Chairman’s Report 2018

2017/18 has been an excellent year for the parish council.

As in previous years we have continued to put in place procedures and processes to make the council more transparent in its dealings and bring about more participation from parishioners.
We’ve had a full membership of nine councillors, most of whom have completed training to improve decisions in relation to planning applications. However, Jane Davies has recently resigned due to changes in her working hours. She has served the community well over the past few years; especially looking after the interests of residents at the western end of the Roman Road we thank her for her service and wish her well.

There has been a great deal of housing development within the parish over the past year; the Bloor development along the Western side of the Roman Road is in full swing. We have been monitoring progress and engaging with parishioners, who have concerns about the development.

The Neighbourhood Development Plan

Over the years the parish has been unable to exert any meaningful influence over planning, however, now we have our Neighbourhood Development Plan in the works we will be able to set some legally binding rules for future developers.

The NDP steering group have worked hard on behalf of the parish over the past year and have brought it to regulation 14. This means they have completed the Pre-submission consultation and advertised details of the proposals to the parish, which they did on the open day held 7th April. The event was well attended with plenty of feedback from parishioners.

They are near the first formal six week consultation stage and the submission to Hereford Council. I have to pay tribute to all the member of the steering group who have put a great deal of organisational effort into the project.

NDP Webpages>>

The dog poo bins

The dog poo bins have been a long running epic in our parish but we are finally getting there. In 2017 Hereford Council’s contractors, Balfour Beatty, quoted £3510 per year for fortnightly emptying of the three bins. We were furious at this ridiculous overcharge and collectively thought up a strategy to get a more reasonable charge.

We contacted Holmer Academy School and ask them run a poster competition with the theme “dog poo – bag it and bin it” The kids relished the challenge and over a hundred works of art were produced – with two winners receiving a prize. We then contacted the Hereford Times and ask them to write an article about the school and our dog poo problem. Their journalist Jessica Phillips contacted the County Council to query the £3510 per year quote and before the article was published, in April 2018 (see below), there was a miraculous U turn by the County Council they reduced their fee from the monstrous £3510 per year to £183.83p. Our strategy paid off and we saved the parish £3326.17p.

The Precept

Over the past year we have improved efficiency in the way the parish council operates; we’ve not been willing to accept over expensive quotes and found ways to reduce charges, an example being the Hereford council’s first quote for the dog bins. Therefore, we’ve kept our spending low and with methods such as these together with an increase in our population we’ve manage to keep the Precept low. Because of this we are now the most cost effective parish council in Herefordshire with the smallest charge on council tax bills than any other parish council.

The Rose Garden

The other area where the parish council have played a part is keeping our local pub running as a pub. In recent years its existence has been under threat because of the new land owner’s plans to develop the site. The Parish Council were unanimous in agreeing that the pub be made a community asset and with the help of Mark Haslam from CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) we did this on the grounds that generations of parishioners and visitors from all over the country have used the pub for over 75 years, primarily because of its large outside eating and play area.

The parish now has over 365 new homes within a five minute walk of the only public house in the parish and we will have another 500 houses built in the next 10 years. The Rose Garden now re-branded as the Secret Garden is an important part of our parish I hope everyone supports the pub by dropping from time to time for a pint.

The Secret Garden Website

Footpaths

One of the great improvements over the past few years has been the reporting of and maintenance of our footpaths and this is because of our footpaths officer Duncan Smart. He regularly publishes his reports on the parish council website with detailed photographs. He has improved all the footpath signs, found a lost bridal way and is currently researching the parish’s lost paths. The Parish council bought a power strimmer which Duncan uses to keep the paths clear for parishioners and we all owe Duncan our gratitude for his important service to our community.

Duncan’s Footpath Reports>>


Hereford Times dog poo - bag it and bin it
Hereford Times April 2018

Footpath Report 12th April to 10th May 2018

1) Wednesday 18th April – at Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre (HARC), Rotherwas, researching the parish’s lost paths – HO2, HO5, HO7, HO11 and HO12.
Initial concentration was on paths 2 and 7 which appeared on a Draft Definitive Map issued in August 1952, but by the time the 1952 Definitive Map was issued on 1st October 1952 path 7 had ceased to be numbered on the map even though a footpath was still shown.

Numerous Holmer & Shelwick Parish Council minutes from that era were examined but no references to the two paths were seen. Surprisingly one minute of a meeting held on 30th April 1969 referred to the extinguishment of the path section of HO1 between 8 and 9 The Crescent. Fortunately, that has not happened but HO2 has disappeared.

An email was sent on 8th May 2018 to Mr Mike Mable, the Definitive Map Officer for Herefordshire, requesting advice on whether he has information on paths 2 and 7 being the subject of Public Path Extinguishment Orders. The records for such Orders are, apparently, kept within the Public Rights of Way (PROW) section and not at HARC.

Mr Mable responded on 9th May 2018 with comprehensive documentation as to why footpaths 5, 7, 11 and 12 were rejected and did not make it on to the Definitive Map. Footpath 2 was accepted for inclusion on the Draft Map but did not make it on to the first Definitive Map. I will try to pursue this further when I can. However, it is unlikely that Footpath 2 can be reinstated because, as part of the evidence, we are required to confirm that the path has been in regular use for the past 20 years. That we cannot do as the line of the path now passes through a garden.

2) Sunday 7th May – walked 13.7 miles to check each of Holmer & Shelwick’s Public Footpaths and work out a list of priorities for path maintenance:

a) Path HO1 – from Roman Road across Ayles Brook and towards the Canon Pyon Road. The path between 8 and 9 The Crescent requires some cutting back of overhanging vegetation. Across Ayles Brook bridge you are faced by a small pool of water, but it is possible to bypass that now without too much difficulty. The path has not been re-instated yet along the correct line, as per the map.

HO1 at Roman Road
HO1 at Roman Road
HO1 at Ayles Brook bridge (SO 50257 42276)
HO1 at Ayles Brook bridge (SO 50257 42276)
HO1 not easy to follow across the Bloor Homes site
HO1 not easy to follow across the Bloor Homes site
HO1 stile at other side of Bloor Homes site (SO 50040 42544)
HO1 stile at other side of Bloor Homes site (SO 50040 42544)

b) Path HO3 – from the A49 to Cold Well Pool (Holmer Pond). A small amount of vegetation clearance is required around the A49 entrance to the path at the metal gate. Apart from that no problems.

HO3 Metal Gate at A49 end of path
HO3 Metal Gate at A49 end of path
HO3 near Coldwells Road
HO3 near Coldwells Road
c) Path HO4 – from Coldwells Road to parish boundary at junction with Pipe & Lyde paths PL1 and PL2. No major problems noted. Excellent path left through an oil seed rape crop.
HO4 near parish boundary
HO4 near parish boundary
d) Path HO6 – from Attwood Lane to Munstone Road through The Furlongs estate.
No problems noted other than Herras fencing is still in place at Munstone Road instead of the planned barriers. Also, this end of the path is still waiting for a final coat of tarmac.

e) Path HO8 – from Attwood Lane to Roman Road. Nettles growing now and the path will require strimming in the near future. Cutting back of overhanging vegetation will also be required.

HO8 at Attwood Lane before strimming
HO8 at Attwood Lane before strimming

Subsequently to walking the path complaints/comments were received through the website that trees along the path were overhanging gardens and houses and the path was always full of nettles and wet and could not be walked in ordinary footwear.

However, path HO8 is essentially a country path running between housing and it will tend to suffer from growth of nettles and become waterlogged in wet weather. An incident has been logged on the Herefordshire Council website about the trees (Balfour Beatty Ref: 11056655) and further investigation of the waterlogging in wet weather will be requested (there is still an incident outstanding for this Balfour Beatty Ref: 11055307)

On 9th May the path was strimmed/trimmed by me and it was dry.

HO8 path strimmed from Attwood Lane to Roman Road
HO8 path strimmed from Attwood Lane to Roman Road
HO8 path strimmed from Attwood Lane to Roman Road
HO8 path strimmed from Attwood Lane to Roman Road
The Path HO8 is a difficult path to keep in reasonable order and that is not helped by the fact that some of the houses adjacent to the path are dumping garden and other rubbish in the path. It would be appreciated if that stopped immediately because it is, effectively, fly-tipping!
HO8 fence debris and garden rubbish dumped along the path
HO8 fence debris and garden rubbish dumped along the path

f) Path HO8A – from Attwood Lane by the Holmer Court Care Home across to The Furlongs and then up to Coldwells Road by The Secret Garden. No problems when walked.

g) Path HO9 – from road C1127 (Munstone Road) by White House Farm to Shelwick Lane/Patch Hill Lane junction. The entrance to the path from the road is still very rough. Weeds/nettles now growing at the White House Farm end of the path and will need trimming soon. However, the owners of the farm are hoping to keep the grass part of the path mown which will be a big help.

HO9 at C1127 (Munstone Road)
HO9 at C1127 (Munstone Road)
HO9 near C1127 (Munstone Road)
HO9 near C1127 (Munstone Road)
h) Path H10 – off the road C1127 (Munstone Road), along Ivydene’s drive to the footpath access to Patch Hill, round Munstone Farm and down to Shelwick Lane.

The path through from Ivydene will need trimming soon up to the Patch Hill lane and the stile at SO 51865 43133 requires clearing. Also, two metal stiles made from gates need replacement.

HO10 near Ivydene
HO10 near Ivydene
HO10 overgrown at Patch Hill lane exit
HO10 overgrown at Patch Hill lane exit
HO10 stile at SO 51865 43133 in need of clearing
HO10 stile at SO 51865 43133 in need of clearing
HO10 at SO 52281 43338 - waymark needs replacing
HO10 at SO 52281 43338 – waymark needs replacing
HO10 stile at SO 52007 43328 in need of repair or replacement or re-routing through gateway
HO10 path in need of strimming from stile (SO 52384 43197) to Shelwick Lane
HO10 path in need of strimming from stile (SO 52384 43197) to Shelwick Lane
HO10 stile at SO 52338 43332 needs replacement
HO10 stile at SO 52338 43332 needs replacement

i) Path HO13 – from the footbridge at Shelwick to Munstone Road.

HO13 bridge at Shelwick Lane (SO 52604 43003) - broken decking board
HO13 bridge at Shelwick Lane (SO 52604 43003) – broken decking board
HO13 slippery curved surface at step off point from bridge (SO 52604 43003)
HO13 stile at SO 52492 42915 leaning and in need of maintenance
HO13 stile at SO 52492 42915 leaning and in need of maintenance
HO13 stile at SO 52475 42828 needs clearing. Extra top rail without cross step makes stile difficult for some walkers
HO13 stile at SO 52475 42828 needs clearing. Extra top rail without cross step makes stile difficult for some walkers
HO13 stile at SO 52298 42768 missing a lower rail and needs a longer upright on one side
HO13 stile at SO 52298 42768 missing a lower rail and needs a longer upright on one side
HO13 a dangerous difficult stile to get over at SO 52157 42703. Needs replacement with a gate or standard stile.
HO13 a dangerous difficult stile to get over at SO 52157 42703. Needs replacement with a gate or standard stile.
HO13-HO14 damaged & difficult stile in need of repair at SO 52055 42622
HO13-HO14 damaged & difficult stile in need of repair at SO 52055 42622
HO13-HO14 damaged & difficult stile in need of repair at SO 52055 42622
HO13-HO14 damaged & difficult stile in need of repair at SO 52055 42622

The field was being ploughed while I was there. The farmer assured me that he would reinstate the HO13 path within 10 days.

HO13 stile needs clearing at SO 51780 42569
HO13 stile needs clearing at SO 51780 42569
HO13 stile top rail and bridge hand rail still needs repair SO 51592 42513 (previous picture)
HO13 stile top rail and bridge hand rail still needs repair SO 51592 42513 (previous picture)
HO13 from Munstone Road – the farmer promised to re-instate paths within 10 days
HO13 from Munstone Road – the farmer promised to re-instate paths within 10 days

j) Path HO14 – from Shelwick Lane (near Patch Hill lane) to Burcott Farm

HO14 steps from Shelwick Lane. Light clearance work required
HO14 steps from Shelwick Lane. Light clearance work required
HO14 stile at SO 5210 4247 still in need of repair (cross step broken)
HO14 stile at SO 5210 4247 still in need of repair (cross step broken)
HO14 stile at SO 5210 4247 (previous picture)
HO14 stile at SO 5210 4247 (previous picture)
HO14 can use a furrow leading directly towards Burcott Farm from the stile at SO 5210 4247
HO14 can use a furrow leading directly towards Burcott Farm from the stile at SO 5210 4247

k) Path HO15 – from Shelwick Green to near the River Lugg. No issues other than mud near the kissing gate.

l) Path HO16 – from Shelwick Green to the River Lugg. No specific issues

m) Path HO17 – from junction with HO16 to the Roman Road (near Lugg Bridge
There are several issues with stiles as will be seen from the photographs. Also, the final field up to the Roman Road is an Access Land meadow that becomes very overgrown with long grass in the summer and the path is difficult to keep open.

HO17 stile at SO 53323 42353 ideally would be replaced with a more rigid standard stile
HO17 stile at SO 53323 42353 ideally would be replaced with a more rigid standard stile
HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.
HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.

 

HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.
HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.
HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.
HO17 stile at SO 53294 42292 needs clearing. Stile is leaning and has added top bar making it difficult for shorter walkers.

n) Bridleway HO18 – from Roman Road by Lugg Bridge towards Sutton Rhea and Sutton Marsh to the parish boundary. The section closest to the Roman Road requires the most work at present, before the brambles take hold.

HO18 Bridleway - broken gate at SO 53267 41901 impossible to open from a horse and very difficult on foot
HO18 Bridleway – broken gate at SO 53267 41901 impossible to open from a horse and very difficult on foot
HO18 Bridleway - section nearest to the Roman Road will need strimming soon
HO18 Bridleway – section nearest to the Roman Road will need strimming soon
HO18 Bridleway - sludge from stone processing plant blocking ditch (SO 53629 42644)
HO18 Bridleway – sludge from stone processing plant blocking ditch (SO 53629 42644)

The purpose of walking the complete path network in one day was to get a quick assessment of which sections have the most urgent need of attention. In the coming weeks I will try to do the trimming work identified in this report. I will also report/re-report all the stile and bridge issues to Balfour Beatty.

It is impossible for me to do everything in a short period as Footpath Officer duties are something I have to fit in with other commitments. Unfortunately (for me), Nature is an impatient taskmaster/taskmistress and keeps things growing when I cannot do anything about it. If specific issues need prompt attention please do report them through the Holmer & Shelwick website.

Duncan Smart (DGS),
Holmer & Shelwick Parish Footpath Officer
12/05/2018