PC Report January

Possibly the most significant decision at our January meeting was to make available £3000 to the Heart of the Village team to help them cover the costs of continuing preparations for a community shop and (maybe) pub. Not all councillors were enthusiastic about this, but the majority that were saw it as essential to support this project. Making it work will certainly be an uphill struggle, but the potential benefits to the village could resound for generations. (There is more information in the News section of the website and on the HOTV page.)

As reported previously, Highways has been shedding various responsibilities in response to Somerset County Council’s budget contraction. One of these is the provision of road grit, and as the cold weather closes in around us the PC has decided to purchase more grit bins to keep salted road grit in readiness on three of the steeper roads in the village: Grigg’s Hill, Denman’s Hill and Polkesfield. We were bracing ourselves for a decision on the more general gritting of roads since Highways had informed us that they would no longer be gritting the stretch from North Curry to Stoke, but it appears that they may have relented on this. As ever however, drivers need to take great care in cold weather, and not make any assumptions about what has and has not been gritted.

We also considered buying a “Speed Indicator Device” to flash up the speed of passing cars on one or more roads in the village. These are expensive and have to be swapped around regularly since it is considered bad practice to leave them on one site for more than a few months. We decided first to see what results we got from the Speed Watch group before splashing out on a SID. If you would like to help with roadside speed monitoring (high-vis jacket provided!) or if you have thoughts on the subject generally, please contact Ann Finn.

Some residents may be aware of the recently started “Somerset Wood” on 23 acres of land in Cheddon Fitzpaine and West Monkton. This is a response to the anniversary of the end of the First World War, the idea being “a lasting memorial to those from Somerset who fought and fell”. All Somerset Parish Councils are being invited to contribute costs or help in kind, in proportion to the number of their residents lost. (More information is to be found on the SCC website) The PC is considering our response, and we would be glad to hear the thoughts of residents—on this or any other matter.

Parish Council elections come round in May every four years, and 2019 is an election year. It is a point of pride that of 51 parishes in Taunton Deane, Stoke St Gregory was one of only 9 to have an elected PC in 2015 —in the remaining parishes there was no competition for seats. We believe that having an elected PC is a very good thing since it helps to keeps parishioners in touch with those who are representing them, and we would like to encourage others to come forward and stand for election in 2019. In some senses, being a parish councillor is a thankless task: it is unpaid, some of the issues faced are tedious, and the scope for action is constrained while potential criticism for not acting the “right way” is not. But someone has to do it and there are rewards in helping to nudge things in the right direction. If you care about the village and would like to be involved in making it a better place, please consider putting your name forward, whatever your age or experience. It is healthy for the PC to be refreshed with new faces from time to time. Details about how to apply will appear on the website as the time approaches.

This is also election year for District Councillors, and it was decided that at this year’s Annual Parish Meeting on 16 April, instead of a single speaker we would provide a platform for all the candidates to say a few words and explain why we should vote for them. Depending on who turns up and how long things take, this may apply also to Parish Council candidates, but there will be no compulsion, so please do not let that put you off.