Successful year despite Covid!

CHAIR's Report 2020 - 2021

The past year must go down as the strangest in my 35 years as a Neasham Parish Councillor. It is over a year since we last had a face-to-face meeting but, surprisingly, we have kept everything in order via Zoom. It was a steep learning curve to stick to agendas and at the same time arrange business as we normally would. Many thanks to our Clerk for arranging and explaining Zoom to members.

After serving NPC for fifteen years, Derek Dodwell retired recently as he was moving south. We thank Derek for all his good work over the years and wish him and Jackie well in their new home in Norfolk. This has left us with a vacancy to co-opt a new member.

As a Parish Council we try provide something extra each year, defibrillator, speed warning signs, flotation device and the latest addition a flagpole.

We began the year with the purchase and installation of a village flagpole just in time to fly a “support the NHS” flag. We have quite a selection of flags, including the Union flag, St George's flag, one with the village logo on and two different NHS ones.

Just prior to the outbreak, a family in the village set up a social media site, Neasham Villagers. This has been an absolute boon to residents by publishing village news items, exchanging items, arranging children’s treasure hunts, incoming residents introducing themselves and in general allowing people to stay in touch.

It was decided that this spring we would construct a leisure/patio flagged area from the footpath to the flagpole and reposition some existing seats on it, along with flower planters etc. After putting tenders out, we asked a village company to carry out the work which was completed at the end of April. Shortly seats will be put in place along with new flower tubs. It has already gathered much praise from villagers. The noticeboard is to be re-instated along the edge. Further enhancements will be planned for next year.

As the old Parish website could not be updated to help users of assistive technology, we have set up a new website at www.neashamparishcouncil.co.uk A great deal of work has gone into the establishing of the site and I wish to thank those involved for all their efforts. We hope it will be a success and people will find it easy to navigate. I wish to thank those who put in so many hours work to complete and launch the site.

After carrying out risk assessments, we bought and installed a lifesaving flotation device. It has been placed it at the foot of the steps in the Fox and Hounds garden. Also after informing EA of our concerns for safety at the Kent Beck, we persuaded them to install a safety fence half way down the embankment.

There has been controversy regarding the public footpath through the gated development in New Lane. Although the sign on the small gate is misleading, I wish to assure walkers that they are perfectly entitled to enter and cross the site, but please respect residents wishes by keeping to the path and dogs under control.

We have had numerous Planning Applications during the year. The main one was for five houses in New Lane which we objected to. The Applicant appealed unsuccessfully against the decision and that was rejected. The outcome of the decision means that there can be no further applications in New Lane for five years.

The Christmas light display was the best we have ever staged and was well admired by all. Many thanks to Keith and Terry.

At the request of residents, we have now planted a wild flower meadow at the top side of the zig zag path at Kent Bridge. Hopefully these plants will become established before grass grows up too much.

To conclude, I would like to thank fellow Councillors, our Clerk, John Walker and all officials from DBC for their help in making another successful year for Neasham Parish Council despite the difficult times we’ve gone through. Thank you all.

John Weighell

Chair, Neasham Parish Council