December 2022 – Chairman’s Christmas Blog

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Hello everyone

We are coming to the end of what has been a year of ups and downs; we participated in the lighting of the beacon and celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a good old-fashioned village fete on the green which was well attended by residents and visitors alike. It was the first real opportunity to get together post COVID-19. The Community Lottery grant enabled us to supply the entertainment free and was lovely to see children enjoying the Punch and Judy show; participating in donkey rides; playing on the bouncy castles and participating in a whole host of other entertainment. The community transport was well utilised by residents, however the unprecedented number of visitors from outside the village did cause us some parking issues. The market stalls stretched from the village green down to St John’s Church which was well organised by Becky Wilshaw, feedback from stall holders and visitors alike was positive. The entertainment went on into the evening, one of the biggest highlights was the appearance of the mobile fish and chip van, we are still negotiating with them to commence weekly visits in Barlaston, watch this space! The event was concluded with the Church and Carol service being held in the Marquee on the Sunday followed by a well-attended community lunch.

It was with great sorrow that we received the news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 8 September. The commemorative Platinum Jubilee bench arrived soon after and is now situated on the green at Orchard Place. Vicar Stewart Jones undertook a heartfelt blessing inviting residents and visitors alike to use the space for contemplation.

The Parish Council will be working with the School, the Canal & River Trust and volunteers in the village to plant trees and shrubs in the village in line with the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.
The Parish Council will meet in the New Year to discuss how we mark King Charles III’s Coronation on 6 May 2023.

Within the village we have exciting news regarding the designated green space behind Meadow Road. After several years of negotiation with the Borough Council, they have now approved the lease of the land to the Parish Council. We are starting the legal process at the moment and will keep you updated with progress. When we are in a position to do so, we will undertake a consultation process to gauge what play equipment residents would like to see on there.

We continue to develop the ‘wild play area’ at the top of the village which has seen the arrival of oak mushrooms and a log bridge. Unfortunately, Martin Evans from Churnet Woodland Crafts who makes the equipment has recently suffered an industrial injury which has delayed the completion of the project until the New Year. We wish Martin a speedy recovery.

We listened to residents and have installed picnic benches on the ‘wild green’ and adjacent to the play area at Barlaston Park. We have seen a number of incidents recently of youths deliberately smashing bottles on the multi-use games area off Flaxman Close, Barlaston Park which has stopped the use of the facility by children, we would like to thank the volunteers for undertaking the clearing of the glass and would welcome residents to keep an eye out and report any anti-social behaviour.

Due to concerns raised regarding the Downs Car Park, the Parish Council have approved the procurement of a CCTV camera to cover the area. We are awaiting approval from the Borough Council to enable us to install this. This will not only deter anti-social behaviour and fly tipping but will protect the wild play area and make the area feel safer for visitors.

Becky Wilshaw started monthly coffee mornings in September at the Methodist Church, which is hosted on the second Wednesday of every month from 10am to 12 noon. Becky is providing free refreshments and a number of market traders make an appearance. Karen the Clerk will be in attendance so if there is anything you wish to raise with the Parish Council go and have a chat. We have asked if the local PCSO can attend, to date they haven’t made an appearance but we’ll keep asking. To address the issue of social isolation, the Parish Council have funded a community transport bus. We are aware a number of residents do not have access to social media so information on events will be published in the various noticeboards around the village. With regards to Barlaston Park, the current noticeboard is deemed not fit for purpose, we are looking at a new board to be housed by the bus stop at the entrance to the Park to address this issue. Wedgwood have kindly approved the installation on their land, however before a board is procured this needs planning approval by the Borough.

Following a campaign by the Parish Council with the assistance of our Planning Consultant, we have successfully fought off the development of 42 ‘affordable houses’ on green belt land at the back of Old Road and Brookhouse Drive. This issue hasn’t gone away, however the Parish Council will continue to fight any planning application in the village which falls outside the a
greed settlement boundary in our Neighbourhood Plan.

We are working to improve the appearance of the Village Hall with the implementation of pitched roof over the entrance porch, the planning application is currently with the Planning Authority.
The Parish Council have continued to support local initiatives with grants including £1000 towards the Cricket Club fireworks event; £250 towards the Community Transport initiative; 50% towards the upkeep of the cemetery grounds; £500 to the Royal British Legion and £500 to Douglas MacMillan. If you feel you have a community initiative we can support, please contact the Clerk.

Sunday 20 November saw Mr Gordon Taylor being presented with the Golden Jubilee Bowl for his contribution towards the safety of children in Barlaston, retrospective bowls were presented to Mrs Lynne Coates and Mrs Chris Donohue. Well done!

The Parish Council continue to liaise with the County Council with regards to safety issues in the village, in particular speeding along Meaford Road, Station Road and Old Road and the safety of our children on Longton Road and the crossing from St John’s Church to Broughton Crescent. The process is slow to say the least and very frustrating. Following the departure of Mr Gordon Taylor as the Crossing Patrol Officer, this has exacerbated the safety issues. As a result the Parish Council have now requested a pelican crossing be installed, the County Council will be visiting the school to determine what actions are required. In the meantime, the Parish Council would like to thank the Speed Watch group for their continued monitoring and reporting of speeding issues in the village, without which would leave us in a weak position regarding campaigning for change.

2022 saw the commencement of the Civic Amenity visits by the Borough Council. We have requested further visits for 2023, dates and times will be published once confirmed.

Following requests for the Christmas cheer to be spread around the village, the Parish Council are looking to plant a Christmas tree on the green at Orchard Place, this will be a long-term project and as such the tree will not be strong enough to take lights for the first few years whilst it gets established. In the meantime, we are investigating the possibility of lighting a tree in the area to compensate.

As always I would like to take this time thank all the volunteers in the village who continue to contribute their valuable time to keep our village looking as beautiful as it does including all the Womblers and individuals who litter pick and Joe Poultney for his amazing floral displays; and to the speed watch teams who continue to campaign for a safer Barlaston; the Village Hall Committee who work tirelessly to keep the village hall functioning and looking great; the Community Group for hosting events; the walking for health groups keeping everyone fit; Becky Wilshaw for coordinating the monthly coffee mornings; the Community Transport team for running our vulnerable residents to appointments, who incidentally are looking for more volunteers if you can spend the time, and to those volunteers who do great works but do so without being part of an organised group. I would also like to thank my fellow Parish Councillors who give up their time to represent the views of their parishioners.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year

Paul Fisher
Barlaston Parish Council