I did not write a Chairman’s Report last year so I make no apologies for getting the times and dates mixed up, but I hope I can make an interesting report of where we stand today.
To start with, we lost our Vice Chairman, Paul Lacey. His wife phoned me to say he had cancer, which could last three weeks. I rang him to ask how he felt. He said “what do you expect, I have been given a death sentence”. He was right, within three weeks he was gone.
Paul was always the life and soul of the party. Always saying this or that needs doing – then he had a list of people capable of repairing a fence, filling in pot holes and moving or replacing signs. He then bragged “we get things done while others only talk about it”.
He insisted we needed a Parish Hall built on Saville Gardens, which “was only an eyesore waiting to be developed”. I invited the man who was responsible to a Parish Council meeting to explain the delays. As soon as he had gone Paul said he is nothing but a “con-artist” waiting for £300,000 grant which he will never get!!
To lose Paul was a great blow to the Parish Council and as his wife acted as Parish Clerk, she left as well. When election time came around, due to a misunderstanding, nobody filled in an election papers, so there was no election and no councillors. In the end, I was the only one who was prepared to stand again, but I needed three more candidates to make a quorum. We eventually found enough to keep us in business. So I need to thank all of you who are here tonight to see what we do.
- We own St. Margaretsbury Sports Ground jointly with Stanstead Abbotts and Great Amwell, even though the Deeds are, for convenience, in the name of Stanstead Abbotts. The three villages all contribute equal grants towards the upkeep.
- We support St. Margaret’s Church but are not allowed to contribute to the Church running costs but the churchyard is a village asset which we can help, so we have paid for the new drive. The Church has recently started to print a comprehensive village magazine to be delivered free of charge to every house in the village. We have made a contribution to this cost.
- The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration will be recognized in the village. At very short notice we have decided to pay for Ware Brass Band to perform in the vicarage gardens, which will be open to all.
- We paid for a Christmas tree with lights positioned outside the Community Building.
- We support a grant for the Evergreens in the village.
- We made a donation to the British Legion in November.
Last summer we had a visit from East Herts Conservation Officer who was checking to see if the conservation area needed changing. The main area is Hoddesdon Road between the two rivers. The Lea and the New River with pride of place being St. Margaret’s Church which is a Grade II listed building and the churchyard with a selection of 19th Century tombstones including several chest tombs generally in good condition. Next to that is the listed Manor House and Manor Barn. The garden wall to the Manor House and Churchyard has Grade II listing as is the 18th Century ornamental gate with heraldic shield. On the east side of the road is the listed Clock House, formerly a stable block next to the listed Farm House and converted Barns. Although not listed, buildings of merit are numbers 42 – 62 which is an early 20th Century terrace of yellow stock brick with slate roofs and chimney pots. The bay windows are decoratively detailed behind cast iron railings
The biggest problem in such areas is modern development. We have two areas known as The Granary and Sanville Gardens. The officers consider the general massing, detailed design, use of materials and landscaping have been carefully executed. Their pleasing appearance certainly warrants their retention within a conservation area.
St. Margarets used to be an industrial village. There was a large area of glasshouses (growing tomatoes) which were removed to make way for the by-pass, a commercial farmyard supplying large lorryloads of straw and hay, a large builders’ yard with workshops, an engineering factory, a nursery growing flowers and plants, a coalyard with a barn where coaches could be made, a Public House and a petrol station. All within Hoddesdon Road. They have been replaced with attractive homes in a conservation area to be proud of.
With all this in mind, the Parish Council will now be looking into the feasibility of installing CCTV in the village.
I welcome all the new Councillors to this meeting and look forward to working with you to protect and enhance this very desirable residential village of St. Margaret’s.
Councillor Nigel Copping
Chair of Stanstead St. Margaret’s Parish Council