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   Annual Report published    21 April, 2020

Baldons Parish Council

 

 

Chairman’s Annual Report to Toot Baldon and Marsh Baldon Parishes 2019/20

 

In May 2019 Parish Council elections were again held, and as in the past no election was required because the numbers of candidate did not exceed the vacancies. 

John Maskell and Elizabeth Gillespie were re-elected for Toot Baldon. Dorothy Tonge, Stephen Dance and Laurence Attewill were re-elected for Marsh Baldon. The remaining vacancy was subsequently filled by co-option of Lauren Collett. 

Dorothy Tonge was re-elected Chairmen ad Stephen Dance as Vice Chairman at the council AGM in May  

The role of treasurer was transferred to the Parish Clerk Tom James 

The council held 6 meeting during the year.  Standing orders and policies were reviewed and revised where necessary and are displayed on the website.

 

Matters dealt with by the council

 

1.     Planning applications

The council received 26 planning applications 17 from Marsh Baldon and 9 from Toot Baldon of which 4 were duplicated Listed Building consents.  Most planning applications were  supported by the council as being in line with the neighbourhood plan.  Two planning applications were objected to , one of which was supported after amendment, the other  remains outstanding with SODC.  Other applications involved the discharge of conditions relevant to previously agreed plans. 

One application will result in 2 new smaller houses on Pebble hill, a site identified for development in the Neighbourhood plan.

It has however been disappointing that an early offer of 2 small village houses as part of a 6-house development, not yet commenced, has been withdrawn.

 

2.     Village Green 

A significant amount of work has been done on the village green with pruning of the willows and clearing the edges of the ditch.  The green has been looking increasingly overgrown with brambles and saplings spreading. An area of Poplar growth is spreading widely at the northern end which we need to control.

There is also significant damage occurring to the edges of the green due to the number of developments taking place and the very wet winter which is of concern. All householders have been advised by the council of their responsibility for repairs. 

 

Village Pond 

Thanks to the enormous help of villagers work to clear the pond outside the school has led to a big improvement. it remains a priority for voluntary effort to keep down the brambles and remove more of the reeds to encourage wildlife. The council hopes that more volunteers will help maintain the green and other areas in the villages. All the effort is greatly appreciated.

 

 

Tracks around the Green

Finding a solution to the continuing deterioration of the track on the south side of the green remains a priority. Options for repair have been identified and the council has consulted villagers by questionnaire. A meeting to make progress on long-term and short-term options and financing has had to be postponed due to the pandemic but will be progressed as soon as possible 

Following discussions with the land agents for Queens College, the council will also be asked to agree a plan to narrow the track on the south side and protect the green from incursion by cars. This is a priority for 2020.

 

3.     Millennium Tree Trail

The creation of new woodland to help combat climate change and improve the environment has been drawn up by a small group of villagers. This has the parish councils support for the use of the residual   small amount of money from the millennium celebrations. Some saplings have already been planted on private land and on farmland, but consultation is required with land agents for Queens college to agree planting around the village green and other college land. It is hoped to be able to make progress and plant in the autumn of 2020.

 

4.     Mains Drainage Toot Baldon 

Slow progress is being made by Thames Water (TW) to install mains drainage in Toot Baldon. a small group of residents are liaising with TW and there appears now to be a commitment to progress a scheme Regular updates are given when we can. 

 

5.     SODC Local Plan 2031

The change in the political make up of SODC has left confusion and uncertainty about the local plan which includes housing development in the Green Belt 

Following government minister intervention SODC has been instructed to submit the plan to the Planning inspectorate for public examination. The Parish Council remains very concerned at the impact of development on land south of Grenoble Road on our villages and will need to consider participation in the enquiry in due course. 

 

6.     Oxford to Cambridge Expressway

 The Parish Council, via Elizabeth Gillespie, and two villagers have been very active in the Expressway Action Group.  We had expected consultation on the government’s options for a route. This has now been delayed and it is possible that a statement in the recent budget could result in a rethink of the transport options.

 

7.     Annual report from Clerk and Treasurer

The annual accounts have been submitted for approval and Internal Audit.  For the second year running, the Council has spent more than the Precept and so reserves have decreased from £19836 in 2018 to £17574 in 2020.  Major expenditure, this year, has included over £4000 for tree pollarding and grass cutting on the Green and £1000 towards the cost of cutting the grass in the graveyards at the two churches.

The Council discussed the budget at meeting in November 2019 and again in January 2020 and it was decided to increase the Precept to £9250 to cover the planned restoration of the Green to its original boundaries.  In addition, the Council felt that it also needed to make provision for other future projects.  The Council is also keen to support the school, through grant applications, in finding a long-term solution to cars parking at the start and end of the school day.

 

8.     Consultations

 A plan by Oxfordshire County Council to develop a site between Nuneham Courtenay and Sandford on Thames to extract sand and gravel has been strongly objected to due its  impact on the landscape and environs of Harcourt House  and on traffic on the A4074. 

 

9.     Priorities 2020

·      Village Green repairs on north side 

·      South side track repairs and protection of the green 

·      Millennium tree trail

·      New notice boards 

 

10.  Covid-19

It is expected that Covid-19 will disrupt parish council meetings which may be delayed or cancelled.

 

11.  Annual Meeting of the Baldons Parish Council

The Annual General Meeting due for May will be cancelled. As  Chairmen  and officers are appointed at the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council advice has been given by the Local Government Association that the people appointed to these roles will/can  now continue in post ‘until the next annual meeting of the authority or until such time as that authority may determine.’ Regs Part 2 sec 4 (2)

 

12.  Thanks

I would like to thank all my colleagues on the council for their hard work, support for me as chairman and their good humour and help

Thanks also to our District and County councillors for their hard work on our behalf, and to the village hall committee for its use 

Finally, thanks to our Parish Clerk for his enthusiasm knowledge and hard work getting us to adopt new ways of working!

 

Dorothy Tonge 

Chairman

April 2020

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