Chairman’s Report for the Parish Council Year 2019/2020
This is my seventh report as Chairman of Middleton-on-sea Parish Council and this year’s report is dominated by the catastrophic Covid 19 pandemic. You’re Parish Councillors: Mike Davies, Paul Harris, Mrs Christine Johnson, Graham Jones, Colin Mansfield, Mrs Nicky Mills, Alan Newton, Mrs Jacky Pendleton, Kevin Shepherd and myself along with our Parish Clerk Joe Lake all hope that you are safe and well and that you are coping with the challenges that social distancing and self-isolation brings. Whilst none of us know what the future holds, what we have learnt is that it is more important than ever that we continue to support one another as much as we can. To this end the Parish Clerk and Councillor Mrs Christine Johnson, our Parish Emergency and Resilience Officer, produced a very comprehensive pack of information which was delivered to every household in the village. This pack aimed to support and steer residents through this difficult time by providing them with lists of key contacts, resources and useful information that they could turn to when they needed it. The feedback received from residents following the distribution of this pack confirmed that it was a much needed and a worthwhile document. But we could not have delivered it to all households without the help of all those who volunteered. So a big “Thank You” goes to all our volunteers who have helped residents formally through the Parish Council and also to all those residents who have helped neighbours informally by doing a bit of shopping, picking up a prescription or by just being there at the end of the phone or computer when they are needed. Middleton and Elmer have proved they can cope during these difficult times. Not only have residents stepped up to the mark, but so have our local shops. All those who could stay open have continued to provide residents with a lifeline of local services. By staying open our local pharmacy, post offices, food shops and our hardware store all meant that residents did not have to travel out of the village for their essential needs – they could stay home, stay safe and protect the NHS. We are of course mindful of all those local shops and business who could not stay open and we hope that residents will continue their local shopping to help sustain all commercial enterprises in the village once the pandemic restrictions are eased.
Middleton Parish Council, through the work of a small committee made up of Councillor Graham Jones, Councillor Mrs Nicky Mills and the Parish Clerk, has also produced a new on-line web site which can be viewed on https://middleton-on-sea-pc.gov.uk and we hope you will frequently visit the site. Because of the need for social distancing at the present time Parish Council meetings cannot be held – but the work of the Parish Council still goes on. All agendas and minutes of the various Parish Council’s committees will be posted on this site in future so that you can keep up to date with what is happening in your village. For those who do not have access to a computer these agendas and minutes will continue to be placed on the notice boards around the village. Remember the Parish Council is here to help you and provide you with the information you need. If you can, do look at the web site first. If you need help or do not have a computer then contact the Parish Clerk. And if you are interested in the workings of the Parish Council or would like to join the Parish Council then come along to our meetings when they start up again.
Here is a short summary of how the Parish Council has worked on residents behalf during the past year. Members of the Development Control Committee, Councillors Mike Davies, Paul Harris, Graham Jones, Mrs Christine Johnson, Alan Newton and chaired by Kevin Shepherd met every two weeks until 4 March 2020, after that the Committee considered applications individually and reported their views back to the Parish Clerk. In total 42 applications were considered by the Committee. There was one application (M/80/19) which was extremely important to residents and this was objected to by the Committee. This was an application for a Care Home off Silver Birch Drive and permission was eventually refused by Arun District Council’s Development Control Committee.
Members of the General Purposes Committee, Councillors Mike Davies, Mrs Christine Johnson, Graham Jones, Kevin Shepherd and chaired by Mrs Nicky Mills met three times before meetings had to be curtailed due to the pandemic. Unfortunately this curtailment meant that the Community Speed Watch initiative could not continue, although it is hoped it will start again as soon as is practically possible. Councillor Terry Claxton who resigned from the Parish Council at the beginning of the year had been instrumental in setting up Speed Watch and her work and ability to conceive and then push through projects to their successful culmination over the past twelve years will be greatly missed by us all.
This Committee also organised the Village Gateway signs on the Yapton Road at Comet Corner. It is hoped that similar signs will be erected on the Middleton Road near the Flansham roundabout in the near future. Our Tree Warden, Councillor Colin Mansfield, along with Councillor Mrs Christine Johnson organised the planting of a group of trees on the land at Cootes Lane opposite St Nicholas Church and again it is hoped that more areas of tree planting will be identified throughout the village to help us in combating climate change.
Our Parish Land and Property Committee, Councillors Mike Davies, Graham Jones, Alan Newton, Kevin Shepherd and myself, and now chaired by Mrs Christine Johnson were able to keep Shrubbs Field open to walkers throughout the pandemic crisis, although dog walkers have been asked to keep their dogs on leads, and the children’s playground had to be closed. It is hoped that some new playground equipment will be installed once the crisis is over as this is an area which is greatly used by residents’ children. Another new asset is the notice board outside the Jubilee Hall which has been refurbished by the volunteering help of resident Carl Smith and will help us provide much needed space for notices of wider interest to residents which cannot be fitted onto our other noticeboards. If you have a notice of communal value then do contact the Parish Clerk to see if it can go on this board.
Finally, as Chairman I would like to register my personal thanks to Councillor Paul Wotherspoon who resigned from the Parish Council in the summer of 2019. I am sure all Parish Councillors and indeed many residents will wish to join me in acknowledging the enormous contribution that Paul made both to the work of the Parish Council and indeed more widely to the residents of Arun as an Arun District Councillor. Paul joined the Parish as a Councillor in May 1987 and went on to become Chair of the Council in May 1999. His impressive knowledge of the local area, being Middleton born and bred, along with the high esteem with which his colleagues at Arun held him, both helped to ensure that the needs and views of residents of Middleton and Elmer were never side-lined. His work on the Parish Council and his enthusiasm for local government will be greatly missed. But his and Councillor Mrs Terry Claxton’s resignations mean that there are two vacancies on the Parish Council. If you would like to find out how you can make a contribution then do contact the Parish Clerk.
I am sure that the year 2020 still has a lot to offer us all and that hopefully we will look back on this period of enforced isolation as a period of reflection on what matters most to us and I am sure we will all agree that if we had to be isolated anywhere in the world then Middleton and Elmer is where we would want to be.