Thornhaugh Parish Council
Chairman’s Annual Report : 3rd June 2019

During the past year the Parish Council met at St Andrews Church Six times and it was pleasing to see some of the Thornhaugh residents attending and putting their views forward on various issues.

A number of planning applications have been reviewed during the year. These include applications for tree maintenance/felling as well as new construction and residential extensions. Formal applications are always discussed at Parish Council Meetings whenever the deadlines coincide with meeting dates. In between meetings, comments from Councillors are sought via email or face to face meetings to ensure that a consensus view can be sent to the City Council by the relevant deadline. Wherever possible, views of residents are also included in the summary and views are actively sought where the Councillors have been made aware that a planning application may be causing concern to residents. Of course, all planning applications are open for personal comment on the website, and all residents are encouraged to add their own comments if they have strong feelings on an application.

The tree preservation officer (Bryan Clary) came to a meeting on 19th November 2018 and explained the role of the Tree Officer, its powers and influence. He confirmed that they operate both in an advisory and a regulatory role. Tree Officers are more than happy to help and advise residents on what they can and can’t do with existing trees – both in terms of felling and pruning. He explained the application of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and also explained their role in the Planning Application process. Since that date Bryan Clary has left the Council and the current Tree Officer is John Wilcockson.

In the last Chairman’s report we referred to the drafting of a document relating to the conservation area surrounding Thornhaugh. The draft document was available for public view and comment on the City Council website, and has now been through the approval process having taken account of Parish Council comments. The document refers, amongst other things, to particular building styles and features in Thornhaugh, together with boundary walls and hedge rows which form the major basis of our beautiful village. The document also refers to new building and extensions to existing houses and will be used as a reference document for Peterborough Planning when they are reviewing applications.

Our thanks go to Martin Witherington and others who have assisted him in continuing to pursue the footpath issue in the avenue adjacent to the chicken farm. This is nearing completion and no doubt Living Villages will provide information on the final outcome.

Meetings have been held with Highways England regarding the A47 dualling proposals. Those houses situated on the A1 South would have been significantly affected by the planned changes to the slip road. After a successful meeting, the issues surrounding that part of the plan were accepted by Highways England who will look at alternative access for those houses. Discussion on the whole plan is of course still ongoing.

The Parish Council also met with Highways England to discuss the entrance to Thornhaugh off the A1 Northbound carriageway, and the possible closure of the layby prior to the entrance. Highways England agreed that the entrance and layby caused difficulties but their formal report confirmed that not enough significant incidents had been report to warrant making extensive changes. We asked that at least the layby be closed so that the sight line for the entrance was not masked by parked lorries. We also expressed our concerns that lorries parked on the pathway adjacent to the layby necessitating people to walk close to the A1. Highways England, although agreeing that this was an issue, have not as yet managed to allocate the funds to make the changes. We will keep up the pressure.

The issue of light pollution from the Shell Garage on the A1 Northbound has been discussed with The Motorfuel Group who are the owners of the site. They have planted 70 conifers and 3/4 deciduous trees along the boundary which in two to three years should provide an effective barrier for the lights.

The hanging baskets were a pleasure to see again this year, and my thanks go to Louise Molesworth for arranging these. Unfortunately our normal supplier has retired and we are therefore sourcing the summer baskets from an alternative source, thanks to Martin and Kay Lewis for setting this up. Also thanks go to the residents who take care of them during the season and we are relying on those people to keep up the good work and ensure that the baskets are watered regularly – daily if we have a summer like last year – no mean task and we are very grateful.

The summer event was well attended and a good time was had by all who attended – with thanks to Andrew Sharpley for allowing us to use the Farm Yard, and to all those volunteers who made it happen. Events like this are a lovely part of our village life and allow us all to meet for a “catch up” with people we don’t see often. Our other annual event was the Christmas Tree lights and Carol singing. A great event, always well attended and once again the tree was provided by Nicky Rogers from The Bill Rogers’ Memorial Fund, with mince pies and wine coming from Parish Council funds. Proceeds from the collection on the night went to the Children’s Society.

The Thornhaugh Book Exchange is still doing well, with thanks to Penny Lewin Watts for keeping this tidy and dust free and the books refreshed. A great asset for the village, and certainly a talking point for the many visitors passing through.

We are looking into the possibility of applying for a grant to bring a defibrillator into the village, possibly to be installed in the Book Exchange. If the grant application is unsuccessful we will need to approach village residents to discuss fund raising and sponsorship for this to happen, the total cost being more than the Parish Council funds can bear. We will keep residents updated either via Living Villages or by delivering a flier.

The stone wall at the A47 end of Russell Hill has now been repaired, utilising the grant provided by Peterborough City Council. This was very timely and is now in line with the comments in the new Conservation Report referred to earlier in this report.

The repairs to the entrance to the chicken farm and the way in which our verges are kept looking so beautiful by members of the community continues to make our village a very special place – our thanks go to everyone who spends time and effort maintaining the public areas of our village, it is much appreciated.

The “Litter Pick” initiative, started by Nikki Higgins, continued this year and thanks go to those people who walk the length and breadth of Thornhaugh and the surrounding paths, carrying heavy bags of litter.

We continue to be vigilant in managing Parish funds, and always use any available money to support the fabric of the village and for the benefit of all residents. A new set of reports has been developed this year to help us more easily manage this responsibility. Funds are allocated each year to support the maintenance of the Church grounds, a requirement of the village precept which is given by all residents each year as part of your Council Tax. I am sure everyone will agree that the Church and its grounds are maintained beautifully and it is a major focal point of our village. Thanks go to all of those who keep it in such good shape.

As a reminder, your current Parish Councillors are Christine Smith (Chair), Louise Molesworth (Vice Chair), Martin Lewis, Adrian Rogers and Ashley Kewney. We are all more than happy to hear from any residents on matters relating to the village and will help wherever we can. Penny Lewin Watts remains as are Christie Hall representative and she attends meetings when the Christie Hall is on the agenda.

Finally, but not least, my thanks as always to our long suffering Parish Clerk, Deirdre who works hard to keep the Parish Council running efficiently and effectively.

Christine Smith
Chair, Thornhaugh Parish Council
3rd June 2019