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Annual Parish Meeting - transcript

Welcome to the Hatch Beauchamp Annual Parish Meeting 2022. Since the last APM things have slowly returned to some kind of semblance of normality and our meetings have returned to in person events.

The PC is run by members of the community voluntarily and I believe it should be for the benefit of the community therefore should include involvement from villagers although they may not necessarily want to commit a structured role within the PC. The PC is only 9 members strong so we really do need that commitment and drive from other villagers, particularly as we have a number of significant projects on the go. There are currently two vacancies on the Parish Council. If you are interested in more information about how you can join the parish council, or assist in our projects, please do get in touch.

On a financial note, for the second consecutive year we have reduced the precept for 2022-23, whilst many PCs and the County Council have increased theirs.

Despite this decrease, we have acted on community feedback and invested in new litter and dog waste bins and provided funding towards community events such as the successful Parish Party last summer and the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations.

A theme from last year was the sense of community in the village through such initiatives such as the Covid volunteer group and this sense of community is continuing with the creation of the community village shop. The shop will be very much based on green credentials, sourcing as much local produce as possible and selling refillable products such as rice, pasta etc with shoppers bringing in their own containers. At the same time, we will have a takeaway coffee facility and we hope this will provide a useful resource for meeting friends and neighbours. Many of you will know that we have secured a site behind the village hall and the next stage is to secure funding through a combination of grants and the issue of a shares’ scheme. We have been holding regular pop-up cafes to raise funds for items such as planning costs and these will continue – thank you to those who have supported the cafes – both volunteers, cake bakers and cake eaters!

Katie Piper is leading the Greener Hatch Beauchamp project looking at ways we as a village can become greener and reduce our carbon impact. The project is in the early stages.

The community car scheme is going strong but it is worth reminding people that ANYONE can book their services – do you need to go to the station/airport, have an appointment in town etc? Book the scheme.

Another good example of the PC working with the community is the Neighbourhood Plan led by Kevin Comer. The Neighbourhood Plan is about us shaping what happens in our village in all matters relating to planning and once it has been agreed through due process it has the force of law as much as any planning policies determined by higher authorities. We want to have a say in what housing is developed and where, how local businesses should grow and on what sites, what environmental assets (trees, meadows, recreation spaces, wildlife) are important to be preserved and how traffic is managed in and around the parish. This should include national roads running nearby. A village-wide survey is due to be circulated very shortly and I would encourage everyone to take the time and complete it.

The proposed dualling of the A358 continues to be a dominant feature of our time and energy. Many of you will have attended the consultation meetings we held last year. I think many people were astounded and upset by the huge land grab the fly through showed with large central reservations. Since last year we have had numerous meetings with NH and we have also formed a Community of Parishes with 13 other PCs as well as Ilminister Town Council. This group represents the majority of PCs along the route. Meetings with Rebecca Pow have been disappointing although I now think our MP now understands the strength of feeling against the proposals and the very real issues villagers would face if the dualling goes ahead. Having dealt with the Conservative Somerset County Council I believe the change to the Liberal Democrats can only be a positive in our case against the dualling.

Looking into the future, the establishment of a unitary council means the creation of Local Community Networks and we have just started discussions with other PCs to establish our own network. What are LCNs?

LCNs will be part of the new council organisation with formal power as ‘committees of the council’. They guarantee the new council’s commitment to local communities for the future.

Elected Somerset Councillors will sit on the LCN in their area, alongside partner groups. Each LCN will be supported by dedicated staff, employed by the new council, to act as community champions and bring people and communities together to make things happen.

It is expected that LCNs will meet six to eight times a year, with locally led groups pursuing their goals between meetings. It’s important not to be too rigid about the approach though, because LCNs themselves will want to decide exactly what they do and how they do it.

As we return to life after lockdown your PC will continue to work with and for the village and welcomes any suggestions and ideas for new projects to improve the quality of life for householders. And finally again, if you would like to be part of the decision-making process and are interested in joining us contact any of us.

Christine Scott (Chair)

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