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Chair’s report to the Annual Parish Meeting for the year 2021/2

We have lost 4 councillors this year – Charlie Nightingale, Colin Greenhalgh, Paul McPhater and Jez Raphael – and we thank them all for their valuable contribution. Thank you to all the present councillors for their continuing commitment to the village. We should have 11 councillors and now have only 6, increasing to 7 after May 5th, which is barely sufficient to function adequately. We are all volunteers.

In spite of being such a small number, we have worked hard. Notable achievements have been the completion of the MUGA (Multi Use Games Area), which is now well used for tennis and netball. It is available for hire for other sports such as football and basketball. The shed has been refurbished with improved storage for sports teams. The play equipment in the children’s playground has been replaced making it a more adventurous area for children to play in safely. Work has been carried out in the cemetery to make the area safe. The council has also been very active in its objection to GCP’s (Greater Cambridge Partnership) plan for a busway through greenbelt in the village and has joined a coordinated response with surrounding villages to object to the destruction of valuable greenbelt without benefit for the environment and the village. The Neighbourhood Plan is being revitalised to be a driver for local identity, with a shared vision and recognition of the needs of the villages. The ownership of the Parish Pit (an old chalk quarry and now a nature reserve for the benefit of the village) has been transferred to the Magog Trust. A well attended Eco Evening has focused the Parish Council’s attention on care of the environment, with bird and bat boxes being one of the projects resulting from it. It is intended to take forward some of the suggestions made at that evening.

The Parish Council has representatives on the Feoffees and the Village Hall Estate Fund, both organisations which can fund individuals or groups needing financial support. We also have a representative on the recently formed OASISS (Open Arms in Shelfords/Stapleford) welcoming Ukrainian refugees to the villages.

The pavilion continues to be used for village functions, with restrictions on use now lifted. Advertisement for a caretaker/village handyman did not receive the response required so your councillors have voluntarily assumed responsibility for small maintenance tasks, restocking the pavilion, putting out rubbish bins, checking the bus shelter and defibrillator, litter picking, occasional weeding, etc. The list of these tasks goes on. We would welcome help from anyone able to give it. Your Parish Councillors cannot do everything. If you notice something that needs doing, you are more than welcome to volunteer help.

Plans for next year are to continue to oppose the busway through legal representation and we are grateful for public support. We aim to reconfigure and improve the pavilion so that is more suitable for current use; plant trees for the Queen’s Jubilee; and work on the vision of a community orchard in the Slaughter House garden and/or establish the far end of the new cemetery with a wild flower meadow. More councillors are needed so we can move these improvements to the village forward as well as managing routine matters. However, we cannot do all these things at once because of funding and time constraints, as well our small number of councillors. Please consider putting yourself forward to join us. We are just like you, villagers helping to do the best for the village and make it a pleasant place to live. No special expertise is needed, although there are training sessions to help new councillors understand how local government works. A diverse range of skills and abilities makes for a well functioning Parish Council.

A representative of SSYI gave a presentation to the Annual Parish meeting about the work being done with young people aged 11 to 18 in the local villages. The Covid lockdowns have proved detrimental to the health and well-being of our young people, and there are well-attended groups in the refurbished youth centre in Shelford every day, as well as opportunities for 1:1 emotional and mental health support, and rebuilding of social skills.

Annual reports from most village clubs and societies are available on the Parish Council website. Sadly, no reports have been received from the sports clubs.

Cllr Gillian Pett, April 2022