Annual report

It has been an interesting year for me, I took over as Chair of Broomfield Parish Council last May following Cllr John Blake: he was not Chairman for long but nonetheless did a great job and left the Council in a strong position.

For those who don’t know, we have four main committees; Finance, Planning, Village Amenities and Village Hall. All have their role to fulfil, dealing with everything from setting the annual budget to ensuring that the footpaths are kept in good order. You can read about their accomplishments in the reports from each committee, but there are some things I’d like to mention personally.

  • We knew that the kicking wall was not getting as much use as it might as it was often blocked out by cars parked in front of it. The Village Amenities Committee took some time to investigate where it could be moved to and conferred with the football club and Consultants to ensure it would comply with all the regulations. Placing it where it is now did involve the football pitch being moved slightly further down the field but this was done with full consultation with the football club who I would like to thank for their help in making the move as painless as it was. There is more to be done, and thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Communities Initiative Fund, there will soon be an asphalt playing area in front of the wall.
  • Councillor John Blake has done an invaluable job on the Neighbourhood Plan. This project is vital if we want to have an input into the future planning process and it is the best possible way for you to get involved in shaping your community. The information you have already given in the survey has given us a good understanding about the needs and aspirations of our villagers. John and his team are doing an invaluable job.
  • Councillor Sue Hubble and Carol Jones do great work running Stay and Play on a Monday, and Cllr Thomson runs our very popular first Wednesday of the month coffee morning.
  • Cllr Sue Hubble also leads our efforts to keep litter under control by organising regular litter-picks.
  • Councillor Wendy Daden has led a small team raising awareness of the consequences of poor and inconsiderate parking around the village. As many of you know, parking on the pavement causes inconvenience and danger to parents with buggies and young children, the elderly and disabled and this is one practice we want to end.
  • We must all thank Cllr Tranquada for the time and work he puts into maintaining the greens, footpaths and open spaces of the Parish. From the crocuses in spring, to the festive lighting in the telephone box, the village is a better place for the Village Amenities Committee.
  • Going forward, huge amounts of work have been done in developing plans to build and Adventure Cycle Way on “The David Smith Field”. We now have planning permission and are obtaining quotes for the work. We have funding available and grant applications are out with grant givers. Very soon the Council will be in a position to make a final decision to proceed with the work. Councillor Jones has done a great job to bring this project to where it is now and we are very grateful.
  • I hope that villagers have noticed the work done to improve the crossing at Erick Avenue. The improvements are not quite what we wanted; we campaigned long and hard for a fully light controlled crossing and that is something that will be become essential when people start to move into the Day’s Development. Essex Highways realised that the old crossing was dangerous but insisted that the refurbishment was all that they could afford. We would like to thank our District Councillor John Aldridge for everything he has done to fight our corner.

The Parish Council has a new Clerk. Early in the year Karen, our Clerk decided that she wanted to reduce her working hours and focus on supporting the Council’s work on planning, the Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan. The Council agreed and on behalf of the Council I would like to thank Karen for her effort and commitment on behalf of the Village during her time as Clerk. We knew that replacing our Clerk would be difficult but we were lucky to secure the services of Michael Letch who has worked as a Parish Clerk for many years but also already knows our processes and systems well. Mike has settled down really well and has already made a very positive impact.

One change Mike has put in place is to merge the management functions of the Hall and the Parish. Not everybody may know that the Village Hall buildings and land are owned and managed by a trust of which the Parish is the sole Trustee. Bringing the two together will streamline our processes and save money at the same time.

We do all we can to keep the Village informed; we have Broomfield Times, more than ably edited by Councillor Selina Matthews, a fantastic webpage which has been updated this year, a Chairman’s blog, a Facebook presence and of course, the minutes of all meetings which are published for all to see, but this all generates relatively little feedback. We recognise that communication can be a problem and it is in everyone’s interest to make sure that we all know what is going on. Your Councillors are all unpaid volunteers, but you are the reason they stood for office. If something is not right, if you are concerned about something, or if you want to see a change in the way things are done, then talk to them. In short, if you are happy about what we do, tell everyone. If you are unhappy, tell us!

Looking to the future, we have two further project we would like to push forward but need volunteers to help. We want to mark the 125th anniversary of the Parish Council in 2019 by celebrating the enormous changes that we have seen since 1896, but we need people to come forward to take part in the planning and preparation. We have also discussed the possibility of serving a Christmas Dinner in the Village Hall on Christmas Day for people in the Village who would otherwise be alone. Again we need volunteers to help with the organisation and delivery of what could be a fabulously valuable project. Can you help?

Finally we have a very strong Parish Council of committed and active Councillors, I would like to thank them all for everything they do. In addition we have a great team of staff who work tirelessly to deliver the Parish Council and Village Hall services, we are all very lucky.

John Barnes – Chairman 2017 – 2018