LITCHAM ANNUAL PARISH MEETING May 16th 2005
During the last year, together with other agencies the Parish Council has attempted to keep the roads and paths maintained. Roadside verges trimmed and the village green cut. Ant problems can always be reported to any councillor or the clerk.
The Council has also paid for the maintenance of the churchyard and for the streetlights. The Stump on the green should also be removed soon now that ownership has been assured.
Planning applications have been considered and observations made to Breckland Council. Although this hasn't always gone smoothly and some problems arose with the building work at the High School. Hopefully these were resolved to some extent by the visit of Phil Daines and David Spencer from Breckland planning department. Who also went on to explain the new Local Development Framework (L.D.F.) that supersedes the old Structure Plan. They went on to describe how this will now impact a planning decisions and development.
We are currently trying to resolve the parking issue around the centre of the village. It is not safe when cars are dropping off and picking up school children. It is positively hazardous for wheelchair users that can't use the pavements.
It was agreed that the Council would join the NCAPTC (Norfolk County Association for Parish & Town Councils). This has been a great asset in respect of advice and help for the new clerk, Mr. John Relph. In the last year we have made donations to the Methodist Chapel, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Bell Ringing Group, the Common Conservation Group and more recently to the Litcham Entertainments Group, we look forward to their productions.
Myself, other councillors and the clerk taken opportunities to attend courses run by the NCAPTC and Breckland Council. Hopefully this will enable the council to fulfil its duty to the Parish and make the village a safe and friendly environment to live in.
Annual Reports recieved from Village Organisations
Royal British Legion - John Jones
Litcham Common Conservation Group - Tim Angell
Litcham Common Management Committee - Tim Angell
Litcham Entertainment Group (Legs) - Stephen Lynn
Litcham High School - Headmaster: Jim Neal
Jubilee Hall Committee - Diana Collen
Litcham & District Ladies Group - Judy Rork
Methodist Chapel - Stephen Lynn
Play 2000 - Judith Bentley
Primary School - Christine Watts
Red Cross - Hermione Birkbeck
Litcham Youth Club - Richard Bailey
Litcham & District Branch
Firstly, please accept my apologies for the meeting, as our own branch meeting is on Monday 16th May. We originally changed the day of our meetings from the 2nd Monday in the month to 3rd so as not to clash with parish council meetings.
Membership of the branch now stands at 18. We are still looking for new members, as with so many other branches of the legion, the membership is getting so much older, so should anyone know of any likely candidates for membership, please contact myself, or any member of the legion.
Ron Shaw continues to host our meeting at Fourways under the chairmanship of John Shakespeare. During the year we have held six branch meetings, to which we are grateful to our former chairman Ron Shaw. We hold our branch meetings on the third Monday, in the months of January, March, May, July, September and October.
We again had the support of Arthur Clarke as the area Poppy Appeal Organizer, ably assisted by Ted Howe. Also the support of the many other local volunteers, acting as house to house collectors. Our special thanks to those collectors who made the 2004 poppy appeal collection a record year along with the collections from the churches and the local schools. We are always looking for new collectors, most especially in the Beeston area.
We attended the Armistice Service in November at All Saints Church Litcham, followed by the memorial service held at the American War Memorial in Beeston. We held a Bar-b-Que. on the 6th June to commemorate the "D" Day landings. The event was held at Fourways, along with the Litcham Historical Society, also the Tittleshall Branch was invited.
John Jones, Branch Secretary, May 12, 2005
Litcham Common Conservation Group was set up in January 2004 to carry out practical management work on the common in support of the objectives of Litcham Common Management Committee. The group is relatively informal, with no written constitution or formal membership list, and uses the Litcham Common Management Committee bank account to hold funds.
Over the past year the group has established a routine of carrying out monthly work tasks, and meets on the second Saturday of the month, starting at 10.00 am. The specific work to be done on each task is agreed with Norfolk County Council's Countryside department, and mainly involves clearing and burning scrub and birch. Other jobs have included picking up litter and keeping the paths clear.
The turnout on tasks varies, but usually between ten and twenty people join in over the course of a day, including children. Most volunteers live in Litcham, but some come from other local villages such as Beeston.
The main expenses for the group are the cost of insurance (approximately £200 per annum) and tools, such as bowsaws, pruners and protective clothing. Generous grants have been received from Litcham Parish Council (£500) and The Chestnut Fund charity (£100 plus £300 worth of tools). In addition Ben Burgess of Beeston have donated a saw and supplied other tools at a discount. The balance of funds held on behalf of the group is now £250.34 In order both to publicise the work being carried out on Litcham Common, but also to educate people about the wildlife to be found there, three guided walks have been organised over the past year. In addition, the group organised a display at Litcham High School at the "Family Learning" day last autumn, and the Dereham & Fakenham Times published an article about the group in February 2005.
Overall it is very pleasing that so many different people have become involved in the group over the past year, and seem to find the work enjoyable and rewarding.
Tim Angell, Co-ordinator
In 1984 Litcham Common was declared a Local Nature Reserve under the terms of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. A management committee was appointed to oversee and implement a management plan; the committee currently comprises representatives of Lexham Hall estate (the freeholder), Norfolk County Council, Litcham Parish Council and an additional three residents of Litcham (one of whom is the volunteer warden of the common).
The twenty-one year management agreement for Litcham Common which was signed in 1984 between Lexham Hall estate and Norfolk County Council came up for renewal in February 2005, and both parties agreed that this should be renewed.
Litcham Common is particularly important as an example of lowland heathland, a habitat which has declined significantly across the country as a whole in the last sixty years. The objectives of the management plan include maintaining and increasing the areas of open heathland and reducing the areas of scrub (particularly birch) and bracken. However, many of the established trees will be kept so that there is a balance of wildlife habitats. The importance of the common to local people is also recognised with the provision of the car park and benches, and the maintenance of footpaths.
The following work has been carried out on the common over the past year:- Due to concerns about poor visibility from the car park onto the Dunham road, the vegetation in the areas around the car park has been kept cut short all year round.
A new interpretation board has been erected in the car park, to replace the one that was vandalised.
The heath restoration programme is now in its fourth year of a Countryside Stewardship Scheme Agreement, from which funding is received. Thinning and clearance of trees has been carried out over the winter in an area to the west of the road. The Litcham Common Conservation Group has cleared scrub, particularly birch and gorse, from several other areas.
Funding is received through the Woodland Grant Scheme which is presently in year four of a five year agreement. Over the winter the Conservation Group carried out limited thinning and cutting of trees on the wetter western side of the common in order to create an irregular boundary where the woodland meets the heathland; this should be of benefit to the wildlife.
A scheduled ancient monument is situated on the common, and at the request of Norfolk County Council's archaeology department this has been cleared of scrub and brambles.
One issue which arose during the year was the loss of thirteen sheep by the grazier of land adjacent to
Litcham Common, due to dogs which were out of control. The dogs in question were being let loose by their owners from the common's car park, and allowed to roam at will. The problem was resolved when the owners were identified and the dogs put down. In view of these events, the Management Committee felt it appropriate to remind all dog owners that under the bylaws in force on the common dogs must be kept under close control at all times.
Looking to the future, the intention is that management work will be carried on more or less as now, but with the possible reintroduction of grazing by sheep, cattle or ponies at some point, which is the ideal way of maintaining the heathland habitat. However, various practical problems, such as the security of the livestock, would need to be addressed before grazing could commence.
This group was established following a conversation between myself and a group of village youngsters looking for something to do in the evenings. We number around twenty and the original plan was to produce a variety show in the Summer. However, it became obvious with school exams looming along with people's holiday plans, that this would be impractical. We decided to meet up at the end of August and began rehearsals for our first pantomime 'Cinderella'.
We meet on Tuesdays from in the Methodist chapel and would welcome anyone who would like to join us, especially those of the male persuasion.
Finally, before you dispose of your old wardrobe in favour of the new season's style please stop and ask yourself if the garments in question would be suitable for costumes. We are grateful to the Parish Council who have deemed this project worthy of financial support and look forward to entertaining you all in the months ahead.
The Ladies Group meets monthly at the home of a member. The meetings are usually out of the village as so many members have moved away, even as far as Sheringham. We enjoy the company and chat, sometime serious, sometimes frivolous. In December we get together for a Christmas Dinner.
Sometimes we organisation outings of interest to members, last year we visited Peckover House, Collectors World at Downham Market, the Butterfly Farm at Long Sutton and a took a boat trip on the Broads. We continue to support the Norfolk Air Ambulance as our charity.
Our meeting are informal and we welcome new members to our group.
We have had another very successful year. The G.C.S.E. results published in August were our best ever with 79% of our 16 year olds (Year 11) gaining 5+ A* - C grades and 100% gaining 5+ A* - G grades. This was the highest figure in L.E.A. schools in Norfolk. Our value-added score (a score given to overall progress from age 11-16) was also the best in Norfolk and we are particularly proud of this. In short, our aim is to help ALL children achieve their best (not just the more able!) and I believe that all who want to work with us do achieve very well.
At Key Stage 3 (the end of Year 9, 14 year olds) we also did very well in government tests in English, Maths and Science with 83%, 80% and 84% respectively achieving the national expected benchmark. These figures are way above percentage figures achieved nationally.
Obviously, we are in the business of helping children to do well in national examinations but we try to do this by offering good teaching in class and a wide range of other educational experiences and opportunities. These 'extras' help build children's confidence and self-esteem and happy, confident children tend to do well in tests - a virtuous circle!
There have been many and varied trips/ activities including visits to: theatres; art galleries; various workshops; a Mosque and Synagogue; coastal visits and much more. There have also been various workshops/ presentations in school. Our local primary schools have visited several times for Music and Science activities and for sporting activities.
Currently we have just over 590 children on roll. We will be over-subscribed in September which means that 112 new Year 7 children (11 year olds) will join us and possibly a few more as there are a number of admission appeals scheduled for late May. A significant minority of our children come from out of our catchment area. Conversely, these children do not tend to add to our traffic problems at the end of the day as parents often 'double-up' with their cars full with two or three families and parents taking turns to drive day-to-day. Quite often (or so it seems to me) children who live more locally arrive with often only one child in a car.
We have finally replaced our old mobile classrooms and have a new 8 room block which has made a real difference to our general environment. We also have a replacement playground/ games area but this will have to be re-laid over the summer as puddles remain after rain making some P.E. lessons impossible - e.g. tennis. Our new Science Laboratory now means that all Science teaching takes place in specialist accommodation. There is also a lift to enable disabled people access to the upper floor.
The school continues to be very popular and our recent OFSTED inspection reinforced this view. The OFSTED report headline statement reads: 'Litcham High School is a very effective and inclusive school, where student attainment is outstanding'. I think that this is a good point to finish this summary statement!
James Neale, Headteacher
Our largest project this year has been to refurbish the ladies toilets, which is now complete and a great improvement. The two murals in the bus shelter were painted by the children of the primary school and have improved the look of the outside of the hall. One was vandalised soon after it wad put there, but has now been repaired by students from the High School, for which we thank them. Hopefully now no further damage will be done.
The use of the hall is quite good with the Litcham and District Playgroup being the main user.
Next month a youth club will be starting for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. It is hoped this will give the older children an interest and discourage some from hanging around the village in the evening.
The cost of improvements and ever running cost of day to day running of the hall have rather depleted our funds and we are hoping the new trusteeship will soon be is place so that we will have more chance of obtaining funding for further improvements.
2004/5 has been a very busy, positive year for us. We now boast a full range of services for the less abled, including flat access to all parts of the building, specially constructed toilet facilities, and a loop induction facility for those using hearing aids.
We will shortly be having anti-slip flooring installed to complete this phase of our improvements and our official opening and dedication of the facilities will comprise part of our harvest festival celebrations in September.
We are grateful for the financial assistance we have received to supplement our fund raising, not leas the very generous donation from the Parish Council.
Last September we were pleased to welcome the Rev. Heather Snape as our new Minister. Heather is about as average as any punk-haired, Doc Martin wearing purple wheelchair using scouser gets she is by her own admission, as mad as a box of frogs, and we all love her to bits. She brings with her a real passion and compassion for the job and we look forward to the next five years with her. To give you and idea of Heather personality, she was the first person to use our disables toilet and proudly announced that she had christened it with, in her own words "A Ministerial Widdle".
During the next year we hope to make further cosmetic improvements to the building with new railings and noticeboards.
Over the last few months we have seen a steady rise in our congregations and whereas at this time last year we would see 15-20, we now regularly have between 20 and 30 worshiping with us. I have to finish on a down note, earlier in the year I wrote in 'Church and Village' about people using the shingle area behind the Chapel as a doggy toilet loo we thought that the message had got through, but alas, in the last two weeks it has started again. It almost impossible to police this situation, so we hope that the message about this anti-social behaviour will get through to those responsible and that this problem will cease.
The last twelve months have seen the playgroup go from strength to strength. We continue to offer a 5 day a week term time programme for 2-5 years olds in the local community. The numbers at the group have increased to 19 through the hard work of the staff team working alongside volunteer parents whose support and input is invaluable.
The aim of the group is provide a stimulating, challenging and safe environment in which children can learn, develop and prepare for the transition in to full time education. This is achieved through organised trips to venues and organisations in the local community including such things as the Fire Station in Dereham and local shops in the village.
Links with the schools and link teachers also ensure children have the opportunity to experience programmes such as dance and computers, all of which goes to-providing a balanced introduction to structured learning.
Recent months have also seen the introduction of a mother and toddler group due to demands expressed locally. The group currently operates one day per week and there are plans to expand this service if further interest can be generated.
In order to continue to provide a quality service we have started to enhance the outdoor opportunities we can provide to the children in our care. We have installed a new storage shed and Wendy house and we hope to follow this with the development of a vegetable patch so the children can be involved in the growing and harvesting of their own break time snacks.
The group would also like to thank all those volunteers and businesses that have assisted in the group in their fund raising efforts over the last year which will support the group in its further development in the future.
Beverley Boulter, Playgroup Co-ordinator
This is a very short report as things have not really moved on that much from last year. We have raised the sum of £500.00 this year through the sheer hard work of a very small band of people. We will continue to raise funds with various fund raising events this year.
Breckland Council has earmarked the piece of land between the Weasenham and Wellingham Roads for affordable housing, however, the Parish Council have asked that if housing is built on the land, then an area should be set aside for a play area for the village. This sounds promising.
The Village Appraisal was handed over to the Parish Council quite some time ago, but unfortunately it is now out of date and they are hoping to produce a more up to date version. Good luck to them as we know how much hard work is involved.
Finally, a very big thank you to everyone who has supported Play 2000 by attending their events and by making donations. And we look forward to continued support from the Parish Council.
Judith Bentley Chairman Play 2000
I am pleased to provide the following report of school events from January 2005 which is when I took over as Headteacher. The school sends news every month to the Parish Magazine and this would be a good source to use to fill in the gap from May to December 2004.
· Pupil numbers have increased since I arrived by 4 boys and we are presently a school of 96 with 2 more boys to start before the end of May.
· The school remains very popular with local families, and we have maintained the strong support of parents and other local community members, and they continue to be very effective ambassadors for the school! · However several families from Castle Acre who elected to come to us will now not be coming to us, as the First School there will be a Primary from September.
· Unfortunately the proposed move by Litcham Playgroup to move onto our site did not take place.
· Our recent Ofsted Inspection in February took the school out of the category of an Underachieving School and we are now seen as an Improving School. The school was featured in The Lynn News, The Dereham Times and the EDP with very favorable write ups.
· Our pupil attendance remains above the national average, and pupils have maintained their self-discipline and positive motivation towards all areas of learning.
Farewells; Our governor Mrs. Howes has resigned due to family and work commitments, Mrs. Kirsten Stibbon has resigned from her full time teaching post with us to care for her new baby son Huey. However she does work in the school Thursday mornings on a voluntary basis. Ms Sarah Hotness decided she did not want to continue working in Class I this term so Mrs Fay Swann was appointed to work alongside Mrs. Mitchell-Finnigan in Class 1. The later two teachers both have temporary contracts covering Mrs Stibbons' maternity leave. We shall be very sorry to lose both them. Graham Hampton who was appointed to teach 40% in Class 4 also decided to leave for personal reasons.
Welcomes; Mr Michael Nodes was appointed as the Class 3 teacher in January. He is an ICT Specialist. Miss. Alana Davies has been appointed to be the Class I teacher from September. The school has also made two further temporary appointments this term, Mrs. Zeta Wright as a Classroom Assistant and Ms. Nita White as Special Needs Teaching Assistant. In September we will also welcome Mr. Karl Dickerson as our P.E. Instructor one day a week, he will enable the school to give Class Teachers the 10% time awarded for planning, preparation and assessment by the government; known as PPA time. Hopefully we shall also gain a cleaner this term to work alongside Gary Fulcher our caretaker. Our school kitchen has also employed Mrs. Firmin for an hour every day.
· The school is currently advertising for a Music teacher and or a Modem Foreign Language Specialist to work in the school for a day to give further PPA time to Teaching Staff.
· Events Once again we entered the "Yellow Pages" recycling competition and are also presently collecting mobile phones and empty ink cartridges for recycling. For one day only we shall be collecting clothes too for recycling. Years 4 & 5 have taken part in an Energy Busters programme in a bid to lower the school's electricity bill as well as learn about all forms of energy. They visited the Forum in Norwich to demonstrate how wind turbines work and joined in celebrating Norfolk excellence in education. Class I pupils are soon to take part in a six week pilot at Houghton Hall entitled 'Forest schools'. They have recently enjoyed a Road safety programme. Class 3 & 4 have visited Litcham High School on two occasions to see 'Inspire', from Norwich give talks on Energy and Forces. Once again Year 6 enjoyed a residential trip to Horstead Conference Centre.
· This year we entered two teams of Year 5 & 6 pupils in the local heat of the K'nex Young Engineers challenge, and for the first time a team went through to the Norfolk final in Norwich.
· Pupils of all ages have been able to take part in after school music and art workshops.
· The Clubs offered last term and this have been Film and Dance. Premier Soccer coaching sessions were cancelled due to only a few children wanting to attend.
· The School Travel Plan was completed and submitted last term and we have been awarded a grant of about £ 5,000. Cycling proficiency will again be offered to children in years 5 & 6.
· Visitors to school include Rev. Boston (half termly assemblies) and Mark Barrett (School Sports partnership) and Karl Dickerson (Premier Soccer). The pupils have also enjoyed a production of Joseph by 'Alligator' and had an informative session on Tudor Music.
· The pupils have raised money for the following charities Lepra £296.99 following a sponsored workout, UNICEF, the Tsunami Appeal £78.15 Red Nose Day £129.02 where the children paid to be out of their uniform for the day. I am amazed at the generosity in the school community.
· Our Friends have planned a number of events for this term, a Beetle Drive, a School Fete and a Disco at the end of term. They have also conducted a Uniform Survey for the School and in future further items of clothing will be available in September. The colour is to remain the same but the new range will carry a logo designed by the children.
· Our Playground Angels have continued to watch over the playground for us at break and lunchtime. In January a School Council was formed, the present Council is made up of two Playground Angels and two members from each class. It was decided that Council representatives will serve for two terms. Recently they have been involved in the appointment of Full Time staff and successfully campaigned for School Discos and drinking water being available in classrooms. They have also asked for reading partners in a different class, which will be trialled this term and written to the school governors pointing out improvements that could be made to the building. 'Golden Time' is also high on their list of wants.
· Finally the school is hoping to provide a breakfast club; an after school club every night as well a holiday play scheme to further serve its community from September.
Yours sincerely, Christine Watts, Headteacher, May 3rd 2005
I have been running this service in the village for over thirty years. Recently the doctor's surgery in Elmham has started referring patients here because the depot in Dereham has given up. This has increased the number of loans considerably during the year. We lend out probably about 150 items each year.
The medical loan service is meant for emergency use rather than the long term. If possible we avoid lending items like wheel chairs for more than three months. Social services should supply these for permanent use. People recovering from operations, accident victims or elderly ill patients find the equipment makes all the difference, and often enables them to be nursed at home.
Norfolk Red Cross is proud to be the leading county as far as medical loan is concerned in the UK. We help more people than anywhere else. Of course there are many other services provided by the Red Cross. Hundreds of dedicated volunteer all over the county give up their time to do this work. They deserve our thanks.
Football 2004/05 has, as previous years broken all records. Youth Club numbers on Tuesday evenings increased considerably. Football on Saturdays and Sundays has continued to grow. We fielded six teams in leagues and three in friendlies. But wait for it!!!... There will be eight teams in leagues next year from Under 8's to 15's with at least two others playing friendlies.
Tennis has just started and everybody is having a great time, with good attendances.
Cricket continues successfully and this year we are for the first time playing in two Norfolk leagues at Under 1 1's and 13's With Fakenham, Dereham, Bradenham and Matishall as opponents, we will be really tested against some of the County's best. The Under 15's are playing in the Narborough Cup. Talking of County, we are very pleased that three of our young cricketers have been included in County squads. This follows two of our footballers who played for Norfolk at under 14 & 15. This season it means that we have now 'topped' the fifty mark in County Honours (tennis, football, cricket) in my thirty five years as Youth Leader. I am really 'chuffed'. Who says these country boys' can't play?!! As usual we will be holding our annual sports activity week in the first week of the school summer holiday. Finally my sincere and grateful thanks to all the marvelous helpers, team managers and coaches for all their wonderful hard work and support. All this would not be possible without your help.
Richard Bailey, Youth Leader
END OF REPORTS