Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 5 May 2015 in Acklington Village Hall

Present: Mr G Budge, Mr E Critchlow, Mr D Barras, Ms I Lillie, Mr J Newton, Mr G Orr, Mrs A Sharpe Mr M Townshend, Mr J Watson and Mr L Welch
The Parish Clerk in attendance – Miss E Brown

Apologies: Mr Monkhouse

1. Minutes of the meeting held on 6 May 2014 were accepted and signed as a correct record of the meeting.

2. Chairman's Report
The Chairman presented his report which was accepted.

It is with great pleasure I give my chairman’s report for 2015 and reflect on the developments and events over the last year.

Having undertaken this exercise for the last few years, I am always struck by how many of the issues we deal with never seem to go away – and I will mention one or two of these a little later. Fortunately there are always enough new issues to bring some variety to our deliberations.

I have always taken the view that one of the key responsibilities of the parish council is to provide a grassroots perspective on development. I think it’s fair to say that the views of the community have not always aligned perfectly with those who eventually take planning decisions, particularly where guidelines and quotas come into play.

My confidence in the system was partly restored when proposals for the development of land in Churchill Way were rejected. This demonstrated that the views of the community – and those of the parish council – can influence outcomes.

That is not to say we should always oppose development or succumb to NIMBYism. Indeed, we should always deal with such matters with an open mind and where we can see clear benefits for our community, we should be supportive.

As mentioned, a lot of issues we discuss simply carry over from meeting to meeting and never seem to be resolved – and not for want of trying. I regret to say that one such problem is dog fouling for which a long-term solution continues to prove elusive.

There is no doubt that those responsible for this problem represent a minority of dog owners, but I find it utterly baffling that people who live in our community take so little pride in it. Other problems which continue to afflict us include the excessive speed of traffic through the village, the poor condition of roads, inconsistent levels of connectivity and problems over rights of way.

However, these are the negatives. Living in Acklington parish also has many positives which are recognised and supported by the wider community through individual and collective contributions.

Speaking on behalf of the parish council, I take pride in the contribution we make to the appearance and upkeep of the parish. Recent examples include the new benches which are now in place at the crossroads bus stop and Dobson’s Corner, along with new bus shelter at North Broomhill.

On the latter point, I would like to offer special thanks to Councillor Jeff Watson for his pivotal role in making this happen.

The council’s ambitions will always be constrained by the financial parameters in which we operate and our natural desire to spend taxpayers money in way which brings maximum benefit to the community.

Decisions to increase the precept have always been taken with the greatest reluctance, but the parish council’s responsibilities have increased significantly over recent years.

It was this reason that we decided to raise the precept for this year from £4,750 to £5,000 and therefore ensure the council can meet its obligations and continue to have a stable financial position.

On this point I am very pleased to say the parish council has reached the end of the financial year in good shape – in no small part due to the careful and responsible use of limited financial resources.

Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to various people for their hard work and support over the last year.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge our clerk, Elaine Brown, for her continued professionalism and her patience in dealing with me, as chairman.

On behalf of all parish councillors I would like to thank the aforementioned Jeff Watson for the support he has provided as our county councillor.

And finally, I would like to thank all members of the parish council for their continued commitment and unpaid contribution which – while it brings its own rewards - doesn’t always get the wider recognition it deserves.

Jeff Newton
5 May 2015

3. Any questions, comments or resolutions

The Annual Parish Meeting closed at 7.35 pm