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Chairmans' Report too the Annual Parish Meeting 21st March 2011

This has been another busy time for the Council and, in all, some thirty-four meetings will have taken place during this Council year: twelve full Council meetings, nineteen meetings of the Plans Committee chaired by Cllr Andrew McKie, assisted by Cllr Stuart Goddard, and three meetings of the Management and Staffing Committee chaired by Cllr Kate Brown.

There have been significant staffing changes throughout this year.  Following Dr Jean Yule’s qualification as Parish Clerk, Mrs Chris Dale stood down as Clerk and became Deputy Clerk (on a job share basis) anticipating retirement at the end of April 2011.  To give continuity and to cover our increased operations, Mrs Fiona Birdsall was appointed as a Deputy Clerk on the 1st February 2011.  We congratulate Jean on her achievement, wish Chris a happy retirement and welcome Fiona to our team.

In the summer, the Council took over as Corporate Trustee of the Darwin Garden’s Millenium Green.  All councillors are trustees and the project is managed by Cllr Heathcliffe Bowen.  The site is maintained by the Parish Council’s appointed contractors and we are pleased to note the continuing support of the original team of former trustees and express our thanks for the advice and consultancy which they provide.

We are now in our fourth year supervising the Town’s allotments.  Under the guidance of project manager Cllr Andrew Walbank steady progress has been made in the maintenance and security of the sites and in the allocation of plots to residents.   Whilst it is heartening that there is a waiting list for plots it is sad that this wait is likely to be so very long and every effort is made to find additional provision.  On behalf of the Council I must thank Andrew for his leadership and Chris for her accurate and dedicated administration of the scheme which will be carried on by Fiona.

The Council has been involved with many projects throughout the year, many in partnership with Bradford Council.  Cllr Lexa Robinson has led schemes in the Cemetery, Riverside Memorial Gardens and on the riverside whilst Cllr Kathy Best has overseen work at the paddling pool on the Moor.  We continue to install or refurbish benches as required throughout the Town with all the work carried out by the Parks and Landscapes Department of Bradford Council.  This year, we enjoyed improved Christmas lights in the principal shopping areas of the Town and also in Ben Rhydding.  Actress Kathryn Apanowicz switched on the lights in front of the usual large crowd on the Grove with Father Christmas and many children in attendance. We were entertained by the Air Cadets band, the Guiseley Brass band, the Churches Together in Ilkley (CTI) choir and the Performance School of Dance and Drama.

In autumn, the Council’s application for renewal of Quality Status was awarded for a further four years.  This followed much hard work by the Clerks and I thank them, on behalf of the Council, for the sheer slog which I know this application involved.  Quality Status indicates to all that we are fit for purpose in our operations and procedures and it is a status that we value.  Also at this time the Parish Plan was updated. The Plan highlights the way the Town could develop over the next few years.  This was created by a team led by Cllr Kate Brown and has been well received by residents and professional local authority groups alike. The team is to be congratulated on this achievement following months of hard work.  Many councillors work hard for the Town and the Council is represented on some twenty-nine organisations throughout the district. Details of this involvement can be seen in the Parish Council’s newsletter and on its web site.

In September, the role of Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) transferred from the Deputy Clerk to the Clerk.  Chris has maintained our financial records and indeed financial well-being over many years enabling our annual external audit to go through unchallenged.  The Council appreciates this effort and also that of our internal auditor, Keith Pickles, whose friendly supervision and rigour has established much confidence over the years.  Since becoming our RFO, Jean, along with Keith, has established new procedures designed to give councillors better information on budget spending as the year progresses.

This year, the precept was set at £15.96 per annum for a Band D property and together with a subsidy of £5,000 from reserves and a grant for Christmas lights from Bradford Council this gave an operating budget of £117,761.  Roughly half this figure was spent on administration and operations.  Some £46,000 was allocated to Awards and Projects and £19,700 to Community Events including Christmas lights.  All the money spent on awards and projects is approved by Council and presented by Cllr Mike Gibbons who with the Clerk previews the applications.  Full details of this community expenditure can be found in the April edition of the Parish Council’s newsletter.

Socially, my wife Sylvia, acting as Consort, and I have represented the Council and the Town on many occasions.  It has been a pleasure for us to attend civic services, civic dinners, concerts and shows, Christmas parties, residential homes, voluntary groups, the Over 90s’ party, Yorkshire Day celebrations, professional groups and school presentation evenings.  Perhaps the highlights of the Town’s social calendar were the Last night of the Proms concert on the Grove; a fitting climax to the Summer Festival and more recently the Civic Concert at the Craiglands Hotel.  Both notable events and both organised and led by Cllr Mike Gibbons.  Later this month, a delegation of seventeen intrepids will visit our twin town of Coutances in Normandy where we expect to receive the usual warm welcome and a full programme of civic and social events.

Finally, I have felt privileged to lead the Council through the last year of this session, prior to the elections for a new Council in May.  I sincerely thank all councillors and our Clerks for their hard work and endeavours for the Town throughout this year.  As a group, we have been together for five years and, in my opinion, we can look back with some pride on our achievements.  Equally, we can all think of the frustrations of things left still to do and perhaps look forward to the new Council taking up the reins and carrying forward our work.  I wish the new Council well for the next four-year session.  It has been a pleasure to present this report and I commend it to the meeting.

Cllr Brian Mann       

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 19:36