Unfortunately, Mrs Emma Ivory who has served the parish as clerk since the end of 2014 will be leaving us at the end of January for a new post. We wish Emma all the best in her future career and thank her for her service to the council over the last six years. The clerk has a key role, not only taking the minutes of meetings but also as the executive officer of the council managing the council’s assets and contractors as well as seeking legal guidance to tell councillors what they can and cannot do. In order to reflect the requirements of the post more fully we have rebadged the job for prospective applicants as ‘Parish Manager and Clerk’. The good news is that we had a good range of high quality applicants for the post and we are in the final stages of appointing a replacement subject to references. Hopefully, we will be able to say more about the new Capel Parish Manager and Clerk next month.
At the last Council meeting in December the councillors formally backed the proposal for development at Castle Hill off the A21 as a replacement for the Tudeley Garden settlement which was so heavily criticised by local residents at Regulation 18 and in the questionnaire for the Vision for Capel. Castle Hill is also in the Green Belt but is much less open than Tudeley and more constrained and crucially would not result in major disruption the rural way of life in the Parish. The Parish Council also believes there are much better alternatives to the proposal at East Capel. During the Regulation 19 process already started in January we will be arguing that it is totally disproportionate to allocate 4160 houses to Capel Parish (with up to another 800 planned later) which is over half of the current Borough council housing allocation. If we cannot persuade TWBC to change their minds we will have to argue our case at a Public Inquiry, which is why we have put £20 000 in a sinking fund to cover legal fees over the last two years.
Also, in December councillors agreed to freeze the precept (the proportion of Council Tax received by the Parish) which is the council’s main source of income. We did not think it was appropriate to raise the burden on residents during the Covid crisis, and we will finance extra spending, for example the sinking fund contribution, from reserves. (There still may be a very small increase in the parish portion of the council tax bill because of a smaller tax base in the parish this year, but this should be insignificant).