Pitstone Parish Council extract from PPP Issue 133

Thank you to our PPP Editor

Our thanks to our Editor, Sue Nicholls, who is retiring from her role.   We wish Sue all the very best for the future and thank her most sincerely for all the time and commitment she has dedicated to the magazine.  As we have not been able to find a replacement volunteer editor, the parish council has taken production of the Pitstone Parish Post in-house and will be producing the magazine ourselves.

Skatepark

The skate park event was very well received, with 25 young people enjoying free lessons, and everyone receiving some giveaways and chances to win merchandise.  We received many positive comments and praise for providing the facility from children, teens, adults and parents alike, so it is wonderful to know that the new facilities are very much appreciated.  It is particularly lovely to see whole families enjoying the facilities together and benefitting from outdoor physical activity with all the emotional, mental and physical benefits that brings.  The park continues to be very well utilised, from toddlers right through to mature adults. 

The ground renovation works continues and is being monitored on a regular basis by the council and groundkeeping staff with further actions taken where necessary.  We hope to get the football pitch back into playable standard ahead of the upcoming season.  Two further joint litter & recycling bins have now been installed.  As has a memorial bench, in memory of Matt Court & Jake Saintey, facing into the skatepark.

Parents should be aware that wheeled sports class as dangerous activities and accidents are inevitable, though RoSPA concluded that accidents were less likely with a skatepark facility provided than if young people were trying to free skate.  RoSPA produce useful information on the types of accidents likely to occur at a skatepark, and how you can help protect your child, which can be found here:  https://pitstone.co.uk/ppcinfo/sport-and-recreation/  Please make sure your child wears the recommended personal protective equipment, carries a mobile phone & basic first aid supplies with them and knows your number in case you need to be contacted. 

On a negative side, the near neighbours are being disturbed by unacceptably high-volume music being played by users of the skatepark, ball court and recreation ground.   Please remember that your choice of music may not reflect the tastes of others, and that the recreation ground is not licenced for the broadcast of music.  So please either play music through your headphones or keep the volume so low that only you can hear it.    No music should be played after 8pm.   Additional signage will be erected, asking users to be considerate.   Thames Valley Police are patrolling the area. 

Multi Use Games Area and replacement car park

Discussions are ongoing with Nicholas King Homes and Buckinghamshire Council regarding these facilities.   We will provide any further updates whenever we receive them.

Double Lane Cricket Practice Nets for the Recreation Ground

We are pleased to let you know that the planning application has now been approved by Buckinghamshire Council.   The funding proposals are already in place, so the parish council is now working closely with the Ivinghoe & Pitstone United Cricket Club to finalise the logistics of the installation of these nets.  The installers currently estimate a March 2023 installation.

Fibre to Property Broadband

The deadline has now passed to register your initial interest.  The details are being submitted to OpenReach who will now evaluate whether there is enough interest to undertake a scheme installation.  As soon as we hear back from them, we will keep you advised.

(Subsequent update: we are also aware that Trooli have been laying fibre broadband cables in Pitstone and will provide any further details as/when we receive them.)

Children’s Competition to help combat escalating levels of litter

Our congratulations to Rue, Alexandra and Freya for producing this colourful artwork, which is being converted into signs that we can display around our open spaces over the summer to encourage everyone to act responsibly, not to drop litter & to pick up dog fouling.   Sadly the volumes of litter have soared in the last 18 months.  At the start of the Covid pandemic, there was a short period where the village remained very clean, but now the problem is worse than ever, and it is sad to see that so many people have such little respect for the natural environment and the facilities provided within our community.   We wholeheartedly thank our staff members and the many volunteers who litter pick within Pitstone to keep our community tidy.

The winning artwork can be viewed on our dedicated post or in PPP.

We need your time & help to keep the youth café running

Café is once again proving very popular with the year 6 cohort that are shortly moving up to secondary school.   However, some of our original volunteers that had to step down during the pandemic have been unable to restart, and we desperately need more adult volunteers (must be at least 18 to count towards the legal adult:child ratios) to come forward to enable us to continue providing this much needed facility.  

We welcome volunteers of all ages and with a wide range of interests/abilities.  Many are retired, so age is no barrier.  Some volunteers like to teach the young people crafts or board games, some help supervise console games and indoor activities, some prefer to join in physical activities such as rounders.   Whatever your interest/ability, we are bound to have a role for you, so if you are free on a Wednesday evening between 6.30pm and 8pm (you don’t have to come each week, as we produce a rota), please do get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Memorial benches

Our thanks to the families of William Ruck and Matt Court & Jake Saintey for the kind donation of the two new memorial benches which have now been installed at the junction of Glebe Close/Marsworth Road and looking into the skatepark.  These facilities have been added to our asset register and will be monitored and maintained by the parish on an ongoing basis.

Policies

Wondering if you can use the village green for a commercial class? Or whether you can put a poster in the noticeboards for a community event?  Want to know the procedures the council must follow at a meeting?  All the parish council policies can be found on our website – www.pitstone.co.uk

Calling parents of children with disabilities
We try to ensure that all our playgrounds are both accessible and include a range of play features that is designed for use by a wide variety of children with a variety of disabilities.  Features in our parks include play equipment such an extra wide slide so that you can travel down with a child, rocking equipment, sunken trampoline with wheelchair access or the basket swing.  Ancillary equipment includes benches with back rests and arms, contrast-coloured gateways or a wide variety of colours and textures for the visually impaired.  If you are a Pitstone parent and your child has a specific need, please contact the parish council on parishclerk@pitstone.co.uk so that we can take this into consideration whenever we next plan any playground renovation work.

Criminal Activity

Sadly, the parish has been experiencing a spate of increased criminal activity including thefts of/from motor vehicles, burglaries, vandalism of parish council & other property and repeated instances of graffiti all around the village.  Even sadder, is that some of this behaviour has been undertaken by children as young as 12 or 13 years.  Thames Valley Police are aware, are increasing patrols in the area and building intelligence towards carrying out an operation. 

Annual Parish Assembly 19-5-22

Thank you to everyone that attended this years’ annual assembly, and to all our guest speakers.  The draft minutes are available to view on the website.

Pitstone Volunteer of the Year 2022

We would like to congratulate Howard Jones, who was awarded Volunteer of the Year 2022 at the annual assembly in May for his outstanding contribution to the Pitstone Community Car Scheme.  Reaching hospital and healthcare appointments was as important as ever to residents during Covid, but many previous volunteers were unable to assist during this time, and Howard handled over half of all the requests we received.  The Chairman presented Howard with a framed certificate, card and £50.00.

The Parish Council runs the Volunteer of the Year scheme to celebrate the unsung heroes within our community.  If you know someone who goes that extra mile and provides an outstanding voluntary service to the residents of Pitstone, please submit your nominations to the parish clerk so that they can be taken into consideration for the 2023 award.

If, like Howard, you could spare some time to join the scheme as a volunteer driver, please do get in touch with Stephen Davies on communitytransport@pitstone.co.uk.

Can you help the hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs are in decline in Britain and are now listed as “Vulnerable” on Britain’s red list of mammals. According to the latest State of Britain’s hedgehogs report, numbers of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the Millennium.  There are a number of ways that you can help. One of the best things you can do for the local Hedgehog population is allow them access in and out of your garden. A 12cm x 12cm hole is all they need. Encourage neighbours to do the same.  Why not frame your access hole with one of our Hedgehog Highways, just £5 per surround.  Please get in touch to order yours today: parishclerk@pitstone.co.uk or 01296767261.

Westfield Road

Buckinghamshire Council installed pneumatic speed monitoring strips to capture a snapshot of vehicle classifications and speeds.  The report can be viewed on our website via this link: https://pitstone.co.uk/ppcnews/westfield-road-pneumatic-strip-speed-classification-report/ .  In summary, the average recorded speed was 37/38mph and the 85th percentile speed (ie the speed at which 85% of vehicles will be travelling at, or slower than, slower than) was 45mph. 

The Parish Council asked for the report to be referred to the Road Safety Team who investigated and reported back that “Unfortunately we would not look to install any remedial measures here as there is no injury collision history.” However they agreed that the speeding did represent an enforcement issue and the data was passed to the “police authority with a request for tasking. It will be up to the police authority to determine if they will make Westfield Road an enforcement site.”   Thames Valley Police carried out their first speed enforcement activity w/c 15/6/22 and we hope this location will become part of their regular patrols. 

(Subsequent update: Thames Valley Police have advised that Westfield Road has been accepted as a speed monitoring location and will be patrolled by their traffic team in rotation with all the other approved locations within their area.)

We have also sought the input of the Buckinghamshire Councillors/Community Board, relaunched an appeal for volunteers to operate a Community Speedwatch program (further details are below), and asked Taylor Wimpey to cut back the shrubs/scrub in front of the village gates to improve visibility.

(Subsequent update: Taylor Wimpey has now cut back the shrubbery and grass within the derestricted section of Westfield Road and cleared the gutters of weeds. The parish council resolved at the full council meeting on 28 July to apply to the Community Board for grant funding towards two Speed Indicator Devices which could be rotated around our four through-roads, alternating with our existing mVAS units.)

Is reducing speeding through the village important to you? Would you be willing to volunteer as a Community Speedwatch operator?

On a number of previous occasions, the parish council has investigated whether there is a sufficient volume of local residents for whom speeding through the village is a concern, and whom are willing to volunteer to join a Community Speedwatch project. Historically, few volunteers have come forward, and a scheme has not been able to be implemented. As part of Westfield Road has now been adopted, so could be included within any scheme, we are once again gauging if any residents would wish to participate.

What is Community Speedwatch, what is involved, and how much time would you need to commit?

The parish council would loan the camera kit from Buckinghamshire Council. The kit contains: hi-vis and jackets, signs for the road, the camera, tripod and ancillaries. The camera is set up at the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, in locations that have been previously assessed and approved by Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Council. Two large community speedwatch signs are placed 20-50 metres from camera point (and locations would be agreed by TVP/BC as part of the review process). The camera is calibrated to catch speeders 150 metres up the road, there is a 20% allowance on the
speed. For example, in a 30mph zone, vehicles exceeding 36 mph will be recorded.

You need a minimum of 2 (and maximum of 4) volunteers to set up and carry out the Speedwatch each time it is operational. Recommended duration of the camera is up to 2 hours at the site (so you would need to be available for 2.5-3 hours to include setting up and packing away the equipment). The volunteers then need approximately the same amount of time again (ie 2 hours) to process the data and submit it to Thames Valley Police within the subsequent 48 hours.

Whilst monitoring the traffic, for each speeding vehicle detected, the volunteers need to fill in the data sheet, recording the following information:

  • Registration number
  • Speed
  • Vehicle Colour
  • Make
  • Model
  • Offence Time
  • Comments

Every volunteer would also need to attend a training session on how to use the
camera, the set up, understanding the risk assessments, and protection of personal data, before joining the scheme.

What do Thames Valley Police (TVP) do with the information?

When the information is passed to TVP an initial letter is sent to the driver informing them that they have been captured speeding. If they are caught again within three months, a second letter is sent, if they are caught again within 6 months, the driver is visited by TVP. Offenders do not receive fines or points on their licence, as they would if captured via TVP operated speed traps or official cameras.

  • 1st letter – 3 months
  • 2nd letter – 6 months
  • 3rd letter hand delivered by police

  • What is the aim of Community Speedwatch?

The aim of the Community Speedwatch is to educate drivers about the dangers of speeding in the location they were caught.

If enough volunteers come forward, what will the parish council need to do next?

  • We would need to work with Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Council to identify locations on our through roads that would meet their criteria and be approved.
  • Arrange suitable training for all volunteers.
  • Arrange to be included in the schedule of loan equipment.
  • Agree participation in the scheme with the TVP data processing team.
  • Arrange suitable insurance cover for the loan equipment and volunteers.
  • Arrange safe storage for the equipment when not in use, and collection/return facilities/process for the volunteers.
  • Purchase the necessary dedicated laptop, with encryption, to keep Speedwatch data separate from other data and set up a dedicated email address for the transfer of data to TVP.
  • Put in place all the necessary measures to ensure compliance to GDPR re the storage and wiping of the data collected.

More information about Community Speedwatch can be found here: https://communityspeedwatch.org/FRONT-v2-Home.php

How do you register an interest in volunteering for this scheme?

If you would like to register your interest in volunteering for such a Community Speedwatch scheme, and can commit to the above hours, please email your contact details and any other relevant information to: parishclerk@pitstone.co.uk by the middle of August 2022 (which enables this information to be printed in the next edition of PPP and hand delivered to every home and business in Pitstone so we can make sure that everyone has been reached).

The parish council can then review the level of interest to see whether a Community Speedwatch scheme is important to our residents and viable to operate.

Ivinghoe & Pitstone Safety Scheme works to commence over the summer

Following a public consultation in the spring, Buckinghamshire Council will install the proposed safety scheme measures along Marsworth Road by Brookmead School over the summer holidays.   The proposed changes for Maud Janes Close will follow later in the year.  These works have been jointly funded by Ivinghoe and Pitstone Parish Councils, and the Buckinghamshire Council Community Board.

And an update on local matters within the control of Buckinghamshire Council:

Castlemead

Buckinghamshire Council adopted the section of Westfield Road that lies between the gates and the Marsworth Road junction, including the immediate grass verges (but not the grass banks) and some of the internal estate roads from phases I-III.  Taylor Wimpey have yet to complete the remaining remedials, so the remaining residential roads and the business park, remain their responsibility.   Buckinghamshire Council will not be devolving power to the parish council to cut these grass verges during the current season, and they have been added to BC’s rural grass cutting program.  BC have yet to determine any devolved service offering for Town/Parish Councils for subsequent years, so we hope that there may be an opportunity for the parish to undertake these verges in the future (which would enable a greater number of cuts per season).

Croudace, Bellway and Nicholas King Homes Developments

All still fall within the care and maintenance of the respective development companies and have not yet been adopted. 

Highways/paths updates

Marsworth Road does not yet qualify for resurfacing.  The sunken footpath along Queen Street remains outstanding, as does the cutting back of the vegetation and siding out along the footpath between Pitstone and Marsworth.  Any resident can report a defect with the highway (eg pothole) or footpath to Buckinghamshire Council via their website https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/report-a-highways-problem/ or via the Fix My Street website.

The parking restrictions near the quarry have been approved and implemented.

The Buckinghamshire Council Freight Strategy looks is likely to be adopted and implemented by the autumn.

Planning

There are several local planning applications for which we are still waiting for Buckinghamshire Council to provide a determination including submissions relating to the commercial areas within the Nicholas King Homes development (their application sought to convert these sites to residential use, and their first application has subsequently been referred to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration (to which the parish council has submitted further objections)), the additional properties by The Haldi and the business park development off Westfield Road.   As always, you can find full details of all planning applications on the Buckinghamshire Council Planning Portal.

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