MINUTES OF THE KING’S SOMBORNE ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY
HELD ON 5 MAY 2016 IN THE VILLAGE HALL COMMENCING AT 7.30pm
Cllr A Brock – Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council
Parish Cllrs Curtis, Evans, Fahy, Griffith, Hughes, Lane and Sutton
Cllr A Ward (Borough Councillor) and 21 Parishioners
Mr P J Storey – Clerk to the Parish Council
The Vice-Chairman opened the evening by welcoming everyone to the 2016 Annual Assembly and took the opportunity to thank publicly those members of the community who gave their time voluntarily in support of others making particular mention of Mr R Dyke and Mr R Pidgeon (Open Spaces Wardens), Mr C Matthews (Tree Warden), Mr D Hayden (outgoing Footpath Warden) and Mr M Rebbeck for his grounds maintenance work.
Cllr Harwood, Mr R Jackson and Mr D Hayden; Cllr Whitehead not present.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held on 30 April 2015 had been circulated via the Village shops and website and copies were available for perusal at the meeting. Proposed Cllr Evans, Seconded Cllr Curtis, RESOLVED unanimously that these minutes be accepted as a true record.
16/03 Matters Arising
Much effort had been expended in identifying riparian owners and reminding them of their responsibilities to keep the stream clear of debris and other impediments and a post flood report had been filed.
Installation of the all-weather path was planned for the Autumn.
The Council vacancies had been filled by co-option.
The Parish Lengthsman was available for 8 hours each month to undertake routine maintenance work which was the primary responsibility of Hampshire Highways. He had cleared the weed growth from Old Palace Farm and continued to complete other similar work to the benefit of the community.
The purchase of a second speed indicator device was still under consideration and the Parish Council had decided not to meet the costs of relocating the only street light on the slip road approaching the Village Hall. However, the Village Hall management committee had installed a PIR over the Hall entrance as part of their on-going upgrade of the Hall facilities.
HCC had declined to fund the cost of relocating the street lamp on the slip road approach to the Village Hall.
16/04 Chairman’s Report
In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman reported on Parish Council activities during the past year highlighting improved public attendance and involvement especially with the Neighbourhood Development Plan; likely movement on the long awaited all-weather path; the successful co-option of councillors to fill previous vacancies; and the praiseworthy work of the Flood Action Group in enhancing the community’s resilience to emergency situations. The text of Cllr Harwood’s report is printed below.
‘Attendance by the public at the monthly council meetings and planning meetings has been good in the last year, and this has given the Council both information and direction on a number of issues. I believe to be a positive step which can only be of benefit to the community as well as a means of improving communication between the public, Councillors and the Clerk.
The rejection of the planning application by Gladman Developments Ltd, at the Southern Area Planning meeting, was a relief to all and a credit to the hard work and canvassing undertaken by a number of people. I believe that the attendance by parishioners at the meeting, which took almost every seat in the hall, certainly showed the strength of feeling against the proposal, and must have influenced the councillors. As was expected, Gladman submitted an appeal, and once again both the pressure group and the Parish Council submitted evidence to support its rejection. I am pleased to report that Gladman have not continued with their appeal and that for the moment there are no plans to develop the site.
Last year, I reported that we were in the early stages of producing a Neighbourhood Development Plan, (NDP), and thanks to Andrew Brock and his team we are well along the critical path towards its production. We are one of the lead councils in the Test Valley and have worked closely with TVBC to ensure success first time. A key element of the process is the questionnaire which has been delivered to every house in the Parish. It is vital that we get a good response so that the information can be collated to form a representative Parish view and one which will stand up to scrutiny in the future. If we are to influence how the Parish develops to meet the needs of its inhabitants, we need a strong NDP.
The installation of the long awaited all-weather path connecting Lancaster Green to the village centre, the Church, School and the Village Hall, and which will, in particular, keep the school children away from the busy A3057 when going from the School to the Hall and back, has yet to start. Despite our efforts to get this moving, it seems that red tape and a change of staff elsewhere, which has meant a change of opinion, has delayed the start date. The latest information we have is that the start date will be in the Autumn.
Although there has been no direct threat of flood during the year, the Flood Action Group has continued its work to reduce the threat of flood in the future. The riparian owners have been identified and are being encouraged to maintain their parts of the stream and there have been two volunteer work weekends to clear the stream. The next challenge is to clear the debris under the A3057 road bridge.
Finally, the Council has been successful in co-opting two new members which means it was now at full strength.
In conclusion, I wish to give my personal thanks to all those councillors and volunteers who give up their time for the benefit of the community at large.’
16/05 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 2014-15, which showed the variations year on year, and the more recent financial outcome for the year 2015-16. In particular, he drew attention to the proportion of the Council’s finances, nearly two thirds 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 ended with a small decrease in the Council’s reserves of £1700. The small 1.75% increase in council tax for this new year had produced only an additional £636 which meant that tight control over expenditure would continue although this year the Council was planning an overspend of budget over income to enable the purchase of another speed indicator device, undertake some major improvements to the play equipment in Up Somborne and meet other exceptional expenses. He commented that local authority accounting excluded the need to depreciate capital asset purchases, the total acquisition costs being written off in the year they were expended. These purchases would therefore result in a further depletion of reserves by £10k bringing the forecast level of reserves at the end of this financial year down to £43k. The Council did not believe in holding on to its cash balances unnecessarily and the reduced level would still keep us at or about the recommended reserves holding level which was roughly equivalent to twice the yearly administrative costs of running the Council’s affairs. In conclusion, he confirmed the Council’s finances remained on a sound footing and that we complied with all statutory and other regulation in their management and that we remained well-placed to continue to improve upon the standards of service provided and looked forward to the new challenges of 2015 – 16.
In response to a question from Mr Templeman, Mr Storey confirmed that more detailed information on the Council’s income and expenditure could be found in the published annual accounts available from him or on the Council’s website.
16/06 Report on Neighbourhood Development Planning
Cllr Brock, as lead councillor for the Neighbourhood Development Plan, updated those present on progress to date and thanked the members of the steering group for having progressed so far. Completed questionnaires had been returned in significant numbers and were about to be analysed before another public engagement meeting was called towards the month end to discuss the information acquired. A draft plan would then be produced and go forward for assessment and subsequently become the subject of a referendum later in the year.
16/07 Resilience planning and help available from Scottish and Southern Electricity
Mr Nathan Jeffery gave a presentation on Scottish and Southern Electricity’s community assistance plans and the resources available to help out in times of emergency such as major power failure. He referred to the Council’s existing resilience and emergency plan and the useful information it contained. He also emphasized the need for elderly and vulnerable members of the community to register on SSE’s Priority Service Register which would give priority assistance to those whose needs relied on the supply of power. Registration would also mean that advance warning would be provided of forecast severe weather which might disrupt supplies so that the necessary preparations could be made by those at risk. There also existed a community fund which made grants of up to £20k to communities to help them prepare for emergencies and to which the Parish Council would make a bid sooner rather than later as the fund would cease to exist from September this year.
16/08 Parish Matters
Mr Vanderpump sought an update on the proposed plans for developing Spencers Field and offered to help gain the support of county officials in the need to have under the A3057 bridge jetted to facilitate faster water flow.
Mr Jackson had submitted two queries: could hanging baskets be placed on the new poles along Winchester Road which had been installed to take the speed limiter device and would there be support for a Village car park on the grassed area behind the School with access from the Village Hall and behind the MUGA.
Mr Dyke argued for the purchase of a second speed indicator device and queried whether the pole near the ford at the bottom of New Lane should not actually face traffic leaving the Village rather than entering it.
Cllr Evans introduced the concept of Community Speedwatch volunteers who after receiving Police training could monitor speeding vehicles as they passed through the Village with a view to the Police taking follow up action. The concept was dependent upon a minimum of 6 volunteers willing to undergo the necessary training and the Parish Council meeting the associated training costs and the provision and maintenance of the necessary equipment. This would be considered at a future Council meeting.
B/Cllr Ward emphasized the importance of completing consultations especially the on-line consults on the future of recycling centres and neighbourhood buses such as dial-a-ride as, without strong support from the community, these facilities were likely to disappear as part of the on-going cost cutting reviews.
The meeting closed at 9.30pm with the Chairman thanking everyone for attending.