Abberley Parish Meeting Wednesday 18th May at 7pm – Chair’s Report

Good evening and welcome to the Annual Parish Meeting for Abberley

The Covid years and all associated trauma are hopefully, at least for a great number of us, a thing of memory. However, they seem to have been replaced with an even bigger threat, due to the invasion of Ukraine, which many of us had mistakenly believed to be consigned to the annals of history. The Cold War and its ugly potential repercussions have reared their heads.  It is a truism that nothing in life can be taken for granted. The positive outcome thus far is the uniting of millions of people in support of freedom. And it allows us to view any difficulties we may face as a Parish with perspective and a sense of appreciation for what we do have.

We started the new Parish year still on Zoom but were able to resume normal face to face meetings in September. And we were able to welcome Sarah Outwin as the newest recruit to the Parish Council.

The last year has seen a flurry of Planning Applications which almost seemed to reflect a huge collective sigh of relief for the fact that normal activity could continue. The two largest, The Orchard site and the Land around the Village Hall are still to be determined.

Over the last year the Parish Council has been active in trying to promote an awareness of Zero Carbon, Dark Skies and Environmental Issues. To this end under the direction of Cllr Eberlin a Climate Change evening was held in April with very pleasing attendance. It is hoped that this will be the beginning of like – minded people in Abberley developing, at the least, a forum where ideas will be discussed and hopefully action will result.

At the suggestion of Cllr Eberlin Natural Networks made an assessment of how to improve the biodiversity of those sites mentioned in our Neighbourhood Plan. This was then circulated to the various entities responsible for those sites to see whether they would like to make use of any funding available. It should be noted that much of what has been done and is being done already shows great awareness of the proper guardianship of the land.

Underpinning these actions are two new policies devised by the Parish Council which relate to Zero Carbon and Dark Skies. They also form part of the NDP.

We are blessed with numerous walks in some of the most glorious countryside in England and the new Geopark signs, to which cost the Parish Council made a contribution, are now installed and will inform any walkers and interested parties about the fascinating geology of the area.

Other purchases include a new noticeboard, long overdue and a second defibrillator which is now located on the carpark wall at The Manor Arms whom we must thank for allowing us to use that space. Grateful thanks also go to Cllr David Chambers for funding this with a contribution from Cllr Paul Cumming as well.

We have also adopted the telephone box as a piece of historical street furniture.

Parking and speeding remain a constant source of concern with several visits to Abberley by Highways and our County Councillor to see where improvements can be made. We were unable to institute a 20mph zone outside the school but there have been improvements to the flashing lights indicating a school presence.

 To stave off the horrendous problems of the last few years yellow conservation lines have been drawn along the Shaver’s End Road. It was done with reluctance but out of necessity in conjunction with Astley and Dunley Parish Council. The aim is to allow fines to be issued by traffic enforcement who will visit the site on an ad hoc basis. The idea is that once this has filtered through there will be less inclination for people to flock to the quarry. Initial reports suggest that this action is having an effect but the summer will be the real test.

And last but not least we are now the proud possessors of an adopted Neighbourhood Plan. I’m sure Councillors will agree it was a marathon but we made it in the end. The referendum on June 24th 2021 had a very good turnout with 89% of voters in favour.

 Malvern District Hills directs other Parish Councils to our plan as an example of what a sound, easily accessible plan should look like and I have had requests from other Parishes for advice on how to go about creating one. I tell them to take a deep breath and don’t give up.

Thanks must go now to all those individuals and groups who contribute so much to life in Abberley the Garden Club, the Village Hall, The Village Green Trust, the WI, the Churches Restoration Committee, the Parochial Church Council, the Young Farmers, Nora Parsons, Abberley Care Farm and all the various groups and societies which enrich our daily lives.

Thank you to all those who have reported to the Parish Council and to Mr Joel Turvey and Mr Jonnie Besley, respective headmasters of Abberley Parochial Primary School and Abberley Hall Prep.

A big thank you must go to Cllr David Chambers, our County Councillor, who has shown himself to be an attentive listener and someone who is more than willing to address the issues we raise and is proactive with sensible suggestions.

Cllr Paul Cumming works tirelessly on our behalf, particularly so this year, with all the trials and  tribulations as a result of the two current developments. It is not always appreciated that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes in order to get a result and Cllr Cumming is unfailingly resolute in trying to produce desired outcomes.

As Chair I value highly the good sense, knowledge and support provided by Councillors and so say thank you to them for their proactivity and willingness to tackle various issues and their continued resolve to do their best for all Parishioners.

Final thanks must go to Mrs Carole Hirst, our Parish Clerk, whose good offices and dedication to detail make sure that we all stay on the straight and narrow. As has been suggested elsewhere the hours designated as part of the job do not in any way reflect the actual hours spent in ensuring all is well.

To conclude on a joyful note we have planned a Celebration Picnic on the Village Green for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 5th June and hope very much that people will take the opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

Catherine Knight