A very good AGM Parish Meeting on Wednesday, with a good turnout although many had given their apologies because of holidays.
We warmly welcomed our new residents, Angie and Andy of Lower Farm, who hope to move in at the end of May. It was great to see them, especially as Andy drove back from Bradford specially to come to the meeting.
April is our election special, and I was re-elected Chair for another year, for which thanks. It is a very great honour which I never take for granted. I promised to continue to do my best for the village and all residents during the coming year. Georgina Tanner was nominated and seconded for Vice Chair and elected unanimously. To her, many thanks and congratulations. We re-elected Brian as our Finance officer, and re-elected the existing Finance, Planning, Playing Fields (with one new member, our new resident Andy), the Sheldon Day Committee. Our new trustee for the Village Hall is Julia. Sheila agreed to continue as Parish Secretary, and Lindsey as secretary as well as Village Hall trustee. Thanks to them both for their hard work and good advice. The full list will appear in the minutes in due course.
I gave my annual report on village activates for the past year. Our activities, for such a small village, are enormous and involved almost the entire village at some time or other during the year. Attendance at our bi-monthly Parish meetings continues to be excellent with good representation from throughout the village. Looking back through the year, our small community worked together for cream teas on bank holiday Sundays and at other times, Sheldon Day, the Royal Wedding day celebrations, harvest festival, a local history weekend exhibition, rug making days, monthly local history group meetings, the Sheldon Christmas light up, the Nativity procession, Remembrance Sunday service with the laying of the wreath by Marlene on all our behalf, our twice monthly church services with an increasing attendance, monthly coffee mornings with the Vicar, the rapidly growing success of our village website, our fight for better gritting (not yet successful), our fight to retain our village as a polling station for elections (successful), and our fight for better broadband, not to mention other locally inspired and organised events; work continues on the neighbourhood plan.
This is quite a remarkable list of events held in our village throughout the year, and even more remarkable, it is never just the same two or three people helping out (complaints we often hear from other villages) but the majority of the community; in fact probably every household in one way or another is involved through out the year in some form of our community togetherness…quite remarkable.
Lindsey updated us on how plans for this year’s Sheldon Day are going…very well indeed from her report. More volunteers are needed and the team will be asking people for help as time goes on. Lindsey said that the group did discuss an informal Jubilee Weekend picnic on the playing fields (where people just bring there own food etc – no other cost or organisation required, except to have the hall ready in case of rain). Andrew says he will do a poster for it. And they would like to use some of the money from last year to buy a few jubilee coins for anyone under 21 in the village (this would probably only come to £100 or so). This was welcomed and agreed by the Parish meeting.
I explained that there is currently a vacancy for one Parish member on the National Park, and Parishes in the dales are currently being asked to vote for one of seven nominees. After hearing the election statements of all seven the meeting made its decision on which one Sheldon would vote for, and I have now sent in the completed voting paper to the electoral reform society which is running the election; the result will be known in May.
We had a discussion about the need for better broadband in the village, and this is being pursued by our broadband champion.
The police reported that crime has once again gone down in Derbyshire Dales, and of course, Sheldon, apart from the very occasional blip, is an extremely safe village, one of the safest in Derbyshire Dales. Let’s keep it that way!
I also reported on the new government consultation about how the National Park should be governed, particularly in relation to whether there should be direct elections and if so how these would be held. There is a seventeen question response required, and I read through my suggested response to all the questions. We discussed, and the response was agreed. Basically we believe, as we have done, that the whole of a national park authority to be directly elected by the local community, in some form. We believe this should also include the currently nationally appointed secretary of state members; local democracy requires local accountability and this requires locally elected members, all living within the national park they serve and accountable to the local communities they serve. Local people should have a say in National Park affairs and in who are members of the National Park. I have now sent it off to the Minister and government department in Defra.
We discussed the visit by the CEO of the National Park, Jim Dixon, to Sheldon in June. This will be on the afternoon of the June Parish meeting and he will meet as many as possible. We will put together a programme to ensure he meets everyone, and he will attend the first part of the Parish meeting that night. We will make sure he meets our businesses, the garage, pub, farming community and all who work and live here, ensuring that he meets all ages, young and old. I will report separately on this when the full programme is known.
We had a letter from Canon Tony who gave his apologies for not being able to attend the meeting regarding allocation of money raised for the Church. He said that the Church is very thankful for any financial support that it receives, and particularly for the donation from the Sheldon Day proceeds. With a very small regular church membership and the need for the church to `pay its way’, people will appreciate that donations received, unless designated, are used to help the church to remain out of deficit. However, if the Sheldon Day Organising Committee in making a donation to the church wish to indicate that their donation is for Church Repairs, the money will be designated for that alone. Rather than indicating a specific thing (unless there happened to be a special appeal at the time of the donation) Canon Tony asked that such a donation be highlighted for the `Fabric of St Michael and All Angels Parish Church’. This way it gives discretion to the Church Council to use funds for general repairs, rather than leave money in the funds for a specific item that might not require maintenance for a while. At the moment we are faced with the need to replace the church guttering at some considerable cost. We agreed to this suggestion. We had a discussion about mowing the churchyard and ways in which the village could help with the amount required. Since this does not need to be paid until the end of the mowing season there is time. Some suggested extra cream teas and other possible fundraising events. We would also inquire why the previous arrangement (whereby we got it done free as part of a community scheme) was no longer available. We will discuss this further at our next Parish meeting
Lindsey reported that the village hall funds were in a good state but that we need to continue to think of new uses for the hall; and Oliver has very kindly volunteered to mow the village hall from now on, for which great thanks from me in particular.