This page provides more details on some of the hot topics the Council is currently working. If you have any comments or suggestions then please contact our Clerk
Current Issues are:
Regular inspection of trees on land within the ownership of the Parish Council revealed serious concern in respect of three lime trees on the Three Cocked Hat all of which showed serious signs of rot towards the base of their trunks. Earlier this year a single tree was felled and on 17th April two further trees were removed. Both trees were seriously affected by decay and rot in their trunks as shown on the photographs below. The large trunk shows a “V” shaped stain line above which the entire trunk is dead wood constituting about 75% of the cross section. The second smaller tree had very extensive more advanced rot along the entire length of the trunk.
Parish Council take their responsibility both towards the environment and public safety very seriously. We are fully aware of the need to take great care when felling trees to ensure that no wildlife was present or nesting in any part of the trees and that the felling would not affect adjacent trees which do indeed contain rooks nests.
The Council’s Professional Contractor and a Parish Councillor had been surveying the trees for several weeks before felling took place to ensure that that there was no disturbance to wildlife. Both trees were immediately adjacent to the B1078 with safety in this case a significant priority.
Of significant recent concern are the plans for Sizewell C. Having reviewed this development the Council has written to the Planning Authority to express our serious concern about the lack of infrastructure to support this development and the direct impact we expect on our Parish. For more details please read our response letter by clicking on Parish Council Response Letter: Sizewell C
As part of its response to EDF Energy’s latest community consultation on its application for Sizewell C, Suffolk County Council (SCC) has welcomed the energy provider’s movement towards reducing the number of additional heavy good vehicle movements on Suffolk’s roads and increasing the use of rail and marine freight deliveries during site construction. SCC has urged EDF Energy for many years to maximise freight deliveries by sea and rail and significantly, being of the view that the transport proposals were not sustainable, so it welcomes the proposals for an additional Beach Landing Facility on Sizewell Beach to bring construction materials in by sea, as well as an additional night-time rail delivery of materials to site. In its response, SCC also reflects that many of the proposals offered still lack vital elements in detail and assessment at this stage – such as impacts of the proposals on the coastline or night-time disturbance of residents living close to railway lines. SCC would welcome the opportunity for further dialogue with SZC C to better understand details of the current proposals, and the evidence base which has led to them.It is encouraging to see that EDF Energy has begun listening to the concerns raised by SCC and Suffolk’s communities include the input from our Parish Council. Recognising the need for further detail, SCC does welcome the principle of the changes proposed by EDF Energy, as they begin to address some of the concerns repeatedly raised. However, there still remains work to be done if the scheme is to be acceptable to SCC and local communities - not least in the area of further eliminating, minimising, mitigating, or compensating for the impact of the scheme on Suffolk’s unique natural environment.
A 20mph speed restriction was introduced a few years ago to help reduce speeds in Coddenham. Unfortunately, Suffolk Police has stated that exceeding speeds in a 20mph area will not be enforced.
The Day Foundation has provided the Council with a speed indicator device which you can see on School Road. Many thanks to Colin Hardy for managing the speed indicator device and providing the results.
The pie chart below shows the most recent data from traffic in both directions along School Road. The data shows 60% of traffic at or below the 20mph limit and 98% at or below 30mph
The Parish Council welcomes any suggestions or comments from parishioners as to how to reduce traffic, reduce accidents and reduce traffic speeds through our parish. Please contact us via the Parish Clerk
The Parish Council has set the budget for this year (the 2021-22 financial year i.e. April '21 - Mar '22). The good news is that it is dropping by 14% compared to last year. In 2020-21 the total “precept” budget was £37,810, which is shared by all our homes. This meant that a ‘Band D’ home would have paid £136 to the Parish Council as part of the total annual Council Tax bill. For 2021-22, we have been able to reduce this to £32,227, which means a ‘Band D’ home will now be paying £117.
What makes this even more significant is that the precept was expected to increase to £50,000 this year (equating to £200 per ‘Band D’ home). This increase would have been for two main reasons: 1) the Day Foundation, who had kindly funded the annual loan payment for the original costs of building the Community Centre for the past three years, were unable to continue their support, and 2) we received an unexpected historic business rates demand from Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC). The great news though is that instead of a £50,000 precept, we have been able to set the precept at 36% less than expected, and 14% less than the previous year. This has been achieved by:
1. Community Centre Loan Payments: we recently shared the good news that thanks to a response to our last Newsletter, benefactors from within the parish have offered to pay the loan payments for the next two years (£26,000 split between 21/22 and 22/23). On behalf of all parishioners, the Parish Council have expressed our thanks for this act of extreme generosity.
2. Business Rates Payments: we have been in negotiation with MSDC and have agreed to spread the cost of a surprise Business Rate Demand of £9,892 over three years. In parallel, we continue to challenge the demand for payment. The challenge will take time to conclude, but we are hopeful of a reduction, or complete withdrawal, of the demand for payment from MSDC.
3. Careful Financial Management: the Parish Council, including our RFO (Responsible Financial Officer) Sue Frankis, have scrutinised all elements of the budget and made savings in a number of areas whilst still preserving services and supporting the Community Centre.
The main groups of costs are summarised below. Please note that Mid-Suffolk District Council use Band D homes as the average, so the costs per home quoted are based on Band D and therefore costs will be greater if you live in Band E or higher, and lower if you live in Band C or lower.
These are the costs for a range of services in the parish, this ranges from our Clerk's salary, street lighting, maintenance of the churchyard, tree surgery, ground maintenance to dog litter bins. For 2021/22 this will be £14,048 plus a provision of £1,000 to increase our emergency reserve funds. This means that the average Band D household will pay ~£52 a year for these costs.
This is the cost of repaying loans, taken out when the Community Centre was first built, for the purchase of the centre and surrounding land. Unfortunately, the Council at the time (none of whom are now involved with the current Council) took a decision to decline an offer of financial support from The Day Foundation and instead took out two Government loans. These loans will be fully repaid by 2030 at £13,152 per year. This decision has left the parish with a significant financial burden which is why the precept payments in our Council Tax payments are one of the highest in Suffolk.
For the last three years The Day Foundation has kindly been able to fund this loan, thereby preventing the need for it to be paid for through the precept payment. However the Day Foundation notified the Council that they will be withdrawing their support. This would have meant having to increase the precept by £13,152 to pay for the loan repayment, however, as mentioned above we are delighted that benefactors have come forward with the extremely generous gift of paying £13,000 each year for the next two years. This has saved a Band D home ~£49 a year.
in 2019 the Parish Council transferred ownership of the Community Centre building, tennis courts, bowls green and the recreational area to a newly formed charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). The Parish Council has funded the Community Centre more than £30,000 for this year and last, in addition to providing £25,000 reserve funds. For 2021/22 agreement has been reached between the Parish Council and the Coddenham Centre CIO to fully support the CIO budget proposal of £13,135. This means that the average Band D household will pay ~£49 next year for these costs.
In addition to this years support of £13,135, the Parish Council funded the Community Centre CIO £15,286 last year (20/21) this is in addition to providing £25,000 reserve funds (a total of £53,421 in two years).
Mid-Suffolk District Council is seeking business rate payments for the Community Centre, including the tennis courts and bowling green. Unfortunately, the previous Parish Council was advised that business rates would not be due and made no provision. This totals almost £10,000 for the past three years. In order to minimise the impact on the precept we have reached an agreement to spread the payment over three years and we are separately challenging the rateable value applied to parts of the premises. The outcome of our challenge will not be known until later in 2021.
Our Parish Councillor John Peecock is leading the review and the challenge of these charges. The payment in 21/22 will be £3,892 and this means that the average Band D household will pay £16 a year for these costs.
In addition to the operating costs we also hold a ‘General Reserve’. This is used for when we need exceptional items of expenditure. A recent example was when the Church wall needed urgent repairs. The reserves have reduced over recent years to around £8,000 and we need to ensure we have sufficient reserve funds. The Parish Council identified this risk last year and included a £7,000 provision in the budget. As a result, we only need to increase the General Reserve by £1,000 in the 21/22 budget and this has been included in the Ongoing Costs of £15,048.
Planning Application - Change of use of part of land to use as a construction and agricultural training facility including new training centre and associated car park and hardstand, equipment/machinery store and scaffold area. Change of use of remainder of land to use for the grazing of horses and sheep including new stables and storage shed. Associated fencing and landscaping and alterations to existing access to site.
Location: Land Adjoining, A14 Slip Off To A140, Coddenham, Suffolk (Pipps Ford)
Full details of this application are available to view online by visiting https://planning.baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk/online-applications/ and entering DC/21/00487 in the "Planning - Simple Search" box next to the "Search" Button at the bottom of the page)
On the 4th March the PC held a Planning Meeting which was attended by many of the parishioners affected by this application. The Council agreed unanimously to object in the strongest terms. The Council are very concerned that this is a residential area and particularly unsuitable for commercial development. It is designated as “an area of Special Landscape Interest”. The Council also has serious concerns about the traffic levels entering and exiting the Pipps Ford road on the busy A140/A14 roundabout and the lack of input from SCC Highways. It is also very concerned about noise and disruption. Overall this is an inappropriate site for this type of commercial development and there are many commercial areas in the vicinity that would be more suitable.
Please read the Parish Council formal response.
After years of seeking to protect the building through opposition to it’s conversion to solely residential use and by supporting designation of the property as an Asset of Community Value, the Parish Council reluctantly raised no objections to a formal application and the planning authority, Mid Suffolk District Council granted permission in October 2020 for the change of use of the building to form a single dwelling. MSDC received only 4 comments from residents, 2 in favour of conversion, and 2 against. This is now the only outstanding planning permission granted affecting the entire site.
A series of applications proposing various residential schemes on land to the rear of the main building and proposing access via the unmade track from Mill Lane were all the subject of significant objections from the Parish Council, and all applications were subsequently rejected by MSDC. The last application (DC/19/01497) for a single dwelling submitted in March 2019 was belated refused by MSDC in March 2021. Please read the MSDC Decision.
In the meantime faced with a deteriorating building and unsightly overgrown site, the PC have been constantly seeking to persuade MSDC to take urgent action to require the site owners to at least tidy up their property. Unfortunately, for as yet unexplained reasons and since at least October 2019, no action under the provisions of the Planning Act has been taken. We will continue to seek to exert pressure on MSDC to exercise their powers to bring about some relief to the present wholly unsatisfactory situation in the heart of the Coddenham Conservation Area.
This site together with operations in the nearby Barham pit have for many years now been making a significant contribution to the minerals needs of the County. Recently submitted applications seeking to extend the life of the operations have been considered by the Parish Council and two in particular have been the subject of comments and recommendations to Suffolk County Council as Minerals Authority.
Following suggestions by made by us, one application has been amended to ensure that access and vehicular movements instructions signage affecting Shrublands Quarry should be retained.
Another proposal involving a significant increase in the movement of inert waste material from the recycling facilities at Shrublands to the Barham Pit for site restoration purposes has attracted PC comments based on a range of highway safety matters. These include warning signage relating to turning movements of HGV’s, the possible control of the deposit of material on the highway caused by vehicles, and concerns at the sheer scale of potential HGV movements carrying up to 140,000 tonnes of fill material pa to the Barham site. These applications remain outstanding.
For such a small community we have numerous websites. This is not ideal because it fragments local community information. Historically, the Parish Council website (a previous version to this one) included pages for all of the community groups. However, the community group web pages were not kept up to date, partly because editing the site was difficult and time consuming. The result was that in addition to the Parish Council website a separate village website was created managed by volunteers. Unfortunately, despite a lot of work, this too was difficult to keep up to date and was withdrawn a few years ago.
At the end of 2019 discussions were taking place to centralise all the community groups, including the Parish Council, onto a single website. In March 2020, in response to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a separate website was established for the CCRG (Coddenham COVID-19 Response Group). Later in 2020 the website changed to become the Coddenham Community Response Group providing a website presence for many of the community groups.
The Parish Council had decided to change from its previous website provider, due to difficulties in editing, and it considered a number of website providers, including moving to the new website created for the CCRG. However, becoming part of a single website by using the same website as that created for the CCRG turned out to be not possible. This is primarily for three reasons:
1. Cost: the Parish Council has a responsibility, and accountability, to parishioners to manage what it spends, since the money comes from all of our council tax bills. The website platform created for the CCRG would have cost taxpayers >£600 per year, at least six-times what our current platform costs (just £100 per year).
2. Legal Compliance: Parish Council websites are required by law to publish certain information (such as minutes, agendas, finance reports) and to be accessibility compliant. The website platform created for the CCRG did not have the capability (without expensive development) to do this. Our current provider (Suffolk Cloud) are specialists in Parish Council websites which keeps costs down and ensures we are meeting legal requirements.
3. Editorial Management: because of the legal requirements on a Parish Council, unlike other community groups, strict control is required over editorial content. This control would not have been possible on the CCRG platform.
So, whilst it is not ideal to have multiple websites for such a small parish, the situation was unavoidable. This should not be an issue as both sites should be seen as complimentary; the Parish Council website is the site to visit for all council and COVID news and the CCRG website for local community and COVID news.