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Season’s Greetings to all in the Parish

The Parish Council has been working hard on a variety of projects over the past year.  Residents will hopefully have noticed that the Library has finally moved out of the bus in the car park and into the downstairs room at the Town Hall.  This is a distinct improvement for both users and the library’s staff, and we wish them, and the Friends of Milborne Port Library, all well, and also thank the WI for being so accommodating in sharing the space.  As many will recall, much of the cost of the Library has been borne by the Parish Council out of your precept, and we hope that electricity bills will be reduced by the move.

Many of the larger applications for developments in the Parish have been put on hold with the ongoing issue over phosphates, and we do not know when this will be resolved.  There are still two current applications – at Wheathill Lane (supported), and at Court Lane (opposed).  After delays as a result of Covid, many will have noticed that work has started on the approved application, on the corner of Wheathill Lane and Station Road, which when complete will include a new Community Hub, and potentially a new commercial premises, in addition to 65 houses.

In 2022 some funds from past developments have been spent at the Gainsborough Play Area, predominantly on fencing, and at the Springfield Rec, on pitch improvement.  In the New Year we will be spending a little over £50,000 for new equipment at the Springfield Play Area and this should be installed in the next couple of months.  A little later in the year, we hope to install a new Youth Shelter as well.  We continue with plans for the extension of the Sports Pavilion, and there are a number of smaller developer-funded projects.

There have been continuing issues with dog mess.  The rules at the Rec are that dogs must be kept on a lead (as distinct from most of our footpaths where dogs must merely be kept under control).  Please do not let your dog loose at the Rec.  The sports pitches are there primarily for residents to play sport.  Similarly, we had opened up the area at the top of the cemetery for dog walkers (at considerable expense), but have had to close this for now as it led to people letting their dogs loose in the cemetery itself.  There has also been dog fouling in the school wilding area off Wheathill Lane, an area in which dogs are not allowed at all. It would be a great shame if we had to start seeking support for enforcement because of the actions of a small group of owners.  We have managed to get a new dog bin installed on Wheathill Way, which is a positive

On a happier note, there has also been a lot of success in the pursuit of grants for small projects, and you may have noticed the large number of benches and picnic tables that have been introduced around the Village.  We still have a number of these to be installed, including a Memorial bench for Her Late Majesty the Queen, and the Clerk is happy to take suggestions if you know of a good site.

During the year, we made several grants ourselves to community organisations within the village, somewhat above the amounts originally budgeted, including the Spirit of Milborne Port, the Playing Fields, the Village Hall, Beeches Playgroup and the Food Bank.  We are in the process of putting together the budget for 2023-24, which must be finalised in January, so if you have particular views on where spending might be directed do please raise this with Simon or Nathalie, or one of the Councillors.

Looking to 2023-24, perhaps the biggest change will be the removal of the four district councils from Somerset, with the whole county being run from Taunton as a single unitary authority.  We have been participating in a Pilot for South East Somerset as to how the centre will interact with the rest of the county, but, whilst very useful, this has not led to any great clarity as of yet.  Clearly funding is short at County, and inflation has wiped out many of the savings anticipated through reorganisation, so difficult decisions will inevitably need to be made.  However, funding is also not great at a Parish level either and we have a limited capacity to take on costs that have previously been borne at a District or County level.  We will continue to engage with our County Councillors around this.

We wish you a Happy New Year for 2023.

Cllr. Tim Carty, Chairman of Milborne Port Parish Council

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