Mitford Parish Council Chairman’s Annual Report 2017 / 2018
There have been changes in the Parish Council this year; David Towns left to focus on his new position as County Councillor and we welcomed two new councillors, Sheena Hudson who represents the Tranwell Village community and Ted Roger who lives in Mitford.
It has been a quieter year with the major projects that have consumed much of our time now behind us. Increasing traffic on St Leonard's Lane and the condition of the road has been a big issue, erosion on the Font remains a concern, and speeding issues, particularly in Tranwell Village continue to be raised. There is also the prospect of a boundary review being initiated by Morpeth Town Council.
Two traffic surveys have confirmed what we all knew, that the opening of the Northern Bypass had resulted in a substantial increase in traffic on St Leonard's Lane. The first survey measured an increase of over 200%, and the second confirmed that traffic had continued to increase during the year to a level 300% above the pre-bypass base measurement. This evidence, together with support from County Councillor Glen Sanderson, has enabled a programme of road improvements to be agreed with the County Council: work on Spital Hill was carried out last autumn and repair and surfacing of the whole lane has commenced. The flooding issue at the blind bend is not resolved but we continue to seek a solution.
Morpeth Town Council (MTC) seems intent on initiating a boundary review that would impact three adjacent parishes – Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford – proposing that the town boundary be extended to encompass the new housing developments of West Lancaster Park, Northgate and South Fields, and also encompass the part of Stobhill Manor that is in Hepscott Parish. In Mitford's case, it is proposed that the western boundary of Morpeth be redrawn along the line of the A1 bypass. Households finding themselves in Morpeth will see a significant increase in their council tax, but there will be an adverse financial impact on all residents in the parish; in effect this proposal amounts to a transfer of tax from the parishes to Morpeth. The Parish Council is opposed to this proposal and finds no merit in the MTC argument; we are particularly disappointed in the position taken by MTC given that we are all supposedly partners in the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.
The Parish Council has monitored the condition of the river bank below the allotment at Fontside taking photographs every 3 months; no change was evident until the recent flood levels on the river when further erosion was noted immediately downstream of the main area of concern. It is planned to meet again with the Environment Agency to discuss the significance of the change. During the year we have continued to improve the environment in Mitford Village by extending the activities of our Warden; this has included clearing the footpath on the church bank. We are committed to continuing this trend as County Hall cuts back on rural services and we will deploy the Warden to other communities in the parish as necessary.
Speeding vehicles continue to be a problem in various parts of the parish; traffic calming measures have been installed at the top of Spital Hill and further measures are in the pipeline. We continue to raise the issue of speeding in Tranwell Village at County Hall, have urged residents to log and report incidents of speeding construction traffic to the St Mary's developer and are considering installing active speed indicators subject to availability of funding.
I commend our Clerk for the accuracy and clarity of the accounts. Gross expenditure for the year was £6011, significantly lower than the previous year which had included a £2000 contribution to the cost of repairs to the village hall roof. We have invested in a replacement noticeboard for Tranwell Village which is about to be installed and are seeking quotes for repairing fencing on Mitford road adjacent to Abbey Mill. The bank balance at 31 March 2018 was £10,208 and a budget of £8,490 has been set for 2018/2019. Given the healthy state of the finances, the Parish Council determined to keep the precept unchanged for 2018/19.
Finally, I would like to thank our Parish Councillors and our Clerk for the excellent work that has been done over the last year, and our County Councillor both for his support and for brokering meetings with decision makers at County Hall. I also thank PC Andrea Teasdale for her support and advice to the Parish Council during the year.