Avebury Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on the 28 April 2016 at the Social Centre, High Street, Avebury SN8 1RF
In these minutes, ACSReC stands for Avebury Community Sports and Recreation Committee, AHA for Aster Housing Association, AONB for North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, APC for Avebury Parish Council, ASA for Avebury Sportsfield Association, ASSF for Avebury Sacred Sites Forum, CATG for Community Area Transport Group, DfT for Department of Transport, EH for English Heritage, FWO for Fyfield and West Overton, LGO for Local Government Ombudsman, LTA for Long Term Agreement, MAB for Marlborough Area Board, MDNIA for Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area, NT for the National Trust, TTRO for temporary Traffic Regulation Order, TVM for Traffic and Vehicle Management Group, WC for Wiltshire Council and WHS for World Heritage Site.
Time Started: 19:04
Present: Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson (Chairman), Mrs Maggie Lewis (Vice-Chairman), Mr David Brotheridge, Mr Jon Campbell, Mrs Lynzey Paradise, Ms Zandria Service and Mr Stephen Stacey, together with 23 members of the public including one non-elector who were present for all or part of the meeting.
Apologies: Councillor Dr Mike Bedford, Wiltshire Councillor Jemima Milton, PC Richard Barratt (Acting Sergeant and Community Beat Manager), Sir Peter Beale, Tony Farthing, Ewart and Diana Holmes, Heather Peak-Garland, Katie Guest, Inspector Nick Mawson, Mike and Janet Polack, Dr Josh Pollard (Southampton University), Dr Nick Snashall (NT Archaeologist and Deputy Manager NT), Jan Tomlin (NT General Manager, Wiltshire Landscape), Adam and Diana Wethered.
In attendance: Michele Lomas (Chair of Avebury Community Shop and representative of the Community Orchard), PCSO Pauline Ritchie (Police Community Support Officer) part way through item 1. to 4.f.ii, Sarah Simmonds (WHS Manager) and Miss Liz Moore, Clerk to APC.
- Welcome and introductions: The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all present and introduced members of the Parish Council including Lynzey Paradise who had joined in December, Stephen Stacey who had joined in March and Jon Campbell who had joined that day. He said that members of APC were greatly saddened at the death of Keith Howell in June 2015 who had played a very active part in the work of the Parish Council since he had joined in 2011 and that they missed him. The Chairman reported three members of the Parish Council had resigned during the year, Paul Ryder-Morris in October (who had joined in 2014), and Mike Daniel in February and Antoinette Kremer in March (both had joined in 2011). The Chairman said APC had been very grateful to all of them for their service to the community and to the Parish Council. The Chairman introduced Liz Moore as APC’s Clerk, Judy Farthing as Civil Emergency Officer and Kate Fry who looked after the Parish Council’s web site. He reported that Ron Dobson gave advice to APC on buildings, David Throup was the editor for UKN and Martin Rendle provided Handyman services to the Parish Council. Apologies were noted as above and the Clerk read out an email she had received from Jan Tomlin on 27 April: ‘Dear Liz, Please read out the following apology verbatim tomorrow evening:“Jan Tomlin, General Manager for the National Trust, has apologised for not being here this evening because her husband underwent surgery this afternoon. It is unfortunate that this is the second time village meetings have clashed with operations and funerals of close family. She has provided a written update on the Trust’s work, along with an invitation to meet and talk with the NT team at an open evening in May. She has asked me to stress that she and her team are happy to answer questions, or discuss concerns, directly with Parish residents at any time, not just at meetings.” The Clerk stated hard copies of the NT’s update and invitation to a public meeting on 19 May were available for everyone. The Chairman said he had emailed Jan Tomlin to accept her apologies and had offered good wishes to her and her husband, and to him for a speedy recovery. The Chairman said the absence of anyone from the NT was regrettable and made communication difficult. He had previously made representations, but had received no reply. More recently he had encouraged attendance, especially as the NT had not attended the meeting a month ago at the Red Lion. The Chairman explained that in terms of balance, it was useful to record the number of ways in which the Trust had taken steps to support the community recently, including:
- Helping to finance new notice-board on Sports-field
- Helping with coppicing of sports-field hedge by putting many man-hours of Rangers’ time into supporting the Community Orchard
- Providing a five-bar gate on the north side of the sports-field at no charge
- Continuing to let Hope Cottage at a low rent to the Community Shop
- Managing Solstice and other observances. The Chairman stated for those that were not at the Red Lion he would read out what he had said and the Parish Council had minuted last month: ‘…He said that the NT, Police, Wiltshire Council and others had done a very good job in managing solistice in previous years, and read a statement that: ‘Members of the Parish Council are aware of the very valuable and costly work the Trust does to manage solstice each year. We understand that Trust staff should not be exposed to some of the hazards and unpleasantness of managing a number of badly behaved people occupying the Ridgeway at solstice. We also understand the Trust’s concern that the issue of informal occupation of the Ridgeway has been a growing problem in the past few years and that it should be tackled.’
The Chairman reported there had been significant shortfalls in communication by the Trust in recent months over proposals for changes. He said he had drafted a note on the need for a consultation scheme to help cope with change through the democratic process and that this would be covered later on the agenda. He asked members of the public if they would like to start thinking about the idea; at present individuals or small groups were coping with change but a pro-active system was needed to help take the strain. The Chairman said the NT’s invitation to a meeting at St James’ was on the agenda later and it would be useful to hear the public’s views.
- Minutes of the annual Parish meeting held on 21 April 2015. (Draft minutes published on Parish Council web site www.aveburyparishcouncil.org). The Chairman asked if the draft minutes were accurate. The Clerk said the name Fred Montague should be corrected to Fred Gillam. Further to the one amendment it was unanimously agreed that the Chairman sign the minutes.
- Matters arising from the minutes: None.
- Report on the work of the Parish Council, ASA, ACSReC and other local organisations in the past year: The Chairman said APC represented the interests of Avebury residents, employers and employees. He explained the Parish Council had met 14 times in the past year but normally met 10 times a year. There had been four extra meetings to discuss:
- the handover of the management of the Sports field
- the future of the URC chapel and a possible Community Right to Bid
- Trusloe issues and
- the impact of the proposed closure of the Ridgeway at solstice and other NT issues; Coach House, licensing and small car park.
The Chairman explained, as well as the Social Centre, APC had met in the Pavilion, twice in the Red Lion and once at a walk-about meeting in Trusloe – where the Parish Council had had to adjourn its meeting for five minutes to help Robin Butler round up some of his heifers that had escaped onto the road. APC’s Planning Committee had met twice and APC also attended many meetings on regular committees such as MAB, CATG, Solstice Planning and Sacred Sites Forum, Social Centre Trustees, WHS Steering Committee and launch of WHS Management Plan, WHS Partnership Panel and WHS Transport Strategy. APC also attended meetings with NT staff and ad hoc events and meetings such as those with Aster Housing, AONB, MDNIA, WC, EH and NT.
- Membership and elections: already covered.
- Transport Group: in Dr Mike Bedford’s absence, the Chairman reported:
- the Transport Group was chaired by Mike Bedford and its members were Dave Brotheridge, Stephen Stacey and Andrew Williamson from APC and local residents Kate Fry, Rob Macaire, Angela Norman, Tim Lewis, Moya Brannan, Peter Wilson and Simon Vatcher
- Avebury WHS Transport Strategy had been adopted and included the great majority of proposals in the Avebury Parish Traffic Plan.
- two useful meetings had taken place with Cllr Philip Whitehead (Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport). Councillor Whitehead was very supportive of the Transport Group’s plans.
- the application to CATG to move the 30mph sign on the Swindon Road about 100 metres north of Melbourne House was now in CATG’s five top priority schemes.
- WC was in the process of obtaining a quote from consultants Atkins for the second phase of a feasibility study to improve the A4 at West Kennett and Beckhampton including the roundabout. The strategy was to commission a feasibility study of necessary works so the project would be oven-ready as and when additional funding became available.
- Tim Lewis (Secretary, Ramblers’ Association) had carried out an extensive audit of the footpaths across the Parish and was working with WC and the Parish Council to progress required works.
- plans were in motion to improve the road surface at the racehorse crossing at Beckhampton Stables which had become slick and therefore dangerous.
- the concrete bus shelter by the Waggon & Horses had been re-roofed and its floor drainage improved.
- further progress was planned for WHS signage in the next 12 months.
The Chairman invited questions from the public.
A member of the public asked if there were any improvements planned to slow traffic on the A4361 at the Avebury Trusloe entrance. The Chairman said two options had been raised with Cllr Philip Whitehead (i) extension of the existing 30mph limit westwards to the junction or (ii) introduction of 40mph limit from the existing 30mph zone to Beckampton roundabout. The Chairman explained government guidelines restricted what could be done and it would be difficult to extend the 30mph limit. It had been agreed to review the project at the next meeting with WC. Rev Maria Shepherdson asked if the Parish Council had considered joining forces with FWO Parish Council and reminded everyone that it was only recently that a child had been knocked down near Beckhampton roundabout. A member of the public stated the traffic bollards outside the Waggon & Horses PH were not in the right place and it made crossing the road from the village dangerous. Another person said the traffic islands had brought the speed down but it was only half the solution. The Chairman explained the new design in the plan would be to have grass splitter islands in the A4 at Beckhampton and these would narrow the carriageway and slow traffic by design. Rob Macaire thanked the Chairman for the work that had been done and said his reflection of the WHS Transport Strategy was that it was a really good tool. He urged the Parish Council to keep the political momentum going because the WHS was a very special place. Sarah Simmonds stated that community support was crucial. Gordon Rimes asked if the group had considered a 20mph speed limit through the middle of Avebury. It was noted the strategy was to use design to lower the speed as opposed to putting up signs. Rev Maria Shepherdson reported that she had an insight into the regulations due to the recent death in Lockeridge and explained that existing speeds needed to be an average of 24mph or lower before WC would consider reducing the speed limit.
- ASA / ACSReC: Maggie Lewis gave an overview of the work that had been done by the new Committee that had been formed last November to continue the work of ASA. It included work to the roof of the Pavilion, improving drainage on the Sports Field and a new noticeboard that had been part funded by the Community Shop and the NT. She said the Orchard Group and volunteers had successfully planted the new hedge on the western boundary of the Sports Field but there was still some more work to do on trees behind the Pavilion. Dave Brotheridge reported the new mains water supply was just about to be installed. A question was asked as to whether the car boot sales would continue and it was noted ACSReC had decided not to run them due to lack of resources but anyone else was welcome to organise and run them. A question was also asked as to what basis the map man sold maps on the field and what happened if other people wished to do similar. Maggie Lewis explained it was on a historical basis and that ACSReC intended to formalise the arrangement. It was noted the map man contributed about £70 per annum towards income. The Chairman reminded all present of the huge amount of good work ASA had done in the past 13 years whilst running the Sports Field and said that a tribute had been put into UKN to thank ASA’s members.
- Local initiatives:
- Community Shop: Michele Lomas reported the shop continued to remain financially viable and the committee had recently installed new air conditioning, bought a printer and introduced charges for carrier bags with a reduced price on reusable bags. She explained that last year there had been a distraction burglary and on the advice of the Police they had installed CCTV. She was aware the CCTV was not popular with everyone in the village but it was unfortunately necessary. She said the shop had made the following donations to the Community including: hampers for Trussell Trust, Kennet Valley School, food towards Lent Lunches at Avebury and Winterbourne Monkton, money pledged to AYFC, money donated to ACSReC for the new notice board. She reported the shop volunteers had been asked to choose a charity to receive donations from the charity box on the shop counter and Hft had been nominated [a national charity that supported people with learning difficulties]. Michele Lomas thanked all the volunteers especially Kate Fry and Victor Paradise. Rev Maria Shepherdson thanked the Shop for supporting the Church with the Winter Crisis Appeal and for collecting for the Trussell Trust. The Chairman thanked Michele Lomas for her contribution and for chairing the Community Shop.
- Possible cuts to WC Services: the Chairman asked members of the public for their views on whether APC should raise the precept to pay for services provided by Parish Council if WC withdrew those services. It would mean that the electorate would potentially be paying twice, once in the Council Tax and once in the precept. The following points were made:
- There was a query as to whether the electorate would be paying twice, if Wiltshire Council did withdraw a service; the Council Tax payer might not be paying twice if it was considered that Council Tax no longer met the costs of providing that service.
- There was some interest in using the precept to fund local contractors to do work such as strimming.
- It was stated the Parish Stewards would be doing the work. The contractor Ringway had recently invested in a fleet of new vehicles for the County.
- It was suggested if WC did withdraw services then a concerted approach across, for example, five parish councils would be better. Rev Maria Shepherdson suggested using a charity such as Hft should it become necessary to employ additional contractors.
- The question of giving every person the opportunity to vote using a simple letter drop was raised.
- There was concern about the effect of any increase in tax on people with low incomes.
- It was suggested the Parish Council could link up with the job centre to get free labour as part of the job centre’s back to work scheme.
- Between the Monuments Dig: the Chairman reported the proceeds from Jane Brunning’s art sale had originally inspired fund raising for the dig. The Parish Council had pledged a contribution and many donations had then been given to meet the last £2,425 shortfall including a valuable grant from MAB. The Chairman stated Dr Josh Pollard might be able to give a presentation at Avebury Day and that this would help fulfil a requirement of MAB funding which was that the public should hear the results of the dig.
- URC Chapel: the Chairman asked if there was anything new to report. Natascha Kenyon stated there were no further updates. It was noted people in the Parish could keep up to date by subscribing to an email address.
- Summer Solstice 2016: the Chairman explained that:
- The National Trust will not be applying for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order to close the Ridgeway at Solstice this year.
- A partnership of the Police, Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Parking Enforcement, Fire and Rescue, the National Trust and others will be politely but robustly managing the Ridgeway this year.
- The general view of the Police, National Trust and Wiltshire Council is that the changed arrangements at Stonehenge will not have a significant impact on Avebury.
- A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order to prohibit waiting/parking on certain roads in the Parish over solstice, see below, will be processed by Wiltshire Council.
- The TTRO will except permit holders, and the Parish Council will be working with Wiltshire Council to sort out the permits and the people that will need them.
- Providing a TTRO is in place, the Police can consider putting officers on point duty on the entrances to the High Street, Green Street and Avebury Trusloe as in previous years.
- Although there will be some reductions in Police numbers, new arrangements will ensure that the apparent Police presence will be much the same as in previous years.
- The TTRO will be applied to the roads that have previously been coned or subject to Police officers on point duty at their entrances. The coned roads have been the A4361 from Beckhampton to Winterbourne Monkton including the lay-bys in Winterbourne Monkton, the B4003 Avenue and West Kennett lay-by. The areas that have been subject to Police officers on point duty at their entrances have been the High Street/Church Lane, Green Street to the end of the tarmac and Avebury Trusloe (which includes the main highway in Trusloe, Bray Street and out to Robin Butler’s new barn, Frog Lane, Longfields, and South Street/Nash Lane to its junction with the A4361). As Beckhampton and Gunsite Lane have not been coned or policed before, they won’t be included in the TTRO, but Wiltshire Council will consider other options such as signage for Beckhampton to help deter informal camping.
- Dates for the TTRO had not yet been fixed but the Parish Council and Wiltshire Council will be liaising on these shortly.
- A general media message will be put out by all involved that these new arrangements will be in force. Please see the following link as an example http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/National-Trust-crackdown-Avebury-solstice/story-29147628-detail/story.html
- Wiltshire Council will be holding a substantial review shortly after solstice with a view to making adjustments and agreeing a long term, comprehensive plan, and the National Trust will also be reviewing solstice arrangements as in previous years. Chris Spratt proposed a vote of thanks to the Parish Council. Robin Butler added his thanks, and voiced concern about the Nursery Site; he asked if it would be possible to have the loan of some Heras fencing from the NT.
There was consensus that finally there would be proper policing of the Ridgeway and that steps had been taken to look after the whole area.
- Wiltshire Council: no report as Cllr Jemima Milton was not present.
- Police: the Chairman invited PCSO Polly Ritchie to provide an update. PCSO Ritchie reported in the past year there had been 47 car break-ins in the area, one person had no insurance, one road rage incident, one theft of a staddle stone, two shed break-ins, a farm fence had been cut, two arrests for drugs offences, thefts from three farms, hunting deer and hare coursing offences, criminal damage to two cars, one instance of a person shooting from inside a car, two drunks arrested and one vehicle stolen. PCSO Ritchie stated the current priorities were to work on theft from cars, non-dwelling burglaries, van break-ins with work tools being taken and theft of bicycles. Rev Maria Shepherdson thanked PCSO Ritchie on behalf of the community for her care, listening and help for the elderly including the Bobby Van Trust service. PCSO Ritchie acknowledged the thanks and in response to two questions from the public confirmed that Wiltshire Police did attend house burglaries and were aware of motorbikes speeding on the A4361 past the NT car park. The Chairman thanked PCSO Ritchie and asked her to convey thanks to PC Richard Barratt and Inspector Nick Mawson. PCSO Ritchie left the meeting.
- National Trust: the Chairman handed out the NT update (see appendix 1) and update as follows: ‘The National Trust is an independent conservation charity that was founded in 1895 on the simple and enduring premise that people need historic, beautiful and natural places. We look after some 650,000 acres of land, over 500 historic houses, 775 miles of coastline, and help to manage 10 World Heritage Sites. The comparatively small core of just 10,000 staff is supported by over 60,000 volunteers and over 4 million members. The Wiltshire Landscape team are responsible for looking after NT sites across the county, including over 3,500 acres of land and property in the WHS, some 1,800 acres of land of Special Scientific Interest across about a dozen sites, numerous listed buildings and the Accredited Alexander Keiller Museum (AKM). Here at Avebury, the National Trust has once again delivered exemplary conservation and engagement work, welcoming over 100,000 visitors to our Farmyard site, and significantly more to our open access land, including the Avebury Stone Circle. We have continued to support the Parish through the provision of the Community Shop, the Post Office, offering free access to the AKM, giving talks and lectures to local groups (including talks to the Kennet Valley NT Association and the annual Avebury Society Lecture) and by supporting the local community through foot patrols and litter-picking throughout the year, and especially by providing extensive support and resources at key Observances, notably Solstice. In addition, we have helped the Avebury Community Sports and Recreation Committee to fund their new notice board at the sports field, provided a unique tour of Avebury Manor for the Auction of Promises, once again helped to organise and host the village Wassail, and are looking forward to supporting both the upcoming Avebury Rocks and Avebury Day. During the final year of excavation on the Avenue, we hosted special visits for local residents and groups, providing a ‘behind the wire’ tour for our neighbours. The Museum has continued to be popular with schools (particularly primary schools) and colleges which are now required to include Stone Age to Iron Age on the history curriculum. In the first year of the new curriculum the AKM saw 5,507 students visiting across all levels of education, including many from Wiltshire schools. Entrance is free to educational groups, but many schools also take our optional talks and tours. Circles Nursery visit the open areas of the site throughout the year and particularly look forward to visiting the Manor at Christmas, enjoying songs and stories amongst the decorations of the period. Each year the Museum and Manor accept secondary school students from local schools for work experience and are currently preparing for five to come in June and July for a week on site. In terms of conservation, survey work has re-confirmed that water voles are breeding on the River Kennet. This is excellent and exciting news after a long dry run, and we will continue to monitor progress. Please look out for more information in our newletters. Through prudent financial management we were able to build up sufficient resources to rethatch the cart shed at West Kennett Farm, and continue to work to find a solution to the ongoing challenge of jackdaw damage to thatch on the threshing barn in the Farmyard. We also carried out extensive improvements to the main visitor car park. Maintenance of this area is a real challenge as we’re restricted in the type of surface dressing and working practices that are appropriate within the WHS. That said, we have identified funding for regular maintenance in coming months, and now have sufficient monies to refurbish our toilets. The programme of works is currently being drawn up by our Building Surveyor and is planned to be delivered in 2016. Recognising the 30th Anniversary of our inscription as a WHS, we recently launched “The Stonehenge & Avebury Walking Challenge”, setting a challenge for people to walk eight routes across both halves of the WHS. The walks follow ancient routes, sharing facts and stories about the amazing landscape and wildlife of the area. The current presentation of Avebury Manor continues to be popular with visitors, allowing them to enjoy this property in a unique way. The team have welcomed visitors from around the world, and continue to respond to their insightful questions about the lives and times of those who once lived here, including Alexander Keiller. In the Garden, the new team are tackling the significant problem of box blight in a professional and sustainable manner. In addition, we are progressing major changes and improvements in management and horticultural practice. We have identified a sum of money to improve the walls and paths, and this work is due to be completed in 2016. Across the estate, we reviewed and removed signs from many areas, and will be leading on the wider interpretation strategy as part of our commitment to the WHS Management Plan. We have also completed phase one of our strategy to improve interpretation across NT countryside sites, installing panels at The Coombes, Lockeridge and Cherhill Down. Fund raising is a vital part of our work to allow us to deliver conservation across the whole portfolio. In the shop, we’ve introduced exciting new products, including a range of plants, as well as introducing more local products and a wider range of Avebury related gifts. The Catering Team introduced new seasonal dishes in the Circles Café and are baking delicious cakes for our wonderful tea-room in the Manor. We’re working towards the ambitious target of achieving the Soil Association’s “Food for Life” catering mark, demonstrating our high environmental standards in buying and producing our food. Finally, the NT team hope very much that you will join us for an Open Evening on 19 May so we can share a little more of our work, and hear your thoughts and ideas about how we might work together more closely as neighbours. Please see the attached invitation’.
- Premises Licence: the Chairman said the licence had been granted subject to some extra conditions. It was noted that it was difficult for the community to understand the logic behind the decision to grant such an extensive, blanket licence.
- Coach House: the Chairman reported after a 5:3 vote planning consent was granted at the Planning Committee meeting.
- Invite to St. James: (see appendix 1). The Chairman asked if anyone had received a hard copy invitation to the NT’s open evening. Rev Maria Shepherdson said her loose understanding was that a paper drop had been organized for the meeting that would be in 19 days’ time but that most people had expressed a preference for electronic communication. She said because of anxiety, she had felt as Rector and backed by the PCC to respond to the NT and allow them to use the Church for the venue. Rev Shepherdson said she understood the meeting was meant to be a two way street. She also expressed concern that two children of a NT employee living in the village were being affected by negative criticism directed towards the NT. At that point Sara Spratt interjected to say it was inappropriate to personalise the issue. Jan Williamson said she considered their neighbour, who happened to be a NT employee, to be a good neighbour and a friend, and had expressed that sentiment to the person concerned at the recent hearing. She stressed that communications should not be personal. Lady Beale referred to the recent licence hearing and gave a personal account of her frustrations regarding the proceedings. Victor Paradise stated as the oldest family in the village he had witnessed the NT steam roller its way and gave an example of many years ago when field trenches for drainage had been filled in by the NT. A general discussion took place on the process and procedure for appealing decisions on the Coach House and the Licence. On the Coach house: 1. had the application been done before the new core strategy it would not have gone through and 2. WHS residents were the key custodians of the WHS and it was a shame their views were not listened to. On the Premises Licence 1. the appeal period was 21 days from the decision notice and 2. only objectors could appeal. An alternative was for objectors to go through WC complaints procedure about the behaviour of a member of the Licensing Committee. An offer of legal assistance was given by a member of the public. Alice Macaire expressed thanks to Sarah Simmonds for working tirelessly on the WHS Plan.
- The need for a consultation process: The Chairman suggested the Parish Council put in place a process of consultation (see appendix 2). In discussion and in response to several questions asked by the public the following points were made: 1. APC represented employers and residents 2. the consultation process was mainly for bodies / organisations as opposed to individuals 3. the process would help facilitate two-way, open communications 4. opening communications early applied to any group involved in the village and 5. taking part was optional.
- The Chairman said that the NT update meeting on 19 May could be a good opportunity for both parties to listen to each other. Sarah Simmonds emphasized that the local NT General Manager wanted residents to have an equal hearing.
- WHS Officer: the Chairman invited Sarah Simmonds (WHS Officer) to provide an update. She explained her priority last year was working on the publication of the WHS Management Plan. She reported the major threats to the WHS included: 1. cultivation and the need to work with farmers; she gave the example of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. 2. badgers and other burrowing animals 3. traffic on roads causing damage to monuments. She stated her priority was now to ensure that actions in the Management Plan were implemented, including getting tourists into the landscape, producing a WHS leaflet and increasing research. This could be achieved by working with the Parish Council and many others. She reported there was a meeting planned in May to see how to get all parties on board. Various documents were tabled including a synopsis of the WHS Management Plan and ‘Megalith’ for distribution to members of the public. It was noted Stonehenge and Avebury were celebrating 30 years of being a WHS that year. She reported the general conference of UNESCO would be taking place on 19 November and she was waiting for a report on the feasibility of a tunnel in the WHS at Stonehenge. Several questions were asked by members of the public concerning damage to the monuments and it was noted one possible solution such as closing the Avenue would need to be reviewed in great detail prior to any decision. Repair work to paths around the Henge was the responsibility of the NT. It was agreed that APC would contact Sarah Simmonds if significant issues of Outstanding Universal Value arose when APC was considering a planning application.
- APC Website: the Chairman introduced Kate Fry. She reported on her work for the past two years on the Parish Council website and gave an overview of the functionality of the new website. Thanks were expressed by Sara Spratt.
- Community Wi-Fi and High Speed Broadband: Maggie Lewis reported MADT offered a certain amount of free Community Wi-Fi and that an annual pass could be purchased for greater use. She said four new nodes had recently been installed in the village with the NT hosting six at various locations around the Trust’s properties and it was noted there had been 700 individual users in the month of March. She thanked everyone who had responded to the broadband speed survey. A member of the public questioned whether the broadband speeds could be improved by upgrading local phone lines.
- Planning: the Chairman reported WC planners had consulted APC on 22 applications during the past 12 months. He said the Parish Council had supported 20 of them, some subject to conditions, or had agreed not to comment in a few cases. APC had objected to two, which were for a change of use at the Coach House and advertisement consent for the Coach House. The Chairman also reported that outside of the Parish, APC had objected to a clay pigeon shoot off Gunsite Lane in East Kennett and an increase in the number of houses proposed at Winterbourne Monkton.
- Housing Needs: no report; to be progressed later in the year.
- Civil Emergency Plan: it was noted Maggie Lewis and Judy Farthing were currently working on updating the document.
- Flood Group: Maggie Lewis stated no one had contacted her to report any flooding issues.
- Local improvements and works: the Chairman reported:
- Various requests for leaf clearance, street cleaning, potholes, street lamps, salt and strimming verges had been actioned and some potholes had been filled in on West Kennett Avenue, Green Street, Church Walk and Footpath 22.
- Renewal of sportsfield lease was being negotiated; it had originally been issued in 1947 for one shilling a year for 21 years.
- Other local issues and Parish Council decisions:
- APC had endorsed the WHS Management Plan in October
- Meetings had been held about the Great Stones Way which was not accepted by the parishes at the northern end of the walk.
- Precept, finance and administration: the Chairman reported:
- Precept was £10,900 in 2015/16 and was now £11,000 in 2016/17. He gave a brief overview of estimates for 2016/17; he said that about £9,000pa met fixed, recurrring costs leaving only about £2,000 available for discretionary spending.
- Bank balance at 31 March 2016 was £19,200 and compared with about the same as the previous year. In reality the balance was about £4,700 because £14,500 had been reserved for outstanding commitments and pledges.
- A Complaints Policy had been adopted earlier that year by the Parish Council.
- The The audited accounts for 2014 – 2015 were available for inspection.
- The Parish Council’s asset register and risk assessments had been updated.
- Insurance cover: current supplier was the most competitive of three and the Parish Council was in the third year of a three year Long Term Agreement.
- The Play Area was inspected by RoSPA annually.
5. Local issues from the public: the past year and for the next 12 months
- Julie Butler asked if the Parish Council had any plans to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday in June. The Parish Council had no plans in place but she would speak to members of the community to see if they would be interested in running an event. Kate Fry reported Kennet Valley School was planning to do a tea party and would be inviting members of the public.
6. Local issues from the Parish Council: none
7. Any other business:
- Kate Fry asked why the Avenue was being closed 3-5 May. Sarah Simmonds reported WC Highways was retexturing the surface to improve adhesion.
- Sarah Simmonds reported the old WHS signs on the main roads would be replaced very soon.
- Robin Butler reminded everyone that Open Farm Sunday would be on the 5 June between 11am-4pm at his new grain store and entry was free of charge.
8. Thanks: The Chairman thanked all those who supported the Parish Council:
- Litter pickers and those who cleared up after their dogs especially on the recreation grounds, in the Henge and on the footpaths. He also thanked Robin and Ben Butler for mending the play area fence.
- Trustees, Secretaries and Treasurers of local voluntary organisations and especially members of ASA in 2015 and now ACSReC members.
- Police, staff at Wiltshire Council and the National Trust.
- the Parish Council’s wider team of Judy Farthing (Civil Emergency Officer), Kate Fry (APC web site), Ron Dobson (advice on buildings), Martin Rendle (small works) and David Throup (Editor, UKN)
- Jemima Milton (Wiltshire Councillor)
- Liz Moore (Clerk),
- Colleagues on the Parish Council.
- All those who attending the meeting.
Judy Farthing thanked the Chairman and the Parish Council.
The meeting closed at 21:40
Appendices (included in the book of Parish Council papers):
- National Trust Update and invitation to an evening with the National Trust.
- A possible consultation scheme for Avebury by Andrew Williamson dated 27 April.
- Documents available for inspection were the APC’s minute book, audit reports, bank statements and books of account. [The accounts were inspected by two members of the public after the meeting].