Chairman’s Report – Peppard News Edition 2nd May 2018

Chairman’s Report – Peppard News Edition                      2nd May  2018 

The Parish Council year end on the 31st March. This last year has been particularly busy – I think it will be known historically as the ‘year of the pavilion’!

 Looking back on our year 2017…

 As we did last year, we welcome three new team members to the Council team.

Sue Rowland has taken over as Chair of Planning. Sue, a retired Barrister brings a wealth of experience to the team – formally a Kidmore End Parish Councillor her background in the legal profession is proving invaluable already.

Dominic Hall  – a qualified accountant – joined the team in November last year, and for the first time we have an active member of the Cricket Club on our Council. With the modernisation plans being formulated over the last 12 months his input has been likewise invaluable member of the pavilion.

Ray Freeman – already an active member of the Peppard War Memorial Hall team- joined us just before Christmas. Ray has already been involved with the Council in supporting the Community Speedwatch programme. This has been subject to a few technical problems with the SID (Speed Indicator Device) equipment over this same period – but the Community Speedwatch team will be getting to grips with this in 2018.

We also say a fond farewell to two long standing Councillors and thank them both for their long service: Mrs Valerie Ross and Mrs Fiona Berry. Both have served for more than 6 years on the Council. As chair of the Planning Committee, Fiona became very knowledgeable on what ‘can’ be approved and what ‘cannot’. By way of reminder, The Parish Council has the power of recommendation to SODC (South Oxfordshire District Council) – but the ultimate decision lies with SODC Planning Department.

As a reminder I would like to mention that all Parish Councillors serve on a voluntary basis, we earn no salary. The Council team is currently 7 strong in number – but we still need 3 more to complete our full compliment of 10. Any parishioners interested on knowing more are welcome to contact me (details below). It’s a great way of serving your community!

So on this note, I would like to say a BIG thank you to the team who give up so much of their time for their community.

Please reflect on what we have achieved this year:

Some of our Achievements…2017

  • Recruitment of three new Councilors – training packages organised
  • Successfully blocked (with SODC) an appeal lodged by a private developer to build many new houses on the outskirts of our beautiful village.
  • Commissioned an Architect to prepare drawings for our modernised pavilion and initiated an independent PIWP (Pavilion Improvements Working party) to review plans
  • Examined the options for ‘repair’ or ‘replace’ pavilion options – along with the PIWP we actioned a ‘village questionnaire’ to establish parish views (see results later)
  • Initiated an ‘Open-weekend’ in February to further gauge feedback on plans for our pavilion
  • Completed another village litter-pick in 2018. A quick thank you to all who attended! (Photos will be displayed at our Annual Parish Meeting).
  • Actioned a much improved ‘Top Common’ and ‘Road Verge’ cutting plan with NDCC (Nettlebed and District Commons Conservators)
  • Successfully organised an informative 2017 Annual Parish Meeting – with a very interesting presentation on the History of the Commons – from the VRS (Victoria Royal Society)
  • Organised and circulated 30 MPH stickers for our waste bins – proving very popular – our thanks to Joanne our Parish Clerk
  • Attended and supported the Remembrance Day memorial service(s) – and supporting commemorations for 2018
  • Continued meetings with Better Broadband for Oxfordshire (BBfO) –finally with success – 4 new Fibre Cabinets went live in February this year. Kingwood common residents are now enjoying 50 Mbit/s or more!
  • Attended many SODC Planning Application meetings (Didcot) – also Reading 3rd Bridge and Gladman Development (3245 new houses) meetings

 The Parish Budget (Precept) – benchmarking with others…

Parish Council Tax – year 2017/18 2018/19
Henley on Thames (1)  £87.00 (1)  £93.09
Cholsey (2)  74.08 (2)    78.79
Sonning Common (3)  64.73 (4)    77.68
Checkendon (4)  55.67 (3)    78.86
Kidmore End (5)  54.10 (5)    55.18
Nettlebed (6)  40.74 (7)    42.28
Rotherfield Peppard (7)  39.74 (6)    44.42
Binfield Heath (8)  38.57 (9)    38.45
Rotherfield Greys (9)  38.53 (8)    38.53
Stoke Row (10)  31.64 (10)  30.95
Shiplake (11)  28.68 (11)  28.89
Harpsden (12)  25.96 (12)   25.61
Highmoor (13)  24.78 (13)   24.01
Bix and Assendon (14)  21.79 (14)   21.78

Fig. 1 – Band ‘D’ rates for 14 Parishes in the South Oxfordshire region
(Source: SODC website Apr 2018)
The table above (Fig. 1) provides an overview of what Parishioners pay towards the Parish Council ‘element’ of Council Tax. These figures are based on a ‘Band D’ house – which is taken as a ‘county-wide’ average.

Our Band ‘D’ equivalent is rising by just less than 11.8% this year (April 2018). Approximately half of this may be attributed to pavilion modernisation costs.  Rotherfield Peppard has moved up one position to 6 in the local league. We are still very much on the median.

Challenges in 2018

The Sports Pavilion

An ‘Open-weekend’ was held over the w/e of the 3/4th February. Plans of the modernised Pavilion were put on display – members of the Council and our Architect were available to answer questions and receive comments and suggestions. A presentation was given on Sunday morning (4th) and visitors were asked to complete a simple ‘5 question’ questionnaire.

Please see Appendix 1 for the response to each question.

Assumptions:

  • 65 questionnaires were returned. Over 700 were delivered to nearly all dwellings in the parish or handed to users of the pavilion – this represents a return of 9.3%
  • Respondents were asked to complete one questionnaire per household.

Summary Comments:

The responses show that there is great support for the parish council allocating funds to modernise the pavilion. Several new suggestions were received (from the questionnaire and our open week-end) including (i) improving the surface on the car park (ii) providing more arts and craft related activities (ii) better mobility access.

Next Steps

Success of the project hinges very heavily on (i) SODC funding 50% of the cost (ii) raising 25% from Cricket Club and other private donations.

With regard to (i) as I write this article RPPC has submitted our SODC Grant application –. We should hear their response by end of June 2018. Assuming this is positive and likewise other funds and donations also being received successfully, we could begin building works in October 2018, and complete the project by May 2019.

I am pleased to confirm that full Planning Permission for modernisation has now been received  (20th April 18).

If any Peppard News readers would like to make a ‘Gift Aid’ donation please contact me or our parish Clerk.

Simon Crouch
Chairman RPPC

2nd May 2018

 Appendix 1  – Questionnaire Response Analysis

Q1Q2Q3Q4Q5Q6