Minutes of Town Council meeting held on Monday, 4th April 2022
Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held at the Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW on Monday, 4th April 2022 at 7.00 pm.
Present: Councillors Lesley Traves (Chair), Kate Symonds (Vice-Chair), Louise Bennett, Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, R. Hill, Glen Ings, George Jeans, John Jordan & Eric Mitchell
Also: David Hytch, Spence Gunn & Claire Shaddick
Meeting convened at 7.00 pm with Public Session
David Hytch – had a conversation with Cllr. Jeans about the provision of electric charge points. I also talked to him about the fact that in areas where there is a low grid supply there are options involving battery storage. Mr. Hytch said that electric vehicle charging points are lacking in Mere and we should take as many opportunities as we can to improve the situation.
Clive Hazzard said that he was pleased to see that roadside ditches had been cut out in various pleases but noted that Wiltshire Council were going to close some roads for maintenance and felt that it would be a good idea for them to dig out the roadside ditches at the same time. Cllr. Jeans said that he would suggest this to the Highways Authority.
Apologies for absence received from Councillors Debbie Beale, Nick Beale,
- 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.
- Clive Hazzard declared a pecuniary interest in 136a)
- Minutes –RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday, 14th March 2022 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. A. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 14.3.22
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings
- a) Report on the receipt of information and co-ordination of efforts to help people from Mere that wish to take in Ukrainian refugees to their homes – (Minute No. 118) – Cllr. Mrs. Hansford said that nothing is really happening at the moment but Mere will be ready when things start to move. The Clerk informed members that Wiltshire Council was aware of 136 Wiltshire households who are offering homes through sponsorship to Ukrainian refugees and around 1,500 who have applied through the Government website after the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched and the number is growing every day.
- b) Mere Car Club – report on decision made by Wiltshire Council’s South West Wiltshire Area Board (Minute No. 119 ii) – Cllr. Jeans reported that the Area Board had approved the grant of £10k towards this project with strong support. The Clerk read out an email from John Price (Estates Surveyor at Wiltshire Council) which stated that he was reviewing the draft leases for the car parks and needed a specific authority to include the car charger spaces. His report is going to need to refer to the length of lease to be granted and his understanding is that Econetiq needed a 15-year agreement. Should he make the lease 15 years or would 20 be better? Members generally felt that it would be better for Mere to have the lease as long as possible.
- c) Platinum Jubilee Celebrations – report from Jubilee Committee and to agree final decision on location of beacon and other updates from Committee and Town Clerk. (Minute 119b) – Committee upset that its not going to be on the hill. No-one got time or ability to do paperwork but we can do the manual work to get the beacon on the hill. GJ prepared to propose we have it on Castle Hill and that the committee get the funds to pay people to get the beacon on the hill which is what they have offered. RESOLVED that the Town Council’s admin team carry out the necessary paperwork to have the beacon on the hill i.e. correspond with Historic England and carry out Risk Assessment and that the Jubilee Committee arrange for the manual work in order to get the beacon on Castle Hill. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a unanimous vote.
- d) Response from Wiltshire Council and contractors relating to the provision/installation of solar powered street lights at Duchy Manor and the provision/installation of conduits/ducts (Minute 123b) – The Clerk said that she had mentioned to the contractors about the possibility of installing solar powered street lights if the Town Council purchased the lights but the contractors were concerned that this would require planning permission. Meanwhile, Cllr. Jeans had expressed concerns to the planning officer regarding insufficient lighting and they had included extra lights in their approved scheme but the Clerk pointed out that these were around by the MUGA and not near the pavilion or office which is where the lighting was needed most. Jeans had also provided the Clerk with copies of his correspondence with Wiltshire Council relating to his concerns about the lack of EV points in the parking scheme and whether they might be willing to put in conduits for a battery storage EV charger. Cllr. Jeans said that there is a possibility that the contractors may install the ducting but there would be a cost associated with doing this and he wanted the Town Council to agree to explore the costs. RESOLVED to authorise Cllr. Jeans to explore costs.
- e) Update on minor refurbishments for Public Toilets (Minute 123e) – the Clerk reported that everything is now in place. The new signage is up and the footfall counters were installed on Friday, 1st April when we actually completed the changeover from the gents to the ladies block of toilets. The Clerk said that she would like to get the exterior windows and doors painted this year and think that this is a job that our street orderly can do as part of his town centre enhancement work. We may, however, need some woodwork replacing for the toilet windows. The Clerk also explained that there was an issue with the hand-wash unit which is really past its sell-by-date and, in her opinion, is not fit for purpose. She had asked Wallgate for a quotation to replace this with a new unit and would come back to the Town Council when the quotation costs were known.
- f) New format for the Annual Town Meeting and councillor leads (Minute No. 125) – The Chairman said that she was hoping that councillors would open the discussions on the specific discussion items (numbered 6 – 12) on the agenda and asked for volunteers. With regards to the fact that organisations and groups were not being asked to present reports at the Annual Town Meeting this year, it was agreed to invite those organisations to submit a written report if they wished to which could be attached to the minutes and reproduced on the Town Council’s website.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – Cllr. Jeans reported that with reference to the outline planning application for the development of the old Beaumonts site in Woodlands Road which had still not yet been determined, he was aware that Wiltshire Council were considering a viability assessment which had been submitted on behalf of the applicant to determine whether or not the project could support a S.106 agreement which included an affordable housing contribution. Jordan asked if Cllr. Jeans had raised the matter he brought up last month about Wiltshire Cllr. Mark McClellan’s walking/cycling route in Hilperton. Cllr. Jeans said that he would have pursued this but could not recall the response.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Demolition of existing garage and erection of a new 2 bedroom dwelling|
|Site Address:||The Drying Fields, Castle Hill Lane, Mere, BA12 6JH|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Sqkm
The Chair explained that each of the houses on that corner had parking spaces further up the hill but the person who bought No. 2 sold the house without its parking space and has kept the parking space which is the location for this planning application. She said that this planning application has actually deprived No. 2 of a parking space and she was concerned that the parking spaces for this planning application are going to be unviable due to accessibility issues. The remaining land adjacent to the site is parking for Nos. 3 & 4. The site abuts Linden Barn. Cllr. Jordan said that he was familiar with the plot as he walked past it every day and confirmed that the whole plot was slightly larger than his front room and he finds it quite remarkable that they can get a house & 2 parking spaces on this site. Cllr. Rodney Coward added that the second bedroom is only 6 ft square. It was confirmed that it would be necessary to dig down considerably in order to construct the house with its front door on Castle Street. RESOLVED to recommend refusal of the above planning application for the following reasons on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. |Colman and carried with a vote of 10 for and 2 abstentions. Also RESOLVED to ask Cllr. Jeans to request that this planning application is called into committee if the planning officer is minded to recommend approval.
The Town Council is unable to support this planning application for the following reasons:
1) Members consider that it is overdevelopment of the site as it is an extremely small space to accommodate a 2-bedroom house with 2 parking spaces which will result in a cramped form of development with low-quality accommodation.
2) Members felt that this house will look out of keeping with the character of the area and have a detrimental impact on existing properties and amenities in the conservation area and the change of street scene in Castle Street will have an impact on the immediate neighbourhood and their amenities.
3) Members were extremely concerned about the accessibility and viability of the two parking spaces which would be accessed from an extremely narrow road just around the corner from a blind bend. Members felt that these parking spaces would be fairly difficult to manoeuvre in and out of and would present a hazard for other drivers using Castle Hill Lane and that, ultimately, occupiers and visitors to the proposed property would end up parking on Castle Street exacerbating the existing parking congestion problems on the main road through Mere.
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||Construction of two storey extension and insert bifold doors|
|Site Address:||11 OAK LANE, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6FJ|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017UBei
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application. However, the Clerk was asked to add the following Informative:
As this property is in a development that was designed in consultation with the Duchy of Cornwall, the Town Council believes that the applicant is required to seek permission from the Duchy of Cornwall before carrying out any works to the exterior of the property
|Application Type:||Notification of proposed works to trees in a conservation area|
|Proposal:||7 x Ash trees – fell (Group K2) 2 x Ash trees – fell (Group K3) 4 x Ash trees – fell (Group N1) 2 x Ash trees – fell (Group N2) 1 x Sycamore tree – fell (564) 1 x Silver Birch tree – fell (566)|
|Site Address:||Long Hill and Castle Hill Approach, Mere, BA12 6JB|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017UDsx
The Clerk pointed out that the above application had been submitted by the Town Council in response to the Tree Inspection Report and as such, she recommended that the Town Council should decline to submit a consultation response. Members were happy that no comment should be submitted.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – the Clerk reported that with reference to progress relating to the reinstatement of the faded yellow lines in Salisbury Street outside the Lecture Hall, Wiltshire Council had confirmed that this work had been added to their ongoing maintenance list but that refreshment of restrictions for Parking Services are prioritised as and when other lining works are scheduled in that area to minimise resources and costs. The works are carried out on a priority basis where highway safety lining takes precedence over parking. For instance, STOP markings, give ways, speed roundabouts etc. Therefore, it is difficult to provide us with an exact date when the work will be carried out.
*b) To approve ‘What do I do if I get Flooded?’ document (attached) – members thanked the Town Council’s admin team for producing this document and requested that it be published on the Town Council’s website.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
*a) Report on informal meeting held with Mere Pre-School representatives on their suggestion to swap premises – prior to the meeting papers had been distributed to members relating to proposals from Mere Pre-School asking for the Town Council to give careful consideration to exchanging premises and a report of an informal meeting with pre-school representatives and Town Council representatives held on 29th March. The Chair said that following our meeting the pre-school representatives had been to see the Headteacher at Mere School, Catriona, who had given the Town Council the following statement “I admire the desire and vision to develop the provision that Mere Pre-School is providing for the benefit of young families in Mere. However, knowing the complexities of the building and leases, the lengthy period of negotiation and planning relating to the school expansion works and the significant costs associated with moving into the Town Council offices, this is not an initiative I can support and I have shared this opinion with the manager and Mrs. Faulkner-Bryant. The organisation needs to consider other, more appropriate and better value options and I have discussed some ideas with them. The school is more than willing to help in any way possible.” The Chair said that the pre-school would very much like to be able to compete with Leaping Frogs in Zeals in terms of its child care provision and its facilities but feels that it is restricted in its present situation and premises and, at the meeting we held with representatives, we offered to help in providing information, possible sources of grant funding and/or contact numbers etc. Cllr. Rachael Hansford said that she was impressed with the approach and creative proposal that was put forward by the Mere Pre-school.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments as listed in the schedule attached on proposal made by Cllr. Mitchell, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote in favour. Cllr. Hazzard, having declared a pecuniary interest in this agenda item, left the meeting room whilst this agenda item was discussed and took no part in discussion or voting. Cllr. Jordan asked for it to be recorded that the Town Council was paying over £10k to Wiltshire Council in non-domestic business rates.
*b) To approve internet advertisement and candidate information pack for the position of Project Co-Ordinator – The Clerk reported that both Cllr. Colman and she had been working on these documents and what we were really asking the Council tonight is whether or not they were happy with the wording for the job advertisement and the job description. The Clerk said that she was liaising with the Human Resources Support Officer at South West Councils to whom we pay a yearly affiliation subscription for employment advice on wording and approval for the Application Forms and Candidate Information Pack. The Clerk said that she assumed that the Town Council’s staffing panel would deal with the interviews – they are Chair, Vice-Chair, Cllr. Jordan & Cllr. P. Coward and asked if the staffing panel was happy with the suggested application closing dates and interview dates. Members confirmed that they were happy withal the information provided and wanted to include the advert on Social Media Facebook Groups and the Blackmore Vale & Gillingham & Shaftesbury News as well as online on Indeed on proposal made by Cllr. Jeans, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority vote in favour. (Cllr. Hill abstained from voting).
- c) To report on Allotment rent audit – deferred.
- d) 2021/22 Annual Governance & Accountability Return external auditor instructions – the Clerk reported that she had received instructions from PKF Littlejohn LLP relating to the annual audit – the deadline for submission of the approved AGAR and supporting documentation is Friday, 1st July 2022. As the income and/or expenditure is over £200k, Mere Town Council will be required to submit an intermediate review and will need to submit the information required for an intermediate review.
- Future agenda items
NB – Please note that the next Town Council meeting will be the Annual Town Council meeting and will be held on 9th May 2022
- Emergency Item – Staffing matters
The Chairman reported that very regrettably, our Head Groundsman, James Suter, had handed in his notice of resignation this morning. James has been with the Town Council for nearly 8 years and he will be sorely missed. Cllr. Clive Hazzard confirmed that he had spoken with James to see if there was anything he could do to make him change his mind but that James had said that this was something he had thought long and hard about but his mind was firmly made up. RESOLVED to offer the job of Head Groundsman to Simon at the Head Groundsman’s rate and advertise for a groundsman on proposal made by Cllr. Mitchell, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds and carried with a majority vote. The Clerk said that she would speak to Simon who was currently on annual leave and would ask him to consider this carefully over the next 7 days so that she could then prepare the advertisement for the vacant position whether that be for a head groundsman or a groundsman. The Clerk said that she was also aware that Gillingham Town Council were advertising for a groundsman and so she would check the rates/conditions that they were offering.
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
Meeting closed at 8.29 pm
MERE PEACE MEMORIAL SPORTS AND RECREATION GROUND
Registered Charity No. 1093497
For Trustees to consider the following:
Wiltshire Council – National Non-Domestic Rates for Recreation Ground £0.00
The Clerk asked Trustees to note that Wiltshire Council had applied mandatory and discretionary relief to the Recreation Ground owing to the charitable status.