6 December 2016 Ordinary Meeting : Minutes

Avebury Parish Council

Minutes of an ordinary meeting of Avebury Parish Council held on 6 December 2016 at the Social Centre, Avebury SN8 1RF.

In these minutes APC stands for Avebury Parish Council, ACC for Avebury Cricket Club, ACSReC for Avebury Community Sports and Recreation Committee, AHA for Aster Housing Association, ASSC for Avebury Sports and Social Club, AWHS for Avebury World Heritage Site, AYFC for Avebury Youth Football Club, DCLG for the Department for Communities and Local Government, EH for English Heritage, LGA for Local Government Act, MAB for Marlborough Area Board, NT for the National Trust, SSE for Scottish and Southern Electric, TRO for Traffic Regulation Order, URC for United Reform Church, WC for Wiltshire Council and WHS for World Heritage Site.

Time Started: 19:30

  1. Public question time: There were 9 members of the public present for all or part of the meeting. No questions were asked. The Chairman stated that during the meeting he would ask for contributions to several items on the agenda.
  2. Present: Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson (Chairman), Dr Mike Bedford (Vice-Chairman) from part-way through item 7.a, Mrs Maggie Lewis (Vice-Chairman), Mr Jon Campbell, Mrs Lynzey Paradise and Ms Zandria Service. In attendance: Miss Liz Moore (Clerk) and up to item 14 Dr Rosamund Cleal (NT Museum Curator, Alexander Keiller Museum) and Ms Catherine Hosie (NT Estate Manager), Dr Kate Fielden (Vice-Chairman, Avebury Society) and up to item 13. Mr Brian Edwards (member, Avebury Society).
  3. Apologies: Councillors Mr David Brotheridge, Mr Terence O’Connor and Mr Stephen Stacey.
  4. Declarations of interest: none declared.
  5. Minutes of meeting held on 1 November 2016: Unanimously agreed as an accurate record. Proposed by Mr Campbell and seconded by Mrs Paradise.
  6. Matters arising from the minutes: the Chairman reported
    1. Extension of 30 mph limit on the Swindon Road: (Minute ref. 9.a.i). The signs had already been made and therefore it would not be possible to remove the wording ‘please drive carefully’.
    2. Great West Way: (Minute ref. 9.c). The item would be covered later on the agenda.
    3. ACSReC: (Minute ref. 13.a.). A written process to document the ordering process for APC and its committees was in progress.
  7. Planning applications + results:
    1. Full Planning Consent for demolition of existing bungalow, erection of a replacement dwelling with associated parking (resubmission of 14/02099/FUL) at Lower Acre, Bray Street, Avebury. Ref: 16/11050/FUL. The Chairman reported comments had been received by APC from two households in Bray Street and the Avebury Society. Plans were tabled and considered. The Chairman asked Mr John Henry of Fowler Architecture and Planning to introduce the plans. Mr Henry explained that he represented the applicants Mr and Mrs Daley who had had their previous application in 2014 for a new dwelling approved. The current plan modified the existing footprint to enlarge it by about 25-30% which was equivalent to 400-500 square feet of added space and would include an extension to the east and a second floor extension to the rear / north. Mr Henry said one additional difference was also to introduce a basement which meant the previously approved application would not be modified greatly and therefore would not impact on the visual appearance of the dwelling. The Chairman asked members if they had any comments. One question was asked as to whether the incremental increase in the footprint was based on the previous approval and Mr Henry confirmed that it was.             The Chairman read out a draft document from the Avebury Society with their initial observations as follows: (i) no objections in principle to a replacement dwelling on the site (ii) present application differs in design, extent and volume from the permitted dwelling in 2014 (iii) concerned about introduction of a cellar as uncertainty in level of slab level and rising water levels should be examined (iv) would like to see further consideration of the setting and the architects to provide a measured drawing of the street scene (v) suggested dormer windows would be more appropriate (vi) the application did not address garaging and should a double or larger garage be introduced at a later date it would enlarge the overall development and (vii) a courtyard style building on one or only partly on two levels might be a better solution.                                                                                                        The Chairman read out emails received from the two households in Bray Street (see appendix 1). In discussion Mr Henry explained the previous application was valid for three years from approval and members noted in the design and access statement that the new building would only be 0.1 metres higher than the previous design. Mr Henry was asked if he could respond to the points made by the Avebury Society and others. Mr Henry confirmed that a street scene / view could be presented although the view of the property would not change from what was already approved. He also explained that there was an existing outbuilding with its own footprint that would constitute a garage. The Chairman thanked Mr Henry for his assistance.                                                                                                      In discussion members noted three Parish Councillors were not present that evening and only two of the current members had actually been present at APC’s previous on-site Planning Committee meeting in 2014. The Chairman said there were inaccuracies in the application at page 7. paragraph 4.8, in which previous comments from APC had been omitted in the current application, and the application was for a significantly bigger building. There was also concern that the pitch of the building’s roof was flatter and not in keeping with the pitches of other roofs in Bray Street, that the dwelling was neither a major building in Bray Street nor subservient to others and therefore did not match the rhythm and grace of the other buildings in the street.  Members felt a site meeting should be arranged to make an informed decision, especially as the new building would be in place for a long time. It was resolved to defer any decision to an on-site Planning Committee meeting to take place at 10:30am on Saturday 17 December. Proposed by Mrs Paradise, seconded by Mrs Service and carried unanimously.
    2. Work to trees in a Conservation Area / work to trees with a tree preservation order to fell one Goat Willow tree, crown reduce by 20% one Beech tree and one Apple tree and fell one unspecified tree at 2 Bray Street, Avebury. Ref: 16/11323/TCA. Plans were tabled and considered. It was resolved to offer no objection to the planning application. Proposed by Mrs Lewis, seconded by Ms Service and carried unanimously.
  8. Transport Group: Dr Bedford reported a Transport Group Committee meeting was scheduled for 13 December and would focus on the Atkins report for the A4 designs at Beckhampton and West Kennet and would explore funding. He said the 30mph signs project for the Swindon road had now been completed but other items on the agenda would include a footpaths report by Mr Tim Lewis including costs of signage, yellow lines in Avebury Trusloe and the Great West Way. The Chairman reported he had spoken to Mr David Andrews who runs VisitWiltshire and had been told the company was in the process of scoping out the Great West project. It was resolved that the Clerk and the Chairman fill in an on-line survey recently received from VisitWiltshire on behalf of APC. Proposed by Ms Service, seconded by Mrs Lewis and carried unanimously.
  9. A303 Widening Project: the Chairman invited Dr Kate Fielden to provide a report on behalf of the Avebury Society (report previously circulated to members and see appendix 2). Dr Fielden introduced herself as Vice-Chairman of the Avebury Society and said that she also sat on the Avebury WHS Steering Committee. Dr Fielden explained that what happens at Stonehenge has implications on Avebury and the concern was that the current A303 widening project could lead to WHS status being withdrawn. Dr Fielden asked if members had any questions. Dr Fielden was asked if she was hopeful the tunnel would be made longer and she replied that Highways England would be running a consultation in the New Year and the current plan of a four lane highway with twin tunnels was their working assumption. She said it would only be possible to have a longer tunnel if extra funding became available. Members noted the proposed tunnel was 1.8 miles in length but the WHS was 3.4 miles wide and that the two most important considerations were protection of the site and protection of WHS status. The Chairman invited Mr Brian Edwards (member, Avebury Society) to speak. Mr Edwards stressed that a link theme and concern was that significant alterations to traffic and loss of views of Stonehenge from the A303 would have greater repercussions for Avebury than for Stonehenge. He also felt that Avebury should not have been left out of earlier meetings. The Chairman read out questions from the Avebury Society’s report as follows (APC’s response is recorded after the question).  1. Should Wiltshire Council be asked why it didn’t consider that consultation on the A303 tunnel plan was necessary for stakeholders in Avebury and north Wiltshire – YES  2. Would the Parish Council wish to become more closely interested and involved in discussion and development of proposals for the A303 at Stonehenge in view of their potential impacts on Avebury? – YES   3. Can the Avebury Society be of any assistance to the Parish Council on this matter? – YES.   Members noted APC was on the list for consultation in February 2017. Action: In the meantime it was agreed the Clerk should write to Wiltshire Councillor, Mrs Jemima Milton, to ask for backing for APC to be consulted. The Chairman thanked Dr Fielden and Mr Edwards.
  10. National Trust update: Dr Ros Cleal introduced herself as the Curator of the Alexander Keiller Museum and gave an update on the work of the NT as follows: ‘It was noted that work had begun on a major refurbishment of the NT toilets on site. This will include both the toilets behind the Barn and in the High Street. Work had recently begun and the General Manager asked to be informed if there were any problems with disruption, although it was hoped to keep that to the absolute minimum. The work was scheduled to be completed by March.                           The NT had hosted the unveiling of a WHS plaque in November. The location of the plaque had not yet been finalised but it would certainly be in the Farmyard, a freely accessible area. Later in November the NT had participated in a conference to celebrate the 30 years of Stonehenge and Avebury being a WHS. This involved a one day conference in Devizes at which two members of NT staff from Avebury had spoken: Dr Ros Cleal and Dr Nick Snashall. The Director General Dame Helen Ghosh also contributed a short paper. The contribution by Ros Cleal focused on the work of Stuart Piggott, who had been Alexander Keiller’s assistant at Avebury and who later went on to develop and publish important work on the British Neolithic, much of which was based on the collections from Windmill Hill. The normal reduction to hours of Avebury Manor for the winter was noted: opening at present was Thursdays – Sundays inclusive. The Manor would close on the 23rd December, re-open on the 29th, remain open up to and including the 2nd January and then remain closed until it re-opens on 11th February. Arrangements for the Winter solstice were reported. Two nights of camping had been agreed: Saturday 17th (to accommodate people who were likely to arrive at a weekend) and the night of Tuesday 20th (to take account of people who wish to come for the sunrise on the 21st). The Chairman thanked Dr Cleal. He had attended the one-day conference in Devizes and reported that the importance of her earlier seminal paper on the work of Stuart Piggott had been highlighted.
  11. Improving toilet facilities at the Coach House: (report on a meeting held about the Coach House toilets at the Red Lion PH, Avebury on 24 November 2016, previously circulated to members and see appendix 3). Members noted from the report that the nearest toilets to the centre of the Henge were over a quarter of a mile away behind the Great Ban and only open from about 10am to 5pm. The Red Lion PH had offered to open the Coach house toilets throughout the year at about 9am and close them later at about sunset. The Chairman reported that MAB would be willing to consider an application for up to £5,000 towards the capital costs of improvement works to the Coach House toilets. MAB would also consider an application by APC for a grant of £1,000 towards running costs. He said offers of funding for two years had been confirmed from the Community Shop for £250 per annum, that the Henge shop had yet to give a formal confirmation and the Red Lion PH would be willing to do an informal fundraising initiative. Members noted that  APC could consider making an offer of £250 per annum for two years. The Chairman concluded there could be about £8,000 of community support to help the NT. The Chairman asked Ms Hosie if she had any more figures about capital and running costs. Ms Hosie explained she had no more figures but that the figures given at the meeting were probably underestimated and there was still the question as to who would be responsible for the cost of vandalism. Mrs Lewis asked when the actual instances of vandalism occurred and Ms Hosie explained that significant cleaning was needed after every gathering. Members asked Ms Hosie if it would be possible to charge 20 pence for going to the toilet at the Coach House and her response was that whilst she appreciated the offers of community support and would be arranging a second meeting, the work had already started on the Coach House. It was resolved APC (a) write to the WHS Steering Committee, include a paragraph on community support and ask for the support of its other stakeholders (b) arrange a second meeting with the NT (c) offer £250 per annum for 2017/18 and 2018/19 conditional on the partnership scheme being agreed with the NT and other participating organisations and (d) apply to MAB for £1,000 to help meet NT running costs. Proposed by Mr Campbell, seconded by Mrs Lewis and carried unanimously.
  12. Defibrillator for Avebury: (options and pricing previously circulated to members). Mrs Lewis reported the Community Shop Committee was meeting in the next few days to discuss whether they could help fund a defibrillator for Avebury. In discussion, members felt that the best option would be to rent a defibrillator from South West Ambulance Scheme for four years at a cost of £1,800. It was resolved APC make a contribution of £450 toward the project in combination with £450 from others and to apply to MAB for £900 match funding. Proposed by Mrs Lewis, seconded by Ms Service and carried unanimously. Mrs Lewis to investigate where to put the equipment in the area outside the Community Shop.
  13. Payphones Consultation: in discussion the following points emerged: (a) The ‘phone box in the High Street might be used to house a community defibrillator but as it was not being considered for removal by BT there was no information on how often it was actually used. Members noted the ‘phone box in the High Street was useful to have in an emergency for members of the public who might not be able to get a mobile telephone signal. (b) Members felt there was no strong opinion on whether the ‘phone box in Avebury Trusloe should be removed and so further consultation with the public was needed (c) The ‘phone box at West Kennett could be useful to have in situ as a bus shelter in wet weather and it was a hint to drivers that people lived there and therefore had some influence as a visual aid to help slow traffic. Members felt they needed more time to gather information and consult with the public, particularly as all three ‘phone boxes were situated in a WHS. It was agreed to defer any decision and in the meantime Clerk to ask BT (via WC) for (i) a six-month suspension of the deadline for the consultation (ii) information on how often the pay ‘phone in the High Street was being used and (iii) whether BT could share with APC any independent feedback they might have received from the public.
  14. ACSReC: Mrs Paradise reported
    1. Renewal of sports-field lease: work in progress.
    2. Avebury Day: the final report was not yet available.
    3. Cleaning services contract: it was resolved the last day of cleaning would be 5 December 2016. Proposed by Mrs Paradise, seconded by Dr Bedford and carried unanimously.
    4. Survey of condition of pavilion: members noted the NT had offered to survey the pavilion as part of their buildings’ condition survey but no timescales could be given at this stage.  Members welcomed the Trust’s offer and also agreed that it would be advisable for APC to carry out its own independent survey on the condition of the pavilion and understand what work needed to be done. The Chairman reported that in the past APC had obtained an indication from Nick Dolman (Partner of Dolman Building Surveyors) on insurance replacement value of the pavilion and he had contacted him about a survey. He would be willing to produce a report of about two pages on the general condition of the pavilion for £250 – £300 + VAT. Members noted that APC’s Financial Regulations did not apply to contracts for specialist services provided by surveyors and other professionals and APC would not be required to obtain further quotations. It was resolved APC to instruct Nick Dolman to carry out a building survey for £250 – £300 + VAT. Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously.
    5. Banking: Mrs Lewis reported the paperwork had gone through successfully and the Lloyds account should be accessible in 5 working days.
    6. Sports-field noticeboard: on-site meeting had been booked for 12 December.
    7. Fundraising: lots of ideas had been generated at the meeting held on 1 December and another meeting was planned for the New Year. Mrs Paradise agreed to send a note of the meeting to APC so that members could suggest more ideas before the final document was sent to the NT.
  15. Play area inspection report: (quotations for a new timber beam, swing fixings for the swing unit and work to install the beam plus separate quotations for repair work only had been previously circulated to members). The Clerk reported quotations for supply of materials and installation had been received for £600 (ex VAT), £656.77 (ex VAT) and £976.50 (ex VAT). Quotations for installation only had been received for £250 (ex VAT), £80 (ex VAT) and £508.56 (ex VAT, included swing hangers). The Clerk gave the following estimates for materials if APC sourced them: a 3.7m treated fir or larch timber beam (6 inch diameter) from Honey Street Saw Mills would cost about £58 (ex VAT) plus £5 to £10 delivery charge (10 days for delivery) and two pairs of new swing hangers would cost approximately £178 (ex VAT). In discussion it was noted Mr John Giles who had a workshop at Avebury Trusloe had offered to do the installation for the best price at £80 and in combination with APC sourcing the materials, the project came in at nearly half the price of the best price that had been obtained from one of the play-ground suppliers. It was resolved the Clerk order the new beam and swing hangers and instruct Mr Giles to carry out the repairs. Proposed by Ms Service, seconded by Dr Bedford and carried unanimously.
  16. Local issues: the Chairman reported
    1. Housing Needs Survey: the majority of survey forms had been delivered. It was agreed that the Chairman and Mr Campbell would work on the Parish summary for the report.
    2. URC Chapel: no further information had been received in the past few months and no reply had been received to the Clerk’s email in September asking for information following the Chapel Group’s request for financial assistance.  In discussion members felt the future of the URC Chapel was a matter of interest to the whole village and everyone would like to know what was proposed and what activities were planned. In the absence of information, members considered writing to the URC South Western Synod, but decided to write again to the local group before doing so.  It was resolved that the Clerk write to all three Trustees of the Avebury Sacred Trust to request an update within the next four weeks. Members also thought that an open public meeting should be held.
    3. Post Office Services at Avebury: a resident had emailed to express concern about the poor postal services at Avebury. In discussion members felt the standard of service was OK even though it had been disrupted by some IT issues. Agreed: APC to mention in the next Headlines that the Broad Hinton Post Office was no longer open and give the opening times for the Avebury Post Office.
    4. Leaf sweeping in the High Street and Church Walk: the work had been ordered but not yet done by WC.
    5. Jetting of culvert in Beckhampton: the work had not yet been done. Mrs Lewis to email Mr Martin Cook (WC Highways) to request an update. The Chairman also reported that Mr Cook was planning to carry out some tests on the tarmac along the Calne road at Beckhampton.
    6. New bridge in Beckhampton: now open but railings had yet to be put in place.
    7. 30th anniversary celebrations of World Heritage Site: had been well received.
  17. Review of grass cutting contract with ACC: In discussion members felt the level of service had been very good in 2016. ACC had been cutting the grass since 2014 at a price of £850 per annum which compared favourably with Wiltshire Council’s sub-contractors’ pricing in previous years. The Chairman reported ACC had verbally asked for a price increase and had indicated they would be happy with £1,150 per annum. Members thought this was in principle reasonable as ACC did a lot of extra work and maintenance that they did not charge. It was resolved in principle to agree an application from ACC for £300 more per year for the grass cutting service. Proposed by Mr Campbell, seconded by Ms Service and carried unanimously.
  18. Parish Council budget and precept for 2017/18: (see appendix 4, second draft estimated budget for precept and note on reserve fund). In discussion it was clarified by the Chairman and the Clerk that the WC 2% cap did not apply to Parish Councils as they came under different legislation. The government consultation that year had however indicated it was mindful to introduce such a scheme in future years. Members noted APC had more projects to carry out for the community next year and extra work was needed for the pavilion.  Annually recurring costs were going up and APC would need to use its reserves to fund some revenue costs in 2017/18.  Reserves were likely to deplete significantly during the year.  Wiltshire Council’s Precept Calculator showed that there would be fewer households in the tax base. Members decided it would acceptable to increase the current year’s precept of £11,000 by 10%.  This would equate to an average increase of a little under £5 per household per annum. It was unanimously resolved that the precept for 2017/18 be set at a total sum of £12,100.00. Proposed by the Chairman and seconded by Ms Service. Action: Clerk to send the signed form to WC Finance Team.
  19. Communications: the Chairman reported the November Headlines had been submitted for December edition of UKN.
  20. Correspondence: the Chairman reported
    1. Email received from SSE about their support services and registering vulnerable people with SSE: Reverend Maria Shepherdson had offered to help give information on local people.
    2. Visit Wiltshire Great West Way On-line Survey: see item 8.
    3. Letter from the National Trails Office: the Chairman tabled a map showing Green Street as a ‘strategic link’ that had been proposed by the National Trails Office to be included in a project to improve the Ridgeway. He suggested that this was more a WHS Steering Committee issue. It was agreed that the Clerk invite the National Trails Office to an APC Council meeting in the Spring.
  21. Finance and admin: including:
    1. Clerk’s appraisal: the Chairman reported he and Mrs Lewis had met Liz Moore on 2 December and carried out her appraisal. They had said they were very pleased with the Clerk’s work and would circulate confidential notes from the appraisal to members shortly. Any decisions would be deferred to next meeting.
    2. Half year internal audit: the Clerk reported the half-year internal audit had taken place satisfactorily on 24 October 2016.
    3. Improvements to Parish Council web site: the Clerk reported she had received the final costings from Kate Fry and the price to include a village diary as a new page on the web site was £80. The Clerk recommended APC accept the one quotation from Kate Fry as Mrs Fry was already running the existing web site and it was desirable to maintain continuity by using the existing supplier. In accordance with its powers under section 142 of LGA 1972, it was resolved to accept Kate Fry’s combined quotation of £200 for development works to the APC web site (to include those improvements listed in the 1 November minutes under item 18.a and the village diary). Proposed by Mr Campbell, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously. Clerk to order the work.
    4. Review of Financial Regulations, Standing Orders and TOR of Committees: work in progress.
    5. Ordering System: work in progress. Members suggested including a higher minimum expenditure in the regulations to enable flexibility and to take account of increasing costs of goods and services.
    6. VAT registration status: not applicable / item to be removed from the next agenda.
    7. The approved minutes of ACSReC meeting 28 June 2016 was tabled and received. (See appendix 5).
    8. Cheques for payment and cheques for ratification: it was resolved that the following cheques be paid. Proposed by Mrs Paradise, seconded by Mr Campbell and carried unanimously. Cheques were signed by the Chairman and Dr Bedford.
      1. Upper Kennet News: annual contribution                             £100.00
      2. Citizens’ Advice Wiltshire: donation                                      £50.00
      3. Mrs Maggie Lewis: toiletry supplies for the Pavilion             £47.83
      4. Fiona Wood: cleaning materials and cleaning of Pavilion on 4, 11, 18, 25 October 2016                                                                   £99.75
      5. SSE Southern Electric: electricity for Pavilion, period 19 Aug – 22 Nov 2016 (including VAT)                                                            £80.45
      6. Thames Water Utilities Ltd: water supply for Pavilion 4 Aug – 20 Oct 2016 (including VAT)                                                            £141.72
      7. Liz Moore: Clerk’s overtime and expenses: 22 Oct – 21 November 2016                                                                                      £265.35
  22. Date of next meeting: 7:30pm on Tuesday 7 February 2017 at the Social Centre.
  23. Any other business: Mrs Paradise said she would like to volunteer to do the reading at the Lessons and Carols Service at St. James’ Church on 16 December (invitation previously circulated to members). Clerk to inform Reverend Maria Shepherdson.
  24. The meeting closed at 22:10

Appendices: (included in the book of Parish Council papers):

  1. Email response from two households in Bray Street to planning application Ref: 16/11050/FUL
  2. A303 Widening Project: why should APC have an interest in proposals for the A303 at Stonehenge? – a note from the Avebury Society’s Committee for APC
  3. Note of a meeting about the Coach House Toilets – dated 30 November 2016
  4. Budget for precept and note on reserve fund – second draft
  5. Minutes of ACSReC meeting 28 June 2016