September 2014 PC Meeting Report
Report of the Parish Council meeting held on Tuesday 2 September 2014 in the Compton Room, Shawford Parish Hall.
The council was faced with a heavy agenda and had to contend with a number of other issues that had not been included e.g. a quiet surface on the M3 and an increasing number of potholes in local roads.
M3 Quiet Surface
The chairman invited Councillor Stevens to read a letter received that afternoon from the local MP, Steve Brine, which stated that, in response to extensive lobbying, the highways agency had agreed to resurface the M3, between junctions 9 and 12, during the financial years 2015/17. The chairman thanked Councillor Stevens for her efforts in ensuring that this issue was always high on Mr Brine’s agenda. Councillor Stevens noted that she had received considerable support from Mrs Caffyn, chair of governors at Shepherds Down School, and Councillor Southgate.
Public concern was expressed about the number of potholes in Martins Field, Attwoods Drove and Grove Road. Councillor Cordery was asked to liaise with County Councillor Bailey to see if quality repairs could be expedited. Parishioners were also encouraged to report the potholes on HCC’s web page:
(The web page also enables parishioners to report problems with street lighting and overgrown hedgerows.)
Councillor Southgate reported that, while the painting of white lines in Shawford Road had taken longer than expected, they were now in place. There was a short discussion on possible further development of the SW Park and Ride, during which concern was raised by some councillors over the possibility of opening the Otterbourne Road entrance to all users. They urged caution on grounds of safety and congestion.
Councillor Cordery advised that the council had received written requests from different parishioners asking for a bench to be installed in the bus shelter at the top of Shawford Road and for an additional bench in Compton Street. She had obtained a quote of £669 for the installation of a bench in the bus shelter and she had instructed the Lengthsman to clear the vegetation from around the WI seat in Compton Street. Should the latter not prove adequate, then the council could consider relocating the WI bench at a later date. (The WI have been consulted on this possibility.) The council agreed that she should accept the quote for the bus shelter and agreed to consider further options for a bench in Compton Street at a later date.
County Councillor Bailey reported on concerns expressed about the intensity of the newly installed streetlights in the proximity of the garages in Martins Field. It was agreed that Councillor Bailey should consult Julian Higgins, Street Lighting Department HCC, to see if a solution could be found. [Councillor Cordery subsequently spoke to Mr Higgins and HCC has now agreed to remove the additional light and for a column to be re-installed close to the garages.] Councillor Southgate advised the council that the cost of installing a street light on the corner of Otterbourne and Southdown Roads (near the bus shelter) would be between £4000 -£6000. Energy and future maintenance costs would fall on the Parish Council. Following discussion, it was agreed that Councillor Southgate should consult Mr Higgins, to obtain a precise quotation of the installation costs. He would also seek the opinions of those residents that would live in close proximity to the light.
PCSO Wilkinson reported that there had been four incidents of anti-social behaviour (youths taking drugs in Shawford Down car park, a disturbance at the MPF in the early hours of the morning of 28 July, a fire causing damage to rubber matting and older youths smoking and drinking on the QEII field); one shed burglary in Shepherds Lane; criminal damage to outside furniture at the MPF; and one theft of a pedal cycle in Highways Road. She added that she was actively patrolling the Attwoods Drove area to ensure that disturbances at the QEII Field were reduced, if not eliminated.
Councillor Goulding presented his report. In compiling the report he had spoken to members of the parish who had attended the Civic Service in the past and to some who were unaware of its existence. He concluded that the Civic Service, in its current format, did not involve the whole community. Nevertheless he had noted that there was a strong desire from church members to continue with the service (a plea for the continuation of the Civic Service, a tradition that had existed within the parish for 35 years, was expressed during the council meeting), but he felt that, if the service were to continue in its current format, it should be run by the church with support from the council.
His consultation had also identified a desire within the parish to have an event that would allow parishioners to meet new neighbours, understand opportunities, and identify areas they could volunteer to help within the community. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations had been highly regarded.
Following discussion, it was agreed that the chairman and Councillor Sadler would consult the rector and PCC to see how the church service could be organised along the proposed lines and that Councillors Goulding and Wilkinson should consider the options for an annual, non-church related, event.
Finance and Administration
The council considered three insurance quotations and agreed that, given the discounts available, it should enter into a three year long term agreement (LTA) for the period 2014/17 with Came & Company at an initial annual cost of £996.00. The company had provided an excellent service to the council over the past three years.
Councillor Jeffrey drew councillors’ attention to the calendar of events and the chairman noted that the Annual Parish Meeting had been set for 16 April 2015. The council also noted the external auditor’s comments contained in Section 3 of the Annual Return 2013/14. There were no major problems.
Procedures for the election of future chairmen and convenors
The chairman presented his report on the recommended procedures to be introduced for the future election of chairmen. Concern was raised that the introduction of precise rules could cause problems for future councils. Several councillors expressed a preference for the introduction of ‘guidelines’. It was agreed that the chairman would draft a one page guidance note for discussion at the November meeting.
Following a discussion on whether there should be changes to the current committee system, Councillor Jeffrey agreed to produce a one page note on the role of the F&A convenor, which she would share with fellow convenors in order that they can produce similar documents for discussion at the next council meeting.
The vice chairman of the Sports Club reported on a number of successful events held on the MPF during the summer and noted that Councillor Wilkinson would be hosting a meeting at the Jubilee Pavilion on 18 September to discuss the future development of the MPF. Councillor Jeffrey would also be undertaking the council’s annual inspection of the pavilion on 3 September.
Councillor Sadler presented the playing fields report, which resulted in considerable discussion upon the provision of outdoor gymnasium equipment, to be purchased using funds from the WCC Open Spaces Fund. Some councillors had doubts about whether the equipment would be used by more than a few members of the community and others about the cost of maintaining the equipment. The chairman indicated that he had consulted the Sports Club, some of whose members were actively supporting the purchase, and been advised that the club was prepared to meet the annual maintenance costs, currently estimated at £220. It was agreed that, subject to the Sports Club agreeing to meet the annual cost of maintenance, the Parish Council would purchase outdoor gymnasium equipment from Vita Play at a cost of £11,850. The council will meet the additional insurance costs.
The council also noted that the Lengthsman had removed the debris from the drainage ditch on the south east boundary of the MPF.
Councillor Stevens presented her report. The council also agreed that, as she had only recently taken over the portfolio, she should have more time to consider the wording of an updated planning policy statement.
Following a comment, from a member of the public, on the recent construction of affordable homes in Otterbourne, there was a discussion on the provision of affordable housing within the parish. The chairman emphasised that, following extensive public consultation on this issue, the Parish Council had passed a resolution indicating that it would not promote any such development within the lifetime of this council.
Footpaths and Environment
Concern was expressed that the hedge around the QE II Field, planted by volunteers in 2013, had been decimated by a council contractor. Councillor Southgate indicated that he was aware of the problem and replacement shrubs would be planted at some stage during the autumn/winter. The council noted that a map board had been installed at the MPF, adjacent to the pavilion, and that an explanatory sign had been sited at the base of the slope below the Wayside Cross.
The council agreed to support the proposal that, under the Sustainable Communities Act, Parish and Town Councils should have the right to sell electricity.
Date of the next meeting
7.30pm Tuesday 4 November 2014 in the Compton Room, Shawford Parish Hall.