Well, we survived the year...and what an interesting year it was!
We started off by taking up the slack from County by taking responsibility for verge cutting – more verges cut for less money than under County.
We ended up being drowned in planning applications – 900+ new homes in a village of just over 1,800. Really! Talk about over-development!
In between, we had the ‘mustard gas incident’, the withdrawal of police support for the Remembrance Day parade and the overwhelming community spirit in coming out in droves to man the street closures, the spectacular 1940s Festival and equally successful 10k Run, Triathlon and Country show amongst other events, ending the year with the Xmas Fayre and outdoor carol service.
We celebrated the Grade II listing of the Peto Gardens in the Petwood Hotel and the continued success of the community-run Jubilee Park with the completion of the refurbished children’s play area and the development of a sensory garden with a water feature (opening 2018).
We welcomed new businesses to the ‘high street’– Serena’s Beauty Boutique, Interior Homes, the Pot Roast & Grill restaurant, Molly & Me and Fairy Crafters - to mention just a few. We lamented the loss of the Golden Dragon (frequented by Royalty) but celebrated the new India Village in its place. We await with expectation the soon-to-be refurbished ‘New Smarties Bar’ under new management.
Finally, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the sterling service given to the community by the many (over 20) organisations who all came together to deal with the ‘mustard gas incident’.
As the police officer-in-charge Superintendant Vickers said at the public meeting, and repeated in a separate meeting with the Parish Council, the first and foremost concern at every stage of the incident was public safety. We thank every one of you.
Next year, perhaps we can convince developers that ‘killing the golden goose’ is not in anyone’s best interests. Maybe!