Chairman Andrew Hawthorn's speech to the 2021 annual village meeting

We would normally have a village meeting every year, but last year’s was cancelled for

obvious reasons. I will be talking about the last two years, so think of this as a kind of bogof -

buy one, get one free - address.

Little Shelford has been fortunate to have a lower impact from Covid-19 than many other

communities. At the same time we have maintained a cohesiveness which I would attribute

to the efforts of many people in the village. I will mention a few now, but there are plenty of

others. The Kingdons very quickly established the support network for the vulnerable and

those shielding; Libby Ahluwalia edited a stimulating weekly magazine; Barry Smith

organised groceries from the Navigator; Judy Boothroyd and Christine Ruffles got the cake

round going and David Martin kept us all informed. A big thank you to all of them.

I’d also remind the village that the parish council has established a hardship fund, with some

very generous personal donations, and that fund is still available for those residents who are

struggling – whether because of the virus or for other reasons.

Several years ago, the Parish Council established the award of “Villager of The Year”, which

earns you the pleasure of holding this shield. I’m delighted to say that this year the award

goes jointly to Caroline and Charles Kingdon for their leadership and work through the

pandemic.

Let us hope that the coming year will see the resumption of some familiar Little Shelford

events such as pavilion teas, the village weekend, the panto and the big breakfast.

Looking to the great outdoors, one of the things we’ve seen in the past year is that demand

for allotments has increased to the extent that we now have a waiting list for the first time

in many years. It’s great to see that part of Blennie’s Patch in such productive use. The other

change there is the establishment of the community orchard, an initiative led by Mike

Darsley. He and his fellow SCOWPers have accomplished a tremendous amount in less than

18 months. I think it is fantastic that we are using another amenity area in the village. Our

main such resource is, of course, the Rec. Obviously there are day to day maintenance

activities in looking after the grounds and facilities and we are indebted to the wildlife group

for their contribution to this. We also need to think ahead to ensure that the Rec is as

valuable for future generations as it is for ours. I’m glad to say that, when he is back on his

feet, David Jones will be setting up a group of interested parties to start addressing this.

You will all have your opinions about the state of the roads and pavements in the village and

the amount of traffic that passes through. These issues have proved to be the most

intractable in recent years. We have put in applications for two local highway initiatives

(one being to address the junction between Church St, Bridge Lane & Whittlesford Road, the

other to reduce speeding on traffic entering the village along Newton Road) and both have

been rejected. Richard Patterson, being a glutton for punishment, is engaging with highways

to discuss these and other measures that might have the effect of slowing or even reducing

through traffic – for example extending the 20mph limit on Bridge Lane. Please contact him

if you would like to get involved.

The county council have made two starts at doing repair work on the High Street and

completely failed on both occasions. The view is now that things have got so bad that High

Street will have to be planed out and relaid, rather than patched – a decision taken in

February but still without a schedule. Church Street and Hauxton Road are also in very poor

condition. We look to our new county councillors to improve on this record in the coming

year. In the meantime, please report any potholes to

https://highwaysreporting.cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Little Shelford has the status of being an in-fill only village. The occasional developments

that we have are almost all large and expensive. In 2019 the parish council commissioned a

housing needs survey by Cambridgeshire ACRE and many of you will have completed it. The

primary objective was to establish whether there is a need for affordable housing amongst

Little Shelford residents. We received the report just over a year ago. It is fair to say that

there was insufficient demand to justify such a project. What the report did reveal was the

lack of market housing within the village for people wishing to downsize or startup. The

development pattern tends to mitigate against that.

In general the parish can only give opinions on planning decisions. We have been seeking to

improve that by the development of a Village Design Guide. Those of you who have been

following this know that it has been quite a saga and absorbed a tremendous amount of

time and energy from Neil Ruffles and Collette Patterson. Just at the point when it seemed

the document was ready to be adopted South Cambs advised us that they did not have the

resource to complete the process. This is more than disappointing and we shall continue to

press the district. In the meantime, the “oven-ready” guide will be published on our own

website in the near future.

Eleven years ago the parish council surveyed the whole village on a range of needs and

published a village plan with a series of actions and priorities. Sarah Penn has reviewed the

plan to see where we have got to. There have been some obvious successes such as the

pavilion and the playground and recurring themes like roads and traffic. Sarah’s review is on

the website. Take a look and tell us what you think.

We are also thinking about the ways we communicate with the village. For many people,

the website or facebook, and the monthly newsletter meet their needs. We are also mindful

of those who are not regular users of social media and planning to reinstate “Meet the

parish council” when we can get back into the village hall. Do give us your thoughts on the

matter.

I would like to thank my fellow councillors for their efforts and support. Unfortunately, we

have lost two members – Bridget Sumsion has moved away. David Martin had been a

councillor for a long time and then chair for seven years. During that time he achieved a

great deal for the village and we are very sorry to have lost him. Fortunately, we have

gained Jenny Moon who is already making a great contribution. However, we were already

one down so we are still looking for two new members to join us. You have heard about the

range of activities we are involved in, and at times we simply do not have the resource to do

as good a job for the village as we would like. So, please seriously consider stepping forward

– you do not have to be an expert, just willing to spend time advancing the interests of the

village.

Finally, where would be without Penny Tanna, the clerk, who keeps the plates spinning and

deals with all issues with aplomb, while keeping us in order.

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