Lastingham parish clerk gets final job done for the village before retiring

The picturesque village of Lastingham sits in the middle of the rolling North Yorkshire Moors.

It’s home to historic buildings, a beautiful church and the Blacksmith’s Arms pub – voted the best in Yorkshire in 2019.

But an eyesore annoyed villagers for years – an old concrete and post fence that was rotting and collapsing.

As a conservation village, standards of appearance in Lastingham are high – residents aren’t allowed to change the look of their houses, so the fence was a point of irritation for many.

Rob Cattle, Clerk of the Parish Meeting, had been trying to get it fixed for the past ten years, but other more urgent jobs always took priority.

But with the help of our highways team and County Councillor Val Arnold, he managed it as his last job in his 10-year tenure as clerk before he retired.

The tiny village is too small for an official parish council, meaning a parish meeting is held instead.

The close-knit community has just 80 permanent residents, plus 14 second homes, five holiday cottages and two active farms.

Lastingham is a conservation village, meaning they have to adhere to National Park rules on how buildings and structures look.

Rob, 80, who has lived in Lastingham for 37 years, said: “When I first became clerk, I went around looking for the things we needed as a conservation village, and new railings was one of the things.

“It was a question of me going for grants annually, but often the money needed spending on other things. But I’ve been fighting to get the railings replaced for years. The trouble was, they are quite expensive to do.

“As a conservation village, we have to keep it in a certain condition. All the houses are sealed in time, we can’t put plastic windows in, for example.

“It’s been at least ten years that people have been asking for the rails to be replaced, but it’s all been dependant on financial priorities. I got in touch with Val Arnold, our County Councillor, who decided to help.”

Andie Cattle, Rob’s wife, has also lived in Lastingham for a long time – 50 years.

She was bothered by the fencing, which had rotted over time.

She said: “They were an eyesore. They were in earlier times white painted concrete posts and rails, before rotting slowly, and becoming an eyesore on entering the village from Hutton le Hole.”

The cost to replace the 25 rails and posts would be more than £3,000 – so Cllr Arnold decided to use her Environmental Locality Budget to help get the fencing back into tip-top shape.

Rob added: “It was fantastic to see the railings be replaced. After the Covid-19 crisis has stopped, we also have a grant to paint them too, which will help. I hope I’ve set the scene for clerks for many years to come.

“The new fence looks great, it’s very smart and I’m very glad it was replaced. We couldn’t have done it without Cllr Arnold using her locality budget, and it’s very much appreciated all the effort she put in.”

Andie added: “Thank you to Val Arnold and Highways who helped in installing the new wooden rails, which are a pleasant and practical replacement and sight as one enters the village. The whole village is grateful for this renewed feature.”

A grant from court leet and Manor of Spaunton will also pay for the fences to be painted white.

Cllr Arnold, Lastingham’s local County Councillor, was very happy to help.

She said: “Lastingham is a beautiful village in the middle of the incredible North Yorkshire Moors.

“It has wonderful historic buildings, a fabulous pub and a brilliant close-knit community.

“I wanted to put my locality budget towards the fencing project because villagers had been wanting the old, unsightly one replaced for a while. Rob had tried for years to make it work and I thought it was the right thing to put the grant towards.

“It’s important to support communities like Lastingham and this is proof that small things can have a big impact.”

Rob, Andie and the community were also very thankful to Andrew Santon, North Yorkshire Highways Customer Communications Officer for Lastingham.

Rob said he’d been “fantastic” on a range of issues.

Andrew said: “It’s important to help our communities across the county and Rob mentioned the village’s desire to get these railings replaced at one of the parish council workshops we hold in Ryedale. After talking to Val it was lovely that this project could be funded through her Locality Budget.

“I like to run annual parish council workshops, which are an opportunity for the councils to discover more about highways services across the region and to meet members of the team.”

Richard Marr, Area Manager for Highways and Transportation, said: “Stories like this really show how small things can make a difference across communities in North Yorkshire.

“It’s important not to forget these things as part of the bigger picture, and also acknowledge the incredible community spirit from people like Rob.

“This is a great example of how our Locality Grants can have a positive impact on the community.”