Parish Council


Date: 14th January 2021

It may be a New Year (I am reliably assured that it IS a New Year!!), but it’s still the same lockdown situation, so we’re still on Zoom. The gremlins who run the internet were naughtier than usual tonight, resulting in the odd glitch or bloop to the connection. But your Council rose valiantly to the challenge.

As regards the vacancy for a Parish Councillor, seven parishioners have expressed an interest in the role, which is excellent news. After all, this is YOUR Parish Council, so it is good to see such commitment from the community. To allow the maximum possible time for people to put themselves forward, it was agreed to revisit the matter, at the meeting in March.

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 continues to prove an obstruction to many matters of routine business, which were therefore rolled over to a later date.

Last time, I reported that the Police are becoming more technologically sophisticated in how they deal with things, as was illustrated when Dave Gibbs (Clerk to the Council) saw hare coursing taking place. He reported the offence and the Police took control of his phone camera to observe the hare coursing in action and gather evidence. Amazing!!

Flooding has been a particular problem, lately, as some of you will know, only too well. We live in an area of reclaimed land, which is managed and protected by a system of dykes and drains, so we ought to be OK. However, the problem is that this infrastructure has suffered a degree of neglect, for various reasons. Some drains have become blocked with overgrown vegetation or worse. In some residential developments, drains have been replaced with underground pipes. But the exact location of the pipes is not well known, the landowners do not always know that the pipe is their responsibility and there is insufficient access, for rodding, for example. The Council will try to establish who is responsible, in a number of cases, as a first step towards seeing an improvement.

The specific case of one home on Hockland Road was raised. Cllr. Matthias told the meeting that, in his understanding, the homeowner has to continually pump water away from the property, to prevent the house from flooding. However, this water runs into the road and, especially at this time of year, creates a risk of ice. There is a drainage grid quite nearby, so, Cllr Doyle agreed to see if the water could be directed into the drain and will reach out to the home owner.

Another specific case of flooding concerns Kirkgate, where there is a question mark against some work undertaken by Anglian Water, some time ago. We are waiting for Steven Barclay MP to respond.

Working groups. Cllr Doyle had circulated “Terms of Reference” documents for both the Communications Working Group and the Play Area Working Group, with the aim of having 6 or 7 members in each group, councillors and parishioners. Stand by for more news!

Highways 1. Work will be carried out to improve that last bend on Hannath Road, before it meets the A1101, where a school bus (amongst others) has come off the road, in the past. The total cost is £13,650, of which our contribution is £1,650 - the County Council will pay the rest.

Highways 2. We have finally received the brackets for the Mobile Vehicle Activated Sign (MVAS)!! (Well done, Dave). This means that we will be able to monitor the speed of vehicles, at various locations in the parish, as well as reminding drivers of the speed limit.

Highways 3. Cambridgeshire County Council is carrying out a stakeholder survey to find out your thoughts on the Highways Service. The aim of this survey is to obtain your opinion, to ensure that they continue to monitor their performance and, where possible, improve their future service delivery. The survey is open from now until Sunday 31st January 2021. You can find the Highways Service survey at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/H0HJX0/ Make sure that your voice is heard.

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs (CARC) has approached the Parish Council for funding. Each bureau is an individual charity, responsible for their own fundraising, and CARC has a large area to cover. Cllr. Hillam confirmed that they are very busy and doing great work, so a donation of £300 was agreed.

The Community Centre remains closed. Cllr Carter reported that the ground drains are overflowing and water is running towards the building. He will endeavour to regrade the gravel, to combat this. Could it be used as a vaccination centre? Depending on the vaccine roll out in the area, we are open to making the Community Centre available to help with the programme and make it as easy as possible for Villagers to access the vaccine. Dave Gibbs reported that the old Co-op building in Wisbech is also intended to be a vaccination hub, yet there is no sign of any building work there yet. Cllrs Doyle and Carter will explore ways to make the Community Centre more profitable and to be an asset to the whole community.

Date: 12th November 2020

Since we’re back in lockdown, we’re back to virtual meetings again (Zoom), though this time there were three members of the public “present” - Roger Horspool, Darron Grainger and me.

Picking up more or less where the last meeting ended, Cllr. Doyle was nominated, seconded and elected as the new Chairman and Cllr. Matthias as Vice-Chairman. There will (ultimately) be an election to bring the council back up to full strength but, because of Covid-19 restrictions, this won’t be until May 2021. Judging from the engagement in the rest of the evening’s business, there is no shortage of motivation among the councillors, despite currently them being one or two members down.

Dave Gibbs was congratulated on having completed his probationary period (he’s actually been in position since 2017 as Clerk/Proper Person for the council!) But we are now getting around to putting his employment status onto a proper footing. A draft contract for Dave will be agreed and finalised soon.

As regards Policing in the area, things are looking up, and down, a bit. On the plus side, communication with the local force is edging its way into the 21st century with “Zoom” meetings and the ability to report non-urgent matters via an online portal. However, the number of Police Community Support Officers is being reduced, down to six in Wisbech though, because of vacancies, there are currently only eight. In spite of this (you might say, “because of this”), we are all encouraged to report crime, wherever we see it. Call 999 only for the most urgent cases or 101, when an emergency response is not needed – or use the online tool. If we don’t report things, the force might conclude that we don’t need so much support here in Tydd, which could result in a further reduction in cover, at some point.

The problem of mud on the road had been reported by a parishioner, with the worst areas along Middle Broad Drove and Cross Drove. This is something the Parish Council is aware of but has little scope for enforcement action. However, a letter will be sent to the relevant parties to complain and remind them of their obligations.

The matter of traffic congestion near the School was also raised, but discussion was postponed to a later date while we await guidance on the options available.

During a discussion on the Tenancy Agreements for the land the Parish Council lets out locally Roger Horspool was invited to speak and he expressed his concern around the new tenancy agreements, specifically as regards the accurate size of the land in question. The Chairman and Clerk agreed to meet with Mr Horspool, to review which set of measurements is the most accurate. He also raised a question about Rural Payment Agency (RPA) payments, but Cllr. Matthias suggested that this was outside of the remit of the Parish Council.

Some repair work has been done to the play equipment, next to the Community Centre, but Cllr. Carter is finding it hard to get responses from a number of contractors, as regards other elements of this task. Covid-19, probably. Equipment that is easy and/or inexpensive to maintain is seen as an important factor.

In the matter of the churchyard and the trees, Cllrs. Doyle & Matthias have received one-month, three-month and one year plans for the work that is required but, unsurprisingly, it is proving difficult to get the three quotes given the time of year and also the current restrictions. The meeting therefore agreed to review the current quotes and if below the required spending limit will go ahead with the phases of the work, initially focussing on essential safety related work. In addition, Cllr. Doyle undertook to consult with the Church authorities and neighbours of the churchyard, to ensure that they are informed about what is being proposed.

The Community Centre continues to be a challenge, exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdown. Cllr. Carter reported that the building is “tired” (at 27 years old) and the heating system especially could do with being upgraded. Cllr. Doyle proposed a small working party to look into this.

Communication across the Parish continues to be both a problem and an opportunity. The future of the Bridge magazine is uncertain; a Parish or Village directory has been done in the past and could be useful to update; and not everyone has access to the TSGPC website. It will be interesting to see what comes. Whatever the outcome, I hope to be there next time, to bring you my take on proceedings at the Parish Council. Stay safe.

Date: 10th September 2020

This was the first “in person” meeting since March and, for once, the members of the public outnumbered the council!! But, since we were in the large part of the Community Centre (social distancing, don’t you know), it was like a meeting of the Really Antisocial Social Club, we were so well spread out.

Following Cllr George Minney’s resignation, there were five candidates for the vacant post, which shows a healthy level of engagement on the part of the parishioners. Which is all the more welcome in the light of Cllr Hale-Smith’s decision to step down. Council rules do not allow snap elections, but Caroline Brooks was elected to replace George, based on personal statements that each candidate had submitted and which were assessed by the members of the council, and she immediately took her seat.

COVID-19 continues to get in the way of much of the council’s business, so many items had to be deferred. Cllr Hillam reported good support from the residents of Foul Anchor to arrange a new village sign (there’s that positive engagement, again!), which the council agreed to. There is also a tree blocking the path at Redgate Road. Whose responsibility is it? Cllr Mathias (our Tree Tsar) said he’d look into it.

On the “Crime” front, Dave Gibbs reminded us of the cannabis factory that had been discovered in Black Dyke. He also reported significant evidence of drug taking paraphernalia, in the immediate vicinity of the Community Centre, which came as a surprise to some of us. Police patrols will be ramped up. Also, magnet fishing continues to be a problem, despite the obvious danger to the fishers and despite being banned by the Tydd Gote Angling Club AND the Drainage Board. Anyone seeing magnet fishing should phone 101 to report it.

On the subject of the council’s allotments, a couple of them will come available in the future, but there have already been expressions of interest from two parties. This important source of income for the parish looks set to be secured, for some time yet.

There will be road closures as follows: Middle Broad Drove, 14th to 20th October; and A1101, between Gypsy Lane and Little Ramper, for overnight resurfacing works, dates tba. And work is ready to start, to repair the Black Dyke Bridge. There is a need to inform the equestrian community of this and Mrs Ross kindly agreed to handle this.

Cllrs Mathias and Doyle have looked into the work required to get and keep the churchyard “up straight”, now that it has become the responsibility of the parish council. A plan of action has been agreed, which should mean that the churchyard will be in good order, for a number of years, apart from routine matters. However, since the cost is likely to be in the region of £10,000, multiple quotes will be required.

Date: 9th July 2020

What foul weather to be out and about on council business! Driving wind and rain. More like autumn than July. But, Hey! It’s a Zoom meeting again, so I am actually tucked up warm and dry, at home. And I’m the first to “arrive”, so am sat looking at the wheel going round on my iPad, for a couple of minutes. Soon enough, we’re all here and the meeting proper gets under way.

First up, we learn that Councillor George Minney has resigned from the Council, after serving for the last 5 years. We thank him for his contribution during that time.

Next up, Councillor Maxwell and his wife have decided to move to Cornwall. Therefore, at some point in the next few months, he will stand down as Chairman of the Council.

Following on from previous discussions, work is now underway to improve the play equipment, next to the Community Centre. The main priority is to make the existing facilities safer, but there is an idea to extend the range of the equipment, to render it more disabled-friendly. Unfortunately, the costs to do so could be prohibitive. Watch this space!

Some of the Council’s allotments suffer from poor drainage and a survey has been carried out and quotations received, with a view to addressing the problem. Work is due to start, when the current harvest is in.

The Cambridge & Ely branch of Extinction Rebellion tell us that they have 3,000 oak saplings available to be planted in public spaces. Crowd funding has already covered the cost of the saplings. Contact Extinction Rebellion if you can suggest an appropriate public space to plant them.

The new litter bin for Foul Anchor is still in the pipeline. The delay is mainly down to COVID-19.

Also in Foul Anchor, the war memorial is in need of some TLC. The Council resolved to get quotes for the work. Lead work, apparently.

In discussions about the Community Centre and the COVID-19 challenges, Councillor Maxwell reiterated that the Community Centre is a community asset and, in these difficult times, the Parish Council will support the management committee in maintaining this vital asset, to the benefit of the whole parish.

Tydd magazine. Whilst the latest issue has had to be shelved, for COVID-19 reasons (and after a LOT of hard work), Councillor Maxwell is adamant that there will be a future edition.

Clerk to the Council, Dave Gibbs, has received numerous reports of antisocial behaviour by some young people on dirt bikes and quad bikes, riding through Newton, TSG and surrounding areas. The community is having some success at identifying those involved and bringing them to the attention of the police, but the problem continues. Any concrete information regarding the identity of those involved would be helpful.

Date: 14th May 2020

Tonight’s meeting was doubly different, in that it not only included the Parish Council’s Annual Meeting, in addition to the regular bi-monthly meeting, but also it was the first to be held “virtually” because of the restrictions on all of us, arising from the Coronavirus outbreak.

Chairman, John Maxwell, began by expressing his thanks to Jane Melloy and her team, for the help they have given to the local community, in these challenging times.

John Maxwell and Martyn Hale-Smith were both re-elected unopposed as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively. Amongst the other items of an administrative nature, the one of most interest to the “man (or woman) in the street of TSG” is that Parish Council meetings will continue to be held on the second Thursday of every odd-numbered month. Whether future meetings will be virtual or “in the flesh” remains to be seen.

The meeting paused at 8.00pm to Clap for Carers.

The play equipment next to the Community Centre was discussed in some depth, with Councillor Maxwell having taken photos of various items, which need looking at in more detail. He and Councillors Carter and Hillam agreed to take this on together, to see what changes or repairs might be needed.

A planning application to convert a barn at Oakley Farm into a small house was discussed. It was also reported that an application to build a large house at The Hollies in Middle Broad Drove had been approved, in spite of the lack of support from the Parish Council.

On the subject of highways, Dave Gibbs has reported two instances of concern, in and around the village. One is roughly half way along Hockland Road, where a drain passes under the road and there is no longer an adequate fence, between the drain and the footpath. The other is some slippage of the tarmac in Middle Broad Drove, just past the junction with Black Dike. [Did you know that YOU can report a whole variety of things, from potholes to fly tipping to flooding? Just visit the Parish Council website at http://www.tyddstgilesparishcouncil.org.uk/index.php/report-it].

And finally, Councillor Carter, in his capacity as Chairman of the Community Centre Management Committee, reported that the Community Centre is effectively mothballed, for now. However, the Community Centre is an enormous asset to the local community and, when life returns to normal, it would be good to see more use being made of this valuable resource. Ideas on a postcard?

Date: 12th March 2020

Chairman of the Parish Council, John Maxwell, is keen to connect with the whole parish, to promote some genuine two-way “conversations”. To this end, he has asked me to give a layman’s report on want happens at a Parish Council meeting. This is not meant to replace the official minutes of the meeting, diligently prepared by Dave Gibbs, but rather to give a less formal insight into proceedings. Here is my report for 12th March 2020.

Public Time

Six members of the public were present, exercising their democratic right to see local government in action and, in the first 15 minutes of the session, to have a say, about what is on their mind. Mr & Mrs Grainger relayed the story of the difficulties they are having with drainage on their property, which has led to quite a bit of to and fro with the owner of the adjacent land and a certain amount of accusation and counter-accusation. This is not a matter where the Parish Council has any jurisdiction and, what is more, the Graingers have already reported the matter to the proper authorities.

Christina Ross was hoping for an apology from the committee who manage the Community Centre, for an incident that arose at a recent meeting there, where she felt that she had been treated rudely. The Parish Council has no jurisdiction over the Community Centre, but Cllr Hale-Smith suggested that Mrs Ross put her request in writing, to the Chairman of the Community Centre Management Committee, addressed to the Community Centre, and he will undertake to see that the letter is passed on.

Other Items

Geoff Mathias was welcomed back onto the Parish Council.

The Black Dyke footbridge will be re-decked soon.

The churchyard will officially become “closed” on 25th March, at which time it becomes the responsibility of the Parish Council to maintain, ie cut the grass.

The play equipment beside the Community Centre has recently undergone an inspection by Wicksteed Leisure Ltd, who found no major risk factors. However, their report is very detailed and the Chairman therefore asked that it be discussed in more detail, at the next meeting.

In the villages around Wisbech, there has been a spate of thefts of vehicle number plates. Everyone is advised to keep an eye out, especially after dark.

There is/was a meeting in Wisbech on 13th March, about the proposed incinerator, which is a central government project. I understand that the consultation period ends on 4th May, but more information is available elsewhere.

Dog fouling continues to be a persistent problem, despite there being dog waste bins in various locations. The Parish Council agreed to support the “Green Dog Walker Scheme”, which encourages responsible dog-walking behaviour. More information will be included in the Parish Council newsletter, to be published at the end of March.

More Information

More information about Parish Council matters can be found on the Parish Council website at: http://www.tyddstgilesparishcouncil.org.uk/ and on various noticeboards around the village.