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Annual Parish Meeting Reports – 19 April 2016

Bressingham and District Ladies Club – Jan Hewitt, Chairman

It is very good to report that our membership remains constant at 35. Sadly, we lost Pam Bowgett this year and Jan Delasalle has moved to France. It is great that we have two new members and we frequently welcome visitors to our meetings. Our club exists to bring people from our villages and surrounding area together; we would love to include some younger ladies in our membership.We have enjoyed a very varied and enjoyable programme during the last year. Rachel Duffield, in role as Marie Lloyd provided a brilliant musical evening. Paul and Jan Sumpter shared their experience of following the spectacular wildebeest migration in Tanzania and a donation was sent to the Nepal Earthquake appeal. Jenny Gibbs told us about her life in Turkey and in July we visited the wonderful Sea Mere gardens in Hingham – a designated SSSI.In August we revived the Garden party, held in the beautiful garden of Sharon and Dave Cole and it was an idyllic Summer’s day. The history of Buckingham Palace was explained at our September meeting and in October we welcomed actress, Helen Fraser who described her career and gave us a wonderful flavour of her work with so many famous actors. A cookery demonstration and a Regency Christmas with fascinating readings and poetry completed 2015. We also celebrated Christmas by dining together at the Brome Grange Hotel – a very well supported and enjoyable evening. Ian Carstairs gave us a brilliant, illustrated talk about the North Yorks Moors National Park and Lucy Redman enthused the keen gardeners amongst us with her knowledge of garden design and spring plants. The Annual Supper in April was a lovely evening of excellent food and lively quizzes.We have raised £150 to present to Annie Chapman at our AGM. Cancer Research is a cause very close to our hearts and we will hear about Annie’s work and the Pink Tractor Run.I would like to offer huge thanks to the committee who have all worked so hard throughout the year. Jean Brown is retiring from her roleWe are delighted that Sharon Cole is willing to be our Chairman for the coming year.

Afternoon Club Report – Reg Brock

The Afternoon Club was founded to create a friendly, informal setting accessible to all the Community by offering a wide range of games, crafts and other activities where everyone is brought together around tables over a chat, cuppa and cakes. Conceived in 2015 operating under the umbrella of the Village Hall, it has received strong support and backing from its members, the Village Hall Committee and the Parish Council. Our ‘hands on’ craft workshops have been an instant success and are always in demand.

Starting in February 2016, initially on a trial monthly basis, we have achieved a very good attendance of between 30 and 40 on each occasion. Despite its infancy, the club continues to evolve by encouraging full member participation, introducing change as well as new ideas where needed and reflecting the aspirations of its members – these are core principles we intend to adhere by to ensure the Club does not stagnate. After just three meetings, we have established an ongoing demand for this wide mix of activities and bonhomie. Financial viability is looking sustainable thanks to generous assistance from the Community with start up costs and good attendance figures.

We have many exciting developments for the future including outdoor  activities, social events and, at a later stage, fundraising for the benefit of worthwhile causes in the Parish. The introduction of these will take place in agreement with members and opportunities will be afforded for them to take an active part with specific responsibility.

Our thanks goes to everyone in the Community who have helped us, especially our band of loyal volunteers, without whom the running of the Club would just not be possible.Looking to the future, we will be consolidating our Club with a formalised Committee and constitution. The strong level of support means there is a good possibility of introducing a further meeting each month. We are also addressing ways of encouraging more men to come through the door for the first time, where we are sure they will enjoy the experience and atmosphere. We currently offer darts, cribbage, dominoes and table skittles as well as delicious home baked cakes, but none of these seem to offer appeal.

Bressingham Village Hall – Brad Roberts, Chair, Bressingham and Fersfield Village Hall Committee

First of all I just want to thank all the groups, organisations and the Parish Council for all their understanding and help during the repairs of the village hall that commenced last year due to the collapsing of the gable wall. The committee is now undertaking a yearly inspection by a professional to monitor the building and hopefully rectify anything that may come up before it becomes a serious problem.

The Village hall is running rather well at the moment with many groups and organisations utilising the hall. We had many events running throughout the year including the anniversary of the village hall committee, Flower show, quiz nights, Murder mystery (one of which is coming up Saturday) and our Yearly Pantomime.

As always we are happy to welcome any new potential committee members and again I would like to thank everyone for their support and hope to see many of you at all or some of our upcoming events this year. Thank you.

Bressingham and Fersfield Website – Margaret Harris

The website continues to be an excellent way of communicating all the news and events taking place in our community. It is updated:

  • as soon as we hear about things of interest or receive emails from people who are organising events
  • weekly with
    • The Team News for the parishes of Bressingham, Diss Fersfield, North and South Lopham, and Roydon
    • The Bressingham School Report
    • The Bi-monthly Cock Crow
    • The Six-monthly Diss Corn Exchange Entertainment Programme plus weekly features on films being shown.

Liz Handy does an excellent job at chasing people for information and recently Laura Gosman has been using her skills to interview members of the community and write these up for the website together with very interesting articles on being a disabled resident.

E-newsletters are sent out as and when we feel they would give a boost to a particular event or news item.  We continue to use Mailchimp, as it is a free online facility and the mailing list currently stands at 201. Anyone can easily unsubscribe from receiving these e-newsletters as there is a facility at the bottom of each e-newsletter sent.

In the past 12 months we have created dedicated menu options for Planning and Our Churches and removed the Market Place page as it wasn’t being utilised by the community. The Planning page is regularly updated with information sent through by Mike Mortimer, Parish Clerk.    

The Archive pages list items of news alphabetically and interviews with members of the community making them accessible at all times – they are accessed often by visitors to the site. Google Analytics shows in a past 30-day period we had:

  • 570 visits made to the website and the total number of pages viewed during these visits is 3,114
  • 44% are new visitors – 55% are returning visitors – it is good to see the returning visitor numbers increasing which indicates that people feel the site is a useful information source.
  • On average, site visitors spend over 2 mins on the website
  • Site visitors viewed the website via the following sources: 63% via desktop PC; 22% via tablet; 14% via mobile – the tablet and mobile viewings have increased since last year so at some time in the future when the figures are higher, consideration will have to be given to making the website fully responsive ie it automatically adjusts to fit whichever device it is being viewed on and reduces the amount of scrolling for visitors.  This can be a costly exercise and is not felt to be required at this moment in time.

Richard Hewitt, Chairman Parish Council

We have said goodbye to our previous chairman, Jan de la Salle, who with husband Tony has moved abroad for a while.  Jan did a fantastic job, and we thank her and put on record our gratitude to her. At the same time, I thank our Parish Council members, and our clerk, Mike Mortimer, for their continued hard work and dedication and for their efforts and achievements, much of which is behind the scenes.

Your Parish Council has comparatively few operational facilities over which it has statutory control, but we do liaise with and function closely with the District Council (Planning, etc.) and the County Council (Highways, etc.)  In her report last year, Jan de la Salle said there was disappointment with the condition of roads and verges, and signage and gritting, and that planning was a frustrating  process. There is more liaising and functioning with the two ‘big’ councils to be done!

2015-2016 has been busy, apart from the council’s change of personnel.  I think we operate in four identifiable areas: our own defined responsibilities (you will hear from the allotments association, for instance); those things for which we encourage those agencies and major councils who are responsible to do their best job;  our support for organisations and individuals within the parishes, like the village hall committee and our general concern for the health, wellbeing, life quality and happiness of our residents.

Some examples for this last year across the four areas include:  we monitor and support the Allotment Association, who have taken considerable and effective responsibility for their operation and facilities; we are involved in giving advice to SNDC for local planning – ongoing issues include the wedding venue and the future of ‘Chequers’ and issues affecting environmental quality like the bungalow plot near the Village Hall; we encourage local involvement such as verges, roads, potholes, re-instatement of our environment after such assaults as cable-laying and we seek positive moves like partnership with the County Council to improve the verges and access in key locations like the cemetery entrance in Fersfield and drainage on the A1066;  involvement with our two main charities; support for the Village Hall, the Open Gardens, ‘Anglia in Bloom’, the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and the innovative and much-admired Tuesday Afternoon Club.

Upcoming challenges include balancing the cohesion and individuality of our two villages, planning development for such things as our local pub, taking initiatives in localisation, preserving our treasured heritage – churches, trees, hedges, buildings, highways,( as ever!),  nurturing our community spirit and securing the best available budgets to cater for all sections and ages of the local population.

We thank the local community for the support, encouragement and resources you give us.

Report from Barry Stone, District Councillor for Bressingham & Burston

Since being elected last year I have been very busy but pleasurable time getting to know the area more thoroughly, meeting residents and business organisations, attending Parish Council meetings and parish functions. I have also responded to numerous queries and problems from individual residents, particularly planning issues.
Planning Issues: As a member of the Development Management Committee I have been involved in many South Norfolk planning applications, but more especially I have responded to numerous queries locally. I always listen to applicant’s issues and give my advice where applicable, but I cannot go against planning law. I have spoken in committee in support of local communities several times with varying degrees of success always taking into account the fact that the full committee has the final vote.
Members’ Ward Budget: During the year I have responded to several requests for funding from my Councillor Grant fund of £1000 and two organisations where successful in being awarded small sums of money. Once again this year we have an allocation of £1000 plus I have a £300 carry over, so any community organisation can apply via me for a small grant.
Pot Holes: These are an ongoing problem raised by many Parish Councils and for information we managed to secure a £1.5m fund in the County budget and government has just given another £1.6m to Norfolk for further work. Still not enough but we should be able to fix the worst.
Flooding: has been another frequent complaint and I have passed all reports to the relevant County Council officers for remedial work where possible
Schools: As a member of the County Council Children’s Services committee I have visited schools and undertaken training on new National Curriculum tests and assessment procedures for Key Stages 2 and 4 coming into operation in summer 2016. These new regulation are likely to have a profound impact on local children as they move towards a more attainment based structure and value added teacher assessment
Highways: I have dealt with numerous requests for major improvements such as reducing speeding, parking issues, road safety, roundabout and bus stop provision. In particular the provision of the roundabout on the A146 at the junction with George Lane and 50 mph restrictions on the A146 further up at the junction with Mill Road
Parish Partnership Scheme: This is administered by the County Council but has relevance to all Parish Councils so my apologies if it infringes on the County Councillors report.
Funding of £380,000 for 122 small scale highway projects across Norfolk was approved by councillors in March.
The money, from the county council’s Parish Partnership scheme, will be matched by Parish and town councils who were invited in June 2015 to put in bids for funding for schemes important to their local area. The most popular bids have been for vehicle activated signs, which has seen 44 applications for signs which in most cases are to remind drivers of their speed.  This year the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership contributed £80,000 towards these bids, boosting the total available Parish Partnership funding to £380,000.  Other popular schemes are Trods with 24 bids put in for this simplified, lower-cost alternative to footways.  And helping to promote safety at schools will be part-time advisory 20mph.
I am pleased to report that the Parish Partnership Scheme will be once more be available this financial year although the amount has not yet been fixed or announced. My advice would be to get your bids in early for any projects you have.

Report by Beverley Spratt, Norfolk County Councillor, West Depwade

The building of the NDR has started and should be complete in two years and will help people to reach the Norfolk coast. Adult social services has a budget of £300 million and an extra £6 million from the rise in the Council Tax.

The new Norfolk County Council website should help to get pot holes repaired quicker and more efficiently.

Devolution is an ongoing situation. At the moment there seems to be a stumbling block with the Mayor issue but the government insists that without the mayor there will be no benefits from the devolution bill.It looks likely that all primary schools will be academies in due course including Forncett.

Bressingham Primary School – Gavin King, Head Teacher

Since last April there have been many positive changes and improvements in school. We enjoyed meeting parish councillors at the opening of our allotments and our new teaching room in the autumn term. Our gardening club is now established and preparing for the Bressingham Open Gardens event. Our new classroom is used every morning to teach a Year 2 class. In fact from September we will be able to split our Year 1/2 class into a Year 1 class and a Year 2 class. This will help us improve further.

This year we plan to extend this further by converting our large, hall cupboards into another teaching space. We will also be converting our toilets so that there is access from the hall and from the field. This will allow the building and grounds to be used more by the community, without the need to open the whole building. This will then allow us to continue to grow the numbers in our school and provide smaller class groups throughout. We currently have 105 pupils and seek to increase this to 140 over the coming years.

Our SATs results last year put us in the top 1000 schools in the country and were our best ever. Our external review by the Local Authority suggested that we might achieve outstanding at our next inspection.

This year school council have been working on improving our active play area on the field. This will be installed this summer to provide pull up bars, monkey bars and a rope tunnel. In addition we are seeking to improve our Early Years physical development provision outside. We are always on the lookout for reasonably priced handy folk who can help us with small DIY jobs around the school.

Over the year we have significantly improved our outside space by clearing and developing underused areas and by adding a land drain to the school field. This means that the field can be used for sports virtually all year round. We also added a bird hide so that the children can observe the nature area through binoculars during their play times.

Our friends group, FABs, has been very active and has raised about half of the money needed to convert our serving kitchen into a production kitchen. This will allow us to have food cooked on site and will provide facilities for the community and for school cooking lessons. A National Lottery bid is being prepared for the remainder of the money.

We carried out a major consultation with parents last term and the main action point from that will be that next year we will set up regular, established parent support sessions across all year groups covering topics such as ‘how to help your child in maths.’

After-school activities are flourishing. We have a breakfast club from 7.30am and after school clubs for all ages until 4.15pm. This half-term we have a total of 18 clubs covering a wide range of sporting and non-sporting activities. This, alongside our flexible start to the day, will hopefully ease some of the traffic problems all schools experience. We have also changed our sports coaching and now employ Norwich City Community Sports. They provide an excellent service and you may have spotted our cross-country runners running past the shop on a Monday evening.

We have developed good links with the church and the high school. Canon Billet and Dr Hunt attend regularly and lead assemblies alongside other shared activities. The school continues to work closely with schools in the Diss Cluster and with the Acorn Cooperative Learning Alliance. Within this group we have developed effective moderation of assessments as well as peer inspection of one another’s schools.
Also this year, we reorganised staffing to reduce the proportion of teaching assistants to children and increase the proportion of teachers to children. One member of staff left to become Head of School at an academy.

Our 100 memorable events  are now fully established within our curriculum and reported on annually to parents. Children enjoy school and attendance is very high, with mostly outstanding behaviour. This year we have introduced philosophy for children; we have used the Premier League Reading Stars programme to inspire boys to read more and we have established swimming in Key Stage 1. By the end of last term 70% of pupils in Key Stage 1 could swim 25 metres.We are always looking for ways to involve the school in the community more and community is one of the key drivers within our curriculum so any collaboration is always welcome.

The Village Hall Drama Group – report from Brenda Webb

We are still going in this our 30th year. We performed two Murder Mysteries last year with the usual very popular hot supper. Always a sell out. It is no different this year as we are doing another on the 23rd of this month.

The Pantomime “Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Persons” was again a success. We acquired some new members which was excellent, they had experience of ‘am dram’ which made life easy especially for the Directors. We had two directors as one had baby minding duties in London.

The cast really gave it their all which shows in the performances. One young member of the merry band “Silent but Deadly” was a real pleasure to watch.

Again the nett profit was very good £1400, including the advertising revenue. This goes back as always to the Village Hall.

We are soon starting rehearsal on a play which we hope to perform September or early October before we get back into the Panto mode.

So anyone wishing to tread the boards or if you know of anyone please contact me, you will find details on the Bressingham and Fersfield website – click here

Allotment Association – report from Michelle Lanchester

On the allotments this current year:

  • Pathways were mostly completed but still maintaining and will be ongoing.
  • Section of driveway by horse field gate was relaid with crushed concrete with thanks to the loaning of a digger from Mr Aves and digger driver Matt Perfitt.. Whilst the work was carried out we had at least 2 members on site all the time for health and safety reasons. Michelle, Chair, was present for both days aswell as other allotment holders including maintance team.
  • The base for the maintenance shed was laid ready as a summer project, which will contain 2 Ibc  tanks to supply  more rain water for allotment holders.
  • There are discussions in place to build  shelters around the allotment site to supply more free rainwater to allotment holders.
  • There is a grass cutting rota put in place with maintenance team to keep up to date  with cutting communal areas to prevent weed spread and general tidiness.
  • We have lost  a few plot holders due to illness and general lack of time, but we have been in discussion with keeping vacant allotments tidy as well as benefiting new plot holders to their plots.
  • A committee meeting is is to be held every 2 months to discuss issues and general maintenance.
  • Fundraising schemes are currently being discussed amongst the committee.
  • There has been a change in the committee with a new Vice Chair person, new Treasurer and Secretary.
  • Driveway from car park to the newly laid crushed concrete is due to be relaid.
  • Fundraising: we are holding a jumble sale/plant sale on 4 th June which will be held at  the village hall.
  • We currently have 3 allotments to rent – advertising has gone out via Facebook and we are currently looking into paper ads.
  • We currently were approached by the afternoon club who kindly gave us vegetable seeds to allotment holders.

We wish to thank Pat Mendham and Jeremy Green  for their kindness with hedge cutting/ ditch cutting.

We also like to thank Fersfield church for the usage of church for meetings/ AGM.

Tasks for 2016-2017 (April):

  • Maintenance shed
  • Cut hedges/ ditches
  • Driveway
  • Install gate

Tasks already completed from April 2015-2016:

  • Number plots
  • Bank which was agreed by Jan
  • Base for maintenance shed
  • Sort paths
  • Ditches/ hedges cut for the year