River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Letter From Tom Ryves

August 2015

I am writing as an ex parish councillor to the village of Stoke Ferry. Now we have a new Parish Council I would like to suggest an agenda for the next 3 years. Stoke Ferry, unlike many neighbouring villages, has a wealth of facilities but a long tradition of personality clashes and worse has prevented our community assets from operating as one organisation, leading to avoidable conflict and an apparent difficulty in cooperating for the good of the community. In particular we have a Village Hall (run by a non-elected troika) as well as the Parish Council, which has a budget of almost £20,000 pa and which seems to exist mainly to operate the cemetery. The Parish Council is forever looking for a role beyond opining on planning applications and administering the lighting in our village. Surprisingly, a number of councillors are opposing payment of grants which the parish council has generously made to the Playing Fields to contribute to public liability insurance and even to the community car scheme, which many people have benefited from. We also have the Playing Fields Committee, which has rejuvenated itself over the last three years and has transformed the playing fields and the children’s playground, raising I understand in excess of £40,000 through events and grants. The next phase of development will be a proper clubhouse to support the sports fixtures and I can think of nothing better than this new facility incorporating the village hall as the main community building in the village. Am I alone on Stoke Ferry in saying that these three organisations should really be run by a single entity, which would mean a transfer of management responsibility and budget control to the Parish Council. This would give the Parish Council a meaningful role which in itself would prevent fiascos such as the last parish council "election" which seems to have been resulted in a crony council with no legitimacy supported at considerable expense by the parish clerk. The Village Hall, which the parish council does not even use for meetings, is in desperate need of complete rejuvenation and better still moving to prevent regular blocking of the main street at Village Hall events. I understand that the Village Hall Committee has been outsmarted by the developers (again) and the promised £20,000 due in February has not been received - to my mind the resources and contacts of the Parish Council should prevent such shenanigans.

Tom Ryves

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