At the October PC Meeting there was only one new planning application to consider. This application described the erection of single storey extensions on both sides of Sunnycroft, Meare Green. The proposal was fully supported by the Parish Council.
Thanks to the comprehensive proposals submitted by Kelly De Silva, we were successful in receiving £1500 from the SALC (Somerset Association of Local Councils). This money will be redistributed among the Scouts, the Environment Group, The Tennis Club and the Baptist Church. Ironically a request for funds for the Church Room was declined due to archaic legislation that prevents the PC contributing to Church assets. We await word on a further application for £5000 for the Willowset.
At the end of September, we had the opportunity to participate in a conference that introduced the project to move to a single (unitary) authority, replacing the current district and county councils. While this is superficially a simple concept the transition is a complex activity with high levels of uncertainty, particularly for a small parish like ours. There may be considerable benefit to be realised, but how this will be achieved against the aggressive timeline envisaged will be subject to clarification over the coming months.
It is true to say that the request for guidance on the allocation of the CIL funds has been disappointing for a subject that potentially impacts the whole community. At the time of the PC meeting only 90 returns of the consultation survey had been received out of four hundred distributed. Furthermore, these returns do not provide clarity on priorities, with responses distributed broadly across the options. More analysis will be made before the results are published.
It is time to start preparing the Budget for the next financial year. It looks likely that we will finish this year close to budget. There will be some increases next year due to the uncertainties around the unitary authority mentioned above, but with the increase in the number of households in the village it is anticipated that the per capita impact will be minimal. One topic which may change this, and which is subject to further discussion, is the potential creation of provisions for young people. If you have a view on this topic or the budget in general, we would like to hear from you. Overall, reserves remain healthy, but will be potentially impacted by the 30mph speed limit at Meare Green once Highways manage to scope the project, which has now been on their desk for over a year.
I hope it has not escaped your notice, but the Phone Box at the playing field has at long last been refurbished and painted. Thanks are due to Trevor Hooper who volunteered to undertake this work and a fine job it is! We are happy to receive any suggestions as to how you think this space can be best used.
Finally, for those of you who walk the paths and byways of Stoke St Gregory, with or without a dog, I am sure you would wish to join the thanks to the footpaths team in the Environment Group who have been steadily cutting back overgrowth at styles and gates. A small be very noticeable improvement.