July 2004 - Parish News


Services & Events during June & July
Wed 30 June    7.30pm                   Confirmation at St John's Farley Hill
Sat 3rd  July     11am to 5.00pm     Open Gardens Day
Sun 4th  July     10.30am                 Family Communion
Thu 8th  July     8pm                        Footsteps Meet
Sat 10th July                                   Prayer Concert/Prayer Fayre Wardown Park
Sun 11th July    10-30am                Morning Praise
                          2-30pm                St Andrew's Ramblers Meet
                          6.15pm                3:16 Meet, BBQ Vicarage Garden
Wed 14th July  10-30am                Pram Service--- family room
Sun 18th July    10.30am                Holy Communion
Mon 19th July     8pm                    PCC meet
Sat 24th July       2pm                    Wedding: Jonathan Hurcombe & Kelly Tilbury
Sun 25th July     9.15am                 Holy Communion at Holy Trinity (Joint Service)
                                                     (No Service at St Andrew's that day)
Wed 28th July                               No Pram Service that day
Fri 30th July      2.30pm                 Woodside Nursing Home Service

Graffitti Discovered in St Andrew’s!
No, it’s not a problem, in fact this is quite charming!
Scratching about behind the organ last month, the churchwardens came upon some fascinating graffiti from an earlier age. Years ago, before an electric blower was installed, the local lads were drafted in to operate the hand pump tucked away behind the organ. Out of sight there, they probably had a chair or two upon which to rest during the readings and sermons. It appears that to maintain their concentration on things spiritual, they resorted to scrawl and scratch their names, pictures and dates on the wooden panel at the back of the organ. There is evidence that one on the lads was having problems with his long multiplication homework, as calculations appear there which would not put Einstein to shame! Also, airplanes were of interest, as they are to us now: not Airbuses and 737’s but Spitfires and ME109’s, not easyJet and Ryanair but RAF & Luftwaffe. These complex images which must have taken considerable time to engrave, and perhaps reflect on the longevity of the sermons in those far off days …
The Churchwardens will be scrutinising these unique statements of Slip End in another age. Dates range from mid ‘30’s to ‘50’s and this is a sort of carbon dating which could be used to pinpoint the exact time when the blower was installed as the carvings ceased abruptly. Or maybe a horrified Kenneth Ashworth discovered the desecration to the admonishment of the miscreants.
The churchwardens would be delighted to show this to anyone interested, most notably some of the lads who are still around the village today (you know who you are, but rest easy, confessions will not be mandatory!)

Report for 2003/4

Dramatis Personae

Christine Benson (Claydown Way)

Betty Sentinella (Elaine Gardens)
Vice Chairman

Philip Penman (Pepperstock)
Chairman of Finance & Planning Committees

Steve Fuell (Crawley Close)
Sue Lyons (Crawley Close)
Geoff Daniel (Church Road)
Ken Crossett (Crawley Close)

County Councillor
Richard Stay

District Councillors
Anne Spencer
Penny Jones
Ruth Gammons

Clerk to the Parish Council
David Haste (Tel & Fax) 0208 201 1079. E-mail: davidhaste@aol.com  

The Timberlands Site
The main issue facing the Parish Council over the past twelve months or more has been the mismanagement of the Timberlands Site in Pepperstock. It should be made clear that the problem does not lie with the lawful and long-established residents of the site, with whom we have co-existed for many years without serious problems, but with the lack of proper management during the past few years. This has resulted in a breakdown of order on the site, the unlawful entry of non-licensed residents and an exodus of the original residents unable to face the reign of terror inflicted on them.
The Parish Council has explored every legal avenue that is open to it. Advice has been taken from our solicitors and also from Counsel. The Councillors are determined to resolve this issue as soon as possible and there are continuing discussions with both the District Council and the County Council aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement.
In this we have received excellent support from our County Councillor, Richard Stay. The police have also given support and have found it necessary to take out an Anti-Social Behaviour Order in respect of at least one (unlawful) resident of the site.
This dispute also has serious financial implications for the Parish Council. Legal Aid is not available to the Council and legal proceedings are very expensive. In order that the Council cannot be intimidated by other parties with far greater financial resources it has been decided to raise the precept for the 2004/5 financial year by a £10 (average) per household.

The Budget & Precept for 2004/5
The Budget consists of two main parts, the essential revenue items (such as wages, grass cutting and maintenance) and those items over which Councillors have a greater element of control. The latter includes planning for the future (such as the replacement of play equipment and safety surfaces), grants to local societies and security matters (such as Closed Circuit television). Expenditure on these budgetary items had not increased over the three years of the Council’s existence. However, as already mentioned, it has been judged necessary to make provision for what could be an expensive legal battle with the County Council and for this reason it has been decided to set a precept for 2004/5 which includes an average £10 charge per household for this purpose only. If the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Parish Council it should not prove necessary to levy this charge in the next financial year.

Policing Issues
The main point of concern continues to be a lack of visible policing and the poor response to calls for assistance that go with this situation. Some improvement has occurred with the arrival of our own Community Police Support Officer, Rebecca Ashfield who is now to be seen in the village fairly frequently and who is taking an interest in some matters of local concern, such as abandoned vehicles. PC Carron Thompson continues to attend meetings of the Parish Council and on two occasions a more senior officer was present. 
Police action in respect of speeding through the village has apparently been suspended but the Parish Council has budgeted for the regular provision of equipment which will at least identify the speeding motorists. 
Closed Circuit Television Projects
As part of its commitment to increased security within the village, the Parish Council is providing financial support to both the planned CCTV projects. The first, which should be active by the time you read this report, will cover the area around the Church, the Peter Edwards Hall, the playing field and the adjoining car park.
The second project, which will go live in the current financial year (2004/5), will cover the Village Hall, the Crawley Playground and the adjoining car park. It will supplement the present CCTV system and provide a much wider coverage.

The Crawley Playground
All the existing equipment has been repaired and, when necessary, refurbished during 2003/4. Sadly, litter continues to be a serious problem especially as the equipment is used by the youngest children in the village, those who are most at risk from broken glass, jagged metal and excreta, both that of dogs and, unbelievably, human beings. The Council has found it necessary to pay for additional cleaning of the playground. It is hoped that the CCTV will make this expense unnecessary.
The Council is aware that the safety surfaces will need replacing soon and has budgeted for this project.
The Playing Field
Although the Playing Field does have its own active management committee the Parish Council continues to maintain close liaison. Two members of the Council, Councillors Philip Penman and Steve Fuell, are members of the Committee and the Clerk of the Council now provides administrative support to the Committee.
The Council has provided financial support in order to keep the playing field, a highly valued asset to the community, as a viable concern.

Luton Airport
The Parish Council continues to take an active interest in developments at the Airport and our Chairman, Councillor Christine Benson, is a member of the Airport Committee. Christine ensures that, whatever is proposed, the interests of Slip End receive a forceful hearing.

It is to be hoped that this important plaque is resited in the village when the motorway is widened. The M1 was opened here in Slip End and this stone is on the bridge, hidden behind Armco on the hard shoulder. Next time you drive under the bridge, look up and you’ll see the raised edge on the parapet. Parish News will campaign to get it into the Village!
M1 Road Widening
This is a new proposal though very similar to what was proposed ten years ago. The Parish is really only affected by the loss of a small part of the playing field and, although this is an important matter, it will not apparently result in too serious a loss of facilities. The tennis courts will have to be rebuilt and the football pitch may have a slight re-alignment but that is all we can foresee.

Post Office Pedestrian Safety Zone
This important measure has been pursued through the “Parish Partnership Scheme” and has at last come to fruition with the additional bonus of reinforced bollards instead of the plastic ones with which were threatened. This is another scheme which has been forced through by public opinion, the Chairman’s personality and the support of County Councillor Richard Stay.

The Rising Sun is prominent on a beautiful June morning. The bollards are all in place now and effectivly keeping cars and pedestrians apart. Some notable members of Slip End society are taking time getting used to them, but repairs to both vehicle and bollard are being swiftly dealt with. With no critical implication, we motorists are, on the whole, gradually getting the hang of considerately leaving our vehicles parked to allow passage of other users.

The Bus Shelter at Pepperstock
This work was needed by an act of arson and paid for by our insurance. Of seven local builders asked to quote for the work only one responded and, although he was awarded the contract within six weeks of the fire, he continually delayed the project and finally moved to Milton Keynes without completing the work. It was then necessary for the Clerk to trace him and cancel the contract before it could be awarded to another contractor. The job is now complete but Members would like to apologise to the residents of Pepperstock for the undue delay.

State of the Footpaths
Our thanks are due to Don Burford, of Claydown Way, who continues to walk all our footpaths, come rain or shine, and who not only submits a list of defects and problems to the County Council but also bullies them into taking the necessary action.

Traffic Calming Measures
These are the “things” adorning the approach to the cross roads on. They were paid for by Airparks Ltd, as part of the arrangements for their planning permission. This explains why Markyate Road and Front Street lack similar arrangements.
Earlier in the year mention of “traffic calming measures” was guaranteed to raise members’ blood pressure to dangerous levels. A proposal to march on County Hall (the Highways Department being responsible for the work) was only narrowly defeated (it is a long way to Bedford) but eventually the work was carried out and, later still, the signs were also sorted out. It is still unwise to mention “left-handed cycle path signs” to Councillor Geoff Daniel.

Planning Issues
The Parish Council continues to monitor carefully all planning applications that affect the village. 
As a result of the District Council’s need to speed up their processes the Parish Council has established a Planning Committee, chaired by Councillor Philip Penman, which meets on the third Monday in the month at the Peter Edwards Hall at 7 pm. 
It deals with applications which must be reviewed in advance of the monthly meeting of the full Council.

Garden Maintenance
There are a number of areas around the village which the Parish Council is required to maintain: these include the Coronation Garden, the Children’s Playground, the green in Claydown Way and the Churchyard. Pauline Smith is contracted to do the work for us and is to be commended for keeping these areas neat and tidy for us.

Meetings of the Council
These continue to be held on the first Monday in each month (unless that day is a Bank Holiday when the meeting is held on the second Monday) in the Village Hall at 8 pm. Members of the public are more than welcome to attend these meetings and they will have an opportunity to speak at the end of the meeting.

Following the elections on June 10th, Philip Penman was elected to South Bedfordshire District Council.
And here is Christine Benson’s report following June’s Parish Council meeting …

First, let me welcome you to the July edition of the Parish News. There are lots of things to tell you this month.

Hosepipes /Water Sprinklers
Did you know that if you are not on a water meter you cannot use a garden sprinkler? You may use a hosepipe to water your garden etc., but not a sprinkler. The good news is if you are on a water meter (that is, you pay for your water as and when you use it) you may not only use a hosepipe but a sprinkler also. In the event of a hosepipe ban, - should the summer be long and hot - if you are not on a meter you must not use a hosepipe. If you ARE on a meter, you may still use a hosepipe, but try to use sparingly. If you are not on a meter, may I suggest that you contact Three Rivers to find out how much money you can save by going onto a meter. You may be surpised.

Crime Figures
There are no crime figures available for this month’s edition. Hopefully by the next edition we will have some.

Legal Action against Bedfordshire County Council
At the suggestion of our MP Ms Margaret Moran, we invited her to visit us for our June Parish Meeting to discuss the problems we are having up at Timberlands, especially since the recent problems and stories in the media. I have to say that all of us on the Parish Council were concerned when once again she cancelled the meeting. At the risk of being proclaimed non-politically correct: it seems to me that when one sees our MP in the local papers, if you are espoused to one thousand and one minority groups or causes she leaps tall buildings with a single bound to help you out. If you are ordinary, well behaved, tax payers then she's got other causes that she finds more important. Of course we all have problems, but our problems are more important to us because they are ours. Maybe she doesn't care because she knows not many of us vote for her. What a shame that the Boundary Commission decided to leave us in Luton South and not join us up with a rural parliamentary constituency who may have listened to us and worked with us to help solve our problems.

The camera never lies
I hope that you weren't frightened witless when looking at the front page of this months magazine. Roving reporter David Kingston kindly came around at the last Parish Council meeting and took a photograph of us all, including our new Councillor Ken Crossett - Welcome aboard Ken. There we were all dressed up and with nowhere to go. At least we all looked halfway presentable when we went over the pub after our meeting.

Bring out the “Bling”
You will be pleased to know that the Slip End Council Chairman’s Chain of Office will be on show at a very elite event on the 6th July. I will be going with it to the Queens Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. The invitation was extended to me because I am on the County Executive of the Bedfordshire Assoc. of Town and Parish Councils, and I will be representing them; but as Civic regalia is allowed the bling is getting aired and a free ride. Howard is accompanying me and has been taught to curtsey properly and has been told not to kick the corgis or complain about the catering! (Orf with his head!!) I shall report fully in the next PN and if our official photo is not too awful perhaps you can see me in me frock and 'at (believe me you wouldn't have thought that there was that much chiffon in the world!)

Strange Markings
Anyone who may have seen me out and about with a strange man with a can of white paint may have wondered what was going on. In conjunction with Raynesway we are embarking on a programme of footpath patching and more wooden posts in grass verges. 
If your house is affected Raynesway will be writing to you to let you know when they will be doing works near you. Look out for further civic works on the way.

Obnoxious Fumes
If you have or in future suffer from smoke and obnoxious fumes emanating from the Pepperstock area please telephone or write to the Environmental Heath Dept at S. Beds. D.C. Tel 1582 474184. The more complaints they receive the more power they will have to stop the burning of wire for valuable metal scrap. 
Gotta go now as this needs to get to the editor. Keep well and safe.
Christine Benson, Slip End Parish Council

left: An informal moment before the June Meeting of the Parish Council. A serious looking Geoff is showing new boy Ken the ropes while Sue is in deep conversation with Christine (out of shot) Philip is punching Margaret’s phone number into his mobile: “Are you on your way?”. On this hot evening, Howard’s knees add an airy touch!

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