MINUTES OF THE KING’S SOMBORNE ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY
HELD ON 3 APRIL 2014 IN THE VILLAGE HALL COMMENCING AT 7.30pm
Cllr Harwood – Chairman of the Parish Council
Parish Cllrs Brock, Evans, Fahy, Jackson, Lane and Whitehead
Cllr A Gibson (County Councillor), Cllr A Ward (Borough Councillor) and 22 Parishioners
Mr P J Storey – Clerk to the Parish Council
The Chairman opened the evening by welcoming everyone to the 2014 Annual Assembly and drew the attention of those present to the rolling slide show which had been in progress since the doors opened and the visual display boards around the meeting room.
Cllrs Curtis, Reeves and Werrett; Mr and Mrs M Reynolds.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held on 18 April 2013 had been circulated via the Village shops and website and copies were available for perusal at the meeting. Proposed Cllr Jackson, Seconded Mr Orange, RESOLVED unanimously that these minutes be accepted as a true record.
14/03 Matters Arising
Work on tidying up Tanners Pond was on-going. Hampshire County Council had agreed that road maintenance priorities could be changed if a locality made a case for change; this followed on from the road resurfacing of minor roads when major roads in the Parish had a greater need. Little support had been found for the introduction of low level lighting in the Parish or for PIR lights on the recreation ground approach road so no further action had been taken. The wet weather path from Lancaster Green via the village centre and School to the Village Hall should at long last be installed later this year.
14/04 Financial Report
Mr Storey, as the Responsible Finance Officer, reported on the state of the Parish Council’s finances, highlighting the audited Annual Return for the year 2012-13, the reasons for wide variations year on year, and the more recent financial outcome for the year 2013-14. In particular, he drew attention to the proportion of the Council’s finances, just over a third of the precept, which was invested in the provision of community services and projects which were of direct benefit to the community at large. The year had again ended with a planned increase in the Council’s reserves in anticipation of the purchase of a MUGA (multi-purpose games area). He concluded by stating that the small 2% increase in council tax for this new year produced only an additional £625 which meant that tight control over expenditure would have to continue to be maintained. In response to a question from Cllr Ward, he assured those present that the level of reserves would fall as a result of the Parish Council’s contribution to the MUGA. In sum, the Parish Council’s finances were in a healthy state.
14/05 Chairman’s Report
The Chairman reported on on-going matters of general interest. He encouraged everyone interested to attend the monthly council meetings to express their views on local matters and make contact with Councillors and the Clerk as a means of further improving communication. He went on to explain that in addition to the Parish Council meetings, the Parish Council also held planning meetings twice a month and last year commented on 45 applications spread over fourteen meetings. He emphasised the importance of comments being received by neighbours affected by these planning proposals to help the determination process.
The event having by far the most impact on the Parish had been the recent flooding in February. Although the Community Resilience Plan contained much useful advice on how to prepare for the dangers posed by flooding and who was responsible for what in the event of disaster, it remained the individual occupants’ responsibility to take their own protective measures. A flood sub-committee had been established to act on behalf of and provide a central point of contact in the Parish. Danger areas and vulnerable occupants had been identified and a number of flood wardens appointed to act in their immediate localities and the village website had been updated regularly. Many successes had been achieved but some things would be done differently should the situation arise again. However, our model was held as the gold standard by Test Valley Borough Council and recommended to other parishes. Thanks were offered to both Cllr John Werrett and Peter Storey for the hard work and determination exercised during this difficult period.
Last year, it was reported that Cllr Tony Ward had started to draft the Village Design Statement. A VDS determines the nature and character of the locality and this was still on-going although was now being headed up by Cllr John Werrett. John would continue consulting where appropriate with a view to having something on paper later in the year. Consultations on the TVBC Local Plan were coming to an end and the Parish Council had expressed its concern at the number of houses, 588 in each year until 2029, to be built across the Borough, and the pressures this would place on the water supply. The first Local Plan submitted by TVBC had been rejected by the planning inspector hence the need for further consultation. Full details were available online at www.testvalley.gov.uk.
By far the best news of the year was that the Veolia Environmental Trust had granted £23,150 towards the cost of our multi-use games area (MUGA). The total cost was now £57,000 and a further £28,000 had been granted by our County Councillor, Test Valley Borough Council, Aster Housing and the Hampshire Playing Fields Association. Around £6,000 would fall to the Parish Council to meet from its reserves. The MUGA would cater for tennis, basketball, 5-a-side football and other sports and would be located on the recreation ground near to the skate ramp. Next to this success, came the long awaited all-weather path connecting Lancaster Green to the Village centre, the Church, School and the Village Hall and which would, in particular, keep the school children away from the busy A3057 when going from the School to the Hall and back. The other piece of good news was that Scottish and Southern Energy was now finalising the legal paperwork which would enable them to bury the overhead power supply line which crosses the 3 Fields which, in turn, should reduce the number of power failures suffered through adverse weather in recent years.
Since the last Assembly, various consultations had continued to take place with the County Council on the low standards of road maintenance and credit should go to the lead councillor for roads maintenance Cllr Fahy for keeping up the pressure to get things done. We also hope to see further development of the bio-diversity area on 3 Fields with Cllr Jackson taking the lead as he has much experience in this area.
In conclusion, the Chairman thanked everyone for coming and gave his personal thanks to all those councillors and volunteers who gave up their time for the benefit of the community at large.
14/06 Parish Matters
A variety of points were raised as a result of the above reports and by way of a question. Included in these were the need to clear the drains after the flood waters had receded; the production of a flood report similar to the one previously raised by David Bidwell to record the experience for the benefit of others, the need to dredge the Borne and remove more of its adjacent trees to prevent them from impeding water flow; a query on the installation of a solar power farm in Houghton which appeared to have stalled; the provision of footpath seats from tree trunks to fit into the rural scene and the need for more seats in general around the community and especially on the new path at the top of New Lane; litter clearance along the bridle way from Lancaster Green; the inability of the sewage pipes particularly in Old Vicarage Lane to cope with the amount of sewage being generated and the suspicion that there may be a break or blockage in the pipes themselves; and information on the process by which organisations could apply for both county councillor and borough councillor grants.
In particular, much interest was shown in the roll out of rural broadband and, in the absence of the invited guest on this subject, Cllr Gibson explained the planning behind the roll out programme. BT had determined that it was not commercially viable for them to roll out into King’s Somborne but with Government funding, the County Council would oversee a roll out to 90% of the rural areas, King’s Somborne included, provided the dwelling was within one and a half kilometers by foot from the exchange and this should be achieved by the end of 2015. Some additional funds would make it possible to connect the remainder of King’s Somborne but not Ashley or Up Somborne later bringing the overall coverage to 95%. Other innovative ways of connecting the remaining 5%, equating to 25,000 dwellings, were being looked at. It was pointed out that the County Council map showing the roll out was factually incorrect; this was acknowledged and the map would be updated in due course. Finally, it was confirmed that once connected it would be down to the user to select the commercial provider there being no requirement to stay with BT.
The meeting closed at 9.05pm with the Chairman thanking everyone for attending.