Chairman’s Report and Council’s Annual Report

Chairman’s Annual Report
2016-17

I write this report towards the end of April, and reflect upon a year that feels to have passed all too quickly.  The twelve months have been characterised by long-standing fixtures in the events calendar, and fresh challenges, some of which are on-going, others that have been for a defined period, and have enhanced the experience of living in Cotgrave.

Those events that are a traditional feature of Cotgrave life were very successful.  The switching on of the Christmas lights attracted what looked like our biggest attendance yet, and Cotgrave Festival, too, drew in a lot of people.  The popularity of these seasonal events is in a testament to the hard work of the organisers and helpers, and I know that they would welcome event more people to get involved.

This year, I am able to report on other initiatives that enrich our lives.  We were delighted to open the new Play Park on Ring Leas, on a rather rainy day, and I hope that the young people who use it benefit from and enjoy the variety of pieces of equipment chosen by Council’s working group.  On Bonfire Night, we lit a traditional bonfire, for the first time in a while, at Cotgrave Welfare, and that, added to a really spectacular fireworks display, made for a great evening.  We look forward to even more Guy Fawkes being entered for the Best Guy Competition, later this year!  At Christmas, we held a Senior Citizens Party in Cotgrave Welfare.  As well as a lovely meal provided by E J’s Katering, there was entertainment in the form of a singer and schools choir, and the meal was served by local helpers, and students from South Nottinghamshire Academy.  The guest speaker was Dr Lowe, who has given many years service to his patients prior to his retirement.

As well as attending full council meetings, the forum in which key decisions are made, councillors also join working groups that address particular issues.  Working groups report back and make recommendations to the full council.  This year, they have formed to organise the events already mentioned, to scrutinise things such as the local bus services, and to liaise with local traders and business owners as work on the town centre gathers pace.  The regeneration working group has sought, with organisational and financial help from Rushcliffe Borough Council, to provide workshops highlighting how businesses can take advantage of digital marketing and other strategies.  Both workshops were well received.  The budget preparation working group met twice to formulate a budget to present to Council.  This meant looking at our legal financial obligations and spending priorities for the coming year.

In the budget, we set aside a sum of money to provide grants to local organisations that apply for one.  For example, we have recently awarded grants to Cotgrave Welfare for their Christmas Panto, Cotgrave Scout Group for a local, environmental project, the astronomical society. and Ash Lea School for their arts-based project.  We are also funding Positive Futures till 2020, to enable them to plan effectively their work with our young people.  We also budget for staff’s salaries and any national pay awards, for inspections of our parks, for the hanging baskets which make Cotgrave look so attractive, and for any equipment we need to purchase to ensure that the landscape for which we are responsible is kept in excellent condition.  We have made a particular effort, as part of our support for Cotgrave FC, to ensure that the pitches are cut and rolled at a frequency that provides a very good playing experience for the teams.  There is a regular dialogue now established to see how we can work together to improve the general facilities at the Arthur Ridley Ground.

Councillors attend events fairly regularly, and several of us went to Langar Hall to witness the Vale Responders receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  Council has awarded grants to pay for defibrillators to be installed in Cotgrave.  Several councillors presented medals, in pouring rain, to several hundred footballers, at the end of a local football tournament.  Some councillors attended the Remembrance Sunday parade too.

The Personnel Committee has met to undertake staff appraisals and to review pay.  This is an annual obligation, and recommendations for any pay increase are made to full council.

You will be aware that Scotland Bank has been demolished, the first clear sign that work on the Town Centre has begun in earnest.  A display of the plans for the new Town Centre was in the Library, and people were able to see some visual representations of the future.  I have attended the Strategic Board meetings that monitor the progress of the Cotgrave Project.  Updates can be found in Cotgrave Connections, or on our page on Rushcliffe Borough Council’s website.  Town Councillors, Cotgrave’s Rushcliffe Borough Councillors, the Clerk and Administration Manager are always pleased to try to answer any query you might have.  Officers from Rushcliffe Borough Council also have attended Town Council meetings to answer councillors’ questions.

In March, we co-opted Councillors Stuart Ellis and Phil Pearson, following the resignations of former Councillors Sarah and Craig Chewings.  We thank the latter for their work on Council, and look forward to working with our new councillors.

Finally, I would like to thank the Clerk, the Administration Manager, the grounds maintenance staff, the park keepers, and fellow councillors for their considerable efforts.  They are all dedicated to Cotgrave, and contribute to the debate about which is best for the community.  It is always a pleasure and a privilege to serve as Chairman, and O look back upon the last twelve months knowing that Council and its staff have contributed in a significant way to making Cotgrave a fantastic place to live.

Vance Wood
(Chairman of Cotgrave Town Council)

 

Chairman’s Annual Report
2015-16

I am pleased to introduce my annual Chairman’s report for Cotgrave Town Council.

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I was newly elected to the Town Council last May. At that election I stood for a certain set of principles along with my fellow candidates from the same party. The 2 main principles were:

  1. Carry out a review of Cotgrave Children’s parks and provide a clear plan for improvement.
  1. To stand up for Cotgrave and push for what had been promised for Cotgrave; a full and complete redevelopment of the shopping precinct.

I am pleased to say that my first point the children’s park has progressed well, a working group was formed of myself, Drew Wilkie, Mick Chewings and Craig Chewings. A strategic plan was drawn up to review all parks and look at improvement over the next few years. With an immediate plan to build a brand new park at the Ring leas location, a park that has remained vacant of equipment for a long period of time. It brings me great pleasure that full funding has been secured from both the Town Council and Nottinghamshire County Council and work will start shortly on the creation of this park that will provide equipment to use for all ages, young and old and will also include an inclusive roundabout for those less abled. This is the start of the parks program within Cotgrave and I look forward to improving our recreation facilities over the next few years.

Whilst the success of the parks is good news for Cotgrave, I cannot say the same for the development of the Precinct. Within weeks of being elected to the council I took my place on the strategic board for Cotgrave during these meetings it became clear to me that although statements had been made in the past by Rushcliffe Borough Council to Cotgrave for a full and complete redevelopment of the precinct. This was far from coming to fruition. The board created plans for a complete redevelopment that would close businesses, when options were put forward to do a phased approach to ensure business continuity. Rushcliffe decided against looking into these options, choosing to showcase 2 options to the public; a refresh which allowed business continuity. Or a complete redevelopment that would close local businesses for a prolonged period. Rushcliffe had a choice for these plans and if they so wish could have presented plans for a complete redevelopment that allowed business continuity.

It also became clear that Rushcliffe Borough Council would not invest the extra money required to fulfill their promise to Cotgrave of a full and complete rebuild due to insufficient funds. Whilst at the same time they sat on a significant reserve and were pledging significant funding for a new leisure centre and civic centre in West Bridgford. I raised my concerns both in private at meetings and also in public, speaking to many members of the community and the press.

This culminated in a strategic board meeting compiling a list of facts including positive and negatives for both precinct options to be presented to Rushcliffe Borough Council cabinet to make the final decisions. It saddens me to say that at this meeting I was assured by Rushcliffe Borough Council Chief executive Allen Graham that the presentation would be pure facts with no recommendation for either option, yet on the night itself the paper made a clear recommendation for a refurb, going against assurances made by “our partners” at Rushcliffe Borough Council.

On a positive note, I have enjoyed my time as Chairman of the Town Council meeting, different religious and community groups and local school leads. I was also pleased to see a new church form In Cotgrave; The Rock Church and have been encouraged as to their enthusiasm and participation within the community. The Town council also funded vital equipment to allow a Community First Response team to be set up with in Cotgrave to allow greater care and coverage during medical emergencies.

It has been my pleasure to be the Chairman of Cotgrave Town Council, but due to the actions of Rushcliffe and others over the Precinct I feel that I can not remain within the post. I will remain as an active Councillor for Cotgrave Town Council and will be holding them to account in the coming years and will continue to work hard for the community.

 

Keir Chewings
Chairman Cotgrave Town Council 2015-16
11th May 2016

 

Chairman’s Annual Report
2014-15

 In the spring edition of Cotgrave Connections, I wrote in some detail about the work of the Town Council, and, as I read again that report, it is heartening to see the progress that has been made. Our partnerships with local and other organisations have strengthened, and Cotgrave is well on its way to being one of the best places to live in Rushcliffe.

Since my last report, I am delighted to say that our bid for funding to buy additional play and adult gym equipment for Grassmere play area has been successful, and the Town Council will contribute the rest of the money. This should bring health and recreational benefits to a wide range of residents, and our thanks go to the Clerk for her hard work, putting the bid together.

As you know, the building of houses on Hollygate Lane has transformed that particular gateway, and the Town Council has decided to provide a welcome pack for new residents to Cotgrave. Councillors felt that it was important they be made to feel part of the town from the moment they receive their key, and we are asking, in the summer edition of Cotgrave Connections, local organisations and businesses to provide details of their activities so that newcomers are fully aware of the choices available to them.

Following confirmation from Rushcliffe Borough Council that the bid to bring funds to Cotgrave, as part of the expansion of the Growth Deal, has been successful, I can let you know that the plans for the redevelopment of the Town Centre are advancing well, and that in July there will be an event at which residents will be acquainted with them, and their views on them sought. Further details of this will be published in due course.

Our new Town Council website has now appeared, and we are keen to make sure it becomes an important platform for communicating and explaining our work. We hope, too, that it will be a window in which local groups can raise awareness of their events. We welcome suggestions for its further development, so do please let us know your ideas.

This past year has seen us enjoy a splendid Christmas Lights Event, which was very well attended, and the feed-back was positive. Now we are all looking forward to our Festival, which is in the offing. We are all grateful to the organising committee, who would, I am sure, welcome any offers of help. Cotgrave Festival has done, since it began, so much to generate enthusiasm and a positive community spirit.

As ever, I thank, on behalf of the Town Council, all those who support our young people, in a range of ways, in schools and community organisations. The Town Council, too, has approved a grant to provide developmental and other activities for some of our young people, and believes it is always worthwhile to invest in our future.

We are grateful to those who keep us safe and well, and who look after our environment. Our Country Park is a wonderful asset cared for by a group of dedicated enthusiasts, and we acknowledge, too, the efforts of those who keep our streets clean and tidy.

Following the recent Parliamentary and local elections, we welcome new councillors, and pay tribute to the contribution made by those who left, for a variety of reasons, during the lifetime of the council, to those who did not stand again, and to those who stood and were not re-elected. They were valued members of a council which worked well as a team, and which focused on what is best for Cotgrave, and I expect the new council to continue in that non-adversarial vein.

Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of Cotgrave, the Town Council’s employees, and those who work here but live elsewhere, for their collective effort to embrace change, and for their initiatives in the community. I believe that we have a fantastic place to live, and it is going to get even better. By looking after each other, and focusing on what is good about where we live and what we do, we can go from strength to strength. We are all responsible for morale, and can all play a part in securing a bright future for Cotgrave. Let us embrace that challenge together.

 

Vance Wood
Chairman of Cotgrave Town Council 2014-15
13th May 2015

 

The Chairman’s Annual Report 2013-14

 

In May 2013, Councillor McGinley was elected as Chairman, and Councillor Wood was elected as Vice-Chairman.

On 8th October 2013, Councillor McGinley asked the Clerk to inform all councillors that, for personal reasons, she was going to take a break of three months from Council business. Councillor Wood then became Acting Chairman.

At 9.30am, on 19th November 2013, the Clerk accepted Councillor McGinley’s resignation, and informed councillors that she had done so.

On 4th December 2013, Councillor Wood was elected as Chairman, and Councillor Attewell was elected as Vice-Chairman.

Drew Wilkie was elected to the Council on 13th February 2014.

Cotgrave Town Council has managed this last year’s operational challenges and budget effectively, and has tried to be more proactive in implementing new ways of working with the community, to enrich the lives of all residents. There is no doubt that the workload of the Clerk and the Administration Manager has increased, arising from initiatives such as the Community Website, and so the Administration Manager’s hours have been increased from sixteen to nineteen and a half. So that staffing matters, such as long-term absence due to ill-health, can be discussed promptly, a Personnel Committee has been formed, and has met when necessary to recommend actions to Council.

Councillors’ surgeries have been introduced, and are held periodically on Saturday mornings, in the library, and though they have not been massively attended, they demonstrate Council’s desire to listen to residents’ views. As developments on the former colliery site and town centre progress, the surgeries may well become a more popular conduit for public opinion. The last of the Cotgrave Forum meetings, which similarly have not been well attended, has taken place, so the surgeries may well compensate for that loss.

Council has worked co-operatively with partners in the planning for the building of new homes, and for the redevelopment of the town centre. In June 2013, workshops, in which the public was invited to contribute ideas, and learn about employment and training opportunities, were held in the Welfare, and there have been displays of the different kinds of houses that will be built. The Clerk and Chairman have attended the Strategic Board meetings, to which they have taken councillors’ questions, and Kath Marriott, Head of Transformation at Rushcliffe Borough Council, now attends Cotgrave Town Council meetings, whenever possible, to field any questions arising from her update on progress. The Strategic Board, in its entirety, comprises Allen Graham, Chief Executive of Rushcliffe Borough Council, and representatives from Notts County Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Cotgrave Town Council, Barratt David Wilson, Metropolitan Housing, and the Homes and Communities Agency. The meetings are usually held in the Civic Centre, West Bridgford.

The Clerk and Chairman have attended conferences and meetings convened by Rushcliffe Borough Council, and the Clerk has attended additional events for her own professional development. These have helped to enhance their understanding of developments in other parishes and towns, some outside Nottinghamshire.

The Clerk and other councillors have attended the Local Area Group meetings with the police, and have discussed priorities for policing in our area. As part of maintaining an effective dialogue, the Chairman, Clerk, and a member of CNHW met Inspector Berry, the new Inspector for Rushcliffe, and pertinent issues were discussed. As ever, Council is grateful for the work done by the police, CNHW, and the Speedwatch Team in helping to keep crime down in Cotgrave. A Lorrywatch has also taken place to see if there is a problem with lorries exceeding 7.5 tonnes, and without a drop-destination within Cotgrave, passing through, and though the figures point to there being no significant problem, the situation will be monitored again, later in summer.

There is much of which we can be proud. The Christmas Lights event was really well attended, and there was positive feed-back in the media, and from those who had a stall, sponsored the day, or simply came to enjoy it. We are all looking forward, once again, to Cotgrave Festival, and our thanks go, in advance, to the Committee and all those who will help on the day for their massive efforts. I am sure the organisers are pleased that their bid for lottery funding has been successful.

As a responsive Council, we are about to appoint a Cotgrave Community Warden, who, for two hours a day, for one year, will make a significant contribution to the cleanliness of areas where people have not cleared up after their dogs, and who will report to the Clerk other problems, such as any build-up of litter. The work will be undertaken by Streetwise, though the warden will be clearly identifiable by a high visibility jacket with COTGRAVE COMMUNITY WARDEN on it, and we hope the public will see a difference.

A small group of councillors and two members of the public have met to discuss the possibility of establishing a wild flower meadow and community orchard, and though there has been only a small level of interest shown, to date, the group will meet again. This follows one councillor’s good idea to invite two representatives from the Keyworth Abundance Scheme to address a Town Council meeting.

Council has made funds available for the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. The organising group, of which several councillors are members, has already met and produced an excellent programme of events.

The introduction of our Citizenship Awards has been successful, and long may Council continue to recognise sustained and significant contribution to Cotgrave.

Council is aware that Cotgrave is dynamic, and is grateful to all who work with and support young people and those needing advice and information about work and other matters. Our gratitude extends also to those who provide activities for older citizens, and to those who care for our wonderful country park.

Finally, Cotgrave Town Councillors have worked well together, and have made real attempts to be proactive. Meetings have been constructive, and good ideas have been generated. I would like to thank all employees of Cotgrave Town Council, but particularly the Clerk and her Administration Manager for being an ever-present, frontline face for the public. Finally, my thanks go to all councillors for their unstinting commitment to Cotgrave. It is a pleasure to work with them all.

 

Vance Wood
(Chairman of Cotgrave Town Council)
11th May 2014