Minutes of the Shipton Bellinger Parish Council Meeting held on Monday 5th March 2007 in the Fletcher Room, Village Centre at 7.30pm.
Present : Cllr Mr E Grimshaw - Acting Chairman
Cllr Mr P Marsh - Chairman
Cllr Mrs R Tetlow
Cllr Mrs L Jones
Cllr Mrs J Measures
Cllr Mrs J Tribbeck
Cllr Mr I Curry
Cllr Mr G Richardson
Borough Councillor Mr P Lashbrook
Richard Waterman - Parish Clerk
Mr G Measures - Village Centre Chairman
Members of the Public - 12
Apologies : Borough Councillor Mr T Southern and County Councillor Mrs P West.
WELCOME. Cllr Mr Grimshaw welcomed everyone to the meeting.
STATEMENT FROM ACTING CHAIRMAN CLLR MR E GRIMSHAW.
Following the situation that arose at the last meeting, Cllr Mr Grimshaw asked the Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils (HAPTC) to enquire independently into the facts of the matter and to comment on all the allegations which led to the chairman tendering his resignation.
Cllr Mr Grimshaw reported that he has received from Steven Lugg, the Director of HAPTC , a written report summarising the findings of his enquiry. The report addresses two main areas and gives advice on each : footpath maintenance and code of conduct for councillors.
Hampshire County Council has made it clear that there are two aspects to footpath maintenance: cutting back hedges and clearing vegetation from pathways. The former is the responsibility of the neighbouring landowner, the latter that of H.C.C. Up until 1999, clearing was funded by H.C.C. through the Parish Paths Partnership, allowing Parish Councils to spend this money on footpath maintenance as they saw fit. When funding was withdrawn in 1999, this Parish Council decided to continue this work for the benefit of the Parish, using money from the precept. This decision has been taken consistently each year since.
The question raised last month concerned footpath 17. The funds voted for from the 2007/2008 precept were clearly intended for footpath clearance, not hedge cutting. The enquiry concluded that there was clearly no overlap of responsibility with the landowner, and that the allegations made were without foundation. Whilst it is easy to understand why the Chairman felt obliged to offer his resignation at the time, it is clear there are no grounds on which it should be accepted.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Mr Lugg has commented on the procedure for councillors ‘declaring an interest’. The Council has sought advice on this several times during the last year, but without any clear direction.
The report suggests that in the case of footpath 17, Councillor Mr Curry ‘should probably have made a Declaration of Interest at the beginning of the meeting. This remains a matter of personal judgement for the member.’ It was recognised that Declaration of Interest has not featured as an agenda item and that there has not been clarity about the criteria surrounding this. However, the report goes on to say : ‘It would not be credible to believe or perceive that any decision was made in order to give a small benefit to a parish councillor who was a substantial local landowner.‘
The report concludes: ’I can find no reason to attach any blame to local councillors in this case. However, stronger and well articulated procedural and legal frameworks in the future might help prevent any future misunderstandings.’
Cllr Mr Grimshaw reported that he has asked the Clerk to review the council’s standing orders with the HAPTC Parish Liaison Officer and to ensure that Declaration of Interest is consistently the first item on the agenda.
Cllr Mr Grimshaw spoke about Parish Councils and the way in which they can operate. Some Parish Councils are run to the letter, public participation is kept to a minimum and topics discussed are strictly monitored. Shipton Bellinger Parish Council has been run on a more informal basis and the public actively encouraged to participate in discussions. Cllr Mr Grimshaw felt that the accusations made at the February meeting could change the way the Parish Council is run and bring to an end the constructive meetings that have been held.
Cllr Mr Grimshaw suggested that the Parish Council tighten up their procedure, put the recent hiccup behind them and carry on with running the village. The Parish Council agreed.
Cllr Mr Grimshaw stated that Cllr Mr Marsh’s resignation from the chair was not formally accepted by the Parish Council and that a decision needed to be made on this issue.
Cllr Mrs Tetlow proposed that the Parish Council do not accept Cllr Mr Marsh’s resignation and that he please resume the Chairmanship. This was seconded by Cllr Mrs Tribbeck and all agreed.
Cllr Mr Marsh thanked the Parish Council for their support and agreed to carry on with the chairmanship. Cllr Mr Marsh thanked Cllr Mr Grimshaw for dealing with the enquiry and for taking on the role of acting chairman.
Cllr Mr Marsh spoke about the recent events and felt that the HAPTC enquiry has shown that although the Parish Council needs to tighten up certain procedures it has the best interests of the village and its inhabitants at heart when discussing and making decisions. Cllr Mr Marsh asked if any members of the public wished to comment on recent events.
Mrs Curry wondered how a member of the public can be allowed to make unfounded accusations about a member of the Parish Council in his absence and not have the manners to make a public apology after the HAPTC enquiry has vindicated both the councillor concerned and the Parish Council. Other members of the public agreed with this statement.
DECLARATION OF INTEREST.
Cllr Mrs Measures declared an interest in the Village Centre.
Mr Measures reported that a statement aimed at parents has been put in the Village News regarding the amount of vandalism being caused to the Village Centre by some of the youngsters in the village. To date £600 has been spent on repairs since January 1st 2007. In recent weeks the Play Area and the Church have also been the victims of vandalism.
Mr Measures reported that the police now visit the village every night and have a new policy in force: if there are three or more youths congregating around the Village Centre they are given a ticket and asked to move on; if three tickets are issued to the same person they are taken into Andover Police Station. This policy does seem to be working as there have been less youths hanging around the Village Centre.
Mr Measures was asked if the Police also spoke to the parents of these youngsters, and concerns were voiced that this approach would only move the problem to other areas in the village. Mr Measures was not sure if the police spoke to the parents and stated that the police will be using the same policy in the other areas of the village where the youths congregate.
Mr Measures reported that unfortunately he has not been successful in getting grant aid for the CCTV system; however the Village Centre Committee has agreed to fund the CCTV from reserves. With the savings made on repairs the system should pay for itself in a few years.
Mr Measures reported that the film night is still ongoing, although the last film night unfortunately ran at a £40 loss. The next film to be shown is The History Boys. The Breakfast/After School Club is going well and bookings for the football pitches are healthy.
Mr Measures stated that Mrs Tracy Evans is doing a good job as Village Centre cleaner; unfortunately her husband has been seriously injured while on duty in Iraq. The Parish Council wished to send their regards and hoped that he soon gets well enough to be sent home to recover.
MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING.
Cllr Mr Marsh read out the addition to the February Minutes regarding the Dog Order statement and signed both the January Minutes and the February minutes to cross reference the matter. The February minutes were signed as a true record. Matters arising from those minutes :-
PRESENTATION FROM THE ARMY - Cllr Mr Lashbrook reported that a working party to look at the Echo Echo crossing, road safety and the speed limit along this stretch of the A338 has been set up. Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council will play a major role, and the Parish Council will be kept informed at every stage.
The Environmental Agency has raised concerns about the large amount of hedging that is expected to be removed. Flashing warning signs are to be considered, and it is felt that these are a necessity to aid road safety.
THREADGILL WAY SIGN - Test Valley Borough Council has this on its work schedule.
PARKING IN THREADGILL WAY - The Clerk reported that he has received a letter from Testway Housing stating that they cannot enforce residents’ parking at Threadgill Way as it is part of the public highway. Vehicles that are taxed and legal have the right to be parked there.
CHOLDERTON WATER VISIT - Cllr Mr Marsh reported that Mr Edmonds is carrying out bunding to stop any potential flood surface water from entering the bore hole and has asked that the Parish Council delay their visit until the work has been completed so that these measures can be seen first hand.
The Clerk reported that the Parish Council now has a copy of the Cholderton Emergency statement. Copies were available at the meeting and the Clerk will ensure that every Parish Councillor has a copy with the minutes.
FOOTPATH 5 - The problems with surface water on Footpath 5 and Gardeners Green was discussed, and it was agreed that professional help is needed to try and overcome this problem. The Clerk was asked to contact Hampshire Paths and Test Valley Borough Council to ask for their assistance.
The arch between footpath 5 and Gardeners Green is to be taken down by Test Valley Borough Council.
POTHOLES IN THE VILLAGE - The pothole outside the Old School House was repaired after the February meeting and is now in need of further repair. There is also a large pothole on the A338 when leaving the village in the Salisbury direction. |The Clerk was asked to report these to Highways.
WATER ISSUES - Cllr Mr Grimshaw reported that the village is on Flood Alert. Test Valley Borough Council has confirmed that sandbags are ready if needed. Cllr Mr Grimshaw asked Cllr Mr Lashbrook if he could help with the issue of getting the High Street closed to through traffic if the river does burst its banks as he does not seem to be getting any joy with the authority concerned. Cllr Mr Lashbrook said he would liaise with Cllr Mr Grimshaw on this matter.
Cllr Mr Grimshaw stated that the next 24 hours would see if the heavy rainfall experienced today and tonight, March 5th 2007, would have an effect on the level of the water flowing through the river. The water level is not far off Boot Inn bridge, the first indication that a flood could occur.
VILLAGE GREEN - The Clerk has attempted to speak to Mr Erving at Hampshire Highways about the Village Green on several occasions, but has not had any of his phone calls returned. Cllr Mr Lashbrook said that he will look into this and liaise with the Clerk. The Parish Council asked the Clerk to get an updated price to re-turf the Village Green for the next meeting.
VILLAGE WEB SITE - Cllr Mr Marsh reported that the Shipton Bellinger website is obtainable and is still operational. Tim Bancroft will continue to oversee the running of the website and would welcome any help with adding information to the pages. The Clerk reported that Tim is to show him how to download the minutes on to the website so that he can update the minutes after each meeting.
HORSE DROPPINGS - A note was inserted in the Village News asking horse owners to please be a bit more considerate about the mess their horses leave on the roads.
30MPH SIGNS - The Clerk reported that the signs are due to be collected any day. Distribution of the signs was discussed, and it was suggested that a note in the Village News stating that they could be collected from the shop would be a good idea. The Clerk will speak to Mr Gosney to see if he will agree to do this.
PARISH ELECTIONS - 3RD MAY 2007
The Clerk reported that he had nomination papers for the position of Parish Councillor. Once completed, these have to be taken to Test Valley Borough Council, Beech Hurst between 13th March and noon on the 4th April. Nominations need to be proposed and seconded; electoral role numbers are available from the Clerk or Test Valley Borough Council.
Cllr Mr Marsh and Cllr Mr Curry both stated that they would not be standing.
CLLR MRS P WEST’S REPORT.
Cllr Mr Lashbrook reported that Cllr Mrs West has organised for the mess at the re-cycling centre to be cleared up. The uneven paths by the OAP bungalows will be looked at and the problems Wilton Terrace have with parking are also being looked at.
CLLR MR P LASHBROOK’S REPORT.
Cllr Mr Lashbrook reported that on Thruxton Race Days temporary traffic lights will be in operation on the junction of Snoddington Lane and the A338 to ease traffic flow leaving the race track.
The recent reports in the Andover Advertiser about the large scale development of a Tesco Distribution Centre have raised many concerns. At present this is a proposal, and no planning application has been submitted. Cllr Mr Lashbrook was sure there will be many months of consultation before this happens and stated that he will keep the Parish Council informed of any developments.
CLLR MRS L JONES - Declared an Interest regarding a tree bordering her garden - Cllr Mrs Jones asked what the ruling on tree maintenance was and who was responsible. The Clerk stated that Mr Cox the Test Valley Tree Warden had recently given a talk at Grateley Parish Council and that he would give Cllr Mrs Jones a copy of the minutes as they contained the information she requested.
CLLR MRS J TRIBBECK - Suggested that the Parish Council discuss the future of the Play Courts as another year has passed where they have remained unused. Everyone agreed that this should be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
CLLR MRS R TETLOW - Reported that Neighbours Unlimited will be officially launched on 18th April 2007 and a briefing will be given at the Coffee Pot on the 17th April 2007.
Cllr Mrs Tetlow declared an interest regarding walking dogs on footpath 5. Cllr Mrs Tetlow suggested that footpath 5 be made a safe route to school.
Cllr Mrs Tetlow suggested that a ‘Dogs must be kept on a Lead’ order be placed on the length of footpath 5.
The Parish Council thought this a good idea and agreed that it needed to be discussed at length. It was also agreed that the footpath would need upgrading and that it should be an agenda item for a future meeting.
CLLR MR E GRIMSHAW - Reported that Highways have still not lowered the drain cover in Bulford Road to take flood surface water away from the High Street into the new drainage system that was installed. The Clerk will report this again to Highways as a matter of urgency.
CLLR MR G RICHARDSON - Reported that residents of Gardeners Green have complained about the large amount of household rubbish that has been dumped in one of the front gardens of the social houses. It was suggested that residents contact Environmental Health at Test Valley Borough Council to report this.
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
MR MEASURES - Reported that the Village Centre is having problems with villagers filling up its wheelie bins with their overflow rubbish, and that he plans to add a device that will lock them to prevent this happening. The Parish Council thought this a good idea.
COL PEACOCK - Stated that although a line has been drawn under recent events, he has a copy of an email regarding the Dog Order sent by Cllr Mr Curry to the Parish Councillors the day after the January meeting. In the email Cllr Mr Curry advised the Parish Council on what action to take regarding the said Dog Order. Col Peacock stated that this is not the way a Parish Councillor should behave and that the Parish Council should not be discussing issues behind closed doors.
Cllr Mr Marsh stated that the Parish Council does not conduct business behind closed doors and is open about all dealings. He then asked whether this meant that the Parish Councillors should not discuss anything between meetings that is relevant to issues raised! Emails are of a private nature and should not be copied without the sender’s approval. Cllr Mr P Lashbrook confirmed this.
Col Peacock was asked to reveal the name of the person who gave him a copy of this email but he refused.
Cllr Mr Marsh stated that the Parish Council was always open and above board with issues brought to the meetings and worked for the good of the village, as stated by the recent HAPTC enquiry. Why one member of the Parish Council is being targeted by certain members of the village is beyond comprehension. Cllr Mr Marsh stated that if Col Peacock had a complaint he should put it in writing and it would be dealt with through the proper channels.
Some of the members of the public were appalled by Col Peacock’s behaviour and his petty, vindictive attacks towards Cllr Mr I Curry and the Parish Council and told him so.
CHEQUES ISSUED IN MARCH 2007
Hampshire County Council Street Lighting energy and Maintenace £1230.65
R. N. Waterman Wages and Expenses £268.56
Fleet Line Markers Line Paint for Football Pitches £120.83
CLOSE OF THE MEETING
Cllr Mr Marsh thanked everyone for coming and closed the meeting.
DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING.
2nd April 2007 in the Fletcher Room, Village Centre at 7.30pm.