Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held at 7.25pm on Tuesday 3 May 2016 in Acklington Village Hall

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

Apologies: Mr Monkhouse Mr J Newton, Mr E Critchlow, Mr Budge

1. Minutes of the meeting held on 5 May 2015 were accepted as a correct record of the meeting.

2. Chairman's Report

It was noted that Cllr Townshend was sitting in as Chairman in the absence of he Chair or Vice Chair. He read out a report provided by Cllr Newton.

Reflecting on what has happened over the last year is invariably an interesting exercise. As is so often the case, there has been a mixture of things which have worked out well and others which did not quite work out in the way we would have liked.

In my view the most significant issue we dealt with over the last 12 months was the proposed development of the Pearson’s garage site and adjacent paddock.

For a village of the size of Acklington this represents an important development and I am pleased that as a consequence of our representations and those of others, we managed to secure a reduction in housing density to make the scheme a little more consistent with a rural setting.

However, it was deeply disappointing that our request to be involved in discussions around the section 106 agreement was disregarded and we were unable to secure any direct financial benefit for the community. It was an experience we will have to learn from when it comes to making such representations in the future.

On the upside, the creation of 16 new homes - if and when a developer can be found to take on the project – will bring an influx of new families into the village which can only be positive for the parish.

I also note that the new homes at Cavil Head farm are now coming onto the market. Interestingly they appear to be available for private ownership rather than rented accommodation which, unless I’m mistaken, is slightly at odds at what we were told when the plans were originally put forward. However, I have to say I have no issue with this I think this will be more beneficial from a community perspective.

Looking back over the year, I think we have some positive achievements to our credit, particularly in view of the limited powers and financial resources at our disposal.

We gained a new bus shelter for North Broomhill, two new benches for Acklington village, some badly needed ground works at the Guyzance memorial and some improvements to the footpath from the village towards the railway bridge.

But as always there’s a long ‘to do’ list and tasks for the next 12 months include:

• A new bench and coal planter to be installed at North Broomhill
• Maintenance and improvements for the playground
• Paving for the Guyzance memorial
• Installation of goal posts on the green at St Omer Road

We will also continue to deal with those issues which never go away, such as the perennial problem of speeding through the village, the poor condition of roads and paths around the parish and the unwillingness of a small but selfish number of dog owners to act responsibly.

And as always, we will continue to be open minded but vigilant regarding any plans or proposals which affect the fabric of our parish.

While it would be entirely wrong to succumb to nimbyism, it is important to protect the aspects of our immediate environment that we value.

For that reason I hope that whoever takes over the ownership of Guyzance Hall brings with them a strong sense of custodial responsibility and a desire to be part of our community.

At the risk of repeating what I have said many times before, it is the strength of community spirit which makes our parish such a special place to live.

I will also stick with tradition and extend my sincere thanks to those people who have supported the parish council over the last year, including our clerk Elaine Brown and our County Councillor Jeff Watson.

Speaking personally, I have always found Jeff to be extremely supportive of this council, as demonstrated by the many projects has helped to deliver of the years. In fact had it not been for Jeff, I think it’s fair to say many of these projects would not have happened at all.

Finally I would like to thank you, my fellow parish Councillors.

While many people have strong views on what the Parish Council should or shouldn’t be doing, very few are prepared to step up and commit the time and effort required.

For that reason I express my deepest gratitude for your commitment and support and look forward to working with you in the year ahead.

Jeff Newton
3 May 2016

3. Any questions, comments or resolutions

The Annual Parish Meeting closed at 7.30 pm