2019/20: An eventful year!
At the start of this year, no-one could have predicted that we would end it in lockdown, in the middle of a pandemic, but the Council has worked on throughout, while complying with social distancing rules and getting to grips with meeting online. We know that this has been a difficult time for many Hazlemere residents, but a real highlight has been the amazing community spirit, from the volunteers who have helped out with shopping and prescriptions, to the local businesses who have ‘gone the extra mile’ to support their customers. The Parish Council has received a small grant from Scottish and Southern Electric Networks to support voluntary action in Hazlemere, and has been working with the Trustees of the Hazlemere Memorial Hall to help meet the needs of vulnerable residents.
In the meantime, we are continuing to ensure that our buildings and open spaces are properly maintained and fully cleaned, ready for when they can be opened to the public again. Our programme of improvements over the last year has included replacing some of our older play equipment, but it is very disappointing that we regularly need to replace equipment damaged by vandalism. This year, we also had to bear the cost of clearing up after an unauthorised encampment on Rose Avenue. To reduce the risk of such encampments in future, we are protecting any open spaces at risk with bollards.
We know how important our open spaces, and the beautiful countryside so close at hand, have been to residents during the lockdown and we want to ensure that Hazlemere remains as ‘green’ as possible in future years. We have no powers to stop development within the Parish, but we have used our rights of consultation to comment on local developments, and met with Persimmon and Redrow (who are the developers of the land at Terriers) to raise local concerns.
With growing concern about the impact of climate change, we also agreed to join the many other councils around the country, including Buckinghamshire, who have declared a ‘climate emergency’, with the aim of being carbon-neutral by 2030. We have set up a working party, including interested parties from across the Parish, to consider how we can reduce our own carbon emissions and capitalise on our own natural assets. We have set up the ‘Hazlemere climate talks’, a series of online talks on matters ranging from recycling to energy use, bees to trees. Keep an eye on our website and noticeboards for details.
One of the legacies of the Coronavirus is likely to be a need for increased spending to support vulnerable residents and businesses, and in recent years Parish Councils have also had to take on a number of responsibilities from local authorities. As a result, the Parish Council has decided to release some of our reserves in order to set a deficit budget this year, allowing us to take on further devolved services if necessary and beneficial to the Parish (for example, by taking on responsibility for some extra pieces of land). Our remaining reserves will be well within statutory requirements.
Finally, I want to say a big thank you to our staff, Ali, Rachel and Dave, who have kept things going so efficiently throughout a year of challenges, to all my fellow-Councillors, and particularly to my precursor as Council Chairman, Milly Roberts, who has shown so much commitment to Hazlemere over many years. I am honoured to take her place and looking forward to being able to hold meetings in person again! In the meantime, all our Council agendas continue to be published on the noticeboards around the Parish and we encourage anyone – online or not – who has an interest in one of the issues under the discussion to contact the Clerk, Ali Banham, who will ensure that your views are taken into account. And if anyone is interested in joining our Climate Emergency working group or becoming a Councillor, we’d love to hear from you.
Jane Baker, Chairman Hazlemere Parish Council June 2020
Hazlemere Parish Council would like to pay tribute to Alan Kenyon, Ex-Councillor, who sadly passed away this year. As well as his role on the Council, he made a huge contribution to the Parish through his involvement with the Fete, the Community Centre and Hazlemere Gardening Association.