Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a Town Council meeting held on Monday, 5th September 2022 at 7.00 pm in The Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors Mrs. Lesley Traves (Chair), Mrs. Kate Symonds (Vice-Chair), Debbie Beale, Nick Beale, Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, Glen Ings, George Jeans & John Jordan
Also Spence Gunn & Claire Shaddick, Brian Yeo, Mr. & Mrs. Gaul, Geoff Sams + 1
Meeting convened at 19:01 with Public Participation Session
Mr. Geoff Sams said that he had come along to the meeting to talk about the future of Lynch Close. He said that following on from the Town Council meeting in February 2022 at which the Lynch Close Residents Committee had asked the Town Council for help, there had been very little progress and very little information had been received. In the meantime, there have been at least 4 surveys carried out, and internal house survey, external house survey, landscape survey and levels survey but the residents had not been informed of any results. They have contacted their local MP to ask him for help in contacting Wiltshire Council to provide the residents with information. There has been no information forthcoming from the Town Council and we have asked our local Wiltshire Councillor, George Jeans, for an update on what is happening at Fives Court. We have held a meeting in the town to inform the community of what is going on and ask them to support us with a petition. If we have to, we will go to the newspapers. We don’t want to be like this but we are not getting any answers to our questions and we are not getting any information. We have elderly and sick residents who need answers. The Chairman pointed out that Christine Brown from Wiltshire Council has asked to come to the next Town Council meeting on October 3rd to give an update to the Town Council but she also pointed out that, despite promises from Wiltshire Council to keep the Town Council informed of developments and invite us to attend meetings, there had been no information provided and no invitations to any meetings other than the meeting attended at Lynch Close with residents on 8.3.22 (as previously reported in the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 14.3.22). Wiltshire Councillor George Jeans said that he has been in close contact with Mr. Sams and confirmed that he is not aware of any information that he hasn’t passed on to Mr. Sams.
Nick Beale spoke with reference to planning application PL/2022/05864 – he said he felt that the application needed to be withdrawn and resubmitted with the correct measurements. Plot H is approximately 0.66 acres or 0.26 hectares and not the false 1.1 acres or 0.45 hectares on the application. I am assuming this is a misprint because of the huge differences but either way this should be rectified before any consultation takes place. There are also regulations that are triggered when a plot of land is over 0.4 hectares which this plot is clearly nowhere near and I am concerned this could affect future planning.
Brian Yeo said that he was involved with Mere Cricket Club and want to speak about agenda item 10e) and wished to emphasize that this is not just a cricket issue but the rabbits are causing a significant problem and you can fit my entire arm down one of the holes that the rabbits have dug on the wicket. The problem is spreading, children use the field for football and the school encourage the children to run around the sports field and these holes could cause a trip hazard and injury.
Debbie Beale speaking in regard to planning applications PL/2022/05966 & PL/2022/05864 – I am incredibly concerned about these applications in relation to highway safety. Both National Highways & Mere Town Council have a duty of care to residents and road users. National Highways identified the danger of increased usage of the access onto the A303 from the old nurseries and the A303 is a strategic road network but have put forward ‘no objection’ to the two planning applications and I am incredibly concerned about this because there has been increased vehicle usage to three or four of the plots and there are potentially 20 plots there and if each had on average 2 vehicles accessing and leaving those plots daily, it would be a huge difference to the number of vehicles coming off & onto the A303.
For clarification purposes, Cllr. Jeans pointed out that there are discussions on leases between the Town Council and the two car parks and I live next door to the Salisbury Street car park with a right of way from the car park. He pointed out that he would be declaring a Pecuniary Interest with reference to any discussion that might take place relating to rights of way but would be taking part in any other discussions relating to the leases.
Clive Hazzard brought up the issue of disappearance of the double-yellow lines outside the Lecture Hall.
The Chairman pointed out that there were two vacancies on the Town Council and asked if there was anyone present who wished to be considered to fill a vacancy. There were none present. It was pointed out that we had two candidates who had each submitted personal statements and Cllr. Jordan said that it was nice to see some diverse skills being offered and younger candidates.
Apologies for absence received from Cllr. Raymond Hill.
- To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- 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.
- To receive written 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. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest. If you become aware, during the course of a meeting, of an interest that has not been disclosed under this item, you must immediately disclose it. Whether you can remain in the meeting and the extent to which you can participate depends on the type of interest you have.
- Jeans declared a pecuniary interest relating to third party rights in respect of the Salisbury Street Car Park Lease
- Jeans declared a personal interest relating to the lease for the Salisbury Street Car Park
- Chairman declared a personal interest in planning application PL/2022/05520
- Debbie Beale declared a pecuniary interest in planning applications PL/2022/05864 & PL/2022/05966
- Nick Beale declared a pecuniary interest in planning applications PL/2022/05864 & PL/2022/05966
- John Jordan declared a personal interest in planning application PL/2022/06597 + PL/2022/06299
- Minutes – To resolve that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 4th July 2022 be approved as a correct record on proposal by Cllr. Rodney Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 4.7.22.
- Casual Vacancies – To receive written applications for the office of Town Councillor and to consider the suitability of the candidate/s to fill the existing vacancy. (Personal Statements attached)
Members of the Council had received personal statements from two candidates who wished to be co-opted as members of Mere Town Council. Neither candidate was present at the meeting. Cllr. Jeans proposed that the Town Council should block vote both candidates on to fill the two vacancies. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Nick Beale and carried with a vote of 10 for.
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings
- a) Wiltshire Towns Programme (Minute 185b) – Cllr. Jordan said that he was unable to attend the online meeting last month but he pointed out that he had done a fair amount of reading and thought that we could be eligible to receive £5000 and felt that we should pursue this. He said they had identified that there were 23 shops in Mere and 1285 employment opportunities and so he thought it would be very useful to make contact with these officers to find out where these shops and employment opportunities were. Jordan said he would be happy to lend a hand to this if someone could identify the officer concerned. The Clerk said that she would forward this information onto Cllr. Jordan.
- b) Wheelchair friendly footpath adjacent to Castle Hill Play Area – Minute No. 188b) – Cllr. Jordan reported that he and Cllr. Hazzard were going to measure up and come up with a quotation but, given the current staff problems, we thought perhaps that we should defer this for the moment.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – None
*b) Report from Mere Town Council’s Project Co-Ordinator, Roger Pipe (report attached) – Roger Pipe gave a report, as submitted to the Council. Mr. Pipe clarified that Wiltshire Council would need to take the lead in sorting out the legal variation to enable the expenditure of the S.106 money on the footpath works as the S.106 agreement is between Wiltshire Council and the developer. He confirmed that he was in discussion with the S.106 officer at Wiltshire Council about this.
Cllr. Colman asked whether the idea of surfacing the whole of the Walnut Road Play Area was still on the table but Mr. Pipe said that he envisaged that the current ratio of safety surfacing/grass would probably be more appropriate and to make a shaded area. Cllr. Hazzard congratulated Roger on his report and said that there was no doubt that the play area needed to be improved. Roger asked if the Council would be prepared to set a budget so that he could go out to the play equipment providers to see what they could produce for a maximum figure. There was a very long and convoluted discussion on whether any figure should be set but in the end Cllr. Philip Coward said that he had never been to any business meeting where we are suggesting spending vast sums of money but have no idea of what we would get for that money and I am not prepared to vote on a proposal of this nature. He therefore proposed that Roger should go out to the play equipment providers to ask for quotations for something that they think is reasonable. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Jeans and carried with a unanimous vote.
- c) Report on meeting of South West Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership and South West Wiltshire LHFIG – 31/08/22 – The Clerk confirmed that Cllr. Jeans, Cllr. Nick Beale and Roger Pipe went to the meeting. Jeans thanked Cllr. Beale for going. Roger Pipe confirmed that he had asked to get the footpath improvement included on the scheme & Cllr. Jeans said that this would probably need to be made into a substantive scheme. Cllr. Jeans felt that we ought to put forward a heading in the budget meeting for possible allocation of funds to the footpath works.
- d) Report on meetings held by Parking Working Group – deferred. The Chairman said that she would arrange a meeting for the middle of October.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
Cllr. Kate Symonds in The Chair
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote. As the Chairman, Cllr. Mrs. Traves, had declared a personal interest in this planning application, she withdrew from the meeting room and took no part in discussion or voting.
Cllr. Mrs. Lesley Traves in The Chair
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. Debbie Beale and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
| Application No:
||Full planning permission
||Erection of new horticultural building, erection of a new fence, retention of two existing stone surfaced areas and formation of two ponds.
||Plot H, Land at The Old Nurseries, Burton, Mere, BA12 6FH
|Planning Register Link:
Cllr. Mrs. Symonds pointed that a planning application had been submitted for this plot before which was refused by Wiltshire Council. It would appear that the ponds are in place but are less than 1m deep. The Clerk pointed out that the Town Council did recommend refusal last time and that the main reason was highways safety. Cllr. Rachael Hansford pointed out that this application was different and was for agricultural/horticultural use. Cllr. Rodney Coward said that the access onto the A303 would worry him. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above planning application on condition that the building is to be used for horticultural purposes only and not for any living/sleeping accommodation and to stress that the Town Council has concerns relating to the fact that the division of this land into small plots has increased the number of vehicles using the inadequate access point and will therefore escalate the potential dangers at this junction on the A303. Also, to add an informative that it has been brought to the Town Council’s attention that there may be a discrepancy on the planning application relating to the size of the plot and that this should be investigated for clarity. Proposal made by Cllr. C. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Symonds and carried with a vote of 5 for, 2 against and 2 abstentions. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter. Cllrs. Debbie Beale and Nick Beale had declared an interest in this planning application and left the room whilst the matter was being discussed and took no part in discussion or voting.
||Prior approval Part 3 Class Q: Agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses
||Notification for Prior Approval under Class Q – Conversion of Existing Building to Create 1 Dwelling and associated operational development
||BREACHES BARN, BARROW STREET, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6AB
|Planning Register Link:
||Planning Application: PL/2022/06387 (wiltshire.gov.uk)
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above planning application on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a vote of 7 for, 3 against and 1 abstention. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above planning application on proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a majority vote. Having declared a personal interest in the above application, Cllr. Jordan refrained from discussion or voting. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
Cllr. Rachael Hansford proposed that the Town Council should accept as it is small-scale agricultural but we add the same concerns relating to highways that we mentioned in application PL/2022/05864. Seconded by Cllr. C. Hazzard. Voting 2 for, 4 against and 2 abstentions. Proposal is not carried. Cllr. P. Coward proposed that the application is refused on the grounds of highways access. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Jordan and proposal carried with a vote of 4 for, 2 against and 2 abstentions. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter. Cllrs. Debbie Beale and Nick Beale had declared an interest in this planning application and left the room whilst the matter was being discussed and took no part in discussion or voting.
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Debbie Beale and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter
||PL/2022/03832 – AMENDED
||Full planning permission
||Erection of Agricultural Barn for use of storing farming equipment i.e. Tractor/mower, strimmer, working tools. to include solar panelling on the roof for powering equipment. (resubmission of PL/2021/08598)
||Land west of Woodlands Road, Mere, BA12 6JT
|Planning Register Link
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above planning application on condition that there is no domestic paraphernalia brought onto the site which must be used solely for agricultural purposes. Proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds and carried with a majority in favour. Cllr. Debbie Beale abstained. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports.
Cllr. Jordan reported that the hedge along the back of The Yews is growing out over the footpath along Waterside with brambles etc.
*b) Request for consideration of road safety improvement signage for Chetcombe Road to be submitted to Wiltshire Council’s LHFIG (Local Highways & Footpath Improvement Group) for support/funding – Cllr. Symonds said that she had visited the site and felt that the signage was adequate, large and big and didn’t know what improvements could be made to signage. The Chairman suspended the meeting to allow Mr. Gaul to speak who explained that four or five times a week someone tries to drive up Chetcombe Road the wrong way. He said that half way up Chetcombe Road there are illuminated signs with the speed limit on them and then they reach a “no entry” sign that is not illuminated. Meeting resumed. It was agreed to raise the matter with the LHFIG with a request to send someone out to assess the situation and advise on weather or not the signage and illumination is adequate, pointing out that they may have to view at night.
c)Highways Improvement Request form for White Line marking in Church Street – The Clerk reported that this gentleman had submitted a ‘White Line marking’ request and acknowledged that he would have to pay for the work. It was pointed out that these white lines do not need a Traffic Regulation Order and are not legally enforceable but there were others in Church Street and it seemed to help in stopping cars from blocking people’s garages or driveways. RESOLVED to submit the request to Wiltshire Council on condition that there is no cost to the Town Council on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Debbie Beale and carried with a unanimous vote.
- d) Request for speed limit review along Warminster Hollow – Cllr. Jeans reported that less than 10 years ago there was a speed limit review and a 50mph limit was placed on the Warminster Hollow Road up to a certain point. He mentioned that density of housing also helps to determine speed limits. Jeans said that he had recently tried to get the speed limit reduced in Norton Ferris which is far more dangerous than Warminster Hollow but they will not reduce the speed limit because there are not enough dwellings. Cllr. Rodney Coward said that he had an interest to declare in this discussion as he farmed at Mere Down Farm but pointed out that he had been overtaken on several occasions when he had his indicator on and slowed down to turn into the farm and when you are exiting from the farm entrance you need to be very careful and make sure that there is nothing coming from the right in the overtaking lane as well as from the left. The Chairman asked if any members of the Town Council wished to propose that this matter should be taken to LHFIG for a review but there was no proposal forthcoming from members. The Clerk said that she would write back to say that on this occasion, the Town Council was unable to support
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
- Lease report for Lease of Salisbury Street Car Park
- Lease report for Lease of Castle Street Car Park
- Lease report for Lease of Public Toilets in Salisbury Street Car Park
In respect of the lease for the public toilets, members had no queries to raise and it was agreed that, as this was the most urgent lease, the Clerk should write back to the solicitors asking them to progress this in order for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to sign the lease.
There was a long discussion about the other two leases with members raising points for clarification. It was agreed that the Clerk should write out a resume of the points that she thought they were concerned about, distribute the resume for all members by email so that they can add to or amend as appropriate. When the Clerk has received confirmation that we have highlighted all the issues that we feel we want further information/clarification on, a report will be sent to the solicitor.
*b) Car Club – Grant Agreement and Leases for Mere Car Club – members felt that they did not understand this at all and felt that the Econetiq Operating Agreement Licence was rather complicated and legalese. It was agreed to submit this to the Town Council’s solicitors for comment and appraisal.
- c) Wiltshire Council’s Tree works adjacent to Castle Hill – The Clerk said that this agenda item had been raised to inform members/public that at the end of July we highlighted to Wiltshire Council some issues with a couple of their trees and two weeks later a couple of limbs fell down. The trees have subsequently been assessed by Wiltshire Council’s arboriculturist and unfortunately, they need to be felled. Wiltshire Council are arranging for this and the Clerk just wanted people to know that it was Wiltshire Council carrying out the work and not Mere Town Council.
- d) Should the Town Council replace the new public toilet signs? Nick Beale said that he had raised this item on the agenda because he had noticed the signs on the public toilets a couple of weeks ago. There is a familiar female sign and familiar male sign and a sign which is half male and half female and it does not say unisex but inclusive. Cllr. Beale felt that by using this signage, the Town Council was supporting transgender issues, extreme minorities and political extremism and was making Mere a laughing stock. The Clerk pointed out that she needed to purchase some new signage in order to cover up the old signage and she just chose some signage that she had seen on the internet and she certainly did not realise that it was going to cause this upset and this was not a conscious decision to support any minority groups or otherwise. She also pointed out that it would be possible to replace the three signs that were affected if that was the Town Council’s wish. Cllr. Rachael Hansford said that she had been doing assessments on people using the toilets and she didn’t feel strongly about the signage and did not want to spend money on changing the signs unnecessarily. Cllr. Colman proposed that the Town Council should do nothing at the present time because the signage was legally acceptable and this proposal was seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford. Cllr. Nick Beale proposed an amendment that the affected signs should be changed. The amendment was seconded by Cllr. Debbie Beale but not carried with a vote of 4 in favour and 6 against. A vote on the original proposal to make no changes to the signage was taken and this proposal was carried with a vote of 6 in favour and 4 against.
- e) Rabbit damage to cricket wicket and outfield & Town Council’s responsibility to control rabbit numbers – Cllr. Hazzard said that there was a huge hole in the middle of the very expensive cricket pitch and felt that the Town Council had several options: 1 – we could fence the whole area which would be expensive. 2 – we get someone in to control them, either by shooting, gassing or ferreting. He pointed out that they were probably going onto the cricket wicket because the ground is being watered and is nice and soft compared to all the other hard and arid ground around. However, he said that it could not be left alone because it was dangerous and someone is going to twist their ankle or hurt themselves on the holes in the ground. It was agreed that the Town Council explore the options of pest control.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – To review and authorise schedule of payments (attached) – the Clerk pointed out one or two additions to the schedule and the payments were authorised and amended schedule signed by the Chairman in the presence of the Council.
- b) To approve and sign off bank reconciliation – The Chairman checked bank reconciliation against bank statements and signed the bank reconciliation in the presence of the Council.
- c) Option to opt out of the SAAA central external auditor appointment arrangements – the Clerk explained that SAAA is charged with undertaking a procurement exercise every five years, to appoint external auditors for all parish & town councils in England. However, Town & Parish Councils are given the option to opt-out if they wish to seek the procurement of their own approved external auditor. RESOLVED not to opt out o the SAAA central external auditor appointment arrangements.
- d) Quotations for Internal Audit Service – The Clerk asked for this item to be deferred as she was hoping to receive a third quotation.
- General Items
- a) Suggestion for ACV Strategy for Mere – Members felt that it would be difficult to have an Asset of Community Value (ACV) strategy and that any opportunities for applying for an ACV should be considered as and when properties/facilities become under threat.
*b) Cross-border collaboration between Wiltshire Police and Dorset Police – enquiry from Sedgehill & Semley Parish Council – with reference to the information submitted to councillors, members felt that they had no bad experiences of cross-border collaborations between Wiltshire & Dorset Police to submit.
- c) Should the Town Council initiate a Warm Spaces Scheme for Mere – the Clerk explained that this has been brought up by a resident who was aware that Westbury & Trowbridge were considering setting up such schemes. We have contacted the Clerks at Westbury & Trowbridge Town Councils who were not aware of these schemes but we have now found a councillor at Trowbridge Town Council who is considering the library and Civic Centre as possible warm spaces and there is a building in Westbury that has to be kept heated anyway because it is a Listed Building. The Clerk wondered if members wanted to consider this and wondered if the library might be an appropriate building as it was heated. Hazzard suggest that the resilience forum might want to take this forward and it was agreed that the Resilience Forum and Town Council might liaise with the library & Wiltshire Council over this.
- d) Wiltshire Council’s Electric Vehicle Charging Points webinar – September 14th at 5.30 pm on Teams – noted. Rachael Hansford took the details of the webinar.
- Briefing Notes:
*Briefing Note No. 22-16 – Wiltshire Council’s Streetscene Contract
*Briefing Note No. 22-18 – Community Governance Review
*Briefing Note No. 22-19 – Community Governance Review – Consultation
- Future meetings and events
- Future agenda items
Staffing Matters – the Chairman reported that, unfortunately, Mr. Tony Waterhouse had left our employment last week after having been in post for less than 7 weeks. The staffing committee had discussed a way forward and have decided to approach the second-choice candidate that was interviewed – Mr. Paul Hill. Mr. Paul Hill was still interested in the role and therefore the Town Council was about to give him a conditional job offer. Cllr. Rachael Hansford asked about the fee that was paid to the employment agency and whether it would be possible to get some of this back and the Chairman confirmed that enquiries were being made about this.
Meeting closed at 9.22 pm
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