Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a Town Council meeting held on Monday, 6th June 2022 at 7.00 pm in The Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors Mrs. Lesley Traves (Chair), Mrs. Kate Symonds (Vice-Chair), Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rodney Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, Raymond Hill, Glen Ings, George Jeans and John Jordan.
Also Spence Gunn & Claire Shaddick, Hilary Gladding, Graham Avory and Mr. Craig Bowers
Public Participation Session
Hilary Gladding – Treasurer for the Croquet Club said that she was attending the meeting following on from the COVID lockdown in 2020 when the Town Council very kindly agreed to waive the rent due to the fact that the club could not operate. Mrs. Gladding said that because of the lockdown their membership numbers had reduced to only 11 members for this season, their membership was £50 per year and they had conducted a campaign to try and get new members. However, their membership consisted of an ageing population with difficult access to the grounds and substantial grounds maintenance fees to pay (grass cutting and hedge cutting). Their bank balance currently stood at £1157 but they did not think there was sufficient money to resume paying the rental fee to the Town Council of £500 per year.
Craig Bowers, Water Street said that he had attended the Council meeting to answer any questions relating to his planning application for a building to house his beloved donkeys in Wet Lane. He said that the unit was a basic steel shed with wooden cladding of 12m X 15m.
Apologies for absence received from Councillors Nick & Debbie 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.
- Hazzard declared a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 178a) [recipient]
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday, 9th May 2022 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 9.5.22. RESOLVED that the Minutes of the extra Town Council meeting held on Monday, 23rd May 2022 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Hill and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 23.5.22.
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Notice of Vacancies for Town Councillor
The Chairman announced that, regrettably, Louise Bennett had found it necessary to resign as a Town Councillor due it no longer being possible for her to fit in her council duties with her family duties. The Clerk informed members that she had notified Wiltshire Council of this vacancy and of the vacancy created by the passing of Eric Mitchell and that both vacancy notices would be advertised on the Town Council’s noticeboard and website. In due course, the Clerk would be notified as to whether or not an election had been requested or whether the Town Council could co-opt to fill the vacancies.
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings
- a) Platinum Jubilee Celebrations – summary report of proceedings (Minute ref: 157a) – The Chairman reported that she thought the Mere celebrations had been splendid and very successful. Town Councillors all agreed that the various events that they attended were all very successful, fun and enjoyable and well organised and the turnout was excellent. It was agreed that the Town Council would write to the Mere Platinum Jubilee Committee and thank them for all their hard work. The Chairman also thanked George Jeans for putting up all the flags.
- b) Provision/installation of conduits/ducts for street lights and battery powered EV chargers at Duchy Manor (Minute Ref: 131d) –Cllr. Jeans reported that a resident, Mr. David Hytch, of +Charge had surveyed the site at Duchy Manor for possible EV chargers but they needed to know the half hourly consumption figures for the school’s power to determine exactly what was available and at what time of day and whether or not it would be feasible to install battery EV chargers. The Consortium through which the school buy their electricity had asked for a £90 fee to provide this information. RESOLVED that the Town Council should pay this £90.00 on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a majority vote (Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting). Jeans said that +Charge had determined that the cost of the work to provide the power to six parking bays for charging is just under £20,000 which included connection to the panel in the school and cabling to the car park bays. Cllr. Jeans assured the Town Council that if we gave +Charge a lease for a period of time then we wouldn’t have to pay this £20,000 installation cost. Cllr. Jeans also confirmed that he was asking Anthony Dixon, the School Extension Project Manager at Wiltshire Council, if the contractors would install the conduits necessary for the chargers whilst they have the trenches dug on the site and he had provided him with the survey details.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors – Jeans reported that a lot of people were currently reporting fly tipping. He pointed out that where waste has been dumped on land that falls outside the responsibility of Wiltshire Council, then it can be reported to the Environment Agency via a Clear Waste App.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Householder planning permission
|Ground floor pocket extensions to side and rear of property Extension of existing porch Alteration of rear roof pitch to accommodate additional bedroom
|RHEOLA, PETTRIDGE LANE, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6DG
|Planning Register Link:
The Chairman said she had made a site visit and had a look at the plan. It was pointed out that there was an objection to this planning application online and Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that there is a 6ft gap between the proposed wall and next door and said that she thought the proposal would remove a small amount of daylight but pointed out that this was unlikely to be significant enough to be a material consideration. RESOLVED to recommend approval on proposal made by Cllr. Ings, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a majority vote (2 abstentions). In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
|Full planning permission
|Erection of agricultural storage and livestock building
|Land at Wet Lane Wet Lane Mere BA12 6BA
|Planning Register Link:
Cllr. Ings said that it is a fairly large barn but it is quite agricultural and is situated in the right place. RESOLVED to recommend approval on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
|Householder planning permission
|Single Storey Rear Extension
|17 WALNUT ROAD, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6FG
|Planning Register Link:
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. Proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
- b) To report on site meeting and Southern Area planning meeting held on 1st June to discuss planning application PL/2022/01547 – erection of new 2-bedroom dwelling in Castle Hill Lane/Castle Street. The Chairman reported that she had attended the site meeting during the daytime and the planning meeting in Salisbury in the afternoon. However, she was required to return to Mere in order to take part in staffing interviews and it was necessary to leave before this agenda item was discussed (the Chairman would not bring the agenda item forward but did allow Cllr. Mrs Traves to speak on the matter before she left). Jeans fought our corner but unfortunately the Committee recommended this planning application for approval which is absolutely amazing because it is on a dangerous corner where cars can’t turn round to get in and out. The Conservation Officer was in favour. Cllr. Jeans said that there wasn’t a single committee member who was able to support an objection and also pointed out that because the officer had recommended the application for approval, it would have been very difficult to get it overturned.
*c) Briefing Note No. 22-09 – 5-Year Housing Land Supply and Housing Delivery Test (attached) – The Clerk reported that in a recent newsletter, Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning had written: “Many of you have been in touch with me over the past months to discuss the five-year land supply, and in particular the adverse impacts arising from a deficiency situation. This recalculation fo the land supply has been conducted under the allowed methodology and I am obviously disappointed to see that we can still not manage to demonstrate a figure in excess of five years; although it is now closer to five years than the previous calculation it replaces. As some of you know only too well, at appeal developers will seek to argue the figure down and even a figure in excess of five years is not a guarantee that a planning inspector will not accept or use a lower figure in their assessment.” Cllr. Rachael Hansford said that this is another reason not to put a lot of effort into a Neighbourhood Plan.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports – Jordan asked if the Sparkle Team could carry out some clearance work on Burton Path and Cllr. Hazzard asked if some cutting back work could be carried out on the footpath running from Edgebridge to Lordsmead Mill.
- b) Highway closure – Please see the link to an urgent closure notice for Edge Bridge (part), Mill Lane (part), Mere commencing 20th June 2022. https://api-gb.one.network/downloads/tm/1142/ttrn-edge-bridge-part-mill-lane-par_128884066_3443597_f07a6dc4fe.pdf The closure can also be found on one.network here: https://one.network/?tm=128884066
- c) To consider additional parking restrictions for Mere Town Centre – Jeans reported on several areas that were considered to be a real problem at the moment. One of them was Hazzards Hill and Cllr. Jeans reported that he had tried to get the police involved to help with putting some temporary bollards out in order to stop dangerous parking. The other area was Bramley Hill and then there was the issue of dropped kerbs as well and Cllr. Jeans said he was aware that there were cars that regularly parked across dropped kerbs in Castle Street. Cllr. Jeans asked that the Town Council should write to the PCSO officially to ask for some assistance and also proposed that the Town Council might like to set up a working group to investigate these areas of concern and prepare a report for presentation to the Town Council in order to make some suggestions to Wiltshire Council for further traffic management controls. Cllr. R. Coward said that another area of concern was the junction at Water Street where, because of the cars parked right up to the junction, it was necessary to come out into the middle of the road on the wrong side of the road before you could see what was coming down Hazzards Hill.
Meeting adjourned to allow George Jeans to speak as a member of the public
George Jeans said that he was aware that there were complaints about the vans and delivery lorries parking outside The Chapel in Boar Street in connection with his son’s business – Jeans Electricals. George Jeans said that although he had a personal interest in this matter, he wanted it to be known that he would be very happy for members of the working group to include this area in their deliberations.
Two proposals: one for a working group – Cllrs. A. Colman, Mrs. Traves and Clive Hazzard volunteered.
It was agreed that the Town Council should write to the police for assistance with areas of concern and for dealing with parked cars outside dropped kerbs on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority vote (Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting).
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
- a) Car Park Sponsorship – A few years ago we managed to get sponsorship to help us with the running of the car parks. The Clerk pointed out that a number of businesses had changed hands and there was even one or two new businesses that might be willing to be in the scheme. The Clerk pointed out that a sign was erected publicising which businesses had taken part in the scheme. George Jeans and Clive Hazzard agreed to re-visit the businesses and assess the sponsorship.
- b) Communication from Mere Croquet & Boules Club relating to membership/accounts and rental – Cllr. P. Coward said that £500 seems quite a lot of money to me and said that if the club folded then the Town Council would need to maintain the land or do something with it. Rachael Hansford said that it was an established club with people in it and we’ve just been through two very difficult yeas and so maybe we should support the club. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds asked about the petanque players and Hilary Gladding clarified that they had 26 members in 2018 which included the petanque players but we lost those players and that membership. Cllr. P. Coward proposed that the rental is reduced by 50% for this year and the club will then have a year to try and boost its membership and finances to get back to a full rental payment for next financial year. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a majority vote. (Cllr. Hazzard was not in the room at the time of this vote or discussion).
- c) To clarify understanding in relation to changes to leases for Duchy Manor/Mere School Car Park following the construction work etc. – the Clerk explained that she had received an email from John Price the Estates Surveyor at Wiltshire Council referring to the legal paperwork around the new car park at Duchy Manor and he originally suggested that the Town Council should surrender the relevant area out of our 2005 underlease and our continued use of the car park would be covered by a deed of variation. The Clerk had informed John Price that she was not aware of any discussions having taken place relating to the Town Council surrendering any areas under our lease or relating to any loss of rights to use the existing school car park out of hours. As a result of further discussion between the Town Clerk & Cllr. Jeans it was suggested that the Town Council should request “That the whole of the area of land that is currently under the Town Council’s lease should remain in place but that a deed of variation could be created to allow the school to use the newly created car park during school opening times, along with the community use (i.e. the newly created car parking area [pre-barrier] will have shared usage during school opening times). Also, to confirm that the Town Council will have the use of the TWO dedicated spaces beyond the electronic barrier (shown marked TC on the plans submitted in the planning application) during school opening times and to allow any other community usage in the area beyond the electronic barrier outside school opening times (subject to the barrier being controlled by the Town Clerk).” RESOLVED that this request be put to Wiltshire Council’s Estates Surveyor on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments set out in the payment schedule on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. A. Colman and carried with a majority vote. Cllr. C. Hazzard, having declared a pecuniary interest in this item, left the room and took no part in discussion or voting.
- b) Clarification on the purchase of tractor:
- Is it the Town Council’s preference to purchase the tractor outright?
- Is the Town Council happy that it has followed Financial Regulations and Procurement procedures?
The Chairman pointed out that it was the Council’s preference to purchase the tractor outright but the Clerk had pointed out that although the Town Council had agreed to vire the reserves at last month’s meeting there was actually no record of the Town Council agreeing to purchase the tractor outright. Cllr. Hazzard proposed that the Town Council should purchase the tractor from reserves and the proposal was seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote in favour. Cllr. Hazzard said that he was confident that the Town Council had acted with due diligence over the purchase of this tractor and had followed Financial Regulations. He pointed out that he and Cllr. Mitchell went to a lot of effort, they obtained four different quotations from four different dealerships in the locality and although no 2 tractors are the same, he was confident that the tractor they had chosen to purchase was coming from a reputable dealer and fitted the requirements of the grounds staff. Cllr. Hazzard pointed out that it was not appropriate to advertise for tender as it would have been necessary to purchase this machine from a local dealer so as the grounds staff could test drive the machine and assess it for fit/comfort but also the issue of part-exchange for the Council’s existing provided better value for money on the deal but required locality. Members unanimously agreed that the Town Council had acted with due diligence to obtain the best value for the expenditure of public money in the purchase of this tractor.
*c) To approve and adopt Mere Town Council Investment Policy (Draft attached) – The Clerk pointed out that The Practitioners Guide says “where the authority has bank balances in excess of £100k it has an appropriate investment strategy”. RESOLVED to adopt without amendment on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Hazzard and carried with a unanimous vote in favour.
*d) To review Mere Town Council Reserves Policy: To review reserves and authorise transfer of funds to National Savings Account: The Clerk reported: ‘At the end of the Town Council’s Reserves policy is says that the RFO will advise the Council on the level of reserves required to fulfil its obligations. The Town Council has agreed to purchase the tractor outright rather than enter into a lease-purchase agreement and its rationale for doing this is because it is not financially viable to take a lease hire agreement when the interest rates on borrowing money are so much higher than the interest rates on our reserves. Instead, the Town Council has agreed to vire reserves (transfer from one account heading to another account heading) in order to pay for the tractor. This has resulted in a minus figure on our general reserves at the end of the financial year. The main purpose of general reserves is to operate as a working balance and to help manage the impact of uneven cash flows and to provide a contingency to cushion the impact of emerging or unforeseen events or genuine emergencies. In general, a robust level of reserves should be maintained and take account of operational and financial issues facing the Town Council. It is my opinion that the Town Council should hold a level of £30k in general reserves. However, I accept the fact that there are funds that could be reallocated and projects that may come in under budget over the next year or so and therefore, I would advise that the situation should be monitored carefully and an interim review report should be provided to members with the next budget/expenditure report. I note that we are holding more money in our Lloyds Bank accounts than would be covered under the FSC and would ask for the council’s approval in transferring the balance over £85k to our National Savings & Investment Account.’ Members agreed with the Clerk’s & RFO’s recommendations.
*e) To approve the Accounting Statements for the year ending 31st March 2022 as prepared by the Town Clerk & RFO –– the accounting statements which includes the end-of-year bank reconciliation, identification of variances requiring explanation, reconciliation between boxes 7 & 8, an analysis of earmarked reserves and asset summary, prepared by the RFO were distributed with the agenda papers and approved by the Council. The Clerk pointed out that there was extra information provided within these statements that needed to be published in accordance with the Transparency Code and in recognition that the Town Council had now moved into the higher band requirement (income over £200k)
The Clerk asked members to note that it has been necessary to re-state the asset register figure provided last year because she mistakenly included the valuation of the public toilets which, although they are insured by us and included in our asset valuations for insurance purposes, they are not actually included in our asset register as they belong to Wiltshire Council. RESOLVED to approve the Accounting Statements for the year ending 31st March 2022 on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
*f) Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2021/22
- To receive and note the Annual Internal Audit Report – the Clerk informed members that on 26th May, Mrs. Mary White had carried out an independent examination of the Town Council’s accounting records, its compliance with relevant procedures and its risk assessments and internal control procedures. Mrs. White had agreed that, in all significant respects, the control objectives were being achieved throughout the financial year to a standard adequate to meet the needs of the council and had completed section 4 of the Annual Return, answered ‘yes’ or ‘Not Covered’ to all questions and had signed the Annual Internal Audit Report in the Annual Return accordingly. Mrs. White had written a letter: “On 26th May I carried out an internal audit of the Town Council’s Financial Statements for the year ending 31st March 2022. It is my opinion that proper accounting records have been maintained by the Council, financial statements have been properly prepared and that there were at this time no issues of concern. For the purpose of this audit the Town Clerk, Lindsey Wood, ensured as always that everything necessary was to hand and in good order, and provided every assistance during our meeting.” Mrs. White also added: “I must let you know that this is my last report as Internal Auditor to Mere Town Council. Over the past few years the Town Council has faced ever increasing financial activity and with this has come more regulations, guidance and best practice for internal auditors to the point that I no longer feel able to take on the responsibility to fulfil the role.’ Members expressed their gratitude to Mary White for carrying out the Internal Audit and for her diligence in implementing this role over the years and asked for their thanks to be recorded in the Minutes and for a letter of thanks to be sent to Mrs. White.
- To approve the Annual Governance Statement (Section 1) – Points 1 – 9 of the Annual Governance statement 2021/22 (Section 1 of the Annual Governance & Accountability Return) were read out to members and members answered ‘yes’ to each of the statements. The Annual Governance Statement was signed by the Clerk and by the Chairman in the presence of the Town Council.
- To approve the Accounting Statements (Section 2) attached – The Accounting Statements 1-11 (Section 2 of the Annual Return) were approved by the Town Council. Confirmation of approval of the Account Statements was signed by the Clerk and by the Chairman in the presence of the Town Council.
- To set the commencement date for the exercise of public rights – the Clerk confirmed that, as required by The Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015, the Town Council must now publish the unaudited Annual Government & Accountability Return and the Notice for the Commencement of the Period for the Exercise of Public Rights. Publication is on the parish website: merewilts.org
- To note other information to be sent to the External Auditor and required by External Auditor as part of Intermediate Review 2021/22 – The Clerk pointed out to members that because the Town Council had income exceeding £200k this year, this meant that we needed to have an Intermediate Audit Review which required providing extra information to the external auditors. This year’s requirement for Mere Town Council are to provide the charity commission filing documents submitted during 2021/22 in respect of the 2020/21 reporting year for the Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground Charity.
- h) Appointment of internal auditor for 2022/23 financial year – With reference to the information noted Minute Ref: 178 f) i) regarding the need to seek a new internal auditor for the 2022/23 financial year. The Clerk suggested that the Town Council should seek a quotation from SLCC’s Local Council Consultancy and members agreed with this suggestion.
- i) Replacement Defibrillator – The Clerk pointed out that despite several lines of enquiry and reporting it to the police, there had been no leads in tracing the defibrillator that has gone missing from the centre of town. An insurance claim had therefore been initiated on the basis that the defibrillator had been stolen. The Clerk was anxious that this situation should not happen again and suggested that, once the insurance money had been received, the defibrillator should be replaced in a coded lockable cabinet rather than an open cabinet. The Clerk explained that the defibrillator outside the dentist had a coded cabinet and that you should not be able to use a defibrillator unless you have telephoned the emergency services and that the emergency services give you the code to the cabinet when you are on the phone to them. Jeans said he was against this proposal as he had been told, when on the phone to the emergency services, that there was no Public Access Defibrillator near to him when he knew there was one in The Square. Cllr. P. Coward proposed that we replace the defibrillator with an un-coded cabinet one more time and if it goes missing again, then we must provide a coded cabinet. Proposal seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
- General Items
- a) To consider draft Communications Policy – Cllr. Rachael Hansford report that she had attended a training seminar at the end of January on Parish & Town Council Communications and that it was fundamental to good governance to communicate with your community. Hansford said that, of course, we did communicate with the community in various different ways but we did not have a formal structure or strategy. She had come away from the seminar with 3 take-home messages:
- To consider producing an annual printed and digital residents survey
- To hold regular virtual and in person “meet the chair” question and answer sessions – these could be based upon a particular theme.
- Create a council e-newsletter.
Cllr. Rachael Hansford said she thought that producing an email newsletter that people need to sign up to might be helpful in directing people to the Town Council’s website or Wiltshire Council’s website in order to help them find the information they want and we could also use it to re-format information that is already produced i.e. Chairman’s report in Mere Matters. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that until very recently, we could guarantee that every property in Mere received a copy of Mere Matters and she thought this was a good way of communicating information to people but was concerned that a newsletter that required people to subscribe to would only have a partial audience. She also raised concerns about creating more work for the Clerk to do. Cllr. Hansford said that she was not suggesting that the Clerk should do this newsletter but that we should reformat information that is already produced. Cllr. P. Coward said that anything that spreads the message wider is great. Cllr. Rachael Hansford assured members that an email newsletter would need to be signed up to and would be a one-way information newsletter not a two-way communication method. She said that she was happy to produce this on the basis that the printed information would be checked with the Council’s admin prior to publication. RESOLVED that Cllr. Rachael Hansford should try this on a 6-month trial on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a vote of 7 for and 2 abstentions.
*b) Wiltshire Council Briefing Note 22-11 – Solar Together Wiltshire. Members noted the information. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that she had actually registered with this although, unfortunately, she had been declined permission by the Duchy of Cornwall to have solar panels erected on her house. Cllr. P. Coward said that he had also registered but had concerns that the prices he had been quoted were not the best deal available.
*c) Wiltshire Council Briefing Note 22-13 – Area Board Arrangements – The Clerk pointed out that the Area Board situation is changing. Cllr. Jordan said he was interested to hear that the Area Board sets its own priorities and asked if we could impress upon Cllr. Jeans what we feel our priorities should be. Cllr. Jordan said that simple, straightforward infrastructure improvements, should be added as our priority to provide improved access into our town. Cllr. Jeans said that he did not think the priorities were that specific and they had been set, in the past, following workshops being attended by all the Town & Parish Councils in the area. Cllr. Jeans said that he thought the main difference was going to make it much more difficult to get grants and funding for local projects.
- Future meetings and Events:
LHFIG meeting on 8th June. Cllr. Debbie Beale is attending. On the agenda is the Town Council’s request to assess the speed limit along Shaftesbury Road 14th on the list but it does say that Atkins are programmed to start that work in July.
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