the Office team, Rangers and Councillors as well as our Parish Guardians & volunteers for everything they help us to achieve. Each Councillor although summoned to attend meetings, gives their time voluntarily. No Councillor gets paid for any time volunteered, whether that is cleaning play parks, litter picking, running projects or just attending meetings. Our I.T. is picked up by the Council to ensure we can respond quickly and have equality across the Council.
I was very pleased to have been elected to the role of Chairman in August 2020 with Patricia stepping into the Vice Chairperson role in September 2020 to continue contributing to the strategy and great work this Council delivers to its residents in all 12 of our areas. We have always attempted to deliver value for money for the resident but admit it is also a fine balancing act between sustainability of resource and cutting back as labour costs and services costs increase.
We also want to continue the good work of previous Chairs and Councillors who have helped build the Councillor team into what it is today. The Office team are the lifeblood of the Council to which we, the Volunteer Councillors would really find it difficult to function, cost, implement and carry through ideas / projects for the good of our Community.
I have also been hugely impressed by projects developed and bought to life by members of the team since joining the Council in 2018. The desire to achieve for the good of our residents is top of GLPC’s list. Here’s an overview of what is new, what we’re working on and what is in development. As always you are invited to watch our Council Meetings through Facebook live in mid / late 2021 or by invite through Teams (at this stage until May 7th under current legislation).
Marsh Drive Football Ground - The biggest project by far is the expansion of the Marsh Drive Facilities which you’ll see develop over the coming months. Work has just finished on PHASE 1 and due to start on an internal refurb (PHASE 2) … exciting times. So many people to thank for helping this reach fruition. Our own Project Manager, Andrew Morphett and Peter Widdowson (lead Finance) as well as the office team for their support and local Ward Councillors as well. Thanks also to MKC and Pete Winkleman.
Neighbourhood Watch Scheme – GLPC have created a closed group on Social Media “GLPC NHW” which hopefully keeps members up to date with issues in the community. To date we have 260 members
Community Larder – A new scheme that has already proven, without a doubt that this is a great initiative. For more details email Ruth on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 01908 606613. Feedback has been tremendous from the subscribers who are finding it an excellent initiative with now over 60 members and some great volunteers like Susan and Margaret who help make it happen.
Neath Hill Mound - Thanks to all involved from our Council and MKC for securing the FCC funding to give the “Mound” a much needed overhaul and new swings and apparatus for kiddies to use just as COVID restrictions ease.
Love where you Live - A campaign that we run to do just this. We all unfortunately have to accept that the local authorities aren’t able to impact as many local issues as they used to. We’ve decided to help local residents who flag up that, if they can get a small group together who want to tidy, cut, clean and prune their street. GLPC will help or get MKC involved where possible. We’ve had great success in Great Linford High Street and even bigger success with the residents of Hartley, we also joined forces with a voluntary group called Keeping the Kindness. A similar scheme is in operation with residents in Downs Barn and Pennylands. We’re hoping to get some residents together from other estates to start…Loving where they live.
St Leger Drive ramp – An initiative driven by MKC and GLPC to install a new sleeping policeman near the local centre with a new disabled ramp. This has been a great success in slowing traffic near the centre and aiding residents and schoolchildren safer access to the shops from the other side of the road.
Dog Poo Bins – We are all aware of the increase in dog ownership over the last few years, that certainly grew again in the last 12 months. Estimations are in excess of 10 million dogs in the UK. It seems many more in our Parish area. GLPC have undertaken a review of its dog poo bins and created an interactive map on the GLPC website so you can plot your walk with your dog. We will be increasing dog poo bins in many areas and adjusting positions to pick up popular routes and will increase the bins from 28 to 34. Some will also be changed to bigger bins to facilitate more poo traffic. We have an increased budget to help fund this, thanks to you, the residents.
Covid-19 – The new normal - Obviously it’s been a traumatic year all round for the world with the advent of Covid -19 and what the implications are for our wider society and local communities. As a Council, we’re very aware that we must reboot our vision for the foreseeable future. We need to further embrace Social Media while not forgetting our support for the non tech generation. We are undertaking a candid and honest review over the coming weeks of everything the Council does so we can show further support to our residents old and young whenever they need it, for whoever needs it. We are looking to add Covid19 support via a local group and much needed signposting to various organisations that can help residents manage issues that affect them individually or as a family through our offices opposite the Great Linford Co-op
The Precept - The Council team acknowledge that this year has become very tricky and again, a balancing act with finances for us all. The Council agreed on a majority vote at the budget meeting in December 2020 that with facilities shut and not generating income for maintenance, we needed to get these facilities ready and functioning for when the pandemic started losing its grip on society.
Coupled with many things that we wished to undertake for the community, far and wide over the coming years, we put the proposal forward that for the first time in many years we needed more than inflationary plus increases to the precept. On average, the band D increase is £2.41 a month. We still think it is good value. For the first time, GLPC have a 5 year plan in place to help us drive this Parish Council forward and help prepare it for whatever the future holds for the residents of this great area. This means we can look to increase the team in the office, extend opening hours for people that work longer or unsociable hours, increase our I.T infrastructure with Desktop access for people who can’t / won’t or don’t use Computers and may need to access things like CAB or money advice / Age UK etc. As MKC find it harder to cut back foliage and keep up with general maintenance, GLPC can expand the Ranger team to further aid “Love where you live” and other issues that are flagged up by residents. More equipment to help litter picking and facilitate pruning and clearing of areas. More money to help clean areas that MKC can’t seem to do or keep reducing the service to you. We aim to future proof that and help build a larger parish team over the next 5 years to facilitate this, thanks to you the resident.
More Councillors - We have been actively recruiting new Councillors as well. For the first time in months, GLPC have a significant team of Councillors in place. Sadly, we also said goodbye to David Stabler, Planning lead and Neath Hill Councillor after 20 years. He still plays an active part of many other Committees and often still comments on local business in the Parish. An opportunity to Welcome Councillors Sindhu Kumar (Downs Barn) Richard Dyer (Downs Barn) Jane McKenzie (Great Linford) Zarina Shaffi (Downhead Park), Janice Whelan (Giffard Park & Blakelands), Alifa Chowdury (Conniburrow), David Scott (Downhead Park).
Parish Guardians & Volunteers – Simply too many to mention here but all through COVID, where possible we had volunteers and Guardians out doing their little bit, whether that was litter picking, helping out with food parcels to the vulnerable or simply being there if needed. You provided a lifeline to so many and we love you all for it. From Rose (age 8) to recently Carolyn on Downs Barn who helped when we needed to clean Farrier Place Play Park with the water and power for the Karcher….to all our volunteers, we love you all and really appreciate everything you do. Too many people don’t have time or simply want someone else to do it, whatever it is… you stepped forward. Never forgotten, I assure you.
OUR MISSION HASN’T CHANGED THOUGH
GLPC works hard to facilitate a proud community, we’ll be fully engaged in local matters, contributing to a great living area that is well maintained, with high quality facilities and services that meet the Community needs.
Council Staff - At the time of writing, the Council employs a team of seven staff, all part-time, including Clerk to the Council, Responsible Financial Officer (RFO), Community Liaison Officer, 2 Admin Staff and 2 Rangers.
Other services are contracted with self-employed individuals / companies providing a Project Support Officer, Caretaker and an Enforcement Officer. The team is now set to expand to help, post COVID
Great Linford Council Facilities - In Summary the Parish Council owns or is responsible for:
• Marsh Drive Sports ground,
• Great Linford Cricket ground,
• Community Orchard
• 6 Allotment sites,
• Rocla Art trail and
• Gyosei Art trail,
• Peartree Pond,
• Long term rented offices
• Giffard Park Community Hall.
Working in partnership - There are many active community groups and charities that have made themselves known to the Parish in one way or another and GLPC works with many of them to help provide services that the community has need of, GLPC operates a grant system where local group can apply twice a year for funding (April & October), but we don’t stop there, we will work with any group or activity that has our Parish Communities at their heart and support comes in many different ways for example:
a) Via Breakfast Club provides 12 events throughout the year and hosts a variety of partners talking about Food Bank, Money Matters, Mental Health Smart Motorway, Healthwatch, Parks Trust, to name a few.
b) Citizen Advice Bureau – CAB provide free advice to residents on a variety of matters – last year this meant helping 156 residents with 262 problems, clearing debt of £7,858
and claiming benefits of £28,643.
c) Little Bookshop partners have created a community café and community fridge and host numerous events, educational talks and opportunities for people to just meet up.
d) Big Local Conniburrow has worked with the Rangers to tackle issues around that area. We will continue working with the BLC in the coming months to promote Conniburrow positively
e) Carers MK support local people who are the long-term carers for their family or partners – being able to go out once a month provides advice and mental support for these carers.
f) Local residents have helped GLPC to build and locate 3 book exchanges – free libraries managed by the community for the community to swap and share books.
g) Working with Thames Valley police to bring community forums to the Parish, giving residents the opportunity to talk with the Police about the issues and concerns they have.
Some of the grants that GLPC have endorsed are Conniburrow Children’s Centre, MK Food Fest, YMCA, Peartree Pond and Little Bookshop.
Environment - Speed watch is run at various times throughout the year monitoring drivers in areas all over the Parish. On an average week the group of volunteers have recorded over 812 vehicles and reported 32% of them to Thames Valley Police for speeding on our streets. Speeders receive letters in the post and can lead to prosecution by the Police. Speeding is unacceptable and as anti-social as littering or letting your dog foul the street unfettered. However, the repercussions on speeding can have truly devastating consequences. Abide by the speed limit at all times, ignorance is not an excuse…
Did you know our Rangers clear approx. 720 bags of rubbish in a year!
Tidy up events also removed approx. 90 bags (4 large events). The largest being 150kg from the Spring Clean activity. At least once a month, every month there is an estate tidy up, these yield on average 23 bags per visit. Persistent fly tipping and dog fouling is investigated by the Enforcement Officer who regularly patrols areas to try and educate dog owners / litterers / fly tippers and give them fixed penalty notices if they are caught. Cameras with HD video and sound are employed in trouble spots and we prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law. GLPC are undertaking a review of the 27 Dog Poo Bins we manage to see if they still fit in with our policy and whether more are required.
Working with MKC to trial solutions to the recycle bag problem. Our solution was to offer the click and collect option to residents – providing them with another way of collecting bags while helping MKC to reduce the number of bags being used for other activities not recycling. We’re watching with great interest, the new mixed bin scheme trialled by Milton Keynes Council
Finding and removing knives from Parish locations – updating the Police to notify them of potential hot spots. Removing needles/drug paraphernal and providing the intel to Police to help them target areas. We recently have had some excellent results leading to successful prosecutions by Crimewave and MKC, notably Landlords, fly tipping and lorry drivers doing the wrong thing for a large organisation. Some great fines for people to remember what their fingers can do, which is grip litter either all the way home or to a nearest bin, either of the latter keeps your money in your pocket
Planning - As a consultee we take our responsibility very seriously to review planning applications small and large, responding to them based on the planning policy, guidelines and Plan MK
GLPC Represent residents’ comments on larger planning applications and try to ensure that all local comments are put before the MKC planning committees, for instance representing the community on Linford Lakes, Little Linford Development, Yeoman’s Drive and also on the national plans such as MK East as well as Plan MK. Since January - 52 Notification have been reported of which 12 are current, 1 is a pre application and 8 were of a type that GLPC are not able to comment on. We had 19 application we made no objection to and a further 12 that we either objected or had requested conditions or confirmations on. Of those 12: 1 was withdrawn, 1 has been permitted with our condition included, 1 our conditioned was not needed, 1 is going to DCP and the rest currently we have had no notification of a decision.
Plans and Priorities for 2021/22
1. Marsh Drive Redevelopment – matching the surveyed responses to sport and leisure provisions with the existing facilities and the opportunity of developing community facilities to fit
a wide demographic of the parish and beyond. As described earlier, Phase 2 is really important to us and we know all the residents far and wide will love the finished building
2. Rocla Art – GLPC continue working with the project board & MKC to deliver the art from the S106 monies, taking on the maintenance of the works which compliments the Gyosei Art Trail implemented previously. Phase 2 starts soon
3. School Safety - Working with St Monica’s on Neath Hill and MKC to ensure that parents park considerately and trial a scheme called 3PR which enables tokens to be attained by children whose Parents park in safe zones that children can walk easily to the School. Tokens are taken to class and the class with the most tokens win the 3PR cup and certificate for the month. GLPC have been awarded some funds to trial various schemes including 3PR. Parents in every estate can do their bit, park considerately and think of safety for all, not just your convenience. Is it healthier for your child to walk to school with some friends?
4. Blakelands Warehouse Appeal - GLPC have been funding an expert planning consultant to support our residents in the appeal against the warehouse conditions and the original planning permission. The results are expected soon
How deep is your mud? - Not a new initiative but mental health is at the forefront of so much these days, GLPC will be launching “How deep is your Mud?” campaign shortly. The perception is that the mud is the same depth but people can struggle with many different events that make their mud seem deeper or thicker. We want to show our residents that we are here to support when required.
Other Issues – Promoting awareness of issues within the Parish such as knife crime and speed campaigns by featuring on the BBC Look East programme.
Working with MKC Highways on parking issues on some estates, promoting the consultations and ensuring affected residents get the right to have their say. This has resulted in Resident permits being introduced in some areas.
Consultations – obtain resident input to determine needs and wishes.
Working with MKC to develop a community transport (DRT) or Demand Responsive Transport with MKC to hopefully ensure transport is still available on demand for the people that need it
Reviewing the MKC cuts and the implications of the cutbacks. Devolution appears to be the way forward in many cases of cutbacks to services so as a local area Council we are constantly reviewing cost implications and services that we feel we can help provide so the impetus isn’t lost on the Community
GLPC are revaluating and Increasing the environments services that your Council can offer to ensure that the redways are cleaned, swept and free from weeds. Continually liaising with MKC, Ringway and Serco to deliver cleaner looking streets with managed foliage regimes wherever possible
Increasing outreach events to different venues and different times to reach a wider audience.
Purchasing data capturing SIDs (Speed Indicator Detectors) which move around the Parish to provide more evidence to the enforcement teams.
Litter is always a thorny subject for GLPC, MKC and the Parks Trust. The latter spending £360,000 per annum on litter picking. It is also a Countrywide problem. More litter bins are always the go to answer but sadly doesn’t always work. Bins have to be in high footfall locations to pick up the shop and capacities required to make them cost effective. GLPC do not control Black Bins and love the philosophy of more bins, less litter but as we see in places that have lots of bins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will use them. We are undertaking to ensure we get the message out there wherever possible to educate people to take their litter home if the nearest bin is full.
Launch of the new, user friendly website to provide easier access to information. Access to a new booking system for when our facilities open with easy pay facilities
Active and proactive Facebook page with the potential to reach 3.5k people with information on cultural events, problems in the area, disruptive roadworks, community groups.
North by North East magazine is released three times a year and a subsequent rethink or refresh may be necessary in this new normal. We need to ensure the reader base that we aim for that is off the digital wall is being reached properly in these strange times and also whether we look to go part digital for the time precious part of our resident base.
Committees – We are pleased to announce the formation of Committees within GLPC. Active Councillors can now contribute to the matters that not only interest them but feel passionate about. These include the following:
• Community Services (& Environment) Committee
• Finance, Governance and Asset Committee
• Planning Sub Committee
• Personnel Committee
We have already seen positive take up with Climate change leaders in Community and great interaction between some of our new Councillors. From Dog Poo bins to Art projects, from Sports grounds to Play parks… we never have a dull moment.
We are working for you…
Marc Whelan – Chair- April 2021
Patricia Lawar – Vice Chair –April 2021