Parish Assembly minutes May 2008
DRAFT MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY HELD ON 1 May 2008 IN THE VILLAGE HALL COMMENCING AT 7.30pm
Cllr D Bidwell – Chairman of the Parish Council
Cllrs R Bevan, R Dyke, F Fahy, R Harwood, R Lane, G Pearson, R Pidgeon, D Room and J Werrett, Cllr M Woodhall- County Councillor and Cllr A Ward – Borough Councillor
Mr P J Storey – Clerk to the Parish Council
The evening opened with a short presentation by Lynne Dadley from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Service. Lynne explained that collectively Air Ambulances were the busiest UK voluntary emergency service with an Air Ambulance being called out in daylight hours somewhere in UK every ten minutes. Our service started in July 2007 and has flown over 600 missions since. The aircraft can be airborne in 3 minutes and reach most county limits in 15 minutes. It flies directly to the hospital best equipped to deal with the emergency thus avoiding road congestion. 40% of its missions involve road traffic incidents, 20% heart attacks/collapses with the remainder involving sport, horse, fall or agricultural incidents. Lynne emphasised that the Service was supported by voluntary funding and needed £65,000 every month for the helicopter, pilot and medical equipment. Further information was available on the Air Ambulance website – www.hampshireand iowairambulance.org.uk
Apologies had been received from PC Martin Benton.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held on 19 April 2007 had been circulated and copies were available for perusal at the meeting.
Proposed Mr Pepperell, Seconded Mrs Finch, RESOLVED unanimously that these Minutes be accepted as a true record.
08/03 Matters Arising
There were no matters arising not dealt elsewhere in these Minutes.
08/04 Chairman’s Report
The Chairman presented his Report for the year 2007/8, 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.
Reports from Parish Councillors
Cllr Bevan reported on his responsibilities for the 3 Fields and affordable housing plans and his wish to see the purchase of Top Ground from Test Valley Borough Council at some time in the future to protect the openness of the area and make it available for further recreational facilities.
Cllr Lane commented on the incidence of fly tipping in Up Somborne and urged everyone to be vigilant and report sightings to the Authorities. He commented on the gas pipeline installation which was in progress and his work on the Planning sub-Committee. He made particular mention of the Village School and the outstanding community spirit following the unfortunate fire at the School last Summer. He also wanted publicly to recognise the outstanding contribution made to the School by the deputy head teacher, Tim Nicholls. Tim was leaving after 20 years service and his contribution both to the School and the numerous sporting clubs to which he gave his time would be sorely missed. Finally, Cllr Lane emphasised the need for parishioners to contact him or other members of the Council with issues or concerns they might have and his belief that decisions affecting our rural community should be made locally by us.
Cllr Pearson highlighted his three main areas of responsibility; namely, CPRE liaison, Tarmac liaison and Highways matters. In protecting the rural nature of our area, he had been involved with traffic and maintenance of the A3057 and the Winchester Road, development in southern Test Valley, the increased air corridor from/to Southampton and Bournemouth airports and excessive road signage. He attended the annual meeting with the Tarmac plant management where noise reduction and traffic levels were monitored and other matters of interest or concern discussed on behalf of the Village. On highways issues, he had been involved with the plan to introduce Quiet Lanes designed to improve countryside access for those with disabilities, increased tree planting and overhanging hedges.
Cllr Pidgeon explained his responsibility for overseeing the cemetery and churchyard memorial safety, for youth liaison for which there had been a lack of response by the young people of the area, and the Scouts.
Cllr Werrett reported how he had spent the past year developing relationships with the staff of Hampshire Highways to the benefit of the Parish and identified a list of action points he hoped would be adopted or acted upon by the Highways Authority. He emphasised the success of the Speed Indicator Devoice recently purchased by the Parish Council and installed and maintained by Test Valley Borough Council and the restrictions applicable to the installation of such devices. Our one device was being rotated between four sites on an irregular basis and was having a significant effect on speeding road users. He also liaised with Southern Water over the shortcomings in the pumping station and overflow problems in recent times. He was pleased to report that significant improvement had now been made by the Company. In particular, new pumps had been installed and improved pump monitoring was now in place with a contingency pump on standby as required. A full sewer survey had been completed and remedial action was in hand on those sewers owned by the Company and information on others had been passed to Test Valley Borough Council. Finally, he commented on his participation with the Webmaster on improving the Parish pages on the The Sombornes website.
Cllr Dyke commented on his work on the Planning Committee and his belief that minor applications should be determined at local level. He was the Parish Council representative on the Village Hall Management Committee and, as had others, emphasised the urgent need to modernise and renovate the Village Hall. Following the Government’s target for increasing affordable housing, he was one of those councillors liaising with the Borough Council and possible locations within the Parish for more affordable housing which, he thought, could become available within a year or two. Cllr Dyke also emphasised his belief that every effort should be made to protect certain areas from development, in particular, Top Ground which was ideally suited for further development of recreational facilities which would be easier to implement if the land in question was owned by the Parish Council rather than leased as at present.
Cllr Harwood’s responsibilities encompassed farming liaison, environmental matters and sport. He commented that it was getting increasingly difficult to encourage participation in sport which was worrying as such activities were important for Village cohesion and lack of use could put the existing facilities at risk. He was actively pursuing environmental matters with articles in The Gauntlet magazine and thought as a Parish we were very active in our recycling and in other ‘green’ matters and for this he thanked all concerned but emphasised there was still more to be done. As a qualified accountant, his skills and experience helped to ensure objectivity and value for money in managing the expenditure of taxpayers’ money in support of the Parish community.
Cllr Fahy was also involved in sport, in particular, the plans to install a surface suitable for tennis and other sports in the area of the junior football pitch. He explained how these plans were now on hold and fundraising efforts had been postponed so as not to impact on the fundraising programme for the Village Hall.
Cllr Room briefed that, as Chairman of the Planning Committee, he received an average of one planning application a week which he and his fellow committee members would consider by discussions with the applicant, neighbours and a site visit, if appropriate, against certain criteria including the appearance of the development, its impact on neighbours and the impact of the development on the locality. He also commented on his support for the delegation of planning decisions on straightforward applications to Parish level.
08/05 Financial Report
Mr Storey, the Responsible Finance Officer, presented the audited accounts for the Parish Council for the year ended 31 March 2007 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 2007/8 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 continue to implement more of the proposals contained within the Parish Plan and also to support the Village Hall development plans. The Accounts and Annual Return for the year ended 31 March 2007 were accepted.
08/06 Reports from County Councillor and Borough Councillor
The Chairman welcomed Cllr 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 again congratulated them on achieving Quality Parish status. He reminded everyone that King’s Somborne was one of the larger parishes in his area covering some 20 square miles of rural countryside although the urban conurbations were getting closer. He paid tribute to the School in the aftermath of its fire and to the Stockbridge part-time firefighters who responded to this and 78 other incidents last year. He also touched upon the County Council’s plans and investment in improving schools, the new care facility in Andover and waste disposal, commenting that it cost £32 to dispose of each ton of waste. Picking up on the points made about highways, Cllr Woodhall stated the contract had now been awarded to Amey Construction and with the improved liaison at all levels he had high hopes of improvement across the County at large. Taking questions from the floor, Cllr Woodhall accepted there was scepticism in some quarters that recyclable plastic and glass waste was not separated from general household waste and confirmed that it was recycled by selection with a specialist glass separator in use in Southampton which could differentiate between colours. However, the volume and different types of plastic waste generated sometimes made it uneconomic. Despite this, the County Council was currently reviewing a ‘tetrapack’ disposal scheme. Replying to a question on the increasing use made by heavy vehicles of the A3057 and noting the further impact the development of the Tesco warehouse facility would have, Cllr Woodhall accepted that the quality of the road surface and overhanging vegetation left much to be desired but emphasised improved safety measures had recently been implemented but in response to a comment that the road needed re-engineering said that no plans existed for this. Again, on the safety issue, a request was made for a zebra crossing near to the School, to enhance the safety of persons crossing the road but the comment was made that nothing major would be considered until the School Travel Plan had been adopted when safety matters would then be considered in the light of the information provided by the plan which would include travel patterns to/from the School. The point was made strongly that surface noise level would be reduced significantly if resurfacing and/or a change in the materiel used was undertaken rather than top dressing. This point was noted as was an earlier agreement that this would be considered when the road was next resurfaced. The Chairman thanked Cllr Woodhall and invited Cllr Ward to report on the Borough perspective.
Cllr Ward touched on the 100 planning applications which had crossed his desk in his first year in office and the range of other issues covered from lost dogs to waste collection. As a member of the Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which acted as a watch dog on Council affairs, he was in a good position to become involved in activities and affect outcomes. He was currently leading a panel to determine how this committee could become more effective, in particular, how developers’ contributions could more directly benefit the community where the development had generated them. He informed those present that Test Valley Borough Council had drawn up a 20 year plan for development in Test Valley including the location of 8600 new houses; at the moment, the King’s Somborne area would only be having suitable infill development. With the death of many rural communities, he was particularly pleased to be involved in the Council’s review of conservation boundary areas. Much interest remained in the 2 weekly bin collection scheme and it was encouraging to note that before the scheme was introduced only 20% of waste was recycled but that had now increased to 35% which was above the Government’s target. About one ton of waste was collected from each household each year. Finally, Cllr Ward reminded everyone that he issued a regular e-mail newsletter and welcomed more people getting in touch with him as necessary.
08/07 Parish Matters
The Neighbourhood Policing Team had produced a report which the Clerk paraphrased, highlighting the emphasis now placed on neighbourhood and community policing by named officers in partnership with other groups including neighbourhood watch and schools. The report highlighted the overall reduction in crime in our area and the introduction of a weekly report displayed on the Village notice boards and website. Future plans included the increased involvement of local people in the process of policing the community by means of ‘street meet’ whereby officers would be available in the local area at specified times to talk to and listen to local views. The team could be contacted by e-mailing PC Benton on email@example.com
Mr Reynolds queried progress on replacing the Village Green bus shelter and was told that no action was planned for the time being on grounds of cost and location. He also queried the effectiveness of the ’20 is plenty’ signage which he thought undermined the 30mph limit displayed on the same poles. It was agreed generally that these signs gave a mixed message and the meeting noted that the County Council was reviewing the scheme. Mr Matthews commented on the location of the speed indicator device and sought agreement for its installation on Furzedown Road. Cllr Werrett noted this for discussion with Hampshire Highways. The point was made how effective the device was in its current position on the Stockbridge Road entering the Village from Stockbridge. Mrs Younger and Mrs Maybin thanked the Council for their interest to date in their quest to acquire activity play equipment for installation in the King’s Somborne recreation play area; a need identified and petitioned by 63 mothers representing 124 young children. They expressed their hopes that external applications for funding in hand amounting to nearly half the total funding required would be successful. They had now researched the market and identified a piece of equipment, estimated to cost £12,500, which had proven successful and challenging when installed elsewhere and with the increasing emphasis by Government on the need to combat child obesity hoped for further Council support in due course. They also commented on the risks posed to pedestrians walking within the marked area on the Froghole Lane side of Stockbridge Road where the road narrowed and the risks posed by motorists ignoring the ‘No Entry’ signs at the Village Hall end of the access road from Stockbridge Road. These points were noted.
Closure The meeting closed at 9.50pm with the Chairman thanking everyone who had attended.
CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT
Presented by Councillor David Bidwellat the Annual Parish Assembly held at the King’s Somborne Village HallThursday 1 May 2008
The Parish Council consists of twelve democratically elected Councillors who are ably assisted by the Parish Clerk; most take part in community activities in addition to their formal council duties. They are Community Leaders in the same way as all the people who run our clubs, societies, sports teams, the school, the shops, the Church, the Community Responders, Neighbourcare and so on. We are extremely fortunate to have these willing leaders running so many things – most doing it voluntarily and unobtrusively. It is my privilege, on your behalf, to thank them all most sincerely on your behalf. My report this year will be shorter than in previous years and will focus on a few highlights. This is because, on the evening of the Parish Assembly, I will ask each Parish Councillor to report, for a maximum of three minutes, upon those matters for which they have the lead responsibility! This has not happened over recent years and will give you the opportunity of getting to know them better. The Parish Plan is the Council’s mandate to do that which is most important to you. It was published in early 2006 and most of its key content has either been completed, or is now embraced within our routine work. It continues to serve as an exemplar to other parish councils and is recognised by Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council as a key input to their community support and development strategies. We must prepare to update the plan with the aim of publishing its replacement by 2010. The Parish Website, “The Gauntlet” our local magazine and the parish notice boards are all vital sources of current news and information about what is about to happen, including where and when. The Parish Council either provides these, or helps others to produce them. Anyone can put a notice on a notice board provided they do not cover or remove an existing notice that is “in date”. Copies of Parish Council meeting minutes are put on the website and in the shops. Do we provide sufficient ways of publicising activates? We have all recently received our council tax bills. The parish council precept, that is the money the Parish Council gets to pay for the things we do within the parish, is included in these and is a tiny proportion of the total. In my case it is approximately £70 per year, or 3.1% of my total council tax bill. This includes a precept increase of 16p per week compared with last year and reflects the inflation in what we have to pay for the facilities and services we provide, plus the costs of the new things we plan to do. Full details of these are included in the Parish Clerk’s financial report. Examples include grants to the village hall, new play equipment, sports facilities and provision for the purchase of the Upper Field, which we currently lease. Highlights last year included the construction and opening of the Trim Trail; the installation of a “20 is Plenty” speed limit on the A3057 close to the school; the purchase of a speed indicating device (SID) -which flashes when motorists exceed the 30mph limit – be placed randomly within the Parish; and persuading Southern Water to repair leaking sewers thus pre-empting any repeat of proposals to pump sewerage into the stream (the Somborne River)! (Councillors will now give brief reports on their areas of responsibility, outline details will be recorded in the minutes of this Assembly.)
David Bidwell (389699) March 2008