This time last year we were all dealing with the threat of Covid-19. Hopefully the worst of that is now behind us, we have regained our freedom and are once more able to travel to most parts of the world. The relaxing of restrictions has also enabled us to hold face to face meetings once again, which I much prefer to holding them via Zoom
During the year two parish councillors resigned for personal reasons and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contributions to the council. We have been fortunate to be able to co-opt three new councillors and we are looking for one more to complete our number.
We continue to work hard to keep the three playparks in good order. We have replaced two large items of equipment, one in Button Drive and the other in Mallard Way, at a total cost of £20,000.00, plus installation costs. Unfortunately the gales early this year uprooted a large tree in Button Drive, breaking the fence around the small play area and the whole park had to be closed until the tree was removed. The fence will be repaired as soon as we are given the go-ahead by the insurance company and are then able to source the fencing. Regrettably there is still some vandalism in the parks with litter being left despite the presence of litter bins.
A new notice board has been erected in a more accessible position in Lower Stoke. This together with the ones in Middle and Upper Stoke provide details of parish council meetings and other public information. I regret to have to report that the board in Upper Stoke has recently been vandalised and will have to be repaired or replaced – another cost for the council.
Flooding continues to be a major problem after heavy rainfall and we are awaiting a report from Medway Council who are looking into this, with a view to try to alleviate the problem. Power cuts have also caused problems for most of us in recent months and there is now talk of new underground cables being laid, but I’m not sure when that will be.
Parking is still a big concern in the village with the ever increasing number of vehicles. Please be considerate of your neighbours and other road users when parking. We are looking into marking out parking bays in the car park in order to optimise the space available.
It has been reported that Stoke School will shortly be taking in children from the Medway Towns while a new school is being built. The children will be bussed in and out each day which has the potential to cause traffic chaos especially if some of the parents bring their children in private cars. Our village children are already collected from the front of the school and taken to Allhallows by minibus and it is hoped that the bus movements will be synchronised to reduce congestion.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a cause for great celebration and a street party has been organised for Sunday 5th June. Permission has been granted for a partial road closure in the High Street to accommodate this. To commemorate the Jubilee the parish council have purchased two wooden benches one for Middle Stoke and the other for Upper Stoke and three oak trees will be planted around the villages.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow councillors for all their help and support during the year.