Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Tuesday, June 09, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise itís Tuesday 9th June and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Well when the Church was running its Pause for Thought podcasts, which ran for 50 episodes, they were produced by Father Paul Needle. I was always impressed that Paul had lined up his topics well in advance and had pre-recorded the material. He always delivered the podcast well in advance of my publication deadline.

It was only later that I realised that Paul had been a BBC Producer for 15 years. Heís a consummate professional and certainly knows what he is doing.

Contrast that with yours truly. The ideas for my podcasts generally arrive mid-afternoon, after Iíve read the papers, studied Government announcements and read the postings on WhatsApp. I then spend a couple of hours frantically writing and doing some of the preliminary recording and editing work. Then next day, I get up early, check nothing has changed, listen once more and re-record anything Iím not happy with. The production target is 06:30 am.

So I was quite chuffed with myself to make the decision over a week ago that todayís podcast would be a report on last nightís Parish Council meeting. I knew that some important topics were being debated and I thought a timely verbal report would be helpful to people.

It was only when I sat at my desk yesterday afternoon that reality dawned. The Parish Council meeting doesnít sometimes finish until 9pm. Then I do a video call with Helen, by which time it is well past my bed time. When exactly was I going to do the writing and recording?

So my normal silly oíclock wake up call today, was an hour earlier. But even then, production times were tight. If this is to be a regular thing, as some people would like, I may have to rethink the production timings.

Young trainee reporters, on local newspapers, are often allocated the job of reporting on Council meetings. They are usually in the evening and none of the seasoned hacks want to spend their evenings listening and writing copy. I know how they feel.

Parish Councils were created under the Local Government Act of 1894 and their work is governed by many rules and regulations. These are embodied in a huge, yellow, legal tome that Mark has read and digested. Mark is a Fellow of the Society of the Local Council Clerks, and probably the most experienced and qualified Clerk in the County. He is able to guide councillors in their deliberations but at the end of the day, the decisions are theirs to make.

Some of these decisions are routine and mundane, paying the street lighting bills and stationery costs for examples. Other decisions are more controversial, usually based around planning matters

Unfortunately, every Council meeting is a mixture of both and there is a lot to cover. When I first joined the Council in 1996, we only met every two months. However, the Council now generally meets 11 times a year, and meetings generally last 90 minutes. Even with this many meetings, the agenda can be packed. There were 37 items formally on the agenda last night and youíll be glad to know that I wonít go through each item in turn.

There were some technical challenges last night, with several people being unable to join the meeting by video. Fortunately, there was an audio option too. This wasnít ideal as obviously, we couldnít see the documents being presented. However, business was still able to go ahead.

The Chair of the Council is now Cllr Andrew Seaman, who lives on Raunds Road. He was elected as Chair at the last meeting. The first job last night was to co-opt two new councillors to fill the vacancies left by the resignation of James Pentelow and Ray Daniells. There were three candidates and choosing just two of these is very difficult. I have done it many times, but it always feels wrong to have to reject someone prepared to serve. After 2 rounds of voting, Neil Chambers from Hillside and Clinton Hill from Chelston Rise were co-opted to serve until the next election in May 2021. Welcome on board councillors.

Sarah Cinnamond also stood as a candidate but was unsuccessful on this occasion. Donít give up hope Sarah! Neil was pipped at the post last time there was a vacancy, but he came back a second time. I really hope that Sarah will stand at the election in 2021. We really need people who are prepared to serve Ė so thank you Sarah.

Neil and Clinton are now able to use the title councillor whenever on parish duties, or liaising with other bodies. Believe me it helps.

Jenny Harwood was then elected as the Vice Chair.

The Council has many positions of responsibility to fill each year including the appointment of Trustees to four Village charities. There are also several portfolios to look after, from the Councillor overseeing the allotments, to the Parish Tree Warden. Some of these portfolios have been allocated to residents, in order to spread the load.

Each portfolio holder reports into the council every month. I wonít go through all the appointments made last night, theyíll be listed in the minutes and on the Council web site. However, I know how much work is involved with each of these jobs and Iíd like to say thank you to all the people who have stepped forward to fill the roles.

Each month, wherever possible, the meeting is attended by our District and County Councillors. Cllr Harriet Pentland attended by phone last night, making her usual well considered report on district matters. Having a district councillor who lives in the Parish is a real bonus. I for one am not looking forward to the dissolution of East Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire Councils. I know there have been financial problems at Northamptonshire Council but I am not convinced that the new system will work well for us in this Parish.

The Parish Council then considered the planning application for a football facility on Newton Road near the roundabout on the A6/B645. The idea had broad support but there were reservations about the traffic levels at the Newton Road junction, especially given that another school is planned near Moulton College.

There was also an application for a car port to the rear of Redwood on the Raunds Road. No objections were raised by the Council.

Mark reported that the proposed industrial estate near Chelston Rise was still under consideration. The Councilís objections have been lodged and several residents from Chelston Rise have also raised their own objections. This application is completely contrary to the local plan and the neighbourhood plan. By rights it should be rejected out of hand by the District Councils development committee. However, the application is linked to the development of additional housing near the A6/B645 roundabout in Higham Ferrers. New housing is desperately needed to fill the District quota and this may ultimately sway the decision.

The financial position of the Council was reported by Mark. There is a healthy balance of just over £15,300. Over £3,000 of this were donations received to restore the Cross of Sorrow in the Churchyard. This work is now underway.

Reports were received from the portfolio holders, including all the Charities. There was nothing particularly to note there, other than an admission from me that I am well behind on some of the projects allocated to me as lengthsman. Just before lockdown, the Council asked me to replace two of the Village noticeboards which are looking very tatty. I also have to re-painted one of the gateways on the Raunds Road. Hopefully, I can start work on these once the emergency draws to a close.

The Council then debated the winding down of its emergency provisions, as proposed in the podcast on Sunday. All of the proposals were agreed. The emergency provisions will be wound down after the end of the scarecrow competition on Saturday. The final daily podcast and newsletter will be on Sunday 14th June. The Councilís association with the WhatsApp group will end at that point and the group will become a stand alone community forum.

The final special item of business was the renewal of the agreement for the supply of water to the allotments. Keith Carr provides the Council with a metered supply tapped off the main feeding his field. This saved the Council cost of laying its own main. I know from the recent work at the Church just how much that can cost.

So there you have it folks, another busy night for the Council. Many residents donít realise how much work goes on quietly behind the scenes in the Village. Every Council meeting is open to the public but only a few die hards attend regularly. Although it has its challenges, the virtual meeting process has opened up the meeting to a wider audience. I hope this can continue with live streaming once the Council can meet again in the Village.

However, that is for the Council to debate in the future. Thank you