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New Parish Council - new chairman - updated 21st May 2015

After the longest Farringdon Parish Council Meeting for some time the pecking order of the newly elected parish councillors has now been established . . well almost. Only seven of the newly elected parish councillors were able to attend and there is a casual vacancy after Douglas Shewan declined to take his seat, a train of events which has left many villagers pondering the cost of holding a Parish Council Election earlier this month, an expensive exercise which subsequently proved to be pointless.

The meeting was opened by retiring Chair Caroline Roe, who reminded the new Parish Council of their responsibilities to the village residents and the importance of keeping up with current training, legislation and codes of conduct.

All fairly straight forward, as was the selection of the Council Chairman and Vice Chair, Parish Council Chairman - Clive Eldertonwhich, not unexpectedly, once Peter Durrant had indicated that he did not wish to be considered for the post, resulted in the election of Clive Elderton (left) as Chairman of the Parish Council

Following the appointment of the New Chairman, Caroline Roe, the outgoing Chair, retired from the meeting. An example followed by some of the members of the public attending.

The newly appointed Chairman then took control of the meeting, ably assisted and guided by Parish Clerk Emma Dillnutt, present in an official capacity at her final Parish Council meeting before her retirement next month,

Susan Anderton, one of the newly elected councillors, was appointed as Vice Chair.
( I know there is no picture, another pathetic failure by the 'biz' photographer! Were it not for a previous image taken by Robin Baumber many months ago there wouldn't have been a picture of the New Chairman either!)

There followed a fairly long session on on the forever more complex financial procedures and processes required to run a Parish Council nowadays but once again the Parish Clerk was able to provide guidance and correct misunderstandings before the meeting moved on to appoint Councillors to the Planning and Village Hall Management Committees

Two influential members of the former Parish Council Planning Committee, Jeremy Cowan and Honor Garrard, who had very successfully negotiated a series of contentious planning applications during their term of office, were among the four councillors who have resigned from the Parish Council and the appointment of the new planning committee saw three of the four places allocated to newly elected Councillors, Susan Anderton, Bob Chase and Nick Newens. The fourth place was left temporarily vacant, as Terry Cubitt, a member of the previous planning committee was unable to attend this meeting and eventually another councillor will be appointed to fill the seat never occupied by Douglas Shewan

The appointment of three members to the Village Hall Committee were next on the agenda and Peter Durrant, the previous Chairman of the Committee who has been instrumental in negotiating the sale of the Folly, Richard Jarvis and David Williams were duly appointed.

Peter Durrant continues as representative on the Local Government Forum and David Williams will also continue his multiple posts as Tree Warden, Footpaths , Bridleways and whatever else can be shifted into his department!

Although the Parish Council can take no action at present, members gave a sympathetic hearing to ongoing problems with spray drift from the "Bahnstormer" pressure washer causing problems and potential damage to neighbouring property.

After another session on Parish Finances, Payments, affiliations and various other details the next item on the Agenda was the search for a replacement for the Parish Clerk. Emma Dillnutt, who has has tendered her resignation and will be leaving on the 12th June, well before the next scheduled Parish Council meeting on the 1st of July.

The meeting was then closed, well half closed, as the Village Hall and Planning Committee members were then required to appoint one of their number as Chair of their respective groups.

Now I had been sitting in a plastic village hall chair for just over two hours, and my already underwhelming cognitive abilities may have been somewhat inhibited by the painful twinges from those areas most affected by the the seating arrangements but at this point I rather lost track of the selection process to appoint a Chair of the Planning Committee.

While I may not have been at the peak of my limited intellectual powers I am certain that there were three members of the newly appointed planning committee present at the meeting, Susan Anderton, Nick Newens and Bob Chase. I am equally certain that the three aforementioned were about to appoint one of their number as Chair of the Committee.

Furthermore one of their number, Nick Newens, then proposed that Susan Anderton, who is eminently qualified for the post, should be appointed as Chair of the Committee. From here on I began to lose track of the proceedings but I was convinced that the Parish Clerk made the observation that as there were only three members with a vote, and that if Susan was willing to accept the appointment the appointment was settled.

From here on yoru reporter's recollection of events is a trifle confused, (possibly as a result of partial fossilisation of some areas of the anatomy after sitting in a Village Hall Chair for two hours) after the meeting it was confirmed by the Parish Clerk that Bob Chase had been appointed as Chair of the committee. Did he propose himself? Did I miss Nick Newens withdrawal of his proposal or did Susan express a wish not to be appointed Chair of the Committee, no doubt when the official minutes are published the processes involved in this decision will be revealed.

I do remember that the new Chair was informed that all deliberations of the Planning Committee must take place in public after a private house was mooted as a meeting place.

Fortunately for your reporter, the processes involved in the appointment of Peter Durrant as Chair of the Village Hall Management Committee Chair was much easier to follow. Having reached a situation where contracts have been signed for the sale of Massey's Folly, which we hope will be brought to a successful conclusion in the very near future, Peter has also been talking to landowners with a view to securing a site for a new Village Hall and with Peter's formidable negotiation skills it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the owners will be paying for the privilege of having a Village Hall built on their property!

Since her appointment as Parish Clerk, Emma Dillnutt's knowledge of the duties, responsibilities and statutory requirements relating to Parish Council business has proved invaluable, and on the evidence of this meeting, her ability to correct misconceptions and steer the members less familiar with Council procedures in the right direction will be sorely missed.

In Emma's term of office, Parish Council documentation and practices have been updated to bring Farringdon Councillors in line with the statutory requirements and regulations with which all Parish Councils must comply. Finding a permanent replacement of the same calibre will be difficult but essential if this Parish Council is to function efficiently and continue to meet its responsibilities to the residents of the Parish Of Farringdon.


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