Chairman's Annual Report 2014-15 Print

At the beginning of this last Council year, we were unexpectedly faced with the resignation of the Parish Clerk. The Parish Clerk is vital as an advisor and for continuity of the Council and we have been very fortunate in being able to appoint Mrs Clare Smith. A challenging time in the first few weeks of the appointment, with no one to follow, Clare now proved to be a very good asset and we have a dedicated Parish Clerk.

Ilkley is known as a festival town and the first to be held each year is the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts now celebrating 108 years. This festival with professional adjudicators offers a syllabus with a very wide selection from poetry and story writing, speech and drama, vocal and choral music classes to instrumental soloists and bands. A celebration concert with the winning artists is held two weeks after the closing competitive events.

The Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Committee met in May but have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of progress with the Bradford Local Plan. Nevertheless, Committee members, led by Brian Mann and Paul Kitching, ensured a well-attended open forum at the Clarke Foley Centre which secured some positive progress which is now being maintained but there is still a long way to go.

We have been blessed with some very good sunny and warm days for Ilkley. The Flower Show coffee morning at the Clarke Foley Centre was well supported assisted by Councillors Brian Mann and Jennifer Souter. Ben Rhydding Fete was a well-attended afternoon in warm sunshine with a variety of entertainment.

After months of meetings attended by Councillor Bryan Websdale the spectacular Grand Départ of the Tour de France cycled through Ilkley which saw two days of near perfect weather and showed the Dales countryside at its very best. Ilkley ran the first road race in the town a few days before the event which proved very popular with residents and visitors. A sedate country ride in period costume left the Bandstand to ride through Ilkley and Ben Rhydding before visiting Cavendish pavilion for refreshments and then returning to the Clarke Foley Centre.

Later in July at Bradford Cathedral, a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales saw the Right Reverend Nicholas Baines installed as the first Bishop of the new Diocese. Subsequent services at York Minster and Bradford witnessed two further Bishops installed for Bradford and Huddersfield. It was a privilege to attend these services and witness the creation of the first new diocese in over 85 years.

August the first, Yorkshire Day, was traditionally celebrated at the Bandstand with Ilkley’s newly appointed Town Crier, Isabel Hogan, announcing the Yorkshire Declaration. Resplendent in the costume and with a loud ringing voice she recited her verses to suit the occasion and later visited the Clarke Foley Centre to repeat the Yorkshire Declaration. This event marked the beginning of Ilkley Summer Festival running through the whole of August and finishing with the Concert on the Grove. Councillor Mike Gibbons has organised this event for a number of years and the concert proves to be ever popular.

Early in August a short service of remembrance to mark the Centenary of the beginning of World War I was held at the Cenotaph in the Memorial Gardens at the end of The Grove. A solemn occasion giving time to reflect and remember those dark days of war.

Towards the end of August the 61st Annual Flower Show was held in the Clarke Foley Centre with a great variety of entries of splendid colour and an event which many more could enter to improve the competition.

These events which enhance the welcoming nature of the town for both visitors and residents alike are in addition to the regular meetings of Councillors to the Awards and Projects Committee chaired by Councillor Mike Ridgway which meets bi-monthly and have granted over £45,000 in awards to worthy local projects. The Planning Committee meets every three weeks and has considered on average 20 applications at each meeting which have always been well attended by up to six Councillors.

In September, a Civic Service was held at Christchurch. Reverend Robert Hilton conducted this annual services to reflect the nature and support for the Parish Councillors and Chairman of the Council.

The town was fortunate to again be awarded the Green Flag award for the Darwin Gardens project led by Councillor Heathcliffe Bowen. Darwin Gardens is another valuable asset looked after by the Parish Council which acts as the Trustee on behalf of the town.

The traditional Remembrance Day service held in the Memorial Gardens was very well attended this year and gave the opportunity to remember and reflect on the many conflicts that still exist for our armed forces across the world.

Ilkley Literature Festival again attracted some very well-known national names and proved again to be very popular with residents and visitors alike.

The annual Christmas Lights Switch On, in the presence of Father Christmas, was performed by Ilkley’s Town Crier, Isabel Hogan and the two hours of street entertainment before the switch on ensured a very good crowd. The Town Crier led the parade with coach and horses bringing Father Christmas from the Town Hall to The Grove.

After some considerable wind damage and tree pruning the Jubilee Lights as well as the Christmas Lights provided the well-lit shopping streets which have been much appreciated by all. Councillors Butler, Perry and Souter form a small team to ensure our continued enjoyment.

The Council appointed Mrs Diane Ollier as Deputy Clerk to support the growing work of the Council, particularly with the Neighbourhood Plan, and she is now a valuable addition to support the Council administrative work.

Many of the churches held carol services and concerts to celebrate Christmas time which were all well attended. Carols were sung in the shopping areas and the lights looked very welcoming in the dark December evenings.

In December, the feasibility study, financed by Bradford Council, for the Manor House was commenced with an outside consultant to look at the various options available for the building. Councillor Mann has been instrumental in keeping the focus of interested parties in the town to provide the consultant with information.

An informal meeting with Councillors and Bradford Council’s Director of Finance gave the Parish Council an insight in to the many cuts and reductions in services that Bradford Council have to make to help reduce the national deficit. The meeting was frank and informative and will affect what Ilkley Parish Council will have to look at in the coming year to prioritise services and facilities.

In the New Year, Ilkley Film Festival, which is supported by the Parish Council, again provided a great variety of films at various places around the town. This is another festival that has grown in popularity in the last two years.

I wish to thank the Clerk, Mrs Clare Smith, and Deputy Clerk, Mrs Diane Ollier, who have very efficiently completed a growing workload in the office. I also thank Councillors who have completed the four year cycle of office. 

Councillor Andrew Walbank

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 13:05