Middleham councillors updated on Pinker’s Pond tree planting

Volunteers plant tees at Pinker's Pond.

Volunteers planted 199 native trees at Pinker’s Pond on Saturday, February 20, Middleham Town Council was told at its latest meeting.

The planting was organised by Lower Wensleydale Biodiversity Action Group and the trees (including wild cherry, goat willow, rowan, oak, field maples and dog rose) were supplied by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The planting was in accordance to a plan agreed with the council to maintain views of Pinker’s Pond.

Climate change. – Cllr Nigel Hopper and the clerk reported on a talk by Yvonne Adams, Richmondshire District Council’s (RDC) recently appointed climate change officer. A copy of her presentation had been circulated.

The overall impression was very positive although some reservations were expressed regarding the financial support provided by RDC in response to its self-declared ‘emergency’.  The council hoped Ms Adam’s action plan would receive RDC’s full support.

The council had reported to Ms Adam’s its continued frustration with RDC’s recycling box scheme even though this was not within her remit.

At the February meeting the councillors discussed whether Middleham would benefit from its own community recycling point which would help residents dispose of excessive recycling items. This will be researched but in the meantime Cllr Sue Fairhurst said she would continue requesting a response from RDC regarding the recycling collection issues.

Blocked drains. – It was reported that the drains on council-owned land in the west end had been inspected and appeared to be blocked by silt and debris running off the Low Moor.

A quotation had been obtained but the council was disappointed that the county council’s  own drains contractor could not be contacted for a quote as it  already worked in Middleham.  Cllr  Simon Wheeler suggested alternative contractors and also said he would inspect the drains to see if the top level of the blockage could be removed to prevent an overflow in the short term.

The clerk would report a possible blocked drain in Park Lane between the Key Centre and the chapel, which a county council operative had stated was collapsed.

Food bank. – Cllrs Fairhurst and Lorna Skelton had attended a virtual meeting regarding the possible provision of a food bank in Leyburn to which Middleham could be linked. The councillors, however, were not in favour of means-testing applicants.

It was reported that a food bank  in Bedale was also able to cover requests from Middleham.  But it was also noted that, to date, no one locally had requested assistance despite offering discrete contact points for anyone in need.

The Rev Moody had circulated details of an alternative model of food bank where people were ‘members’ of a pantry and in return for small contributions were able  choose 10 items of donated shopping with a larger value.  It was agreed to keep the matter under review.

Middleham chapel. – An update from RDC’s Housing Officer regarding probable open-market disposal of local Methodist Chapels, including Middleham’s, was received.

In advance of the meeting, and in agreement with Cllr Fairhurst, the clerk had sought an indicative market valuation for the chapel and contacted Broadacres Housing Association regarding possible collaboration with other parties with a view of securing the chapel for affordable housing.

Some reservations were expressed regarding the commitments required for such an initiative but it was agreed to pursue an initial investigation.

Street lighting. – Although the RDC had stated it had no statutory responsibility to provide adequate pavement lighting  but only to maintain what was already there, the council decided to review the situation as it had received complaints regarding the pavements between the Key Centre and the chapel.

Before considering if the council’s charity funds could be used to cover the £2,000 cost of installing a new light Cllr Fairhurst will raise the matter again with RDC.

Low Flying aircraft. – It was agreed that a draft letter to the Ministry of Defence regarding the possible risks to the safety for horses and riders whilst training on the moors would be best sent by Middleham Trainers’ Association with the council’s support.

Banking. – It was noted that when HSBC branches in Richmond and Northallerton closed in August 2021, the nearest branch would be at Darlington which was inconvenient for regularly paying in cash takings from honesty boxes. It was, therefore, agreed to apply for HSBC bank cards so that payments could be made through Post Office branches.

Next meeting.  – This will be a Zoom meeting at 7pm on Wednesday March 24.