February 2010 Meeting Report

Report of the meeting held on Tuesday 2 February 2010 in the Compton Room, Shawford Parish Hall

Following the cancellation of the meeting scheduled for 5 January the parish council had a very full agenda when it met on 2 February. Not surprisingly, concerns about slippery pavements were well to the fore!

Police Report

But first PC Mark Smith informed the council that there had been five thefts within the parish since the beginning of December. They consisted of a battery stolen from a lorry, plant equipment stolen from a construction site, bricks stolen from a road bridge, a handbag stolen from a taxi, and personal items stolen from a carer’s workplace. There had also been one dwelling burglary which had taken place during the occupants’ absence on holiday. Since submitting his report, PC Smith added that there had been a further burglary on the evening of 1 February. He encouraged parishioners to report any suspicious activity by using either the 101 or 0845 045 45 45 telephone numbers. Where there was clear evidence of a burglary actually taking place ‘999’ could also be used.

Grit Bins

In the period allowed for members of the public to raise any issues, Mrs Down, Compton Tenants Association, expressed concern about ‘icy’ pavements during recent bouts of ice and snow. The elderly and infirm had encountered severe difficulties when walking. She asked for a grit box to be installed in the area of Godwins Field and Attwoods Drove. The council agreed that those areas that contained a significant number of elderly persons should be given priority in the allocation of grit boxes. However, since these cost £250 a time, parishioners should be aware that not every request for a grit box would be successful. Councillor Beckett also undertook to speak to WCC officials about the provision of grit boxes for the old people’s bungalows. Councillor Caffyn emphasised that the council needed to agree on clear criteria for the provision of grit bins. She believed that such criteria should give priority to those areas of the parish that have a number of elderly and infirm residents. County Councillor Bailey reminded councillors that she was also able to fund some grit boxes from her HCC Devolved Budget grant.

City Councillor’s Report

Councillor Beckett reported that the WCC budget for 2010/11 had been increased by 1.5%. The council had suffered a large drop in investment income and had needed to increase some charges e.g. car parking in Winchester and dog bin emptying. He added that WCC would be interested in hearing from any parishioners who had suggestions for improving access from Compton and Shawford to the Park and Ride car park e.g. an improved footpath.

Car Parking at Shawford

Having been invited by the chairman, Councillor Campbell-White, Mr Southgate, Shawford Rail Users Group (SRUG), briefed the council on his recent meeting with Network Rail officials. He had been much encouraged by the response of the officials to parishioners’ concerns about the number of cars parked in the vicinity of the station. But any changes to increase parking implemented by either Network Rail or South West Trains would require the imposition of parking restrictions on nearby roads, otherwise the problem will move from the station’s designated car park to adjacent roads. PC Smith mentioned that the police were very aware of the problem and had recently issued a number of parking tickets. He encouraged people to report incidents of inconsiderate and dangerous parking to the police by using the 101 or 0845 045 45 telephone numbers. Councillor Beckett added that if a parking permit regime were to be introduced, WCC would be prepared to introduce a traffic management system, which would involve random checks by a traffic warden. But such a system would need to include all car parks, including that at the base of the downs, and be funded from parking charges.

Playing Fields

Councillor Millar informed the council that a meeting was being arranged to discuss the provision of an all weather training facility at the Memorial Fields. This was likely to take place within the next fortnight. Councillor Beckett reminded councillors that Open Spaces funding required such a facility to be available to all members of the community, not just those belonging to the Sports Club. At the request of the chairman, Councillor M Bell agreed to act as the liaison officer between the council and the Sports Club.

Following a recommendation from Councillor Millar, supported by both Councillor Caffyn and Councillor Campbell-White, the council agreed to award the grass cutting contract for 2010-12 inclusive to Jim Kimber Landscape Maintenance. Although Mr Kimber had not submitted the lowest price he had proved, over the past three years, to be a reliable and understanding contractor and to produce work of a consistently high standard. Councillor Millar added that, following consultation with representatives of the Compton Tenants’ Association, it had been agreed that the Compton play area dog waste bin should be positioned near the newly installed green wheely bin. She hoped that, once installed, dog owners would ensure that all dog waste was removed from the play area. (Councillor Bailey had earlier reported that she had received a number of complaints from residents about their children returning from the play area covered in ‘dog poo’.)

Finance and Administration

Moving to administration, Councillor Walmsley recommended that, in accordance with local government legislation, the F&A Committee undertake a review of the council’s financial arrangements in time for a recommendation to be recorded in the minutes of the 2 March 2010 meeting. The council also discussed its policy on the awarding of grants to charitable institutions and decided that it should continue with its current policy, of not providing financial support to charities that are ‘general’ in nature.

Affordable Housing

Councillor Stevens reported that she visited the site of a social housing complex in Littleton shortly before Christmas and that another article on the need for a quiet surface on the M3 should appear in the Hampshire Chronicle in the near future.

Because of concerns expressed by councillors in the past about a shortage of affordable housing within the parish, Councillor Evans briefed the council on WCC’s policy on ‘rural exception sites’ i.e. sites that currently lie outside the parish’s defined planning area but could be made available for ‘affordable housing’ for local needs. Following discussion it was agreed that Community Action Hampshire (CAH) should be invited to undertake an inspection of the parish to identify any potential ‘rural exception sites’. It was also suggested that a CAH representative should be invited to make a presentation at a council meeting and/or the annual parish meeting on 28 April 2010.

Footpaths Representative

Finally, the chairman asked councillors to consider recommendations for the position of Footpaths Representative. An active ‘rambler’, who would be prepared to notify the Rights of Way officers of any problems with footpaths within the parish, would be ideal.

Village Spring Clean

Councillor Caffyn said that it was also time to consider the annual spring clean. She recommended that the council should ‘Womble’ a target, i.e. the downs, the canal and main road, every three months. All agreed. Should you be interested in the position of footpath representative or participating in the Womble’, please let me know.

The next parish council meeting will take place on Tuesday 2 March 2010 in the Compton Room, Shawford Village Hall and the annual parish assembly on Wednesday 28 April 2010.