CHAIRMAN’S REPORT MAY 2023
This is my last report, as after 20 years as chairman and many more years as a parish councillor, I have decided to step down from the council and make way for fresh faces. I was therefore very disappointed that only one person put themself forward for election in May. There have been so many negative comments regarding the parish council during the past year that I felt sure there would be a rush of people willing to try to do a better job. Parish councillors give freely of their time to work on behalf of the village, within the confines of the protocols laid down for all PC’s to follow. We cannot wave a magic wand to improve roads, electricity supply, litter, flooding, parking and the lack of doctors to name but a few of the recent concerns, as most of these are beyond our remit and can only be passed on to the relevant parties to hopefully investigate and remedy.
As a parish council we have tried to keep the village precept as low as possible, as we are aware of the cost implications to households in these difficult times and therefore careful consideration is given to how this money is spent. During the last twelve months we have purchased two wooden seats to celebrate our late Queen’s Jubilee, one for Upper Stoke and the other for Middle Stoke. The carpark has been revamped, with parking spaces marked and planters installed. My thanks to councillor Peter Egan for organising this. We continue to maintain the three playparks and would like to update the equipment finances permitting, but to put them on a par with those in Hoo and High Halstow with their much larger populations would not be realistic.
People complain about the litter in the village, but where does it come from? Sweet papers, food wrappers, cans, broken bottles, used face masks, they only become litter when people leave them lying in the street. There are bins in the playparks and in the carpark and what’s wrong with taking your rubbish home, Medway Council arrange for it to be collected every week. We should all be responsible for our own rubbish and educate our children to do the same.
It was lovely to see all the bunting put up for the jubilee and the coronation. I must thank all the people who worked so hard to organise the street parties to celebrate both these occasions, which were so successful. These events require a lot of planning and hard work by everyone concerned but it is all worthwhile when they are so well attended and enjoyed.
Both the church in Upper Stoke and the chapel in Lower Stoke open their doors to all for coffee mornings and other activities and these are both well attended.
I would like to thank the parish councillors I have worked with during the year for all their hard work and support. My thanks also to Jenny our parish clerk, without whom the parish council couldn’t function. I’m sorry to leave the present council, Julie and Karen and new member Paul (the only person to put his name forward for election) so short of numbers. I hope the village will support their efforts and remember that as councillors they give up their time to work for the good of the village. It is very easy to criticize the council via social media, but why not come along to the meetings, raise your concerns and give councillors the chance to reply. If you feel so strongly about how the council is run why not put your name forward for co-option on to the council as there are vacancies.
A big thank you to all the people who over the years have contributed in so many ways to benefit the village, mowing grass, clearing weeds and litter picking as well as organising events and raising money for good causes.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me during my time as councillor and just to set the record straight no-one has ever given me a brown paper bag full or otherwise!