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09 May 2019

WELCOME to Fishburn Parish Council’s Annual Report. As a local council, our aim is to provide residents with the best services possible at a local level.

A lot of what we have achieved is regularly contained in the Fishburn News, which is circulated free of charge within the village, e.g. improving the appearance of the cemetery, the bowling green, and recreation grounds; new footpaths and ramp outside the football pavilion; renewing damaged bus shelters at Fishburn Terrace and West Terrace; and planting a Nordmann fir tree on the village green for the Christmas light switch-on event on Wednesday 4th December 2019.

The Parish Council asked a local contractor - East Durham Solutions Limited - to carry out a much-needed refurbishment of the very dilapidated changing rooms at the sports pavilion and the scheduled date for completion of the works is 24th May 2019. The Council applied to other funding organisations, e.g. £5,000.00 from Butterwick Moor Wind Farm Fund, and £7,500.00 from the Neighbourhood Budgets of County Councillors David Brown and John Robinson, to bolster the £30,000.000 which had been set aside from council reserves.

The primary source of income for Fishburn Parish Council comes from the precept, which is a local tax collected by Durham County Council on behalf of the Parish. This money is required to run our council and pays to maintain and improve the facilities, activities, events and services that we provide.  The Council considered the financial needs for 2019-20 and set the precept at £91,000.00. Members did not wish to put an additional tax burden on local people, but felt that there were good reasons for raising payments by a realistic amount.

It is a sad fact that a sizeable chunk of our 2018-19 expenditure went on repairs to public property, street furniture, litter bins, and bus shelters in the village, following several incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour. The Council urges every member of the public to report these incidents to the police and name those responsible - they are costing each and every one of us money which could be better used elsewhere.

The Council regularly receives requests from charities and other organisations for grants or donations. Our resources are wholly derived from public funds, so we granted money from general reserves towards activities which we consider bring direct benefit to the village and its inhabitants.

We have continued to fund £3,000.00 for the vital Citizens Advice County Durham outreach service in Fishburn, which operates from the Community Centre providing life-changing advice for the people of the village on issues such as debt, welfare benefits, consumer, education, employment, family, housing, discrimination, immigration, and health. We have also supported Fishburn Youth & Community Centre with £6,000.00 per annum in each financial year 2018/19; 2019/20; and 2020/21 - matched funding (£1 for £1) - to ensure the youth service remains as successful as it is.

The Council worked in partnership with the Cardiac Arrest Prevention Team at the University Hospital of North Durham to install an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on the front wall of the Community Centre building on Butterwick Road.

We continuously monitor our expenditure, and examine very closely how and where we spend money. Every project has to be considered and evaluated in terms of cost-effectiveness, and benefit to the community at large. We have agreed a budget for the forthcoming financial year, but we must be mindful that we need to be looking at ways to improve facilities in the future.

The Council will be turning its thoughts to the three play areas which require attention; levelling up the remaining older areas of the cemetery that are particularly low and uneven; purchasing additional made-to-order metal hanging baskets for the village green; and installing boulders at the pit wheel fields to prevent damage by off-road-bikes, all terrain vehicles, and horses. The Memorial Children’s Playing Field is a registered charity and new trustees are reviving the charity and preparing a funding application to maintain the play area in partnership with the Parish Council.

Looking forward, the Parish Council has taken the decision to enter the large village category of Northumbria in Bloom competition. During their summer visit in July, the judges will be looking at three sections: horticultural achievement; environmental responsibility; and community participation, so please be proud of your community and join in.

S. E. Landscaping Limited (Shildon) has been re-engaged for grounds maintenance services from 1st April 2019. Scott Ellwood’s company has won several awards through Northumbria in Bloom. We conduct regular inspection visits at all parish council owned areas and any issues or complaints are dealt with straight away.

We will be going ahead with a plan for a gas beacon on the village green which has been proposed by parish councillor Stephen Tinkler as a commemorative landmark for special events in the village such as Victory in Europe (VE) Day 75 on 8th May 2020.

County Councillors David Brown and John Robinson attend meetings of the Parish Council when they can to give a report of matters of interest and are often asked to liaise with officials at Durham County Council on behalf of the Parish Council. Unfortunately, the Neighbourhood Police Team no longer attends local parish council meetings to give a summary of reported crimes; incidents of note; and anti-social behaviour; they only give crime statistics at Police and Community Trust and Area Action Partnership meetings. 

The Parish Council has 11 council 'seats'. A casual vacancy arose due to the non-attendance of James Willcock. We said good-bye to Vivienne Anderson and thanked her for her hard work on behalf of the Parish Council. We have been pleased to welcome three new councillors: Andrew Dillon; Kathleen Dowson; and Sandra Dowson, who have already made important contributions to the council’s increasing workload, and we currently have one remaining vacancy in the office of councillor.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank councillors for their support throughout the past year. Residents are welcome to attend our monthly meetings which are held on the second Thursday of each month (except August) in the meeting room at Fishburn Community Centre, Butterwick Road, Fishburn, County Durham, TS21 4ED, at 6.30 p.m.

Councillor Andrew Pearson

Chairman of Fishburn Parish Council

9th May 2019

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