From our new Chairman…
Hello. It is all a little strange to be the new Chairman, and I am very grateful to residents for electing me to the Council and to fellow councillors for trusting me as their Chair. A little bit about me. I am a non-working partner in one of the Big 4 accounting firms. I spent most of my career in Eastern Europe, including 12 years based in Moscow. I became very ill about seven years ago and had to drop out of work, and in 2019 I had a (successful) heart transplant. Helping the Parish Council seems like a good way to give a little something back, and I now have fewer hours on airplanes!
Milborne Port has had a lot more than its fair share of new buildings and I have done my best to ensure that those that go through are as good as they can be and that those that are less good for our wider community are rejected. The Parish Council is just a consultee and has no decision-making rights on planning. We currently have two significant applications coming, along Wheathill Lane (in addition to the 65 residences approved with Redcliffe Homes), and along Court Lane. Fortunately, the developers of both have been kind enough to involve the Parish Council in their plans and I feel this has helped. Do please look at the South Somerset District Council website and register your views on the applications as they develop. We will continue to work with the developers and to assess the merits of the final applications as to whether we support them.
There is an ongoing issue with phosphates in our area and until this is solved it is unlikely that any major applications will be given the final sign-off; this means that across South Somerset as a whole there is now less than 5 years housing supply and hence South Somerset’s Local Plan is viewed as redundant in assessing applications. Given the move to a Unitary Somerset, there will not be a new Local Plan for some years and we are therefore somewhat vulnerable to speculative planning applications as a Parish. We met recently with the acting Head of Planning at South Somerset District Council and he strongly advised us to reignite the Neighbourhood Plan which had stalled with the Covid crisis; this will give our community much more say in planning issues affecting Milborne Port Parish and will be something of a focus over the next 18 months.
The precise details of how a Unitary Somerset will work are evolving but it has been outlined that the County will be providing a base level of cover for services and that enhancements to those services will be possible by parishes and towns, either individually or in groups. There is a series of meetings being held to explore further how these might work and whether Milborne Port will wish to be involved and if so, how. We will keep you updated.
Parish Councils have relatively few powers and relatively few obligations. One of the main statutory requirements we have is to consider the environmental and ecological obligations of any actions we take. This is both a heavy and a somewhat vague burden. We have been planting trees and trying to ensure that the management of our public spaces and verges is as eco-friendly as possible. The solar farm makes the parish as a whole quite carbon positive. We are also looking at building-based solar panels to make the Parish Council at least carbon neutral going forward and once again considering trying to establish a safe cycle route to Sherborne.
During the Covid period many community activities went into hibernation. Historically, the Parish Council has given small grants to community groups to assist them in helping our parish to be a better place. We would very much like this to start again, so please do ask. We have slightly underspent as a Parish during Covid, and though the repairs to the Town Hall roof have eroded some of that, we are keen to see our clubs, societies and groups reinvigorated. Do please follow up with the amazing Simon and Nathalie, our Clerk and Deputy Clerk.
Management of the Recreation Ground is properly a matter for the Trustees, but the Parish Council does still have residents expressing concern about the vexed question of ‘poop’. We would encourage residents to follow the rules and keep your dog on a lead at the Rec, not because you do not clear up after it, but because some others do not, and it is a lot more embarrassing to ignore Rover’s doings if he is on a lead. If all dogs are on leads, it will therefore probably mean less ‘poop’ where the Parish plays sport.
I am very much looking forward to serving our Parish. My family has been made incredibly welcome since we moved here in 2006. The Parish Council is here to try to help. We do not always get everything right and we cannot always solve all the ills of the world – but we can try. I am deeply indebted to the three chairmen since I have been a councillor – John, Richard and Austin – and I hope I may stand lightly on their considerable shoulders as we go forward in this wonderful place to live.
Tim Carty, Chairman of Milborne Port Parish Council