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                        Hazelwood Parish Council

Chairman’s report for 2014-15

The Hazelwood Parish Council met 6 times for scheduled meetings and on one occasion for an extra-ordinary meeting. There have been many occasions when the Borough Councillor – D. Taylor – has been present but none where the previous County Councillor had attended. There have been no changes to the Council this year but at the last meeting Cllr Les Brown announced that he would not be standing for re-election at the 2015 elections.  Cllr Brown has provided a significant input to the Council over very many years and his presence, experience and contributions at meetings will be greatly missed in the future. He was always a source of information on the history of the parish and the Parish Council. We are indebted to him for his long service and thank him most sincerely on behalf of the Council and the Parish.  

Mrs S Smith has continued as Clerk and has been able to keep the Council up to date with all the changes that have come about regarding legislation, council procedures and banking facilities.  The Council is indebted to her for this and I would like to thank Sue for all her efforts.  The Memorial Hall cleaning has been done by Mrs S Bott and this has been completed to a high standard with no problems being encountered.  I would like to thank her most sincerely for this reliable service.

There have been Planning Applications for 5 extensions and 2 new build applications for a total of 7 new properties.  The applications for new properties were found by AVBC to be unacceptable and were rejected.  The Council submitted objections to them and cited the emerging Neighbourhood Plan and how this would show that the proposals would not comply with the wishes of the parish.

During the past year the Parish Council’s sub-group for Neighbourhood Planning (The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group) has been actively working through the procedures necessary to achieve a Neighbourhood Plan.  This has been a difficult process because of the many requirements for consultations and gathering of background evidence.  Grants were obtained to cover the costs up to the end of 2014 and a further grant has been obtained for 2015 which should be sufficient to see us through the process.  Advice was received that we should commission an independent survey of the housing needs for the Parish and this was completed in the winter and results were presented at an Open Meeting in May.  In essence, the independent data confirmed what we had found out previously but also included other information that helped to clarify the views of the residents.  All the background information is, to our belief, now available and we can proceed with writing the Plan in conjunction with our consultant.

Progress has not been made on the refurbishment of the Hall as it now appears undesirable to extend the main room sideways.  A plan was drawn up with an extended floor area but it was unlikely to be an economic proposition and would therefore fail to attract a substantial grant or even support from the Parish.  The current plan is now to review having a store room at the side and complete the refurbishment of the back stage area plus repair to the east door.  New windows and door have been installed in the kitchen to complete the window project.  These are upvc with traditional lead pattern within the glass matching the rest of the Hall and they will not require maintenance.  Hall lettings have decreased slightly this year as the keep-fit bubble seems to have burst.  Although some classes have stopped there are still 6 classes each week during school term time and at least 3 each week during the holidays.

The parish website has been kept up to date so that viewers can monitor progress with the Neighbourhood Plan and see some of the data that will be used.  The lists of Hall activities and Organisations have been maintained but there has been no feedback on how useful this facility or other information may have been.  There is a new legal requirement to have a website for parishes so that information is readily and openly available so it will need to continue.  We already comply with almost all of these new statutory needs and should easily complete the other necessary documents after the 2014-15 accounts have been audited and approved by the Council. If the website can be developed further it could become a useful resource for visitors and interested parties from further afield.

Earlier this month elections were held for Borough and Parish Councillors and I am pleased to welcome both Richard Heath and Glen Wall to the Council.  Both have lived in Hazelwood for many years and are well known to many of the residents.  I look forward to seeing how their new commitment to the Parish will support the work of the Parish Council and enhance the quality of living in Hazelwood.  Unfortunately Cllr Hugh Walford was not re-elected and I wish to express my sincere thanks to him for the wise and sensible contributions he has made to the council meetings over many years.

This will be my last Annual Report to the parish as I shall not be standing for Chairman in the new Council.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who I have worked with over the past 12 years to maintain and improve the Parish and the Memorial Hall for the residents, now and for the future.  

Martin Angold, May 2015