... Annual Report

Chair's Annual Report to the Village

The Chair of the Parish Council, Philip Ayles, issued his Annual Report to the village
at the Annual Parish Meeting on Monday 15 April, 2024. which you can read below.
Click on the picture below to watch the video of the meeting.

It has been a busy year for the village and for the Parish Council. We had elections last May with Steve Bradbury becoming a councillor, replacing John Keane who had stepped down, and Jacquie Ladyman joined us as Clerk. We also welcomed Alison Andrew as a new Ward Councillor replacing George Bowyer who had also stepped down.
I repeat our thanks to John, who has had lengthy service as a parish councillor, and George for their service to Castlethorpe.
Only a few days later, we had the Coronation and a ‘tea and cakes’ event was held in the village hall on the following day.
Best Kept Village
In June we won the Buckinghamshire ‘Best Kept Village’ award for the class for villages of our size and shared the ‘Sword of Excellence’ with Weston Underwood for the best kept village of any size. This is the first time we have won Best Kept Village and it is a credit to everyone who has helped keep the village tidy and especially those who did some litter picking.
I notice that our award sign is already being given prominence by estate agents advertising properties in the village. We do have some litter picking tools available through Jacquie if anyone is able to go out occasionally. Best Kept Village is run every June and we have entered again this year.
We also encourage tree planting in the village and have planted several trees ourselves or in conjunction with MKCC. Unfortunately, the large chestnut on the triangle had to be taken down due to disease but it has been replaced with a redwood, which is more disease resistant, and which was largely funded by Marcia Jordan in memory of her husband, Vic.
Could I remind everyone that, if you live in the Conservation Area or if your tree has a Preservation Order on it, you must get permission from MKCC before you do any work on it as the Parish Council itself had to do before doing some work on trees in Castle Field to make them safe.
We have also, as requested by local residents, replaced the fence and installed a bench at The Chequers end of the Fishponds play area.
The major project of the last year has been the clubhouse at the Sports Ground. We spent a lot of time at the end of 2022 and in early 2023 engaging with residents and set up a project team of residents and councillors which recommended that extending the existing cricket pavilion was a better and less costly solution than a new building. In June, MKCC held a Parish Advisory Poll for us in which 337 voted in favour of a clubhouse with 56 against on a turnout of 47%.
We therefore applied for planning permission and went out to tender and appointed Hickfords Construction in October. The work has gone well. The cricket pavilion has been remodelled to provide larger changing rooms, toilets for the clubhouse and a small parish office and this work is complete. The clubhouse extension is well underway and we hope it will be completed at the beginning of May.
Although we had sufficient money to construct the clubhouse, including taking out a loan from the Public Works Loan Board – and this was important to do quickly to make sure that inflation didn’t eat away at the money we had – we still need to get some grant money to enable us to fit out the clubhouse – decoration, flooring, tables and chairs, a serving counter and some kitchen equipment. So, although the clubhouse will be available for basic use by the cricket club, it will not immediately be suitable for public use.
Our ambition is to be able to open a café for coffee and snacks during the day and a bar on some evenings and at the weekend. This will of course depend on how much use it gets. We also have to decide whether we will run it ourselves or sublease it in the same way as the shop is subleased to Udi and Dina.
By "ourselves", I mean a new community interest company, Castlethorpe Community Space CIC, which has now got a lease for the clubhouse from the Parish Council as the council certainly wouldn’t run the clubhouse itself.
Anyone on the electoral roll in Castlethorpe can be a member of the CIC and will be able to elect directors to run the clubhouse as they wish. The Parish Council will simply be the landlord and ensure no nuisance is created.
We have submitted several grant applications and wait to hear. If we are not successful, we will have to adjust our plans but I am hopeful that we will be able to open the clubhouse in some way before the end of the year.
Village Shop
As we can all see, Udi and Dina have, through their success, started to outgrow the shop and they lose a lot of veg and fruit when it is very cold or very hot. MKCC have agreed in principle to sell the garden land in front of the shop to the Parish Council, which also owns the land on which the shop is built.
The shop association, which is also a community interest company, has obtained some S106 (Planning Gain) money and hopes to build an extension at the front.
Public Art
There is also some S106 money for Public Art and MKCC have agreed this can be used at both the new clubhouse and at the shop. There is a public meeting at 7.30pm on Monday 22nd April at the village hall and the MKCC Public Art officer will explain the process so that ideas can be developed for both sites.
Highways remain the bane of our lives especially with potholes. Some of the worse on Bullington End Road have been repaired but there are many others which have been reported but which MKCC may not classify as warranting repair. We persist.
Similarly, Ward Councillor Chris Wardle has engaged with West

 Northants Council and one bad pothole by the Cosgrove triangle has been repaired. The others are scheduled for repair later in the year but West Northants say they have run out of money. Chris is keeping the pressure up.
Inconsiderate parking remains a problem in several parts of the village but particularly in South Street and joining roads such as the entrances to Maltings Field and School Lane. It is difficult to park when many of our older houses preceded the car, never mind several cars per household, but please consider others.
We are borrowing a ‘child bollard’ from MKCC to put in the entrance to School Lane to see if it will stop residents being blocked in.
We have two new solar-powered Speed Indicator Devices set up on what have consistently proved to be the fastest entrances – Hanslope Road and Wolverton Road. We wanted to continue to use the old SID on Bullington End Road and Station Road but it appears to have taken umbrage at the arrival of its younger siblings and has died. We are trying to revive it.
The streetlights project seems to have halted with just a couple of lights left to finish. Just appalling service from MKCC.
We all got new wheelie bins in September. The rollout was not perfect but I believe we got bins for everyone eventually after making a bit of a fuss.
There are two major items. Firstly, a notice appeared from the owners of Gobbeys Field saying that they intend to restrict use of the field to the public footpath that runs across it. As it has been used for general recreation by dog walkers and people just having fun for several decades, Cllr Kay Sawbridge, with support from the Parish Council, has registered a formal request to have it designated as a village green. Thanks to everyone who returned a ’usage form’ to Kay. It was an outstanding number.
At the same time, MKCC is writing a new Local Plan, called the New City Plan (NCP). A Local Plan, among other things, designates land for housing. MKCC is setting the NCP to run until 2050 despite most Local Plans running for only 15 years. The problem is that it means yet more land will have to be designated for housing to accommodate growth in the extra 10 years and once land is designated, neighbouring properties tend to be blighted. In my view, this is unnecessary and just vanity by the current administration to have a city of 500,000 people.
Please ignore the hysteria in the press from the opposing side of 63,000 houses which includes houses already being built but there are two real threats to Castlethorpe. The first is a proposal to create a development area called ‘MK North’ itself with two options of a base of 4,000 houses or an extended option of 16,000 houses. Although not directly in Castlethorpe, it will completely cover Haversham up to the Dips and then sweep round Bullington End to Hanslope and up to the M1. To put these numbers in perspective, Castlethorpe currently has about 500 houses. These options are currently ‘not preferred’ in the draft plan which will come out for public consultation in July. We are working with our neighbouring parishes and our ward councillors to ensure it doesn’t suddenly become ‘preferred’ which is what happened with the Eastern expansion area around Moulsoe.
The second threat is the "non-strategic expansion of villages" which sounds innocuous but still has up to 3500 new homes in the villages. "Non-strategic" means there won’t be new infrastructure. These are evaluated on the basis of sites put forward by landowners or developers to MKCC. There are three in Castlethorpe – no doubt Gobbeys is one – but MKCC have refused to tell us which they are or allow us a voice in their selection. Again, MKCC say this is a "non-preferred option" and long may it remain that way.
Having said all this, we will probably modify our Neighbourhood Plan once the NCP is adopted and we, the residents, may or may not then choose whether to allocate land for housing but it will be our choice not one imposed on us without consideration of the local issues that affect the sites like Gobbeys.
We are continuing to run free afternoon teas every other Wednesday in the village hall from 2pm to 4pm. We call it Communi-tea and we lay out tables together so that residents and their friends can talk. Do come but also, if you know someone in the village who doesn’t get out often and would welcome some company, perhaps you could bring them.
So we have done a lot this past year to make Castlethorpe a better place to live and I hope we will continue, with your support, in this coming year.
Philip Ayles
Chair, Castlethorpe Parish Council

• A resident asked what the Parish Council’s view was on strategic expansion within the village. Cllr Ayles advised that the Parish Council would support development within the settlement boundary but not outside of it, as per the current Neighbourhood Plan.
• A resident asked about the parking issues around the South Street/Maltings Field entrance and whether double yellow lines could be introduced.
 Cllr Ayles advised that we had looked at this previously and it would be difficult to enforce although we have asked our PCSO to enforce persistent offenders. Also, some residents in Maltings Field weren’t keen on yellow lines and as the project would have to be resident lead, no further action was taken.
 If residents do want to pursue this option, information on the process is available on the MKCC website and the Parish Council would be happy to help where possible.

Ward Councillor's report

For anybody who is unaware we have three Milton Keynes City Council ward councillors for the Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope ward which covers Castlethorpe, Hanslope, Haversham, Gayhurst. Little Linford, Redhouse Park, Tathall End and Newport Pagnell, north of the High Street.
We have Cllr Chris Wardle, Cllr Alison Andrew and myself, Cllr Liam Andrews. We work very closely with Castlethorpe Parish Council on local projects and feeding back and reporting any issues to Milton Keynes City Council.
The main issue we have been working on has been the New City Plan which aims to build 63,000 new homes across Milton Keynes, including potential plans for a new settlement of up to 16,000 homes around Castlethorpe, Hanslope and Haversham.
While this option, and other "non-strategic" options for the rural areas, are on the "not preferred" list of options we remain concerned they could be dropped into the draft plan at the last minute, like the MK East development was in Plan:MK.
Alongside local MP Ben Everitt we held public meetings in Hanslope and Haversham to discuss how to fight against any potential plans.
During a meeting with the leader of MK Council I asked for reassurances that the rural settlement would not be included in the plan and was again told it was extremely unlikely which was reassuring, but we must continue to show opposition to ensure the council is aware of the strength of feeling against reckless expansion into our rural areas. Unfortunately, despite being told we would receive a list of proposed sites in March, we have now been told this won’t happen until later in the year.
Cllr Alison Andrew met with the Director of Planning and Placemaking and was told that as the full information had yet to be acquired if there are any inaccuracies at this stage it will inevitably cause perhaps unnecessary concern amongst residents and councillors.
The full and proper information will be loaded into the interactive platform for July – which will be available for 12 weeks for all feedback.
We will continue to pay close attention 

to any developments with the New City Plan, and continue to work closely with the Parish Council and other parish councils on it.Highways issues have been the most frequently raised topic in my inbox and during Parish Council meetings over the last year.
We are continuing to work to get the awful roads by the Navigation fixed, but unfortunately this falls outside of Milton Keynes City Council’s remit.
Cllr Chris Wardle has been working with councillors in neighbouring West Northamptonshire Council to get this issue raised with their Highways Department, and raises the problem on a regular basis.
West Northants have now confirmed they have plans to do repair works on this section of road, although they are yet to confirm a work schedule.
Other roads in the village itself have also become damaged and we have worked to support the repair of these, including in numerous meetings with MKC’s Highways Department and Bullington End Road has seen repairs, along with other local roads.
There has been a lot of frustration around the communications when the public reports potholes and gets a message either saying it’s "complete" when it hasn’t been.
We have raised this and the council has said it will provide further details in reports. We often get told potholes "aren’t at intervention level" so requested a meeting with MKC to find out what the requirements are for road fixes.
We were told that while pothole depth used to determine if potholes got fixed, it is now calculated through a more detailed system including how often the road is used, how likely the damage is to reoccur, the speed of cars down the road and other considerations.
During the significant rainfall we had at the beginning of the year we saw problems with surface water on the roads through the villages caused by blocked gullies.
Again we took this to the Highways Department who told us the gullies in Castlethorpe had been recently cleared but there may have been issues with blocked ditches on farmland which was leading the gully to become backed up.

across the city to ensure these ditches are cleared to prevent further issues.
We are supporting the extension of Hanslope Surgery and Cllr Alison Andrew will be speaking at the Planning Panel on Thursday (18th April) in favour of the planning application, and has been engaging with the surgery.
The main objections are to do with people parking on the Castlethorpe Road and surrounding roads, but although Hanslope PC has not yet adopted the car park next to the practice, the developer has agreed that signage can be put up and will encourage everyone to use it immediately.
A combination of the PC’s enforcement officer and some volunteer residents will encourage the usage as soon as signage is up.
Last year, we had the rollout of the council’s new wheelie bin collections and its new contractor Suez.
Alongside the Parish Council we engaged with council officers and joined them on a tour of Castlethorpe to show them potential issues with certain properties using the new wheelie bins. They took feedback on board. While we initially had a lot of casework from residents who had either not received their bins or were having issues with missed collections, we have since seen great improvements.
If there are any problems you can get in touch with the three of us and we will endeavour to help.
Finally, each year every council is provided with a ward budget which can be used to support local projects within the ward.
As a trio of councillors we normally pool our funds and offer an amount to each parish council in the ward.
This year in Castlethorpe we helped fund a lunch for seniors in the village, while funding was also provided to Hanslope & Castlethorpe Scouts and for all schools in the ward to receive mental health support books.
We also congratulated Castlethorpe on its success as the Best Kept Village in 2023.

Cllr Liam Andrews Ward Councillor for Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope

Hanslope Surgery
Dr Younus and Angela Wing, practice manager, were in attendance at the meeting to represent the Parks Medical Practice.
Dr Younus advised that the extension to the ground floor of Hanslope surgery to provide automated dispensing machines was going ahead but unfortunately the plans to extend to the first floor to provide training rooms had not been approved.
He said they are currently working to bring the four surgeries together to work as one and appointments would be offered if they were available sooner at another surgery and the resident was able to travel. 
• A resident mentioned the difficulty booking an appointment on the telephone and online. Dr Younus acknowledged this 

the telephone and online. Dr Younus acknowledged this and reported that a new hardware system is being introduced imminently and residents will see improvements over the coming weeks.
• A resident asked whether there were plans to introduce the ability to book face to face appointments online as this was currently not available and Dr Younus confirmed this functionality would be addressed with the new hardware.
• A resident asked about the surgery being closed at lunchtime as whilst appreciating that work was going on behind the scenes during this time, it didn’t help with managing queue times etc once reopened. Dr Younus said that currently there are no plans to change this.
If residents have any queries or suggestions for the surgery, please contact Angela via email at: angela.wing5@nhs.net

Village organisations' reports

 Youth Club
 Castlethorpe Youth Club started back in Sept 1991 and as we enter our 33rd year we still remain the longest running village youth club in Bucks. CYC continues to attract a great number of our village youngsters to our weekly sessions.
Running on a Tuesday night from 7.30pm to 9.15pm in the Village Hall, CYC offers a range of exciting activities and trips to its members in a safe and welcoming environment.
From Halloween fancy dress, games of dodgeball or table tennis, through to trips to laser tag or the climbing centre in MK to tennis, rounders and football at the sports field in the summer, we are open to all youngsters aged from 11 (Year 6) to 16 (Year 11) who live in the village envelope.
The cost is £2 per session, although the first session is free for first timers, and our team of DBS and first aid qualified  

Youth Leader volunteers are always on hand to ensure everyone has a good time in our friendly and inclusive club.
CYC is also involved in supporting a range of other village events like the Duck Race, Village fete, Church Coffee mornings, the senior citizens Christmas lunch and the annual Carols on the Green, where we welcome in the festive season with seasonal carols and the lighting of the Christmas Star on the church spire.
Last year we raised £100 from donations at this event which CYC members have chosen to donate to next year’s senior citizens lunch in the village.
Sadly after almost 25years as a member and youth leader we said goodbye to Jo Graham this year. She has been a major cornerstone of CYC for many years and everyone at CYC will miss her dreadfully but we all wish her well.
Unfortunately the youth club again  

faces a crossroads as we desperately need additional volunteer youth leader
support, both ladies and gents, or we may have to drop sessions to fortnightly or even monthly – this is a slippery slope and may even that we might have to close altogether.
So please come and help us keep this amazing youth club going.
If your child would like to come along to youth club and meet new friends and join in with fun, or you would be interested in joining our volunteer Youth Leader group (we can’t run our weekly sessions without our band of amazing volunteers) then please contact Tracey McGuire (tracy.mcguire@btinternet. com) or Tony Rice (tonycjrltd@gmail.com) for more details or message us on the CYC Facebook page and we will get back in touch.
We look forward to seeing some new faces at Castlethorpe Youth club in the year ahead.

Castlethorpe Cricket Club
This year sees Castlethorpe Cricket Club move into their 24th season at the Village Sports Ground, in Thrupp Close.
Last season the club retained its status in the South Northants Premiership League. This was a particularly rewarding achievement having introduced a number of talented teenagers to more competitive cricket.
League matches are played on Saturday afternoons whilst a youth development team play Sunday afternoon friendly games against local opposition.
This season, along with a new club skipper at the helm, brings the added excitement of a new clubhouse extension which is under construction and when completed it will be available for the whole village to enjoy.
Players membership will include a new cricket shirt displaying the clubs badge. Club caps will also be available to enhance appearance, awareness and hopefully performance. For outdoor net practice and fielding session times please contact Ed Tate - 07791241773.
Fixtures and results are available on Castlethorpe Play Cricket. Home matches are advertised on the notice board at the main gates.
The club always welcomes new players, members and, not forgetting of course, spectators. Please come and enjoy the lovely surroundings.
David Spinelli
Club Chairman – 07889 215786

FC Castlethorpe
Another successful season is coming to an end for the football teams in the village.
With 6 teams competing in local leagues, ranging from under-11 girls, under-13 boys and girls, under 16-boys and girls on Saturday mornings and an under-18 boys team that play on Sunday afternoons, more than 70 children represent the club.
There have been some brilliant performances across all the teams and the ground and facilities continue to be one of the best in the leagues, maintained by an army of volunteers alongside the Parish Council.
A date for your diary – Sunday 19 May - when the Under 16 boys team will compete in a cup final at the home of MK Dons, Stadium:MK, in a 4pm kick-off.
It would be brilliant to see as many villagers supporting the local team as possible – entry is free and will be a memory that will last long in the memory of the team.
The club are always looking for volunteers to help on the committee and with the ground so please get in touch if you could help.
We are also looking to set up new teams so if you would like to discuss starting a junior team in top class facilities, please visit the club website to contact us -

Women’s Institute
Yvonne Hands, President of Castlethorpe W.I. gave an overview of the past year:-
In April, Scott Humphries gave a talk on the history of Castlethorpe, he bought many items that he had found around the village. At the end of the talk he allowed us to take a small piece of artefact or a coin home.
In May, the meeting was held in the Church as our speaker was Father Adam Burnham who gave a talk on his vocational journey from Texas to Japan and back to England. He bought many items of clothing and ancient and modern memorabilia from Japan.
In June, Judy Leon gave a talk on her life as a diplomat from 30 years in the Foreign Office and all the countries that she visited and had lived in.
In July, Trish Kempson was our speaker on Lasting Powers of Attorney and how important it is for us to have this for 

family members and ourselves.
In July, Trish Kempson was our speaker on Lasting Powers of Attorney and how important it is for us to have this for family members and ourselves.
In August, Judy Wheatland gave a talk on midwifery in Saudi Arabia with some sad stories about how women were owned by men so some women were never given the proper care. Girls as young as 13 were giving birth and some women having 15 or 16 pregnancies. It was and still is a harsh regime. Judy also bought some dresses in which one of our members tried on.
In September we held our meeting at the Barley Mow in Cosgrove where we had a lovely meal.
In October Jackie Gommon gave a talk about ‘choices’. Your loved ones service is important and the last thing that you can do for them. Choices she offers to a family who wish to have a civil funeral celebrant. 

In November we held a Christmas craft evening ran by myself and Jan Bracey.
We showed members different crafts and a fun evening was had by all.
In December Christmas celebrations were held in the church.We sang carols
and members did various readings. This was followed by a buffet and mulled wine. Proceeds from the raffle went to Willen Hospice.
In January a games evening involving a game of Bingo was held. Few members were present so we had time for a chit chat, cakes and tea.
In February we held our AGM plus an informative talk on “Fraud in Banking” by Nick Fearn an employee of Santander Fraud Department.
In March, we held Easter Crafts where we decorated “chicks” and filled them with chocolate eggs. Tea and hot cross buns followed.
Yvonne Hands
President, Castlethorpe WI

Castlethorpe Dance Fitness Class
Chris Birchall gave a report on behalf of his wife Nicky who runs a dance fitness class that takes place on Thursday’s at 6.00pm in the village hall for an hour. The class has been running from 2011 and there are currently 22 members on the books.
The cost is £6.50 on a pay as you go basis or £30 for 5 classes, no need to book – just turn up and enjoy. The classes are low impact classes aimed at all levels and cover over 20 different  

dance styles including; latin, jazz, rock, Charleston etc.and top hats and canes have been used in the past. A wide range of popular music is used from Elvis to Ed Sheeran and lots in between.
 So please bear the classes in mind, they are a great social outlet and lots of fun without being too serious, everyone would be very welcome.

Furtho Development
Opposition Group 
Without doubt, our efforts in 2023 stopped the development in its tracks and forced the developer into drastic revisions. They had hoped to have the warehouses up and runningfor several months by now. However, we can’t rest on our laurels as the application has not been withdrawn, and we are expecting to see new proposals submitted any time soon. So we will need to continue to fight back this year.
1. Current status of the application: awaiting new proposals from the developer. National Highways have approved (May ‘23).
The Environment Agency and Wildlife 
Trust are still upholding their objections (Sept ‘23).
Nearly 3,000 resident objections 
and all Parish Councils in the vicinity have objected. MPs Andrea Leadsom and Ben Everitt are supportive of our plight, but have no power over the planning process.
2. New West Northants Council Local Plan out for public consultation. Deadline for comments - 2nd June. WNC appears to have revised policy in 

favour of the development to ensure it complies with Local Plan. FDOG are outraged by this!
3. What have FDOG been doing in the past year?:
a. Raising awareness; banner at Old Stratford Roundabout, leaflet drop and posters in all villages.
b. Attending events such as Folk on the Green, Stony Riverside Big Lunch. This year we will be at:
i. Riverside Big Lunch - 2nd Jun
ii. D-Day Old Stratford - 8th June
iii. Castlethorpe Duck Race - 30th June
c. Publicity: Featured more than once in local media – MK Citizen, MKFM, Stony Radio, Anglia News, Northampton Chronicle, Buckingham Advertiser. Also featured in The Financial Times.
d. Social Media: Facebook and Instagram continues to raise profile; we could now do with some assistance to manage this going forward. 
4. Fundraising: we have raised £12,500 through Crowdfunder, volunteers organising events, donations from supporters and Parish Councils.
Thank you to all who have got involved! Please see our website for more info about how you can help.

5. Launched new merchandising for sale. Please show your support by ordering products from www.stop3000trucks.teemill.com
6. How the money has been spent: Money spent on website hosting, banners, printing and insurance. The largest expenditure has been on four consultant reports covering hydrology, ecology and transport; as well as legal advice.
7. Why we need more: to challenge new proposals with further expert advice and to keep raising awareness. 
8. What happens next: likely to be another round of public consultation when new proposals materialise; FDOG need your help to raise money to challenge the proposals. Application will go to a Strategic Planning Committee for decision 
9. We CAN Make a Difference: FDOG are working with other campaigns who have been successful. FDOG reviews have influenced the EA decision and overturned the Wildlife Trust decision from no objection to objection. But we need your support. 
Please see our website stop3000trucks. org for how you can help.