Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held on Monday, 7th December 2020 at 6.00 p.m. at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere. BA12 6EW and on Zoom
Present in the room: Cllrs. C. Hazzard (Chairman), A. Colman, R. Coward, G. Jeans (from 6.00 pm until 7.00 pm), A. Mead, Mrs. L. Traves.
Present on Zoom: P. Coward, G. Ings, J. Jordan, E. Mitchell, B. Norris, R. Sims, Mrs. K. Symonds, R. Hill,
Also present on Zoom: Sandra Catley.
Mr. Rodney Coward said that he would be declaring an interest in item 5d) [Policy, License and fees for private sporting activities] when it is discussed as most of this has come up because of his grandson who wanted to earn some money to see him through university by offering a tennis coaching service. Mr. Coward explained that his grandson hoped to become a professional tennis player and so he offered his services and wanted to do some coaching. Mr. Coward said that he was concerned about the restriction on number of hours and said he thought this should be open to negotiation and should be a contract between the coach and respective club (in this case tennis club).
Apologies for absence – Cllr. Jeans apologised for having to leave the meeting early.
- 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.
- To receive Declarations of Interest relating to matters contained in this agenda, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972 in respect of officers and the Localism Act 2011 in respect of members.
- R. Coward declared a personal interest in Minute No. 166 d)
- Jeans declared a prejudicial interest in Minute No. 170a)
- Clive Hazzard declared a personal interest in Planing Appications 20/09413/VAR & 20/09910/TPO
(b) To consider any dispensation requests received by the Town Clerk.
- Minutes – RESOLVED to approve the Minutes of the meetings held on Monday, 12th October 2020 and Monday, 2nd November 2020 on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Matters Arising
- a) Notice of Advertisement for Co-option to fill Casual Vacancy (Minute No. 156 b) – The Clerk confirmed that a notice had been published and displayed on the website, on the noticeboards in the town and on Facebook. The Clerk had prepared an information pack with application form for candidates to complete and it was hoped that the Council would be able to co-opt to fill the vacancy at the January 2021 meeting. Members noted this information and said they would spread the word.
- b) With reference to the refusal of planning permission for Ashmere House (old Lloyds Bank), that Wiltshire Council’s parking policy was unenforceable – Cllr. G. Jeans (last paragraph Minute 157a) – Cllr.Jeans said that when discussing the planning application for a variation of conditions relating to the old Lloyds Bank with a planning officer recently, it became apparent that a developer can submit a planning application for a dwelling with one bedroom, one dressing room, one dining room and one office. The planning application would then be determined on the basis that it is a one-bedroom property and there would be a minimum requirement of 1 parking space. Once his planning application was approved, there is nothing to stop the developer from building the property and it being marketed as a four-bedroom house (without a dressing room, dining room or office) or for subsequent owners/occupiers from changing those rooms to bedrooms. The only problem is that this four-bedroomed house would then only have 1 parking space. This therefore makes a nonsense of the parking requirements. It was agreed that Cllr. Jeans should make a proposal for the Council to consider at next month’s meeting.
*c) Update on correspondence and situation relating to unauthorised activities at Burton Field, Mere – the Clerk read out the attached report and also said: ‘I was wondering whether it might be worth writing to the Estate Agents to point out to them that Mere is classified as a Local Service Centre and not as a Market Town or Principal Settlement and therefore the Town Council is slightly concerned that the claim made by them in their marketing publicity (reproduced below) may be a little ambiguous and open to legal challenge.
This should also be taken into consideration alongside the Wiltshire Local Plan which is to establish how can approximately 44,000 homes be distributed across Wiltshire, with a focus on Wiltshire’s market towns and principal settlements, to maintain the role and function of those places and promote sustainable development.
It was agreed that the Clerk should draft a letter and bring it to the next meeting to agree wording.
*d) Policy, License and fees for private sporting activities – The Clerk had produced a draft policy which was distributed to members with their agenda papers. There was a general discussion on whether there should be a variation in policy for coaches who are working with individual clubs and those that are just working independently. Cllr. Colman said that the policy should stipulate that all coaches should be certified as a trainer. Cllr. Mitchell proposed that there should be no blanket policy but that each application is judged independently and any restrictions and charges will be imposed by the Town Council on a one-to-one basis. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote of approval.
- e) Report on correspondence relating to closure of Fives Court Care Home (Minute No. 156 a) – the Clerk reported ‘You will recall that from the Minutes of the last meeting, we had received a response from Wiltshire Council, via our MP, following a meeting between him and the Town Council’s Chairman. This response is in the Minutes of the November meeting. Jeans has also written to our MP to state his dismay over the closure of this care home and his upset over the fact that he had not been consulted at all. A resident of Mere who is also Branch Secretary of the Warminster, Westbury & Mere Labour Party wrote to the CEO of the Order of St. John’s Charitable Trust (OSJCT) and also to the Cabinet Member at Wiltshire Council. Both have written fairly lengthy replies. Wiltshire Council said that the confidentiality around the decision to and the planning of the closure of Fives Court Care Home was done, not in a cynical way, but to ensure that accurate, appropriate and timely information could be given to the staff, residents and families by OSJCT. I would also like to report that the Town Council Chairman has contacted Mere Surgery to Ask them if the building may be suitable for their purposes but they have said that they are not in a position to consider this at the moment and also that the location/building would not be suitable.’ Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that if the Doctors Surgery is not a goer then the other thing that is needed in Mere would be rented office space and maybe Wiltshire would rent it out for that purpose. Cllr. Jeans said that he would be talking to cabinet members in a Zoom Meeting about this in a few days’ time and will report back to us with an update in January.
- f) Project to rebuild Mere Youth Centre in Mere Recreation Ground – to consider report prepared by Clerk & Chairman 18.11.2020 (previously distributed) – Members confirmed that they had received a copy of the report and unanimously confirmed that this be adopted as the Town Council’s position. The Chairman reiterated that any plans for the rebuilding or extension of the Mere Youth Centre building would need to be approved by the Town Council and Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground Charity before they could be submitted for planning approval by Seeds4Successs. Jeans raised issues relating to access but it was pointed out that these were points for inclusion in a potential lease and that a draft lease needs to be prepared first and then we can go backwards and forwards between parties to fine-tune the terms of the lease.
- 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)
|Application for:||Work to Trees in Conservation Area|
|Proposal:||T1 – Beech – crown reduction to reduce to about 30 feet|
|At:||Lawrences, Old Hollow, Mere. BA12 6EG|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote.
Cllr. Mitchell in The Chair
|Application for:||Variation of Condition|
|Proposal:||Variation of Condition 2 of 19/06100/FUL (erect single storey extension)|
|At:||Apple Tree Cottage, North Street, Mere. BA12 6HH|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Traves, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a majority vote. Having declared a personal interest in the above application, Cllr. Hazzard refrained from discussion or voting and in order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor. Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.
|Application for:||Work to Tree Preservation Order Trees|
|Proposal:||Scots Pine Tree (T223) – fell due to dangerous condition|
|At:||Greenacres, Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6JW|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jeans, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Traves and carried with a majority vote. Cllrs. R. Coward and P. Coward abstained from voting and Cllr. Hazzard, having declared a personal interest in the above application, refrained from discussion or voting.
Cllr. Hazzard resumed as Chair
|Application for:||Hedgerow Removal|
|Proposal:||There are 2.6m sections hedgerow proposed to be removed. This is to enable the construction of a water supply pipeline to provide stream support to Ashford Water watercourse. The hedgerows will be reinstated as per drawing: STD836 Rev E on completion.|
|At:||Pumping Station, Mere. BA12 6AU|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mead, seconded by Cllr. Sims and carried with a unanimous vote.
|Application for:||Work to Trees in a Cons. Area|
|Proposal:||Reduce Norway Spruce to provide 1 metre clearance from BT cables (T1), remove 4 stems of young beech trees (T2), reduce willow by 2 metres (T3).|
|At:||Fairhaven, Pettridge Lane, Mere. BA12 6DG|
Resolved to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Sims and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) To receive and consider report from Wiltshire Councillor – Cllr. Jeans reported that the planning application for the residential caravan site for four gypsy families at Jane Oaks Farm in Huntingford has still not been determined. Jeans said that he has asked for this application to be called in to committee if the officer’s recommendation is for approval. Cllr. Mrs. Traves said that it has been brought to her attention that the planning department is running about 8 weeks behind schedule.
- Highways, River, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) Parking on Hazzards Hill, particularly during school collection times – Cllr. A. Mead wanted to discuss the current situation relating to parking on Hazzards Hill, particularly at school collection times. Mead said that parents are parking on the brow of the hill and there is car parking on both sides of the hill, even at night time now. Cllr. Jordan said that parking has always been an issue at every school he has ever worked at and said that drivers are selfish and will park where they want. The police say it’s not their issue and unless its hugely dangerous there is nothing they can do. The school has proposed this extra-large car park and if this goes ahead it might alleviate the problem. Cllr Norris said that people parking at the bottom of Hazzards Hill outside the old filling station is causing a real problem but Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said if you put yellow lines there, it will just displace the cars somewhere else. The Chairman agreed to speak to PCSO Tcherniawsky about this and also agreed to publish a notice in Mere Matters asking people to be a bit more considerate when they are parking.
- b) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team or MyWiltshire reports – Cllr. Jordan said that the Sparkle Team did a nice job on the last footpath that they cut back and asked if it would be possible for them to do the footpath by The Vicarage and also the one that comes out on Edgebridge, opposite the Walnut Tree Inn if they are coming back to Mere in the near future. Norris reported that the wall at the back of Mere surgery has been damaged again. The Chairman reported that he had asked the Town Council’s grounds staff to tidy up the clock tower island
- c) Notice of closures for highway works:
- Urgent closure of Boar Street and Pettridge Lane 15th January for 5 days between the hours of 19.00 and 23.59 to enable Wiltshire Council to carry out carriageway patching and associated works.
- Temporary Closure of Church Street (Part) to enable a sewer connection. The order will come into operation on 18th January 2021 and is anticipated that the closure will be required until 22 January 2021.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
- a) To receive and consider quotations to resurface Jubilee Walk, Jubilee Gardens, Mere. – the Clerk reported that as the Town Council had approved funding to resurface the walkway in Jubilee Gardens (between Castle Hill Lane and Castle Street), we have managed to get quotations but unfortunately, we could only get two companies to provide quotations (the third company did not respond despite two separate requests):
They have both only quoted for a tarmac finish and one says that Resin Bound or Bonded decorative aggregate surfaces that are anti slip would be approx. double in costs.
- Quotation A – Total sum £4715.00 + VAT
- Quotation B – Total sum £4150.00 + VAT
Quotation A is for 30mm depth whereas Quotation B is for 25mm depth
Quotation B mentions applying weed-killer on a prior visit but Quotation A does not mention this
Quotation A says it will chase out existing macadam to edges or adjoining surfaces but Quotation B does not mention this although I would think this could be taken for granted
Quotation B says it will include additional material to regulate undulations – not mentioned in quotation A
Cllr. Mitchell said that the Town Council would be better off getting our own grounds staff to spray the area with weed-killer to kill all the moss as this would need doing several weeks before it was laid. to accept the cheaper quotation on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a majority vote. (Cllr. R. Coward abstained from voting on this matter).
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to approve and authorise payments as shown in payment schedule attached on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote. (Cllr. Jeans had declared a prejudicial interest in this item at the beginning of the meeting but was not present when this item was discussed).
- b) Audit – Completion of the Limited Assurance Review for the year ended 31 March 2020
- Notice of conclusion of audit
- External Auditor Report & Certificate
The Clerk confirmed that the external auditors, PKF Littlejohn LLP had written to say that they had completed their review of the Annual Governance & Accountability Return (AGAR) for Mere Town Council for the year ended 31 March 2020. The external auditors report stated: Except for the matters reported below, on the basis of our review of Sections 1 & 2 of the AGAR, in our opinion the information in Sections 1 & 2 of the AGAR is in accordance with Proper Practices and no other matters have come to our attention giving cause for concern that relevant legislation and regulatory requirements have not been met. The AGAR was not fully completed before submission for review: Section 2, Box 11 of the AGAR has not been completed. Information received from the parish council confirms that the response to this box should be ‘Yes’. The Notice of conclusion of audit, along with certified AGAR (Sections 1, 2 & 3) had been published on the Town Council’s website.
- c) Request for financial support from Mere Foodbank – The Clerk reported that the Town Council had received a request from Mere Foodbank to provide financial assistance towards their funds which would hugely benefit the many families and people in Mere who have been affected by COVID-19. She confirmed that the St. Michael’s Church Foodbank was now combined with the Mere Toddler’s Foodbank and that these were being run as one foodbank covering Mere. Anne Rich had written: ‘We have two open days a week currently for the collection of fresh produce, plus we deliver parcels weekly to many homes, but are also on call and can deliver within the hour if needed. During the first lockdown we expanded that to four open days outdoors because it was so invaluable. Sadly, we have found that there are a large number of people who have lost their jobs during this period. This, and the lack of free school meals during the first lockdown and summer break, with government vouchers for shops not in easy reach if you have no transport, seems to have further exacerbated the problem.’ RESOLVED that the Town Council should donate £500 to the Mere Foodbank c/o Mere Toddlers on the understanding that the Town Council would receive a break-down report on how the money was spent on proposal made by the Chairman and carried with a unanimous vote.
- General Items, Consultations & Briefing Notes
- a) To receive information on the 2021 census – Members noted the following information: The next 10-yearly Census is taking place in 2021, and the ONS has begun to send out notices to raise awareness in the population. In summary, the more people that are aware, the higher the completion of the Census and the more information that is gathered to enable informed decisions to be made by the government in terms of addressing the future requirements of our society. We have started the process by including a notice on the Town Council website and social media. We have also asked Richard Jefferies to include this notice in Mere Matters. This is the first Census which will include questions relating to military service, which will collect data on who are veterans from the Armed Forces. There is an Armed Forces Covenant which is a promise by the nation that those who serve and have served, and their families should be treated fairly. See armedforcescovenant.gov.uk Although the Councillor Handbook sent out with the Census information refers to the requirement to appoint a census liaison manager and assistant census liaison manager, we have clarified this with ONS who confirm that these are roles for Wiltshire Council, not the Town Council.
- b) Judging of Xmas Lights – Cllr. Jeans reported that he had found an independent judge and confirmed that Jeans Electricals would sponsor the competition.
- c) Priorities for South West Wiltshire Area Board (see email from K. Linaker 17.11.20) – deferred.
- d) Nomination to re-list Butt of Sherry as an Asset of Community Value – The Clerk reported that the Town Council has relisted the Butt of Sherry as an Asset of Community Value and Wiltshire Council has accepted the nomination but been unable to inform the owner. The person that submitted the planning application says that he is no longer the current owner but refuses to tell Wiltshire Council who that is. We have conducted further enquiries with the Land Registry but their records are still listing the previous owner although they do say that they have one or some registrations pending! In the meantime, the Butt of Sherry Preservation Society and Wiltshire Council have now received contact from a lady who says she is buying the pub and intends to run it as a pub. I am not sure whether our current ACV notice will be served or not but we shall have to seek clarification when we actually receive ownership details of the new owner. Jordan corroborated the understanding that someone is buying the pub with the intention of running it as a pub.
- Forthcoming meetings/events
- a) Community Area Transport Group – 16th December 2020 at 14.00 on Microsoft – Cllr. Sims confirmed that he would be attending the meeting.
- Future Town Council meetings and to receive requests for agenda items
Annual Budget meeting is to be held on Monday, 14th December 2020 at 6.00 pm via Zoom
Next scheduled meeting will be Monday, 11th January 2021 via Zoom
Cllr. Colman asked for an update on what is happening in the new cemetery, in particular the removal of unauthorised kerbing. The Clerk said that she was not aware that any action had been taken by the family in respect of the unauthorised kerbing and so it was agreed that she should write to the family giving them one month to remove the kerbing and pointing out that if they did not do so, then the Town Council would have no option but to carefully remove it.
Meeting closed at 7.56 p.m.
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
MERE PEACE MEMORIAL SPORTS AND RECREATION GROUND
Registered Charity No. 1093497
Members of Mere Town Council are sole trustees of Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground Charity (Mere Recreation Ground Charity).
For Trustees to consider:
- Project to rebuild Mere Youth Centre in Mere Recreation Ground – to consider report prepared by Clerk & Chairman 18.11.2020
Trustees confirmed that they had received a copy of the report and unanimously confirmed that this be adopted as the Charity’s position. The Chairman reiterated that any plans for the rebuilding or extension of the Mere Youth Centre building would need to be approved by the Town Council and Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground Charity before they could be submitted for planning approval by Seeds4Successs.