Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 4th September 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, Clive Hazzard, Raymond Hill, George Jeans, Kate Symonds & Lesley Traves
Also Inspector Harmsworth from Wiltshire Police & 5 members of the public
Mr. Ives suggested that the Town Council might like to name a footpath across The Meads or the new pedestrian way around Edgebridge the Mitchell Way after the late Eric Mitchell of Two Counties Farm. The Chairman said that this was a kind thought and one which the Town Council would discuss.
Sharon Hollick spoke about the increased volume of traffic around Edgebridge, the speed of the traffic and the lack of pavement or even signage warning drivers that there is no footway and there is a likelihood of pedestrians in the road. She asked for the ‘SLOW’ markings in the road to be repainted and said that ‘DEAD SLOW’ would be preferable. The Chairman said he was aware that there used to be signage in the vicinity warning drivers that there is no footway and Cllr. Jeans said that he had been informed that even replacement signs would need to be applied for via the LHFIG route.
Mr. Collin Senneck spoke in favour of his proposals to improve and continue using the Old Swimming Pool site for pétanque (as circulated to the Town Council members with their agenda papers).
Mr. Ian Sheppard spoke about the difficulties being faced by many of the residents along Waterside in carrying out their riparian ownership responsibilities in clearing the river – some properties are empty and other properties have very elderly residents and it is not easy to maintain that stretch of river. He asked if the Town Council could help cleaning the stream and said that if some help could be provided to get it to a certain standard then it may be possible for them to keep it maintained at that standard. Cllr. Kate Symonds said that the Town Councillors have no responsibility or powers to deal with the rivers but pointed out that there are a few councillors who show an interest in the rivers and attend the Rivers Group meetings. Cllr. Rodney Coward volunteered his son to help with clearing the weed.
The Chairman reminded the meeting that Mere Annual Carnival will be held on 16th September.
Insp. Harmsworth spoke about the local crime data analysis. He said that his team were aware of the anti-social behaviour and who was responsible and that this was being dealt with. With reference to speeding, he said that his speed enforcement officers would like to know if there were any specific locations that were causing concern and they would come out and carry out some speed enforcement activity – email locations to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in setting up community speedwatch teams then their teams would come out to carry out traffic surveys in areas to see if these can be instigated and/or speed indicator devices being installed – contact email@example.com There are quite a few operations going on relating to rural crime, i.e. hare coursing and theft of farm machinery. We continue to hold local drop in sessions – and I am publishing a monthly report to let people know what is going on add what the local police are doing in your area.
Rodney Coward asked about fly tipping and pointed out that this is becoming a big problem for farmers. Insp Harmsworth suggested that the farmers should e-mail in details of the fly tipping to the community police team and also report it to Wiltshire Council who have powers to deal with fly tipping.
- Apologies for absence received from Cllrs. Sandra Catley & Philip Coward. RESOLVED to waive S. 85 LGA 1972 (6-month rule) in respect of long-term absence for Cllr. Philip Coward due to personal circumstances.
- Declarations of Interest – To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- Lesley Traves declared a pecuniary interest in Planning Application Ref: PL/2023/04023
- George Jeans declared a personal interest in the Car Park Leases.
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 3rd July 2023 & Delegated Decision Report dated 1.8.23 be approved as a correct record.
- Matters Arising from Public Session
River Cleaning – some members felt that the Town Council should provide the manpower to clean out the river but the Clerk informed members that the Town Council does not have the powers to look after water courses unless they are in such a state as to be prejudicial to health (i.e. stagnant water). The Clerk also mentioned that it might be worth contacting Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as they may be able to bring volunteers or at least provide the insurance/risk assessments for our own volunteers to do some of the work. The Chairman said that he would bring this back to the October meeting by which time he hoped to have some positive information from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and an action plan for volunteers to carry out the river clearing.
Footpath naming – the Chairman said that this would be discussed at the next meeting and, in the meantime, Cllr. Hazzard agreed to discuss the matter with Eric Mitchell’s family to see if they were happy about the proposal to name a footpath/route after him.
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings (not covered by other agenda items)
*a) Minute Reference 268b) Traffic Management in Mere – Report from Working Group (in Clerks Report) – the Chairman said that he had numbered the paragraphs as requests numbered 1 – 5 and that request No. 4 should say repaint the SLOW sign. It was agreed to consider and submit the requests separately so that one request does not hold up another one. Requests 1 – 3 were approved. With regard to request No. 4 – Cllr. Jeans warned that there could be some resistance from residents which may cause some issues with progressing this. There were also concerns that double-yellow lines on both sides of the road may cause traffic to travel too fast. Some councillors thought the idea of a priority give-way system with parking at the side might be a solution but Cllr. Jeans said that this was extremely expensive. It was agreed to do some local consultation on this particular request. With regard to request No. 5 – it was mentioned that having a disabled space at the end nearest the clock tower would mean that a disabled driver would be getting out onto the road which may cause conflict but it was felt that the highways officers would advise on this.
The Chairman said that the position at Edgebridge could well become request No. 6 as this was well deserving of ‘caution’ signs at least that say there is no footway on both sides and also ‘SLOW’ markings on the road and that this particular matter would be discussed at the next meeting. The Chairman also said that he and the Vice-Chairman would carry out some consultation with residents in Hazzards Hill in relation to request No. 4.
- b) Minute Reference 296b) Highway Improvement Request Forms – the working group’s recommendation on the request for the installation of a ‘No Through Road’ sign at the junction of The Fields/Hazzards Hill was as follows: “As of April 2022 the cost of a warning or regulatory sign on a new signpost is estimated between £300 and £520 dependant on size (this is without external illumination). Applying an inflation rate of 7% that would now bring the cost to between £321 and £556. The Town Council’s financial contribution of 25% would therefore be £80 or £139. Given the Town Council’s financial constraints and considering the number of households that this would affect, members felt that they could not recommend this request for submission to LHFIG as we could be asked for many similar considerations from residents in other areas.” The Town Council agreed with this recommendation.
The working group’s recommendation on the request for a 20mph speed limit and central white line at junction of Manor Road & Castle Street was as follows: “This would be a very major project that would require assessments, surveys as well as new Traffic Regulation Orders, signage and possibly some kind of physical traffic calming measures – the cost of which could fall somewhere between £50,000 & £100,000, possibly more. This would require a contribution of between £12,500 and £25,000 from the Town Council. Whilst the Town Council could consider this as a viable contribution if it were to guarantee improved highway safety, pedestrian safety, retain existing on-street parking for shoppers and visitors, we felt that it would be unlikely that the 20mph speed limit would be enforced by any authorities and that it could, in turn, become even more dangerous giving drivers a false sense of security and encouraging them to come out onto the road thinking that traffic would only be driving at 20mph. At the present time, we felt unable to recommend this request for submission to LHFIG – the working group have recommended, however, to submit a request to re-instate the white central line from The Malthouse, Castle Street to The Brainwave Shop in Salisbury Street and to request a sign at the junction of Castle Street & Manor Road between the former Lloyd’s Bank and Walton’s Antiques, warning motorists turning into Manor Road that there is no footpath for 400 yards and/or pedestrians in the road. These requests may help to alleviate some concerns. A 20mph speed limit may be something that we will need to consider in the future but it will need to be an all-encompassing and very comprehensive scheme, following extensive consultation with businesses and residents.” The Town Council agreed with this recommendation. Agreed to raise the notion of a 20mph limit for Mere as an agenda item for the Annual Town Meeting next April so that the public have an opportunity to join the debate on this.
- c) Minute Reference 298 b) – Wiltshire Towns Programme 2022-23 – the Chairman reported that the Town Council is proceeding with the programme for expenditure as planned i.e. the Mere circular path to include waymarkers and illustrative map. We are also going to join VisitWiltshire to see if they can help to boost footfall and increase visitors to the Town and this is going to cost £450. We have received five requests for financial help towards publicising events from Mere Carnival, Mere Literary Festival, Mere Footpath Group, Friends of Mere Church & Healthy Mere Walking.
- d) Minute Reference 298 c) Wiltshire Towns Programme 2023-24 – We are able to get £5000 again but have to put in a detailed plan of how we propose to spend the money and the expenditure needs to help boost footfall and increase visitors to the town. One idea was an intelligent noticeboard outside the town which would display events and notices & QR codes for residents and visitors. Another idea was to put on a large event which could be organised professionally. The Chairman said he would try and circulate some suggestions to members for the next meeting and told members to let him know if they had anything they wanted to include.
- e) Minute Reference 265a) Lease for EV charger in Salisbury Street Car Park – The Clerk said that she just wanted to report that the lease is waiting for Wiltshire Council to give final approval and then our solicitor is going to send out the engrossment documents for signing.
- f) Minute Reference 276c) Lease for Salisbury Street Car Park – the Clerk had distributed a report to councillors as follows: Please find attached the lease plan for the Salisbury Street Car Park & the lease plan for the Castle Street Car Park. You will see from the ‘T’ markings that we will be responsible for ALL the boundary fences/walls around the car park. I would really like to reach a conclusion with the solicitors on the outstanding issues which are:
- Wiltshire Council have confirmed they are not willing to allow overnight sleeping, lorry drivers and camper vehicles for the following reasons:
The Council is concerned with issues, and costs of remedying such issues in relation to nuisance, (particularly for adjoining properties), and covenants to keep the land clean and tidy. Larger vehicles will increase wear and tear on the car park and would require enhanced safety measures. Lorry drivers and campers and mobile homes do leave behind a degree of waste and a 24-hour restriction would be hard to enforce. The other issue in allowing overnight sleepers, mobile homes, and caravans, with a 24hour time restriction, is that it would hinder the removal of travellers should they come onto the car park.
- They also noted that that the 2013 lease to the Town Council excluded storage of any caravan or movable dwelling, defined the opening hours of the car park as being between 8 and 4pm and permitted vehicles under a weight of 1525kg. It also prohibited sleeping accommodation.
- With regards to the schedule of condition and photos taken by the Town Council, they are taking instructions, but feels it will be unnecessary unless improvements have been made during the last 10 years, as you are still responsible for the repairing responsibilities of the last 10 years during the previous lease. The Council does not want to evidence the condition now if it is the same or worse condition – which is reasonable, as it means you will be absolved of the responsibility of the previous lease.
The Clerk said that, since sending this out, she had looked back on the old lease and the new draft lease and could find nothing in either of them that said the car park’s opening hours were between 8am and 4pm and neither could she find anything in either of them about a weight restriction of 1525kg. RESOLVED that the Chairman & Vice-Chairman are delegated to clear up these two particular matters to reach a point where the lease can be signed.
- g) Minute Reference 276d) Lease for Castle Street Car Park – RESOLVED to delegate to Chair & Vice-Chair to clear up the outstanding matters
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – Cllr. Jeans started to give a report on a Community Resilience Event he had recently attended in Tidworth but was called away from the meeting unavoidably. It was therefore agreed that Cllr. Jeans should get together with the Clerk to produce a written report of this meeting to present to members.
*b) Project Co-Ordinator’s Report (two attachments) – Cllr. Colman raised a question relating to the balance of S.106 funds and the Clerk said that she would send members a more detailed breakdown of this balance. The Chairman said that he was interested to read that the estimated costs for the footpath lighting should be available in September and so he was hopeful that the Council may be able to approve some costs at the next meeting.
- a) Applications for consultation response: In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on all planning applications below.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Conversion of redundant butchers’ shop into a two-bedroom studio apartment|
|Site Address:||W H DAVIE AND SON, ANGEL LANE, MERE|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z00001BKE25|
The Clerk read out an objection letter that had been sent in by a resident relating to this application. RESOLVED to object to this planning application for the following reasons: Whilst members of the Town Council noted that other commercial premises along this road had been converted to residential premises, they expressed very grave concern about the fact that this would be yet another residential property without any parking provision whatsoever. There is no parking provision either off-street or on-street. It is not possible to park outside the property without blocking Angel Lane completely, parking in Angel Lane is already congested and parking in the Town Centre is congested. Furthermore, members felt that the access into and out of the property straight onto the lane was dangerous and that the plans did not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||Two Storey Extension to provide additional accommodation|
|Site Address:||SPRINGWATER COTTAGE, MILL LANE, MERE, BA12 6DA|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z00001Ac12O|
Cllr. Mrs. Traves, having declared a pecuniary interest in this planning application, left the room whilst this application was considered. Members felt that this extension could easily be converted to provide separate accommodation. The Town Council RESOLVED to approve the above application ON CONDITION that the extension provides ancillary accommodation to the property known as Springwater Cottage only and cannot be rented out, occupied or sold off separately. Services must be shared with the main house and it should have no separate access or separate garden.
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||removal of the existing roof, increase pitch and form new roof with dormers|
|Site Address:||WHITEHILL HOUSE, SWAINSFORD, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6JU|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z00001BLYeT|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Proposed Single Storey Replacement Dwelling|
|Site Address:||Forgurls, Mill Lane, Mere, Warminster, BA12 6DA|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z00001BLqLG|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application.
|Application Type:||Hedgerow removal notice|
|Proposal:||Wessex Water are carrying out the installation of a new water pipeline to support water levels in the Shreen Water in Mere, Wiltshire. The temporary removal of sections of hedgerow (1 x 6m section (H2) is required in order to facilitate these works – provide access to the working area for construction vehicles. These hedgerow sections will replanted as per STD 836.|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z00001BMGiC|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application.
The Clerk informed members that the planning application for another dwelling at Underdown Mead has just been approved (the Town Council objected to this on grounds of overdevelopment and insufficient parking).
*b) Planning Inspectorate appeal decision & costs decision for PL/2022/06387 – Breaches Barn, Barrow Street, Mere. BA12 6AB (2 attachments) – Noted
*c) Wiltshire Council Local Plan Consultation – in-person and online events. Members noted the information in the Clerks Report and the Chairman confirmed that the event for Mere will be held in Tisbury on 4th October.
*d) DLUHC Consultation on Local Plans (attached) – The Chairman said he would look through this and try to come up with a response.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – the Clerk reported on the jobs that had been carried out by the Parish Steward during his last visit.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
*a) Petanque proposals for the old swimming pool site (attached) – members agreed that they did not want to make a decision on this facility that would have an impact on this particular site in isolation at the present time when it would probably be more prudent to look at the bigger picture and future potential sites/facilities that Mere might be able to offer and would benefit from. The Chairman agreed to speak to Mr. Senneck and explain the situation.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments as detailed in the schedule of payments distributed to members. The Clerk reported that she had paid the Kompan invoice eventually, after some extensive correspondence, and had managed to get a total reduction of £1723.78 for items that were invoiced but not used by the construction company.
*b) To note the reconciliations for June & July 2023 – the Chairman confirmed that he had signed and verified the reconciliations against the bank statements.
*c) To consider and approve Budget/Expenditure report @ 31.7.23 (report attached) – the Clerk confirmed that there was a deficit of £11,233.75 at the end of July but this is explained by the overspend of £11,700 on the two mowers.
- d) To consider quotation to provide internal audit for 2023/24 accounting period – quotation for the same internal auditor as last year would cost £560 for 2023/24 (£535 for 2022/23). RESOLVED to appoint internal auditor as quoted.
*e) LHFIG Funding Model and suggestion for parishes to contribute more, contributions to be means tested and/or larger parishes to contribute more than smaller parishes (Clerks Report) – The Clerk had circulated a report outlining her thoughts on these suggestions. RESOLVED that the Town Council should submit the Clerk’s thoughts as their formal collective response to the Area Board & LHFIG Committee. Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this.
*f) Review of council’s complaints procedure (attached) – RESOLVED that the Council’s Complaints Procedure be approved without amendment.
- General Items
- a) To amend standing orders in relation to recording minutes and to set a defined period for keeping recorded minutes – RESOLVED to keep recorded Minutes (the recording) for a period of 18 months on the Council’s computer. Printed Minutes are kept indefinitely and stored by way of hard copy and electronically.
*Briefing Note 23-20 – Air Quality Action Plan and Air Quality Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) consultations (attached)
*Briefing Note no. 23-22 Wiltshire & Swindon Tree Warden Scheme (attached)
*Briefing Note No. 23-23: Waste Sorting at Wiltshire’s Household Recycling Centres (attached)
- Future meetings and events
- a) Invitation to The Tower Stories Launch Party – Friday, 8th September in St. Michael’s Church at 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm – Mrs. Traves said that she would be attending this event.
- b) LHFIG meeting is on Wednesday, 6th September at 2.00 pm – Debbie Beale & Nick Beale said that they would be attending this event.
- c) Mere School Firework event – Duchy Manor, 4th November
- Future agenda items
The future of Mere Chamber of Trade – Cllr. Clive Hazzard
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 either in Clerks Report or attached.
MERE PEACE MEMORIAL SPORTS AND RECREATION GROUND
Registered Charity No. 1093497
For Trustees to consider the following:
Request from Mere Youth Football Club to re-erect fixed goals on the second pitch on Mere Recreation Ground.
The Clerk said that she had spoken to Cllr. Catley today (football representative) who had requested that this item be deferred as she could not be present. However, Cllr. Ings said that this needed to be resolved as the season was starting. He therefore suggested that if the youth football club wanted to buy fixed goals then the posts should be inserted into sleeves – the idea being that the sleeves are fixed into the ground and the goal posts can be fitted into the sleeves with the goal posts in place from September until April and then removed by taking them out of the sleeves and freeing up the space for the summer. Alternatively, the youth football club could buy pop-up posts if they felt that these would be easier to store out of season. Members unanimously agreed with this suggestion and felt it was a good compromise.
Request from Wessex Internet to lay fibre to Seeds4Success – the Clerk said that following a meeting with them on site, they now appeared to be reconsidering their options and so this would probably be raised again at a future meeting.