October 2020 Chairman’s Blog

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‘Chairman’s Blog’

Picture of Gareth Jones

Covid-19

Recent announcements by the Prime Minister indicate that we can expect to live under the threat of coronavirus for the next six months and that we will all have to follow the social distancing guidelines. In Barlaston we have a very good record of supporting one another and I hope that this will continue. Over the past few months strong networks have been established throughout the Village and these need to be maintained and if possible strengthened.

Extra vigilance needs to be directed towards the vulnerable, the frail and those living alone without local family networks around them. The message needs to be that it is OK to ask for help with shopping, prescription collection and transport etc. The local voluntary transport scheme is now much stronger in its ability to provide support both in terms of local lifts but also for shopping/prescription and other collections or drop-offs. If the need arises, the PC will re-group with St. John’s Church and the Barlaston Community Group (Covid-19 Action Group) to provide extra support for those that need it.

We are being encouraged to make appointments to have the winter flu jabs as this can give added protection. Please make arrangements to get protected – this can be done by appointment at the Doctor’s surgery as well as Kitson’s Pharmacy, either walk-in if they’re not busy or also by appointment.

Please continue to follow ‘the rule of six’ in terms of social contacts. There are exemptions to this (e.g. outside exercise can be in groups of up to 30) and the Community Group assure me that any activities put on by them are legal and have been appropriately risk assessed.

The official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing App for England and Wales is now available. It is the fastest way of knowing when you’re at risk and the quicker you know, the quicker you can alert family and friends, and your community. The more of us that use it, the better the virus can be controlled – it’s free to download from the App Store and Google Play.

Village Hall

Picture of the new Village Hall Clock Tower

The Village Hall is undergoing a major programme of internal and external refurbishment. The most obvious visible effect is the restoration of the clock tower. This work has been delayed partly by the very wet weather early in the year but more particularly by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The drainage problems that have beset the Hall have been addressed and internally there will be a new ceiling, a repaired floor and extensive redecoration (partly done by the BVH Committee volunteers).

The Parish Council is paying for the repair of the fabric of the building whilst the Village Hall Committee is covering the cost of the internal work from accumulated funds. The Village Hall is well used and the whole village will benefit from this programme of work.

Unfortunately, it has been necessary to close the Village Hall car park while the work is ongoing and alternative parking arrangements have been made with the Church. It has long been considered dangerous to have young children around traffic in this confined space and the escalating number of incidents confirm this. The Parish Council is also looking at ways to provide access to those walking their children to school and will keep you updated.

Station Road

Pictures of Wedgwood Memorial College

The Wedgwood Memorial College has been closed for nearly ten years and the site has been for sale for some time. There are some signs that a sale is imminent. As the College provided some facilities to the Village when it was open the Parish Council has registered the site as being an Asset of Community interest. The College sites are at the heart of the village and there is a great local interest in how they are developed. As you are probably aware, they have been identified in the approved Neighbourhood Plan as potential development areas and therefore any future developer will need to pay due regard to this. 

Church Appointment

Picture of Matthew Parker

The Archdeacon of Stoke, Matthew Parker, has been announced as the new Bishop of Stafford. He is already well known in Barlaston and will shortly be moving into Broughton Crescent. He will be installed into office early in the New Year and we wish him well.

Play Area

Picture of the new play area

The play area adjacent to the Downs Car Park is now complete and ready for use. The facility has been inspected by RoSPA and passed. The simple nature of the material and design is intended to compliment the natural environment and encourage children’s imagination for play. We hope this will be a valuable addition to the leisure amenities in the village. The Parish Council is currently giving consideration to developing further sites for families in other locations in the Village.

Wild Flowers

Pictures of Wild Flower areas

It has long been an aspiration of the Parish Council to follow other rural villages in North Staffordshire in developing ‘wild flower’ areas in public places. Previous attempts have not been successful but further advice has been taken. Areas on the Green and Meaford Road are being prepared for sowing and it is hoped that the Village will benefit from a display next Spring. If this project is successful, consideration will be given to areas in Barlaston Park and in the vicinity of Meadow Road. 

Traffic 

Speed Watch continues to be very active in the Village and the Parish Council is grateful to David Norman and his team for their surveillance and the reports that they prepare for the police. Great concern is felt about the speeds recorded in Meaford Road from both inbound and outbound traffic and are much worse than in other routes through the village. The Parish Council remains committed to work with other agencies, particularly the police in engineering a solution to the problem.

Crossing Patrol

The Parish Council have been working with Staffordshire County Council to facilitate a crossing patrol for Barlaston First School. The trial has gone well, and County have now agreed to fund the position due to the demand.

As part of the provision of the Crossing Patrol, it was a pre-requisite to close the gate at the back of the village hall ear park for drop off/pick up. As a result, there have been a number of issues raised from residents on Broughton Crescent not being able to access their drives and parents finding a parking space at St John’s difficult. As such, we have recommended the School commence a ‘walking bus’ scheme where parents can drop off/ pick up their children from St John’s car park without the need to stay. The County Council are happy to support us in this scheme and the Parish Council would assist in the provision of Hi-Viz vests. We are awaiting confirmation from the School with regards to this project.

Drainage

Some progress has been made with the County Council in developing a strategy to deal with the major drainage problems that beset the Village. It is hoped that in the short term a remedial programme can be developed with the County Council to address the most severe problems and I will update you of progress on a regular basis.

My intention in producing an informal monthly blog is primarily to keep residents abreast of the issues currently being addressed by the Parish Council. In a busy and active village like Barlaston good communication is of the essence to give clarity of direction and avoid misunderstandings – I hope you have found it helpful. The objective is to publish at the beginning of each month.

Please give feedback through your Ward Councillor or email the Parish Clerk on: barlastonparishclerk@gmail.com

Gareth Jones