Chairman’s Report for 2008/9

We commenced this year with a change of Chairman and Vice Chairman. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Derek Marshall for all his work in past years as Chairman and Richard Owen as Vice Chairman. In May 2008 St Briavels Parish Council achieved the required standard to be awarded the status of Quality Council. For this we have to thank the outgoing Chairman and Clerk for all their work
In June we decided as a council that we would like to get rid of the leylandii trees in the cemetery and replace them with a more traditional british hedge. We were advised to wait until the autumn after the birds had finished nesting, in the meantime our intentions were published in the Village magazine requesting comments or objections. As there were no objections to the proposal, phase one of the operation was achieved in the autumn and saplings were planted. Our thanks go to Barton Venner for helping to supply the plants and for supervising the planting.

During the autumn and winter the Parish Council have been in negotiations with Two Rivers Housing to take over the small piece of grasscutting in the area around Smithville Close. I can now report that negotiations have been successfully concluded and St Briavels Parish Council have taken on the extra grass cutting for an initial period of five years after which we have the option of taking it on permanently.
During the year the Council has had several requests for donations from village organizations. £250 was donated to the Ranger Guides group starting up in the village, and after months of deliberation, two very large amounts from our reserves were agreed – £6000 to the Assembly Rooms towards the start of phase two of the redevelopment including the toilets, billiard room and kitchen; and £3000 to the Playing Fields to help upgrade the equipment in the play area.
The Village Feature which we intend to erect at the entrance to the village from Coleford is still ongoing. No stone will be left unturned to find a suitable piece of rock!
Our four quarterly newsletters give you much of the information concerning the work carried out throughout the year. I or the Vice Chairman attend all committee meetings and see at first hand the amount of work carried out by our fellow Councillors. Special thanks should also go to Michelle, our Clerk for all her hard work, who sadly will be leaving us in June. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank her for all the work she has done for the Council over the years and wish her well for the future. She will be greatly missed.
Last year we again became runners up in the Bledisloe Cup Best Kept Village competition – our thanks go to all the parishioners who assisted. Sadly this year there is no competition.
In conclusion the Parish Council will strive in the last two years of its term to look after the interests of the parishioners of St Briavels to the best of our abilities. Should you have any problems during the year you can always contact the Clerk or any one of the councilors who will be only too pleased to assist you.
Adrian Cooper, Chairman, St Briavels Parish

Planning Committee
The planning committee meets up to twice a month if necessary to review applications which have been made to the District Council. Planning guidelines are changing making it much easier for most householders to get permission for works such as extensions, however a large part of our parish is situated within the Wye AONB and the much stricter guidelines still apply within this area. The Parish Council remains committed to protecting the environment in which we live, and we continue in particular to object to any additional strain on the sewage system in the village.

Finance Committee
The finance committee has continued to carefully manage the Parish Councils funds this year. At the end of the financial year the Parish Council saw a surplus in funds due to lower expenditure than predicted and due to higher than expected income, particularly from the burial ground. The committee set a cautious budget for 2009/10 which included an additional sum to cover the grasscutting being taken over from Two Rivers Housing and a greatly increased sum available for donations to village organisations. Due to the prudent management of the finance committee, the Parish Council had built up contingency reserves over the past few years, and after setting the budget, the decision was then made to use some of those reserves to make donations to the Assembly Rooms and Playing Fields committees for large projects. This will leave the council’s reserves at a much lower level and the council intends to restore them within a short time frame by careful financial management and by increasing the precept if necessary.

Quality, Risk Assessment & Emergency Planning Committee
Quality Council Status was achieved in June 2008 and the committee is now looking towards continuing their good work and making the necessary changes in council procedures to ensure that we re-qualify in four years time. The committee has expanded its remit and now also looks after the council’s risk assessments and emergency planning. Training has been provided by the District Council for the role of emergency co-ordinator and next year will see the local emergency plan team and procedures put in place.

Footpaths Committee
The footpaths committee meets a couple of times a year to keep an eye on the condition of public rights of way around the parish. The committee are currently considering re-publishing some footpath walk leaflets.

Cemetery Committee
The cemetery committee looks after both the Parish Council cemetery and the churchyard and also manages all the grasscutting for the village. A new contractor has been appointed to take over the grasscutting in 2009, and we have added the additional areas of grass which were previously maintained by Two Rivers Housing which means that the Parish Council now controls all the grasscutting within the village. During the autumn, the first stage of removal of the leylandii trees around the cemetery took place, and our thanks go to the volunteers who planted native species hedging plants in their place. It was decided to stage the works because of the wet weather last year and to lessen the visual impact. The committee intends to continue with removal of the remaining trees later this year.

St Briavels Parish Council Balance Sheet
1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009

INCOME

Burials 1476.75
Playing Fields rent 2.10
Interest 487.31
VAT return 645.51
Grants 983.36
Precept 11985.00
Grasscutting 685.92
Other 20.00
Total Income £16285.95
EXPENDITURE

Salaries 3175.51
Expenses & Stationery 1292.26
Grass Cutting 2767.63
Room Hire 168.00
Training 102.00
Insurance 754.85
Audit Fees 135.00
Advertising 210.34
Subscriptions & Donations 548.50
Election 0.00
Maintenance 483.00
Projects 743.24
Other 0.00
VAT 628.93
Total Expenditure £11009.26
Opening Balances 01/04/08 £11948.15
+ Income £16285.95
– Expenditure £11009.26

Closing Balances 31/03/09 £17224.84