Main topics discussed
Highlights from this month’s Parish Council Meeting include-
- a green light for the neighbourhood plan,
- progress on parking restrictions for the road near the Butts,
- an objection to last month’s draft minutes,
- a lively debate over whether to make a small donation towards the Parish Hall’s Queen’s Birthday Celebrations,
- the future maintenance of the closed part of the churchyard, and
- the latest on the defibrilator.
Councillors Harris (Chair), Pfleger (Vice-Chair), Cobb, Baggs, Montgomery, Hearn, Sharp and Dodge all attended, as did several members of the public. Councillors Kayani sent his apologies. Councillor Groom also attended at the start, to give her update as Unitary Authority Councillor.
There were no questions from the public. After the Chairman had welcomed everybody to the meeting, he explained that the seats were back in their old arrangement. This was because it made it easier for the councillors to talk to each other. The public were reminded that the only time they could talk was in the public question time at the beginning of the meeting. A hand up at any other time meant the person in question could not hear.
The Neighbourhood Plan
Unitary Councillor Groom relayed comments she had received from Wiltshire Council over Appendix D, which had previously been circulated to councillors and which dealt with the neighbourhood plan.
Appendix D concluded with the recommendations that the Council resolve to:
- Recognise the democratic right of Lydiard Tregoz to withdraw from New-V subject to Wiltshire Council honouring its obligation to the Parish Council as a founder member of New-V.
- Include the sum of £12,000 in the 2017/2018 budget for a neighbourhood plan, noting that partial funding could be drawn from reserves and subsequently replaced if work were to begin in the current year.
- If minded to proceed with the neighbourhood plan, to establish a working party of three members to commence the process of recommending to the Council a boundary designation and assessing the validity of data already collected.
Tom Pepperell, the community representative on the New-V neighbourhood plan steering group, addressed the meeting.
In summary, he said-
- It was only necessary for the Parish Council to decide to produce a plan for Lydiard Millicent, and submit an application form to Wiltshire Council. Lydiard Tregoz’s decision to leave New-V had forced Lydiard Millicent out, and there was no need for Lydiard Millicent to release Lydiard Tregoze formally.
- Wiltshire Council had advised that costs would be minimal unless the Parish Council chose to emply contractors or further details were required. (The Lydiard Millicent chapter of the New-V neighbourhood plan had already been produced, was substantively ready for submission already and a link officer from Wiltshire Council was available to help).
- The boundary of the neighbourhood plan area should be the parish boundary.
- There were already a number of volunteers ready to help progress the adoption of the neighbourhood plan.
- He believed the data to still be substantively valid and it would be possible to publicise the plan through the Parish Council’s website.
- As the draft neighbourhood plan was not site specific, it was unlikely that an environmental assessment would be required.
- The Lydiard Millicent chapter of the draft New-V neighbourhood plan suggests that any new development should be “located within the existing built-up area of the village, and generally comprise not more than a small group of houses (up to ten)” and other infill sites other than greenfield sites.
- In view of the increasing level of interest the village is attracting from developers, he would urge Lydiard Millicent to progress the neighbourhood plan quickly.
The Chairman declared an interest in the agenda item that dealt with the neighbourhood plan, withdrew from the chair and took no part in the debate. He said he had made his position known to Wiltshire Council when he took over the chairmanship and, with Wiltshire Council, was satisfied he was doing everything properly.
In the main body of the meeting, Councillor Dodge explained how sometimes the process of New-V could be compared to herding cats. He explained the background to New-V with reference to Appendix D and the reasons behind Lydiard Millicent now having to decide if it would progress its own neighbourhood plan.
Some of the points raised in the following debate included-
- What are the benfits of a neighbuorhood plan? Answer: It has legal status, which planners must take notice of and can be a bit of a shield.
- Why did some of the New-V villages fail to progress the combined plan?
- What is the likely cost? Short answer: Noone knows for sure. It can cost as little or as much as the Parish decides.
- The need to move quickly. Councillor Dodge said that it would only be possible to go as quickly as the law allowed (there are statutory time limits). However, it should be possible for the council to act quickly over matters within their own control (for example, by calling special meetings if necessay).
- How valid was the data? The Clerk questioned how diverse it was (for example, did it sufficiently cover Greenhill, Washpool and Greatfield? In a larger plan (New-V) this would not matter so much.)
- Why not go with the existing draft, otherwise it will take week after week of meetings and delay things further?
There was unanimous support for Lydiard Millicent to have its own neighbourhood plan. A working party was agreed to take the neighbourhood plan forward, comprising Councillors Dodge, Sharp, and Baggs.
Last month’s minutes, Jubilee Club House and Sportsground
The Vice-Chairman objected to last month’s draft minutes.
Last month, the Vice-Chairman had not been at the Parish Council meeting. However, a resolution had been passed at that meeting for the gate to be open from 8am to 6pm for access by residents. He objected to this as it had not been done through the working group. If the gate was open, then he considered it likely to be abused by people from outside the village. Boy-racers, drug-takers and fly-tippers.
It was agreed the item would be removed from the minutes.
Later on in the meeting, the councillors discussed the use of the Jubilee Club House and Playing Field. Councillor Montgomery felt that the gate should be kept open more, to encourage people to use the facilities. It would be possible to do this. If any issues arose as a result, the Council could then to go back to keeping it locked.
However, on the other hand, the cost of having to evict unlawful occupiers could be significant and people could access the field as pedestrians or park in the streets nearby. It was therefore agreed by the other councillors present that the gate would only be kept open when someone was hiring the Club House or Playing Field, for their use.
Councillor Cobb gave his update on highways. The meeting agreed to approve £2,500- £3,000 as a contribution to restrictive parking signage and lining for the road, both sides, from the Church Chicane up to The Beeches. This is to be presented to the next CATG meeting on 1st September.
The school is still working on its transport policy, and the Chairman had attended a meeting with them in August.
There are a number of new projects and issues, which need to be entered in Wiltshire Council’s log. These include-
- Subsidence at Washpool bridge
- Widening of road just before Washpool bridge (from Tewksbury Way end) to give better visibility
- Speeding around Nine Elms (a metro count is to be requested)
- Erosion of verges in Stone Lane, Washpool and Common Platt
- Refreshing of roadmarkings at the Tewksbury Way/Washpool junction (already raised as an issue).
The parish has been asked to take part in the PEAS scheme (Parish Emergency Assistance Scheme). This covers things like the supply of sandbags and flood signage. This was welcomed and the Highways Working Group will take forward.
A parishioner had asked about creating much needed parking spaces from the land between the duck pond and the church bus stop, possibly for disabled use. Tom Pepperell said he thought the land may belong to Wiltshire Council.
The Parish Hall Queen’s Birthday Celebrations
The event organised by the Parish Hall Trustees had made a £40 loss. The Chairman suggested that the Council make a donation towards this as the Council had previously said it was supportive of a function. It would also be a nice thing to do, he said. Debate ensued. Points raised included-
- Why should The Parish Council do this when nobody has given the Council anything towards the broken window in the Jubilee Club House?
- Not to support it could be seen as divisive.
- How can the Parish Hall expect to make any money, if they don’t charge for admission?
- Would this create a precedent?
- If the Council weren’t minded to make the donation, one Councillor said he would offer to make the donation himself.
- The Council should make the grant, but as a one-off.
It was ultimtely agreed (the Vice-Chairman dissenting) that the Parish Council should make a small donation.
Maintenance of the Closed Churchyard
The Parochial Church Council has made a request for Wiltshire Council to take over the care of the closed churchyard. If Wiltshire Council take over responsibility for its upkeep and care, it may only meet the bare statutory minimum.
On the one hand, it was felt important to keep the churchyard well maintained and to “do the decent thing.” On the other, the precept was under pressure and some felt the issue should be pushed back onto Wiltshire Council. It was agreed to take up Wiltshire Council’s offer of discussions in order to progress matters.
The Vice-Chairman said that he had spoken to a senior paramedic. There were a number of problems with pursuing this project. These included the possible effect of using a defibrilator on someone fitted with a pacemaker, cost, and lack of evidence that a defibrilator, like the one proposed, would save lives.
Since the Parish Hall had been discussed as a suitable location before, the Chairman would write to the Parish Hall Trustees inviting them to take forward if they wished.
The above account is unofficial and inevitably an incomplete record of all that was said at the meeting. However, I do endeavour to give a fair and honest representation of events. If anyone thinks there is an (unintentional) error, then please let me know and I will seek to correct it. As ever, I am happy to publish relevant (and lawful) comments.