Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 6th November 2023 at 7.00 pm at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, Wiltshire. BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors John Jordan (Chair), Glen Ings (Vice-Chair), Debbie Beale, Nick Beale, Aubrey Colman, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Raymond Hill, George Jeans, Linden Stone, Lesley Traves
Also Town Clerk, Lindsey Wood & Project Co-Ordinator, Roger Pipe + 1 member of public
Clive Hazzard pointed out that the Friends of Mere Museum were looking for new members to join the committee.
Clive Hazzard also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman of the Town Council for sorting the issues with river cleaning. The Chairman said that he would pass on these thanks to the volunteers involved.
Clive Hazzard also wanted to congratulate all involved in the Firework Display arranged by the Friends of Mere School and wondered if we might be able to help them with the provision of more toilets if they do the event again next year. The Chairman agreed and said that he was going to write to the committee and congratulate them and would ask them to take on board the toilet provision and perhaps some more police presence may be helpful too. The Chairman also pointed out that he had been to visit residents in the Edgebridge area to talk about rumble strips etc and they were very pleased to be asked for their opinion.
- Apologies for absence received from Cllrs. Philip Coward, Glen Ings and Mrs. K. Symonds.
- To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- Hill declared a personal interest in Minute No. 334c)
- Jeans declared a personal interest in Minute No. 332a) Planning Application PL/2023/08979
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 2nd October 2023 be approved as a correct record. (attached)
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings (not covered by other agenda items)
- a) Minute Ref: 297 a) – Update on proposals/suggestions for Community Garden location – the Chairman confirmed that he had received a response from the PCC on the suggestion of establishing a community garden in their field in Angel Lane and their answer was a definite ‘no’ in perpetuity. Therefore, the Chairman was wondering about suggesting other property – two pieces of land were given as suggestions which could be accessible with a separate access – one being the triangle of land at the top of the Meads adjacent to the Eric Mitchell Way path which belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall and the other being the triangle of land at the bottom of the cemetery. It was pointed out that both areas would probably be extremely wet and boggy in the winter but it may be possible to overcome this with the use of raised beds etc. The Chairman said that he would communicate with the people who wanted to set up the Community Garden.
- b) Minute Ref: 265 a) – To authorise the execution of the following documents:
- Deed of Variation relating to Public Conveniences at Salisbury Street Car Park, Mere between Wiltshire Council & Mere Town Council
- Licence relating to EV charging spaces at Salisbury Street Car Park, Mere between Mere Town Council and Econetiq Alpha Ltd
- Operating Agreement relating to EV charging spaces at Salisbury Street Car Park, Mere between Mere Town
The Chairman confirmed that all the documents had been received and the Clerk confirmed that the two leases for the car parks had also been received this morning. It was therefore agreed that the Chairman & Vice-Chairman should sign all the lease and licence documents for return to the solicitors.
*c) Minute ref: 299 a) Community Governance Review (CGR) – Pre-Consultation – Information Gathering Survey (in Clerks Report) – Cllr. Jeans abstained because he wishes to remain impartial on this issue. The Chairman reported that he and the Clerk had attended a pre-consultation meeting via Zoom and he had visited the occupiers of Norwood House who didn’t actually realise that they lived in Zeals. It would appear that Zeals Parish Council are mounting a petition & there has been some negativity on social media. The Governance Review Committee have an online survey for people to log on and say whether or not they support the proposal so I would urge you all to submit a comment.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – Jeans said that most of the items he was going to mention are itemised on the agenda and so he will speak during the relevant items instead of giving a report.
*b) Project Co-Ordinator’s Report (attached) – with reference to the written report that was distributed to members prior to the meeting, Roger Pipe confirmed that there was a slight update from Enerveo in that in now looked as though it may be necessary to get Southern Electric to carry out the infrastructure work to install the cabling as it would be necessary to cross private land and only they had the statutory power to do that.
In respect of the public toilets, questions were asked relating to Radar Key accessible toilets, vandal resistant equipment, the likely tender process.
In respect of the Footpath 50/66 work, questions were asked about options to provide lighting via solar energy. Roger explained that there were issues with this as there were areas of the footpaths that are under cover and not enough light would get in.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Listed building consent (Alt/Ext)
|Carry out alterations to provide improved staff facilities.
|F J CHALKE LTD, SALISBURY STREET, MERE, BA12 6HE
|Planning Register Link:
RESOLVED to recommend the above planning application for approval. As Cllr. Jeans had declared a personal interest in this application, he refrained from discussion or voting.
|Replace dated existing window graphics with new printed vinyl graphics and add small box sign to existing fascia signage.
|Queen Victoria Hall, The Square, Mere. BA12 6DJ
|Planning Register Link:
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval.
*b) Consultation on Wiltshire Local Plan Pre-Submission Draft 2020-2038 (report circulated to members 30.10.23 via email) – the Chairman thanked the Clerk for providing the information in the report that was submitted to members. He confirmed that all the consultation documents were now available in Mere Library an that several Mere residents had raised some enquiries with Wiltshire Council officers that had generated responses and correspondence. However, the consultation was not so much about the content but more about the legal compliance of the draft plan in the sense that it should be consistent with national policy. You will see that they have allocated 145 houses for the Mere area but there are a number of developments with extant permission that will affect these numbers and this figure will be reviewed in the HLSS review next year. It does say that our existing infrastructure will not support any large developments although, of course, that does not rule out infill and smaller developments.
There were some diagrams in there showing Mere existing town centre boundary and proposed town centre boundary. We were a bit shocked about these because they have drawn a dark line around what they call Mere Town Centre which cuts off Castle Street Car Park and various retail outlets. Cllr. Jeans said he had questioned this but had been told that the boundary is supposed to delineate the retail element of the town only. The Chairman said he was not wholly happy about this response as the line showing the shopping centre misses out about 8 or 9 shops within the town centre. It was agreed that the Chairman would write to forward planning and point this out, asking for the rationale and validation behind the boundaries that had been put in these plans.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – the Clerk reported that the Parish Steward had carried out some path clearance along Clements Lane and filled some potholes in Denes Avenue today. The Clerk encouraged members to report the Manor Road surface issues on myWilts reporting pages.
*b) Wiltshire Bus Review (Consultation ends 10.11.23) – see Clerks Report & also Minutes of Shaftesbury & Gillingham Area Transport Forum meeting 19.9.23 (attached) – Councillors were urged to respond to the consultation online (link in Clerks Report) by 10th November.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
*a) To approve/adopt Terms of Reference for football clubs (attached) – the Chairman reported that the football clubs have all seen these terms of reference and agreed to them. RESOLVED to adopt the Terms of Reference for the football clubs.
- b) Mere Croquet & Boules Club – request to reduce rental due to reduced membership – the Chairman confirmed that the club was struggling with membership numbers and did not have much in the way of reserves and he was therefore proposing that for this financial year and the next financial year that the Town Council should agree to a reduced rental of £250 p.a. instead of the agreed rental of £500 p.a. but thereafter it must return to the £500 per year previously agreed. Proposal approved.
- b) Evaluation of Sports Facilities – the Chairman pointed out that the Town Council managed a lot of sporting facilities for various activities and groups. Most of the groups were happy but there were others that were struggling and he therefore wondered if it would be a good idea to ask for a group of volunteers to assess our sporting facilities to gauge whether or not we are meeting demands and expectations. Cllrs. Sandra Catley, Aubrey Colman, Glen Ings & Lesley Traves agreed to meet up with the Chairman to consider the best approach for this assessment/evaluation.
- c) Gravedigging issues and cemetery regulations – Having declared a personal interest in this item, Cllr. Hill was asked to speak on the matter given his knowledge of the situation. He advised members that the gravediggers were facing a problem in the new cemetery in that it was no longer always possible to dig double-depth graves when the weather was wet. The Clerk suggested adding the following clause to the cemetery regulations: ‘Where a double-depth grave has been specified or purchased, every effort will be made to dig a double-depth grave but sometimes this is not possible for safety reasons and in those circumstances the Town Council will offer the family an adjacent grave space alongside so that they can have side-by-side single-depth grave spaces rather than a double-depth grave space.’ Concern was expressed over how this can work when people buy a grave in advance and it was agreed that in those cases, we would need to reserve the adjacent grave and if it is not needed then we could always use it afterwards. It was also agreed that if graves are side-by-side instead of double-depth then the headstone could go mid-way between the two graves. Concern expressed over the scenario where someone buys a grave space in advance. In those cases we reserve the one next door and we can always come back and use that one at a later date if it transpired that it was possible to get a double-depth grave in the first one. If the graves are side-by-side then the headstone could go between the two.
*d) Street Tag Wiltshire (see email received 31.10.23) (attached) – members noted the information that had been circulated.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments as detailed in the schedule of payments distributed at the meeting. (attached)
- b) To note the reconciliations for September 2023 – the Chairman confirmed that he had signed and verified the reconciliations against the bank statements.
*c) Review of Council priority projects and issues (attached) – The Chairman distributed a spreadsheet amongst members and said that he was hoping that councillors would mark the list with an ‘H’ to identify four or five of their higher priorities so that this can be used to help councillors when deliberating the budget figures. The spreadsheets were collected and it was agreed that the results would be given at the next meeting.
- d) Expression of interest to enter into negotiations with Wiltshire Council for the purpose of either purchasing or renting the Mere Salt Depot – the Chairman reported that the Clerk had noted the fact that Mere Salt Depot is likely to become surplus to requirement for Wiltshire Council as they have now procured land elsewhere to build a new a salt depot. We have taken the initiative therefore of writing to Wiltshire Council to express the Town Council’s interest, without prejudice, to enter into negotiations with them for the purposes of either purchasing or renting the depot in the event that they want to dispose of the asset.
- General Items & Consultations
*a) Consultation on possible changes to Wiltshire Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024 onward (attached) – the Chairman explained that Wiltshire Council will be offering more reductions in line with the way that people get their benefits. The important thing is to note is that this is likely to have an impact on the calculation of our tax base for the next financial year which, in turn, is a factor in calculating our precept. It was hoped that we would receive the final figure in time to set the precept.
- b) The future of Mere Chamber of Trade – Cllr. Clive Hazzard explained that he had been drafted in as Chairman of the Chamber of Trade but stated that it had only two members and it was now either necessary to cease operation or regenerate the Chamber. He pointed out that the Mere Chamber does not really have the specialists or consultants that larger businesses can make use of but he wondered whether it might provide a benefit to some of the smaller businesses in Mere. He also felt that the Town Council overlapped in some aspects of Chamber of Trade activities and wondered if the Town Council could take more of a drive on this. Members generally felt that a Chamber of Trade should exist in some format as it was a completely different voice to the Town Council and it was agreed that four or five councillors would get together with Cllr. Hazzard to discuss the matter further.
*c) Offer to join Rural Market Town Group FOC until end February 2024 and thereafter approx. £100 p.a. (email correspondence copied in Clerks Report) – it was agreed that as the Town Council’s subscriptions were sufficient for the time being.
Briefing Notes (all attached)
Briefing Note 23-26: Polling District and Polling Place Review in Wiltshire
Briefing Note 23-27 – Community Governance Review 2023/24
Briefing Note 23-28 – Police and Crime Panel
Briefing Note 23-29 – North Meadows Mitigation Strategy
Briefing Note 23-30 – Consultation on potential changes to Wiltshire Council Tax Reduction Scheme for working-age people
- Future meetings and events
South West Wiltshire Area Board meeting 29th November 2023 at 6.30 pm in East Knoyle Village Hall – the Chairman pointed out that this Area Board meeting would be discussing Highways with senior officers and members of Wiltshire Council with responsibility for Highways and he therefore anticipated that it would receive good attendance.
- Future agenda items
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 in Clerks Report or attached
Meeting closed at 8.42 pm