October 2008 Meeting Report

Report of the meeting held on Tuesday 7 October 2008
in the Compton Room, Shawford Parish Hall.

The Parish Council meeting was well attended by parishioners, most of whom had come to listen to the presentation on work to improve the Itchen River Navigation System.

Police Report

But the first item on the agenda was the police report. PC Smith reported that there had been a serious incident involving the attempted theft of a Landover in the local area. The farmer had managed to foil the attempt but, in the process, had been threatened by man wielding a large spanner. The police investigation continues. Other incidents included the theft of a bicycle worth £1500 from Shawford station, a theft from a care home and reports of cars being driven across the Memorial Playing Fields. The police are increasing their patrols around the Playing Fields but, so far, without success. PC Smith advised the Council that members of the public can report incidents of ‘anti-social behaviour’, including fly tipping, via the WCC web site, which contains a page under “Communities” or by telephoning ‘101’.

Itchen Navigation Project

Ms Alison (Ali) Morse, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, supported by Mr Rod Murchie, Environment Agency, provided an enthusiastic and lively briefing on the Itchen Navigation Canal, known as Project Ethos. The project has taken four years to develop but, following a grant of £1.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contributions of £400,000 from the Environment Agency and £50,000 from WCC, is now underway. Nevertheless there is still a shortfall of £174,000, in the budget of £2.4 million. Current priorities include removing dangerous trees, stabilising those banks subjected to erosion, widening paths and making them more accessible to users of wheelchairs and pushchairs. Although there is no controlling authority for the river system (the Environment Agency is now primarily concerned with flood protection) the team is working closely with local landowners (who own the bank and part of the river). Considerable progress has been made: banks are being stabilised and wildlife encouraged.

In response to questions, Mr Murchie confirmed that the towpaths are the responsibility of the landowners and that, ‘in theory’, the Environment Agency could serve an order on those, who were reluctant to cooperate with the project. But he hoped that this would not be necessary. Ms Morse confirmed that, while the ‘Bishop’s Drain’ was not included in the current plan, the stretch of the river alongside the Bridge Hotel was due for attention in 2009. Given the amount of interest and concern about the current state of the Itchen in Shawford, the chairman suggested that parishioners might consider volunteering to help. This suggestion was accepted enthusiastically by Ms Morse and anyone wishing to become involved should contact the Parish Clerk.

District and County Councillors’ reports

Councillor Eleanor Bell reported that Dave Ingram, Environmental Protection team manager had now assumed responsibility for liaison between WCC, Winchester Airport Group and Southampton Airport. The Appeal hearing, against HCC’s refusal of planning permission for waste recycling associated with motorway maintenance activity, had opened on 7 October. Councillor Bailey had spoken on behalf of the Parish Council. All speakers were being subjected to cross examination by the Appellant’s barrister. Councillor Beckett reported that he had received a number of complaints from tenants in Compton about the Housing Department. He expressed a wish that tenants, encountering difficulties, should contact their local councillor earlier, rather than later, in the process. This could save much anguish. Councillor Eleanor Bell noted that a new Housing Manager, Michaela Kelsey, had been appointed and this should help to overcome some of the problems. County Councillor Bailey confirmed that she had represented the Parish Council’s views at the Appeal on the proposed waste recycling plant. She was also working closely with Councillor Caffyn to encourage the Estates Department to undertake a review of footpaths within the parish. This would be led by the Estate Manager, Robin Edwards. Discussions were also taking place with the Highways Department about encroaching hedgerows and undergrowth on parish footpaths.

Play Equipment

Councillor Millar reported that she had consulted several parishioners about new play equipment and produced a potential purchasing list of five items, costing around £9000. Following a suggestion from Mrs Evans, a Compton resident with two young children, it was agreed that a meeting should be arranged to enable users of the Compton Street Play Area to comment on the proposals. The chairman indicated that the Council intended to review its policy on Open Spaces, which could result in a substantial budget for the purchase of play equipment within the parish.

Finance and Admin Committee

Councillor Walmsley reported that the Finance & Administration Committee had been looking at ways in which the Council could increase its rate of return of funds currently held on deposit. The committee had recommended that £30,000 should be transferred to a Community Banking Guaranteed Interest Account at the Bank of Scotland (in which the Government has now taken a significant stake). The current rate of interest on offer for a six month deposit was in excess of 6%, well above that on offer by the Council’s bank. The Council agreed and this process is now underway.

CASCA Christmas Party

Councillor Millar reported that the Compton and Shawford Community Association AGM would be held in the Parish Hall on Wednesday 19 November and the Christmas Party on Friday 5 December. It was hoped that both events would be well attended. The latter, particularly, as it is a very jolly occasion and a good way for new residents to meet members of the community.

Parish Plan

Finally, the chairman confirmed that Parish Plan had been distributed. He thought that it was an excellent piece of work and that he would like to record his appreciation of the efforts of all concerned. A special thank you should go to Peter Betts and Adrian Walmsley.

The next Parish Council meeting will be held at Shawford Parish Hall at 7.15pm on 4 November. All parishioners are welcome to attend.