Firstly, a Happy New Year to everyone. As we move into 2020, I’m just over halfway through my year as Chair of Tupton Parish Council, so this is something of a half-term report for me.
One of our key objectives has been to make the Parish Council more accessible and more open to public scrutiny. It has been a pleasure to welcome an increasing number of residents, community groups and other visitors to the Parish Council meetings; and the feedback we’ve received has been positive.
Following a visit from North East Derbyshire’s Community Partnership Team and Rykneld Homes residents are more aware of the support that can be given to all residents – not just Rykneld tenants – regarding issues of anti-social behaviour affecting Tupton. We will be inviting both teams back to Tupton early this year for an open evening.
As the village grows, and people’s working patterns make it sometimes difficult to attend meetings, we intend to expand interaction to engage people using social media and Cllr Shipman will be working with the Parish Clerk to facilitate this.
As many of you will know, the previous Council’s plans to update the Birkin Avenue Park had stalled for a number of reasons; so we used that time to undertake a parish-wide consultation as to what facilities our communities want; and, without a doubt, Tupton wants a park that is suitable for all age groups, a park that is environmentally friendly, that is dog-friendly; while ensuring that children’s play areas are protected from dog-fouling. Most importantly, it needs to be inclusive. People want a nice enjoyable welcoming space where people can relax, and where there is also provision for less able-bodied children – which is missing elsewhere.
We read all that feedback (including those submissions which opposed redevelopment); and took everything on board. We’re conscious of delivering a park which the community wants and which is affordable. So we have drafted an initial concept design that allows for the park to be developed in phases and new things added easily if and when they’re required.
The Parish Clerk is currently obtaining draft designs and costs; so that she can seek to obtain whatever funding is available to cover the costs. We believe that several aspects would be covered by various health and community grants and, if need be, residents have overwhelmingly voted in favour of our applying for a low interest government loan to meet any shortfall. However, I can confirm that, while we will set wheels in motion, we will only borrow the bare minimum we need to make the park viable.
Thirdly, the former youth centre building off Nethermoor Road; which has been unused for some years. Our intention is for the Parish Council to utilise some of the office space – again making the council and its employees more easily accessible; but we aim to rent out some of the additional office space to bring in additional revenue for the Parish Council. In total, the Parish Council receives approximately £100,000 a year to undertake its duties, this includes staff salaries and the grants made to community groups. So if we’re able to increase that through letting otherwise unused space, we believe that is a proper use of the asset.
The site also provides a training facility which can be utilised by the Tupton Ivanhoes, over the winter periods, reducing their costs and allowing them to put more back into our community.
The Youth Centre site is currently leased from the Parish Council by Derbyshire County Council, and so is currently in the process of negotiation as they want to terminate their lease early.
Also, on the subject of making the Parish’s money go further, the Parish Council has agreed to work with other Parishes in terms of delivering services and strengthening our buying power. It’s a long-standing joke (and, not entirely untrue) that many suppliers will add a zero to the end of their price when dealing with local government. So, when two or three local parishes are all purchasing services from the same provider, it makes sense to team-up to barter a better price.
That’s a quick summary of the major projects we have ongoing right now; the others are taking shape at a slower pace as we focus on delivering the larger ones. However, my final comment is one of personal thanks to Carol Lavell, our former Parish Clerk who has moved away from Derbyshire and gone to work in another Parish. She will be missed by both councillors and residents. Many of you will have met her successor, Ruth Price, who, with 35 years’ experience as a Parish Clerk, brings a whole new wealth of knowledge and insight to the Parish Team. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing them both the very best in their new roles.
Thanks again for all your support and I look forward to seeing you in the months ahead.
Cllr David Hancock