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Submitted on 17 May 2017 by WPC Clerk

The Annual Statutory Meeting was held on 15th May 2017. It was resolved to elect Cllr Mrs Diana Kelly as Chairman of the Parish Council who issued the following statement.


ANNUAL STATUTORY MEETING                                                           15 MAY 2017


I would like to thank fellow councillors for placing their faith in me for another term of office.

This last year has been a very busy one for Withyham Parish Council, with so many of you taking on additional activities and initiatives as well as supporting the day to day functions.

We have welcomed two new councillors who have already shown their willingness to invest time in specific activities that draw on particular skills in support of the parish. Stephen and Andrew – thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment. You will have already noted the team work that is the foundation of all our activities, and this runs through the various committees headed up by Nick Anderson re. Air Traffic; Marcus Tarling re. Planning; Anne Jenkins re. Finance and Administration; Duncan Sanders re, Road Safety and Malcolm MacDonnell re ROW. Voluntary work is becoming increasingly important within the community and you have all set a very good example of how this can benefit residents, through the ward chairs and members, Robin, Jill, Jane, Gwen, Keith, and Jonathan, Thank you all of you.

Our5 year Parish Plan has been in situ a year and our recent evaluation of our progress indicates some excellent initiatives arising from the Plan.

We have     

Set up a Volunteers group (WPV) to work under the direction of WPC – to undertake various projects within the parish such as clearance of hedgerows, the establishment of a  Community Cafe; and  Amblers; and other tasks that are fitted into a work schedule by the WPV Committee.
Members of WPV have worked hard to establish a Community Space in Balls Green.
Set up an Asset register, ensured these are maintained by our parish maintenance man and bought mapping software to allow locations to be captured
Worked closely with a local retail owner to explore how one of the community’s greatest assets,  Groombridge Post Office , may continue to run within the parish
Produced our 10th Issue of the WPC Newsletter
Produced a directory of local groups, organisations and associations
Supported the building of a Neighbourhood Watch network
Researched and identified two projects that should increase Road safety in the parish and for which we may need to seek match funding with Highways
Expanded the routes of communication for the pubic to use to contact WPC – improved website, social media and newsletters
Set up a Youth Initiative in Groombridge
Promoted Community Resilience in times of natural and manmade disasters
Promoted Faster Broadband in the area

Our targets for 2017/2018

Forward for 5 Year 1 evaluation shows the tasks achieved and those to be targeted. The next Annual Parish Assembly will focus on supporting local businesses.
Public meetings are to be held to identify support for a new Playground in Groombridge.
WPC continues to seek the lease of land owned by the Rosemary Newton Trust
The Blackham community will be encouraged to get involved in bringing ‘The Missing Link’ project to fruition, thus enabling young people to get to the ABSA pavilion safely. .
Balls Green community area will be opened
The need for a Neighbourhood Plan will be under constant review.
St John’s councillors will be supported in raising the profile of the Council in the ward through activities such as the Amblers walks, Litter Picks etc

WPC cannot work in isolation to achieve these targets which is why we strive to touch base regularly with the churches, schools, organisation and associations in the parish and with ESCC and WDC through their councillors –  my thanks to County Cllr Whetstone and to District Councillor Rutherford and Joanna Howell for their advice and support.

I mentioned team work amongst councillors at the beginning of this acceptance. None of this could take place without the dedication and commitment of the team who cover the office between them every day of the week.  I would like to thank both Debbie and Natalie for all their hard work in dealing with not only the day to day running of the council but with all of our projects which we generate, but I know they love. I wanted to circulate a list of ‘Things to do’ that Debbie gave me last week just to remind us of the many tasks with which the clerks are involved. Like all majestic swans they glide through the action to be undertaken without letting on how they are paddling furiously underneath. I couldn’t operate without them, and I know you have all had cause to be thankful to them for their willingness to help. We are the envy of many parish councils with whom they network through their clerks. Every penny spent on their training is so worthwhile. We now have Natalie undertaking her CiLCA under the guidance of Debbie, who achieved hers last year.

On a personal note I would like to thank Anne in her capacity as Vice Chair, for her cheerful and consistent support to me. It has been so rewarding working with her and knowing that she shares my enthusiasm for the projects WPC undertakes and for getting the processes right so we can pride ourselves on being fair and democratic in our approach.

Now I need to draw your attention to the Code of Conduct adopted by Withyham Parish Council and assure you that I will abide by it.

I would like to say that I am fully committed to continue to undertake the duties of Chairman of WPC to the very best of my ability and in accordance with the guidance given by the National Association of Local Councils on a non-political basis.

Diana Kelly