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Chairman’s Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 17th March 2010

Looking back on what I believe has been a useful and productive year for Ilkley Parish Council I have kept in mind the proposals which I put forward at our Annual Council Meeting in May 2009. I will refer to them in this report and hopefully indicate the way in which we have dealt with them.

Starting with practical and administrative matters, I am pleased to report that Dr Jean Yule is close to completing her formal training to become a Quality Parish Clerk. It is planned that she will take over the role of Clerk to the Council at the beginning of the next Council year in May when the current Clerk Mrs Christine Dale will relinquish the role and become Deputy Clerk for the year. This has been a very successful transition and we are grateful to both of them for their efforts to bring about a smooth change of office.

Financially our expenditure on Administrative and Operating activities has been very close to budget and we will have made some twenty Awards and Projects grants and provided generous support for a number of Community Events. Additionally we supported a successful application by Ilkley Football Club to the Keighley Area Panel for a grant of £10,000 to assist in refurbishing the Club’s changing facilities at West Holmes Field. We have proposed a modest two per cent precept increase for the coming year. I hope that when you have heard my report you will feel that the Town has received good value for money.

We have continued with our responsibility for managing the allotments in Ilkley. Cllr Andrew Walbank successfully led the application for a £10,000 Big Lottery Grant which has enabled the development of fifteen new allotments together with the provision of some new fencing and pathways. We now have 105 allotments but the waiting list, which is growing, stands at 160. We are grateful to Cllr Walbank for his excellent and unobtrusive work in this area.

During the year the Parish Council assumed trusteeship of The Darwin Gardens and Millennium Green, taking over from the original voluntary trustees at their request. Cllr Stuart Goddard has taken on the responsibility for managing the area and has put in place a number of maintenance arrangements which will allow the gardens to continue to flourish. We owe a debt of gratitude to the original trustees who developed this superb attribute for the Town and we are grateful for their continued support. Incidentally, an event organised by Cllr Kathy Best is planned at the Gardens this Friday 19th March at 2.0pm when local schools will unveil their Willow Sheep Project sculptures which will remain on site during this summer. We hope as many of you as possible will attend.

Our Plans Committee under the able chairmanship of Cllr Andrew McKie has scrutinised and made recommendations on some 174 planning applications. Notable amongst these were the Ilkley Rugby Club Stand and the Tesco and Ilkley Grammar School proposals. For the latter two the Council organised public meetings which were well attended and which offered opportunity for all views to be aired.  Both applications were subsequently recommended for rejection by the Plans Committee. Bradford MDC still has to consider the Grammar School’s plan but has rejected the Tesco plan which has however been resubmitted.

Tourism remains an important feature of Ilkley life and Cllr Kate Brown successfully achieved “Walkers Are Welcome” status for the Town. She also pressed for improved town centre signing for our excellent, but largely hidden, Tourist Information Office. Together with Cllr Pauline Dixon and many other volunteers, Cllr Brown played a major part in achieving a Silver Gilt award in this year’s Britain in Bloom competition. This team was also responsible for refurbishing The Pinfold in Weston Road where I had the pleasure of unveiling an Ilkley Civic Society blue plaque in July.

It is important for tourism that we maintain the quality image of our Town and ensure that litter, graffiti, vandalism and anti-social behaviour are kept to a minimum. In this regard we are fortunate to have a very active Neighbourhood Policing Team led by Inspector Susan Sanderson who has attended all our Council meetings keeping us fully briefed on policy for dealing with all of these issues. I know that she would welcome greater public attendance at the regular PACT meetings and other events which are organised to keep our community informed and involved.

Responding to requests and suggestions from residents and visitors, your Parish Council has supported and promoted a number of issues including a trial produce market, refurbishment of the library, additional toilet facilities and improved tourist signing in the town centre, and 20mph speed limits around several schools. Unfortunately, as I have indicated on several occasions it has not been possible to enter into a meaningful dialogue with Bradford Council, its councillors and officers, with a view to exploring the potential to develop these issues. We are dependent upon the support of our District councillors to make progress and regrettably this has not been forthcoming.

We have I am pleased to report, had some success with other matters which we have raised such as the new brown tourist signs at both ends of the Town, a new speed restricted gateway on Denton Road, and an improvement in the quality of the water in the swimming pool; although there is still some way to go to upgrade the water treatment plant, the changing facilities and building. Thanks to the efforts of Cllr Lexa Robinson and a contribution from IPC, the Riverside Gardens’ footpath railings, stonework and underpass will soon be cleaned and refurbished. IPC has also made a contribution to what will be significant fencing improvements in front of the Riverside Hotel and to the North end of the New Brook Street Bridge, and to the repainting and re-hanging of the Memorial Gates. Bradford MDC has effected repairs at our request to the post and rail fencing on Coutances Way to the east of the Denton Bridge.

Notable Council events during the year included a visit, with a civic reception, by a delegation from Coutances our twin town in Northern France, the Concert on The Grove and the Christmas Lights Switch-on. Despite the rain the excellent concert organised by Cllr Mike Gibbons went ahead with the performers and the audience sticking it out admirably to the end. The Lights Switch-on suffered from even heavier rain throughout the event. Despite this, a large crowd including hundreds of children attended and had the opportunity for the first time to see the new light features purchased by the Parish Council whilst provision was made for Ben Rhydding to have a Christmas tree for the first time.  A great deal of work goes into organising the lights and I would like to thank Cllr Brian Mann and his team for their considerable efforts in achieving such a good result this year.

The Christmas lights event is something especially for children and one of the great pleasures for me as chairman representing the Council has been the opportunity this year to be involved in so many events where the young people of Ilkley have played a significant part – our Junior Town Crier, Sarah Parry, IAOS, the Upstagers, the Remembrance Day Ceremony, the Bandstand Carol Service (bitterly cold and some children were in short trousers), a visit to Nell Bank, the presentation of IPC Young Citizen awards to Ilkley Grammar School pupils, the Wharfedale Festival, amongst others. It was particularly interesting to hear the views of some 220 Ilkley Grammar School first year pupils who visited the Council Chamber in small groups during January. The motion debated by each groups that the voting age be reduced to sixteen was defeated by an aggregate of 112 votes to 108!

To conclude, it has been a privilege to represent Ilkley Parish Council at some forty events this year. I have witnessed the amount of good work done by so many people on behalf of young and old alike. These volunteers have our gratitude for all their efforts and I would like to thank them on behalf of Marjorie and myself for the warmth of their welcome and their hospitality. Also, my thanks to all those councillors and officers who have supported me during my year in office.

I hope that this report will give a good indication of the level of involvement of your Parish Council in the community and I commend it to you.


Cllr Alan Morrell

17th March 2010



Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 19:36