The past year has been difficult for us all and is one that we will never forget. The COVID 19 pandemic has not only caused millions of deaths throughout the world but has severely disrupted all our lives, taking away our freedom, preventing us from travelling, seeing family and friends and has seriously disrupted the education of our children. The situation does seem to be improving in the UK and it is hoped that the vaccination programme will prevent any further spikes in infection rates and the need for further lockdowns. I’m sure that we are all thankful to be gradually regaining our freedom.
Sadly we lost one of our parish councillors Gordon Barron and an ex councillor Peter Tungate. Our thoughts are with their families and others who have lost family members and friends due to the pandemic.
Our Parish Council meetings have had to be held via Zoom, which is not ideal but at least it means that village business can be discussed and members of the public are always welcome to join the meetings. There have been several important issues recently including the recent flooding and the frequent power cuts both of which have caused major inconvenience to all those who have been affected. The proposed closure of Stoke School has raised it’s head once again. It is hoped that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved. This may be the last meeting to be held via Zoom, thank goodness.
Unfortunately we were forced to close the playparks for a while in line with government restrictions. They are now all open but we have removed the old tunnels and climbing apparatus from Heron Way and Button Drive play areas as they were found to be unsafe and unhygienic. We are in the process of ordering new equipment to replace these items.
The doctors’ surgery in the village hall has not re-opened since the St Werburgh practice was taken over last year. At present it is not known if or when it will re-open.
Church services have also been severely restricted with no Remembrance Sunday or Christmas Carol services. Sunday services have been held but with no singing of hymns due and social distancing measures in place.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone in Stoke who has helped friends and neighbours during these difficult times and the businesses that have been able to stay open or adapt to provide supplies and services. My thanks also to my fellow councillors for their support and commitment as we look forward to getting back to some sort of normality over the coming months.