This second Newsletter for 2002 is being written shortly after the very successful Village Conference, organised as part of the procedure for developing the “Parish Plan”.

The Conference took place on Thursday 17th October and was attended by many more people than we would care to acknowledge with a specific number (in case of conflict with the maximum occupancy figure for the Gaskell Hall). It was certainly a tribute to the people of Silverdale, that there was so much interest – the enthusiasm for having a say in the future of our community was quite inspiring. The members of the ‘steering group’, who worked so hard in setting-up the Conference, are now working just as hard in evaluating the comments and suggestions posted on the boards by those who attended. More news about this in due course.

In our last Newsletter, mention was made of the “…frustration (exasperation, even), as a consequence of the Government’s new Model Code of Conduct and all the bureaucracy that goes with it.” Just a few weeks ago, the chief officer of one of the county associations of local councils wrote “Just when you thought it might be safe to get back in the water after the Code of Conduct and the Lighter Touch Audit, there is another shark out there waiting to snap at your heels!” This time he was referring to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the duty imposed on Parish Councils to register a Declaration of an adopted Publication Scheme. Whilst this has obviously caused quite a lot of panic and doom in many councils, for Silverdale it has almost been a case of “so what”. The reason for this laid-back response lies in this web site, which you have just accessed. Our Council has simply registered the “Model Publication Scheme for Local Councils (Core Classes only)”, knowing that almost all of the requirements are met by the information contained on this web site. Just for once we feel slightly smug!

Our Clerk is, however, not feeling too smug as he contemplates the new training regime, introduced to enable all clerks to attain an AQA Qualification. Peter could take a chance, by submitting a portfolio without doing the new training modules and, if the ‘verifier’ just could not find even the slightest weakness, he would be awarded the qualification. However, it is clear that clerks are to be deterred from trying to take this route, so it will probably be back to school in 2003. Fortunately Peter is also Clerk at Arnside, so the cost of the training can be shared with our neighbouring Council (and the precept for Silverdale kept slightly lower than would otherwise be the case).

Of course, the Council could decide to opt out of this latest Government scheme, but… if our Clerk does not attain the AQA qualification, then Silverdale Parish Council cannot be awarded “Quality Parish” status. If QP status is not attained, our Parish Plan will carry less weight in future Planning considerations (maybe no weight at all). This could leave some of you who are working so hard on the Parish Plan, wondering whether there would be any point in continuing!

We already have a foretaste of some of the challenges of 2003 and there are bound to be others appearing from nowhere, but when we have such a superb area in which to live and work it is surely worthwhile. Clearly we must all pull together… we being: residents and traders of Silverdale, Parish Councillors and the Clerk.

At the beginning of November it might seem a little early to be exchanging seasonal greetings, but the next newsletter will probably be in February. So from your Parish Council, may we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.