Minutes of the Shipton Bellinger Parish Council Meeting held on Monday 2nd April 2007 in the Fletcher Room, Village Centre at 7.30pm.

Present : Cllr Mr P Marsh - Chairman

Cllr Mrs R Tetlow

Cllr Mrs J Measures

Cllr Mr E Grimshaw

Richard Waterman - Parish Clerk

Borough Councillor Mr T Southern

Borough Councillor Mr P Lashbrook

Mr G Measures - Village Centre Chairman

Members of the Public - 6

Apologies : Cllr Mrs J Tribbeck, Cllr Mrs L Jones, Cllr Mr I Curry and Cllr Mr G Richardson.

WELCOME. Cllr Mr Marsh welcomed everyone to the meeting.

STATEMENT FROM THE CHAIRMAN.

You may recall that certain allegations were raised in previous meetings about the
conduct of members of this PC. So serious did I regard these that I stated my case and
resigned immediately as chairman.

A full investigation of these accusations was undertaken by the Hampshire
Association of Parish and Town Councils
(HAPTC), and both Test Valley BC and
Hampshire County Council were kept fully informed. This investigation absolved this
Parish Council of any blame and proved that the allegations were unfounded. The
HAPTC written report on this matter is available for public viewing and was
communicated to the instigators of the original allegation.

At the next meeting of the Parish Council all these facts were produced, but no
apology was received from the instigators of the allegations, despite comments raised
by other members of the public.

A vote was taken by the Parish Council to reject my resignation and I was re-instated
as Chairman. During the course of this meeting under the agenda item of Parish
Council Elections for 2007 I stated that I would not be standing for re-election to the
PC in the next session, and so too did another Councillor, Mr I Curry.

At the end of this meeting a member of the public made comments about an issue that
had been discussed and dealt with in relation to proposed dog control orders. This
person stated that whilst wishing to draw a line under recent events he felt that there
was a case for a formal complaint in respect of Mr I Curry and his position as a
landowner and as a Councillor. This was because Mr Curry had sent an email to
members of the PC about this matter the day after it had been first raised in a PC
meeting. This meeting had concluded that insufficient guidance was available for the
PC to make any decision on the proposed dog orders and that this matter would be
discussed at the next PC meeting and after such guidance had been received from T.V.B.C.

 

The objector claimed that this email constituted a conflict of interests as Mr Curry
gave his views on this matter despite being a landowner, and was seeking to influence
the views of the Parish Council. The email in question was sent because Mr Curry
would not be present at the next meeting when this matter was to be discussed in
detail and, as a member of the community as well as a councillor, he wanted his views
known. His message concludes with the statement clearly made that he might have an
interest in this matter and would not participate in any decision on this subject.

The objector also made the claim that the circulation of this and other emails was an
indication of "behind closed doors" dealings by the PC. He was asked if this meant
that members should not discuss any PC matters between meetings, but no response
was received. I stated that this PC has always been honest and transparent, and that
full and open discussion on any matter was always made at the public meetings. Also
if the public required sight of any additional items then these would be provided upon
request, and that such a request was part of the Freedom of Information legislation.

He was then asked how he came to be in possession of an email only circulated to
certain people. He refused to state his source. Two members of the public then asked
him if this was fair, as he was on one hand asking the PC to be transparent and above
board, yet was concealing his source. He again refused to name the source. Mr Phil

Lashbrook, our Test Valley Borough Councillor who was present, stated that if he wanted to
make a formal complaint then it must be clearly stated in writing, and would be investigated.
To date no such complaint has been received.

Subsequent to the meeting I reviewed the email in question and it contains a "tail"
message which states that:

This message may contain information which is legally privileged and/or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any unauthorised disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this information is strictly prohibited.

This means that there has been a breach of confidence firstly, by whoever gave a copy
of this email to the objector, but also, and more worrying, is that the objector has
brought a confidential email into the public domain.

I did not want this PC to have any unresolved matter relating to its conduct, so in
order to seek guidance on this matter I arranged a meeting with Susan Tovey,
solicitor
and the Head of Legal Services at T.V.B.C, with Phil Lashbrook in attendance. She was
well acquainted with the background to the situation as she had been copied with all
the documentation on the previous investigation. This is because she is also the
Monitoring Officer for T.V.B.C. She was given full and open details of this matter and made the following observations:

I. In the first instance there was clearly no prejudicial interest arising from the fact that Mr. Curry owns land either side of public footpaths or byways. As a private landowner he is fully entitled to prevent persons or dogs from trespassing, and this in no way prevents him from giving his opinions on this matter as both a member of the PC and of the community.

2. There can be no accusation of "behind closed doors" dealings if the relevant
matter was discussed in an open public meeting. The only possibility of such an
occurrence would be if a majority of members decided on a course of action prior to a
public meeting, and thereby forced a matter through.

3. The open approach of the PC meetings is possibly a victim of its own success,
as the regulations recommend that members of the public should only be invited to
comment at a set part of a meeting, and then only upon agenda items. This paves the
way for subsequent discussions of the PC to take their comments into account, and
without any other input or intervention from the public. Furthermore it is
recommended that this section of the agenda be time-limited.

In conclusion, she found no validation in any of the remarks made by the objector,
and queried the motives for such action. She was surprised to learn that this same
person is the press co-ordinator for reporting local matters.

The outcome of these recent accusations has been to undermine the current PC, and
especially some of its members. However, I do not take kindly to such action, and I
will not accept unfair accusations upon the integrity of this PC or its members. I have
decided not to stand down, but to stand for re-election as an ordinary councillor on
this PC. As I see no reason why I, or any others, should be forced to withdraw
because of pressure from a tiny minority.

Cllr Mr Marsh suggested that as from the June 2007 Parish Council Meeting Members of the Public are given a set time at the beginning of the meeting to talk on Agenda items. Members of the Public will not be allowed to speak at any other time during the meeting. The Parish Council agreed.

Cllr Mr E Grimshaw proposed that a set time be given to Members of the Public to speak at the beginning of the meeting on agenda items. Cllr Mrs J Measures seconded this proposal. The Parish Council all agreed.

DECLARATION OF INTEREST.

Cllr Mrs J Measures registered an interest in the Village Centre

Cllr Mrs R Tetlow registered an interest in Footpath 5.

VILLAGE CENTRE.

Mr Measures reported that unfortunately the Film Nights will be ending due to poor attendance. The Village Centre Committee has agreed to proceed with the new CCTV System. The Clerk has been asked to write to the Electricity Company to ask for permission to install a camera on the street light pole by the main gate. Cllr Mr Measures was pleased to report that the 200 Club has given a donation of £500 towards the CCTV.

The Village Centre wheelie bins will be locked, and work on refurbishing the Gents toilets has begun.

Vandalism continues to be a problem with the goalposts the latest items to be targeted. The culprit is known to the Police who will be taking the matter further.

Mr Measures wished to thank Mr Bowden for doing such a good job with the grass cutting around the Village Centre.

Cllr Mrs Tetlow asked Mr Measures if the Village Centre would consider looking at having the Film Nights again in the Autumn. Mr Measures said that that he was sure that this could be looked at again in the Autumn.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING - Cllr Mr Marsh signed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record. Matters arising from those minutes :-

ECHO ECHO CROSSING - Cllr Mr Lashbrook reported that the Echo Echo Crossing working party met on site to discuss road safety and traffic measures along this stretch of the A338. During the meeting those present unfortunately witnessed a bad road traffic accident on the very stretch of road they had come to look at which highlighted the points and concerns raised. He felt that as a result the message did get across to the various agencies. Cllr Mr Lashbrook will keep the Parish Council informed of any progress.

REMOVAL OF HEDGE BULFORD ROAD A338 - No further news to report.

CHOLDERTON WATER VISIT - No date for the visit has been set. The Clerk will contact Mr. Edmonds after the May Meeting for a progress report.

POT HOLES - The Clerk reported that he had reported the pothole outside Garden House and the School House to Highways again. Mr Clarke from Highways has spoken to Cholderton Water whose responsibility it is to make the road good again after they dug it up to repair water pipes.

The protruding drain cover in Bulford Road has still not been attended to and has been reported again to Highways.

VILLAGE GREEN - The Clerk reported that Hampshire Highways has promised that the repairs needed at the Village Green will be done. Money from this year’s budget will be spent to rectify the mess left by the contractor when the new drainage pipes were installed.

WATER ISSUES - Cllr Mr Grimshaw was pleased to report that the water level in the Bourne is beginning to drop and the likelihood of flooding in the village has passed.

SAFER ROUTE TO SCHOOL - Cllr Mr Marsh suggested that this issue be discussed by the new Parish Council at the June Meeting. The Parish Council agreed.

PLAY COURTS - It was suggested that these are also discussed by the new Parish Council at the June Meeting. All agreed.

WEBSITE - The Clerk reported that Tim Bancroft has shown him how to update the Parish Council Minutes on the website. January, February and March 2007 Minutes have been added and over the following months the Clerk will update the missing minutes from previous years.

 

 

NEIGHBOURS UNLIMITED - Cllr Mr Marsh reported that he had received an invitation to the official launch of Neighbours Unlimited but unfortunately was otherwise engaged and asked whether anyone else would like to represent the Parish Council in his place. Cllr Mrs Tetlow stated that she would be going and will represent the Parish Council.

Cllr Mrs Tetlow reported that Graham would be willing to talk at the Parish Council AGM about Neighbours Unlimited. The Parish Council thought this a good idea. Cllr Mr Marsh said he would speak to Graham on this matter.

PLANNING.

07/00570/FULLN - Erection of single storey rear extension to provide extended lounge - 43

Sarum Close, Shipton Bellinger.

The Parish Council had NO OBJECTIONS to this Planning Application.

AGM MEETING 14TH MAY 2007 - AGENDA

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. Sign minutes of 2006 AGM

3. Chairman’s Report

4. Financial Report - Parish Clerk

5. Police Report

6. Neighbours Unlimited

7. Borough Councillors Report

8. Questions from the Floor

9. Close of the Meeting.

FOOTPATH 17.

Cllr Mr Marsh reported that Cllr Mr I Curry is prepared to provide a footpath in his field on the other side of the hedge running alongside footpath 17

Cllr Mr Curry will create a permissive footpath running inside his field parallel with footpath17. This will mean that the overgrown vegetation could be left thus saving the £500 required to remove it. Furthermore, it would avoid opening up footpath 17 too much which could encourage travellers and four wheel dive vehicles. Footpath 17 could continue to be used by those who wanted to but there would be an alternative.

Cllr Mr Curry has said that there would be no cost to the Parish as H.C.C pick up all the legal bills for the Parish and he would be prepared to pay his own legal fees. Cllr Mr Curry will grant a right for 5 years. At the end of the 5 years he can decide whether or not to continue depending on how it has worked. If Cllr Mr Curry were to sell the land in the meantime, the 5 years is cast in stone but a new owner may not wish to renew.

Cllr Mr Marsh felt that this was a useful proposal and as one that would benefit the village in many ways, worth pursuing. The Parish Council thought this an excellent idea.

Cllr Mr Grimshaw proposed that the Parish Council take up Cllr Mr Curry’s proposal and investigate the matter further. This was seconded by Cllr Mrs R Tetlow. The Parish Council agreed.

ARMY REPRESENTATIVE ON THE PARISH COUNCIL - On the Agenda for the June Meeting.

BOROUGH COUNCILLORS’ REPORTS

Cllr Mr T Southern reported that he was standing down from the Penton Bellinger Ward and hoped to take on the Amport Ward. Cllr Mr Southern stated that he has enjoyed his 6 years with Shipton Bellinger and wished the Parish Council all the best for the future.

Cllr Mr Marsh thanked Tim on behalf of the Parish Council for all the hard work and support he has provided over the years and wished him well in the Amport Ward.

Cllr Mr Lashbrook stated that he hoped that he would be able to continue serving Shipton Bellinger after the May Elections and that he hoped to get the Road Safety Council to attend one of the Parish Council meetings to discuss A338 issues.

COUNCILLORS’ REPORTS

CLLR MRS TETLOW asked if there was any news on the Give Way road markings at the Hedges Close/Gardeners Green junction. There was no news and it has been some time since this was last discussed. The Clerk will speak to Highways to find out if anything is to be done.

CLLR MRS J MEASURES - Reported that there is a dumped car and caravan in the Threadgill way car park by the garages. Cllr Mr Lashbrook reported that this is in hand and should be dealt with very soon.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

MR MEASURES - Spoke about the fence and hedges around the playing field. In some places the hedge is up to 12 feet thick. Mr Measures asked whose responsibility it is to maintain them. The Clerk reported that the Parish is responsible for their maintenance. Several years ago it was hoped that the Army could undertake this job on one of their work days in the village, but due to the availability of the T.V.B.C. chipping machine and its operator and the Army deployment to the Middle East this was never realised.

BRIGADIER T BALL - Suggested that either all or none of the statements made by Members of the Public at meetings are published in the minutes. The person should be identified and an accurate account of what was said recorded.

Cllr Mr Marsh thanked Brigadier T Ball for his comments. The Parish Council noted his points and will take them on board in the future.

DOG BIN - FOOTPATH 5

It was suggested that the Parish Council look at providing another dog bin on Footpath 5. The Parish Council briefly discussed this and agreed that this will be monitored. An extra dog bin may well be needed if footpath 5 is to become the official safe route to school.

CORRESPONDENCE. The Clerk reported that he has received a letter from Mrs Pat Hughes informing the Parish Council that as from the 5th April 2007 she will no longer be the Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator for Shipton Bellinger.

 

CHEQUES ISSUED IN APRIL 2007

Hampshire Association of Parish Councils Subscription £273.00

R.N. Waterman Wages £249.16

CLOSE OF THE MEETING

Cllr Mr Marsh thanked everyone for coming and reminded everyone about the Borough and Parish Elections on the 3rd of May then closed the meeting.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

14TH May 2007 - Short Parish Council Meeting at 7pm to welcome and administer the new Parish Council followed by AGM at 7.30pm in the Village Centre Main Hall.