Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 5th December 2022 at 7.00 pm in the Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, Wiltshire, BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors Mrs. Lesley Traves (Chair), Nick Beale, Sandra Catley, Aubrey Colman, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, George Jeans, John Jordan & Linden Stone.
Also: Quentin Skinner, Colin Liddell and Mr. Cardozo
Meeting convened at 7.02pm with Public Participation Session
Mr. Skinner, spoke in objection to Planning Application PL/2022/08186 and he said that the last time this site was subject to a planning application for one gypsy pitch in 2015 the WC highways office initially objected to the application on the basis of road safety because the visibility splays did not meet the criteria for the design manual. However, about 3 or 4 weeks after that they had a change of mind and used a different manual MfS2 which had different regulations for different environments. However, even using this it still didn’t pass the criteria for visibility and so they actually granted permission when they shouldn’t have done and that was for one pitch and now they are talking about 11 pitches. The application should therefore be turned down on road safety grounds. Mr. Skinner also pointed out that there were a number of planning conditions attached to the previous planning permission for this site which have not been followed and one of these conditions is that the hedgerow must be kept to a height of 1m which, of course, has not happened but this too, means that the site can be seen.
Cllr. Jeans said that he understood that one of the conditions was to close up the vehicular entrance closest to Mere and this has not been done so now they have two entrances.
Mr. Liddell also spoke in objection to Planning Application PL/2022/08186 and pointed out that he was certain that a housing development would not be approved for that site and so therefore, could not understand, why a gypsy site should be approved. Mr. Liddell also expressed concern about highway safety and pointed out the issue of flooding, saying that he has a photograph of that field completely flooded with swans on it and he said that the extra hard standing necessary to accommodate the extra pitches would make the flooding situation worse.
Mr. Cardoza asked if other planning applications in the vicinity would be taken into consideration and stated that there was a planning application for mobile homes being submitted in Gillingham. Cllr. Jeans said that each planning application would be considered on its own merits but pointed out that a planning application for mobile homes would not qualify as a planning application for a gypsy and traveller site unless it was specifically titled as such. The Clerk pointed out that Wiltshire Council had a separate planning policy for gypsy and traveller sites and a separate planning policy for housing development sites and that the two were treated quite differently.
Apologies for absence received from Councillors Debbie Beale, Philip Coward, Raymond Hill, Glen Ings and Kate Symonds.
- Declarations of Interest and Requests for Dispensation
- Hazzrd declared a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 246a) [Payments]
GJ had a personal interest but at a level
- Stone declared a personal interest in planning application PL/2022/07196
There were no requests for dispensation
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday, 7th November 2022 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 7.11.22
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings (not covered by other agenda items)
*Minute Ref: 228A) Wiltshire Towns Programme – to consider Wiltshire Towns Programme proposals for Action Plan (report attached) – Cllr. Jordan reported that several meetings ago he volunteered himself to apply for this funding. Since last month’s report, he has held a Teams meeting with Wiltshire Council officers and found out that some of the things that the Clerk and I had talked about to enhance the town would be inappropriate for this programme i.e. provide some extra parking, or provide a bus stop or perhaps to have a parking ambassador – unfortunately, they are thinking of short-term solutions to increase footfall in town centres. They were, however, keen to support events and I therefore suggested that funding for a Film Week (organised along the same lines as the Literary Festival) might receive some support as well as signage for walks to encourage people to visit Mere for accessible walks. In January the legal team will have some sort of grant agreement contract written up. We need to produce a formal Action Plan and I have drafted some notes for you to consider as we will need to submit something firm by the middle of January. Cllr. Jeans said he wanted to thank Cllr. Jordan and it was agreed to delegate the task of forming an Action Plan to Cllr. Jordan.
242 Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – Jeans reported that Wiltshire Council will now collect small household batteries with kerbside recycling collection every fortnight. These should be presented in a sealed clear sandwich bag, on top of your blue-lidded recycling bin.
- b) Report from Mere Town Council’s Project Co-Ordinator (report attached) & consideration of future project priorities – Cllr. Jeans said that he wanted to thank Roger Pipe and said that he was unable to attend the LHFIG meeting is aware that Cllr. Nick Beale did attend and that Roger put forward a very good case and I am aware that the LHFIG meeting have made recommendations that a substantial amount of money should be put towards the Clements Lane/Angel Lane footpath improvement project so I would like to thank Roger for his input on this.
In the event that Roger finds himself with time between his projects or his projects reach a stage that can’t be progressed, it was thought prudent to identify other projects that he could progress as and when:
Future projects for consideration in order of priority:
- Lease for Duchy Manor (old Children’s Centre)
- Start work on options for reconfiguration of Public Toilets
- Renew lease for Youth Club
- Help Seeds4Success with options for re-arrangement of toilets in Youth Club Building
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Application No:||PL/2022/07196 – Amended Plans/Additional Information|
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Erect 50kw Solar Array|
|Site Address:||Mere Fish Farm, Ivy Mead, Mere, Warminster, BA12 6EN|
|Applicant:||Mere Trout Ltd|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of these amended plans on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a majority vote. Cllr. Linden Stone, having declared a personal interest, abstained from discussion or voting and in order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||New two bedroom detached bungalow|
|Site Address:||3 UNDERDOWN MEAD, WHITE ROAD, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6EX|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z0000199pYo|
The Chairman reminded members that a couple of months ago we had a planning application for the neighbouring property where they wanted to attach a 2-bed house to Number 4 Underdown Mead and although the Town Council did object to this application, the planning authority subsequently granted permission. Cllr. Jordan also remembers that the Town Council objected to proposals to build a larger two-storey 4-bed property on the plot next door quite some time ago and this is significantly smaller but it is still yet another property. It was noted that on the planning register two people had written in to support this planning application. Cllr. Jordan said that the Town Council previously raised the argument that access was not appropriate from the lower Old Hollow Road but evidently this is not a problem for Wiltshire Highways. Cllr. Jordan also said that the two proposed parking spaces look quite small. Cllr. Colman said he felt that these proposals would be overdevelopment of the site; there is insufficient turning space for vehicles and water is likely to run off the hard landscaping onto the road at Old Hollow and exacerbate the drainage problems there. Cllr. Rachael Hansford said “everyone says they want smaller affordable properties for local people to buy and these are never going to be built on a greenfield site, they are always going to be squeezed in between other properties and on people’s gardens. It is a 2-bed bungalow at the end of the day and we need these sorts of properties but every time we get a proposal for one, everyone complains that it is overdevelopment – we can’t have it both ways.” Cllr. Sandra Catley proposed that the Town Council should object to the application on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site and unsuitable access. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Colman but was not carried with a vote of 2 for, 4 against and 3 abstentions. Cllr. Nick Beale made a counter proposal that the Town Council raises no objection to the planning application. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a vote of 5 for, 2 against and 2 abstentions. This second proposal was then presented to the Town Council as a substantive motion and this was carried with a vote of 6 for, 2 against and 2 abstentions. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||Replacement rear extension and insertion of rooflights|
|Site Address:||BOWER HOUSE, SALISBURY STREET, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6HE|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z0000199ByQ|
Cllr. Jordan felt that this was an enhancement and would not have an impact on any neighbours or the surrounding area. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Colman 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 Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Extension to existing Gypsy and Traveller site with 10 additional pitches, each pitch to consist of 1 Mobile Home, 1 Touring caravan and parking|
|Site Address:||The Stables, Mapperton Hill, Mere, BA12 6LH|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z0000198YxT|
Members were generally concerned about drainage, flooding, sewage disposal etc. Cllr. R. Coward said he was fairly certain that planning permission for 10 houses would not be allowed on the site. Cllr. Jordan said that he was concerned that there appears to be one rule for one and a different rule for others; his point being that there is a caravan park that has appeared on the other side of the road which, as far as he is aware, has not received planning permission. Cllr. Sandra Catley said that she thought that vehicular access into and out of the B3092 would be very dangerous as vehicles travelled very fast along this road. Cllr. Colman pointed out that there is an 8ft high wall being built on the entrance to the land at this moment which would present a danger as it would provide a visibility obstruction. Members were doubtful as to whether the wall had received planning permission. The Chairman pointed out that when planning permission was granted for the one Romany Gypsy pitch in 2014/15 there were several conditions attached to the planning approval notice and these conditions have not all been met and were certainly not met in the correct order. She said that it is all very well to say that an enforcement officer will ensure that conditions are met, but the enforcement officer is severely stretched with all the breaches of planning rules that are taking place. Cllr. Jeans pointed out that, unfortunately, Wiltshire Council had not met their target for allocated Gypsy & Traveller site provisions within the Core Strategy. However, he also said that there were points within the Planning Inspectorates decision on the Appeal by Richborough Estates for the development of the site at Gillingham Corner which would be very relevant to this planning application too and one of those was the Heritage & Landscape impact. Cllr. Jeans said that Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy has firm policies about building where it is not suitable which would include on land that floods. He also pointed out that this planning application would not be treated like a regular planning application in that he couldn’t “Call it in” to go to the planning committee as it would automatically be taken to strategic committee for determination and he therefore suggested that the Town Council, whether it supports or objects, might want to think about attaching conditions to the planning decision such as providing electricity to the whole site before it is developed and closing up the unauthorised vehicular entrance (as applied previously).
RESOLVED that the Town Council should object to the planning application on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Sandra Catley and carried with a vote of 7 for, 1 against and 1 abstention.
The Clerk was given licence to compile the objection submission on the basis of the following points:
- Hazardous vehicular access
- Insufficient drainage
- Heritage & Landscape setting impact – harm on landscape when viewed from Castle Hill, Long Hill & Monarchs Way
- Addition of conditions as mentioned and as added in previous response in 2014.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – None reported.
*b) Request from Mere Rivers Group for help with maintenance of river and river bank along Waterside and response from Town Council’s insurers relating to enquiries – Cllr. Hazzard said that he thought it would be nice to see something done about the river and wondered if the insurance company were actually aware of the size and flow of the river – he said they may be thinking that the term river refers to a large fast-flowing deep watercourse whereas in fact it is just a narrow stream with a few inches of water. He said that he thought the Town Council could go back to the insurance company with further details of our proposals. The Clerk said that if the Town Council were to carry out any work or were to oversee a volunteer group carrying out any work along Waterside then a Risk Assessment would be key and one of her actions would be to install some kind of grid to stop any sediment/weeds becoming dislodged and getting trapped under Yapp Brothers and causing flooding to property. The Clerk said that she would prepare a more detailed proposal for work with Risk Assessment for the Town Council to consider at a future meeting before submission to the insurers.
*c) Response from Wiltshire Council’s Traffic Engineer on recently submitted Highway Improvement Requests:
- Driveway Protection Marking for Church Street
- Chetcombe Road Signage
Members noted the information in the Clerks Report.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
- a) Problems and issues relating to dead/dying trees in Mere Cemetery – suggest working group visit to make recommendations for future management – The Clerk reminded members that she had previously mentioned concerns over the dying yew trees in the cemetery but informed members that more yew trees appeared to be dying and she asked for Councillors to go and have a look. Sandra Catley & Aubrey Colman agreed to go and have a look at the yew trees.
Cllr. Hazzard said that the beech hedge for the cemetery extension needed to be planted before the growing season and asked the Council if they were happy for him to get a quote for this for consideration at the next meeting. The Chairman said that she was happy for this although the Clerk said that, depending on the price, it may be necessary to get three quotes.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – To review and authorise schedule of payments (schedule attached) – RESOLVED to authorise payments on proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a majority vote.
Cllr. Jordan wanted to thank the council team and Dan Weeks for organising and erecting the lighting and co-ordinating all of this with the Carnival Father Xmas event.
Cllr. Hazzard, having declared a pecuniary interest in this agenda item, left the room and took no part in discussion or voting.
- b) To sign off latest bank reconciliation – the Chairman checked the bank statements against the bank reconciliation and signed the reconciliation in the presence of the Council.
*c) To adopt recommendations made by Budget Meeting, as shown in Minutes of Budget Meeting held on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022 (Minutes attached) – deferred
- d) To approve Precept on Wiltshire Council for 2023/24 – deferred
*e) Donation request from Mere Brownies & Rainbows – Cllr. Jordan said he was aware that the Forest Charity supported the Mere Brownies but he felt that this was a worthy cause and suggested that the Town Council give a donation of £100. Cllr. R. Coward said that he would like this increased to £200. Cllr. Hazzard said that he had concerns that if the Town Council gave a donation to Mere Brownies and Rainbows then we would be setting a precedent for other groups in Mere to apply for donations and he thought that the Forest Charity would be a better avenue for this sort of funding. Cllr. Jordan said that he would ask the Carnival to donate £100 to the Mere Brownies and Rainbows. Cllr. R. Coward proposed that we should match this and further resolved that any other requests from other groups or organisations that may or may not arrive would be carefully considered on an individual basis. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Sandra Catley and carried with a majority vote and 2 abstentions.
- f) To consider grant/donation for Mere Foodbank – the Clerk pointed out that the Town Council had given a £500 donation to the Mere Foodbank for the past two years. She also pointed out that during the Budget Meeting discussions there had been a suggestion that this donation should be given by way of food vouchers. Nick Beale said that there are 10s of thousands of charities that are struggling at the moment and felt that the Town Council needed to be careful about giving charitable donations using public money. The Clerk explained that the Council has to give consideration to the legislation under S.137 of the Local Government Act 1972 when considering donations in that the Council should feel that the expenditure will be of direct benefit to the area or any part of it or to the inhabitants or some of the inhabitants. Cllr. R. Coward said that the Mere Forest Charity donated £500 to Mere Foodbank but they insisted that the money was spent on food. Cllr. Sandra Catley proposed that the Town Council should provide a S.137 donation to Mere Foodbank to be spent on food only. Cllr. A. Colman proposed that the money should be spent on vouchers from a supermarket and the vouchers should be donated to the foodbank instead. Cllr.Jeans felt that it would be better to hand them the money but insist that it is used within official foodbank procedures and protocol. The Clerk pointed out that she thought that the sort of Foodbank that Cllr. Jeans was talking about no longer operated in Mere and that the Mere Foodbank was now more of a community foodbank staffed by volunteers to provide food for those in need – with most of the food being provided by local supermarkets. The Clerk said that as far as she was aware, the voucher scheme foodbank that Cllr. Jeans was referring to was now provided to Mere residents by Gillingham Foodbank. Cllr.Jeans said that this was incorrect and that the Mere Foodbank was governed by the same protocol and procedures and it was RESOLVED to provide a donation of £500 to Mere Foodbank on condition that it was used in accordance with the same protocol and procedures as the official foodbank schemes on providing food parcels.
- General Items
- a) Questions regarding Wiltshire Council offices and staff – A. Colman said that it is almost impossible to get hold of an officer at Wiltshire Council now and officers are working from home yet they don’t answer their phones and there are 200 empty desks at Wiltshire Council offices. Cllr. Jeans said that Wiltshire Council invested hundreds of thousands of pounds to go over to remote working. He agreed with Cllr. Colman and said that it is not working as people don’t answer their phones during normal working hours and said that he had taken up the matter with the leader of the Council. RESOLVED to write an old fashioned letter to the Leader of the Council, Richard Clewer, and ask him to justify why council taxpayers money is being spent on these vast open spaces with no-one working at the desks and their policy to drive everyone away from using the phone but instead to make enquiries via the internet which never receive proper answers. All agree.
*b) Gigaclear – Broadband network build update – Cllr. Jeans said that, unfortunately, they did not have the required permits and licenses required to dig up the roads and pavements. He understood that work would re-start in January and meanwhile, the Gigaclear Community Engagement Manager would be communicating with Cllr. Jeans to ensure that working practises are more acceptable.
- c) Does the Town Council want to set up a Working Group for Coronation of HRH King Charles III – it was agreed to raise this matter in the next Chairman’s report
*d) Annual Report from Seeds4Success (report attached) – no questions were raised. Cllr. Jordan said that he attended the AGM and was very impressed with what they achieve and a lot of young people benefit from their efforts. Cllr. Colman reported that he, too, attended the AGM and had asked for clarification/breakdowns on various accounting matters.
- Future meetings and events
- a) Invitation to SWW Area Board meeting – Wednesday, 14th December 2022, 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm at Castle Meadow Pavilion, Castle Lane, Wilton, SP2 0HG & Invitation to see the Wilton Men’s Shed – Cllr. Jordan said that he would be attending this meeting to represent the Town Council.
- b) To set date for January 2023 meeting – it was agreed that the next meeting of the Town Council would take place on Monday, 16th
- c) Judging of Xmas Lights – Nick Beale said that he and Debbie would be very happy to judge the Xmas Lights. Cllr. Jeans said that he had paid for the shield and prizes because the shield got lost last year.
Meeting closed at 8.46 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