Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 6th March 2023 at 7.00 pm in the Andy Young Pavilion, Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, Wiltshire. BA12 6EW
Present: Councillors Mrs. Lesley Traves (Chairman), Mrs. Kate Symonds (Vice-Chairman), Debbie Beale, Nick Beale, Sandra Catley, Philip Coward, Rodney Coward, George Jeans, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, Raymond Hill, Glen Ings, John Jordan.
Also Present: Mr. & Mrs. Clowser, David Drewett,
Public Participation Session
Mr. Clowser said he was pleased that Wiltshire Council’s consultants had recommended changes for the speed limit along Shaftesbury Road from 40 mph to 30 mph and said that at the last Town Council meeting he had attended, the Council had voted by a majority of only 1 vote to commit £600 to the assessment. Mr. Clowser said he was hoping that the Council would agree to fund its contribution to the works but rather than lose the vote this time, the residents would be prepared to pay the Town Councils’ contribution or make the equivalent donation to Town Council funds. He suggested that perhaps the Town Council could have two votes – one on whether to approve the works with Town Council funding and a second vote on whether to approve the works with third party funding?
Mr. David Drewett spoke about near-miss traffic accidents and visibility problems associated with the roundabout on the Shaftesbury Road/Walnut Road junction. He said he was in favour a 30mph but didn’t think it was going to be enforced and therefore an alternative form of speed restriction such as a build-out where the pavement is built out slightly to form a chicane on each side of the road.
Mr. Drewett also spoke about the footpath Mere 60/50 from Lordsmead into town and questioned whether it would get used at night if it was illuminated. He felt that safety in crossing the road at Edgebridge could be improved by removing the overgrowth which is blocking the view between pedestrians and traffic coming down the road and he had logged this with MyWilts and hoped that Wiltshire Council would take some action.
Cllr. Jeans responded by saying that he and the Town Council had never wanted the mini- roundabout at the Walnut Road/Shaftesbury Road junction and said that the alternative of a T-junction did not receive much support locally either and so he had wondered if the roundabout could be rounded off and raised into a hump that vehicles could not drive over. He said that he could only suggest that this is raised as a future agenda item as a potential Highway Improvement Request. Enforcing speed limits is a police matter and there is more funding available for speed enforcement as there is now a dedicated team dealing with it although, obviously, they have a very wide area to cover. A build-out, like that which has been installed in Zeals, is very expensive – something like £40k – and a project of that cost would need to be submitted as a substantive highway scheme. Regarding illuminating the footpath from Lordsmead to Angel Lane, Cllr. Jeans said that whilst he realised that some ladies will not want to walk the footpath on their own even if it is illuminated, he feels that that if it has no lighting then it will not get used at all. He is not advocating that we ruin our dark sky status, but would like to see some low-level lighting so that the use of the footpath could be increased. Cllr. Jeans said that he would see if he could get some action on the overgrowth along Edgebridge to improve visibility.
Clive Hazzard asked what was happening about the repainting of the yellow lines outside the Lecture Hall. Cllr. Jeans said that he fully agreed that this needed doing as well as the white lines on the Gillingham corner junction but we have been told is that they will only come out when they are doing some more painting in the area.
Apologies for absence received from Cllrs. A. Colman and L. Stone.
- To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- Hill declared an interest in Planning App PL/2023/00771
- Jeans declared a personal interest in Planning Application PL/2023/00771 & a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 281a) [Finance]
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 6th February 2023 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 6.2.23. RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Staffing Panel meeting held on Thursday, 16th February 2023 be approved as a correct record on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 16.2.23.
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings (not covered by other agenda items)
*a) Minute Ref: 264a) Wiltshire Towns Programme – with reference to the information in the Clerks Report, members agreed that the grant agreement document should be signed by the Chairman & Vice-Chairman and gave approval to sign it electronically.
*b) Minute Ref: 264b) Lease/Licence for Car Club – Members noted the information in the Clerks Report. The Clerk said that the quotation from the solicitors to advise on and deal with the legal documents would cost £500 and the Clerk needed confirmation that the Town Council was happy to proceed with this. RESOLVED to proceed on the basis suggested on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a unanimous vote.
- c) Minute Ref: 252b) Lease for Salisbury Street Car Park – Correspondence was received back from our solicitors dated 28th February which the Clerk conveyed to members:
- Wiltshire Council have agreed to the 6-month break clause relating to the possible expansion of the Doctors Surgery which was our compromise after they refused to take it out.
- The Clerk has received details of all the conveyances on the rights of way that she had identified.
- Wiltshire Council are issuing a new plan with T-marks to show which boundaries we will be responsible for (not yet received).
- Wiltshire Council confirmed that Town Council will be responsible for all street lights within the red line of the plan which includes the ones on Dark Lane.
- Schedule of condition survey – Wiltshire Council only willing to do this if we have improved the property during the last 10 years since we first became a tenant. The Clerk pointed out that we have the condition survey that was carried out in 2012 and the only thing that we have really changed that much is the line marking although, of course, the surface would have deteriorated since that time. P. Coward said we should issue Wiltshire Council with our own photographic evidence of the surface of the car park and walls etc.
- Although not strictly permitted within the lease, Wiltshire Council would be willing to provide a side letter to allow permission to have, say a pizza van on site, once per week (subject to further details).
- Other points raised need to be resolved with the Parking Services Team.
- d) Minute Ref: 252b) Lease for Castle Street Car Park – we only had two questions relating to the Castle Street Car Park. One of them was the condition survey and the other one is the plan showing the T-markings to indicate boundary responsibilities (still awaiting this). It was agreed to ask the same question about the condition survey i.e. would our own photographs be acceptable.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) Wiltshire Councillors Report – Jeans said that Wiltshire Council’s licensing committee had agreed to extended licensing hours for the Kings Coronation and also, they are considering the impacts of Martyn’s Law which is pending UK wide legislation that will place a requirement on those responsible for certain publicly accessible locations to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.
*b) Report from Project Co-Ordinator (report attached) – members noted the information in the Project Co-Ordinator’s report.
- a) Applications for consultation response:
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||Proposed two storey extension to enlarge kitchen and provide upstairs bathroom|
|Site Address:||2 Barnes Place, Mere, Warminster, Wilts, BA12 6DN|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019pm0N|
The Chairman reported that she had carried out a site visit with the Vice-Chairman and reported that the property was tucked away from Barnes Place. Cllr. Jordan said that he didn’t think that the extension would cause any issues and it was a small extension that looked in keeping. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a majority vote. Cllr. Jeans and Cllr. Hill, having declared a personal interest, refrained from discussion or voting.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Proposed new dwelling within garden land of Green Pastures|
|Site Address:||GREEN PASTURES, NORTH ROAD, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6HQ|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019qUUs|
The Vice-Chairman reported that she and the Chairman had visited the site and spoken to the applicants. She raised concerns about the tight clearance between the existing and proposed new dwelling and said that she felt it was short-sighted to have a shared driveway for properties that will end up under separate ownership as these are often a cause of neighbour disputes and friction. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds said that there was also concern as to whether this number of cars could get into the off-street parking area shown. Cllr. Jordan said he wouldn’t say that it was in keeping because it doesn’t look anything like any of the buildings in the area and Cllr. Hazzard said that the issue about shared or independent driveways could be sorted out by the applicant easily and isn’t really a planning issue but the main concern is that adequate parking for both properties is off-road and not on the road because parking during the evening along there is horrendous. RESOLVED to recommend approval on proposal made by Cllr. Ings, seconded by Cllr. Debbie Beale 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:||Notification of proposed works to trees in a conservation area|
|Proposal:||T1 – Copper Beech tree – crown raise slightly and crown reduce to redline (around 2m)|
|Site Address:||GARDEN COTTAGE, HAZZARDS HILL, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6ET|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019qelv|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. Debbie Beale and carried with a majority vote.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Temporary permission (3 years), for the use of land for the stationing of a mobile home for agricultural workers.|
|Site Address:||Plots P and Q, The Old Nursery, Burton, Mere, Warminster, BA12 6FH|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019qUiT|
The Clerk confirmed that the above planning application had been withdrawn.
|Application Type:||Notification of proposed works to trees in a conservation area|
|Proposal:||G1 Holm Oak & Yew – Crown raise over road to 6 metres. T1 Holm Oak – Crown raise to 6 metres and reduce extended limb by 3 metres.|
|Site Address:||BRAMLEY HOUSE, CASTLE STREET, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6JN|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019rBmZ|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a majority vote. Cllr. Hazzard abstained from voting.
|Application Type:||Removal/variation of conditions|
|Proposal:||Variation of condition 2 (approved plans) on 20/11079/FUL (70 bed care home with associated access, parking, sprinkler tank, bin store and landscaping) to allow for internal alterations, minor external revisions, alterations to sprinkler tank, VRM enclosure and PV panels to the flat roof.|
|Site Address:||Land adjacent Quarryfield Industrial Estate, Castle Street, Mere, BA12 6LA|
|Applicant:||Country Court Care Ltd|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000019pSD1|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Kate Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Nick Beale and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWiltshire reports.
- Clean “Welcome to Mere Signs” – especially the one on Mere Down – Cllr. Debbie Beale
- Potholes in general – Cllr. Jordan
- Raised hump on Manor Road bridge – Cllr. R. Coward
- Graffiti on bridge over A303 – Cllr. P. Coward
Cllr. Debbie Beale wanted to thank all the people who voluntarily carry out litter picking around the town and said that it does make a huge difference.
*b) LHFIG Issue No: 14-21-10 Mere Town Council Request for speed limit assessment along Shaftesbury Road – update & indication of support for recommendations – The Clerk said she had received emails from two residents of Shaftesbury Road – one fully supported a reduction in speed limit on condition that the new 30 mph speed limit would come into effect where the existing 40mph speed limit starts. The second said they felt that speeding was not an issue that warranted expenditure of £1250 when other highway issues such as footpaths and potholes required attention. The Clerk advised members that the highways department had said that we could be looking at a cost of around £8000 for the works roughly breaking down as follows:
- £2,000 TRO amendment
- £3,000 Sign and lining amendments
- £3,000 Provision of village gates
This is on the assumption that the Town Council would like to have gated signs which we have not discussed previously. Cllr.Jeans asked if it was necessary to have gateway signs and the Clerk pointed out that many years ago the Town Council had commissioned the “Welcome to Mere” signs instead of gateway signs and we do have a Welcome to Mere sign outside Three Counties Farm. Cllr. Debbie Beale said that she felt that gated signs created the illusion that the roadway is smaller and helps people to slow down. Cllr. Jordan asked if we could make our own gates. Cllr. P. Coward said he thought it was an obscene amount of money and said he would rather spend the money on sorting out the problems with the roundabout by the Walnut Tree Inn. Cllr. Hill said he was opposed to requesting the assessment in the first place as he thought it was a waste of money and that there are much more important things to spend our money on. The Clerk said that at 1st April the Town Council will have an allocation of £3250 to spend on LHFIG projects but we are already committed to pay £625 towards this speed assessment so that will leave £2625. Members pointed out that the residents had agreed to make a financial contribution towards these costs and Cllr. Hazzard proposed that the Town Council should support the extension of the 30mph speed limit, as recommended, on condition that the contribution from Town Council funds does not exceed a further £1000. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a majority vote. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this matter.
- c) Update on MyWilts reports including direction signage at both Salisbury Street & Castle Street Car Parks + white line give-way markings at Gillingham Corner junction – the Clerk reported that there were two direction signs: one in the Castle Street Car Park and one that is still standing in the Salisbury Street Car Park and both signs were/are completely illegible. We reported them both on the MyWiltshire reporting app and Wiltshire Council have closed the case on the Castle Street Car Park item and we have noticed that the sign has been removed – presumably this will not be returned. They also closed the Salisbury Street Car Park sign case but they have now said that it is being investigated and at todays date the sign is still there. The Clerk wondered whether it was necessary to have the sign there as most people used SatNav systems in their cars/phones these days. The response to our request to repaint the white line give-way markings at the Gillingham Corner junction was: “we have noted your request and will carry out this work when white-line marking is being carried out in your area. It is too expensive to send them out on a special journey.” The Clerk said that this is the same response received when reporting the faded faced double-yellow lines outside the Lecture Hall and the parking bay markings around the town centre.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
*a) Main terms for Lease of Duchy Manor (Old Children’s Centre) – Cllr. Jordan said, “my compliments to Roger whom I saw dealing with the chap over the phrase Peppercorn Rent so it sounds as if we are going to have an extended office without having to pay too much rent.” The Clerk pointed out that preliminary discussions for the lease were always on the understanding that it would be a peppercorn rent but that the Town Council would be responsible for all other outgoings and for the business rates. At present the Town Council pays approximately £1500 in business rates for the office but it is likely to be at least another £3000 for the extra rooms that were occupied by the children’s centre, and this is on the understanding that the foyer will be classified as a circulation space. RESOLVED to proceed with preparation of the draft lease based on the terms set out in the report attached. Proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote.
- b) Yew Trees in Cemetery – deferred.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments as indicated on the payment schedule on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a unanimous vote. Cllrs. Mrs Symonds and Clive Hazzard signed the invoices accordingly. As Cllr. Jeans had declared a pecuniary interest in this item, he left the room whilst the matter was being considered and took no part in voting or discussion.
- b) To sign off latest bank reconciliation – the Chairman confirmed that she had checked the bank reconciliation against the bank statements and signed this off prior to the meeting.
- c) To agree staffing panel recommendations as outlined in Minutes of staffing panel meeting held on Thursday, 16th February – All agreed with the recommendations as outlined in the Minutes.
- d) Actions from Interim Internal Audit Report
- i) To review Standing Orders – RESOLVED to approve the amendments to the Standing Orders as outlined in the Addendum to the Clerks Report for the Town Council meeting 6.3.23 on proposal made by Cllr. Sandra Catley, seconded by Cllr. K. Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.
- ii) Specialist advice on requirement for VAT Registration – deferred as correspondence is still ongoing.
- e)Mowers – thoughts, ideas, suggestions, prices and quotations for the provision of mowers for the grounds staff (see Minutes of Budget meeting held on 23rd November 2022) – Clerk read out relevant Minutes from the budget meeting. The Clerk said that she had obtained one quotation for a ride-on mower that the grounds staff had identified as being top of their wish list and this was £18,885 + VAT. The Clerk had also received quotations for finance (Hire Purchase and Finance Lease) and then the Clerk read out the Town Council’s relevant Standing Orders (8.2) relating to borrowing which does not require formal approval from the Secretary of State which required a written report in respect of value for money for the proposed transaction. Given the fact that, whether we lease hire or Hire Purchase, we are going to end up spending £2k more, I don’t know whether that would provide you with value for money when we could possibly vire reserves from other headings and buy one machine outright. However, the Clerk thought it would be more difficult to vire reserves for two ride-on mowers at this price. Hill expressed his doubts as to whether the grounds staff would be able to cope with only one ride-on mower. Cllr. Hazzard said that he was very impressed with our recently recruited groundsman who had spent a lot of time this winter repairing and maintaining our equipment and had saved us a lot of money on our roller mower but the ride-on mowers we have are at the end of their life and he wondered whether or not it would be possible to get one new mower and nurse the other two mowers through the year. Some members asked whether it would be possible to not mow some areas or mow them less and the Clerk said that she couldn’t think of any places where you could do this and reminded members that during the last two summers we had only mown pathways through the open space at Kingsmere due to staff shortages but this had led to lots of complaints from residents and the other problem is that there is dog poo everywhere in the long grass that can’t be seen. She could not see how it would be possible to not mow the cemetery, sports pitches, play areas. Cllr. Hazzard proposed that the Town Council should buy one machine as soon as possible. Cllr. R. Coward seconded this proposal which was approved with a majority vote. Cllr. Debbie Beale was against the proposal. The Clerk confirmed that she would need to get three quotations.
*f) Suggestions for Town Council Priority Strategy – A spreadsheet had been distributed which, the Clerk explained, was a draft document intended to give the council somewhere to start from. Amendments to the draft strategy were suggested and agreed. There was a discussion about whether or not to produce a different kind of strategy based on the Mere Parish Plan produced in 2005 and there was a discussion about whether or not this strategy document (when approved) should go out to public consultation or should be a discussion item for the Annual Town Meeting. However, it was pointed out that there were items on there that related to internal management and others that related to external resources and facilities and although it would be appropriate to have public debate on the latter, it would not be appropriate to discuss the former with the public. The Clerk explained that the original purpose behind creating this strategy was to help staff and councillors and it was not intended as a public discussion document and if that is what the council wanted, it would probably be a better idea to design a separate document. It was agreed that the Council should go back to the original purpose for creating the list and keep it as an internal document. Cllr. Jeans, proposed that the draft document should be approved (with the minor amendments previously suggested) and in the order of priority that it is written as an internal document. Proposal seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority vote.
- g) King’s Coronation celebrations, events – one volunteer had come forward in response to the Chairman’s notice in Mere Matters and so it was evident that no community event would take place although it was quite possible that individual streets or organisation were organising their own ‘Big Lunch’ or ‘Street Party’. RESOLVED that the Town Council would purchase bunting and flags for the town and councillors agreed to help Cllr. Jeans erect the masts and flags.
*h) CCTV – report on meeting with officer from Warminster Town Council relating to CCTV – deferred as it was too late to discuss properly
Cllr. Hazzard spoke regarding an inappropriate email that had been sent by a Parish Councillor and distributed to all members of the Town Council. He said that he wondered if there ought to be a Code of Conduct for Town Councillors in the use of emails. Cllr. Jeans said that the Standards Board at Wiltshire Council is responsible for dealing with the conduct of Parish & Town Councillors as well as Wiltshire Councillors.
- General Items & Briefing Notes
- a) Report on special WALC meeting – Cllr. Sandra Catley reported on the meeting which was well attended. She said that a vote was taken on whether WALC should increase its subscription costs but all those present said that they did not feel they were getting value for money at the present time and that the service would need to be improved if the subscription were to be increased.
- b) Lynch Close Sheltered Housing – report on informal consultation meeting held on 23.2.23 on options for refurbishment/redevelopment – The Chairman reported on the stakeholder meeting which was held at Visit Hillbrush and was one of three meetings held on that day: the second two meetings were residents’ meetings at Lynch Close. “We were presented with two options – Option 3 which is to refurbish the existing bungalows and Option 4 is to completely redevelop the site. We were presented with two different layouts – one was to have bungalows and the other was to have a mixture of flats and bungalows. There was a bit of an anomaly in that one of the plans had an empty space which caused quite a lot of concern and suspicion at the meeting and we asked them to fill this space with more bungalows, care facilities, green space and parking so that it was less ambiguous for the next round of consultation. There were discussions with residents about where they would go whilst this work was being carried out and this, of course, brought Fives Court into the discussion. On the whole the meeting we attended was open, questions were being asked and answered well and there was a general feeling that everyone was being involved in the consultations.”
Meeting closed 9.28 pm – Due to the lateness of the evening, the remaining agenda items were deferred for discussion at the next available Town Council meeting.
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 attached/enclosed