Annual Cheddar Parish meeting

Hannah More Cottage in Cheddar was packed at the annual parish meeting in April to hear Cheddar Parish Council chairman Peter Colton deliver the council’s annual report and present community service awards to local residents.

Most notable among the council’s achievements over the past year was, firstly, the completion of the Neighbourhood Plan after six years’ hard work.  This is now primary legislation and must be taken into consideration by planners and developers.  Another major achievement was saving Cheddar library from closure.  Here the parish council worked closely with the Friends of Cheddar Library and provided funding for the self service book scanner.  Finally, the council won a major grant from the Hinkley Point Community Impact Mitigation Fund to extend the pavilion at Sharpham Road playing fields to provide a wider range of activities for the benefit of the whole community.

Guest speaker for the evening was Professor Chris Lewis, chairman of the Somerset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.  He talked about the different campaigns run by CPRE, many of which resonated with the audience, including controlling wind and solar farms, fracking, building on brownfield in preference to greenfield sites and the need to protect countryside from unnecessary development.

Special awards were presented to a number of local people for their outstanding service to the community.  First up for these was Sue Purkiss, chair of the Friends of Cheddar Library, who received the award on behalf of the group for the work they have done over ten years in increasing the usage of the library by various community groups and, in the past year, for leading the campaign to keep the library open.

Paul Tullett of My Cheddar is the inspiration and architect behind the renovation and landscaping of Hannah More Cottage garden and, more recently, the island beds in the River Yeo in the lower gorge, which have been much admired.  He is also church warden at St Andrew’s and very active in church events.

Suzanne Green was described as a village stalwart having at various times been secretary of the gardening club and twinning association, editor of Cheddar Challenger, volunteer driver for Mendip Community Transport, chair of Cheddar in Bloom and is a current friend of Cheddar library.

Angela Wilson runs the friendship café at the library, which was established to support those with early onset dementia and their carers and has now been opened up to a wider audience and includes regular contact with Cheddar First School.  Through her enthusiasm and energy the group has thrived.  The final awards were presented to Lyn Goodfellow and Paul Fineran for the exceptional work and time they put in leading the neighbourhood plan steering group and seeing it through to completion.

At the end of the meeting everyone was invited to stay and chat to parish councillors over a glass of wine or soft drink.