2023 was certainly one to remember for Odiham Parish Council. To name but a few:
Almost 2,000 people joined the street party and picnic to commemorate The Coronation of the new King and Queen.
Local elections filled all 10 councillor positions with returning and new councillors of all ages offering a diverse range of skills and experience to represent the interests of residents. This resulted in zero election costs, enabled the council to declare the General Power of Competence and put the council in a strong position to immediately get to work without interruption to projects and services – something not all councils were able to enjoy as many councils were unable to recruit sufficient councillors.
We enjoyed another glorious Summer when we focused on managing open spaces and facilities with you in mind. This included repairs and maintenance to some remote and forgotten benches and installing new picnic benches.
We moved forward our vision of transforming The Bridewell into a thriving Community Hub. We developed and adopted a second, medium term business plan, installed a new WC, upgraded the accessible WC, repaired a long standing problem with an historic wall, developed plans and secured planning consent for reconfiguring the first floor as a co-working venue with hot desks. And ended the year by submitting a grant application for almost £50,000 to fund the next stage of works.
As the 2022 winners of the Hampshire Association of Local Councils “Hampshire & IoW Village of the Year”, we were proud to host the 2023 awards evening. This was made even more special when we were awarded the special award for “Excellence in Community Engagement“ – only possible thanks to your support!
Our Parish Clerk was recognised for her work as runner up for the Hampshire Association of Local Councils “Clerk of the Year” and winning the National Association of Local Councils “Clerk of the Year”. This was a fantastic achievement!
The new conservation volunteers work group went from strength to strength by helping to keep local rights of way clear and winning 2 grants to upgrade a bridge, boardwalk and steps. And, winning a 3rd grant at the end of the year which will soon be spent on new hand tools.
We focused on doing what we could to tackle climate change – after the successful Greening Campaign launch late 2022, the project moved onto phase 2 and we were fortunate to be selected for funding from Hampshire County Council. We created new areas to encourage biodiversity and changed maintenance regimes to reduce biodiversity loss wherever possible.
We thank everyone who supported our activities throughout the year – councillors and their families (who were often supporting behind the scenes), Hart District Council and councillors, Hampshire County Council and councillor and the amazing support from local, voluntary groups. We were grateful to thank many of you in person with a pre-Christmas tipple after the Christmas tree lights switch on.
As we reflect on the highs of 2023 we start the new year fully refreshed and ready to pick up a number of ongoing and new projects:
The review of the Odiham and North Warnborough Neighbourhood Plan is a priority. The review has won Government funding but the grant conditions mean the review must be completed by the end of March. Work is well underway and we expect to consult the community late January.
We expect a decision on the grant application for The Bridewell early February. If successful, the grant will enable further works to improve facilities for hirers and workers wanting to use the co-working space. A strict timetable will apply when spending the grant.
The first meeting of the year is the Planning & Development Conmittee on Tuesday 9th January which will agree OPC’s response to an outline planning application for 30 houses on land at Dunley’s Hill. This site is a Neighbourhood Plan site and may be of interest to many residents:
The full Council meeting on 16th January will set OPC’s budget and precept for the 2024/25 financial year. Work is well underway and councillors have already met to look at ways of keeping costs as low as possible whilst providing quality services and facilities. This includes allocating budgets and grants towards community events and activities provided by other community groups – something we know is important to you and makes Odiham & North Warnborough such a great place to live and work.
Other key work in the pipeline includes developing a new communication & engagement strategy, updating the strategic plan, a new reflection sculpture in the cemetery garden of remembrance and research into a local heritage walk app. We are also in discussions for securing professional planning support to OPC for future large and significant planning applications.
Future dates for your diary include:
The Annual Parish Assembly on Tuesday 30th April (evening time and venue tbc).
There will be a beacon lighting on 6th June to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.
We look forward to serving you all in 2024!