Minutes for Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday, 3 April 2018

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Present:  Cllrs L Bennett (Vice Chair), P Clark, D Coffin, D Hayward (Chairman), I Houston, T Hunt and S Longdon.

In Attendance: Mrs P Chapman (Parish Clerk) District Cllr M Lawrence, County Cllr M Penfold and 20 members of the public.    

Mr D Hayward welcomed the members of the public to the Annual Parish Meeting and summarised the Parish Council procedures.  Mr D Hayward discussed the roles of each Councillor. The Parish Council is full with seven Councillors.  Each Councillor is allocated to at least one of the two working groups (Planning and/or Playing Field). Cllr D Hayward represents the Parish Council on the Heritage Fabric Fund and Cllr T Hunt is on the Village Hall Management Committee.

He welcomed County Cllr M Penfold and the District Cllr M Lawrence.

  1. Apologies for absence:  None.  
  2. Declaration of Interests:  None.
  3. Minutes of the Meeting of 05.04.2017 
    The minutes to the meeting were provided to the members of the public at this meeting and on the noticeboard as well as the Parish Council website prior to the meeting.  It was resolved the minutes were an accurate account the meeting and signed by the Chairman.

    Chairman’s Annual Report
    It has been another busy year for the Parish Council.  The level of changes to the way councils operate at District and County level seems to continue unabated and further big changes will be happening in the coming year.

    The council dealt with sixteen planning applications in the year down from twenty one last year. There were seven applications for work on trees in the Conservation Area, but the Parish Council no longer gets consulted on these. 

    The only planning application of major public concern was the proposed change of use of the village shop from retail to full residential.  This was refused by WDDC and we were grateful for the support given by members of the public at the February Parish Council meeting where this was considered, and to those who submitted individual objections.  The owner did write to us in late February, before the decision was made public, seeking our views on whether any local organisation could use some floor space, but we subsequently found that he was unwilling to consider lease of the shop alone.  At this meeting we were to have discussed other options, including resurrecting the working group to consider a community shop, but given the very good news that shop will be reopening with a new tenant this will not be necessary, although you may wish to discuss how best to support the shop in the future.

    The redevelopment of Mill Farm has continued over the past year, but we believe is now substantially complete, however WDDC Planning has continued to refuse applications for a walled garden on the site.  During the wet winter months some walkers expressed concern over the state of the footpath through the site and we inspected the path and had the county footpath officer look at it.  He recognized the difficulty, but given conditions generally, was happy that it was passable and not dangerous.  The owner has also had a discussion with him and will consider consolidating the surface during the summer months. 

    Affordable Housing
    We have not progressed this over the past year but are now considering a mail shot to all houses in the village requesting whether parishioners feel there is a need for affordable housing in the village.  Meanwhile, Magna Housing Association has continued to sell off property in Ambrose Close reducing available social housing in the village; although with help from District Councillor Robin Legg we were successful in stopping one sale and having bungalow in question made available to a local family.

    Last year I reported that the Sports and Social Club, as a means to ensuring its future financial viability, had been considering the possibility of building houses on a section of the sports field to the rear of Manor Close.  They subsequently made a pre-planning enquiry to WDDC who advised that a full application would be most unlikely to succeed.

    As ever we are grateful to all who make an effort to keep the village looking tidy. We are particularly indebted to Chris Williams who has again been doing a great job all year litter-picking throughout the village, to Alan Martin who keeps the road between Underdown Hollow and Park Lodge litter free and Tom Sugrue who clears litter in the Playing Field and empties the bins on a weekly basis; and of course the children of St Mary’s School who litter pick on Church Road and Mill Lane.  I would urge you to take notice of the litter that frequently appears on our roads and verges and magically disappears, and then contemplate how it would look if this was not regularly removed by our volunteers.

    Tricia, our clerk, recently advertised and organized a community litter pick but this had to be cancelled due to snow.  Sadly only a handful of residents responded.  This will be rescheduled so please look out for an announcement and consider whether you could help.

    Road Traffic and Safety
    With the help of two volunteers, Bob Skett and Jim Clegg, councillors have now completed refurbishment of all fingerposts in the village.  We hope that you agree that this will only improve road safety, but has also improved the appearance of the village in general.  Since completing the work we have been approached by other Parish Councils seeking advice on how they too could refurbish their fingerposts.

    Road surfaces have continued to be a concern, and we have urged residents to report defects online or by telephone direct to Dorset County Council, as well as to the Parish Council.

    Network Rail attended our November meeting to seek support for their plans to close the pedestrian crossing of the line at Wyke Farm. This is part of their national drive to reduce accidents at rail crossings. The council had no objection provided that an alternative diversionary route was established leading to the Wyke Farm access road.

    The village Millennium stones have been cleaned during the year.

    Community Transport
    The 74 bus service ended during the year and this has had a significant impact on some residents.  The council has joined with the neighbouring parishes of Yetminster, Leigh and Chetnole to form the Wriggle Valley Transport Group which is seeking alternative solutions.  Setting up an independent minibus service has been considered, either hiring or buying a minibus outright, but rejected on cost grounds. NORDCAT services have now been established to both Yeovil and Sherborne and we are still planning further discussions with South West Coaches to see whether an existing service can be re-routed through the village.

    War Memorial
    The memorial will be refurbished during the Spring/Summer months.  The council feels that this is a particularly good time to do it as 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the WW1 armistice. 

    Churchwell Street Telephone Box
    Thus far we have been successful in stopping removal of the telephone box.  The council is now thinking of getting it listed to prevent removal in the future, and eventually purchasing it so that it can be retained as an iconic feature of the village.

    Many parishioners will now be aware of the Parish Council website.  We are very grateful to councillor Iain Houston who has very generously given large amounts of his time constructing the website and progressively expanding its content.  The website can be made available to all village organisations to publicise their activities, and the History Society already does this. Following my report Iain and Terry will give us a briefing on the Village Design Statement, now called the Village Plan, and the website.  They will explain how you can access the website to comment on the plan and communicate with the Parish Council.

    Playing Field
    We are continuing to improve the play facilities where possible and a lot of maintenance has been carried out this year.  We are now planning to replace the old seesaw with a more modern lighter one that will be easier for children to manage.  We have applied for a grant from WDDC Leisure Development fund, which if successful, will cover 20% of the cost.  During recent wet summers high grass growth has been a problem and the residue of grass left on the surface after mowing has impeded use of the area.  We have therefore changed our mowing contractor to one that has the equipment to keep the grass at a level where surface build-up should not be a problem.

    Footpath Through East Farm
    I reported last year that after a seven year battle we had been successful in getting Regulatory Committee approval for a change in the Definitive Map allowing a formal footpath through East Farm, but that the County Council had still failed to publish the official order to enact this. This has now happened but objections raised by the residents of Saxon Maybank have put another delay in the process.  This could mean a further two years of waiting.  The residents claim that Charteroak Estates had not warned them of the footpath application when they bought their properties, and that Land Registry searches did not reveal it.   Councillors recently had a meeting on-site with one of the residents to better understand the property owners concerns.

    In closing, on behalf of the parish I would like to thank the Councillors for their efforts during the last year.  We are also grateful for the support given by Robin Legg and Margaret Lawrence our District Councillors and Mary Penfold our County Councillor, both to our meetings and for helping resolve issues at district and county level. I would also like to thank Tricia, our Clerk, for her continued hard work and the efficiency with which she manages the council’s affairs.
  4. The Village Plan
    Cllr D Hayward introduced Cllrs T Hunt and I Houston.  Cllr T Hunt discussed the purpose of the village plan and Cllr I Houston gave a presentation on the working website for the members of the public in attendance.  He noted the website was required by the government via the transparency code for smaller authorities mainly for accountability purposes.  The most recent audit and its supporting documents are on the website as well as the transparency code.

    The website is slowly growing and is offered to local organisation, example the History Society has all the upcoming events on the website.

    Cllr D Hayward thanked Cllr I Houston for all his hard work producing the website.
  5. Bradford Abbas Shop Working Group Led by Volunteers
    Cllr D Hayward announced they shop and residence has been rented and the shop owner will speak to introduce himself later in the meeting.
  6. Any Other Information to include questions from the public
    Members of the public mentioned the following items:
    Drainage:  A member of the public noted the drains are blocked along Back Lane leaving the roads (Bakehouse Lane, Grope Lane and Churchwell Street) muddy down to Church Road. A drain is possibly broken on the corner of Wessex Drive and Back Lane.

    Potholes:  A member of the public informed the Parish Council there are large potholes in Queens Road, Church Road, and many others throughout the village.  The Clerk will report these potholes but encouraged residents to report any they see to Dorset County Council via the Dorset Council website or phoning.

    County Councillor M Penfold suggested inviting Mr Paul Thatcher of Dorset County Council Highways to our next Parish Council Meeting.  She also discussed the increased amount of flytipping at the moment and residents can report it online or by phoning the County Council. She also mentioned contacting Paul Thatcher for street cleaning but it would be beneficial to specifically mentioning all the streets that need cleaning.

    Broadband:  A member of the public mentioned the issues they are having with slow broadband in the village. They have contacted the MP. Cllr D Hayward noted, although limited fibre optics reached the village before many others due to the fact the village is supplied from Yeovil there is still limited capacity.

    Village Hall:  A member of the public encouraged residents to attend the village hall AGM. The date has not been fixed but will happen over the couple of months. The committee is looking for new members.

    District Cllr M Lawrence summarised her report:
    Land west of Over Compton: A meeting recently held with officers and local members of Sherborne area - conclusion east of Yeovil there is a flood risk –landscape impact - Steep topography-impact on SSSI. There will be no development for Over Compton 40 letters against and 2 in favour. In Sherborne there were four possible sites, but only two identified.

    Last year I reported of possibility of Unitary Council, since that time a lot of waiting and finally The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP has agreed 26/2/18 to the creation of two new unitary councils for Dorset. The two authorities will replace Dorset’s 9 councils. One will cover Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and the other will serve the residents of the rest of the County, each will deliver all local government services in their respective areas / the two new councils are due to go live in April 2019, and from that date North, West and Weymouth and Portland District Council will cease to exist.  The name will be DORSET COUNCIL WITH 82 members    Sherborne 2 Members and Sherborne Rural 2 members.  BOURNEMOUTH CHRISTCHURCH &POOLE 75 members.

    After the next election in April/May 2019 for the new councillors, they will serve for a period of 2 consecutive 5 years and then a 4 year (this will line up for elections every 4 years) Town and Parish Councils will also be on the same day in 2019 and serve 2 – 5 years then 4 years.

    Ward boundaries for the New Unitary Councils Members to have a briefing in April, the session will discuss the next steps in the electoral review process that will be developing the ward boundaries for the new unitary councils, Members will be given advice on what they should consider when drawing up proposals, speakers will be from Local Govt Boundary Commission.

    WDDC councillors have agreed the budget for 2018/2019 and to increase of £5 in the council tax. The council forecast a balanced budget despite challenges. Since 2015 the government grant has been reduced each year and there will be no government support grant in 2019/2020

    For the coming financial year the council is aiming to balance its budget against savings of £710,000.  WDDC charges one of the lowest council taxes in England. Efficiencies will come from continually improving how the council works. A change is the new arrangements for the Gryphon Sports Centre which is now managed by Gryphon School.

    20,000 new homes to meet demand by 2033 :  Home Ownership Register.  It is for anyone seeking a new home in N Dorset, W Dorset or Weymouth & Portland whether it is open market affordable shared - ownership or rental.  By signing up you’ll receive a newsletter about all the latest developments in the property market locally – including new schemes with planning consent or properties released for sale by house builders as well as government developments or shared ownership initiatives.

    The easiest way  to sign up to the new Home Ownership Register is to go on line or  https://www.doesetforyou.gov.uk/articles/425582/Accelerating-Homebuilding

    OPENINGSDOORS :  This move is part of the council’s innovative open doors campaign, which aims to meet housing need at a local level when faced with a lower number of active developers that can typically be found in larger urban areas.  It comes 25 years after the District council transferred its housing stock to the then West Dorset Housing Association in 1993. That organisation has since become Magna Housing. The council recognises that local housing associations do a great job but the area still needs more housing provision with 1,572 people on the council’s register.  The name at set up will be LOCAL AUTHORITY TRADING COMPANY, but to be finalised, with initial funding of £4 m from council reserves.  The new company will target areas that are not currently being served by local – based housing developers.

    Work with community land trusts to deliver smaller sites. The aim will be to acquire sites that have been granted planning consent for housing but not brought forward. In addition to increasing the supply of housing locally, receipts from the sale of properties and rents would create revenue, that in the longer term could be reinvested in further housing provision. OPENING DOORS aims to encourage construction of a total of 20.000 houses, by 2033 across the areas covered by WDDC NDDC and Weymouth & Portland Borough DC

    February 2018  Sky lanterns and helium balloons, a ban has been introduced by local councils. The rules will apply to all council owned land and leased premises. The ban will be reviewed in two years, The move follows concerns that lanterns and balloons can harm animals and cause damage to property.

    Leisure Development Fund Budget in January 2018. Grants were awarded to Small Arts or Small Sports Development fund. As there will be changes to WDDC from 1st April 2019 there will be only two panel meetings held in 2018/2019 one in May and the other in September 2018. Applicants to/recipients of the Leisure Development Fund are being advised that their project must have an end date which will allow their grant to be claimed by 31st March 2019 tel 01305 252250  Email mippard@dorset.gov.uk   www.dorsetforyou.com

    The West Dorset Anti-social Related Public Spaces protection order 2018: Feeding of gulls banned under new order this will come into force 23rd April 2018.  The rules of on consuming alcohol in public places remain largely the same but the feeding of sea gulls is new. After considering 579 responses the council WDDC decided to simplify the existing regulations and replace the two existing orders. The new rules aim to reduce the problem of aggressive gulls and ensure anti-social behaviour remains low in West Dorset.

    Council Tax: If paying council tax, make the digital switch and the council will donate £1 for each new person who signs up to pay their Council Tax by direct debit or signs up to e-billing. This will run to the end of April 2018, when all money raised will be split between two local charities, Weldmar Hospice and Julia’s House.

    Dorsetforyou/planning/search is now much easier for those that wish to keep an eye on local applications. Once on the page you may not know the number just put in the name of Town or Village where it says parish, and the application will appear.

    For any other issues roads/ transport/rubbish collection etc go to dorsetforyou.

    It was noted the local libraries continue to be under threat.

    County Cllr M Penfold noted there will be a structural change order by June 2018 introducing a single tier government for Dorset.  The work at Barton Gardens will be completed in June.

    Cllr D Hayward thanked both the District and County Cllr for their continued support to the Parish Council.

    The new owner of the shop, Alan, introduced himself and stated that he will need support from the village in order to make the shop work. Hopefully the Post Office will be put back into the shop but not without a petition in order to re evaluate the situation. He and his wife Wendy hope to open at the end of the month and look forward to seeing everyone and getting their feedback.

    Cllr D Hayward noted if Alan needed any help from the parish council concerning the post office please contact the Clerk.

    Cllr D Hayward thanked the public for attending the meeting and showing their support.

    The Councillors thanked Derek for his dedication and hard work for and on behalf of the Parish Council.