Stocksfield Parish Council

Chairman’s Annual Report May 2018 – April 2019

 In another eventful year, the Parish Council has completed a long-standing project, sought the views of residents, and effected a name change, as well as continuing to maintain and improve facilities in the area which we cover.  We have done our best to ensure that our area remains a safe place to live, work and visit, and to deal with local problems whenever possible, often in partnership with local community organisations and other public bodies, such as Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Police and neighbouring Town and Parish Councils.

Last autumn saw the completion of the much anticipated extension to the car park at the sports fields, which provides 42 additional spaces.  Thanks to the expertise and generosity of local resident, Nick Jones, who, working closely with the Council’s Clerk, provided his services as a landscape surveyor without charge during the design, planning application and construction stages, the cost of the project was kept as low as possible.  As well as offering convenient parking for the sports fields and Broomley First School, the overspill car park will support Stocksfield Cricket Club’s application for planning permission to extend and upgrade the clubhouse.  

The Remembrance Service in November, marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, was conducted by Rev. Pat Moran, and attended by over 200 people, including officers of the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (based at Albemarle Barracks) and young people from the local Scouts and Guides groups.  In memory of her great uncle, who died in France in 1917 with the 55th Sqdn Royal Flying Corps, and her grandfather, who served in France with the XII Royal Lancers, Northumberland Fusiliers, local resident Daphne Threadgold-Reay very generously donated a commemorative bench to the village, and this now has pride of place next to the War Memorial, on which her great uncle’s name appears.

Photographs and personal stories of other local men whose names are listed on the War Memorial had been put together and displayed around the memorial by Laraine Judd of Stocksfield Local History Society, who was also responsible for a presentation on the same subject shown at Stocksfield Community Centre after the service.  I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this genuine community event, including those local residents who knitted the poppies that were on display.   

In December, the Parish Council’s residents’ survey was delivered to every household in the area we cover.  Designed to seek residents’ views on what our priorities should be for the next five years and how we should allocate our resources during that period, the survey was carried out on our behalf by Eljay Research Ltd, an independent company.  The survey was completed by around one household in every three, and has given us a robust baseline of information which will guide the plans we make for the future.  Sincere thanks to everyone who responded at such a busy time of year.

Last Christmas may now seem a long time ago, but one abiding memory surely has to be the magical sight of the Christmas tree at Broomley First School with its coloured lights twinkling in the winter twilight.  This is just one example of the high standard of work carried out by our Groundsman, whose attention to detail and commitment to our area make a significant contribution to the quality of our environment. 

After seeking local residents’ views in the June issue of NE43 News, the Parish Council made a formal request to Northumberland County Council to amend the Parish name to Stocksfield.  The request was granted in January, and we are now in the process of reflecting this change wherever our name appears around the village and surrounding areas.

The speed and volume of traffic on the A695 and New Ridley Road have continued to be a key concern for Councillors and residents.  Responsibility for highways lies with Northumberland County Council, so the role of the Parish Council is to ensure that residents’ concerns are brought to the attention of our County Councillor and County Council officers, and to work in partnership with other relevant organisations such as Northumbria Police.  We are pleased that our efforts to encourage further enforcement of the speed limit on New Ridley Road have been successful, and we await additional information from Northumberland County Council about their proposals for speed restrictions on the A695 between Branch End and Stocksfield station.     

In the past year, the Parish Council has given grants and donations worth over £2,000 to a number of local and County-wide groups, including Citizens Advice Northumberland, Tynedale Hospice at Home, Sport Tynedale, Tyne Rivers Trust and the North East War Memorials Project.  The funding supports specific projects which benefit members of our community.  The Parish Council also makes an annual financial contribution to the Parochial Church Council’s Burial Board which looks after the cemetery at St Margaret’s Church in Hindley.

The Parish Council’s Advisory Groups have continued to play an important part in our work during the year by focusing in detail on specific aspects and making recommendations for action to the full Council.  Particular thanks are due to the Rights of Way and Environment Advisory Group which, though chaired by a Parish Councillor, is largely made up of local residents who volunteer their time to monitor the health of the river and the burn, control invasive species and review our footpaths and rights of way.  The Group has also recently established a Station Adoption Group in partnership with Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership and Northern Rail.

Council membership has remained stable throughout the year, but we still have three vacancies.  If you have found this report interesting, and would like to make a direct contribution to the work that we do, why not apply to join us as a co-opted Councillor?

In conclusion, I would like to express my sincere thanks to our Clerk, Nick Spencer, for his invaluable advice and consummate professionalism, to our Groundsman, Martin Stewart, for his enthusiasm and versatility, and to my fellow Parish Councillors for their support and teamwork during the last twelve months.

Maggi Hunt

April 2019