Annual Report of Claxton Parish Pit Charity April 2017

Membership:
Roland Kaye, Chair and independent member (ends April 2017)
David Bissonnet, Chair and independent member (from April 2017)
Pat Clare, Secretary and Chair of Parish Council
Mike Balmer, Treasurer, Independent
Mary Button, Parish Councillor
Paul Carter, representing Church
Jason Cantrill, Parish Councillor
David Hamblin, Parish Councillor
Kevin Parker, Independent
Sarah Kennedy, Parish Councillor (from March 2017)

Introduction
Claxton Parish Pit Trust is a registered charity 243172. The Trust receives income from three assets. Ducan’s Marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, for which grants are received from Natural England as well as grazing rent. Number 3 the Warren which is a semi-detached house in the village which is let. The allotments, which are leased from the Claxton Manor Estate and administered by the Trust on behalf of the parish. In addition the Trust shares income from the solar panels which are fitted to the Village Hall which were funded by the Trust.

Subject to payment of the expenses (maintaining the properties and meeting all other outgoings payable in their respect and charges and expenses incidental to administration and management of the charity) the Trustees shall apply the income of the charity for the charitable purpose for the general benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Claxton. (Quote from Charity Commission).

Governance
The Governing Document of the Claxton Pit Trust is available on the village web site for all to read.

N.B. Trustees are not remunerated and do not claim expenses.

The Trustees have been advised by the Charity Commission that the following guiding principles should be followed:

  • That the funds be targeted rather than shared generally,
  • That the funds be applied in support of existing statutory benefits such as social security to avoid loss of benefits,
  • That the funds be used where other funds are not available.
  • In addition the Trust has established the following principles:
  • up to £2,000 pa available annually as a bursary for educational purposes, up to £500 per case for assistance to the elderly or anyone incapacitated, to help with maintenance of properties excluding any capital works and up to £100 per annum towards the cost of hospital visits to family. In addition any other requests will be considered by the Trustees, who will hold the information in confidence

Following these principles the Trustees have sought to benefit the parish and parishioners.

This report summarises the activities in 2016/17.

Meetings
The Trust has met six times in 2016/17 to ensure management of the assets and review requests and plans. Having refurbished No3 and let the property, the Trustees have been rebuilding the reserves of the charity and have agreed a target level of reserves which should be established for the future. The emphasis this year has been on Ducan’s Marsh where the Charity has been successful in winning additional funding from the Post Code Local Trust to enhance the facility and support the work of volunteers who maintain the site.

Assets
No 3 Warren – This is the primary asset of the trust and was refurbished in 2015-16 and subsequently let through professional property managers. We are pleased with the continued tenancy to a young family.

Ducan’s Marsh – Under the agreement with Natural England, we are subject to Higher Level Stewardship management which while providing grant income requires us to pro-actively manage the site in line with their guidance. South Yare Wildlife Group has continued to provide support with volunteers taking part in working parties and organising a very successful open day for the village and visitors. Kevin Parker has played the lead role in liaising with NE and coordinating the working parties.

At the end of April 2016 the charity was informed that its bid for funding from the Post Code Local Trust had been successful. The project was to tackle the encroaching alders, willow and fallen trees, to undertake maintenance of drainage, fencing and bridges and establish a noticeboard documenting the marsh biodiversity and support the open days. In addition we would install Owl/ Bird and Bat Boxes to enhance the site. Currently the volunteers undertake this work but some tasks require specialist equipment and personnel to complete e.g. ditches and some tree felling. We would wish to employ contractors to undertake these tasks supported by the volunteers who will continue to do the bulk of the work.

We hold open days at the site and provide guides walks while also surveying and logging the diversity. The Environment Agency annually surveys the site and we intend to provide an opportunity for educational visits. To assist these activities we will install a noticeboard to provide information about site and access plus develop a leaflet for use on open days and for other visits.

The work undertaken to date is as follows:
The track providing access to the site has been enhanced with matting and hardcore to allow essential equipment to access the site.

The cross drainage ditch has had a number of ‘scrapes’ (shallow ponds) created to improve habitat and drainage. This was with guidance from Natural England and in place of clearing all the ditch which risked lowering water table.

A new bridge has been installed with railway sleepers which had to be physically walked across the marsh by a team of volunteers. This improves access for lifestock used for grazing and potentially agricultural implements in dry weather.

A significant number of trees had fallen on the boundaries collapsing fences and some were unsafe, and professionals were employed to cut and stack the wood.

Two working parties of volunteers have been held to clear the encroaching alders and burn the brush in a manner which does not cause damage to the site. The volunteers are drawn from the South Yare Wildlife Group plus trust members of this charity.

The fencing adjoining Carleton Beck has been upgraded and a gateway added with the gate being donated.

A noticeboard has been designed and is being installed which gives information about the site and contacts for gaining access. The graphics on the noticeboard are reflected in a leaflet which will be available for visitors and parishioners.

Additional expenditure has been invested in training, protective clothing, and tools for the volunteers plus habitat boxes for birds and bats.

Ongoing working parties will take place so there will continue to be calls for the assistance of volunteers. Access to the site is restricted due to the sensitive nature of the site and grazing animals. The Open day will be an annual event and notices will be circulated inviting the village to visit and have a guided tour of this premier SSSI.

We continued with more concentrated grazing of the marsh using ponies to strip graze and have advertised for grazers for 2017.

Allotments – The Allotments are managed by the Trust on behalf of the Parish Council and the Trust funded the installation of water supply. While there were two tenants in 2016 these have not continued and no parishioners have come forward for 2017. The site had become overgrown and the trustee cleared the site prior to returning the site to the Claxton Manor estate.

Solar Panels on Village Hall
These panels are proving to be effective and provide income which is shared by the Trust and the Village Hall.

Support and requests
As the charity rebuilds its reserves following the refurbishment of its major asset the charity will be able to support requests. The charity is exploring the possibility of funding care alarms for the older residents who live alone. This service would be provided by established proven providers and the charity would meet the cost of rentals and installation.

The Accounts and Treasurer’s Report
An unaudited financial statement is available on the Village website and notice board and can be read by clicking here.

GRKaye 1/5/17

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