This report was presented to the Annual Meeting of Parishioners on 1 May 2019 by the Parish Chair, Stuart Dunn.
This is my fourth annual report as Chair. I have to thank all members of this council, particularly our Vice Chair Kay Simpson for her commitment and support in what has been a very challenging year. Thanks also to our supporting members from Durham County Council and to all those volunteers, groups and organisations who are a vital part of our community. It is through our collective efforts that this council has made such progress for the benefit of our communities. Furthermore, I must thank those many individuals who have attended our parish meetings throughout the year, raising issues and concerns that affect their lives. This additional input is also a vital part of making sure our council works for its community. I also thank Sue Downham, Ellie Cutter, and Angela Appleby for their service as councillors who retired throughout the year and welcome to the Council Graham Mills, Darren Brown and Kim Lowes who were co-opted to replace them. Claire, Rachael and Sean left our youth team to take up other opportunities this year, we wish them all well for the future and welcome Sarah Graham to our Youth Team.
What have we achieved?
This year has been another year of consolidation. We have reviewed most of our policies, our administrative and support systems so they meet the needs of the Council and community. Members have again rolled up their sleeves and delivered on identified priorities. Listed below are some of the actions, activities and progress that have been achieved towards delivery
of our Parish Plan 2 Action Plans:
- To commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1 (World War 1) we joined a nationwide Beacon Lighting Event in both Quarrington Hill and Coxhoe. We also commemorated Merchant Navy Day with a special service, and the people of both villages turned out in large numbers to pay their respects at Remembrance Day Services.
- An extra special thanks to Coxhoe History Group for all of the events that they put on this year and we were delighted to support. Of particular mention were the fabulous Women’s Suffragette March and Rally and the Keep the Home Fires Burning play about life in Coxhoe during WW1.
- Coxhoe hosted its first Fireworks event 5 November. This was a Parish Plan 2 priority that the community requested and which was very well attended. Due to the high volume of requests it’s already been booked again for 5 November 2019.
- The Parish Council has committed significant resource to employ a team of youth workers to ensure that Youth Services continue to be provided in our villages. An average of 80 young people enjoy these each week, and excursions that they have been on including Lightwater Valley and Planet Leisure and more.
- Having taken on various pieces of Land around the parish to protect them from development and keep them as green spaces, we continue to make improvements. In partnership with County Cllrs McKeon and Dunn we have installed a power supply on Coxhoe Village Green and erected our first Christmas Tree. Thanks also to St Joseph’s Church.
- To safeguard it from development and restore it for community sports and recreation use we have taken a lease of the Coxhoe Cricket Ground. We were awarded a £7,000 grant to update the semi derelict pavilion, with support from East Durham College Students and local builder Ray Lawson.We are now bidding for grants to fully restore the fields and cricket square.
- We are grateful to the Restorative Justice Team who did a fantastic job clearing the paths around Kingswood. We are commissioning studies on the maintenance and development of Kingswood as part of a wider East Durham Forest project and part of a Heritage Lottery Grant application.
- The Parish Council has continued to provide grant funding to help cover costs, support and improve facilities and activities available to Quarrington Hill Community Centre, Coxhoe Village Hall and the Active Life Centre.For example, Coxhoe Village Hall used their grant to fund an Admin Support Worker and the Active Life Centre used their 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 grants to fund additional gym equipment as part of their gym refurbishment. We have also provided financial support to a number of local groups and teams in the villages such as Quarrington Hill Runners and Run Together in Coxhoe.
- The Council has focussed heavily on Parking this year. We held a multi-agency walkabout 11 July, and a public meeting on 7 November and carried out a residents consultation on Cornforth Lane in January. As a result Durham County Council (DCC) are now carrying out a Statutory consultation on 3 hour waiting limits on the Front Street in Coxhoe. Discussions with the Co-Op about joining the Village Hall car park and their car park have moved a step closer. The Parish Council is also looking at areas of land it owns around Commercial Road and the Front Street areas to increase parking availability. DCC are currently looking at issues in Quarrington Hill.
- Our Facebook, Twitter and Website continue to provide invaluable information to our community. A huge Thank You to Ian Forster for the massive amount of work he puts into this.
The above list provides a snapshot of the main areas of work that the council has progressed and continues to work on.
In terms of finance we have prudently managed our budgets this year to leave us in a position to address future projects whilst making clear progress on the priorities in the Parish Plan. Our Statement of Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2019 will be posted on the Website for all to see and the opportunity exists for any parishioner to examine our financial records by appointment with the Clerk during the exercise of public rights which will take place between 10 June and 19 July 2019.
Finally, thanks to our Clerk, Claire Llewelyn who should shortly gain her professional qualification as a Quality Clerk and Karen Williams who will soon obtain the relevant qualification. They make a very professional Administration Team. Thanks also to our Youth Team. It has been another very busy year for the Council and next year promises to be every bit as challenging as we look to welcome new staff and services to our Council.
Coxhoe Parish Council Chair
Councillor Kay Simpson (Vice-Chair),
Councillor Adrian Hedley
Councillor Barbara Hepplewhite
Councillor Darren Brown Councillor
Councillor Julie Smith
Councillor Keith Pounder
Councillor Wendy Lavelle
Councillor Graham Mills
Councillor Kim Lowes