F.Vaughan (Parish Clerk) C.Slade (Chairman)
WINSHAM PARISH COUNCIL
P.Pye E.Partridge G.Winter A.Fuller
|For a little more than one hundred years Parish Councils have managed parish affairs. Winsham has nine elected councillors. Some have a record of long service, others have been in office since the election two years ago and since then two have been elected to fill casual vacancies.
In September, Mrs Pat Green, our Parish Clerk died after a short illness. We were all saddened by her untimely death. It also meant that some of the business of the council was delayed to some extent while we sought a new Parish Clerk. In this respect we have been fortunate in recruiting Frank Vaughan, who moved into the village earlier this year. He is now working hard at absorbing the details of his responsibilities, and coming to grips with the work in progress.
Tasks within the Parish Council, when they can be classified, are delegated to individual or groups of Councillors who then report progress at each monthly meeting. Planning, policy and expenditure decisions can only be made at the properly constituted Parish Council meeting which is open to the public. Provision is made for public questions at each meeting.
The duties of the Parish Council are many and varied.
The precept for 2000 is £6000.00 which comes from the taxes collected by South Somerset District Council.
On the Lower Recreation Ground the cutting of grass and the maintenance of the Play Equipment area is one of our responsibilities. The latter includes checking each week the safety aspects of all the equipment by a Parish Councillor, at no cost to the Parish, to ensure its compliance with legal standards. The withdrawal from use of the climbing frame was a result of new standards. Safety matting is soon to be installed, which will then enable the frame to be used once again.
Plans are also progressing for the installation of a Bus Shelter near Davies Close. This will be of real benefit for the many children and village residents who regularly travel to Chard by bus. This we expect to be built during 2001.
With the heavy rainfall of the last few months the maintenance of the Parish drainage systems have been very much under review. The situation is difficult, with so much water coming off the fields. Probably the best that can realistically be achieved is a quick response for those particular areas where local flooding is capable of being alleviated, and where it creates the most danger and inconvenience.
The regular cutting of grass in the Churchyard and Cemetery and general maintenance of these areas is also part of the Parish Council remit. This includes fencing and the levelling and grassing of grave spaces when settlement has finished. Much of this work, other than the grass cutting, is done without any charge to the Precept.
Planning is also another important aspect of our work. Although final decisions are the responsibility of the District Council, the Parish Council's views are sought on all applications.
The results of a parish consultation concerning speeding traffic through the village showed that there was support for some sort of traffic calming action. The cost to the parish for providing this would be prohibitive and Winsham is not near the top of the Highway Authority's priority list. However, the Parish Council will keep traffic calming on its agenda.
In April a section of the Churchyard wall bordering The Old Vicarage collapsed. The Churchyard is closed and the Parish Council is responsible for maintaining the boundaries. Until ownership of this section of wall is established the wall remains in its fallen state.
Work is in hand to resurface the present footpath to the cemetery and provide a double track. It will improve the access for vehicles. This has been started but because of the rainfall this Autumn the work could not be completed.
During Public Question time in July notice was drawn to the state of the War Memorial. It was agreed that refurbishment was needed and that the work would be done in 2001.
The hundred year old oak tree in the Small Recreation Ground is showing signs of problems. Professional advice gave no definite diagnosis. It's future, and probable replacement was considered in the Autumn
A permanent home for the Village Bier is proving very difficult to find. St Stephen's Church might be a possibility.
Preliminary arrangements for Winsham to be twinned with Saint Remy du Val, in France have been made. The two villages are roughly the same size, both have primary schools and, being rural, have the same interests. The twinning organisation will be independent from the Parish Council but needs the support and backing of the whole village. The Parish Council readily gave their support for the plans.
Court Farm Close has been approved as the name for the new housing development at Court Farm.
The possibility of a low cost housing development in Western Way, beyond the Thatched Houses, was raised. Lower cost homes in Winsham, suitable for young people, is often discussed at meetings. Housing Associations own many of the houses in the village and decide who the tenants are to be. Local people have almost no advantage.
Every year the Parish Council publishes a Parish Guide, which is distributed to every house. A copy will be stored with the Parish Magazines for this year.
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