Chairman's Blog

Some thoughts and words of wisdom from your Chairman.

 

Wielding The Pitchfork

The Parish Council wielding the pitch fork on behalf of the Village
Many of you good folk may only contact the Parish Council, or become aware of us when you have a problem or are making a planning application.
So what are we about?
We are one of the smallest Parish Councils in the New Forest and interestingly our patch is located within and replicates the old monastic manor of Beaulieu Abbey. The majority of the parish is owned by one family. We have one of the lowest precepts, ie. the parish council's share of the council tax which is set by us here in Beaulieu. We were created in 1884 when local Parish Churches gave up the responsibility for Parish drainage.
So what do we get up to at our monthly meetings?
We have three essential functions. We pass our views of our community to the tiers of government above us. Quite frequently the district and the county councillors are present at our meetings. As we are in a National Park we have an extra tier of government above us, the National Park Authority and we usually attend their quarterly information meetings. We try to promote and sustain the local character and quality of Beaulieu life. Unlike other larger parish councils we are in a unique position of not having to provide a lot of services. However we do look after the bus shelters, some of the village open spaces and gardens, some seating and notice boards. We are always looking out for the little things in parish life, that need attending to and which may otherwise go unnoticed. We keep a watchful eye on the open spaces, car parks, pot holes, footpaths, street lighting and noise ... and if all else fails ... a responsibility in burying the dead! We have a legal right to inspect all planning applications and comment upon them. These views have to be taken into consideration by the principal authority when granting or refusing permission. All our parish councillors wear their politics lightly, not trying to score cheap political points off one another. We are loyal to the village first. We give freely of our time and hopefully are the true representatives of the "grass roots"
It has been said that Parish Council work is like house keeping .... A thankless task noticeable only when left undone.

High Street Security

At the last parish Council Meeting 19/3/2014 we had a visit from our local policeman with a report on local crime news. We have had three reported crimes in our Parish since Christmas, probably the most serious was marine equipment from boats on the Beaulieu river. The Councils attention then turned to the earlier problems of theft in the High Street last year.
On Tuesday 2/4/2014 five of us met with a local security company to discuss security in the High Street and following a walk around the area have come up with a plan and an estimate of cost.
We are proposing that two cameras are placed in the High Street. They would record 24 hours a day and recordings would be kept for one month and then would be taped over. One camera could be mounted in the Montagu Arms/Abbey Stores area and would look up the High Stree, the other would be located at the southern end of the High Street looking along and down the High Street. We would need to site an Alnet Network Digital Recorder somewhere close to the cameras and it would be good for the monitor to be located in a high profile public place. How about the pub? or the Post Office? 
By doing this we are making it more difficult for thieves, it will make them think twice about committing crime in Beaulieu. We would have a record of all activity in the High Street every hour of the Day. We are also able to access our cameras from our home computers, another thought is to have live screening on our Parish website. The cost of this project is estimate at about £2000 plus Vat and so serious consideration will have to be given to finance. Perhaps businesses and residents in the High Street would consider helping out with funding? By working together in the community we can do it!

Beaulieu Parish Council on the move.

The committee room in the village hall was full to capacity for our meeting on Wednesday the 19th March. So full it prompted discussion about moving to a larger venue. The Church Hall was one alternative meeting place suggested, however following a short presentation by the Chairman of the Beaulieu Village hall, Mr Steve Green, a solution may be at hand. Following input from our County and District councillors, we are probably going to move our meeting nights to Tuesday and hold them in the main hall. This will avoid clashing with other noisier organisations that use the hall during our Wednesday meetings and allow more room for spreading out hard copy of important planning applications, some of which can be large. It then occurred to us to use the new big screen equipment that the village hall has, to display planning applications directly from our website which would make viewing for all so much easier. It has been further suggested that we could edit and update the website during council meetings. My thoughts now have gone forward to consider live streaming of our meetings! Things e wise are moving forward, leading to an exciting and challenging future. It is very important that people use the parish website, the more it is used the more successful and useful it will become.

Good E-Government

I read an article from HM government encouraging parish councils to make sure they were practising good e-government. This was mostly about having an up-to-date website packed with useful information and communicating in a paperless fashion ... ie. emails.

So now there is a policy .... We, the Beaulieu Parish Council, have to formulate a plan.

I was aware that we had a website, which had had a lot of good work put into it.  It contained lots of information, which was regrettably out of date. The website was constructed in 2008 and was showing its age. Although the minutes were posted regularly after every meeting, the councillor who had volunteered to undertake this task, was struggling to upload the information. The reason the website was so outdated was that nobody on the council had the expertise to manage the site properly.

In the last five years information technology has become more user-friendly and easier to access. Most people seem to run a Facebook account and wishing to avoid costs of bringing in a consultant every time to update matters, I thought about a new website which we could run and control ourselves.

Some members of the council have undertaken some basic training. It is quite exciting, as we are beginning to discover lots of useful new things to enhance our site. We are also developing new skills ourselves and are lucky to have found a local man who designed and developed this website and enthusiastically supports us.

Watch this space!