New defib outside Tesco!
Spring, I became Chair of Northchurch Parish Council (NPC). Here are
some facts that I hope you will find interesting. There are eight parish
councillors: unpaid volunteers who try to make Northchurch a safer,
greener and more pleasant place to live. We try to represent your views
to the District and County Councils (who make all the big decisions).
We receive a small amount from your Council Tax and can also apply for grants and awards to improve some local services and facilities. So how have we spent it so far? Unusually, for a Parish Council, we own and therefore maintain the recreation ground, football pitch, playground and the allotments. We also maintain some grass verges and streetlights that the district council does not look after. In response to Covid 19, we donated £1000 each to two charities: Age Concern Dacorum for supporting vulnerable, elderly people in Northchurch; and Colleen Duggan, a local resident, who makes scrubs for Watford Hospital.
We purchased two defibrillators: one is outside the excellent farm shop at Sunnyside Rural Trust in New Road (well worth a visit) and one is on the outside wall of Tesco Express. We pay for swimming lessons for the children at St Mary’s School and for the school crossing patrol warden. We are also hoping to turn the grass verge between Dudswell and the Cow Roast into a wildflower verge which will not only look beautiful but will increase biodiversity.
Cllrs. Neil Pocock, Gordon Godfrey and Mark Somervail look after the recreation ground. They have decided to replace the aging boards on our very popular skate ramp and to install 3 picnic tables and new bins underneath the weeping willows. Under these willows, we have been treated to the rare sight of the river Bulbourne in full flow. The water filters through the chalk and is crystal clear. Normally, the river is used to replenish water lost when the canal locks are used but for 3 months the canal system was closed. As a result, the river was so full that the banks overflowed, and we had to put temporary steps onto the path that runs behind the cricket ground to the donkey field in Dudswell. It’s fading fast so see it while you can. On behalf of everyone in Northchurch, I would like to thank Mike and Helen Illes for providing such a wonderful field for walking and viewing the animals. The field is taking a much-needed rest but will be open again in the Spring.
Although decisions about planning applications and highways are made by the District and County Councils, we try to represent your views. Our Planning Committee, expertly led by Cllr. Beryl Edwards, scrutinises and comments on every planning application made in the Parish, and recently there have been some big ones. We successfully supported the Hockey Club’s application to install a floodlit, artificial turf pitch at the Cow Roast because the club provides a wonderful opportunity for local people of all ages to take part in a wide range of sports and social activities. For similar reasons, we object to the plans to demolish the Golf Driving Range at the end of Shooters Way (in the heart of the Green Belt and the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Beauty) to make way for a large, upmarket care home. We recognise that the district Council is required by government to allocate areas for house building but this is one of those locations that we feel needs protection. Another location worth protecting is the six acres of beautiful trees by Dudswell Lock, on the edge of Dudswell Conservation Area. We have objected to the new landowner’s application to the Forestry Commission to cut them all down. With fingers crossed, we wait for these decisions.
Unfortunately, we do not always get our way. For example, Lara Pringle, the energetic Chair of our Road Safety Committee, has been asking repeatedly for a short section of double yellow lines to prevent cars parking dangerously on the corner of Mandelyns and the High Road, and at Darrs Lane on the bend by McCoy’s Fish and Chip shop. So far, she has not been able to persuade Herts County Council that these yellow lines are necessary to prevent an accident. She will keep trying.
Sometimes we do get our way: one recent success is the restoration of Two Ponds Lane as a public right of way. For an unknown reason, the lane had fallen off the official county council footpath map, and the top of the lane had become overgrown and nearly impassable. My thanks to Luke Gibbons at Herts County Council (HCC) for restoring the Lane to the map, and to Clayton Rae at Dacorum Borough Council for clearing the overgrown hedge and promising new bridleway signs. If you have not yet tried the circular walk from Dudswell, up Two Pond Lane and down Pea Lane, now’s your chance.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed ideas and given us advice. If you would like to share your views about how to make Northchurch a better place, please contact me through our clerk, Usha Kilich: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Clarke (Chair)