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Town Council

ANNUAL REPORT 2006/07

 

Report on the 2006/2007 Year from the Chairman of Saxmundham
Town Council in that year, Councillor Ronald E. Warren


In last year's Annual Report, Cllr Richard Smith stated that 'All the workings of Saxmundham Town Council are in good shape'. I think I can safely say that they remain so, although there are one or two areas where we have not yet fully achieved our aims, through no fault of this Council I hasten to add.

On a positive note, let me begin by reporting that our Town Clerk, Maddie Gallop has been successful in achieving the Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) during the year under review. So, we, or rather Maddie, has cleared the first hurdle towards the 'Quality Parish Status' to which the Council aspires. Maddie continues to play her vital role in keeping the 'Town Ship' on course. We are confident that the
external audit of our finances will show that we are operating efficiently and according to the required principles and practice of Local Government.

There may not have been the more eye-catching 'happenings' of 2005/2006, which included the official opening of Fromus Square, the unveiling of the new War Memorial (located there) by the then Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, and the award of the 'Best Small Town' trophy to Saxmundham. However, there has been considerable activity on all fronts, which continues to enhance the town's progress and prosperity.

Last year, it was agreed that the Chairman of the Council should report on the attendance of town councillors at the monthly Council meetings. Although it was decided that a meeting would also be held in August (normally regarded as a 'holiday month') there was not enough business to warrant convening one. So, there were 11 monthly meetings held, and the attendance record of councillors, in alphabetical order, was as
follows:

Councillor Mrs Andrews: 9
Councillor Sir Peter Batho: 4 (on duty as Chairman of SCDC elsewhere)
Councillor Cooke: 7
Councillor Mrs Damiral-White: 9
Councillor Fisher: 11
Councillor Fleury: 7
Councillor Howe: 9 (out of a possible 10 ;joined Council in June 06)
Councillor Jackson 11
Councillor Moye: 8
Councillor Sculley. 9 (representing Council elsewhere once)
Councillor Simpson: 9 (representing Council elsewhere once)
Councillor Smith: 8
Councillor Tricker: 8
Councillor Warren 8

(Some absences were unavoidable: i.e. due to hospitalisation, illness or absence overseas)

After careful and detailed consideration of the Town Precept element requirement in the Suffolk Coastal Council Tax for 2007/08, the Town Council settled on a figure of £35,000. This is a very moderate increase
of £1,000 overall on last year's figure, but the actual charge to the individual household in Saxmundham will be slightly less in 2007/08 because of the increase in newly occupied households.

It is very disappointing to have to report that Fromus Square is still not yet officially in the ownership of Saxmundham after five years of negotiations. The focal point of the town is there, the area is attractively laid out, gardens have been created and the War Memorial unveiled. But, we are still waiting on Punch taverns (formerly Pubmaster) and Violet Enterprises (formerly Somerfields) to 'sign on the dotted line'!

We are also waiting on National Grid to finalise our acquisition of the Chantry Road Play Area. Until last September, we leased the land at an annual rent of £140, though a considerable increase was proposed by National Grid Property Management Ltd. It made sense to negotiate a purchase of the land; we shall save a considerable amount of money in the long term. We expect to complete the transaction by 31st July 2007.

After winning the 'Best Small Town' trophy in the Anglia in Bloom contest in 2005, we withdrew from entering the judging aspect in 2006 because the level of assistance required in preparing our entry/display (200 Hanging Baskets and Tubs) in the last three weeks before 'Judgement Day' was not forthcoming. This was disappointing, but we still achieved our main objective which was a blaze of colour in the High Street, North and South Entrances, Fromus Square and the Railway Station from early June to the end of August 2006. The Town, through the 2006 Precept, gave financial support to the 'Saxmundham In Bloom' project to the tune of £1,000. The rest of the funding for the hanging baskets and floral tubs (approximately £3,500) was contributed by Shops, Businesses and private residents in the town.

We have not been fortunate in our efforts to finance the Skateboard Park. An application for a Lottery Fund 'Reaching Communities' grant of £45,000 was submitted, but due to excessive demand from very limited funds available, our application was unsuccessful. However, all is not lost; we have submitted another funding application, and remain hopeful of success. It is our intention to implement the project speedily when funding is available.

The 2007 edition of the Saxmundham Town Guide was produced at the end of 2006 under the direction of Councillors Marion Andrews and Roy Simpson. It has proved to be a very informative reference booklet on the town, with a wealth of useful information. We thank them both for their time and expertise in producing this publication.

The 2006 Arts Festival was again a success and looks as though it will be a 'fixture' in the town's annual events.

More recently, the 2007 St. George's Weekend Festival was an outstanding success; the Fromus Square Charity Market was well attended, the Food Fayre in the Market Hall well patronised, and the Strolling Jazz Band popular; it certainly kept one's feet tapping! The Town Crier, St.George, the Fair Maid and the Dragon were very much in evidence and the day's events were judged to be very enjoyable and entertaining.

The Dinner Dance in the Market Hall was an outstanding success - with the right number of people for the venue, the right food and drink, the right Band and music and the right atmosphere. Our thanks are due to many - they know who they are! Finally, there was the Church Service; St. George, the Dragon and the Fair Maiden were there with many other townsfolk. The Leiston Royal British Legion Band led the parade and the hymn-singing in St. John's Church. The weekend's celebrations there rounded off with tea and cakes in the Market Hall provided by the President and ladies of Saxmundham Women's Institute.

In the past 12 months the Planning Committee, chaired by Cllr Rose Damiral-White, have held 16 ordinary meetings, 3 special meetings and have met to discuss the proposed Local Development Framework for 2012 and beyond. They have considered Applications for 388 new dwellings, 6 commercial units, 10 extensions to property, 6 applications for change of use and 5 conservatories.

The 3 major developments involved are:

(a) Church Street (Reef Estates: mixed retail & residential) comprising 6 commercial units, 6 flats and 27dwellings

(b) East of River Fromus/North side of Church Hill - 149 dwellings (Hopkins Homes)

(c) Rendham Road (Capital Associates) - mixed retail, commercial, industrial and housing.

The current situation (May 07) is:
Planning consent has been given to (a) subject to a considerable number of conditions.
A revised application for (b) has been submitted by Hopkins Homes following refusal of the initial application. SCDC Planning Department have recommended approval, but theDevelopment Control Committee made this subject to a number of conditions; The revised application will be reviewed by the Committee shortly.
The proposed Rendham Road development (c) has yet to be considered by the SCDC Planning department.

The Market Hall Committee, chaired by Cllr Glynn Moye, is looking into the possibility of refurbishing the Market Hall. A feasibility study is to be conducted to look at the implications of such a refurbishment, which would have to be done using grant monies. Our caretaker, Mr Alan George, does an excellent job, in keeping the hall clean and tidy and ready for bookings and carries out minor repairs. The wall behind the Webster Room was demolished by a lorry last year and was rebuilt. This year it has been demolished by a gas van and its second rebuild is keenly awaited. A major clearance of storage areas in the Market Hall has been undertaken, particularly in the room behind the stage area and the raised storage either side of the main entrance to the Hall.

Although we do not have a full booking list at the moment, bookings are steadily increasing and we are negotiating a long term booking for a local group. With the help of a grant from the locality budget of County Councillor Ray Leighton, we purchased a new cooker after the old one was condemned by the Gas Board. We have recently purchased a complete new set of crockery and cutlery and the kitchen is slowly but surely being brought up to modern standards.

During the year, on behalf of the Town Council, a Working Party continued to consider the proposed installation of a CCTV system in the town to deter vandalism and combat criminal activity. Several meetings were held at Suffolk Coastal District Council, Woodbridge, where it was proposed that a joint funding application should be made for the towns of Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Leiston and Saxmundham. However, the potential national source of the necessary funding was declared 'dry'. The proposals will be reconsidered if and when new funding becomes available. Local opinion on the desirability of CCTV in Saxmundham will be sought if new funding becomes available.

During the year under review the following Town Council documents were reviewed:

1. Council Insurance cover. Under new government legislation, we are now obliged to have Fidelity cover. Cllr David Sculley negotiated this with our insurance providers and this was adopted by full Council.

2. Complaints Procedure. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Complaints Procedure document was amended and adopted by full Council.

3. Communications Protocol A new CP document was developed, recommended and accepted by full Council.

4. Financial Standing Orders (FSO). Cllrs Richard Smith and Don Tricker were appointed to revise the existing FSO. The updated Orders were accepted by full Council and have now been adopted.

As previously reported, four members of the Town Council were instrumental in guiding the initial stages of the formation of the Saxmundham & District Community Development Partnership (SDCDP). It is a separate 'body', independent of the Town Council, and a Company ('Not for Profit') Limited by Guarantee has been established.

I wish to thank Cllr Graham Cooke for his support (as Vice Chairman of the Town Council and Chairman of Policy & Resources Committee during 2006/07). Many of the subjects for consideration by full Council are referred to the Policy & Resources Committee initially, so he has been very much involved in many aspects of Council business. He has brought a pragmatic, realistic approach to our Council discussions and decision-making and his views and opinions are always worthy of
consideration. Cllr Rose Damiral-White has continued to be Chairman of the Planning Committee and, as such, has had a considerable increase in her work load as a result of the submission of several major planning applications for new developments in the town. This has not 'phased' her and she has ensured that planning applications have full and proper attention to detail. ClIr Moye has continued as Chairman of the Market Hall Committee. He knows that the Market Hall is in need of an internal 'face-lift' and some more new equipment. We thank him for leading what we anticipate will be a sound plan of action.

I would like to finish with a 'Thank-you' to all my fellow councillors, who have served with me in the life of this Town Council. It has not always been a smooth path we have experienced, and naturally enough we have not always agreed. However, the majority verdict has always prevailed as the final answer to any motion or proposal. The outgoing Council has given a great deal of their time to Council matters for the benefit of the town. There will be an Election on 3rd May as we have 15 candidates for 14 vacancies. A special thank-you to those councillors who are retiring from office; two former Council Chairmen, Cllrs Roy Simpson and Richard Smith, long serving ClIr John Jackson and two stalwarts of the current Council, Cllrs David Sculley and Don Tricker. Enjoy your 'retirement'!

(Councillor John Fisher was subsequently elected Chairman for the 2007/08 year.)

Ronald E. Warren Chairman 2006-07

 

 
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