Most of the Services are provided by bodies outside the Parish who can only be influenced by public opinion rather than controlled. As such any action arising out of this study may be restricted to lobbying.
The Marshfield Post Office has for some years been an Agency run wholly from within the village. The cull of such units across the country seems to be over and no immediate threat is apparent, although The Royal Mail is currently conducting a survey of the facilities which branches provide and their locations,
The continuation of the service requires that local residents use it. Some services such as Motor Tax applications have declined drastically due to the government promotion of their on-line service, whilst foreign currency supply is on the increase. Post Office investments are proving popular.
With the co-operation of most of the banks, paying in to bank accounts and obtaining cash enable the Post Office to provide many of the same facilities as the bank branches in Bath and Chippenham, although it is not clear if all residents are aware of this.
With more small businesses becoming involved in on-line sales, the Post Office is a very important facility for them to send packages to customers.
This is a complex business and finding experienced staff is a problem.
Maintained by the Parish Council, this facility is still well used despite the trend toward use of the Crematoria in Bath and Westerleigh. Greater freedom of choice of headstones etc exists compared with some other nearby facilities.
At the moment there is sufficient space for the foreseeable future. Past vandalism has not been repeated and there are no current problems.
A few years ago there were available plots but the trend to self sufficiency has changed that. There are currently 38 allotment holders with a short waiting list.
To guarantee the future, plans are currently in hand to purchase the land from SGC using money from the sale of land off Beeks Lane, currently controlled by a charity, the Trustees of which are the Parish Councillors. With the need for the resultant organisation to meet Charitable status, it will probably be under the wing of MORA.
The SGC Library Service provide this facility although there is only one vehicle in operation for their entire area.
The Mobile Library makes regular visits to 4 stops in Marshfield, over a period of 2 hours, every other Thursday (on black wheelie weeks) , providing a convenient and inexpensive source of information and entertainment. However, with only around 30 regular users, its continuation may be threatened when the existing vehicle has to be replaced and the considerable new expenditure justified.
The national, alarming reduced level of reading by the young is to some extent understandable in Marshfield where access to a permanent library is distant and the mobile library visits only during school hours. However, maybe more might be done to encourage use during school holidays.
These are run by SGC who provide regular maintenance and daily cleaning. There have been no problems with misuse or vandalism. There are no current threats to the continuation of the service nor are there any plans for an upgrade.
They are considered locally to be in a reasonable condition and the Parish Council have received no complaints.
These are operated by SGC. There have been suggestions recently that Marshfield should follow the national trend to reduce street lighting after midnight as part of energy saving. Fears have been expressed elsewhere that this might prompt crime but the local police have no evidence that this happens.
SGC already have a plan for lighting reduction across their authority in a programme to be completed by the end of 2013. It will probably be based on shut down from midnight to 4 or 5 in the morning. There are criteria applied for exemptions where safety in particular is involved. Marshfield is included on the list, with local consultation first, although a date has not yet been set.
There seem to be no complaints about the existing lighting or instances of vandalism.
Broadband & Phone
There has been Broadband in Marshfield for several years. Early in 2012 a survey was conducted which found that speeds in the village rarely reach the quoted levels but, if one pays enough, 6 Mbps is achievable at times.
Whilst broadband speeds within the village are suitable for most domestic purposes, they are not sufficient to meet the basic business needs of some high usage business users. We are fortunate to have an effective campaigning group “Broadband Around Marshfield” which was instrumental in obtaining current levels of broadband. It has been lobbying S Glos to take rural broadband issues seriously and, it is to be hoped, will continue to fight the case for rural businesses and communities as superfast broadband is rolled out. The importance of this in maintaining our economy and domestic access to increasingly online services is not to be underestimated.
Outside the village, inadequate broadband forms a significant bar to efficient business management, with signals often insufficient to enable such basics as general banking and VAT and tax returns to be made on line, let alone being able to run an on-line business. With more and more regulatory requirements being put on-line, this is becoming a matter of some urgency.
Plans for high speed broadband (24 Mbps) were put forward some time ago and this is currently being pursued by SGC in conjunction with Swindon and Wiltshire. SGC have to find £710k as their share. Until recently this was held up by the EU but objections have now been lifted and rapid progress is now hoped for.
Mobile phone signal coverage is unreliable on most provider networks. Attempts some years back to raise the height of the mast on the A420 to enable better phone coverage, particularly in the valleys, did not receive planning permission.
A Beat Manager, based at Kingswood, and 2 PCSO’s cover an area including Marshfield along with Pucklechurch and Doynton. There is a police presence in Marshfield on most days, maybe only as a drive through, and more often if any problems have been reported.
The crime level is perceived as low at around 2 per month with theft from property/cars being dominant. These crimes tend to be in the village and this is seen as the result of the rapid access for criminals from the A420 and M4. The incidence of problems such as vandalism and nuisance is low but the Beat Officer is concerned that such things are not all being reported or getting through to her. To get fast and effective action, residents are urged to directly contact her, PC Jo Kille (pronounced Kill), either on 0145 486 7803 or Joanne.Kille@avonandsomerset.police.uk
The police believe that the proposed ‘Speed Watch’ on the A420 would be a valuable way of reducing speeding. However, at present there is a shortage of volunteers. They also welcome the proposed village wide Neighbourhood Watch as a deterrent and a source of information.
All emergency vehicles are now equipped with satnav and 999 callers are asked for their Postcodes. However, those often cover a number of properties and there are problems where houses are not adequately numbered and cannot be quickly located.
The police want to help but need to be told of problems. To assist in this, they intend to create a ‘Beat Surgery’ with a ‘mobile police station’ in Marshfield every 4 weeks probably on a Saturday.
Fire & Rescue
This service is provided by Avon Fire & Rescue and we would normally be served from the Kingswood & Yate station. A response time of around 15 minutes or less is expected in an emergency. However, emergency calls for the service from Marshfield have recently been few with no residential fires in the last 18 months and only 3 call outs.
Visits are made regularly during familiarisation and home fire safety checks. The checks are free and residents are encouraged by the Fire Service to take advantage of them by contacting www.avonfire.gov.uk
Finding properties has not been a problem for them but, with vehicles up to 2.5 metres wide, congestion in the High Street and other areas could be an issue.
Ambulance provision is controlled from Great Western Ambulance Service at Chippenham. In the event of life threatening emergencies, a response time of 8 minutes is anticipated. Callers are encouraged to light up their properties at night and to stand outside to ensure there is no delay in finding locations.
Over the last 12 months, there have been 123 calls of which 48 were considered to be life threatening. When one considers past situations in the winter when Marshfield has been virtually cut off, GWAS encourages the community to consider a public access defibrillator or Responder Scheme. There are no problems with time wasting calls but residents are asked to consider carefully before using 999.
Since the Parish Council provided the dog bins there has been a significant improvement in dog fouling within the village. Bins are emptied weekly and this appears to be adequate. This service is provided by SGC at a cost of over £2k pa. Unfortunately, there is still a minority of dog owners who do not use the bins, and the Parish Council would be grateful if residents reported offenders to them
Services are provided by SGC, but at a significant cost with no longer any subsidy for pensioners, and also by commercial businesses.
The Parish Council are not aware of any significant infestation problems.
Welfare Benefits and Pension Payments
Initial claims for state benefits (Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance) can be made on line or on the telephone. The Job Centre Plus office for this area is in Bath which is not well served by buses.
Given the campaign to move everything on-line, there may be a demand for a publicly accessible computer somewhere in the village.
Pensions are paid directly into bank, building society or post office accounts, highlighting continued need for the Post Office. Pension credit applications are made to the Pension Service. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefits are claimed from S Glos – again applications can be by phone, online or in person at the One Stop Shops.
SGC have created 20 ‘Safer Stronger Community Groups’ across the authority. The one covering Marshfield is the ‘Boyd Valley & Bitton Group’. It consists of representatives from all the local services Police, Fire, Primary Care etc.
Meetings are held in various locations on a touring basis and aim to attract local residents to attend. They are asked to bring up issues of local concern which the Group would then hope to tackle to make that community safer and stronger. Marshfield was last visited in November 2012.
There is discussion on introducing Quiet Lane status, with signs, throughout this area.
The PC meets twice a month. It has 9 members who are elected every 4 years. In the event of vacancies between elections, individuals can be co-opted. At the moment there is a full complement. However, numbers coming forward to perform this essential service to the community are unfortunately small.
All new residents receive a welcome pack which includes information about the Parish
The Parish Plan is being created because of the Localism Bill 2011 which will give bodies such as Parish Councils much greater say in the development of their areas. In this situation, the Marshfield Parish Council need to know what the residents want and the Marshfield Parish Plan is seen as one way they can register their views.