24 Apr 2014 Annual Parish Meeting : Minutes

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on the 24 April 2014 at the Social Centre, High Street, Avebury SN8 1RF

In these minutes, AHA stands 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, MAB for Marlborough Area Board, NT for the National Trust, TVM for Traffic and Vehicle Management Group, WC for Wiltshire Council and WHS for World Heritage Site.

Time Started: 19:00

Present: Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson (Chairman), Dr Mike Bedford, Mr Mike Daniel, Mr Keith Howell, Mrs Antoinette Kremer, Mrs Maggie Lewis, Mr Paul Ryder-Morris, together with 28 members of the public who were present for all or part of the meeting.

Apologies: Councillor Mr Paul Dixon, Mrs Jenny Haines (Chairlady of ASA), Mrs Jan Tomlin (NT General Manager, Wiltshire Landscape). Apologies had also been received but were not read out from Lady Beale, James and Laura Corbet, John and Betty Cronk, Ewart and Diana Holmes, Keith and Sally Paradise and Brian and Helen Vickers.

In attendance: Wiltshire Councillor Mrs Jemima Milton, PCSO Polly Richie, Sarah Simmonds (WHS Officer), Dr Nick Snashall (NT Archaeologist and Deputy Manager NT), PC David Tippetts (Community Beat Manager) and Miss Liz Moore, Clerk to APC.

  1. Welcome and introductions
    The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all present and introduced members of the Parish Council. He said that Judy Miller had resigned in October when she had moved to Broad Hinton and that Karyn Pearson had resigned in February when she had moved to Calne, after serving twice on the PC.
    The Chairman introduced Jemima Milton, WC Councillor and Chair of MAB, Liz Moore as APC’s Clerk, who had been on maternity leave from 1 June 2013 to 28 Feb 2014, and Judy Farthing as Civil Emergency Officer. He said that Paul Birkeland-Green had been managing APC’s IT and web site and that Kate Fry had taken on this role since his resignation; Ron Dobson had advised on buildings; David Throup was editor for UKN and Len Adams and Martin Rendle had provided handyman services
  2. Minutes of the annual Parish meeting held on 18 April 2013. (Previously published on Parish Council web site www.aveburyparishcouncil.org).
    The Chairman asked if the draft minutes were accurate. There were no amendments
    [apart from the prior deletion of one item of non-Parish business under Any Other Business] and it was unanimously agreed that the Chairman sign the minutes.
  3. Matters arising from the minutes: None.
  4. Report on the work of the Parish Council, Avebury Sports-field Association and other local organisations in the past year:
    The Chairman said APC represented the interests of Avebury residents, employers and employees. APC had met 10 times during the year and its Planning Sub-committee had met three times. APC met on the first Tuesday of the month, except January and August.
    The Chairman reported that APC attended 66 meetings during the year on regular committees such as the Marlborough Area Board, the Community Area Transport Group, Marlborough Area Parish Forum, the Traffic and Visitor Management Group (now disbanded in favour of the Task and Finish Group for the WHS Transport Plan project), Solstice Planning Group, Avebury’s Sacred Sites Forum, Social Centre Trustees, Avebury WHS Steering Committee (which the Chairman now chaired) and other WHS committees. APC also attended meetings with NT staff, especially Jan Tomlin, and other ad hoc events and meetings with the Environment Agency, Aster Housing, AONB and others.The Chairman reported:

    • Elections and membership
      APC had co-opted Mr Paul Ryder-Morris earlier in the month in place of Judy Miller.
      Residents had not called for an election for Karyn Pearson’s seat and so APC would be co-opting in May. Bray Street was not represented on APC, and Trusloe was under represented.
    • Planning applications
      APC had been consulted on 23 planning applications in the past 12 months and had either supported 21 of them, some with suggested conditions, or had agreed not to comment in a few cases. APC had objected to two:

      1. a new house in the garden of 44 Trusloe Cottages
      2. increased prominence of signage and lighting at the Red Lion
    • Local improvements and works: the Chairman reported
      1. High Street resurfacing had been completed. This had included the
        installation of a formal pattern of Sarsen stone setts beside 110 High Street: several tons of cut stone setts had been provided by the NT. WC and consultants Atkins were recalling the contractor to rectify some faults in the High Street surface, probably in May.
      2. Planters in the High Street: the Chairman asked the public for feedback.
        Sir Peter Beale reported the planters were indeed effective and there had been a reduction in the number of visitor cars travelling down the High Street. Miss Heather Peak-Garland said she felt the general situation had worsened with cars reversing into the lane to turn round and cars hitting fences. When questioned by Mrs Kremer, Miss Peak-Garland clarified this was not a consequence of the planters and that a solution would be to make the parking cheaper. Mrs Jan Williamson said she thought the signs on the planters did deter people.
      3. De-cluttering scheme: Mr John Thomson (Deputy Leader WC) had established this scheme and APC had identified 25 redundant signs and ironmongery on roadside verges in the Parish which WC staff had promptly removed. Mr Vic Paradise requested that
        1. 30mph signs on New Bridge be repainted. The Chairman confirmed that Wiltshire Council had made new ones and would be replacing them once the WHS Traffic Plan had been completed and decisions taken
        2. the no through road sign at the top of the High Street be put back as it had been missing for four months. Action: Clerk/Chairman to contact WC.
      4. Corrugated iron barn beside road to Windmill Hill: The Chairman reported a large section of this dilapidated barn had blown off in recent high winds and that APC had arranged for the barn to be demolished.
      5. Speed Indicator Devices: the devices were installed on the A4361 by
        Rawlins Park in the first fortnight of every quarter. There had been problems with batteries running down.
      6. Various requests for leaf clearance, street cleaning, potholes, street lamps, salt and grass cutting: the Chairman thanked Paul Birkeland-Green and the NT for strimming verges by pavements near Rawlins Park and in the High Street respectively but added APC had had problems with Balfour Beatty Living Places in getting works done. Balfour Beatty had also only given two months’ notice of withdrawing from its contract to mow the Sportsfield and Play Area.
      7. ASA: in the absence of Mrs Jenny Haines and Mr Paul Dixon, the Chairman read out an update from ASA. It reported that in the last financial year the Avebury Sportsfield Association Committee had continued to raise funds to improve and maintain the Pavilion and area. The cost of the everyday things to keep the pavilion going i.e. electricity, rodent control, insurance and the ‘dreaded’ charge by Wiltshire to have the water tested, had risen to a total of £1,680. Samples of the water had to be tested twice last autumn due to high nitrate levels, these cost
        ASA a total of just over £203. ASA would welcome all to support ASA’s car boot sales.
      8. Jim Gunter’s geophysical survey of Sportsfield: Jim had completed a survey of part of the Sportsfield but not found a great deal. Vic Paradise recalled that a heavy roller had been used on the Sportsfield in earlier years and thought that compaction of the ground might make a difference to any geophysical survey.
        Dr Nick Snashall (NT) thanked him for his local knowledge and agreed.
    • The Chairman reported the following work in progress:
      • APC had applied to CATG for a northward extension of the 30 mph limit on Swindon Road and was now waiting for completion of the WHS Traffic Plan.
      • Footpath from Waggon & Horses to Silbury Hill: Mr Howell was progressing the project.
    • Wiltshire Council: the Chairman invited Mrs Jemima Milton, Wiltshire Councillor, to address the meeting and added that Mrs Milton also chaired MAB.
      Mrs Milton thanked members of APC for their work during the past year. Mrs Milton said that it was a challenge for WC to ensure there was no rise in Council Tax and that WC pledged to:

      • protect the elderly
      • invest in highways
      • protect jobs
      • invest in flood relief
      • work with the community

      Mrs Milton reported that more houses had been flooded in Wiltshire than Somerset.
      Mrs Milton highlighted the following:

      • For those that ran clubs, £50,000 had been given out for capital funding
      • WC had helped local resident Mrs Beryl Greenaway find a bungalow in Avebury.

      The Chairman thanked Mrs Milton for her valuable support for the work of APC and with planning issues in particular.

    • National Trust: the Chairman invited Dr Nick Snashall (NT Archaeologist and
      Deputy Manager NT), to address the meeting in the absence of Jan Tomlin (see Appendix 1,
      National Trust Update 2014). Dr Snashell stated the NT continued to focus on
      conservation work and had been successful in securing a grant from Viridor for about £100,000 to re-thatch the Great Barn and other projects.
      Dr Snashell reported the NT had been advised that from 5 May 2014, WC would no longer be providing public recycling bins in the NT High Street car park. (See Appendix 2, letter from WC to NT). Dr Snashall said WC would now be charging NT the full cost of waste collection, a difference of £8,000, and this would hit their conservation work. Dr Snashall reported that Jan Tomlin was currently revising NT waste policy and would be liasing with the Chairman. Also reported, Hilary Makins (NT Head Ranger) was taking the
      lead for the Trust regarding Solstice and Jan Tomlin would be working with EH to ensure people visiting Stonehenge over Solstice would not be redirected to Avebury.
      Dr Snashell explained the NT had tried to keep the parking charge for the main car park low and that the new £7.00 charge for the main car park, was the only charge levied on people when seeing the stone circle. It directly helped with conservation.Mrs Milton reported mini-recycling sites cost WC over £200,000 a year across Wiltshire and that this cost was prohibitive when households now had their own bins.

      Mrs Alice Macaire asked if the NT had any plans to replace the thatch roof on the barn at West Kennett. Dr Snashall said the NT had prioritized the Avebury Great Barn as it was grade 1 listed and dated from the 17th century. However, the NT was trying to secure funding to re-thatch West Kennett Barn this year.

      Sir Peter Beale asked if the NT had had any feedback from the public regarding the high charge of £7.00 for parking and whether NT monitored whether people paid the charge. Dr Snashell confirmed that staff did monitor the car park in the high season but that the majority of people were NT or EH members for whom parking was free. Dr Snashell said she was surprised there had not been many complaints, only half a dozen, and added the signs on the ticket machines now included an explanation that the cost of parking
      went towards conservation.

    • Transport Group, Community Traffic Plan and WHS Design Project
      Dr Bedford reported the Community Traffic Plan had been published and presented to John Thomson (Deputy Leader of WC) when he had visited Avebury in October. Mr Thomson had been sympathetic to limiting signage and slowing down traffic by natural means.
      Dr Bedford said the integration of the plan into the WHS Management Plan was thanks to the Chairman. The Chairman added that over 100 local people had contributed to the Traffic Plan.
      The Chairman reported the Plan’s two main points were:

      • reconciling the interests of users of main roads with those of the WHS as well as residents in West Kennett, Beckhampton, Trusloe and Avebury by creating a design speed of 40mph in the WHS and other works in nine focal points
      • easing congestion due to visitor traffic in Avebury and residents’ parking in Trusloe.

      The Chairman reported local residents would like to get more parking in Trusloe and that APC was supporting them in a partnership scheme with Aster Housing and a private landowner which was currently being developed. Mrs Michelle Lomas asked the Chairman to explain a proposed new housing scheme for Trusloe. The Chairman said AHA would like to build two or three one-bedroom houses on the Nursery Site but this depended on agreeing a joint scheme between APC, AHA and a private landowner.
      The Chairman reported Atkins had provided a sketch scheme for the WHS Traffic Plan on how to cope with the A4 severing the WHS and another indicating a possible treatment for West Kennett. He anticipated that Atkins would shortly draft similar schemes for the junction at Trusloe, the roundabout at Beckhampton and the centre of Avebury.
      Sarah Simmonds said she hoped the draft report from the Task and Finish Group would be ready by the end of May.
      Mrs Macaire asked Sarah Simmonds what the timescale was for the outline scheme for the traffic initiative. SS said the outline scheme would be finalized by the end of the summer and then funding would be required.

    • Flood Group: Mrs Lewis reported the Flood Group held its second meeting on 8 April which was attended by about a dozen people, though quite a few more were unable to attend. Several problem areas were identified and noted on a map which would be submitted to Wiltshire Council following a site visit, probably in mid-May, with Wiltshire Council’s Chief Drainage Engineer, Danny Everett. Mrs Lewis said she hoped that a representative from Thames Water would also attend the meeting and that a programme of works would be agreed. Mrs Lewis reported she had attended a meeting of Wiltshire Council’s Operational Flood Working Group on 16 April. The meeting was interesting as it revealed that many areas in Wiltshire had had similar problems to Avebury (surcharging drains and mixing of foul and ground water), though some had fared far worse. Mrs Lewis said she would be grateful if people could contact her with any flooding problems they had experienced in the past few years, including lavatories backing-up with sewerage.
    • Community Wi-Fi and High Speed Broadband: Mrs Lewis reported she was working with Mr Jeff Brickell of the Marlborough Area Development Trust and that Wi-Fi hubs had been installed in the Henge shop (two points), Community Shop, NT’s Gift Shop, Coach House, Estate Office and Circles CafeŽ. The aim was to get a hub into the Manor. Mrs Lewis said anyone now could log on for free for 20 minutes or purchase an annual pass.
    • Policing: The Chairman invited PC David Tippetts to report. PC Tippetts introduced Polly Ritchie as PCSO and himself as Community Beat Manager for Marlborough Rural West. PC Tippetts said there had been one arrest for drugs last year at Solstice and reported criminal offences were as follows:
      • a theft from the Manor
      • five thefts from cars in main NT car park
      • a theft from a non-dwelling building at Beckhampton
      • four incidences of criminal damage at Trusloe
      • a theft from the Community Shop

      Criminal damage at Trusloe and the theft from the shop had been attributed to some young people and that they had since been dealt with.
      PC Tippetts reported that ‘Operation Banning’ had been initiated in Marlborough at Christmas and involved the use of a passive drugs dog. The police had dealt with over 70 offences and as a result had found there was a drop in antisocial behaviour (the biggest drop was by 30%). PC Tippetts said work was also being done with St. John’s School: surgeries were being held at the police station and 12 children had been seen in June 2013. PC Tippetts reported an initiative on the 20 March had resulted in three vehicles being seized for using red diesel, one HGV vehicle seized for being un-roadworthy and two people from Swindon were stopped in Avebury for possession of
      drugs. PC Tippetts said the penalties were now much higher for crimes. He added the police were not able to get covert cameras in the main car park in Avebury due to it being in a WHS (but see Sarah Simmonds’ response under WHS Officer’s report).
      Mrs Peak-Garland said that in the past the police would talk to children out and about in the village. PC Tippetts said these days resources were limited however PCSO Polly Ritchie worked with the local schools.
      Mr Howell asked if Sergeant Barry Reed would be present at Solstice. PC Tippetts confirmed that both he, PCSO Ritchie and Sergeant Reed would be on patrol over Solstice.

    • Summer Solstice 2014: the Chairman reported
      1. Police presence would be from 10.00am Friday 20 June to 2.00pm Sunday
      2. Two days informal camping on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 June
      3. There were problems in providing a drugs dogs this year as one was needed at Stonehenge and the other had died. But the Police hoped a presence could be arranged, especially on Thursday evening
      4. Parking for the disabled would be allowed in the village car park and passes would be provided for people visiting the Rectory
      5. Five or six campervans would be allowed in the main car park for people with disabilities if their vehicles were self-sufficient
      6. Road closed signs would be provided on West Kennett lay-by
      7. Campervans on Ridgeway would be moved on as soon as possible

      Mrs Julie Butler congratulated the Police for their work at Solstice and the Chairman thanked the Police on behalf of the Parish Council for their work throughout the year as well as their significant presence at Solstice.

    • Local initiatives:
      1. Community Shop: Mrs Michele Lomas reported it was the Community Shop’s 5th Birthday. The shop had given donations to the Cricket Club, Winterbourne-Monkton Church (for lighting) and Kennet Valley School and had promised an apple press for the community. Mrs Lomas said that various improvements had happened to the shop and she thanked the NT for sorting out the windows and roof, Mr Vic Paradise for putting up shelving and the Shop’s many volunteers too. Mrs Lomas reported £140 worth of fake £20 notes had passed through the shop recently, and a power cut had meant they had lost some frozen food.
        Mrs Lomas stressed that if local groups needed donations then to please let her know.
      2. Avebury Day 13th September 2014: Mr Daniel reported the community lunch would be held at 12 – 12:30pm and stressed the first half of the day was for the community and that the event would only be open to visitors outside the Parish later in the afternoon. There would be various attractions including a dog show, a bar, 26 stalls, birds of prey, classic cars and more. Mr Daniel said the project was self-funding with a small donation from APC, a possible donation from MAB and raffle tickets which would be on sale. Mr Daniel added that banners had already been put up and leaflets were to be sent to all households. Mrs Williamson and Mrs Farthing advised the banners should only be put up within 28 days prior the event.
      3. Open Farm Sunday 8 June: the Chairman reported that Gill Swanton was holding this event at North Farm and that about 1000 people were expected to attend.
    • Local archaeology: the Chairman invited Dr Nick Snashall to address the meeting.
      (See Appendix 3, Avebury Archaeology Update 24 April 2014 and Appendix 4, Between the Monuments: Fieldwork on the West Kennet Avenue). Dr Snashall reported the NT would need to remove a Sycamore and Lilac tree that were pushing on wall in High Street and this was being done as a matter of urgency. Dr Snashall summarized that the NT carried out a watching brief on development works and in 2013-2014 14 separate briefs were carried out for
      improving pedestrian access. Dr Snashall said Between the Monuments Project results were available on the internet (see Appendix 4) and thanked local farmers, Mr and Mrs Farthing, for their support. The NT would be organising an Open Day.
      Dr Snashall reported that further Geophysical Survey techniques could be done on the Sports field and that results of the work at Carpenters Cottage would be available soon.
      Dr Snashall thanked all NT volunteers and said this year they had delivered tours to 2,710 visitors; the Keiller Museum volunteers given primary and secondary education talks to 949 people in addition to the 3,500 people that had received education.
    • World Heritage Site Officer: the Chairman invited Miss Sarah Simmonds (WHS Officer) to address the meeting. Miss Simmonds reported that she looked after 25 square kilometres of landscape and her role involved looking at how the monuments related to the landscape and protecting, conserving and keeping them safe.
      Miss Simmonds highlighted the Transport Strategy was key to resolving the issue regarding the impact of traffic in the WHS.
      Both Stonehenge and Avebury were being combined into one WHS Management Plan which was currently being up-dated, but it was important to keep the aims of both sites separate as they required different methods of management. Miss Simmonds said that recent changes in governance had included the creation of the WHS Partnership Panel, chaired by Mr Alistair Sommerlad, and that the Panel would be working to achieve the aims of the whole WHS. Full-time WHS staff, being Miss Simmonds for Avebury and Beth Thomas for Stonehenge, would be working with Nick Snashall (part-time) in the new Coordination Unit that reported to the Panel.
      The WHS Management Plan was due to go out to public consultation in the autumn.
      Miss Simmonds reported the following projects:

      • Risk assessment produced for climate change
      • WHS web site launched
      • Undergrounding of cables at Gunsite Lane was being planned
      • Developing Research Framework (for Universities)
      • New Partnership Panel
      • Workshops

      Miss Simmonds referred to PC Tippetts’ earlier reference to covert cameras not being allowed in WHS but confirmed that there was no reason why security cameras should not be allowed in NT main car park. Miss Simmonds would contact PC Tippetts.

    • Other issues and APC decisions: the Chairman reported
      1. DfT 20mph consultation: APC had put forward the need for 40mph design speed throughout the WHS.
      2. APC had pledged financial support for the Flood Group, Community Orchard, Avebury Day and weed killing on the Sportsfield.
      3. APC had made grants to the Community First Good Neighbour Scheme and the Benefice Winter Appeal.
      4. Wiltshire Council had given a briefing in May about 4x4s and informal camping on the Ridgeway. Management by NT and Police had been successful and it was overall agreed APC should monitor the situation in 2013/14 and should proceed with care. APC was awaiting Professor Fowler’s archaeological review and might establish a working group if archaeology was being degraded.
      5. APC had agreed to monitor charity walks such as Discover Adventure.
      6. Avebury Rocks would be held on 13 July.
      7. Countryside Access Improvement Plan: APC had lobbied for mention of Avebury as a WHS in the document.
      8. During the past 12 months, APC had objected to:
        1. Visitors climbing Silbury Hill
        2. A WC proposal to install commercial adverts on the roundabout at Beckhampton
        3. A proposal to plant fruit trees and a hedge on the grassy island between West Kennett lay-by and A4.
        4. Race to the Stones using the Sports-field as a destination
        5. A PR stunt of a Peace sign being temporarily painted on the Sports-field for aerial shots for an advert for deodorant Lynx Peace
        6. Launch of hot air balloons from the Sports field
        7. increased parking charges at the NT’s main car park
        8. APC had contacted Police and the Dog Warden about the control of dogs and dog fouling
    • Civil Emergency Plan: the Chairman reported the Plan had been updated by Mrs Lewis and Mrs Farthing, adopted by APC and was now operational.
    • Precept, finance and admin: the Chairman reported
      1. The precept was down from £11,000 to £10,900.
      2. The bank balance as at 31 March 2014 was about £16,600 or approximately £15,200
        allowing for unpaid cheques. This compared with about £10,500 for last year. However
        the balance was in reality in the region of £7,100 because £8,100 pledges were
        outstanding. The balance was therefore much the same as £8,000 on 31 March last year.
      3. Savings of approximately £3,500 during the past financial year were mainly
        attributable to the Clerk’s maternity leave.
      4. The audited accounts for 2013 Ð 2014 were available for inspection. The external
        auditors were now Grant Thornton. The Chairman invited anyone interested to inspect
        APC’s audit report, books of account and minutes.
      5. The asset register and risk assessment had been reviewed
      6. Internal audit had been completed
      7. RoSPA had inspected the Play Area.
  5. Local issues from the public: the past year and for the next 12 months: none
  6. Local issues from the Parish Council: the past year and for the next 12 months: none
  7. Any other business:
    The Chairman thanked all those who supported the Parish Council, including:

    • litter pickers and those who cleared up after their dogs especially on the recreation grounds, in the Henge and on the footpaths.
    • Trustees, Secretaries and Treasurers of local voluntary organisations and especially to Mrs Jenny Haines and members of ASA.
    • Police, staff at Wiltshire Council and the National Trust.
    • Miss Liz Moore (Clerk), Mrs Jemima Milton (Wiltshire Councillor), Mrs Judy Farthing (Civil Emergency Officer), Mr Paul Birkeland-Green and Mrs Kate Fry (APC web site), Mr Martin Rendle, Mr Len Adams (APC Handymen) and Mr David Throup (Editor, UKN).
    • colleagues on the Parish Council
    • and all those who attended the meeting.

The meeting closed at 20:55

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

  1. National Trust Update April 2014
  2. Letter from WC to NT: removal of mini-recycling site
  3. NT Avebury Archaeology Update 24 April 2014
  4. NT Between the Monuments: Fieldwork on the West Kennet Avenue
  5. Documents available for inspection were a plan of land ownership at the Nursery Site in Trusloe, two indicative diagrams drawn up by Atkins of the parts of the A4 and West Kennett, the Avebury Parish Traffic Plan and APC’s minute book,
    audit reports, bank statements and books of account.