March's Parish Council meeting included a wide range of topics, including a report on the lack of street lighting in the town centre, an update on the work which has taken place to thin 'Henderson's wood, a planning application objection.  It also discussed the issue around raising the precept to support local bus services and the forthcoming May council elections.

AMPC logoUncertainty continues regarding whether the council is able to raise precept to support commercial bus operations, as contradictory advice has been received from the Cumbria Association of Local Councils and the Minister for Local Government. However, the council would have more powers if a higher proportion of councillors were elected rather than co-opted, which it is hoped will be the case following the May elections.

Councillors heard that the new Neighbourhood Policing Officer had expressed concern about the lack of adequate footway lighting, particularly at the top of Alston, which he felt could be dangerous. He had contacted Eden District Council who he was told would be coming to decide on the siting of replacement light columns in the near future.

The thinning work in Henderson’s wood has been completed by the contractor to what the appointed agent stated was a good standard and with exemplary care for health and safety. Now that the woodland has been opened up, vegetation will start to return. The trees will extend their canopies and further thinning should be carried out in 5-10 years time. The council was advised that Firs Wood should also be considered for some thinning work, and that regular monitoring of both these woodlands should be done in the interest of the safety of the public who use the area heavily. Electricity North West Limited will be coming to remove one tree that was too close to power lines to be removed in the recent work.

A number of residents attended the meeting to make objections to one of the planning applications being considered and, having heard their views and discussed the issues, the council voted against approval of the application for Cotterill Farm, but added that an application for development more in keeping with local style and size would be considered more favourably.

The annual parish meeting will include hustings for the new parish council, and it is hoped that there will be a good number of people wishing to stand. The time available for each candidate to speak will depend on how many nominations are received. Publicity by way of posters and postings on social media will aim to encourage applications.

Six applications have been received for the new Community Warden contract, and interviews will be held. Candidates must provide evidence of self-employment and public liability insurance.

Local people are particularly invited to the Saturday morning surgery from 10.30 to 12.30 at the Alston Moor Partnership shop (next to Barclays Bank) to ask any questions or get further information if they are considering standing in the parish council elections in May.