Big ambitions for the local parish council, local wildlife and Wiltshire Police were heard at the Annual Parish Meeting of Laverstock & Ford Parish on 15 May, and at the Annual Parish Council Meeting that was held straight afterward.
Residents of Laverstock, Millford, Ford, Bishopdown Farm, Old Sarum and Longhedge attended the meeting that was held in the Big Barn at River Bourne Community Farm. Trudi Deane, the parish clerk for Laverstock and Ford Parish Council, said: “We saw a substantial increase in attendance which reflects an improvement of communication channels that the parish council now has with its five key communities.”
Residents enjoyed displays from local groups and partner agencies, including the Milford Area Preservation Group (MAPG), Wild About Laverstock and The Land Trust.
Nick Baker, chair of the Parish Council called and chaired the meeting. He introduced the Parish Councils Strategic Plan, capturing the councils’ big ambitions for the future in terms of: Community Resilience; Planning & Development; Sustainable transport; Climate Change & Environment; Public Amenity; and Accountability.
Nick included details of the operations officer’s report that discussed the important work of taking over assets from Wiltshire Council, including litter bins and play parks, and the work being done to tackle issues of speeding.
The council is waiting on the handover of five new play areas so that by the end of the year the parish will have 33 play areas in total.
Those present also heard from Josh Rogers, the Wiltshire Wildlife community empowerment officer. Josh spoke about management of the Castlae Hill Country Park, the tension between being ‘dog friendly’ and protecting the ground nesting skylarks who thrive on the site, and the difference between a country park and a nature reserve.
He also mentioned the hibernaculum offering safe spaces for reptiles and other wildlife, and plans for a community garden. In closing, he also gave special thanks to Bishopdown Farm resident Jim Boardman for all the work he does, both as a volunteer at Castle Hill and in protecting the community orchard from damage by extreme weather last year.
The police and crime commissioner, Philip Wilkinson and Catherine Roper, the new chief constable of Wiltshire Police, joined the APM and took the time to chat informally to residents before they spoke officially and answered questions from councillors and residents at the Annual Parish Council Meeting.
Tom Maskell, vice-chair of the Parish Council who also attended both meetings said: “It was pleasing to see the number of residents who came, including representatives of our Footpath Warden volunteers, Parish Environmental Action Group and our Community Police team.
“We are grateful to the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable, for the healthy level of discussion and for giving detailed and re-assuring answers regarding issues of concern to our residents, such as staff levels and responses to reported crime and anti-social behaviour.
“To hear that Wiltshire Police is looking to improve ways in which the public can communicate with them is encouraging.
“We also heard from a resident who spoke as a recently retired member of Wiltshire Police about the many ways in which the police should be proud of their awareness, response and attitude towards domestic violence incidents.
“We know from Cllrs Lynn and Vanstone, who head the Neighbourhood Watch team in Longhedge, that residents are concerned about a rise in anti-social behaviour, but clearly Wiltshire Police is determinedly raising their game. We wish the chief constable success in their new role.”