The theme of the Cocking Annual Parish Meeting, held at Cocking Village Hall tonight could be summed up by what Parish Council Chair, Frances Russell called a 'very busy year'.
Proceedings opened with a talk on 'The Impact of the South Downs National Park on the Local Area, delivered by Bruce Middleton, Area Manager of the Central West area of the Park, the one that includes the village. The small audience was told that the SDNPA was in fact the 8th largest authority in the country, in terms of planning powers - embracing as it does an area of 1,637 square kilometres, served by 29 local authorities and made up of 149 parishes. The statistics flowed (population 108,000, 87% of the land farmed or managed, 20% of the land wooded, 100 miles from the west in Hampshire to the east in East Sussex). Mr Middleton briefly described the progress of the formation of the Authority whose headquarters is now in Midhurst, its aims, its structure and its developing Management Plan for the National Park. Topics covered were wide ranging from poaching to local housing needs and a common theme linking them all was involvement. The SDNPA want to hear our local views, receive ideas and also wants to support volunteering and local initiatives. Aside from addressing Parish Meetings, contact can be made with the SDNPA by post, via their website at www.southdowns.gov.uk or by using the 'Send a Postcard for the Future' scheme (postcards were handed out at the meeting).
Note: The full presentation given by Bruce Middleton can be viewed in a new window or tab by clicking here.
Following the well received talk, Frances Russell thanked her councillors for their efforts during the 'Busy Year', highlighting the change of Parish Council Clerk from Gwen Miles to Kate Bain and the opening of Cocking Village Hall as the major events. She explained that while the Parish Council remained the 'landlord' of the Hall, its day to day management was now vested in the Cocking Village Hall Committee, currently chaired by Sue Redshaw who she thanked for much of the hard work in setting it up. Another busy factor discussed was the large number of planning applications that the Parish Council had considered over the year; the most contentious by far being the Hyde Martlet application for redevelopment at The Croft (click to see our recent article). Miss Russell reported that this had been withdrawn and that Hyde Martlet were working on a new proposal that they intend to submit to the South Downs National Park Authority later in the summer. She thanked Councillor John Cherry, in his absence, for all the help he had given the Council on planning matters, housing issues and in terms of general advice. Turning back to the Council itself, she explained that at the recent elections there had been seven candidates for seven places and therefore no vote had taken place. She thanked Naomi Bartlett, who stood down in May, for her contribution as councillor and welcomed David Imlach to the new team (click to see all the names on our CPC page).
Following a short report on the early days of the Village Hall from Sue Redshaw and a run through the annual accounts by the Clerk, Kate Bain, the busy meeting drew to a close with the Chair wishing for a quieter year ahead. Refreshments were then served.