Annual Parish Meeting 2021 – CHANGE OF DATE
As you will be aware, there is an official period of mourning for eight days following the death of Prince Philip. This is set out in the government guidance; lasting until 8am on 18 April 2021 (the day after the funeral of HRH Prince Philip)
As a result, these days have to be excluded for calculation of time for ‘clear days’ in the convening of meetings. This will mean that the Annual Parish Meeting, planned for Monday 19th April, will now be on Tuesday 4th May at 6.00pm via Zoom.
The Agenda and Zoom details will be published on the website in due course
Whiston Summer Festival 2021
Following the meeting of the council on 15th March, it is with great disappointment that the decision was taken to postpone this years summer festival. It was felt that the date of the festival, planned for the first Saturday in July (when the council are licensed to hold the event), was too close to the date estimated by the government for the final COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. If any of the dates set out in the governments “road map” were at all delayed, the result would be that the festival would have to be cancelled with very short notice and at significant cost. Council members felt it was irresponsible to risk public money in this way, and hope local residents will understand the reasoning behind such a tough decision. However, the parish council are hopeful that another event may be possible later in the year, when more certainty regarding the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions is felt. We apologise for the disappointment caused and assure you we feel equally disappointed ourselves!
Flood Defence Grant
Whiston parish council are pleased to have secured a flood defence and resilience grant of £12,000. This will help local residents who have been flooded or are at risk of flooding. The grant will be awarded to the council in instalments over a three year period. No decision has yet been made as to exactly how the money will be allocated, but it is hoped that a public consultation, once COVID-19 restrictions ease, will help to identify where it is most needed. Investment in flood defence equipment is one possible area that a portion of the grant may be used. Further information to follow….
Whiston Parish Hall
The government announcement that the country shall begin a third lockdown period will mean that Whiston Parish Hall will temporarily close. We hope that it will be of short duration, and will re open as soon as government regulations allow.
Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme
Whiston Parish Council have recently been made aware of an opportunity for residents in rural areas to take advantage of The Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. This government backed scheme helps eligible residents access funding to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. This will enable superfast broadband speeds. The vouchers are worth £1500 for each residential premises, and £3500 for small/medium size businesses. Properties that have already been covered for superfast Fibre to the Cabinet, (FTTC), can also take advantage of the voucher scheme to upgrade to Fibre to the Premises, (FTTP).
- Your property must be classed as rural.
- Your property must not already be able to receive a service which provide broadband speeds of 100Mbps or greater. (Ofcom broadband availability checker https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-coverage
- You will need to form a group – a single connection is not eligible – neighbours (and the wider community), will need to pull together.
The areas categorised as “rural” are:
- Upper Whiston
Superfast South Yorkshire, (SFSY), are a partnership between Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Council, UK Government and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership who help residents and businesses with their connectivity. They are urging residents with poor broadband speeds to consider the scheme before funding runs out.
Full information on the scheme, along with step-by-step instructions, can be found here:
For any residents interested in accessing the scheme, but who would like guidance, please contact SFSY (Superfast South Yorkshire) at: email@example.com
A Facebook community forum has also been created as a meeting place for residents to access broadband funding and advice https://www.facebook.com/groups/910590315987018
Whiston Parish Council – Coronavirus update
As you are aware, we are in uncertain and fast changing times in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Parish Council, as part of the government, will be following government guidelines to help prevent spread of the virus within our local community. Currently, Council activities and functions will continue as far as possible, to ensure a smooth operation of Council business, but Council meetings will be held remotely via Zoom for the next few months. Normal routine monthly Council meetings were suspended in March. Remote meetings have recently been agreed by the Government. All notices of any scheduled meetings will be published on this website (under the Council Meetings section) but may not always be placed in the notice boards in the Parish. Members of the public can “attend” remote meetings, and can find the Zoom link and password at the base of each agenda.
Despite the above the need to hold an Annual Council Meeting in May each year has been removed with the normal matters dealt with at such meetings deferred until the 2021 Annual Meeting.
There are no regulations issued that deals with the Annual Parish Meeting of electors which is also usually called in May in Whiston. In light of the government guidance on gatherings however we do not intend to call such a meeting irrespective of the normal statutory requirements.
Annual Accounts – new regulations have also been issued so that the need to lay accounts by 30th June has been removed with a new date of 31st August being applied. Public Elector Rights (normally partly in July) have been extended to September with the conclusion of audit by 30th November (instead of 30th September). Please keep an eye on the Policies and Procedures section of the website which will continue to include relevant Notices and documents regarding this years accounts and audit.
It is with great regret, the Council has had no option but to postpone Whiston’s summer festival until July 2021 to maintain social distancing and help keep our community safe.
The Parish Hall is temporarily closed. When it re opens, it will be with limited numbers permitted and with a phased return of classes. A full risk assessment has been undertaken and many precautions have been implemented to keep the hall as safe as possible for users. Sanitising stations have been installed and social distancing signage put up throughout the building. A one way system is in use to minimise contact between user groups. Cleaning materials, tissues and bins have been provided for the use of anyone hiring the hall.
We would ask at this time that everyone remembers their neighbours and others in the community that may be isolated or need additional assistance at this difficult time.
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Whiston Parish Council – Chairman’s Annual Report 2019-2020
The Parish Council have again been busy with further renovation of the hall. The newly laid patio area to the rear of the building saw completion in autumn, and the beginning of 2020 saw the installation of a new, commercial quality kitchen. As the winter turned to spring, work began within the bar. All areas are now complete, adding greatly to the facilities the hall can offer both to regular users and residents wishing to hire the hall for a private event.
Both the Junior and Senior Youth Clubs continue to flourish, with increasing numbers and further investment allowing for enhanced equipment and facilities. A visit from our new MP, Alexander Stafford, had been arranged for the Youth Club members, but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We are hopeful this can be rearranged in due course.
The Christmas lights event was a great success at the close of 2019, being very well attended and appreciated by all. I would like to thank all members who worked tirelessly to plan, organise and produce such a fabulous evening.
The Parish Council are disappointed to have had no option but to postpone the Summer Festival until 2021, but would like to reassure local residents that plans are underway for next year!
Having had no resignations of Council members, and with the elections that were scheduled for May being postponed until next Spring, the Council remains unchanged, with myself and the Vice Chairman, Cllr Carter, continuing in our positions for 2020-2021.
The Parish Council started the Financial Year (2019-20) with opening balances of £185,120 which included earmarked reserves of just under £52,000 Income during the year came to £145,744 Expenditure came to £175,471
This has left a year-end revenue balance at 31st March 2020 of £155.393, including earmarked reserves of just under £40,000. Reserves have reduced during the year mainly because of funding for further refurbishment of the hall, annual events and additional Christmas lights.
This financial year the Parish Council has budgeted to spend just over £137,000 with income expected to be in the region of £136,830. The Precept for 2020-21 is currently set at £95,680
Plans for the future
This year final improvements to the hall are planned with painting of lampposts and new signage to the front and rear of the building. We are hopeful that this will then complete the renovations of what is now a thoroughly modernised, attractive hall.
The Parish Council, as in recent years, will be arranging the planting of flower beds around the village and have also invested in some lamppost poppies to help celebrate Remembrance Day later in 2020. In previous years this has been marked with an event in the Parish Hall, whereby aged parishioners are invited to share in a ‘pie-n-pea’ lunch. It is at present unsure whether we will be able to hold an event for such a vulnerable group due to social distancing measures. Likewise, the possibility of the Christmas event will need to be reviewed nearer the time.
A week of community activities are planned for the end of June 2021, culminating in the Summer Festival on Saturday 3rd July. Last year’s event was a great success and we are hoping to further add to and improve on it next year.
Following the devastating flooding at the end of 2019, the Council are requesting regular updates from the Environment Agency regarding plans for flood defences. At present they are awaiting a decision from Sheffield City District as to whether the relief funding application has been successful. This will determine the best way forward. We are also in discussions with the Environment Agency regarding maintenance schedules of Whiston Brook, and are working with RMBC to determine riparian ownership along various stretches of the river and its embankments.
As always, littering is an ongoing problem. Although litter picking has recently had to be put on hold due to the lockdown, I would like to thank Councillors and members of the parish who have previously regularly helped to pick rubbish from around the village.
I would kindly request all parish members, young and old, to remember to take rubbish home or put it in the bins provided, and in doing so help to keep the village a place that is a pleasure to live in.
Finally . . . I would like to thank our staff – Steve and Denise Pearson, for their continued efforts and commitment to Whiston Parish Council. Also, to Jordan Arno and Sophie Wright who work tirelessly in developing a prospering Youth Club. I would also like to welcome Lu Hunt to the team, who will be joining Jordan and Sophie as a member of the Youth Club staff at the end of summer.
My thanks go to all the Councillors for their support and assistance throughout the year, all of whom are dedicated in their contributions to the parish, and give vast amounts of their time freely in the planning and hosting of community events. I could not do it without your help!
Michael Yarlett – Chairman to the Council