Annual Assembly 2009 Minutes
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY
HELD ON 7 May 2009 IN THE VILLAGE HALL COMMENCING AT 7.30pm
Cllr R Dyke – Chairman of the Parish Council
Cllrs D Bidwell, F Fahy, R Harwood, R Lane, G Pearson, R Pidgeon and D Room
Cllr M Woodhall (County Councillor) and Cllr A Ward (Borough Councillor)
Mrs D Harrison (Village Correspondent) and PC M Benton
Mr P J Storey – Clerk to the Parish Council
The evening opened with a short presentation by Mr Jason Avery of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Mr Avery outlined the three aims of the Service – protect, prevent and respond. He then went on to illustrate how the Service reacted to meet each of these aims, making reference to the 52 fire stations in Hampshire, the 783 wholetime firefighters, the 713 retained firefighters and 310 support staff, together with the 77 frontline fire engines and a fleet of specialist support vehicles. He highlighted the specialist roles of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. These included animal and water rescue, high volume water pumping, chainsaw, trench, maritime and rope rescue, each of which often resulted in requests for help from outside the Hampshire area. Mr Avery made specific mention of thatch roof fires given that one third of the 800 thatched roof properties in Hampshire were within the Test Valley area and attributed the majority of thatch roof fires to heat from the flue. In answer to questions from the floor, Mr Avery mentioned that no free house inspections were carried out, that response times were 8 minutes from a manned station and 12 from a part-time station and that the Fire Service was a primary consultee in road safety matters as its members had the practical experience. The Chairman thanked Mr Avery for a fascinating insight into the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Apologies had been received from Cllrs Bevan and Werrett and from Mr D Bevan in his capacity as Secretary to the Parochial Church Council.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held on 1 May 2008 had been circulated via the Village shops and website and copies were available for perusal at the meeting. Proposed Mr D Pepperell, Seconded Mr J Vandepump, RESOLVED unanimously that these Minutes be accepted as a true record.
09/03 Matters Arising
Cllr Fahy raised a number of matters on which he sought an update; in particular, the progress on establishing Quiet Lanes (no further action as an Act of Parliament was required); the Tetra pack disposal scheme (not scientifically successful and no processing plant existed in UK although an alternative pilot scheme was being looked at by the Borough Council); the poor standard of local road surfaces especially the A3057 and the problems of overhanging vegetation (resurfacing the A3057 was not as priority and the vegetation was dealt with when necessary); the frequency of rotation of the speed indicator device and the need to include a site on the Furzedown Road approach to the Village and on horsebridge Road (location and rotation to be taken up with the Borough Council; the Parish Council would note the suggestion of a second device).
09/04 Chairman’s Report
The Chairman presented his Report for the year 2008/9, a copy of which is attached to these Minutes. The Report had previously been published in The Gauntlet magazine and was welcomed by the Meeting. It was suggested that publication of the Chairman’s Report in The Gauntlet magazine should be as near to the meeting date as possible and the text be included on the website.
09/05 Reports from Parish Councillors
The Chairman introduced Parish Councillors present and invited each to say a few words.
Cllr Pearson highlighted some changes in the procedure for actioning planning applications in that they no longer needed to be advertised in local papers
Cllr Harwood updated those present on the plans to develop a biodiversity project on part of the John O’Gaunt field stating they were in the early stages and it could take up to four years to come to fruition.
Cllr Bidwell discussed the on-going need to raise the profile of parish councils and increase their quality via membership of external bodies and Quality Parish accreditation scheme.
Cllr Lane acknowledged the work undertaken by volunteers in the Parish. He also expressed the view that the local community knew best about the need for more housing in the local area and such decisions should not be forced on local communities by Government.
Cllr Dyke picked up this point and stated that plans were well advanced for an additional 18 affordable houses in King’s Somborne and that the Parish Council was one of the leading councils in identifying such housing needs and taking action to fulfil them. There was a clear need to retain young people in our local Villages and more housing was key to this. On this point, Borough Councillor Ward commented that central government dictated where such housing should go and had over ruled the Borough Council’s plans which had illustrated where additional housing should go based, in part, upon areas where the infrastructure was already there to support it. Cllr Dyke also took the opportunity to comment on increasing the facilities for youth sport and the Council’s intention to improve the play area on the King’s Somborne recreation ground.
Cllr Fahy reported his disappointment that the tennis project had failed to materialise but reminded those present that facilities for hire existed.
Cllr Room commented on the emotive aspects of chairing the Planning Committee and confirmed the Committee’s policy of recommending approval where possible. He had noted an increase in the number of applications for orangeries rather than conservatories.
09/06 Financial Report
Mr Storey, the Responsible Finance Officer, presented the audited accounts for the Parish Council for the year ended 31 March 2008 in the format required by the Accounts and Audit Regulations and the Annual Return for Local Councils in England and Wales as required by the Audit Commission. These had previously been displayed on the Village notice boards and copies were available at the meeting for perusal. He explained that, by the nature of the procedures involved, the information being presented was historical. However, also circulated was the out-turn for the financial year 2008/9 which showed the Parish finances to be in a healthy state although he warned that reliance upon reserves to finance future capital projects could not continue indefinitely and further improvements in Village facilities would need to be precepted. The Accounts and Annual Return for the year ended 31 March 2008 were accepted.
09/07 Reports from County Councillor and Borough Councillor
The Chairman welcomed Cllr Woodhall to the Assembly and invited him to address those present. Cllr Woodhall gave an overview of the County Council’s responsibilities highlighting that the county’s population had increased from 1.1 million to 1.7 million and traffic volume had doubled over the past twenty five years with the attendant challenges such growth placed on the supporting infrastructure and associate costs. He went on to explain his role as chairman which ranged from chairing meetings to meeting Royalty. He was particularly pleased at the minimal amount of waste that ended in landfill, the construction of new schools and improvements in standards. He held the view that sport was valuable to developing young minds and bodies and was very pleased to note the success of the new running track in Winchester. In conclusion, Cllr Woodhall emphasised the importance of bringing culture to the county and its population to help sustain standards. The Chairman thanked Cllr Woodhall and invited Cllr Ward to report on the Borough perspective. Cllr Ward touched on the impact of the recession on local business and the advice available from the Borough Council. Unfortunately, the Council’s revenue was down as a result of the economic decline which had resulted in staff cuts in order to achieve a balanced budget. Of interest, rural areas represented 40% of Test Valley but did not receive the same proportion of resources. On waste disposal, Cllr Ward welcomed the improvements to the Bunny Lane recycling site and said that plans were afoot to establish a foil bank. A review of conservation areas was under way and also of settlement boundaries and King’s Somborne had been selected for the pilot study. He urged everyone to become involved in these reviews. In conclusion and on behalf of the Village Hall Development Committee, Cllr Ward thanked the Parish Council for supporting the Capital Grants application for funds which had helped meet the renovation costs of the kitchen and committee room in the Hall.
09/08 Parish Matters
The Chairman thanked Dr Rake, the Footpath Warden, and Mr Matthews, the Tree Warden for their continuing work on behalf of the Parish and drew attention to Mrs Harrison’s willingness to update the Parish Plan. In this matter, Mrs Harrsison was eager to seek the views of as many people as possible and the Chairman encouraged this. The Chairman also updated those present on plans to develop a junior league football pitch on land owned by the Parish Council adjacent to the John O’Gaunt Field.
Mr Orange gave his thanks to Cllr Woodhall for his work on behalf of the Parish, highlighted the lack of work for young people in the Village, thought the polling cards for the forthcoming elections had been issued too early, that attention needed to be given to the potholes around the War Memorial Triangle and along Old Vicarage Lane and that a notice should be placed on the footbridge advising walkers to come off the Winchester Road and walk along Old Vicarage Lane to reduce the risk of accident. These points were noted and would be actioned accordingly.
Closure The meeting closed at 9.55pm with the Chairman thanking everyone who had attended.
KING’S SOMBORNE PARISH COUNCIL
CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT2008-2009
Following the precedent set by my predecessor, this Report is being published in the Gauntlet prior to the May Parish Assembly meeting. It must be remembered that all parish councillors are voluntary and unpaid for their services to this community. At the beginning of the meeting I will introduce visiting guests and each council member and give a resume of their specific responsibilities before we deal with the formal business and take any matters arising from the public present. As mentioned in last year’s Report, the Parish Plan is the Council’s mandate to do that which is most important to you. We have sought volunteers to update this document and so far we have received only one person wishing to take on the work. This may prove a rather daunting task for a single person and it may therefore be more prudent for two or three people to share the responsibility. As this would be an update of the original document, the original could act as an ‘aide-memoire’; we hope that this work can be finalised this year remembering the aim is to be published by 2010. You may have read that for the coming year we have frozen the Parish Council’s Precept (tax). This decision was taken after much debate, and I think we had hoped that it might have set a precedent for the Borough and County Councils. Alas, this was not to be so, but at least we have done our small bit to relieve the tax burden on our local community. Whilst this action may be welcome, it does have ramifications on the money available to carry out this Council’s ambitions regarding various purchases and repairs around the Parish. To this end we will have to draw on our reserves. Any clarification you may have on our finances can be sought from our Clerk after he addresses the meeting. During the last year we have awarded grants to various village organisations such as the Cricket Club, the Village Hall development scheme and the Scouts. Details of these grants have been published in our monthly minutes. As regards the coming year, we see the need to focus on the children’s play area in King’s Somborne, this will entail the replacement of, and purchasing of, new equipment. The total cost could run into tens of thousands of pounds, hopefully grants can be obtained. Another scheme which I am very keen to see is the removal of the steps in the passage/footpath between the Scott Close area and Palace Farm and replacing them with an easy going ramp with a non-slip surface. This I hope will enable pushchairs and wheelchair owners to use the access more easily giving them a choice between this passage and Eldon Road. It is hoped this scheme can be financed to a great extent by Hampshire County Council, as the area is under their jurisdiction, and I am hoping we can request their full involvement not least using their health and safety rules as a prime reason for the change. Another scheme which we hope to implement this year is the development of an area of biodiversity. This will probably be in the ‘square area’ of the John O’ Gaunt field. We have already had discussions with English Heritage (the owners) who have indicated, quite strongly, their support for the scheme. The Council is also in discussion with developers and Test Valley Borough Council on plans to build 18 affordable properties at the end of the existing properties along Eldon Road. The proposals include 2, 3 and 4 bedroom terrace and semi-detached houses. The developers, who are Hyde Martlet Housing, have confirmed they will be rented properties with allocation priority being given to Parish and Borough families in that order. From a recent discussion with Hyde Martlet, it would seem that these properties should be ready by 2010 and plans for public viewing should be available in the Parish by mid-late summer. Finally, on behalf of the whole Parish, I would like to thank my predecessor David Bidwell for the work he has done on behalf of the Borough and the Parish, he was a Borough Councillor for 4 years, and Chairman of our Parish Council for 11. Fortunately, he remains on the Parish Council. As I am sure you will realise, I am new to the post of Chairman, and to that end, I thank Peter Storey our Clerk, who on a number of occasions has guided me along the appropriate path – although sometimes he has needed to give me the occasional nudge to prevent me straying from the track – thank you Peter. I would also like to thank on your behalf Steven Rake, our footpath warden, Colin Matthews, our tree warden, and Mike Rebbeck who undertakes grounds maintenance on our behalf. Without these and other volunteers we would not have the thriving community that we all enjoy.
Richard (Dick) Dyke 01794 388525 (March 2009