Parish Assembly minutes 2007
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY HELD ON 19 APRIL 2007 IN THE VILLAGE HALL COMMENCING AT 7.30pm
Cllr D Bidwell – Chairman of the Parish Council
Cllrs R Bevan, R Dyke, A Gannaway, S Geary-Harwood, R Harwood, R Lane, G Pearson and D Room
Cllr M Woodhall – County Councillor
Mr P J Storey – Clerk to the Parish Council
07/01 Apologies No apologies had been received.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held on 20 April 2006 had been circulated and copies were available for perusal at the meeting. Proposed Mr Lomas, Seconded Cllr Dyke, RESOLVED unanimously that these Minutes be accepted as a true record.
07/03 Matters Arising
There were no matters arising not dealt elsewhere in these Minutes.
07/04 Chairman’s Report
The Chairman presented his Report for the year 2006/7, 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.
07/05 Financial Report
Mr Storey, the Responsible Finance Officer, presented the audited accounts for the Parish Council for the year ended 31 March 2006 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 likely out-turn for the financial year 2006/7 which showed the Parish finances to be in a healthy state and which, with the slightly increased Precept for the current year, would enable the Parish Council to implement more of the proposals contained within the Parish Plan. Proposed Mr Ward, Seconded Mr Pepperell, RESOLVED unanimously that the Accounts and Annual Return for the year ended 31 March 2006 be accepted.
07/05 Reports from County Councillor and Borough Councillor
The Chairman welcomed Cllr Michael Woodhall to the Assembly and invited him to address those present. In his opening comments, Cllr Woodhall complimented and thanked the Chairman and Councillors for the contribution they made to the community and congratulated them on achieving Quality Parish status. He reminded everyone how lucky they were to be living in this beautiful part of Hampshire and emphasised how the County Council currently spent £1.9 billion per annum on the provision of services across the County. Other points covered included: · a beneficial increase in police presence in the community· thanks to local school governors and staff for providing an excellent facility· 0.9% unemployment in Test Valley· recycling arrangements were progressing well now landfill was no longer a viable option· the County Council was working on the implications of climate change and a wide range of issues affecting the maintenance of the countryside· road accident rate was falling but required a change in attitude by drivers to fall markedly further· school vandalism elsewhere in the County caused concern and expense· Stockbridge fire station very much valued but would rely on more volunteers to continue· village shops were a vital part of any community and it was good to see the Village had two shops· although Community buses were proving successful it was clear that the bus was not the preferred method of travel and relied upon County Council subsidies· Regional Structure Plan was not necessarily the best way to move forward and the County Council had successfully resisted some of the plans to develop the local area Taking questions from the floor, Cllr Woodhall accepted the very strongly felt dissatisfaction expressed over the poor standards of road and pavement resurfacing recently completed in the Village and would follow up with Hampshire Highways, especially regarding the area outside Martins Shop. He thought that the retention monies on the contract would continue to be held back until reasonable levels of satisfaction had been achieved. Another area of concern noted was on the Romsey Road where the cats eyes had been removed but the holes left and the efficiency of reporting such dangers via the County Council website were thought to be weak. It was suggested that such areas of concern could also be reported via the Parish Council who had direct access to the Area Surveyor on such matters. Cllr Woodhall commented that many of our roads were not made for the size and weight of many of the vehicles using them but, in general, he thought the standards of the main roads were good. Little could be done to limit the size of vehicles using our roads. He accepted the point that it was difficult to balance the varying needs of the community and it could well appear strange that general road surfaces could be left in a poor state but money could be spent on installing a new cycle way along the Timsbury stretch of the A3057. However, it was pointed out that was part of the plan to install a cycle way along the whole length of the Test Valley. Finally, he confirmed that money made available from Central Government was not necessarily ringfenced for road improvement. Cllr Bidwell, as Borough Councillor, picked up on the recycling point and the ABC scheme operated by the Borough Council and stated that the scheme had produced savings of £600k which had gone towards staving off increasers in parking charges in Andover and Romsey rather than back to the taxpayer. £2m had been spent on setting up The Lights theatre in Andover where an excellent recreational facility now existed for the benefit of all although it was recognised that those from rural areas had difficulty in getting to it. The building of 1700 new houses in Andover and 800 in Romsey under the Regional Housing Strategy would come about and would result in increased traffic on the A3057. His first priority would remain safety and he would continue lobbying for a properly engineered road, especially in width, to cope. Cllr Bidwell expressed concern at the fact that on planning matters the local input often had little impact on the Borough decision. Whilst noting the Borough had to meet Government targets on timing this was often at the expense of consultation and careful thought on the implications. He thought a better balance ought to be aimed for. Flytipping continued to be a problem in our area, due at least in part to the increasing fees being charged at landfill sites. An argument existed for reducing these charges for collection and disposal which in turn could result in a reduction in Borough Council labour charges for clearing flytipping up. Another area of concern was the Government White Paper on Local Government where he thought there had been a distinct lack of consultation at the lower levels of government and little time elsewhere. However, he believed the future of parish councils to be secure and he thought they could and should do more and take some of the decision making responsibilities from borough/district councils such as control of high hedges and conservatory building approvals. Finally, Cllr Bidwell reminded all present of the need to vote in the forthcoming local elections and congratulated Mr Tony Ward on becoming his successor on the Borough Council. Mr Ward proposed and Professor Fahy seconded a vote of thanks to Cllr Bidwell for his dedication and effort as a Borough Councillor which was RESOLVED unanimously. Cllr Bidwell then took questions from the floor including one seeking confirmation that Test Valley Borough Council conformed with national guidelines on recycling to which he replied that a progressive approach was adopted by the Council but recycling plastics in particular was complex and expensive but, as the waste industry itself progressed, so would the Borough Council’s efforts be improved. He noted that some local businesses were not disposing of recyclable waste properly but were burning it and commented that the Borough Council was moving towards exercising stronger controls. The matter of vehicles on the A3057 was raised again given that Romsey became gridlocked at busy times but there were no plans known to alleviate this and no ability to limit vehicle weights because of European Union regulations. Concern was expressed at the ABC rubbish collection system operated by the Borough Council where it appeared the electorate were paying more for less but it was grudgingly accepted that alternate weekly collections were increasingly becoming the norm. There was no evidence that people were having to take surplus waste to the local tips although the point was made that the bottle bank on the recreation ground needed emptying more frequently; this point was noted.
07/07 Miscellaneous matters Replacement bus shelter for the Village Green.
The Parish Plan had recorded the view that the present bus shelter was an eyesore, made worse by having been damaged recently. The Parish Council was obtaining quotes for replacing it with a brick and flint structure more in keeping with the Village centre and local housing and initial costs looked to be around the £9k mark. A show of hands indicated majority support for the concept.
Parish Council funding for the Village Hall. The Parish Plan indicated a continuing need for the Village Hall and more recent surveys undertaken by the Village Hall Development Committee had confirmed this need. The Development Committee was currently sketching out ideas to increase potential usage and external sources of funding were being identified. It was agreed unanimously that the Parish Council should continue to precept to part fund the Village Hall in the future.
07/08 Parish Matters
Professor Fahy reviewed the progress to date in forming the Tennis Club and the possible location of the courts. Some concern was expressed at the idea of siting the courts where the junior football pitch was currently located and the copse area by the junior swings and the flat area between the humps in the John O’Gaunt field were cited as alternatives. Professor Fahy also suggested a letter of thanks be sent by the Parish Council to Mr and Mrs Boot on their retirement after 15 years of running the Cross Stores and Post Office; this was noted. The Parish Council would consider the erection of an information sign pointing to the location of the shops from the Romsey Road in an effort to capture more passing trade. Mr Ward pleaded for a volunteer to come forward to take over the responsibilities of Treasurer on the Village Hall Management Committee as part of the Hall’s redevelopment. Mr Reeves commented on his and many other people’s anger at the speed at which traffic travels along the Romsey Road as it passes through the Village, in particular, drawing attention to the recent mass of motorcyclists en route to and from Thruxton race course.
The meeting closed at 9.20pm with the Chairman thanking everyone who had attended.