Parish Council Meeting, April Summary
This month’s main topics include-
- investing in the cricket square
- poor state of the cemetery
- traffic in Greenhill
- increase in the Precept
- Home to school transport
- improving communications
- disappointing response from Parish Hall Committee on access to the Community Field
The Parish Council met on Thursday 6th March 2017,
Nine members of the public attended. Councillors Harris, Pfleger, Cobb, Sharp, Dodge and Hearn. Deborah Bourne attended as clerk to the Parish Council. Apologies from Councillor Kayani.
Public Question time was lively, with the following issues raised-
Why has the Precept increased by 31%? What is the increase destined for?
The resident made the point that this was far in excess of the increase in RPI. Chairman passed this over to Councillor Sharp to answer, who said that the increase was largely down to cuts in funding from Wiltshire Council, and the Parish Council having to undertake more tasks, like grass cutting and the white lining in Tewkesbury Way. The Parish Council also now employed the clerk full-time. In no way, had the car park come into his thoughts.
What is being done about the poor state of parts of the cemetery?
A resident voiced continuing concern over parts of the cemetery. There is a spoil heap by the entrance, the gates need painting and there is litter left by those with nefarious intent. It looks uncared for. This is the approach used by those in grief, and it is upsetting.
Working Group to note, to take a look at and to consider further. The Parish Hall may also be considering putting up a light. The Parish Council will also look at the possibility of putting gates up, and would welcome offers of help.
What is being done about the increase in traffic in Greenhill?
A Greenhill resident drew the Council’s attention to the increase in traffic in Greenhill, much of which is speeding. This appears to have increased with the change in coach company, and the amount of traffic being generated by RAM. People were being cut up at the crossroads, and the roads were becoming hazardous for pedestrians, and others.
Was there any limit on the number of vehicles the businesses there could generate? Councillor Pfleger said this was determined by their O Licence (more info on what O Licences are here). The Chairman said the situation is something the Council is aware of, and is looking into.
Home to school transport, why isn’t the council supporting local residents? And can the Council provide details of the proposal, as requested?
The writer set out the background, and queried why the Parish Council had written to Wiltshire Council saying it would not support a resident’s request for the continuation of the collection of her children by taxi, as it considered there to be no safety risk. Parish Councillors had formerly supported their case for home-school transport on safety grounds.
She also asked the Parish Council for details of the proposals, as none had been forthcoming. It had been suggested that Wiltshire Council’s plans were now to park a 30+ seat bus on a narrow part of the road, in front of the neighbour’s drive, blocking access, and creating further congestion during the school runs in this narrow bit of road.
Residents already suffer enough congestion, and its side effects, around school collection, and kick out time, without adding to the problem.
Councillors were asked to reconsider their response to Wiltshire Council.
In the main body of the meeting, the issue was debated, and the following points made-
- Safety and school transport is a county issue, therefore, within Wiltshire Council’s responsibility, and not the Parish Council’s.
- Didn’t the Lydiard Green pavement extension mean there was now a pavement? (No, it goes as far as Bagbury Business Park – Ed).
- Why didn’t the Lydiard Green pavement go that far? (Long story, but attributed to costs, difficult residents, physical constraints – in particular, the need to negotiate the narrow part of the road by the chapel.)
- This is a village-wide issue.
- Couldn’t the children walk over their own field? (No – it’s not their field. Plus it has livestock in it – Ed).
- It may be worth having a Metro Count to see how traffic flow had increased.
- Wasn’t the original arrangement put in place when the children attended Lydiard Millicent school?
- No different from when my children went to school.
- PC shouldn’t duck out of the issue, when children’s safety is involved.
- One of the councillors had checked the minutes from 2014, and there was no reference to a resolution on their former response. Therefore, in the past, councillors had only been speaking in their personal capacity.
- Others stand on the side of the road.
- Wiltshire are meant to be coming out again to inspect.
- Couldn’t Wiltshire Council come up with some alternative arrangement?
- Buses can park where they like as long there are no road markings. (For an alternative view, refer to the Highway Code, specifically Rule 243, which states Do not stop or park in front of an entrance to a property. Ed)
No reference to impact on traffic flow, potential or difficulties caused to residents trying to leave their property, or damage to the verges.
It was resolved to write to Wiltshire, reflecting the fact that transport and road safety are their responsibility, and the Parish Council’s concerns about road safety in the village generally.
Last month’s minutes
Last month’s minutes were approved, subject to the Chairman making the point that the bollards for the bridleway would now be paid for by the land-owners involved, not the Parish Council.
Neighbourhood Watch Update
Councillor Sharp gave his update as Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator.
There had been a suspected aborted break-in at some stables, and damage to cars on Stone Lane. Bank Holiday is traditionally a time when these types of issues peak, and he warned residents to be vigilant.
The Chairman asked why police were never around, and Councillor Sharp said it was a question of priorities. Lydiard was relatively “safe” and resource was concentrated at Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade and Purton. The Chairman said it would be good to get the police to attend the Annual Parish Meeting, and could that be arranged – the Council would try and work round their availability time-wise.
No report from Unitary Authority Councillor. Councillor Groom not present.
Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group Update
Councillor Dodge explained that there had been another meeting of the steering group, another was planned for Tuesday, progress was good, and the draft plan should be ready, for the next stage, in the next few months.
Councillor Roland Dodge has not put himself forward for election, and will be standing down as councillor
The Chairman extended his thanks, on behalf of residents, and Councillors, for all the work Councillor Dodge had done, for his professional approach and sound advice over the years.
Community Field Update
The Chairman had met, twice now, with the Parish Hall Trustees to promote plans to put a gate in allowing access from the car park to the community field, splitting the cost 50/50.
The Parish Hall, however, did not see any benefit in this, and would not agree to the proposals, or to the setting up of a joint working group.
General disappointment all round, and some councillors thought there was a them/us attitude in the village. Another asked how the Parish Hall trustees get elected.
The clerk is to investigate other possible access points into the Community Field, checking the deeds to see if there is anything which helps, and investigating the possibility of some sort of licence arrangement with the neighbouring land owner.
The Cricket Square
The Chairman had attended an Area Board Meeting and was hopeful that a grant of £5,000 would be made towards renovation of the cricket square.
He requested that £5,000 be taken from the Council’s general reserves to fund Phase I of the renovation works. £2,000 had already been allocated, and Purton had agreed to contribute £400 (of the £2,400 already spent). It was likely the grant would be successful, and this sum could then go back into reserves.
Phase I comprises work necessary to bring the square into use for this season (Agenda, says end of May or beginning of June) and involves the purchase of an outfield cutter, grass seed, summer feed and loam.
Phase II, which would be later and necessary to bring the square into condition for the following season, may be in the region of £12,000.
In essence, the intention is that Purton will provide expertise and training, and have first call on the square. Lydiard will provide the square, most of the equipment, and use it, when Purton isn’t.
Points made included-
- £5k necessary to bring the square into use for this season
- This could be a really popular square, attractive to ladies and youth play in particular
- Squares rarely make a profit
- We could hire this one out to other groups and get in revenue
- If we don’t act now, we’re going to lose the chance to get it in play this season, and Purton may lose interest
- Purton stopped using it before, what’s to stop them changing their mind again?
- The JCH is the village’s biggest asset, we should use it
- Do we have a business plan?
- It’s a catch 22. Without us spending this money, Purton will be reluctant to make a commitment. But, that means spending the money before we have a commitment…
- We need a commitment from Purton, or we are vulnerable.
- If it goes pear-shaped, we will still have the mower.
- We may be able to use the mower for maintaining the other parts of the field, and save money.
- Who is going to do the mowing? A volunteer from Purton in the first instance.
- What is the Plan B if the Area Board doesn’t give us the grant? (There isn’t one, the money would come from reserves, and “savings” from the previous year).
The Clerk agreed to look into other sources of funding, for example, Sport England, and cautioned that, generally, these will not be made retrospectively – so would not cover work already carried out.
The Chairman asked for publicity for getting the word out for residents who want to play cricket, or to get involved, to come forward. This would be a way of bringing cricket back to the village.
Resolved, £5,000 to be allocated from reserves. In the next fortnight, councillors are to approach Purton for a declaration of intent before purchasing the mower.
It was also agreed that a business plan should be prepared before progressing to Phase II.
Councillor Sharp said that the Facebook page had been renamed as a community page, and reference to the Parish Council removed.
It was agreed that issues raised on Facebook, or in email, could be brought into the Parish Council meeting for discussion as an agenda item.
There is to be a meeting (date to be agreed) for councillors and nominated councillors to discuss communication.
Councillor Cobb is still waiting for these for the road verge the school side of the road west of the Butts, but is on the case.
The press and public were excluded so a confidential establishment issue could be discussed. The next meeting will be on 11 May, at the Parish Hall.
This is likely to be the last post by me in this form, as I’ll be sitting the other side of the table. Comments, however, are always welcome, and I’ll be thinking of how to keep residents informed within the permitted parametres.
I feel very strongly about open government, and transparency (as well as chewed up verges, and crazy parking), and hope to promote these concerns in the months ahead.