18 Apr 2013 Annual Parish meeting : Minutes

Minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on the 18 April 2013 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, ASSF for Avebury Sacred Sites Forum, EH for English Heritage, 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), Mr Keith Howell, Mrs Antoinette Kremer and Mrs Maggie Lewis together with 23 members of the public who were present for all or part of the meeting.

Apologies: Councillors Dr Mike Bedford, Mr Mike Daniel, Mrs Karyn Pearson and Mr Paul Dixon.  [Apologies had also been received but were not read out from the Farthing, Fry, Kelleher, Vickers, Wilding and Scattergood households, and Mr Tony Millett.]

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

  1. Welcome and introductions
    The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all attendees. He introduced the Parish Councillors present at the meeting and said that members of APC were very sorry to have recently lost Mrs Beryl Greenaway who had resigned in March after over 10 years’ valuable service.
    The Chairman said there would be no election for Parish Councillors on the 2 May as there had been nine vacancies and nine nominees. Eight councillors had been re-elected and Mrs Judy Miller from Trusloe would join APC as a new Councillor on 7 May.  There would however be Wiltshire Council elections on 2 May.
  1. Minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on 24 April 2012.
    The Chairman asked all present to refer to a copy of the draft minutes and asked if they were accurate. There were no amendments and it was unanimously agreed that the Chairman sign the minutes.
  1. Matters arising from the minutes: None.
  • Report on the work of the Parish Council, Avebury Sports-field Association and other local organisations in the past year:
    The Chairman reported APC had met 10 times during the year and had also held six Planning Sub-committee meetings. APC had also attended 56 other meetings on regular committees. These included ASSF, Social Centre Trustees, Solstice Planning, TVM, the WHS Steering Committee and regular meetings with Mrs Jan Tomlin at the NT. The Parish had also attended meetings with WC, EH, NT and other ad-hoc events.
    The Chairman reported:
  • Planning applications
    APC had been consulted on 23 planning applications in the past year and had supported 19 of them (seven of which had been applications for works to trees in conservation areas). APC had objected to four:

    • Rebuilding of Lower Acre, Bray Street
    • Extension to garage at Meadow House
    • Polytunnel at Avebury Manor
    • Information board at NT car park
  • Local improvements and works
    1. Pavement extension at Trusloe: a 35 metre pavement extension on the A4361 had been completed the previous week. Pedestrians now had approximately seven seconds to cross the road as opposed to about four seconds. WC had contributed £6,500 and APC £500.
    2. Planters in the High Street: an experiment to make the area more attractive and deter motorists from parking had been installed in the past month. The Chairman asked for feedback. Mrs Dianna Holmes reported that, as a resident of the High Street, she was very pleased with the planters. The Chairman said the project had cost about £950, of which £250 had been given by MAB, £350 by APC and APC had received £350 as donations or contributions in kind. This meant about a third of the funding had come from the community and a third from APC.
    3. Swings at Trusloe: the seats had been renewed and the Clerk confirmed the chains had also been renewed in the past week. A generous donation of £100 had been received from a member of the community for the swings.
    4. Bus Shelter: painting had been completed.
    5. Speed Indicator Device (SID) outside Rawlins Park: A SID was being installed for the first two weeks of every quarter in the year.
    6. Resurfacing A4: white lines at West Kennett were already deteriorating and would be repainted soon. The A4 from Beckhampton to West Kennett would be resurfaced Tuesday 7 May to Wednesday 22 May. APC had contacted Highways to see what they could do about possibly realigning the white lines to narrow the apparent width of the road.
    7. Flooding: the NT offices, Frog Lane, Beckhampton, Bray Street and the High Street had suffered from flooding and overflowing sewers for many months over the late autumn and winter. Mrs Geraldine Wimble had been very active in mobilising Thames Water and the Environment Agency to take action on behalf of residents. The next step would be for APC to seek permanent improvements in the sewage system.  Mrs Milton reported flooding was a Marlborough-wide problem.
      Mr Gater asked if there had been any feedback received regarding the damage to the road in Bray Street. The Chairman said he would look into this.
    8. Stage Lighting: APC had helped in a small way by donating £250 towards stage lighting in the Social Centre.
    9. ASA: In the absence of its five members including Mrs Jenny Haines (Chairlady ASA) and Mr Paul Dixon, the Chairman reported that ASA continued to raise the majority of its money from fundraising activities to improve and maintain the Pavilion and sportsfield. Action: it was generally agreed that APC write to ASA to thank their members on behalf of the community.
  • Wiltshire Council: the Chairman invited Mrs Jemima Milton, Wiltshire Councillor, to address the meeting. Mrs Milton thanked members of APC for their work during the past year and especially for their work on the Avebury Traffic Management Plan.  Mrs Milton said the Area Board would continue to provide small grants and that although it was challenging times, she wanted to make it clear WC would not affect frontline services. Mrs Milton paid tribute to the services of Mrs Greenaway.
    Mr Ewart Holmes asked two questions:

    1. Who was responsible for the sewers?Mrs Milton confirmed that Thames Water was responsible for the sewers and WC would continue to put pressure on Thames Water to improve the infrastructure.
    2. Would it be possible to see a drawing of the proposed High Street resurfacing prior to works taking place?Mrs Milton confirmed it was possible and WC would be working with APC Transport Group on this. Mrs Milton said it was frustrating that WC could not stop the utility companies from coming in and digging up the highway for their repair works after Highways’ works had taken place.
  • National Trust:the Chairman invited Mrs Jan Tomlin (NT) to address the meeting (see Appendix 1, National Trust Update April 2013). Mrs Tomlin raised the issue of visitor numbers to the Manor and said the NT had specifically tried to play down advertising of the Manor to deter too many people from visiting. Mrs Tomlin reported that conservation would continue to be a main focus area and that Dame Helen Ghosh was the new Director General of the NT.
    Mrs Tomlin said the NT was currently fundraising to re-thatch the Great Barn that housed the Gallery Museum, and a number of bat species. Funding had not been secured and the Barn roof might have to be protected with tarpaulin. There were a number of questions from the public:

    • Lady Beale asked what fundraising ideas were being run.
    • Mr Howell asked whether there was revenue from the Manor to pay for re-thatching.
    • Mrs Alice McCaire asked if the NT had any plans to renovate the NT buildings at West Kennett that were in need of repair.Mrs Tomlin gave examples of lots of small fundraising activities but these were not enough to generate the £100,000 lump sum required to renovate the Great Barn. When the NT had recently applied for large grants, they had been unsuccessful due to heavy competition. There was also no budget available to re-thatch the buildings at West Kennett. Dr Snashall said that as the Great Barn was a grade 1 listed structure, the NT’s first priority was to protect it and might well have to protect it by using tarpaulin.
      The Chairman asked how much extra money was required / annual deficit. Mrs Tomlin said she didn’t have the figures for the rest of the estate and it was a shame that revenue had to be spread across her whole portfolio.
    • Mrs Diana Holmes thanked NT for supplying the ride on toy tractors outside the Great Barn.
    • Mr Vic Paradise raised an issue regarding flooding caused by NT having not installed field drainage / overflow pipes at Juggins Meadow in the past five years. Mr Paradise said the field required three, 18 inch pipes. Mrs Tomlin noted the issue
  • Local improvements and works for the future: The Chairman reported the following ‘works in progress’:
  1. High tension cables from Silbury to West Kennett were due to be undergrounded. Mr Paradise said there were two oil pipes there.
  2. APC had applied for a northward extension of the 30 mph limit on the Swindon road.
  3. Mr Howell was looking at costs and funding for a footpath from the Waggon & Horses to Silbury Hill.
  4. A recent e-petition had been circulated against downgrading the direct Bedwyn to Paddington rail service. Government was considering electrifying the line to Westbury.
  5. High Street resurfacing had not yet been done yet and the see-saw at Trusloe had not been repaired/replaced.
  6. A camera survey had found High Street drain improvement works were needed.
  • Transport Group, Community Traffic Plan and WHS Design Project

In the absence of Dr Bedford, the Chairman reported that the next stage of the plan was to finalise it and include design work. (See web-site for draft plan). The Avebury Traffic Plan would then feed into the design guide for the WHS.

The Chairman said APC had been unsuccessful in applying for European funding of £15,000 for the WHS design guide but that WC and AONB had now found the money. The Chairman encouraged the community to help or volunteer in any way.

Ms Sarah Simmonds (WHS Officer) said the traffic strategy be starting in May. She asked for volunteers for two areas, of transport and parking. Action: Starting in May, about four people would be required per day to do surveys or traffic counts. Public asked to contact the Chairman if interested.

Mrs Milton said it must be remembered the A4 is a main ‘A’ road through Wiltshire and as such will always be busy.

o        Mrs McCaire requested a timeline for the project. Sarah Simmonds said it would be three to four months before the plan would be in place and then there would be a phased delivery. WC had to think about how the solutions were going to be designed for the WHS.

o        Lady Beale asked if the plan would be ready in time for the High Street resurfacing as she was concerned about it delaying the resurfacing. Sarah Simmonds said there would be no attempt to stop the resurfacing of the High Street.

o        Mrs McCaire said she would like to extend a thank you to Dr Bedford for organising the Walk and Talk Session at West Kennett, even though it had snowed on the day.

o        Mrs Kremer added her thanks for the all the other work that had been done and said it the community traffic plan was a fantastic job.

Parking in Trusloe: Mrs Lynn Swatton reported she had had no response from Mrs Annette Gilbert of Aster Housing and that she had dropped off her report at Aster Housing’s offices the previous weekend. Action: Mrs Milton to contact Mrs Gilbert.

  • Archaeology of WHS:The Chairman invited Dr Nick Snashell (NT’s Archaeologist, Stonehenge and Avebury WHS) to address the meeting. (See Appendix 2, Avebury Archaeology Update 18 April 2013).

Dr Snashell introduced herself and said her role was to provide advice and support on the archaeology in Avebury on, for example, the condition of the monuments. Dr Snashell reported the NT had:

o     Recently closed off the northern banks to allow the grass to grow and protect the archaeology

o     commissioned eight archaeological watching briefs in the past 12 months in the Parish of Avebury

o     erected fencing near Silbury House due to a hole opening up in the ground. This had been identified as likely to have been the remains of the cellar of the Catherine Wheel Inn.  Dr Snashell now had consent for infilling works to begin

o     New research project was looking at areas in between the monuments to investigate Neolithic and Bonze Age in Avebury

o     Started work on re-analysing flint collections in the Alexander Keiller Museum

o     Volunteers had reached an extra 3-4,000 people.

All present congratulated Nick Snashall on her informative talk.

  • Governance of WHS:  The Chairman reported the way the WHS was governed was being reviewed and that it was important that the community’s voice was clearly heard.
  • Jubilee celebrations:  The Chairman reported nearly £1,500 had been spent on HM The Queen’s jubilee celebrations.  Over £700 had been received as voluntary donations (Community and Henge Shops, the Social Centre, St. James’ PCC and the Avebury Society), £500 from MAB and £250 from APC.  [PS. The Women’s Institute was not mentioned at the meeting but had also made valuable in-kind contributions.]  The Chairman thanked all those involved in the Jubilee and reported that Mrs Jan Polack would be looking at organising a follow-on, Jubilee themed Autumn Market.
  • Avebury Community Shop:  The Chairman invited Mrs Michelle Lomas (Chairlady, Avebury Community Shop) to address the meeting. Mrs Lomas reported:
  1. the shop had purchased a bread oven the previous autumn and now baked its own bread on site
  2. new flooring coverings had been laid upstairs
  3. the shop was keen to stock local produce
  4. it was also keen to stock new lines by local request

Mrs Lomas stressed that profit was being put back into the community, for example, the shop made up hampers for fundraising events. Mrs Lomas requested anyone interested in volunteering to contact her.              

  • Summer Solstice 2013: the Chairman reported:
  1. There would be a police presence from the afternoon of Wednesday 19 June to Saturday day-time.
  2. Two days of informal camping on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 June.
  3. APC had met with Inspector Mark Thompson the previous day who had confirmed that at least one police drugs dog had been allocated for part of the event.
  4. Parking passes would be issued for the disabled parking spaces in the village car park and passes would also be provided for people visiting the Rectory.
  • Policing:  The Chairman invited PC David Tippetts to report. PC Tippetts introduced himself as Community Beat Manager for Marlborough Rural West. PC Tippetts stated that Mr Angus Macpherson had been elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Mr Mark Thompson was the new Police Inspector. See Police Crime Plan on website: http://www.wiltshire.police.uk

Mr Tippetts reported that the commonest crime had been theft from motor vehicles and there had been three in the last month in Avebury. Police would be doing covert work to catch the criminals. Mr Tippetts also advised the public to be aware that people had recently been caught, in the evening, with drugs in Avebury car park. He said he was looking to encourage Neighbourhood Watch Schemes in the area.

o        Mr Howell asked, if there were similar problems on the Ridgeway as last year, would they be dealt with in the same way and would the police be issuing Section 61 notices? Mr Tippetts confirmed Section 61 notices would be issued and the police would be doing joint patrols with NT.

o        Mr Howell questioned where people were directed to once the NT campsites were full. Mrs Tomlin said people were directed to other campsites. Mrs Tomlin confirmed to Mrs Milton that she would be writing to thank the police in addition to giving her usual verbal thanks.

o        Mr and Mrs Swatton reported there were ongoing problems with people parking on the nursery site at Trusloe and in the layby outside 5-7 Trusloe Cottages. Mr Paradise said the back of Windmill Hill was also an issue at Solstice.

o        Mrs McCaire questioned the purpose of the grey posts that had appeared on the A4 near Silbury Hill. The Chairman had not seen new posts but there were the remains of old sign posts that had been vandalised.

  • Visitor numbers to Avebury and the Manor:  The Chairman invited Mrs Tomlin to give feedback on visitor numbers. Mrs Tomlin estimated there had been about 85-90,000 visits (as opposed to visitors) to the Manor in 2012 but it was difficult to estimate visitors to the landscape. The impression was that visitor numbers had not increased on the Henge.

o        Mr Paradise asked about the NT counters on boxes in the NT car park and if they were in operation. Mrs Tomlin did not know.

  • Local issues and events:  The Chairman reported:
  1. The Sarsen Trail would take place on the 5 May. Charity walks such as Ridgeway 100 would be on 13-14 July and Laura Cooper had made arrangements for the finish at Rutlands Farm. It seemed likely that only small numbers would attend three Discover Adventure walks.
  2. The Chairman had met with Visit Wiltshire and had asked them not to feature Avebury on the Wiltshire Heritage Trail.
  3. EU LEADER funding for the Great Stones Way had been declined and Friends of the Ridgeway were rethinking the project.
  4. Avebury Rocks was not being held in 2013.
  5. Laura Cooper would be organising a one-off event at Rutlands for NFU Open Farm Sunday on 9 June, 11am-5pm. The event was for the community and local parishes to highlight Marborough Downs Nature Improvement Area. It was estimated there would be 800 attendees.
  6. The Wiltshire Council dog warden had been patrolling more frequently.
  7. Mr Jim Gunter was likely to carry out a geophysical survey of the Sports-field in the near future.
  8. APC had contacted WC to carry out various small works such filling potholes, road sweeping and repairing streetlights.
  • Communications:  The Chairman stated APC continued with its aim to improve communications with the public.  The web site was regularly updated, the headlines of APC meetings were included in the parish magazine and on local noticeboards and APC had circulated a number of fliers to all households.
  • Civil Emergency Plan:  Mrs Judy Farthing requested anyone with equipment or skills that could be used in an Emergency to sign up after the meeting. Mrs Tomlin requested the NT to be put on the list as their rangers had equipment and many lived locally.
  • Precept, finance and admin, the Chairman reported:
  1. The precept was down from £11,100 to £11,000 for 2013/14. Estimated outgoings for 2013-2014 included the Clerks’ salary/costs at nearly £5,000, grass cutting at £1,800, smaller items such as web-site, subscriptions, training, printing, expenses and audit work at a total of £1,400, insurance at £1,200 and match funding for projects at £800.
  2. The bank balance at 31 March 2013 was about £10,500 but a more comparable figure was £8,000 due to pledges outstanding at the end of the financial year for the pavement extension at Trusloe and a contribution to the WHS traffic study. The figure of £8,000 was broadly similar to the balance at the same time the previous year.

iii.            The audited accounts for 2011-2012 were available for inspection.

  1. Local issues from the public: the past year and for the next 12 months:

o        Mr Holmes reported that on the east side of West Kennett Avenue, a number of hollows had developed on the edge of the carriageway. Mr Holmes will give further details to APC to action.

o        Mrs Kremer thanked the Chairman and the Clerk for their work.

  1. Local issues from the Parish Council:aside from flooding and traffic, there were no more issues from APC.
  1. Any other business
  • The Chairman thanked all those who supported the Parish Council, including:

o        Litter pickers and those who cleared up after their dogs especially on the recreation grounds, the Circle and on footpaths.

o        Trustees, Secretaries and Treasurers of local voluntary organisations and especially to Mrs Jenny Haines and ASA.

o        Police, staff at Wiltshire Council and the National Trust.

o        Miss Liz Moore (Clerk), Mrs Jemima Milton (Wiltshire Councillor), Mrs Judy Farthing (Civil Emergency Officer), Mr Paul Birkeland-Green (APC Web-Site) and Mr Len Adams (APC Handyman)

o        Colleagues on the Parish Council

o        and all those who attended the meeting.

The meeting closed at 20:46


Appendices (included in book of Parish Council papers):

  1. National Trust Update April 2013
  2. Avebury Archaeology Update 18 April 2013