Chairman's Annual Report 2008-09 Print

CHAIRMAN'S REPORT TO THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING – 18 MARCH 2009

by Cllr Kate Brown

 

The Council Year started off on a high note with the election of David Roberts as Chairman. Dave had been working very hard during his year as Vice Chairman getting to know many people and organisations in the Town. On taking over as Chairman he stressed his main priorities would be the Youth of the Town and the Coronation Hospital.

Youth issues are moving forward albeit slowly but dialogue with the students at Ilkley Grammar School is taking place with representatives of their Student Council attending a Parish Council Meeting in January, and they have been invited back in May. Last autumn the police organised a public meeting following which they are working hard at trying to put on an additional evening at The Warehouse on a Friday evening and have asked the Parish Council to consider making up their shortfall in funding – this has yet to be discussed.

On the issue of the Coronation Hospital I was to say that things are moving very slowly. However, this morning, as Secretary of Ilkley in Bloom, I received a consultation documents which states that 'In parallel with a further expansion of health services provided in or near people's homes, we plan to replace and rebuild the ageing Coronation Hospital in Ilkley. More than £3.3m will be invested in the creation on the same site of a purpose-designed, two-storey hospital – to become fully operational as early as 2011.' This is good news and consultation events are being held in Ilkley next week.

Unfortunately in the summer events within the Council led David Roberts to resign both as Chairman and as a Counciller as he did not feel able to continue within the atmosphere generated. I would like to thank Dave for all his hard work and active participation whilst on the Council.

Vice Chairman, Alan Morrell, looked after matters in the interregnum, and in September Councillors elected me as Chairman for which I thank them.

Staff changes have taken place during the year with Chris Dale reducing her hours (officially!) to ten per week at the end of October, and prior to that, at the beginning of August we welcomed Jean Yule as Deputy Clerk. Once Jean is qualified she will become Parish Clerk – in the meantime Chris stays as Parish Clerk and Responsible Financial Office.

Jean joined us expecting to be working with Dave as Chairman, and I do thank her for sticking with us. I believe she is enjoying the job and finding it challenging and rewarding.

Thank you to both Jean and Chris for their hard work throughout the year.

Following the election for a new councillor to replace David Roberts, we welcomed Stuart Goddard to Council and he is proving a very able and active Councillor with plenty of fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

Returning to Ilkley Grammar School, following discussion between Cllr Brian Mann and Mrs Gillian James the Headteacher Council agreed to fund two trophies for an ongoing Citizenship Award to be presented to students at the school who showed great commitment to Citizenship – one trophy for year 13 and one for year 15, and it was my pleasure to award these to their recipients for the first time at the School's presentation evenings at the end of 2008.

Also, we have once again welcomed year 7 from IGS to the Council Chamber to see where we meet, learn a little about the Parish Council and how we debate, hold a debate – this year the school chose the subject of the government consultation on the lowering of the school leaving age to 16 from 18. There were nine visits and the majority of the groups voted for a halfway house of 17 which currently will be their school leaving age. The students also enjoyed time to ask questions, the first two usually being 'did I know what was going into Woolworths' (and they had several ideas of their own), and also about Tesco's plans which had not been submitted at the time. Quite a heated debate took place on one visit as to whether or not there should be a one-way system on the Grove. A wide range of other topics was covered showing great interest in and awareness of their surroundings. This is very encouraging for the future – future Councillors in the making we hope.

I believe we have a good working relationship with the school and I hope they feel the same way. This is very important as their students are our future in so many ways.

We have been pleased to welcome Inspector Sue Sanderson to our Council Meetings at which she talks us through the latest crime figures and initiatives from the Neighbouring Policing Team and answering our questions. We do appreciate her giving up her time to attend and indeed stay to listen to our whole meeting.

Working through events during the year, one of the first was Yorkshire Day at which the final of the Junior Town Crier Competition was held, and congratulations go to Sara Parry for being successful.

The next event was the Concert on the Grove which once again was a sell out. Thanks go to Cllr Gibbons for putting the programme together and to Chris for the admin work and to the TIC for selling the tickets on the Council's behalf.

Following the Remembrance Sunday service last year when the British Legion found themselves short of members to arrange things, I held a meeting of the various uniformed groups involved in the Parade and we have offered further help to the British Legion, if they wish it. A change to the Parade Route has been put forward suggesting starting in the Contract Car Park which will make it safer as an assembly point. We are also helping with the production of a new Service Sheet.

With the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and the 150 years since he was in Ilkley when his book On the Origin of the Species was printed, the Parish Council was asked to act as a co-ordinator for the various events taking place in Ilkley in 2009. To this end I have put together a flyer of events and a brief history of Darwin's time in Ilkley, which is currently being printed, and which will be available in the TIC, the Manor House, Cliffe Castle in Keighley (where there is a Darwin Exhibition) and elsewhere as requested.

The next event was the Switch On of the Christmas Lights and thanks go once again to Brian Mann and his team for producing a colourful display of lights and a successful Parade and Switch On. We were pleased that both Chris Richards, our Town Crier and Sara Parry, our Junior Crier were with us on that day. Unfortunately again it was not possible to include Ben Rhydding in the lights but it is hoped that a tree will be lit in 2009.

The Annual Carol Service arranged by the Parish Council and CTI was held in December on an extremely wet day, but many parents and grandparents braved the weather to support their youngsters who provided some excellent music. Thanks again go to Brian Mann, his wife Sylvia and CTI for serving the mulled pie and mince pies after the Service.

The Allotments continue to be very efficiently run with our foot soldier and Project Manager Cllr Wallbank who is continually monitoring the 3 sites and coming forward with suggestions for improvement. I believe the systems in place for monitoring and for the paperwork are working very well. Again, thanks to Andrew for the time and effort he puts into this role.

Currently we are working with the Ilkley and Wharfedale Tourism Partnership on applying for the town to be accredited as a Walkers are Welcome town. This is a national organisation and will hopefully attract more visitors to come to the town, using local accommodation and eating establishments and enjoying all the facilities that Ilkley has to offer.

Clllr Robinson has continued her work as Project Manager for the Cemetery and the Riverside paths. As a result of her efforts the Parish Council has agreed to finance the purchasing and fitting of two new gates to the entrance to the Cemetery from Ashlands Road. These would have been fitted by now but for the fact that some damage has occurred to the tarmacadam within the Cemetery and we are waiting for that to be rectified before the gates are fixed, to avoid any damage to them.

The sign at the beginning of the Dalesway Footpath that IPC had provided in conjunction with the Dales Way Association had faded very badly and I spoke to the Association about the possibility of a replacement. As this had happened at other sites the Dales Way Association provided a new one which Keith and I fixed at the weekend. It was immediately much appreciated by some walkers as it is so much clearer to read.

On the subject of signs we were very disappointed that the two new Welcome to Ilkley signs purchased by the Parish Council last year quickly showed signs of wear. These have now been taken down and are awaiting collection from the supplier for refurbishment. We hope they will not be away too long.

Work is progressing on the suggested transfer of the trusteeship of the Darwin Gardens to Ilkley Parish Council as sole corporate trustee. This proposal was approved at the AGM of the Darwin Gardens and the necessary paperwork is currently with the Council's solicitor. Subject to his finding everything to be in order the transfer will be put onto the first possible Full Council Agenda for discussion and decision as to whether the Council wishes to take this step. (A meeting with the Solicitor has now been arranged for next week).

Once again the Planning Committee has been busy scrutinizing all the planning applications for Ilkley and Ben Rhydding. Bradford Council have been threatening that all plans will have to be looked at on line, but because of problems with their IT we are currently still receiving paper plans. Andrew McKie took over the Chairmanship of the Committee when I became Chairman of Council and we are all very grateful to Andrew for his hard work. As well as having the paper plans Andrew does look at all applications and associated documents on line. This gives us a lot more information but it is very time consuming for the Chairman. A possible change to the working of the Planning Committee is to be discussed at its next meeting.

Councillors continue to have representation on a wide variety of other organisations within the town and this is an excellent way for the Parish Council to be kept in touch with what is happening around us. The list continues to grow and the recently formed Friends of Ilkley Lido have said they would also like a representative on their committee.

It has been my pleasure to have attended, as Chairman, various events put on by widely differing groups within Ilkley. The energy and time put into work in the Town by volunteers is wonderful to see and experience, and the mixture of younger and older in some of these organisations residents works really well and is a credit to the organisers. There are many towns that do not have this level of involvement and commitment within their community – so we are exceptionally fortunate in this.

Several Councillors, and Chris and Jean, have attended training courses run by both the Society of Local Council Clerks and also the Local Councils Association. This has been an excellent way of keeping up to date with new legislation affecting Parish Councils and also mixing with other Councillors and learning what happens elsewhere and how widely Parish and Town Council differ in what they are trying, and indeed manage, to achieve.

This has been the first year of the reduction of meetings to Full Council once a month plus planning meetings. This has still enabled full discussion of the necessary issues but without duplication and is a more effective use of Councillor and staff time.

On the financial side of the Council work we have once again granted awards to groups and organisations within the town from a budget of £45,000.

Our expenditure for the year is within Budget. The financial year ends on 5 April and shortly after that, full figures will be available.

When preparing the Budget for 2009/10 Cllrs were very mindful of the credit crunch, and it was agreed that there should be no increase in the Precept. This will mean being very careful with the resources available but all were agreed this was the correct way forward.

Some may be wondering whether or not I intend having a Civic Service this year. Originally it was expected that the Coutances delegation would visit during my term as Chairman and I had planned to hold my Service during their visit. However, this visit was delayed and with personal commitments and other formal invitations for Sundays time has run away.

Finally, I would like to offer my thanks to all Councillors who have supported me during the year. If I have missed anything I do apologise. It was not intentional.

I would also to express my thanks to Eileen Atack and the staff at Ilkley Town Hall who are always very helpful to us and keep the Town Hall very clean and tidy.

I end by saying thank you for coming here tonight.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 19:36