Chairman’s Annual Statement 2013
This is my last Annual Statement as, after four as Chairman, I have decided to step down. Paul Killingback, who has done such an inspiring job as Chair of the Wind Turbine sub-committee, has been voted unanimously to take my place. I know he will be an excellent chairman.
There have been an unusual number of comings and goings on the Council during the year. Jim Agnew was co-opted to replace Penny Clifford, and in July Lilie Ferrari, who was moving from Oulton to Norwich, was replaced by Greg Peck. In the new year Matt Phelps resigned due to work commitments and was replaced by Nicola Poole, and then Jim Agnew, after only a few months with us, departed to be replaced by Sam Booker.
So your Council is now: Chairman – Paul Killingback, Vice-chair – Greg Peck, Alison Shaw, Jane Morgan, Nicola Poole, Sam Booker and me. With an increased age range and members coming from all parts of the parish, I believe we now have a very stable and balanced Council.
It will not come as a surprise to anyone, I suspect, when I say that the work of your Parish Council this year has been dominated by alternative energy proposals.
Preliminary details of the Bernard Matthews wind turbine proposal were received shortly after last year’s Village meeting, and a sub-committee chaired by Paul Killingback was formed to investigate it in all its aspects.
The following month Michael Harrold informed us that he had turned down an offer to site two wind turbines on the airfield, but was proposing to produce ‘green energy’ from an anaerobic digester. Mr Harrold attended the next Parish Council meeting and detailed his proposal, answering questions from the floor. Subsequently he arranged for several villagers to visit the Future Biogas Digester at Taverham.
In August the Wind Turbine Sub-committee held a public meeting attended by representatives from Bernard Matthews, Energy4All and other interested parties at which the proposed turbine was fully debated.
In September Jim Agnew, who had been recently co-opted onto the Council, revealed his proposal to site a 60 acre ‘solar farm’ on two fields situated to the south of Spa Lane running up to the junction with Spink’s Lane.
At that point, none of the three proposals had been submitted to Broadland District Council. However shortly afterwards the ‘solar farm’ planning application was submitted but was almost immediately withdrawn.
In March the wind turbine application was submitted, and an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council attended by almost seventy people was held on April 16th to consider it. After listening carefully to the views from the floor the PC vote unanimously to object to the application. The District Council will reach its decision in the coming months. The sub-committee members had worked tirelessly to produce their carefully reasoned response to the application and I am extremely grateful to them.
In December the Parish Precept, the sum which the Council receives from the Exchequer, was discussed. During the past two years our outgoings had exceeded our income, and it was decided some of the donations to local causes should, at least temporarily, be reduced. An increased precept was also agreed, resulting in a small increase to your community charge. Other outgoings have all been reviewed, and the finances are now once again on a positive footing.
In September the parish marquee, which was being hired by Corpusty and Saxthorpe Village Hall, was badly damaged in a gale. This was due to the marquee not being properly secured overnight, and the hirers immediately took full responsibility. Repairs have been completed and the marquee, sporting a brand new roof, was used for the first time since the accident last weekend for the annual tea-party visit of the Oulton RAF Veterans and their families.
Other items which your Council have organised during the year include:
The painting of slow signs either side of the hump at Railway Cottage, and negotiations with Highways about repairs to roads and signposts.
We have also considered:
Whether the Village Fund should purchase a shipping container to house the marquee, the tables and chairs and other items used by the parish for various events.
Before deciding, we are seeking a site at which such a container could be situated.
Whether the parish should have a Neighbourhood Plan. It was decided that for a village of Oulton’s size it was probably not appropriate.
And a planning application for an extension at East Cottage, Elmerdale which was unanimously supported.
I am extremely grateful to all those who have served on the Council during the past year. As always we have been incredibly well looked after by our clerk, Jacinth Rogers, for whom the energy proposals have meant considerable extra work. I have enormously enjoyed my four years as your Chairman, and look forward to continuing to serve you from the back benches.