This is my sixth report and I’ll start with those two important but underused words – thank you – for all the help, support, patience and downright effort over the past 12 months. More on that later. Our Clerk will have the figures about the number of meetings held etc. over the past year. We did not have any presentations from visitors this year but held a number of public meetings on topics of local interest. Again more on those to follow
I’ll begin with two important, often forgotten, points: –
1. that parish councillors are volunteers and
2. Breinton is fortunate to have a council that does not contain fractions with particular interests as is often the case in other local councils I come into contact with.

Once again, the past year has felt busy and, as usual, we’ve spent most of our time on a small number of issues, many of which are on the agenda again tonight.

We have regular discussions on the Hereford Area Plan and the Hereford Transport Package but also dealt with the Rural Areas DPD and Highways England’s major roads network proposals. We’ve produced a list of our priorities for any S106 money due to the parish should there be further development and continued to object to the proposed western bypass for Hereford. We publicised the seven shortlisted routes and their impacts locally. Two public meetings were held in this hall as well as a lecture on the impacts a road would have on Brian Hatton landscapes. We have reviewed our approach to pressure groups so we people are clear about our distinct role and responsibilities as a local Council while continuing to campaign. On issues like these we continue to ‘punch above our weight’ in my view. Unlike many local councils we discuss both strategic and parochial issues. No other parish of our size is so active but then we have much to gain and a lot to lose.

We continue to view planning applications on their merits. I hope the Council will continue to support local residents and oppose inappropriate development where there are grounds to do so. It does appear to have been a quieter year as far as applications are concerned with two small developments being completed and contributing towards seven more units towards our NDP. Specific planning meetings have been few and far between. There is still no news on the Three Elms site but this is expected before Herefordshire’s Planning Committee this summer. We may be close to achieving TPO’s for the avenue of limes along King’s Acre Road. However wouldn’t it be nice if more residents found time for local affairs not simply when they perceive a threat or have a complaint?

Onto more enjoyable things; the annual firework display in November is one of the major public events in the calendar. Our thanks are once again due to Marcus and Kevin and particularly to Rob North, not least for setting off the fireworks and for arranging the insurance upon which the event depends. There are groups of local residents who we only meet on these occasions so they are particularly important as are the drinks and refreshments – thank you to those who did the work.

Progress has been relatively slow on interpretation panels in the parish but decisions have been taken on the additional grit bins requested by residents and a roadside bench at Breinton Common – thank you to an anonymous donor for meeting it’s cost. We’re investigating costs of installing and clearing dog poo bins. In all cases we need to acknowledge any future maintenance liabilities. We are about to make progress in removing Himalayan Balsam along the Wye Valley Walk which I hope will help sustain the widened and fenced path.

As Herefordshire Council finally removes funding for both the Parish Paths Partnership and Extended Lengthsman Scheme I think that our decisions to smooth the financial consequences and retain current standards are justified. Our precept has risen over the period during which grants are removed and although the % increases appear large, the actual amounts are not huge, especially for lower income households. I have not received any complaints about this approach so far and would be pleased to explain it to any local resident who was concerned.

Unfortunately GDPR looks to take up a lot of our time in the months ahead. We will of course continue to treat the small amount of personal data we hold with the greatest of care, exactly as our residents would expect and trust us to do. However there will now be a greater need for paper records, procedures and policies to demonstrate this care should we be challenged and so that we comply with the updated law.

Returning back to where I started and THANK YOU. The list is long and the order is not important but I’d like to thank the following personally and on behalf of the Parish Council:
• To the few members of the public who regularly attending our meetings
• All my fellow councillors for their unfailing support, good humour and knowledgeable – though sometime lengthy – discussions.
• I’d like particularly to thank Bob Matthews for his regular attendance at our meetings despite too frequent clashes with meetings at Credenhill. Not all county councillors are so conscientious.
• Liz as Vice Chair. The time and energy you put into campaigning is an inspiration – Herefordshire’s budget consultations and the Hereford Area Plan / Hereford Transport Package are just two examples of your detailed work. However let’s not forget your continuing ongoing work for the good of the parish
• Parish Council officers paid or otherwise – John Wade our footpaths officer, Tom Davies as internal auditor, Richard Mills our lengthsman and Nicky Geeson as tree warden. We are also blessed with a very good locality steward – Mike Gill – from Balfour Beatty and Nepeta for providing technical support to our website. Both do significantly more than is strictly required.
• First amongst parish officers has to be Graeme Adkin our Parish Clerk – always cheerful, makes sense of our ramblings and often sees / solves problems before we know they exist.

Thank you one and all and my apologies for any significant omissions in this report.

Tony Geeson – Chair Breinton Parish Council 2017 – 2018