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North Lopham Parish Council
Chairman’s Annual Report for Open Meeting on 10th May 2006
The last AGM of the Council was delayed by illness and eventually took place on 15th
June 2005. Members were shocked to hear that, after over 20 years on the Council
(most as Chairman), Richard Vere had tendered his resignation – as he had said he
would do on several occasions in the past, but no-
As Chairman, I am particularly keen to ensure that residents are fully aware of what is going on. To that end we have renovated the two notice boards (at the Post Office and at the Kings Head), made clear our wish to see members of the public at meetings (record so far – 8!), made good use of ‘The Lophams News’ and (in respect of work with the pond) posted regular notices so that people can read about what is happening.
Review of items discussed at the meetings
1. Planning issues: The November meeting was addressed by Greg Britton, Principal Planning Officer at Breckland, who outlined the steps taken to review planning applications and to take account of comments made by the Parish Council. Members had the opportunity to stress their concerns that problems with drainage seemed to be ignored in some responses and heard what should they do to bring these more forcibly to the attention of the planners.
2. Roads, Footways, Signs, etc: We have increased our efforts to create a dialogue with Norfolk County Council ‘Planning and Transportation’ (who maintain these aspects of the environment) and have had several visits to assess the problems and the needs. Footways have been ‘sided out’ and several areas have been patched. The erosion of verges by traffic (such that in many places the road surface ends several inches before the verges start!) has prompted us to make a request for more kerbing and this is being assessed at the moment. With Jan Tate, I visited several properties last summer to request that hedges and overhanging branches be cut back from footways: the cooperation of most residents is much appreciated. The ‘Village Spring Clean’ on April 1st, was another attempt to increase public awareness of (and participation in) the appearance of the village. Thanks to all who turned out (despite a very wet start!). One small victory: the fingerposts at the junction near Kenninghall School now point to ‘The Lophams’ after a period where the only signage was to ‘Edge Green’. We do exist after all! Unfortunately a recent spate of vandalism has resulted in our ‘North Lopham’ sign near the Village Hall being uprooted on several occasions – at the same time as damage has been caused at the Village Hall. It is annoying that there are just one or two people who are intent on undermining the good work done by The Village Hall Committee and the Council. These incidents have been reported to the Police and any information would be much appreciated.
3. Mains Drainage: This item has appeared on Annual Reports for far too
many years. However, I can report that, thanks to efforts in the past to secure
evidence of need (in particular the questionnaire circulated by Richard Vere in 2004)
and continued lobbying of Anglian Water, I received an e-
4. Visitors: In July we were pleased to welcome Bob Strawser and his family
to the village. Bob is the nephew of one of the USAF airmen killed in the mid-
5. The Pond (Letchmere): The pond often looks to be in poor condition – flooding in winter and turning green in summer. In August of last year we had a visit from Ed Stocker, the Norfolk County Council Ecologist, who advised that we should:
· Ensure the drain works properly.
· Dredge the silt from the pond and re-
· Carry out work on the trees (particularly those on the northern edge of the pond).
· Discourage feeding of the ducks to reduce their numbers and reduce pollution.
· Introduce plants into the pond to improve its appearance and ecological balance.
In his opinion the pond is practically ‘dead’.
Since that visit:
· Several site meetings have been held to assess the best way to tackle
the problems and get some idea of total cost. The best estimate at the moment is
that for somewhere just in excess of £2000 we could have a large amount of silt removed,
have necessary work done on the trees and (with self-
· Councillors Michael McManus and Graham West have agreed to join me as the nucleus of a ‘Pond Renovation Project Team’ – but we are searching for three or four more residents who could join us. Volunteers welcome – provide your own wellies!
· We hope (depending on funding and the weather) that work will take place in mid to late summer. All contractors have pointed out that there will necessarily be a period of time (months, at least) when the silt is on the margins of the pond drying out before it can be incorporated into the surroundings and planting can begin – the pond will not be transformed in a day!
6. A long list of ‘Thanks’:
To John Bush for his regular maintenance of the area around the War Memorial : To
Richard Vere for the background information he has given me on several occasions
and for his hard work as our ‘grass cutter’ keeping the burial ground up to scratch
: To Jennie Vere for her help in ensuring that our items are in ‘The Lophams News’
each month and to everyone involved with its production and distribution – as a regular,
Brian Frith May 2006