Looking back over the last year, I see that the composition of the Parish Council has remained steadfast, with no Parish Councillor changes. At one point, it looked as though the Ugborough West Parish Councillor may have become absorbed into Ivybridge, but remained with us when the boundary change proposals were rejected.
Apart from routine Parish Council matters – planning applications, highway repairs, maintenance of the burial ground and playground, and financial administration – of note over the last year have been:
- The Neighbourhood Development Plan, where progress has slowed while the Working Group negotiates with South Hams District Council planners to ensure the Ugborough Plan is deemed suitable to proceed to independent examination. Alongside the Neighbourhood Plan, the Parish is producing an Ugborough Parish Open Space, Sport and Recreation Plan – and this will be discussed at our Annual Parish Meeting.
- The travellers at Hillhead have been a long-running issue – in fact, they have been in residence for five years now. The Parish Council has maintained pressure on SHDC to take enforcement action against DCC (the landowner) to evict them. The failure to provide formal traveller sites is a major stumbling block, and the Parish Council has responded to the Joint Local Plan consultation, highlighting the requirement to identify a supply of specific deliverable traveller sites for the next five years and beyond.
- Bittaford has been the beneficiary of a number of new facilities over the last year:
- A defibrillator has been installed at the Moorhaven bus stop, thanks to DCC Locality funding – and the Community First Responder service, including the use of defibrillators, will be the focus of this Annual Parish Meeting.
- The bus shelter has been replaced, thanks to Dartmoor Communities Funding, and is currently undergoing adjustments to make it more weather-proof.
- A Clamber Stack is being erected in the Playground, with grant funding from Tesco Bags of Help and the Dartmoor Communities Fund.
- In addition, the centre of Bittaford has received a facelift, with the replacement of the retaining wall by DCC, and volunteers who have done a great job planting up the tubs and borders
- Over the next few months, the redundant phone box will have a new lease of life, as it is turned into a community library, where residents can freely share books and DVDs.
- The Community Lengthsman service has continued to make a big difference to lanes in the Parish, and the Parish Council has budgeted a further £1000 over the next year to maintain this invaluable service. In addition, a group of very helpful volunteers are now equipped to respond to local flooding.
- The Lengthsman is just one of a number of DCC and SHDC services which have been devolved down to Parish level as those Councils seek to save money. One unfortunate consequence of cost-savings is that the public toilets in Ugborough and Bittaford are no longer open in the winter. The Parish Council did look into keeping them open throughout the year, but the costs were prohibitive.
- Traffic levels and speeds through Bittaford and Wrangaton have been a long-running issue, and things are about to get a lot worse as new development to the east of Ivybridge is proceeding without any improvement to the infrastructure network within the parish. The Parish Council has joined forces with neighbouring parishes to share a mobile flashing speed sign, financed by DCC Locality funding, which should bring speeds down.
Over the next year, the Parish Council will continue to reflect and respond to the needs of its community, to make the Parish a safe, happy and attractive place to live and work.
Finally, the success of the Parish Council would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of its Councillors and Clerk, and I thank them for their support over the last year.