Annual Report of the Parish Council 2024

Published: 19 March 2024


Annual Report of the Parish Council by the Vice-Chairman, Cllr Guy Reynolds


As with any other year, your Council has continued to work hard on your behalf to ensure Holt continues to thrive and be a pleasant place to live and work. All Councillors are volunteers and give of their time for the greater good of the Parish and I would like to thank them all for their diligence and enthusiasm in their duties.


There are, as ever, a considerable number of individuals to pass our thanks on to for their help over the past year and indeed often many years. First and foremost, let me pass on the thanks of the Council to Celia Moore. Celia stood down recently after serving on the Council for 15 years, which is a considerable amount of meetings to attend. Celia has been a great asset to the Council, bringing local knowledge and considered opinion to many a topic and we are most grateful. In addition to this, we would also like to thank Celia and her husband Ralph for all their efforts in overseeing the Cemetery, ensuring the bins were put out and keeping everything in order. On that note, thanks is also extended to Charlie Hiscock, Mike Clifford and Ian Mulliner for their help at the Cemetery, it continues to be a beautifully kept space for remembrance and peaceful contemplation. Thank you to Ian for taking over the bin duties as well, it is much appreciated.


Another space within the village that is kept in a very neat and tidy condition is the Village Green, which is a lovely open area for all to enjoy. Limecove do a super job keeping it neat throughout the year and we are grateful for all their efforts on our behalf.


Our telephone boxes within the Parish may no longer serve as communication devices, but they are still community assets. Several enthusiastic parishioners help keep them in tip top condition and the Council wishes to thank Peter Finney, Les Gordon and Richard Lonsdale for their help repairing and maintaining our boxes. Thanks to Richard as well for his help in statistical analysis of our speed indicator devices used within the village. I should also extend our gratitude to Matrod Frampton, who kindly installed the replacement phone box in Holtwood after the previous incumbent was so unceremoniously removed. The replacement box has been very sturdily installed and any invoice for the works has been conspicuous in its absence, so a very warm thank you to the Matrod Frampton team for their generous efforts in reinstating a local feature.





The village is well served for public spaces and we are lucky to have both a Village and Parish Hall to make use of. Thank you to both the Village Hall and Parish Hall Committees, who work hard to ensure both buildings remain viable and open for use. Ann Korta warrants a special mention for her work in respect of the Parish Hall together with the wider Committee, and also for organising the Neighbourcare Transport Scheme, along with a team of volunteers, helping Parishioners attend important appointments when they need to.


Many of you will have noticed the ongoing maintenance of the road signage within the Parish. We have refurbished the finger posts at Pheasants Rise, Broadbridge and God’s Blessing Green, with helpful additional funding from the CPRE. We also thank members of the Parish Council for getting out within the Parish and diligently cleaning many of our road signs by hand. Cleaning of road signage has been a victim of budget rationalising in recent years and is no longer undertaken by the County Council. Your Parish Councillors have taken it upon themselves to fill the void and are doing a wonderful job.


In a similar vein, the Parish Council jointly funded the replacement of the notice board in Gaunts Common, together with Vale of Allen Parish Council. The new notice board is a considerable improvement and looks superb. I hope you all approve of the choice of green, the shade of which was the topic of considerable debate!


The Parish Council continues to distribute public funds to worthwhile projects and organisations. £500 was granted to the Citizens Advice Bureau for East Dorset, which continues to be a well-used local asset. A grant of £200 was given to the Coronation celebrations. The Parish Council also funded the purchase of a specialised defibrillator cabinet for St James’ School.


The Parish Council has welcomed a new member in Geoff Pike and we look forward to his valuable input over the coming year. Councillor Sarah Weaver deserves a particular mention as Rights of Way officer. Together with the indomitable Kiri, Sarah regularly walks many miles across the Parish inspecting the footpaths, bridleways and byways and has been a whirlwind of restorative activity, with signage reinstated, stiles repaired, bridges rebuilt and undergrowth cleared. The whole Parish is more accessible as a result and we owe her a debt of thanks. We would offer to join her, but we’re not sure we could keep up.


Our erstwhile Chairman continues to steer a steady course and we are most grateful for his wise leadership. As well as helping with the Community Speedwatch team, our Chair also sits on the St Margarets and Stones Almshouses Committee as the representative for Holt. Together with Peter Finney he has also spearheaded the Highways working group, which has enjoyed considerable success. Thank you Jonathan.


Although the Parish Council is responsible for myriad local tasks within the Parish, two issues dominate our time and caseload: Planning and Traffic.







The Parish Council have commented on 44 planning applications this year, some of which are contentious and absorb a considerable amount of time. Meetings have run as late as 10pm as a result of planning discussions. The Council always approach applications from a neutral position and all comments are reasoned and impartial. We have a responsibility to try and allow responsible and sympathetic development within the Parish at the same time as respecting the views of residents, not always a straightforward task. We continue to invite all Parishioners to attend meetings to air their views on Planning applications relevant to them.


Road traffic, both in terms of speed and volume, is a constant issue within the Parish. We are all too aware of the issues surrounding the use of the wider Parish as a cut through to other more major roads and we have several initiatives in place to help counter the effects. We have an active Community Speedwatch Group that has received comprehensive training and continues to deploy on a regular basis to record speed violations within the village, often alongside regular police enforcement units. We have had numerous occasions where excessive speed has been observed and the individuals receive official police attention as a result, with the hope they modify their behaviour. In addition to this, we have purchased another Speed Indicator Device, known as SID to his friends, which continues to be stationed around the Parish to help dissuade drivers from speeding. Alongside this initiative, we have enjoyed considerable success over the past year in our approach to the Highways Department and a re-evaluation of speed limits within the Parish. As a result, we are delighted to report that on the back of patient negotiation and sustained evidence collection, we have obtained a reduction in the speed limits in sections of road at Horseshoes Crossroads, Holt Road and Holt Lane. I would like to emphasise that these are locations we were originally advised we would be highly unlikely to obtain any changes, so it is of considerable significance and as a result of the hard work of your Parish Council that we have managed such a successful result. We hope that the limits will be respected and drivers recognise the inherent risks of inappropriate speed.


Two public servants deserve a final mention for their work in support of the Parish Council. Firstly, our thanks is extended to Robin Cook, our County Councillor. Councillor Cook is always most supportive of the Parish Council and has helped us get our voice heard at higher levels on numerous occasions. In addition to this, he regularly attends our meetings, often in inclement weather conditions through the Winter months, to ensure we are up to date with the latest from County Hall.


Last but by no means least, our eternal gratitude must be expressed to our Clerk, Lisa Goodwin. It is no exaggeration to say that the learned Clerk is the lynchpin which holds all things together and we are under no illusion that effort is extended above and beyond her remit to ensure we are as successful and efficient as we can be. An extraordinary amount of work takes place to make the Parish Council function and we are most grateful.


Voting takes place in May for your Parish Council for the next electoral term. I urge you to make use of your vote to ensure the representatives you desire to see making decisions on your behalf are in place.