Mere Town Council

Town Clerk - Mrs. L. C. Wood

Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held on Monday, 3rd February 2020 at 7.30 p.m. in The Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW

Present: Cllrs. C. Hazzard (Chairman), E. Mitchell (Vice-Chairman), P. Coward, R. Coward, R. Hill, G. Ings, G. Jeans, J. Jordan, A. Mead, R. Sims, Mrs. K. Symonds & Mrs. L. Traves
Also: R. Stone, D. Stone, D. Morris, Jenny Seward, G. Avory, Mrs. A. Howell, Dr. Paulette McManus, G. Hill. Sgt. Richard Harmsworth & PC Richard Salter  + others

Meeting convened at 7.30 p.m. with Public Session
The Chairman convened the meeting and apologised for the lack of heating.  He pointed out that the Clerk had been in and turned the heating on at 5.30 p.m. but the boiler did not appear to be working.  The Chairman read out the consent notice for names of members of the public to be recorded in the Minutes.

Mrs. Adrienne Howell said that she was speaking on behalf of the ‘Northsiders’ (the name that the group fighting for footpath 78 had called themselves).  She said that the group expressed their disappointment that the Council had withdrawn its letter of support stating that the right of way was longstanding and historic.

A parishioner asked whether the Town Council had any advice to give out to people to take steps to help deal with Coronavirus if it comes this way.

Dr. Paulette McManus said that she was applying to Mere Town Council for a small seed grant for restoration work to the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) at Dead Maid Quarry.  She said that the site is the best in England of its type and is very famous in scientific literature for its geology.  It was commissioned as an SSI in 1951.  Dr. McManus has been liaising with Natural England and has a quotation to carry out the clearance and restoration work by their preferred contractor.  She is therefore intending to apply for an Area Board Grant to cover the clearance costs and hopes that the Town Council will consider donating some seed money towards the project.

Dick Morris asked about the two speed indicator devices in Mere that are not working.  The Clerk explained that the Speed Indicator Device in Castle Street is working but is solar powered and is not receiving enough sunlight at the present time. 

Mr. Hill of Castle Street spoke about land ownership boundary issues. 

Mr. George Jeans, speaking as a member of the public, said that Mrs. Adrienne Howell had very eloquently put forward the case for footpath 78 but she did not ask for this matter to be raised on the agenda for the Town Council’s March meeting.  He would like the Town Council to consider whether or not they are able to submit a relevant letter of support to the planning inspector.

John Jordan wanted to raise awareness of an event - the red arrows walk which will take place on Valentine’s Day.

The Chairman asked Cllr. Jeans if he could ask for the area board meeting to be better publicised locally – in “Mere Matters” and “Mere Mutters”

There was police presence at the meeting and the Chairman introduced PC Richard Salter who, in turn, introduced his line manager, Sgt Kevin Harmsworth.  Sgt Harmsworth said he had been in the police for 16 years and heads up the neighbourhood policing team for the Mere area.  PC Richard Salter explained that he was the local police officer for Mere between 2008 and 2015 and so there were quite a few familiar faces at the meeting tonight.  He was pleased to say that he was now coming back to cover the Mere and Tisbury area and would be working closely with PCSO Peter Tcherniawsky.  The Chairman said that it was very good to hear that PC Richard Salter would be back covering this area again.  He stressed that it was a waste of police resources to attend the Town Council meetings on a monthly basis but it would be appreciated if he could make contact with the town Council on a regular basis because we are often made aware of issues that are worrying people or areas that need regular police checks. George Jeans pointed out that he attends the Community Area Safety Partnership meetings and one of the big issues arising from those meetings is speed of traffic or perceived speed of traffic and one of the problems faced by the committee is that they cannot seem to get any response from the police on results of speed checks that they carry out. PC Richard Salter said that he would take these points on board and also pointed out that there would be increased communication on social media from the local police

Pre-application presentation by Mark Bassett of Freeths LLP on proposals for a care home development on land at 303 Interchange site, adjacent to Quarryfield Industrial Estate
The Chairman pointed out that as this was a pre-application discussion, any views expressed are, at best, provisional because not all of the relevant information will be available to the council and formal consultations will not have taken place.  The Chairman introduced Mr. Mark Bassett who gave a powerpoint presentation on proposals for Country Court Care to develop a care home on a 1.2 acre plot in the south-east corner of the A303 Interchange Site.  Mr. Bassett pointed out that there had been a succession of employment permissions for the site since 2006, all of which had expired without having been implemented and although the site has been marketed extensively since 2015 only one agreed sale has been made in respect of plot A.  He also gave figures for projected housing needs and current and future demand for care home beds.  The proposals put forward were for a 70 bedroom, three storey, ‘U’ shaped building of modern design with communal facilities on site for residents including lounge areas, a café, hair salon and small cinema area.  There would also be outdoor amenity areas and 25 parking spaces for staff and visitors..  He said that despite not being a ‘traditional’ employment use, the proposal would create 73 full time equivalent jobs in a range of positions.  Mr. Bassett said that they would hope to submit a planning application in the summer.
Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that it was sometimes a struggle to keep staffing levels in our existing care homes.  Mrs. Seward said she was not happy about the employment site being used for a care home but Mrs. Howell said that a lot of people had great difficulty in finding a place for ageing relatives that need to go into care and could not see why this would be detrimental.  Cllr. Jeans said that the number of proposed car parking spaces was wholly inadequate.  In reality, nearly all staff would drive their car to work and car parking would therefore bleed out onto the road restricting access for any other businesses that may come onto the site.  The Town Clerk said she noted that the proposed building was three stories in height and asked if this would be a much higher building than the brush factory. She said she mentioned this because at a recent public enquiry on land not too far away the planning inspector had placed much emphasis on the heritage aspect and effects on the views from Castle Hill and Long Hill and suggested that this be taken into consideration.  Mr. Bassett said that he would take these views on board and thanked the Town Council for the opportunity to present these proposals.

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs. B. Norris, R. Pester and Cllr. A. Colman.  The Chairman said that it was his sad duty to report that Cllr. Colman’s wife died last week and that he had passed on the Town Council’s condolences to him.  Cllr. Ings apologised for early departure and said that he would need to leave the meeting at 8.30 p.m.

109.  To receive declarations of interest from members and to consider requests for new DPI dispensations.
Members are invited to declare disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests in items on the agenda as required by the Mere Town Council Code of Conduct for Members and by the Localism Act 2011.

  • Cllr George Jeans declared a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 113A and in Minute No. 115a)
  • Cllr. Mrs. Traves declared a personal interest in Planning Application 19/12083/FUL

109.  Minutes – RESOLVED to approve Minutes of Town Council meeting held on Monday, 13th January 2020 on proposal made by Cllr. Sims, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 13.1.2020.

110.  Matters Arising
a) Insurance adjustments in respect of new building reinstatement valuations and addition of RTV, recent capital expenditure – The Clerk confirmed that the buildings sums insured have been amended to reflect the building reinstatement valuations recently submitted (apart from the Model Railway Club – as detailed in Minute No. 114b).  She had also included the new RTV vehicle on the Council’s vehicle policy. 
b) Introduction of electronic payments – The Chairman said that he had been into Lloyds Bank and he confirmed that it was possible to carry out the Resolution made at last month’s meeting  However, a form needs to be downloaded online and submitted, after which the bank accounts will be frozen for a week or so.  The Chairman said that timing was therefore crucial to set this up and in the meantime, he confirmed that he was present with the Clerk when the payments, which had been authorised at the meeting, were being made electronically.

111.  Reports & Consultations
a) Neighbourhood Policing Report - None
b) County Councillor’s report - None

112.  Planning
a) Applications: (All applications can be viewed on Wiltshire Council’s website http://planning.wiltshire.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/ApplicationSearch.aspx   – and type in the relevant application number)

The Chairman and Cllr. Jeans confirmed that it had not been possible to connect to Wiltshire Council’s website since Friday last week and therefore it was not possible to download any of the plans and show them on the projector.  The Clerk had printed off hard copies of most of the plans which were distributed to members. 

Application Ref:          19/12083/FUL
Application for:           Full Planning
Proposal:                    Erection of an agricultural workers dwelling
At:                                Whitehill Farm, Swainsford, Mere.  BA12 6JU
Cllr. Mitchell explained the location of the proposed dwelling and Cllr. R. Coward said that he could not see any reason to object to this application as long as the proposed dwelling has an agricultural tie to the land.  RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on condition that there is an agricultural tie.  Proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. P. coward and carried with a majority vote.  As Cllr. Mrs. Traves had declared a personal interest in this planning application, she refrained from voting or discussion.  (In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting).

Application Ref:         19/11825/FUL
Application for:           Full Planning
Proposal:                    Single storey rear extension and installation of dormer windows, erection of porch
to front elevation
At:                                Meads Mount, Charnage, Mere.  BA12 6AR
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Traves, seconded by Cllr. Mitchell and carried with a majority vote.  (In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting).

Application Ref:         20/00315/TCA
Application for:           Work to Trees in a Conservation Area
Proposal:                    Remove hedge
At:                                The Rondel, Castle Hill Lane, Mere.  BA12 6JB
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs Traves, seconded by Cllr. Mrs Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.

Application Ref:         20/00444/FUL
Application for:           Full Planning
Proposal:                    Single storey side and rear extension
At:                                Spree, Rook Street, Mere.  BA12 6FD
The Clerk pointed out that this planning application arrived last Thursday and since then she had not been able to print off or download the planning application because Wiltshire Councils website was inaccessible.  It was agreed to ask Wiltshire Council to extend the Town Council’s consultation deadline so that this planning application can be considered properly at the next Town Council meeting.

113.  Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
a) Inquiry into Modification Order for Mere Path No. 78, The Square, Mere – letter from The Planning Inspectorate and Town Council’s subsequent withdrawal of letter of support.  Having declared a pecuniary interest in this item, Cllr. Jeans left the meeting and took no part in discussion or voting.  The Chairman reported ‘Regrettably, the Town Council has felt it necessary to withdraw our letter of support for the Modification Order for Mere Path No. 78 The Square, Mere.  The reason for this is that the Town Council’s letter of support was on the basis that it would be a safer alternative route for parents and children than having to walk along the narrow stretch of Manor Road between the old Lloyds Bank and Walton Antiques where there is no pavement.  However, this matter has now been referred to the Planning Inspectorate who advised us that he/she will only be concerned with identifying the public rights that have already come into existence over the land in question, not whether the proposed rights would be useful for the public in the future or cause problems for the landowner.  Only relevant evidence will be considered.  He also said that having read our letter of support, he noted that the contents of it are insufficient in that it does not appear to cover any of the matters which the inspector will be able to take into account when reaching a decision and on this basis we should now consider doing one of three things:

  • If we do not think that we have anything to add to our letter of support which is relevant to matters the Inspector can address, then we should ask for it to be withdrawn
  • Amend our letter of support by sending a letter which sets out any other matters which we think are relevant (for example those described in the paragraph headed What the Inspector must consider [in his letter]), or
  • Send a letter explaining why we think our letter of support is relevant and how it relates to one (or more) of the issues mentioned in the paragraph headed What the Inspector must consider.

 Please note the final paragraph of the inspector’s letter:  For information, if, having been advised that your letter of support is not likely to be relevant, you persist with your arguments when giving evidence at a hearing or inquiry, it is possible that other parties may regard this as unreasonable and make an application to the Inspector requesting you reimburse their additional costs.  The Inspector could also award costs even if the other parties do not make any applications for an award of costs. Given these issues, the Town Council felt that it was left with no alternative than to withdraw our letter of support.’  Cllr. P. Coward reiterated that the Town Council does want to support this issue but could be liable to pay out thousands of pounds in costs and then our parishioners would not be very happy with us.  Cllr. R. Coward wanted to thank Mrs. Howell for what she said in the public session and said that he fully supported this from a safety point of view but, unfortunately, this is irrelevant to the inspector.  Mrs. Howell said that she was under the impression that the Town Council could submit a more relevant support submission to the inspector.  The Chairman said that as the ‘Northsiders’ had appointed a barrister, who presumably would be looking at their evidence and advising them on what action to take, perhaps they would be happy to forward the barristers report to the Town Council for it to consider whether or not it can submit relevant letter of support.  RESOLVED that the Town Council would reserve its position on whether it is possible to submit a letter of support with more relevance until members have had an opportunity to read the barristers report.  Proposal made by the Chairman, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.
b)  Update on issues for MyWiltshire Reporting App, jobs for Parish Steward + identification of new issues & jobs – no new jobs identified
c)  Street Trading – to gain members views on the idea in principle and, if supportive, to suggest suitable locations. The Clerk reported: ‘Wiltshire Council has received an application from The Truckle Truck wishing to apply for a street trading pitch to sell cheese and accompanying articles from a vintage Citroen HY van with a 0.63m overhang for the serving hatch.  They have a quiet running generator.  (I believe they already trade in the local area).  They would like to trade in Mere, one day a month between 10.00 – 16.00 every second Monday of each month.
The location they have asked for is in the parking bays outside Sprout & Flower.  David Button, the Area Highways Engineer has some concerns about the location – stating that there are only a small number of parking spaces available at the suggested location which is essentially to one side of The Square – the commercial centre of Mere.  The parking spaces are time limited parking and therefore subject to enforcement.  He also has concerns about highway safety, particularly as the suggested location is close to the HGV loading pay in what is quite a tight street space.    He suggested that the car parks might be a suitable location.  Chairman and I discussed this and felt that this would add diversity and vibrancy to the town and could even generate some extra commercial activity.   We also felt that the trader was unlikely to want to site their truck in the car park and would much prefer to be in the centre of Town where there was more footfall.  Thirdly, our lease with Wiltshire Council for the two car parks forbids any market trading.  In this respect we wondered about suggesting three other locations:

  •  The car parking spaces in the area requested but further down towards the Post Office – specifically outside The Old Bakery  – the pavement outside here is much wider and could accommodate awning and small queue of people as well as letting other people pass by.
  • The car parking spaces outside Golden Valley Chinese.  The Chinese Take-Away is not open during the day so is not likely to interfere with their trade.  Pavement is wider on this side of the road.
  • The car parking spaces outside The George
  • The wide area of pavement by the concrete planter and bench outside Hayleys Hair (this way, the vehicle would not need to take up a parking space at all).

Members felt that, before submitting suggested locations for the Highways Authority and applicant to consider, there ought to be some kind of consultation with existing traders to see if they are happy with this request.  Councillors felt that by setting a precedent to agree one street trader, it could generate applications from more and this could lead to upset from existing traders who are paying a premium in business rates.  The Clerk was asked to send an email to the Mere Chamber of Trade to see if they could consult with town centre businesses on this application. 
d) To set up Advisory Group to research and carry out community engagement on future Parking and Waiting Restriction requests – The Clerk said that Cllr. Pester had expressed some interest in this.  It was agree to defer discussion until the next meeting when Cllr. Pester would be present.
*e) Community Area Transport Group (CATG) Survey (see Briefing Note 20-05) attached – members answered the questions in the survey.
*e) Highways Newsletter January 2020 – members noted the newsletter, which had been distributed with their agenda papers.

114.  Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries,
*a) Car Park Leases

  • Queries raised by Town Clerk & Town Council’s solicitor
  • Issue raised by Wiltshire Council’s Estate Surveyor regarding EV Charges

The Town Clerk had distributed a report to members with their agenda papers.  Cllr. R. Coward said that his initial feelings were to say ‘no’ to the release of 5 car parking spaces from each of the car parks for electric charging points.  RESOLVED that Cllrs. Mrs. Traves, John Jordan and George Jeans would look into the queries raised about the car park leases and the issues raised regarding EV chargers and make a recommendation to the Town Council.
b) Railway Modellers Club

  • Insurance valuation - The Clerk confirmed that the office had contacted the Railway Modellers Club to let them know the Chartered Surveyors view on the insurance reinstatement valuation of the building and to check that they had adequate insurance provision or were prepared to amend their insurance provision to the value of £98k.  Mr. Tom Snook of the railway modellers club had said that the building was insured for £20k and that he was confident this would allow for reinstatement as he had been to Sparkford Sawmills who had told him that a similar wooden structure would be £15k and he is allowing for an extra £5k to clear away the debris after, say a fire or similar disaster.  RESOLVED that the Clerk should ask the Railway Modellers Club to find out how much the extra premium would be to increase the buildings sum insured to £98k
  • Permission to move door/shed – the Clerk said that whilst discussing the improvements to the club house and with reference to the £750 allocated grant for refurbishment of the toilet and rear shed, it was felt by the club that the rear shed should be incorporated into part of the hut structure and the club were requesting permission for this improvement to be enacted by their members in the spring of 2020.  Mr. Snook had provided a detailed breakdown of the work involved.  RESOLVED to grant permission for the Railway Modellers Club to carry out the work as detailed in Mr. Snook’s report date November 2019.

c) Requests for Clock Tower promotional banners for events during 2020 – The Clerk reported that she had received four requests for promotional banners for 2020  - one for the Church Fete on 14th June, the Heritage Open Weekend (flower festival and concert in St. Michael’s in aid of the St. Michael’s Appeal) 11th – 13th September, Mere Carnival – 17th September and Mere Literary Festival 13th – 18th October.  The Clerk said that there was no Cancer Research events planned for 2020.  RESOLVED to approve the erection of promotional banners requested subject to terms of the Town Council’s banner policy.
d) Update on Wellhead Allotment Car Park scheme – the Clerk reported that she had been working with the grounds staff to carry out resurfacing work to the car park at Wellhead Allotments.  The grounds staff would be carrying out the work themselves using machinery that would be hired in and recycled road planings would be used for the surface treatment.  The Clerk had reached agreement with residents of the Wellhead area to make a combined contribution of £600 towards the work.

115. Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) PaymentsRESOLVED to approve payments set out in payment schedules attached.  The payment schedule was signed by the Chairman and RFO in the presence of the Council. As Cllr. Jeans had declared a pecuniary interest in this item, he left the meeting room and took no part in discussion or voting.
b) To consider and approve S.106 side agreement between Wiltshire Council & Mere Town Council  relating to the provision of off-site facilities and open space in Mere in relation to the Old Brush Factory Site – RESOLVED to send the documents to the Council’s solicitor to check before signing.
c) Wiltshire Council’s Service Delegation & Asset Transfer Scheme – Streetscene Contract Scope of Works - deferred
d) Request for grant to act as seed funding for Area Board Grant submission from Dr. Paulette McManus for clearance work to SSSI at Dead Maid Quarry – The Chairman said: ‘Dr. Paulette McManus has been trying to find a group or groups of people to help clear the site and has enlisted the help of Natural England.  Mere Footpath Group have also done some clearance work but there is more to be done and so Natural England have advised one of their contractors to help clear the site but there are cost implications.  Paulette McManus has been working hard to co-ordinate all this and would like to apply for an Area Board Grant but, of course, they will want to see a contribution from the Town Council.  Is the Town Council happy to make a small financial contribution to act as seed funding for this Area Board Application?’  RESOLVED to give a donation of £100 to Dr. McManus to act as seed funding for her grant application to the area board on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
 e) Suggestion to use R2 money allocated for outdoor gym project in order to utilise funds before expiry – the Chairman reported that the Clerk had secured allocation of this Policy R2 money until the end of the financial year only.  The Clerk said that the obstacle in the way of this project proceeding now was the fact that Wiltshire Council wanted to take the land back (the old swimming pool site) that had been earmarked for the project.  She was therefore suggesting that the Town Council should 1) ask for a extension to the allocation period without any fear of the funds being returned to developers or 2) (if 1 is not possible) to purchase equipment to the value of the R2 funds allocated before the end of March 2020 with a view to erecting them elsewhere in the new financial year.

116.  General Items & Consultations

117.  Future agenda items
Cllr. Jordan – water bottle refilling station
Cllr. Sims – VE Day celebrations

For Information Only
*Briefing Notes:
Briefing Note No. 20-03 – Upcoming Engagement/Consultation Events in Salisbury
Briefing Note No. 20-04 – Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan – Receipt of Inspector’s Report
Briefing Note No. 20-05 – Community Area Transport Groups (CATGs): Survey
Briefing Note No. 20-06 – Young Carers Awareness Day

Forthcoming meetings/events

  • Employment & Careers Event – Wednesday, 18th March 2020 between 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm at The Nadder Centre, Weaveland Road, Tisbury SP3 6HJ
  • Highways Meeting – Monday, 18th May 2020 between 1900 hrs to 2100 hrs (venue to be advised)

Note:  Members are reminded that the Town Council has a general duty to consider the following matters in the exercise of any of its functions: Equal Opportunities (race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and any disability), Crime and Disorder, Health and Safety and Human Rights.

*Further information on these items enclosed/attached


Registered Charity No. 1093497
For Trustees:

  • To confirm charity’s details online
  • To approve Annual Return for year ending 31.3.19 for submission to Charity Commission

The Clerk said that she had prepared the figures for the Annual Return showing receipts of £11,000 being a donation from Mere Town Council and payments of £10838.55 being payments to Wessex Water and to Mere Town Council for grounds maintenance.  The balance at 31.3.19 (which agrees with the bank statements) was £720.03 (these figures are based on the end of year reports approved by the Town Council/Trustees on 3.6.2019)

RESOLVED to approve Annual Return 2019 & submit to the Charity Commission accordingly.

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