The end of April 2021 draws my second year as Chair to a close, and I am pleased to present my Report.
The year 2020-2021 has again been very exceptional as COVID19 took its grip on the world. Lockdown after lockdown, self-isolation, face masks, hand sanitising, became the “new norm”. There seemed no end in sight for the pandemic as wave after wave of new virus strains hit countries at different times and so the relentless cycle of lockdown, testing and tracing continued.
In December 2020, and thanks to some amazing science across the world, but led by one particular team in Oxford, a stream of effective vaccines were developed and slowly but surely the most vulnerable in our communities were given their first “shot” of the vaccine. As I write this report many have now received their second dose and is providing them with much needed protection against COVID19.
The effect of COVID19 has hit us all as individuals but also as a community and sadly many residents of Rock have been taken ill and some have tragically lost their lives to the virus.
We as Rock Parish Council continue to thank our NHS, its doctors, nursing staff and all backroom workers who have provided such magnificent care throughout the last twelve months. Also we give thanks to all of our essential workers for their continued service in what must be very challenging circumstances.
Working practices have been changed forever. Our work as a Parish Council has been severely restricted by the pandemic. Our monthly meetings are now held using Microsoft Teams and although very difficult to manage meetings in this way, has led to us continuing to represent the residents of Rock.
Since April 2020 we have discussed, agreed to support or recommended refusal of some 65 planning applications.
We took part in the WFDC Local Plan Review with representations submitted to the Inspectorate conducting the review.
As a Parish Council we agreed to support a bus shelter for the residents at Bliss Gate, which was a major project and which had substantial funding implications.
When setting the annual budget for the Parish Council we agreed that there should be no annual increase and that the monies received from WFDC , the precept, would remain at the 2019/20 levels.
The work of our lengthsman continued throughout the year, taking into account all the COVID19 safety measures. Colin Link, our lengthsman for so many years finally decided to retire. I would like to thank him on behalf of the PC for his outstanding work in keeping the Parish clean and tidy and well maintained. Thank you Colin and may you have a very long and happy retirement. Lets hope you can take up those holidays to Malta very soon.
Thanks must also be given to a host of volunteers who have been recruited to tackle the litter problem in the Parish. I call them the new “Sally Army”, as the project had been led by Councillor Sally Watkins. Thank you Sally for your, and your teams work in keeping the Parish looking so splendid.
Rock Parish Council is one of the largest parish councils in England and has 13 elected councillors representing every village community within the parish. We are a diverse council with members having a wide range of experiences from a range of professional backgrounds, from farming, to education, to law, to health care, to industry and commerce. I continue to pay tribute to our Parish Clerk, Stephen Clee, who has the unenviable task of managing the council and its members. Stephen works tirelessly for the parish and its communities.
One of the duties the Clerk undertakes is the organisation of, at our local level, celebrations, commemorations and other national events as and when they arise. Only recently, with the sad loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Phillip, who died on Friday 9th April, the detailed programme of national mourning was triggered. Stephen, as instructed by the protocols, lowered the flag at the Far Forest Society Pavilion, at precisely 12 noon and adorned the Queen’s Jubilee stone at Fingerpost Corner, and made preparations for a Book of Remembrance, which unfortunately due to COVID restrictions were cancelled.
As always, we were supported by our County Councillor Rebecca Vale and our District Councillors Anna Coleman and Roger Coleman. I would like to thank them for continued support of Rock Parish and for their financial support to enable improvement works across the parish.
Finally, I sincerely hope that the year 2021-22 will bring a more settled world, and that the community of Rock Parish will return to some semblance of normality very soon.
Rock Parish Council