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Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Wednesday 9th May 2018

The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Village Hall on Wednesday 9th May 2018, at approximately 7.30pm, following the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council.

1. Apologies. None.

Present: Cllrs. Martin Allen, Martin Baker, Brian Gale, Pat Lennard, Katrina Maxwell and Terry Oxman. Also present: Cllr. David Hall (Somerset County Council (SCC)), Derek Alder and Liz Perry (Sedgemoor District Council (SDC)).

Members of the Public: Seven members of the public..

2. Minutes of the previous Annual Parish Meeting of 22nd May 2017 were read, approved and signed.

3. Chairman’s annual report. Martin Allen reported as follows:-

I shall summarise Chedzoy’s hopes and fears for all the year as: Great Expectations, hopes, false starts and Great Trepidations.

'Life in the countryside is about to change. Full fibre broadband, Ultrafast Internet for rural Britain...Your questions answered. When can I get ultrafast broadband?...  Over the next two years'. These are quotes taken from the Gigaclear leaflet, delivered to your door a few days ago, giving both hope and disappointment. We are glad of our CDS temporary fix, but it is not the answer. The system is creaking at the seams. We need a proper solution. Let us hope Gigaclear can deliver much sooner than two years.

The new Local Plan has recognised that Chedzoy is sustainable. The Secretary of State is expected to confirm this in the autumn. This will bring with it challenges, as well as new opportunities. For example, Sedgemoor District Council’s Affordable Housing Scheme. Controversy dogs this scheme, even though it is little understood. Self builds and incremental infill are amongst many possible options. Shared ownership, help to buy, rented, first time buyers to retired, helping people in our own village community must be the priority. We must not be too ready to distance Chedzoy from this scheme. The 3.9 acres of land to the west of the church has just been sold. What plans the new owner has for this land we cannot know, but Planning Policy regulations will apply to this land, as to any other.

The future of Chedzoy depends on the commitment of its people, and I hope that the younger generation will consider standing as candidates for Chedzoy’s Parish Council, when the time comes. You must decide how your village needs to develop in the future. Defending the status quo is simple. Shaping the future – more difficult. That needs creative vision, courage, humanity and common sense. As always, we are fortunate in benefitting from the energy and enthusiasm of a growing team of people who organise so much. Their contribution to our communal enjoyment is phenomenal. Long may it continue to sustain Chedzoy as a vibrant community?

4. SCC Report. David Hall reported as follows:
  • It has been a year of financial challenge, although Somerset, together with Sedgemoor is undoubtedly thriving. Unemployment in Sedgemoor is reportedly under 1%. The growing temporary workforce as well as a rapidly expanding population will generate taxes and spending boosts to many areas of the local economy.
  • Adult social care in the county is hugely expensive and people are, happily, living longer.
  • Superfast broadband for Chedzoy is in phase 2 of the connecting Devon and Somerset scheme, but completion may not be achieved for maybe two years. A benefit of having been delayed is that the plans are now to connect each home/premises individually, rather than connection to the junction boxes alone, as at the start.
  • The “Beast from the East”. This came late in the season and managed to use up all the stocks of road grit. The pothole issue has been aggravated by this, and it is important to keep complaining about the problem.
  • Flooding. The bill that was recently advanced in Parliament has failed, but only because of pressure of business, on a technicality.
  • Unitary [council] debate. This is simply a discussion at this stage.
  • Hinkley Point. This is now romping ahead.

    Cllr Terry Oxman brought up the problem of Bridgwater’s roadworks literally driving shoppers down to Taunton to spend their money. David Hall said the roadworks were only temporary and will one day end, and he went on to say the Sedgemoor area itself is very attractive with the river barrier, superfast broadband as well as excellent transport links via the M5 and A303 being close by.
5. SDC Report. Liz Perry said the suggested unitary authority was a worrying concept for the SDC’s worforce as, if progressed, it will clearly have implications for them.

She also said there is a lot of development in Sedgemoor with redundant buildings being converted to residential units.

6. Matters brought forward from the last Annual Parish Meeting. None.

7. Questions from the floor. None.

There being no other business, the meeting was declared closed at 8.10 pm.


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