2 July 2019 Ordinary Council Meeting : Minutes

Avebury Parish Council

Minutes of an ordinary meeting of Avebury Parish Council held on Tuesday 2 July 2019 at the Social Centre, Avebury SN8 1RF.

In these minutes AGAR stands for Annual Governance and Accountability Return, AONB for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, APC for Avebury Parish Council, ASOP for Avebury Solstice Operational Planning, ASSC for Avebury Sports and Social Club, AWHS for Avebury World Heritage Site, BB & WM PC for Berwick Bassett and Winterbourne Monkton Parish Council, BT for British Telecommunications plc, CATG for Community Area Transport Group, MAB for Marlborough Area Boards, NT for the National Trust, PC for Parish Council, RoW for Rights of Way, TG for Transport Group, UKN for Upper Kennet News, WC for Wiltshire Council, WHS for World Heritage Site and WHS PU for World Heritage Site Partnership Unit.

Present: Mr Stephen Stacey (Chairman), Mrs Maggie Lewis (Vice-Chair), Mr Ben Butler, Mrs Donna Byatt, Mr Terence O’Connor and Mrs Lynzey Paradise.

In attendance: Miss Liz Moore (Clerk).

Time Started:  19:34

  1. Public question time: there were three members of the public present for all or part of the meeting including Eva Stützenberger (Operations Manager, NT: up to and including item 12), Catherine Hosie (Estate Manager, NT: up to and including item 12). There were no questions asked.
  2. Apologies: Councillors Dr Mike Bedford, Ms Zandria Service, Wiltshire Councillor Mrs Jane Davies and the following local residents: Mrs Jenny Haines, Mrs Alison Richardson and Mr Simon Vatcher.
  3. Declarations of interest: none declared.
  4. Minutes of meeting held on 4 June 2019: unanimously agreed as an accurate record. Proposed by Mrs Paradise and seconded by Mr Butler.
  5. Matters arising from the minutes: there were none.
  6. Planning applications: no applications had been received from WC.
  7. National Trust update on refurbishment work at the Circles Café: the Chairman invited Eva Stützenberger and Catherine Hosie to provide a progress report. Thanks were expressed to the PC for supporting the NT’s planning application. It was noted that the NT had received consent from WC on 28 June and construction had started on the 17 June. Ms Stützenberger said that the project was due to be completed by 15 November and that the NT was hoping to have a soft opening on 7 October, with the ground floor open to the public from 15 October. Various contractors had been engaged and three main access points would be used by them. The default access was the Estate drive with parking provision for contractors in the staff car park. It was necessary for the High Street to be used for deliveries of skips and scaffolding, but deliveries would be carefully managed between the hours of 7:30 – 9am, with contractors being met and shown where to go. The third access point over the Manor parkland was being used for setting up the welfare units. Pictures of the stripped internal ground floor and first floor of Circles Café were tabled (see appendix 1). The Chairman invited questions from members. There was concern expressed about the timings of the deliveries along the High Street, particularly as the Circle Nursery opened at 8 am. Ms Stützenberger reassured members that deliveries would be made as close to 7:30am as possible. It was additionally noted that construction work was being carried out Monday to Friday only with minimal work scheduled during school holidays, and for any problems members could contact Ms Stützenberger. The Chairman thanked the NT staff for their report and invited them to stay for the next item.
  8. Solstice: impact review: the Chairman explained that the aim of the discussion was to enable the PC to put together a paper setting out the experience of solstice, possible ways ahead and to have a plan for action by the end of the year. In discussion the following points emerged:
    1. There appeared to have been less trouble than the previous year and from a business perspective solstice had been successful.
    2. Graffiti on a NT gate and the tree with roots had been reported to the NT and also a piano that had been placed next to the Stones.
    3. Ms Byatt had had feedback from a resident in Green Street who had subsequently written to both the PC and NT outlining her concerns, including the large numbers of vehicles and visitors using Green Street as a car park, campsite and toilet. (Email correspondence from Green Street resident previously circulated to members).
    4. There had been a family friendly atmosphere on the evening of solstice, especially for the King’s Drummers, but illicit parking had been pervasive along Green Street.
    5. The Police had been visible and had made four arrests.
    6. Closing the High Street had worked well although one resident had been blocked in temporarily.
    7. There had been some problems with the permit system for residents who did not know their visitors’ car registration number, but the businesses and other organizations in the Village had responded well and obtained the information.
    8. Fencing off the nursery site by the local farmer had worked well, although 10-15 vehicles had parked along the highway through Avebury Trusloe and 4-5 vehicles near Windmill Hill, but no issues or damage to report.
    9. Residents had been impressed with how the police and NT had managed to maintain order along Ridgeway.                                 The NT’s experience was recorded as follows:
      1. The event. Solstice had been a quiet, peaceful and positive experience for all who had worked across the site and attendees had been grateful for hot beverages sold by the NT during nocturnal hours.
      2.  The aftermath. Clearing the Ridgeway had taken longer than expected; it had been a grim clear up operation with some revellers still in situ on the morning of Sunday 23 June. The NT had been disheartened by the high level of vandalism and heritage crime including graffiti on the Farthings’ barn and West Kennett Long Barrow. (Email correspondence from local farmer previously circulated to members).                                                                                                                                                           In discussion it was noted that although the numbers of people visiting Avebury was not increasing, the potential for damage at solstice in Avebury was considerable compared to Stonehenge because, unlike Avebury, solstice at Stonehenge was actively managed by EH. Great effort had been made by EH to close the byways at Stonehenge and that the same could be done in Avebury. Both the Clerk and the NT had received a complaint from a disabled person who had found it difficult and cost prohibitive to park their campervan within short walking distance of the Village. It was noted that ASSC provided parking for campervans at £15, but Wiltshire Council’s planning restrictions did not allow them to provide overnight parking for campervans. Members felt that barriers on the Ridgeway byway could have been placed closer to the car park on Overton Hill, and there should have been better provision for disabled parking in the village. It was agreed that the Chairman and / or Ms Service would attend the ASOP debriefing meeting on 8 July and report back to the PC at its next meeting in September.
  9. Project Updates:
    1. Transport Group: the Chairman reported:
      1. Transport Group meeting 14 June 2019: that the Beckhampton and West Kennett project had been reviewed and Atkins would have a draft design ready by the end of August. Members noted this was stage 3 of the design work; stage 4 being the very detailed design work required actually to implement the scheme once funding had been secured. (See appendix 2 for meeting notes).
      2. CATG meeting 20 June 2019:
        1. Community Issue 4245: A4 at Beckhampton and West Kennett: CATG had confirmed that it would keep the project on the priority list at #1 until 19 September meeting. Members noted that, when the plans had been completed, the project would drop off the priority list.
        2. Community Issue 7088: improved pedestrian safety on A4361 at Avebury Trusloe: CATG had agreed to combine with issue 6791 (now ‘first reserve’ item), for which the next step was a speed check from Swindon extended to Beckhampton. This would cost £625 being the required 25% share on this occasion split between three parishes involved. Evidence of speed and volume of traffic along the A4361 past Avebury Trusloe would be material in helping to action the PC’s request to decrease the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph. The Chairman had provisionally offered to commit a third of the money needed and members agreed to the proposal. It was resolved to contribute up to £250.00 for a joint speed check assessment along the A4361. Proposed by Mr Butler, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously.
        3. Community Issue 7027: to refresh the existing double yellow lining and create new double yellow lines on the entire length of the B4003: Martin Cook’s team had refreshed the existing yellow lines during June with costs being taken from his maintenance budget and had undertaken to check with WHS PU about filling the two gaps in the lining. Other work will see the reduction of the informal layby to accept three cars only. CATG was supporting the formation of a new Community Road Safety Group about which there would be discussion at the next MAB meeting (23 July). Mr O’Connor said that there was merit in monitoring noise and air pollution along the Avenue / B4003.
      3. Next TG meeting: week commencing 5 August.
    2. Meeting of Parish Chairs: he was preparing for a meeting with Diane Ware (Principle Technical Officer, WC Highways) on 9 July to discuss road safety on the A4 and underline the need for action on the 2015 WHS Transport Strategy. The PC was working with other Parishes to encourage a joined up approach to traffic calming in the WHS. Chairman to report back at the next meeting in September.
  10. A303 Expressway: (draft comments on Highways England’s response to APC’s Written Representation previously circulated to members and see appendix 3). The Chairman explained that the response focused on three key points: 1. risk of additional pressures on Avebury 2. risk of losing WHS status 3. request for designated funds for implementation of the Transport Strategy. It was resolved to accept the draft paper and submit it to the Planning Inspectorate. Proposed by Mrs Lewis, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously. [Mrs Paradise temporarily left the room].
  11. Local Issues:
    1. Wiltshire Council’s Core Planning Strategy: not covered.
    2. West Kennett telephone box: there was division of public opinion on an alternative use for the West Kennett ‘phone box, but the majority of people, including members and NT staff present that night, felt that, due to poor mobile reception in the vicinity, it was important to keep the ‘phone box for emergency outbound calls only. Members were reminded that street furniture such as a telephone box acted as a visual signal that people lived in an area and might help to slow traffic. It was resolved to write to BT in response to their imminent consultation and ask them not to remove the ‘phone box as it was important for emergency calls and to request them to repaint it. Proposed by Mr Butler, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously.
    3. Replacement planters for the High Street: Mrs Paradise reported that residents did not want recycled plastic planters and had furnished her with pictures of commercial wooden planters that would be acceptable. The planters had metal buckets inside to hold the soil and plants, metal feet to keep the planter off the ground and were priced at £350.00 each. In discussion it was noted that the price for the good quality planters was high and the following points emerged: (i) the PC could ask local businesses to sponsor the planters; although any form of visible advertising would be challenging (ii) the PC might consider replacing the planters with an open air art gallery to promote local artists’ work (iii) further research was needed. It was agreed that Mrs Paradise would work on the ideas and report back at the next PC meeting.
    4. Repairs to Play Area fencing: in progress as the Clerk was waiting for a quotation. It was noted during the meeting that BT Openreach had swiftly actioned a request by the Clerk to remove wiring that had been protruding from the WC verge on the Nursery Site.
  12. Draft commercial policy statement on reducing signage and clutter in the WHS: (previously circulated to members and see appendix 4). The Chairman invited members to comment on the draft paper. Mrs Byatt explained that for the past 14 months a NT gate in Green Street had been closed to the Stone Circle to help the footpath recover and that had resulted in her business benefiting from increased footfall. The gate had recently been opened and because less people were now walking past her shop, she had put up a couple of flags on the building to try to attract tourists. She said that it was important that Elements was a successful business and she was working with the NT on ways to attract business. In discussion the following points emerged: (i) businesses in Avebury needed a certain amount of advertising to attract tourists; but branded advertising should be discouraged (ii) the PC might explore ways to support local businesses; such as putting together a threefold leaflet advertising the local businesses and other bodies and (iii) the PC might explore styles of banners and flags to set an overall tone. It was agreed that it was important to involve the community in the discussions prior to agreeing guidelines and it was resolved that Mrs Paradise and Mrs Byatt organize a working party to explore advertising and signage options with local businesses and organizations and present these to the council for a decision. Proposed by Mrs Lewis, seconded by Mr O’Connor and carried unanimously.
  13. Parish Steward Priority Sheet:
    1. Report on work completed in June: [fissures in path alongside the late Dr Isobel Smith’s cottage were not serious enough to need attention. The Parish Steward had removed tree branches on FP22 near Big Arch Bridge and on the verge in Bray Street. Culverts and gullies had been checked along the length of the High Street].
    2. Job requests for 17 July: [hand clearing of drains and gullies in Hunter’s Walk and outside Red Lion PH has not been possible so the Parish Steward recommends that the PC submits an online request for pressure jetting by mechanical means: the Clerk will do so]. Items discussed: PC to request: grass cutting on footpath verges that link South Street to bus shelter in Avebury Trusloe and in Church Walk, filling of small pothole in Hunter’s Walk outside Hunter’s House, sunken manhole cover near to the bollards on Kyters Walk needs attention and cleaning of windows of the bus shelters at Rawlins Park. Additionally, Clerk to report to BT a damaged junction box in the grass verge outside ‘The Paddocks’, Green Street and Mrs Lewis to check that the bus shelter windows were intact in the WC owned bus shelter on A361 at Beckhampton.
  14. Communications: the Clerk reported that the PC’s Headlines had been submitted to the July Edition of UKN and a notice informing the public of a casual vacancy on the PC and to encourage people to apply.
  15. Correspondence: the Clerk reported:
    1. WALC’s newsletter had been received.
    2. Involve Swindon had emailed to remind members about their services which included the offer of volunteers to carry out light works.
    3. Police crime report: not received. It had been noted during the meeting that the Parish was without a PCSO.
  16. Finance and admin including:
    1. Membership and co-option: discussed in brief, and agreed to defer a decision to next meeting in September.
    2. It was resolved to appoint Ms Byatt as the PC’s representative on the Avebury WHS Steering Committee. Proposed by Mrs Paradise, seconded by Mrs Lewis and carried unanimously.
    3. Confirmation of members instructed by the PC to process public data: it was confirmed that Mrs Byatt and Mrs Paradise had been authorized by the PC to process public data for administration of the parking permits for Solstice 2019. [Under Data Protection rules members processing public data must have a mandate from the council to do so, the council being the data controller]. Proposed by Mrs Lewis, seconded by Mr O’Connor and carried unanimously.
    4. Notification of exemption from external audit: the Clerk confirmed that PKF Littlejohn had received and logged the PC’s notification of exempt status for the year ended 31 March 2019.
    5. Review of Transport Group Terms of Reference: due to the absence of Dr Bedford, this item was deferred to next meeting agenda.
    6. Cheques for payment: it was resolved that the following cheques be paid. Proposed by Mrs Byatt, seconded by Mrs Paradise and carried unanimously.
      1. Kennet Print Ltd: colour printing of x400 permits and numbering  (including VAT)                                             £66.00
      2. Wicksteed Leisure Ltd: outstanding balance for postage on shackle assembly                                                                 £5.40
      3. Avebury Social Centre: hire of hall on 27 June 2019 for annual defibrillator training                                            £10.00
      4. Miss E Moore: Clerk’s overtime and expenses 22 May – 21 June 2019 inclusive                                                             £334.75
  17. Date of next meeting: 7:30pm on Tuesday 3 September 2019
  18. Any other business:
    1. Mr Michael Cronk would like to consult the PC on his plans to demolish a bungalow and erect a house in Bray Street. Clerk to invite Mr Cronk to the PC’s next meeting.
    2. Elements of Avebury was hosting an ‘Avebury Fairy Day’ on Sunday 28 July 2019, additional parking available in the Coopers’ field with minibus shuttle service to the Village and all welcome. Expected attendance: 600.
    3. The Chairman reported on his meeting with the NT and explained that they had agreed to host a public meeting on 10 September to consult on parking in and around Avebury and had accepted his offer that the PC co-host. It was noted that there had not been time to add the above motion to the PC’s agenda. Members indicated that they would be happy to host the meeting jointly with the NT; the Clerk to add motion to next meeting agenda for formal decision. The Chairman additionally reported that the NT was hoping to resurface the small Village car park in November and there would be better provision for disabled parking including additional bays. The NT had appointed a manager to run the Chapel and was looking for 50 volunteers to add to their team of over 400. The WC Highways Signage Project for renewing and refreshing signage on the A4361 through the Village was now expected to be implemented over three days from 15 July 2019.
  19. The meeting closed at: 21:53

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

  1. Pictures of Circles Café: ground floor and first floor
  2. Notes from Transport Group Meeting 14 June 2019: not seen by the meeting but added subsequently.
  3. A303 Expressway: PC’s response for the Planning Inspectorate
  4. Draft Policy Statement on reducing signage and clutter in the WHS