an issue which like no other has an effect on every resident of this parish, Coronavirus. Over the last few weeks, it has dominated my life and yours and that of our families and friends. It is very heartening how our community has come together to help and support each other with a call to arms in setting up a Clifford Volunteer Action Group offering assistance to our neighbours in this difficult time. There are at least one or two volunteers on nearly every street in the parish who have offered to help their fellow neighbour with every day tasks which we would normally take for granted. I wish to thank each and every one of them and every resident who is helping in any way they can and together we will get through what ever lies ahead of us. Particular thanks have to go to Michelle Baxter who when approached to lead this response took the role on with gusto. I know Michelle has had help from others with running the group and my thanks also go to them.

The restrictions introduced by HM Government in an attempt to fight the virus also effects how your parish council runs. The monthly meeting of the full council held in the village hall will not take place for the coming months instead a virtual meeting will be held with councillors logging on from their homes. The Annual Parish meeting normally held in May will not this year take place although the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council will take place at a date to be confirmed. This does not mean that you can not get in contact with a councillor or the clerk but please email or phone them in the first instance, contact information is printed in Outlook and also on the parish council website, I do ask that you understand that a response to your enquiry may take longer than normal due to situation we find ourselves in. Updates and advice which the council receives from Leeds City Council are also being posted on the website.

2019 was an election year for your parish council. Four out of the nine councillors retired which left four seats to be filled. Councillor Ryan Bray joined the five councillors who were all elected in the uncontested poll but that left three seats which were filled by co-option. It was encouraging to have four applications for the three seats and Councillors Eram Watson, Andy Poulter and James Lund were co-opted to fill those seats and it gives my great pleasure to welcome all four new councillors to the council and to welcome back my four other long serving members.

2019 was also election year for Leeds City Council and once again Councillor Gerald Wilkinson was re-elected to serve the Wetherby Ward. Your council was saddened to hear of Gerald’s death late last year as he had been a very dedicated hardworking councillor for our community. He attended parish council meetings and site visits and over the years dealt with request for help on many occasions from the parish council. A by-election was held in December to fill Gerald’s seat and Councillor Linda Richards, Chairman of Bramham Parish Council, was elected. It was a pleasure to welcome her to our March meeting and we are already working closely with her on a number of issues. My thanks also go to Councillors Norma Harrington and Alan Lamb with whom the council has a very good working relationship with.

Your council continues to work with the local police force. Due to time restrains on police staff they no longer attend council meetings on a regular basis although a monthly report of crime incidents is provided. The police have re-established the PACT meetings, Police and Community Together meetings where any members of the community can attend and ask question regarding policing in the local area. These meetings have so far been held in Wetherby but there are plans to move the meetings around the area visiting each village once a year. There have been a number of incidents over the past year of burglary from homes, thefts from outbuildings and cars often when they have been left unlocked, please do check that your property is secured before you leave it.

In response to concerns regarding speeding vehicles throughout Leeds, an ongoing scheme to reduce all speed limits to 20mph in residential streets is taking place. Your parish council were consulted on the proposed scheme for the parish and made a number of recommendations which were incorporated into the final plan. Most of the new speed limit signs and regulations are now in place although there has been a number of teething problems. We hope that this scheme will not only reduce the number of speeding vehicles but improve safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

Clifford Neighbourhood Plan has now been in force for several years and is due to be reviewed. The start of the review is to be delayed until we are in a position to meet and involve members of the public in the process. One outcome of a neighbourhood plan is that the parish receives money from developers of new housing called Community Infrastructural Levy. Your council received such money from the building of Shires Grove and has used a proportion to help the redevelopment of the former cricket club on Rhodes Lane into the now Clifford Community Sports Ground. This has included the refurbishment of the club house and recently the completion of an enlarged car park and traffic flow system to reduce the need to park on the lane verges. Reinstatement of the lane verges are also to take place in the near future. Funds were also allocated to Clifford Village Hall towards to cost of providing new toilets and kitchen. It is good to see this project is also coming along although work has had to stop due to the corona virus restrictions. I look forward to seeing the completed project.

A casualty of the coronavirus, were the plans arranged to commemorate the 75 anniversary of VE Day. Along with bagpiper, a ‘Town’ cry, ringing of church bells, lighting of the village beacon and open-air service at the war memorial a village gala day was to be held at the sports ground. It is now hoped that this occasion will be able to be commemorated over the weekend of 15th-16th August to coincide with VJ Day 75.

Now I would once again wish to thank my fellow councillors for all the amount of work which they carry out to make sure your council runs so well. They don’t just turn up once a month for a meeting but undertake a lot of background work attending site meetings, representing the council on outside bodies, studying planning applications or carrying out various tasks around the parish. This can take up a considerable amount of time and I apricate all they do. I also thank them for the support they give to me in carrying out my role as Chairman.

Nancy Fairbairn joined the council as clerk in 2019 and has settled into the role very well servicing the council in a very professional manner. Her enthusiasm for the role is very welcoming and anyone who has had reason to contact her will, I am sure, agree with me. I thank Nancy for all the work she has done and for keeping me so well informed.

I would like to finish where I started with the uncertainty of what lies ahead of us at this time. Whilst all what your parish council undertakes is of differing level of importance, what is really important to us are you, the residents of this parish, you are what makes Clifford the community we all want to live in. The weeks and months in front of us may be darken but by all looking after our families, our neighbours and our community we will get through what lies ahead of us and our parish can return to the vibrant place we call home.

Stay safe, take care and we will meet again.

Councillor Nicholas P. P .Fawcett

Chairman of Clifford Parish Council 2019/2020

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