2023 Report from the Chair of Nailsea Town Council – Cllr Mike Bird

Cllr Mike Bird

Thank you all for coming tonight and for making the effort to come to Nailsea’s Annual Town meeting.  I’d especially like to welcome all our new councillors and I hope to get to know you all well.

This has been my second year as chair, as well as being a North Somerset District Councillor for the past 4 years.  This dual role has helped the council deliver on various projects, most visible at the moment being the work on Station Road Car park and the new children’s play equipment.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the councillors past and present who have supported me in the last two years.  I’d particularly like to give my thanks to Cllr Emily Miller in her support of me as Vice Chair.  Due to family and work issues she has had to take a back step this year, I will miss her enthusiasm and support – she achieved an awful lot in those two years.

I’d also like to thank Jo our clerk and everyone in the office and at 65, and the Chairs of committees for all their support.

This election we’ve seen a good number of councillors step down and obviously a good number of new councillors elected – it means exciting times ahead.

I’d like to pay tribute to all the councillors who have served over the past 8 years I’ve been on the council and how they have continually moved this council forwards and changed it year on year.  When I joined councillors didn’t have email addresses, everything was done on paper and the website was out of the 1980’s.  This year we desperately need to appoint a Media and Communications Officer to improve our communication and interaction the community, how things have changed. 

Change has been part of the DNA of this council for a long time.

Recently we have seen some staff changes, with Lauren Moke stepping down in her role as Assistant Clerk and Trish Bennet as administrator. 

During the year we’ve employed Nathalie Stadon as weddings and events coordinator to promote the Tithe Barn as a Wedding and Events venue and coordinate events.

We’ve contracted Tracey Fowler, a freelance local journalist, to take on some of the publicity for the council – but as I’ve indicated, we really need to turn this into a full-time post.

In the last month or so we’ve welcomed on-board Stephen Holley as Assistant Clerk and Abigail Pople-Hughes as Administrator.   Also, Rob Hepworth has joined the caretaker team at the Tithe Barn.

Via a grant from North somerset, we’ve also welcomed Jess Brown onboard as our Well Being officer who is very successfully working out of No.65.  65 goes from strength to strength and is very much a community owned project boosted by Jess’s arrival. 

Over the last year we’ve seen a lot of projects started, underway and completed: –

  • The installation of the flood lighting for the skatepark, which has been a great success.
  • The setting up of Outdoor Gym equipment in Millennium park, a project lead by Cllr Hopkinson.
  • In association with Suzy Riley, to the memory of her son Toby, a new play area at the Grove.  Many members of our wider community also helped with this project.
  • We’ve finally seen the end to the use of the High Street by huge articulated lorries, with the installation of a weight limit and speed restrictions.
  • The Upgrade of the pedestrian access to Station Road Car park and the adjoining service road is in progress with funding from the Town Council.
  • Installation of the new crossing on Clevedon Road is just a month or so away.
  • We’ve seen the Farmers Market go from strength to strength and become ever more popular, drawing in people from around the area.
  • We’ve purchased of a new set of LED festive lights for the Town centre that should last us many years.
  • The Council hosted a Big Green Weekend here in the tithe barn last year, which was very successful.
  • The council has purchased of two electric buses for Nailsea and District Community Transport.  
  • During the Queens Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we provided the beacon that sat on top the church Tower.
  • Sadly, just a couple of months later, I was reading of the Kings Proclamation on the village Green. 
  • However, a Great celebration was had this last weekend for the Kings Coronation, which most of us enjoyed.
  • Other events have included a celebration of Black History month and a Holocaust memorial event.

After a 6 year wait caused by National Grid, finally houses are being built on Engine Lane.  The delay has been unfortunate as it’s seen a £100,000 rise in the average house price.   Having said that, we’ve already heard stories of local young couples being able to buy their first house in Nailsea on the site.  What we would class is ‘affordable’ is very different to how young people today see the situation when they are paying £1,200 in rent a month.

The obvious benefit from the development is the capital receipt that we will be able to spend on Nailsea.  Nailsea Town Council is also seeking compensation from National Grid, which could be added to this receipt to spend on the town.

Ask Nailsea was one of the biggest surveys we’ve ever seen in Nailsea.   It has given us great guidance on what the town would like the money spent on.

The feasibility projects based on these ideas progress at greatly varying speeds and levels of feasibility – obviously every penny needs to be spent correctly and where you’re considering spending money assets, care needs to be taken to get it right.  Plus, fruition of many of the projects is not in the Town Councils Control, dependent many other shareholders including NSC – timing is not in our hands.

The Town Council has enjoyed the most interaction and consultation with North Somerset than it has had in a very long time.  As part of that, we undertook a Placemaking strategy for Nailsea, considering all possibilities on how we take the town forwards, especially considering our expected influx of new residents. The resulting Two Towns report has to be worked through this next year with the new administration at North Somerset.

With prudent budgeting, the town council has been able to forgo any increase in the percept this year.

I’m sure I’ve missed many other things that have happened this last year, but I’m excited to look forwards to what we can achieve together in Nailsea this next year.

Thank you.

Cllr Mike Bird

Chair, Nailsea Town Council                                                                           10th May 2023