This final year of the Parish Council’s four-year term has continued with the same Councillors and many of the same opportunities and challenges. On the 2nd May, the Parish Council elections will be held and, as I know some Parish Councillors will retire from office, I am looking forward to new parishioners standing for election, with new ideas and, hopefully, lots of energy. Nominations must be submitted by 4 pm Wednesday on 3 April and, if anyone is interested in standing as Parish Councillor, then I would urge you to come forward for this very worthwhile and rewarding role. I and any of our Parish Councillors would be happy to explain what it entails, and training will be available
The Dartmoor National Park Local Plan review and the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan have all been progressing through their consultation stages over the last year, and the Parish Council has been supporting Ugborough’s interests in their preparation. The adoption of the Ugborough Neighbourhood Development Plan has helped in this process, as it increases the significance of Parish Council submissions.
Boundaries have been a subject for debate over the last year. The Boundary Commission confirmed the Parish Council boundary with Ivybridge in 2014, but conversations continue to be held with Ivybridge Town Council about the decision. Wrangaton settlement is another boundary that the Parish Council is promoting with Dartmoor National Park, to recognise the community within its Local Plan review.
Funding for local services has proved a challenge, as District and County Councils tighten their belts. Badly-needed highway improvements and flood schemes have been postponed due to lack of funds although, thanks to the Parish Council’s Community Lengthsman scheme, the fabric of the lanes has been maintained. Ugborough preschool is another service badly in need of funding to build new premises, and the Parish Council was disappointed to learn that it would not be receiving S106 funding from housing developments within the Parish.
The Parish environment has benefitted from Parish Council initiatives: Replacement benches have been erected in Ugborough Square and up at Hillhead, thanks to Devon County Locality funding, and a new path will improve accessibility to Ugborough church post office, thanks to South Hams District Council Locality funding. The Parish Council has funded planting schemes in the centre of Ugborough and Bittaford – thank you to the volunteers who carried out the planting. The Communities Together Fund (TAP) has just awarded the Parish Council funding towards a defibrillator in Wrangaton, which will be placed in the redundant phone box.
The future of the public toilets in Ugborough and Bittaford received widespread consultation throughout the Parish, as SHDC was proposing to either shut them down or to pass them over to the Parish Council. The overwhelming response was for the Parish Council to take on the toilets, despite the additional cost to Council Tax payers. To lessen the financial burden, SHDC has agreed that Ugborough toilets will be transferred to the Parish Council in 2019, with Bittaford toilets being transferred in 2020.
The post box in Ugborough also caused local consternation and considerable Parish Council involvement, as the community had to wait many months before they received a replacement. Now, it seems that replacement is not accessible for the disabled, and the Parish Council is now requesting a more accessible location.
In addition to all these challenges, the Parish Council has also continued its day-to-day administration, including adopting the General Data Protection Regulations, introducing online banking, maintaining the burial ground, Bittaford playground & public open spaces, and submitting recommendations on planning applications. In all its achievements, your Parish Council would not be nearly as successful without the hard work of its Councillors and the Clerk, and I thank them all for their enthusiasm and commitment.