Minutes of Town Council meeting held on Monday, 16th January 2023
MINUTES of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 16th January 2023 at 7.00 pm at the Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, Wiltshire. BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors Mrs. Lesley Traves (Chair), Kate Symonds (Vice-Chair), Debbie Beale, Nick Beale, Sandra Catley, Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, Raymond Hill (until 8.21 pm), Glen Ings (until 8.05 pm), George Jeans, John Jordan (from 7.10 pm) & Linden Stone.
Meeting convened at 7.05 pm with Public Participation Session
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the first meeting of 2023. There were no members of the public present but there was an informal discussion about potholes and the MyWilts Reporting app and the poor state of Shaftesbury Road outside Two Counties Farm & Pettridge Lane. Cllr. Jeans said that he had written to the finance officer at Wiltshire Highways asking for some money to be set aside to resurface the road outside Two Counties Farm. The Chairman also took the opportunity to remind all members about the rules of debate/discussion at meetings and said that when a proposal is voted on and resolved, it should not be opened for discussion again.
Apologies for absence received from Cllr. C. Hazzard
- To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- Philip Coward declared a personal interest in planning application No. PL/2022/09365 and in Minute No. 257a)
- Jeans declared a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 252b)
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday 5th December 2022 be approved as a correct record (attached) on proposal by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 5.12.22. RESOLVED that the Annual Budget Committee approve the Minutes of the Annual Budget Meeting held on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022 (attached) on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 23.11.22. RESOLVED that the Staffing Working Group approve the report of the Staffing Working Group meeting held on Thursday, 1st December 2022 (attached) on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 1.12.22
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings (not covered by other agenda items)
- a) Minute Ref: 241 a) Wiltshire Towns Programme – to approve Action Plan & Action Plan Funding (2 documents attached) – Cllr. Jordan thanked the Clerk for completing and submitting a technical document to Wiltshire Council relating to funding limits and confirmed that he and the Clerk had put together an Action Plan and a Funding Plan for the Actions identified. Jordan talked about the proposed actions and the objectives which were to increase footfall in Mere. There was a discussion about the payment to Visit Wiltshire which used to be paid by the Chamber of Trade and a discussion about boosting business presence on social media. Cllr. Colman confirmed that the Chamber of Trade had not held a meeting for 3 years. Members RESOLVED that these documents should be submitted to Wiltshire Council for funding from the Wiltshire Towns Programme without amendment on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote.
- b) Minute Ref: 228d) Leases for Car Parks – The Clerk read out a series of questions/statements prepared by the Council’s solicitors and Wiltshire Council. Members specifically asked for up-to-date condition surveys of the car parks to be carried out for the new leases. It was also agreed to ask for a longer Landlord’s Break Clause of 6 months in respect of the Salisbury Street Car Park and the Clerk was requested to ask for clarification on responsibility for the three street lights in the car park as it was understood that the two nearest Dark Lane came under ‘Highways’. George Jeans, having declared an interest in the next matter, left the building whilst the matter was discussed:
Third Party Rights for the Salisbury Street Car Park – the Clerk pointed out that there are more third party rights than which we have received notification of and the solicitor’s advice was that it is imperative that the Council understands the rights that affect the lease before it’s signed and completed. It was therefore agreed to submit a map with the Rights of way marked and photographs of the gateways and entrances where possible.
- c) Minute Ref: 228e) Lease/licence for Car Club – The Clerk stated that the Car Club lease or licence progress has been protracted, largely because there seems to have been a lot of confusion and bad advice over how to deal with the license. However, it seemed that a way forward had recently been found and she hoped to be able to report more on this at the next meeting.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – No formal report but Cllr. Jeans said he would answer questions if asked.
*b) Report from Mere Town Council’s Project Co-Ordinator – & for Town Council to confirm that they are happy to accept the letter from C. G. Fry & Son as confirming permission to deviate from S.106 agreement in lieu of Deed of Variation (info in Clerks Report + letter from C. G. Fry attached) – The Clerk advised members that Wiltshire Council officers had stated that they would reluctantly accept that Mere Town Council is going to take the “riskier” option of accepting the letter from C. G. Fry & Son as confirming their agreement to deviate from the S.106 agreement in lieu of a Deed of Variation as long as this is clearly Minuted. RESOLVED to accept the letter from C. G. Fry as confirming permission to deviate from the S.106 agreement* relating to Open Space Contribution. Proposal made by Cllr. Philip Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jeans and carried with a unanimous vote.
*Section 106 Agreement: means an agreement dated 19 March 2015 and made between (1) The Hill Brush Company Ltd (2) C.G. Fry and Son Limited and (3) Wiltshire Council.
- c) Report on SWW Area Board Meeting held on Wednesday, 14th December – Cllr. Jordan had attended the meeting and reported that there was much discussion about speeds of vehicles through small villages. Jordan said that he did, however, invite those present to the New Year New Bottom walk. He also thanked Cllr. Rodney Coward for his help with the walk. Cllr. Jeans said that he had raised issues about the lack of response by the police to 101 calls.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Application Type:||Notification of proposed works to trees in a conservation area|
|Proposal:||T(1-11) as shown on the sketch map are Lime trees. We propose to pollard them down to 6m. This work needs to be carried out as they are encroaching to far out into the road and getting to large for where they are. They have previously been pollarded and we propose to take them to the previous points. T12 as shown on the sketch plan – Prunus. We propose to reduce the whole tree by 1m. We propose to do this to control the size of the tree. T13 as shown on the sketch plan – Copper Beech. We propose to reduce the whole tree by 1-2m. We propose to do this to maintain it as a small tree as it is close to buildings and walls. T14 as shown on the sketch plan – Yew bush. We propose to reduce the height by 1m. We propose to do this to make the bush more maintainable in the years to come.|
|Site Address:||LINDEN HOUSE, CASTLE STREET, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6JH|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019AzIx
Members made no comment on the above application as it had already been determined (approved) by the Planning Authority.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||New employment building (Use Class B2) with associated offices, access, car parking, service space, landscaping and associated development infrastructure.|
|Site Address:||Land adjacent to Quarryfield Industrial Estate, Castle Street, Mere, BA12 6LA|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019AweX
Members felt that the above application would be suitable for the allocated employment land and should provide some employment for the area. RESOLVED to support the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a majority vote. Having declared a personal interest, Cllr. P. Coward abstained from voting. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
|Application Type:||Listed building consent (Alt/Ext)|
|Proposal:||Removal of stairs and new stairs to attic with new partitions, formation of bedroom and bathroom|
|Site Address:||THE HOUSE, SALISBURY STREET, MERE, BA12 6HE|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019oDhO|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Sandra Catley and carried with a unanimous vote.
|Application Type:||Listed building consent (Alt/Ext)|
|Proposal:||Replacement of 4No. windows to dormers in second floor of Front (South) elevation.|
|Site Address:||The Boardroom, The Square, Mere, BA12 6DL|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019Bgdv|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Sandra Catley, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a unanimous vote.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Erection of detached self-contained annex|
|Site Address:||1 Lordsmead Road, Mere, Warminster, Wilts, BA12 6BZ|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019BgFO|
The Chairman confirmed that she had visited the site with Cllr. Mrs. Symonds. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that given that the bungalow is on a large plot, she thought that extending the bungalow to accommodate the needs of the applicant’s mother would be preferable to building a separate annexe with separate vehicular access. The Chairman pointed out that she understood that the Planning Authority had a policy of not allowing self-contained annexe buildings but instead prefers them to be subservient and reliant on the main house. Cllr. Jeans said that in these circumstances, the Planning Authority may add a condition or a legal agreement to ensure that the annexe is not sold off separately to the host property. There was a long discussion on the legitimacy of the vehicular access off Woodlands Road. Cllr. Jeans pointed out that the red line on the block plan and the location plan, showing the extent of the planning application, did not include the vehicular access and said that there was no blue line showing that the vehicular access out onto the highway was in the bungalow’s ownership. It was pointed out that although ownership was not relevant in planning terms, it was mentioned in the Planning Statement that there was a separate vehicular access onto Woodlands Road and it would appear, from communication with the Highway Authority, that there was no approved license issued for an access in this location at the present time. RESOLVED to object to the above planning application on the grounds that the proposed annexe is not attached to the existing property and, being self-contained may not be ancillary to the residential use of the main dwelling and could therefore be sold as a separate dwelling in the future. Furthermore, the proposed access onto Woodlands Road appears not to be within the ownership of the property or licensed/authorised with the Highway Authority. Proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. N. Beale and carried with a vote of 6 for, 5 against and 3 abstentions. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Conversion of two barns into two dwellings and the replacement of a modern barn into a single dwelling.|
|Site Address:||West Swainsford Farm, Woodlands Road, Mere, Warminster, Wilts, BA12 6JT|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019853U|
The Clerk confirmed that the previous application for this site, which was for the conversion of three barns into five dwellings has been approved by the Planning Authority so that was now a fall-back option but this application is for an alternative scheme which does not include conversion of the modern barn but instead, replaces it with a single dwelling. The exterior design of the two existing stone barns will remain unaltered but the internal layout has been adapted to create two detached rather than four attached dwellings. The Chairman pointed out that the new replacement dwelling would be much higher than the existing barn. The Clerk read out the Town Council’s submission to the previous planning application which raised concerns about vehicular access points and additional traffic in the narrow lanes. Cllr. Rachael Hansford expressed the view that changing the number of dwellings from 5 to 3 is likely to make them more expensive and exclusive and therefore rule out much chance of providing homes for local families. Cllr. Ings said he thought this new application was preferable to the older one and proposed that the application be approved. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Sandra Catley and carried with a vote of 9 for, 3 against and 1 abstention. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
- b) Update on Enforcement Issues and further developments at The Old Nursery Site at Burton – Cllr. Debbie Beale said that she wanted the opportunity to update the council: “yesterday we had a new mobile home being delivered onto Plot M so there are now two caravans on this plot. The Planning Enforcement department has been involved and they have been active in taking plot owners to court for planning breaches and non-compliance. One of the plot owners has also purchased another plot and had a temporary stop notice issued because he was putting down foundations and digging a hole for a septic tank. Another plot further up also has enforcement action for a shipping container and static caravan and there are two families living on the land with approximately 50 pigs that quite often roam out onto the footpath. Animal health are aware of the situation but now that the pigs have been moved further up the plot, there is concern about the possibility of them escaping onto the A303. The access gate to the field from the A303 which belongs to the house owner that lives near the A303 has been damaged whilst manoeuvring these static caravans on site. Wessex Water have now installed a standpipe as the occupiers were getting water from the river. Debbie Beale said that she would pass on the contact details of the relevant bodies to Councillors for information.
Cllr. Ings left the meeting at 8.05 pm
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – The Clerk reported that there was no Parish Steward service in January because all the Parish Stewards had been seconded to fill potholes. However, there is a Sparkle Team visit scheduled for Mere for the week beginning 23rd Cllr. Jordan suggested that the Sparkle Team be asked to cut back overhanging foliage along Dark Lane. Cllr. Mrs. Beale asked if we could request that they attend to a blocked drainage ditch alongside Footpath Mere 21 (the footpath that runs alongside the Pumping Station out to Burton Path).
- b) Report on Teams Meeting with representatives from Options 24/7 to discuss bus improvements – Cllr. Debbie Beale reported that she had attended two meetings about buses; the first one was with Options 24/7 – the Gillingham to Mere bus has temporarily increased from2 to 8 buses per day but unfortunately it is not being well utilised so if we want any chance of keeping this improved service then we need to encourage more people to use it. The people at Options 24/7 are looking at improving connections between this existing service and other local towns such as Warminster, Shaftesbury, Wincanton & Salisbury. It is also possible that a bus to Stourhead could generate some footfall for Mere. There was also a discussion about buses being supported/sponsored by supermarkets. The second meeting was about DRT which is Digital On Demand Transport – having on-demand taxi buses to take people where they want to go. The person who is involved in this is running a pilot project in Pewsey and is proposing to carry out a survey to see if it would be a suitable project for Mere. Debbie Beale said that she would try and promote the increased bus service from Mere to Gillingham on Social Media and encouraged members of the Town Council to use it too. Cllr. Sandra Catley pointed out that not everyone used social media and it might be prudent to do a leaflet drop also. Cllr. Rachael Hansford said that the Community Accessible Transport bus comes into Mere from Wincanton.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
- a) Dead and dying trees in Mere Cemetery – Sandra Catley reported that she had visited Mere Cemetery with Brad Morton of BM Tree Co to inspect the yew trees. Mr. Morton believed that the trees had root rot caused by poor drainage on the planted area. Mr. Morton had provided a quotation to fell the 3 affected trees and reduce the corresponding three trees on the other side of the footpath. The Clerk explained that when the first Yew Tree had died, it had been examined in a laboratory by an ecology scientist who said that it had a disease. Cllr. Hill said that Mere cemetery was known far and wide for its yew arch and he would hate to fell these yew trees without a second opinion. RESOLVED to appoint the Town Council’s arboricultural specialist – Jonathan Astill – to provide a detailed assessment and report on the yew trees in the cemetery.
Cllr. R. Hill left the meeting at 8.21 pm
- b) Damage to back wall at Castle Street Car Park – this item was for information only and the Clerk informed members that someone had driven into the back wall and caused damage which the grounds staff were going to repair.
- c) Extension of Environmental Stewardship Scheme – The Clerk informed members that the Rural Payments Agency had offered the Town Council a 5-year extension on the Environmental Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for Castle Hill & Long Hill which would last until 30th September 2028. The signed agreement would need to be returned by 31st The agreement effectively states that the Town Council will be managing the grassland on Castle Hill & Long Hill during that period with goat grazing. The Clerk expressed her concern that we do not currently have a formal agreement with a goat owner or grazing licence in place at the moment and explained the issues that had occurred last summer. Cllr. Rodney Coward agreed to communicate with local goat owners and was given authority to seek a licensee for a grazing license. On this basis, the Clerk was authorised to sign the ES Scheme agreement.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – To review and authorise schedule of payments (attached). RESOLVED to authorise payments on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Nick Beale and carried with a unanimous vote. Cllr. Philip Coward, having declared a personal interest in this item, refrained from discussion or voting.
- b) To sign off latest bank reconciliation – The Chairman confirmed that she had examined the bank reconciliation and bank statements and signed the bank reconciliation accordingly.
*c) Matters Arising from External Auditor’s report 2021/22 – members noted the information in the Clerks Report and the Clerk confirmed that she had changed the details on the Charity Commission website in accordance with the advice from solicitors.
- d) Confirmation of insurance policy adjustments – The Clerk confirmed that there had been various adjustments with the insurance relating to the tractor which the Clerk thought would result in a refund of insurance premium being produced.
*e) Notice from Wiltshire Council that it will seek to recover Election costs from May 2025 – members noted the information.
*f) To adopt recommendations made by Staffing Working Group meeting as shown in Report of Staffing Working Group meeting held on Thursday, 1st December 2022 (Report attached) – discussed under Confidential Business at the end of the meeting.
*g) To adopt recommendations made by Budget Meeting, as shown in Minutes of Budget Meeting held on Monday, 23rd November 2022 (Minutes attached) – RESOLVED to adopt the recommendations made by the budget committee as recorded in the minutes of the budget meeting held on 23rd November 2022 (with no amendments) on proposal made by Cllr. Jeans, seconded by Cllr. Nick Beale and carried with a unanimous vote.
- h) To approve Precept on Wiltshire Council for 2023/24 – RESOLVED to approve a Precept of £186,290.00 for 2023/24 on proposal made by Cllr. Linden Stone, seconded by Cllr. Rodney Coward and carried with a unanimous vote. The Chairman was authorised to sign the Precept form for submission to Wiltshire Council.
- i) Authorisation for grounds staff to convert mobile floodlight to mobile generator – The Clerk reminded members that the Town Council had purchased a mobile floodlight unit in 2007/08 which was now unserviceable. She explained that the grounds staff wanted to use this machine to make a generator and the surplus steel as a weight for the new tractor at minimal cost. Members agreed that this was a good and creative project and praised the grounds staff for their resourcefulness.
- j) Report on interim Internal Audit – the Clerk confirmed that the first Internal Audit with our new Internal auditor was carried out in December. “The report came in today so I haven’t had time to study it but I do know that one of the main recommendations is that the Town Council should seek advice of a VAT specialist to ensure compliance.” The Internal Auditor had recommended the Parkinson Partnership and the Clerk confirmed that she had previously met Steve Parkinson who is very knowledgeable on Council VAT matters and asked members if they would be happy to follow up on this recommendation and get a quotation for the Parkinson Partnership to provide specific advice to Mere Town Council? Members agreed to this. The Clerk said that she would send out the full internal audit report with the next agenda papers for discussion during the February meeting.
- General Items
- a) Communication with local police –The Clerk informed the Town Council that she had recently received an email from Kevin Harmsworth who was the new Community Policing Team Inspector for the Mere Area and she confirmed that he would be coming to our February meeting. The Clerk had informed Insp. Harmsworth that she and Cllr. Jeans had been discussing our dismay over the lack of local police presence and Insp. Harmsworth had explained that we now have another new PCSO and he is coming in to meet me and the school this week. Nick Beale said that he had recently had a conversation with a police officer and asked why we no longer had a police presence at Town Council meetings and the police officer told him that Mere Town Council had specifically asked for NO police presence at meetings. It was agreed to raise this with Insp. Harmsworth during the February meeting.
- b) Judging of Xmas Lights – Cllrs Nick and Debbie Beale gave the following report as judges:-“A lot fewer lights this year but that is totally understandable with electricity costs but some amazing displays. Again we judged on Wow factor, Creativity and Effort. The winning entry 38 Lynch close was amazing, the effort and imagination involved was second to none. Second place 11 Denes Avenue was also very imaginative and we even saw the owner out in the rain putting a few finishing touches in place and making sure everything was working OK. Special recognition goes to 8 Denes Avenue, very hard to judge Denes avenue but we felt that these 2 just stood out a little more. We should mention the window displays down Mill Lane, they are beautiful, so much effort and definitely worth a look and the Link Scheme display in Downside Close.” The Chairman thanked Cllrs. Nick & Debbie Beale for carrying out the judges and confirmed that she presented the winner with the Mere Christmas Lights Shield for 2022 and a prize of a Christmas hamper kindly donated by the Hill Brush Co, Mere. Second place and Highly Commended (Special Recognition) will also receive a prize each.
First Place: Mr Geoff & Mrs. Pat Sams of 38 Lynch Close, 2nd Place Mr. Jake and Mrs. Susan Fricker of 11 Denes Avenue, Highly Commended (Special Recognition) Mr. Richard and Mrs. Rose Adams of 8 Denes Avenue
- Future meetings and events
The Clerk confirmed that the Council had been asked to help publicise an event for Wiltshire Climate Alliance who were holding a meeting with workshop & fundraising party on Saturday, 4th February at Devizes Corn Exchange. (Non-members would need to pay £15)
- Future agenda items
- a) Protocol for dealing with Planning Enforcement issues
- b) Suggestions for Town Council priority strategy
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
For the Trustee (Mere Town Council) to consider the following:
*a) Questions relating to new lease for youth club building –
- The current lease has expired but can be renewed either with a new lease of a Deed of Variation or a new lease. This will depend in part on the length of new lease granted and in park on the new clauses/amendments that need to be made.
- Mere TC (Trustee) are asked to advise on the length of a new lease, if this is more than 7 years it will need to be registered with Land Registry.
- In addition the TC (Trustee) is asked to advise on the conditions of the lease, in particular who is responsible for external maintenance ( the existing lease is silent on this) and who is responsible for insuring the building? Currently this is Mere TC (Trustee) but this is not recharged to the Tenants. If it continues to be Mere TC (Trustee) should it be re-charged to the Tenant?
- The lease is also not specific in respect of Health and Safety. The new lease needs to be more specific in respect of internal maintenance and seek confirmation that annual maintenance in respect of electrical, fire prevention and heating are being carried out.
- The building is let by the Mere Peace charity, with no charge being passed on to the tenant. Legal advice will need to be sought to ensure that the charity is allowed under its objectives to let the premises rent free.
- Length of lease – The Trustee agreed that the lease should be a 25-year lease as this would give Seeds4Success more flexibility with fundraising.
- Rent free? – The Trustee agreed that the building should be rent free
- Repair and maintenance responsibilities – In view of the decision above, the Trustee agreed that the lease should apply full repair and maintenance responsibility to Seeds4Success
- Management of Health and Safety – In view of the decisions above, the Trustee agreed that management of H&S should be the responsibility of Seeds4Success
Submission of Annual Return for Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground for Financial Year End 31.3.22
The Trustee approved the submission of the Annual Return for the year ending 31.3.22