Yesterday saw a new-look seating arrangement at the Parish Council’s meeting, with a more-open lay-out, aimed at making discussions easier to hear.
Councillors Harris, Baggs, Cobb, Hearn and Dodge attended, as did three members of the public. Councillors Sharp, Pfleger, Kayani and Montgomery sent their apologies.
Highlights of this month’s meeting include
- What to do with the phone box in the Street
- Why can’t the Council be more proactive making sure the Street is kept swept and safe for pedestrians?
- The Neighbourhood Plan finally hits the skids after Trexit (Lydiard Tregoze follows Purton and leaves New V)
Should we keep the Phone Box in the Street?
A member of the public asked about the Council’s longer term plans for the phone box in The Street. Currently, the Council is paying a subscription of £300 per annum for it. No usage figures were available at the meeting. However, it was suggested that it is not widely used and this could be money saved by the Council.
In addition to the on-going subscription to BT, there is an on-going maintenance cost associated with the phone box. Debate raged over how long it would take to repaint the box, but guestimates ranged (depending on the quality of the job) from two men and two days’ work, to a much shorter period. (Councillor Hearn drew attention to the community-maintained phone box in Green Hill, where volunteer residents spent an afternoon repainting the phone box).
The resident said that he questioned whether the box was a good use of the Council’s money. Also, if it does become decommissioned, he would not want to see it become derelict, which would be a risk. He had had enough of ensuring the area around it was kept clear of bindweed and brambles. If people considered the box iconic and that it should be retained, then the Council should relocate it to a more suitable location. (The Parish Hall was suggested). Councillor Baggs mooted the possibility of locating any future defibrillator in the box, if decommissioned).
The Clerk said no decision had been made on the location of any defibrillator, although the Sun Inn had been the general consensus.
The Chairman said that he would put an article in the local magazine asking for views on whether we need the phone box and report back to the July meeting.
Why can’t we get the Street swept and maintain its drains?
Lack of progress on getting the Street swept regularly was raised. Leaves build up over the winter, and aren’t cleared. (On the previous advice of Councillor Cobb, the resident, who had cleared the Street previously, had desisted). It is a safety hazard to those who regularly walk there, including school children. In addition, it makes it more likely that the drains will block, with the consequential risk of flooding.
Although the resident had reported the issue to Wiltshire Council (and raised it with the Parish Council previously) nothing seems to have progressed. In 2016, he found it ridiculous that children are having to walk to school through six inches of mud. Ordinary people need to know where to get help, and how to improve matters. The lack of anything happening was a good example of why so many people are disinterested in politics. He felt that the Parish Council could be taking a more proactive role. It could be a voice more powerful than a single person filling in an app. on Wiltshire Council’s website, and which invariably results in no action.
The Chairman said he had asked the Finance Working Group to look at the effect of cuts by Wiltshire Council on services.
Councillor Cobb said Wiltshire Council have said they will carry out scheduled sweeping once a year, plus an allocated four days a year on a reactive and prioritised basis. They are cutting back on their clearance of gullies, prioritising those where there are known issues. However, it was acknowledged that the majority of blocked gullies would not be emptied on an ad hoc basis. In addition to using the My Wiltshire App. to report issues to Wiltshire Council, residents could raise with Mollie Groom, as the Unitary Authority Councillor.
The Parish Council could engage its own contractor to plug the gap. However, this would have cost implications and mean a possible increase to the precept. Better use could be made possibly of the Parish Steward. Another suggestion, made by the Clerk, was the ability of resident volunteers to clear leaves and carry out other tasks under the Parish Council’s insurance. Terms and conditions would apply (prior notification, the wearing of high-visibility jackets etc.)
The main meeting
There was no update on Neighbourhood Watch or from the Unitary Councillor. The Chairman said he would ask Councillor Groom to attend the next Parish Council meeting, to give an update. There were no reports from outside bodies.
Afternoon tea is planned in the Parish Hall, by the Parish Hall Trustees, on 26th June, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. The Chairman is discussing with the school to see if they want to be involved. He is also to discuss school to home transport policy with them in an attempt to ease the parking situation.
The Parish Council now has flood signage from Wiltshire Council, for use in the event of the area flooding. (Three signs, the Parish Council is responsible for their use and safe-keeping).
Desk and Chair for the Clerk
These are still needed. Any donations or suggestions to the Clerk.
New V Neighbourhood Plan
The Steering Group meeting had been held on 12 May. Tom Pepperell had gone along as the Community Rep. However, the Parish Council had not attended as this responsibility had not then been allocated.
Lydiard Tregoze has now pulled out of the New V Group. The Chairman reported back that Wiltshire had taken the view this makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Lydiard Millicent to continue. According to Karen Gibson at Wiltshire Council, this means Lydiard Millicent would have to go it alone if it wishes to proceed. The Clerk said she will look into this further. However, she had not found anything so far which contradicted this view, that the boundaries of the parishes involved need to be continuous.
This will mean extra work for the Parish Council, and cost. The Clerk said the additional cost (based on other parishes’ spend) could be in the region of £12,000. However, it was also suggested that it should not cost this much as the Lydiard Millicent chapter had already been prepared, and much of the information would still be relevant and in-date.
Councillor Dodge said he thought a neighbourhood plan was needed, but was concerned at the cost. The Clerk said that it would need input from professional planners to put into context. Councillor Cobb said he thought most of the core chapter, which was already, there, should still stand.
The Chairman made the point that this was not of Lydiard Millicent’s making, as the Council had pursued the neighbourhood plan in a “very proactive” manner. He proposed a resolution (unanimously approved) that Lydiard Millicent had been placed in this position through no fault of its own and that it is unfair if Lydiard Millicent has to leave New V because of the actions of Lydiard Tregoze, and Lydiard Millicent object to this. We can then see what they come up with, he said.
Nothing major, although the Council are looking into heavy lorries using the Green Hill area. It is also anticipated that RAM Fencing may shortly be making an application or extending their activities in the area.
The annual governance statement and return were approved. The Parish Council are going into the new year with a balance of £59,288, which is an increase on last year.
£20,000 is in the reserve, ear marked for the car park project still. However, this does not mean that it has to be spent on that. The Council can resolve to use it elsewhere, or to deal with it through adjustments to the precept in future years.
Total fixed assets are £258,731. The Jubilee Club House accounts for the biggest part of this.
Working Group Reports were given by Open Spaces and Highways. Highlights include-
Better use should be made of our biggest asset, the Jubilee Club House and field. Lydiard Millicent Youth Football Club want to play more games, and the Working Group will be looking at ways to facilitate this, to increase revenue whilst working to minimise any negative impact on residents.
Lydiard Green footpath is nearing completion, and works to the chicane by the Church have started.
Councillor Cobb was keen to be able to go to the next CATG meeting with the news that the Council had agreed in principle to allocate some money towards provision of yellow lines on the main road by the Butts. However, the Clerk counselled against this in the absence of a formal resolution. (All councillors present were in agreement, but no resolution could be made as it was not an agenda item). No clear estimate of the cost had been received from Steve Hinds (Wiltshire), although it was suggested that the cost would be in the £5k region (the Parish Council to fund half).
A resident at Greatfield had raised concerns about the speed limit repeater signs. He had proposed solutions, but Wiltshire Council did not want solutions apparently, as it only registers issues. Martin Cook, who has taken over from Malcolm Bevan, at Wiltshire, will look into the issue. If the current signage is unlawful, they will action. If it isn’t, then it’s not clear what (if anything) can be done.
Butts bus stop, Mollie Groom and the Chair of CATG are looking into possible funding.
Issues about verge erosion in the Washpool area and flooding at Casa Paolo corner were raised, but apart from flagging with Mollie Groom and reporting lorries abusing the weight restrictions via Lorry Watch, it was unclear what could be done.
Parking by cars on verges at Green Hill had been resolved in one instance after a visit by the Council, but it appeared that the offenders were now just parking on another verge.
The next meeting will be on 7th July 2016.