Annual General Report May 2018

ANNUAL REPORT 2017 – 2018
The year now ending has been one of change for the Community Council. Local Council elections were held last May and a new County Councillor, Dr. Louise Brown, was elected for our area. Our previous County Councillor, Graham Down, stood down from County Council. Instead, he was elected as a new Community Councillor. We are pleased to welcome both “newcomers” to our proceedings. Sadly, Carol Oakes, who had served us faithfully for several years decided not to stand for re-election.
Change has also occurred in some of the business we have conducted. There has been an emphasis on new procedural regulations. We have always conformed to these but now they have had to be formalised. Equality and Diversity Policy and a Welsh Language Policy come to mind. Councillors have read and discussed both of these and adopted the first, whilst the second is in abeyance for now. Two extra meetings were held to cover this additional business, so that, in all, 12 were held throughout the year.
Financial cutbacks by Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) have meant a slow response to some of the routine requests we have made to them. The repair of footpath stiles and general village upkeep are typical examples. Do let us know if you come across a maintenance problem. We can then report it and follow it up until MCC deals with it.
Enforcement problems at the Border Waste site at Crick continued and were very time-consuming. The matter is still not satisfactorily resolved. Your Community Council feel that MCC Planning Department have badly let down Crick residents who have been affected by noise and dust for several years now. MCC have failed to monitor movement of material in and out of the site and ongoing excavations. Finally, after much prompting by the Community Council, legal proceedings against the owner are now in progress. It is unlikely that the site will ever be properly restored.
On a positive note, we were delighted and grateful to receive the gift of a heart defibrillator from Chepstow Lions. It is situated outside the Millers Arms. At the request of the Community Council, a representative from Welsh Ambulance hosted a training session in its use and also in the technique of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Residents who attended found the training both informative and enjoyable. A further session is taking place in late September. If you would like to attend, please contact our Clerk who will pleased to add your name to the list.
You will be aware of the lowered speed limit through Pwllmeyric. The Community Council has been lobbying for such a limit for well over 10 years and we hope it is effective in reducing the number of accidents which occur on this stretch of the A48.
In addition, County Cllr. Brown has set up a volunteer SpeedWatch team to monitor and record speeding here. We thank her for this.
Two Community Council coffee mornings were held in the course of the year. At these events, local residents have the opportunity to raise local issues which concern them and make suggestions which we can action. We also need ideas for the use (to the benefit of the village) of the £1000 per year received from the Rhewl solar farm installation. One such possibility is helping finance Village Hall facilities. If we don’t hear your ideas then we can’t know what you want! Sadly, these coffee mornings are now so poorly attended that we have decided to hold only one per year in future.
2018 is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the Community Council and Village Hall Committee will be holding a joint commemorative event on Nov. 11th. As the War Memorial is in need of attention, the Community Council voted to fund its refurbishment. Work begins shortly and it will be restored by the autumn. Our annual Remembrance Day service held at the memorial is always well-attended but we hope for even more this special year.
Financially, the Community Council is on a sound footing. County Council cut-backs will mean increasing spending on village upkeep because the cost of some road-sweeping and verge- tidying will now be our responsibility. The purchase of an increasing number of dog waste bins and their emptying is also a rising financial burden. Thankfully, present reserves are sufficient to cover such outlay for the current year.
I will end by thanking all Community Councillors for the hard work they do on your behalf. Every one of them willingly undertakes additional tasks for the benefit of all in their free time. The work they do and the external meetings they attend are all noted on the Community Council web-site, in the minutes of our meetings. I do hope some of you take time to visit the site and read these.
Finally, a huge thank-you to our Clerk, Mrs. Jane Kelley, who works tirelessly for everyone – residents and Community Councillors alike. She is our lifeline, dealing with the County Council, keeping us abreast of statutory requirements, letting us know about training courses and passing on various documents. She has spent extra time this year dealing with new auditing procedures and we thank her for her successful perseverance with this. She is the heart of the Community Council and our gratitude to her is boundless.

Carolyn Ovenden
Chairman, Mathern Community Council May 2018