24 Apr 2012 Annual Parish Meeting : Minutes

Minutes of the annual Parish meeting held on the 24 April 2012 at The Social Centre, High Street, Avebury SN8 1RF 

In these minutes, APC stands for Avebury Parish Council, NT for the National Trust and WC for Wiltshire Council.

There were 34 members of the public in attendance and the meeting started at 7.32.

Present: Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson (Chairman), Mr Paul Dixon, Mrs Beryl Greenaway, Mr Keith Howell and Mrs Maggie Lewis

In attendance: Councillor Mrs Jemima Milton, Wiltshire Councillor, and PCSO Jonathan Mills

Apologies: Councillors Dr Mike Bedford, Mr Mike Daniel, Mrs Antoinette Dyson, Mrs Karyn Pearson, Mrs Liz Moore and several members of the public.

  • Welcomes and introductions 

The Chairman welcomed all attending the meeting and introduced those Parish Councillors present.  He outlined how the Council had changed and developed over the last year.  He said there was now a full complement of Parish Councillors following two elections and the co-option of two more members.  He said that 12 people had expressed interest in serving.  He also introduced Mrs Milton as Avebury’s local Wiltshire Councillor and three other people who help with the Council’s work; these were Mrs Judy Farthing (Community Emergency Volunteer), Mr Paul Birkeland-Green (website co-ordinator) and Mr Len Adams who had taken on the job of Handyman following the advertisement of the post in June.  Mrs Liz Moore, Parish Clerk, was currently on maternity leave following the birth of her daughter Victoria.

  • Minutes of the annual Parish meeting held on 7 April 2011

The Chairman distributed copies of the minutes of the last meeting and asked if they were accurate.  Miss Heather Peak-Garland commented that the path between her house and the Old Vicarage was a footpath and not a right of way as stated and that it was being used by cyclists etc.  She also asked if it would be possible for a movable bollard, and not just a cone, to be put in place to prevent motorists using the entrance to the footpath to turn round.  The Chairman confirmed that the status of the path would be checked and the minutes amended accordingly.  Subject to this potential amendment, the Chairman asked if he could sign the minutes as an accurate record.  This was proposed by Mrs Jan Williamson, seconded by Mrs Geraldine Wimble and agreed unanimously.

  • Matters arising from the minutes: There were no matters arising from the minutes
  • Report on the work of the Parish Council and Avebury Sportsfield Association

The Chairman outlined the work of the Council.  Members had represented the community at 47 meetings during the past year and the Parish was a member of seven bodies, such as the Sacred Sites Forum and the Marlborough Area Parish Forum.  He noted that the Parish Council’s monthly meetings had been changed from the third to the first Tuesday of the month so that notes of its meetings could be included in Upper Kennet News whose deadline for submissions was the third Friday of the month.

The Chairman then outlined specific aspects of the Council’s work:

  • Planning: The Chairman said that Wiltshire Council was responsible for granting planning permissions but consulted Avebury Parish Council on each application.  The Parish Council had set up its Planning Sub-Committee in May 2011 and had supported most of the 24 applications that had come before it during the year, often recommending that conditions be imposed.  APC had twice opposed an application for a garage at Skokholm in Green Street and had supported Fyfield and West Overton PC in its objection to a proposed grain store at a site adjacent to the World Heritage Site (WHS) opposite the Bell Inn on the A4.

The Parish Council had refused a (non-planning) application to launch hot air balloons from the Sports-field.  It was noted that Mr Robin Butler had granted permissive open access to the Long Stones for visitors.

  • Transport:   APC had set up a Transport Group in October 2011 chaired by Dr Mike Bedford.  An open meeting in March had been well attended and showed the levels of concern locally.  It highlighted two main problems – redressing the balance between pedestrians and motorists, especially at bus stops and in the Circle, and congestion in the High Street and Green Street.

Marlborough Area Parish Forum had commissioned consultants Ben Hamilton-Baillie to review traffic issues in the 15 villages around Marlborough and he had given a presentation to a meeting in March at Lockeridge which had been very interesting.  Avebury WHS Traffic Management and Design Guide Project had been launched and APC was about to make an EU LEADER grant application for £15,000 to help finance the Design Guide project.  Wiltshire Council had pledged £2,750 towards this initiative and APC had earmarked £250 as well.

The Chairman asked for comments from the meeting: Lady Beale asked about a large pothole in the High Street outside her house; she had reported it, as has APC, but she would report it again.  The Chairman agreed that APC would also report it again.  Lady Beale commented that she was in favour of the Design Guide Project.

The Chairman suggested those present sign a petition on the LEADER grant application.

  • Wiltshire Council:  The Chairman invited Councillor Mrs Jemima Milton to address the meeting.  She commended the Parish for its work on transport and local livelihoods and noted that WC was keen to support partnership working with parishes and others.  She brought those present up to date with WC’s priorities and noted that parishes would have a greater say in many issues in future.  Mrs Milton then left to attend another parish meeting at Winterbourne Monkton.
  • Local Livelihoods and Tourism Group:  The Chairman said that APC had set up this group as it was aware it should represent the interests of local employers and employees as well as residents.  There had been meetings in January and March and a further meeting was planned for July.  The Group was taking action on a number of issues:
    • A road-sign for Beckhampton Road was needed to direct visitors; the Transport Group would ensure this was addressed in the Design Guide Project
    • A revised post code could ensure that more delivery truck drivers using SatNav would avoid the High Street; the National Trust was working on this
    • The Group was exploring what could be done about slow business in the winter
    • APC was discussing with the NT the need for the notice board at the pedestrian exit to the main car park to show village facilities in the High Street, although the NT was aware that there had been tension in the past as not all residents wanted increased footfall in the High Street
    • APC had circulated a contacts list of all traders in the Group.
  • Community Shop:  The Chairman invited Mrs Michele Lomas to address the meeting as chair of the Community Shop Committee.  Mrs Lomas thanked the village for its continued support of the shop and to the volunteers who run it.  This year the NT had replaced the roof at Hope Cottage and had insulated it. A new till system had been purchased with the help of a grant from WC and the Marlborough Area Board.  The shop was also shortlisted for a volunteer award and made the top three.  She noted that new volunteers were always welcome and needed.  The shop would always try to source items requested and also did home deliveries.
  • National Trust:  The Chairman then asked Mrs Jan Tomlin to address the meeting.  She noted that the year-long transformation of the Manor was now complete and that it had been well received by visitors who were keen to know more about the stories behind the house.  She thanked Brian Holman and his team for all their work on the gardens.  There had been an increase in visitors and the museum visitor numbers were now almost back to their former levels. The café and visitor centre had been transformed with Trust support and the Museum was next for an upgrade.  A new member of staff, Nikki White, would be joining the NT team the following Monday.  She would be in charge of visitor experience and would be the first point of contact for the village.  A 1930’s themed tea room would be opening in the West Library at the Manor in a week’s time.
  • Visitor numbers:  Mrs Julie Butler asked if thought had been given to increases in visitor numbers.  Mrs Tomlin replied that the Easter weekend was always the busiest so the worst was over.  The Manor field had been opened for parking to cope with demand and this had worked well.  Miss Peak-Garland stated that the High Street was blocked on Easter Sunday by cars but she was told that the NT had no jurisdiction over the public highway but that they endeavour to move cars on and park properly.  PCSO Mills said that if cars were causing an obstruction then residents should call the police who would ensure that offending vehicles would be towed away.
  • Car parking:  A member of the public asked if it was NT policy to open extra parking.  Mrs Tomlin said the Manor park had been open for Easter and would also be open over Solstice, although this was not a long term solution.  The thorny issue of parking charges was also raised.  Mrs Tomlin said the NT would be revising the charging policy but its scope was limited; if the parking charge was lowered then revenue for the care of the Henge would be diminished.  If it was increased then it would increase the parking problem elsewhere in the village.  Mrs Judy Farthing asked if the NT was looking for a long term solution to the parking issue.  Mrs Tomlin said a limit on parking and camping meant that the current situation was self-limiting, which had its benefits; the NT was also managing the situation as best it could.  A survey some years ago had not come up with any solutions.  Mrs Butler commented that it seemed that more visitors were encouraged but available parking was not increased.  Sarah Simmonds said that the parking issue was prominent in the current review of the WHS Management Plan.  Mr Vic Paradise said that Mrs Tomlin had stated that the overflow car park only had consent for 28 days a year but it was his understanding that WC had given permission for a permanent car park at the site.  The grass was now waterlogged despite the matting that had been put down to protect it.  Mrs Tomlin said she would check regarding the car park.
  • Charity walks:  Parish Councillor Keith Howell drew the meeting’s attention to an advertisement he had seen in the Guardian newspaper placed by a commercial company (Discover Adventure) offering services to charities for ‘Trekathons’ between Stonehenge and Avebury to raise funds.  He had contacted the company who seemed surprised that APC should be concerned.  They had agreed to write to APC so that the matter could be discussed at APC’s next meeting. They had said they had conferred with NT, WHS and military authorities.  Proposed dates for various charity walks were 30 June, 14 July and 16 September.  Mr Robert Cooper had been approached in previous years for parking facilities but not this year.  The Chairman noted that Avebury had in the past been keen to ‘do its bit’ for charities by accommodating some events but APC was not always notified about them, and more events might be sponsored in future.  He asked for the feeling of the meeting.  Sir Peter Beale said that Avebury was in danger of being overcrowded.  Mr Paul Birkeland-Green was concerned that the village could not provide the increased services needed if Avebury became a starting or finishing point.  Mrs Geraldine Wimble said that the PC had in the past always been notified by the organisers of the Sarsen Trail and that they had been very good about clearing up afterwards. Lady Beale suggested that APC write to Discover Adventure to highlight the lack of available facilities such as toilets and parking.  The Chairman said the APC would be developing its policy towards charity walks.
  • Avebury Sportsfield Association:  Mr Paul Dixon reported on behalf of ASA:
    • The remaining six volunteers had raised £3,070 with £695 coming from involvement with Avebury Rocks – a long, hard day but worthwhile financially
    • As well as paying for running costs for the pavilion, the maintenance of the building and the control of rodents, a large bill had been received from WC for water quality testing.  ASA had also met the cost of winter weather damage to the UV water filter
    • When the Pavilion was not being used during the past winter, a local volunteer had kindly painted the inside at a reduced rate which had been a great help
    • It was hoped to renew the floor covering in the main part of the Pavilion in 2012 and perhaps have safety flooring in the changing rooms.  Hopefully the refurbishment would be completed by the end of the year so ASA would then only need to raise funds to cover running costs and maintenance
    • Mr Dixon thanked all those who gave their time year round and commented that they would welcome new volunteers, although that this did involve a rota system to provide hot drinks to football spectators on cold winter Sunday mornings!

The Chairman said that the relationship between APC and ASA had been reviewed and formalised during the year.  It had been agreed that ASA pay APC £50 per annum in rent and would run the booking system and maintain the pavilion.  APC would insure the pavilion and pay for grass cutting.  APC had recently increased the insured sum of the pavilion to about £166,000 being the amount needed to re-build.  Miss Peak-Garland commented that the sports-field always looked lovely.

  • World Heritage Site Officer:  Sarah Simmonds (WHS Officer) explained that the WHS Management Plan was being updated and that this involved English Heritage, NT, Natural England, North Wessex Downs AONB, WC, the three local parish councils, farmers, archaeologists – and the community.  The Management Plan included everyone involved in keeping all the elements of Avebury (traffic, parking, tourism etc) well managed and it would be very useful if all local groups signed up to it.  It was currently being updated as there had been many changes since it was produced in 2005.  In July there would be an exhibition in the Social Centre outlining the issues affecting the area and she would welcome input from the community.

Mr Vic Paradise asked what was proposed to help with increased traffic flow on the A4361 through the WHS and was used as the most direct north/south route across the county.  Sarah Simmonds stated that these routes were part of the review including those used by HGVs and that the plan would try to achieve as much consensus as possible.

Sarah Simmonds asked if all Avebury residents had Residents Packs; if not, they were available from her.

  • Marlborough Area Board:  The Board had pledged £500 towards the village’s Jubilee celebrations and Jan Rendle had applied for nearly £2000 for stage lighting in the Social Centre.
  • Avebury Sacred Sites Forum:  This was attended by Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson, Mrs Antoinette Dyson and/or Mr Keith Howell.  Mr Howell reported that the groups attending the forum shared the local community’s concerns about drugs and drunkenness.  The aim was to move people on quickly from the Ridgeway area after the celebration.  Fences in this area had been installed and it was hoped that the farm water supply was now secure against misappropriation.
  • Summer Solstice 2012:  The Chairman reported that there had been meetings between NT, WHS, police, security, St. John’s Ambulance and the camping community regarding this year’s Solstice celebrations.  Arrangements would be similar to those in 2011.  Those celebrations had gone reasonably well although there had been an unpleasant assault on a member of staff at the Red Lion and there were too many drugs around due to the lack of the presence of a police drugs dog.  This year it was hoped that there would be one and possibly two dogs present, and that other precautions would include improved policing for Trusloe residents and coning off of local lay-bys, including West Kennett.
  • Policing, crime and scams: PCSO Jonathan Mills addressed the meeting and said that Ron Peach had been promoted to Inspector, CBM Sarah Watts has been transferred to Swindon and PC David Tippetts would be returning to the area in the post of Community Beat Manager.  He also reported that:
  • Most crime statistics were down and the Parish was a low crime area.  Theft from motor vehicles was a problem; a ‘bait’ car had been out in the area, but no bites!  
  • Not much of a problem with cold-calling in the area but if anyone was cold-called he advised taking the vehicle registration of the caller if possible and reporting it to the police.  Mrs Jan Williamson said that there had been two young men purporting to be collecting for the Red Cross who were quite assertive which could frighten older residents.  PCSO Mills said he hadn’t heard of this.  Mrs Beryl Greenway said she had called the Red Cross who told her that they sent out collectors in the evening as more people were at home.  
  • Fuel thefts remained an issue – red and white diesel from farms was being targeted.

Miss Peak-Garland said she would like to commend the police for the help she had received when burgled.

  • Local issues and events:  The Chairman noted a number of points:
    • Tanker drivers’ strike:  The Parish Council was identifying any vulnerable people in the area who might be affected in the event of a strike by the petrol tanker drivers.  Mrs Judy Farthing and Mrs Maggie Lewis were liaising on the issue.
    • Fence in Church Walk:  The suggestion that this fence be taken down had been discussed at APC meetings. Mrs Sally Nelson said it used to be open land there and that it would enhance the area if the large fence were taken down or replaced with a more aesthetic alternative.  It was thought that the fence was erected by Mr Ken King when he owned the Manor.  Mr Paradise stated that Alexander Keiller originally erected the fence to prevent people from accessing the land.  The fence was now owned by the NT and Mrs Tomlin stated that there were cost implications and concerns about the area being used for informal camping if accessible.  It was decided to review this matter in future, especially when the fence needed replacing.
    • Great Stones Way:  APC had made submissions to the consultants conducting the Environmental Impact Study and there had been a meeting the previous week in Woodborough for all villages on the route.  A report was currently being prepared by the consultants.
    • Mobile library service: The service was reviewed recently and, at present, the numbers using it in the Parish were above the required four users per location (Rawlins Park = 6.5, Trusloe = 5.8, High Street = 5.2)
    • Ridgeway camping:  This was under review.  A new fence had been installed.
    • Panto:  It was likely that the successful panto last December would be repeated
    • Diamond Jubilee celebration:  The event would be held on 4 June on the Sports-field with funding from MAB, APC and local organisations.  Mrs Williamson said she hoped everyone had received their invitations; the tickets would be free and would be available from the Community Shop, the Red Lion and the Club from 1 May.  Everyone attending would be asked to bring a plate of food to share.
    • Community orchard:  Janet polack had taken the initiative to plan this as a part of the Jubilee celebration.  Brian Holman had arranged for a group to see the NT’s Manor orchard and the orchard at West Kennett, both of which included a wide range of local varieties.
    • Avebury Rocks would be held on 7 July.

 

  • Communications:  The Chairman reported that:
    • ‘Headlines’ from APC meetings had been included in UKN throughout the year and had been put up on the five notice boards in the Parish.
    • APC had distributed seven newsletters and fliers to each household in the Parish.
    • Play area in Trusloe:  APC had arranged for RoSPA to prepare a safety report.  Mr Adams had removed concrete under the see-saw and had completed works to the swings, basketball net and fencing.
    • Noticeboards: one had been donated by the NT and had been installed at Beckhampton.  Two had been refurbished at West Kennett and Trusloe.
    • Water leaks by the pumping station and in the High Street had been reported repeatedly and had eventually been repaired.
    • Potholes in the High Street had been reported repeatedly to WC and APC had also reported general street cleaning and lighting issues to WC.  The NT continued to do a Monday morning litter clean up
    • Betty Hunter bench: Gillian Bushell had generously donated a bench in memory of her late aunt, Betty Hunter.  It had been installed by the south door of the church
    • Millennium Bench: This had now been refurbished by the estate of Sherrie Echols and APC had thanked Jenny Bromilow for her work on this.
    • Roads and footpaths:  WC had carried out surface dressings at Beckhampton and along the Avenue and had repaired Big Arch bridge on Footpath 22
    • Items not done:  These included resurfacing the High Street and updating APC’s Civil Emergency Plan.
  • Finance:  The Chairman said that copies of APC’s audited accounts and financial records were available for inspection at the end of the meeting.  The Precept for 2012/13 had been set at £11,100, a 2.6% reduction on 2011/12’s figure of £11,500.
  • Local issues from the public
    • Miss Peak-Garland raised the issue of flooding during rainstorms due to the silting up of the drains as chippings and mud washed into them.  She stated that the drains needed clearing.  The Chairman said he would email WC about this matter, and he would also email the NT following a complaint from a member of the public that the access to the public toilets needed sweeping.
    • Mrs Jane Garnett asked if general litter bins and bins for the disposal of dog faeces could be installed.  The general consensus was that they were much needed. APC would discuss this at its next meeting.
  • Local issues from the Parish Council:  There were no more issues from APC.
  • Any other business
    • Sir Peter Beale proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman and members of the Parish Council for all their work, and this was heartily endorsed by the meeting.
    • The Chairman thanked Sir Peter and also thanked:
      • All those who picked up litter and those who cleared up after their dogs, especially on the Sports-field, the Circle and local footpaths
      • Trustees, secretaries and treasurers of local voluntary organisations, especially Mrs Jenny Haines and the volunteers who ran ASA
      • The Police and staff at Wiltshire Council and the National Trust
      • Liz Moore, Jemima Milton, Judy Farthing, Paul Birkeland-Green and Len Adams
      • his colleagues on the Parish Council
      • and all those who attended the meeting.

The meeting closed at 9.00 p.m.