As your Mayor, I present my annual report. It has been another busy and, I feel, successful year for the Town Council. I would particularly like to draw attention to the following matters.
Last year, Martin Cade stood down as Councillor as he and Ann relocated out of the area. I would like to thank Martin for his contribution to Council’s work over a number of years. This gave rise to a casual vacancy and we were very fortunate that two excellent candidates came forward from which Sam Mashford was appointed.
Your current Councillors are, apart from Sam and me, Honor Byford, Lorna Skelton, Nigel Hopper and Greg Fortune. There is a vacancy following the recent election process which Council will shortly advertise and fill by co-option. I would like to thank Simon Wheeler for his work as Councillor during his term of office.
A year ago we were able to resume monthly face to face meetings in the Key Centre. Council has agreed to reduce the number of meetings in the year from 10 to 7 which allows more time for actions to be completed in between. Previously meetings were held on the last Wednesday of each month but, whilst still on Wednesday, are now staggered so, if you wish to come along and ask a question or simply see what happens, please check meeting dates on our website and noticeboards. Also, due to the amount of business being conducted, our meetings now start at 6.30pm rather than 7pm. There is an ‘open forum’ for up to15 minutes at the start of each meeting for statements to be made or questions asked by residents.
If you wish to follow what we do, all our minutes are published on the Council’s website and summarised in the Darlington & Stockton Times.
The highlights of the past year can be summarised as follows.
- With the Joint Rectors and others, Council continued to work with a group of volunteers to help shop and generally support residents deal with the Covid restrictions. Demand for their services has been limited but it is a credit to our community that volunteers have come forward.
- The burial ground was constructed, building a new stone wall and a paved path and is now open. Arrangements for burials should be made through a funeral director. If you wish to purchase an exclusive right of burial, please speak to our Clerk.
- Moors Lease. Council is renegotiating the lease with the Trainers for a further 10 years.
- As you may be aware, the trustees have recently retired and I would like in particular to thank Mike and Lesley Sweeting whose work over the past 12 years has been vital in ensuring its viability. Some Councillors have been appointed trustees on an interim basis and are conducting a business revie, the outcome ill be reported to residents in a few months’ time.
- Council successfully lobbied for a new litter bin by the school to be installed in about 6 weeks’ time.
- Lobbying RDC and NYCC on various matters, including bins, road surfaces
- A successful Spring clean was held in February. I would like to thank the helpers for the contribution to keeping the town tidy.
- Super Feast and Platinum Jubilee. Tickets for seniors’ lunch are being sold and a full programme of events is being planned which will be announced next week.
- New Play Area equipment. Everyone will have seen our existing ne equipment. Kathy Wheeler and the other members of the committee did a very good job raising over £30,000 of funding and selecting such a striking design.
- Council marginally increased the annual precept from £12,000 to £12,250, the first rise since 2019. Councillors are responsible for setting a budget and whilst our planned activity is very much on a ‘business as usual’ basis with prudent assumptions for both income and expenditure, we were faced with a general increase in costs.
- Middleham Herald. I would like to thank Cllr Honor Byford for editing a more frequent Herald during lockdown. Councillors have continued to deliver door to door in the town.
That is all that I have to say. I would be very pleased to take any questions.
Cllr Sue Fairhurst, Mayor