Minutes of PC meeting, 13th December 2021

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL

Held at St James Church on 13th December 2021

Present:

Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB) Councillor/treasurer

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Ann Harris (AH) councillor

William Howkins (WH), Councillor/Clerk

Two members of the public were also present.

1. Apologies for absence

Wiltshire councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) sent his apologies.

2. Declaration of interests

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the PC meeting of 11th October 2021 were agreed, proposed by WH and seconded by AE.

4. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that our balance stands at £4,042.23, verified by WH from the passbook. Since the last meeting there had been one payment of £400 to Alick Edwards for village maintenance. This had been authorised at the previous PC meeting. Also, as agreed at that meeting, LB will be making a payment of £20 per hour (or part thereof) to the PCC for use of the church for this meeting.

5. Agreement of precept 2022/23

LB distributed copies of a spreadsheet showing an update on the PC’s income and expenditure for the current year 2021/2 and showing projected expenditure for the coming year 2022/23. As agreed at the previous meeting, a figure of £200 is budgeted for the purchase of replacement chairs for the marquee.

It was also agreed to reserve £500 towards a possible future contribution to the cost of remodelling the church (see item 9 below).

The total budget for 2022/23 amounts to £2,050. However it was agreed to limit the increase in the precept from £1,500 to £1,800 (back to the same precept figure for 2020/21) as there will be a surplus on the current year’s accounts: the PC’s income has exceeded expectations and we will have spent less than budgeted. LB pointed out that Stert’s precept will still be one of the smallest in the county. For the current year (2021/2) Stert’s precept cost for a Band D property is £16.53. compared to Etchilhampton at £37.99 and Urchfont at £94.31.

The increase in the precept was agreed by the PC (proposed by CL and seconded by AH).

6. Status of A342 speed limit near Clock Inn

WH reported that he had spoken to Gareth Rogers at Wiltshire Council. He confirmed that implementation of the speed limit between Stert village entrance and Lydeway had been approved some time ago and had been scheduled under the current works program. He expected work to start on it within the next 3 months.

7. Update on A342 road repairs by Grist’s Recycling Site entrance.

WH had also spoken to Gareth Rogers about the dangerous condition of the main road outside Grist’s site entrance. He told him that the road surface was presently being surveyed to identify what temporary repairs were necessary. A permanent reconstruction work would be scheduled for later in the spring.  AE said that a number of vehicles had suffered from burst tyres or punctures from hitting the potholes including his own car. CL said the PC should make a formal complaint to WC about the state of the road but CB said he would contact PW to ask for his assistance in getting the work started. LC said he would contact the Wiltshire Herald to ask them to write a report about it in the local newspaper.

8. Schedule works for Parish Steward

WH reported he had spoken to Richard Dobson, WC’s officer in charge of the Parish Steward team, to report the deteriorated roadway surface by Bitham/Orchard Cottage. He promised to look at it on his next visit to the area and add the work to his schedule. LB asked WH to inform the PC when the Parish Steward was scheduled to visit Stert so they could get him to include other works such as repairs to the village footpaths. AH asked that the work should include clearance of the footpath between Stert and the Clock Inn and cleaning the drain in the dip in the main road which had recently been flooded.

9. Update on plan to make space for village events in the church

CB briefed the PC on discussions held by the PCC to make alterations to the church seating to make it suitable for holding social events and for PC meetings. He said that several years ago the Bishop of Salisbury had visited the church and recommended removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would facilitate changing the seating layout to suit the various events as had been done in many of the village churches. This would entail getting approval from the diocese and involve laying a new floor beneath the pews. Neville Moody had thought the cost of doing this would be at least £8,000. CB said that the church architect would need to be consulted to make a cost estimate. LB reported she had spoken to the Hopton reclamation yard who had indicated we could expect to receive a figure of about £100 for each pew sold. This would help to pay for the floor reconstruction.

CB said he was not sure whether there was a need to spend this kind of money in view of the small demand for having a village hall as most of the village activities took place informally in resident’s homes. LC strongly advised on looking at the project as a long term investment in the future. He offered to contact village residents to find out whether they would be willing to support the scheme. The question of whether the PC could support the scheme was also discussed. It was agreed that if there was a need for a place to hold village events, this could be considered as contributing to the wellbeing of the village and therefore could be supported by the PC. It was agreed that the PC set aside £500 per annum as its contribution to the church remodelling fund (see para 5 above).

10. Update on Devizes Parkway Station

WH reported that he had spoken to Catharine Symington who said that the revised Strategic Outline Business Case had bee submitted to Department for Transport (DfT) in the first week of November. She expected that comments would be received back by the end of January. This would enable the go-ahead to be given for the next stage of the detailed planning. She informed that she had attended regular monthly meetings to discuss issues arising from the submission. She promised to report back to us after receipt of the comments from DfT in January.

11. Christmas events in Stert. 

CB reported that the Christmas party in the church had been postponed due to the rapid spread of the new Omicron Covid variant. It was now planned to hold the party in the coming summer as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Carol service would be held in the church on 22nd December at 6:00pm.

12. Any other business

AH reported on the glamping site at Sunnyside Farm, just east of the railway bridge on A342 recently advertised on Facebook. A number of tents had been set up in the field opposite the Clock Inn and left there for several weeks. This field was in Urchfont Parish, so AH had called the Urchfont Parish Clerk and Steven Jenkins, Planning Officer at WC.who confirmed that planning permission was needed for a glamping site to operate for more than 28 days per year. As this had not been sought, the tents had now been removed.

13. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 7th March 2022.

Minutes of PC meeting, 11th October 2021

MINUTES OF

MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL

Held at St James Church on 11th October 2021

Present: Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB) Councillor/treasurer

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Philip Whitehead (PW), Wiltshire councillor for Urchfont and the Cannings, was also present as were two members of the public.

1. Apologies for absence

William Howkins and Ann Harris sent their apologies.

2. Declaration of interests

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 16th August 2021 were agreed, proposed by CL and seconded by LB.

4. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that our balance stands at £4,442.23, verified by LC from the passbook. Since the last meeting the council has received income to the total of £185 from various people for the use of the marquee, tables and chairs during the last few months.

There were no items of expenditure to report.

At this time of year we normally approve an amount to pay the Edwards family for the cutting and clearing of the village verges etc. We have budgeted a figure of £400. AE indicated this was acceptable. This sum was proposed by CL, seconded by LB and approved unanimously.

At the next PC meeting we need to fix the precept for the financial year 2022/23. LB said she would prepare a budget to enable members to agree a suitable amount. If any councillors are aware of any possible expenses due next year, they are asked to let LB know by December 1st.

5. Co-option of new councillor

Before being officially co-opted LC described his background as a newspaper reporter over 24 years and a member of Urchfont Parish Council between 2017 and 2021. He did not stand for re-election in Urchfont this year because he had moved to Stert three and a half years ago and didn’t feel it fair to represent a parish in which he no longer lived.

6. Status of A342 speed limit near Clock Inn

CB reported that he had tried to make contact with the department at Wiltshire Council on this matter and had been told that Gareth Rogers was the person to contact. PW reported that the Community Area Transport Group (CATG) has put it on their programme for 2021/22, but that announcements advertising the proposal had not yet been published. He did not expect there to be any objections to it, however. The 50mph speed limit should start just before the turning to Stert village and end beyond the Clock Inn.

7. Update on clearance of footpath on A342

It was reported that residents of the Clock Inn had complained that the footpath opposite the entrance towards the Stert junction was covered in brambles and very difficult to walk along. CB had spoken to the parish steward and been told that the tractor that normally cuts the undergrowth there was not available. PW said he would email Richard Dobson but that the parish steward was the correct person to speak to and that the PC should make a list for him of all the jobs that need doing.

He added that the road outside the recycling centre has been described as ‘atrocious’ and it is scheduled for repair in November.

8. Future of church as a parish asset

CL began the discussion by saying that the church has trouble raising money for its running costs and there was a risk that the diocese might consider declaring it redundant and selling it off. It is an important asset for the village and he has had a discussion with Neville Moody, the PCC’s treasurer, to consider ways forward. It has been suggested removing the pews and replacing them with chairs to make the church a more flexible space for events. CL said he would have another meeting with Mr Moody to get some facts and figures.

9. Devizes Gateway railway station progress

CB said that, according to press reports, the decision of whether to go forward with this has been pushed back six months but that it is under review by the Department of Transport. PW said it was good news that they were asking for more information as it meant they were looking for reasons to make it happen. He explained that the train operators were looking for ways to shorten the journey times on the service to Cornwall and extending the service between Great Bedwyn and Westbury to include a stop at Lydeway could speed up the mainline service.

10. Notice of discharge – PL/2021/08472 – Saddlepack Farm

Councillors noted this document. Any further enquiries regarding this application should be addressed directly to Wiltshire Council’s planning department. The applicants confirmed to the parish council that that they were working with Wiltshire Council to ensure that everything was in accordance with permissions gran

11. Stert Village Party. It was agreed that the party should take place in the church and the date chosen was Friday 17th December.

12. Any other business

A budget for buying new chairs for the marquee was discussed and LB agreed she would put a sum of £200 in the budget for this.

It is proposed that all future meetings of the parish council will be held in the church, and a fee of £20 per hour would be paid.

13. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 13th December.

Signed………………………………. Dated……………………………….

Chairman

Agenda for PC meeting 13th December 2021

NOTICE OF VACANCY

NOTICE OF VACANCY ON STERT PC

Stert Parish Council invites Stert residents to register their interest in being considered for cooption as a Parish Councillor. Length of residence in the village and previous council experience will be considered in selection.

Candidates should contact me by email (william@whowkins.com) no later than Sunday 3rd October. 

W. Howkins,

Parish Clerk

Minutes of PC Meeting on 16th August 2021

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in Stert House on 16th August 2021  

  • Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman
  • Chris Lawrence (CL), Councillor
  • Ann Harris (AH), Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB), Councillor/Treasurer
  • William Howkins (WH), Councillor/Clerk

  • 1. Apologies for absence  

Alick Edwards and Philip Whitehead sent their apologies.

2. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. 3. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 17th May 2021 were agreed, proposed by LB and seconded by CL, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. 4. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that there were two items of expenditure to record since the last meeting.  Renewal of the Parish insurance at a cost of £236.41. This was approved at the previous PC meeting and is just over the budgeted figure of £230. The second item is the Auditor’s gift costing £59.94. This was also approved at the previous meeting and is in line with the budgeted figure of £60.

Our Nationwide account has been credited with £1,78 in interest and the balance now stands at £4257.23, confirmed by WH in the passbook.This balance includes £500 reserve carried over from last year being the PC’s contribution to implementation of the A42 speed limit and £150 earmarked for the next phone box renovation.

  1. 5, Approval of A342 speed limit

WH had received a copy of the notes from the CATG meeting held on 27th July as follows: 

WS Atkins have completed the Speed Limit assessment. It has concluded that a 50mph restriction can be considered. Indicative cost £6,000WH stated that the contribution which Stert PC agreed to make is £500 not £1,000 as listed within the budget. DM wanted to push through this project and was happy to accept this level of contribution from Stert PC. GR was happy to go ahead with this level.

Scheme has been added to 2021/22 Programme and will be developed.

It was agreed that the PC would only pay the agreed sum to WC on completion of the installation of the signage.

  1. 6. Clearance of footpath along A342

CB reported that he had received a complaint about brambles and hedge growth obstructing the footpath along  A342 between Clock Inn and the recycling centre. The footpath has become so overgrown that it is barely possible to walk along it without stepping into the roadway and hindering a Clock Inn resident from carrying out his routine litter picking. WH said that he would report this to WC’s parish steward scheme.

  1. 7. Dog fouling

The PC had received a complaint about dog fouling along the track to the north of the village along the route of the old railway line. Dog owners are urged always to carry a bag with them to pick up their dog’s mess. They are also reminded that this track is on Frank Edwards’s land and is not a public right of way. (Since the meeting, the owner has informed WH that he has no objection to villagers walking along this track.)

  1. 8. Reopening of the church

CB informed that the church had just had its first service after lockdown at which hymns had been sung. 

A discussion followed on whether the PC was able to support the church financially after a year during which it had been unable to generate any funds due to the Covid lockdown. CL said that PC funds could only be used to support secular activities such as social or cultural events held in the church and organised on behalf of all village residents.The replacement of  the church pews by chairs allowing them to be rearranged for concerts or events was discussed. This would make the church much more suited to uses other than just church services. The initiative for implementing such a scheme should come from the PCC and if so, the PC could consider contributing to it. CL said that if the PC wished to hold its meetings in the church, he would support paying the church to do so.

  1. 9. Local Covid review

CB reported that now government restrictions had been lifted, there was nothing to report..

  1. 10. Devizes Gateway Station

WH had spoken to Catharine Symington, consultant to Devizes Development Partnership, to get an update on progress with the station planning process.  She reported that the draft Strategic Outline Business Case document had been submitted to Department for Transport in May and comments on this have been received by WS Atkins, DDP/WC’s consultant, who are currently reviewing them.The revised submission date of the final document will be notified shortly. The final decision by DfT on whether to proceed with the project is expected within a month of resubmission. At this point, Catharine will arrange a meeting with Stert, Etchilhampton and Urchfont to present the findings.

  1. 11. Cancer Research Car Boot Sale

CB reported that the Car Boot sale will be held on Saturday 11th September. Village residents are encouraged to take a stall costing £25. LB said she would be taking a stall. CB will be grateful for volunteers to direct traffic and the PCC will be arranging its usual tea and cakes sale. 

  1. 12. Future Events

It was confirmed that the PC would hold its traditional Christmas party, the date and details to be arranged in due course.

  1. 13. AOB

13.1 HM’s Platinum Jubilee. WH had received notification from the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire that the Queen’s platinum jubilee will be celebrated by lighting beacons on 22nd June 2022. Stert’s participation in this celebration will be discussed further at a future meeting.

13.2 It was decided to ask members of the public who wish to attend PC meetings to notify the Clerk of their intention to do so at least two days in advance.

13.3 LB asked for volunteers to help clear the footpath across the railway line to Urchfont which had become overgrown with brambles.

  1. 14.Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 11th October.

Agenda for PC Meeting on 16th August 2021

Agenda for Meeting of Stert P.C. To be held at Stert House on Monday 16 August 2021 at 6.30pm

  1. Apologies
  2. Declarations of interest
  3. Minutes of previous meeting 
  4. Treasurers report 
  5. Approval of A342 speed limit near Clock Inn
  6. Request to clear A342 footpath from Clock Inn to Recycling Centre 
  7. Complaint received re dog fouling 
  8. Reopening of church.
  9. Local Covid review
  10. 10.Devizes Gateway railway station progress
  11. 11.Cancer Research Car boot sale rescheduled to Saturday September 11
  12. 12.Future events
  13. 13.AOB
  14. 14.Date of next meeting

Any member of the public is welcome to attend

PC Audit 2020/21

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PC Finances 2020/21

Minutes of PC Meeting, 17th May 2021

MINUTES OF 

MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in Stert House on 17th May 2021  

Present:    

  • Clive Boyes (CB), Chairman
  • Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor
  • Ann Harris (AH) Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

The meeting was held face to face with 2 members of the public attending using Zoom.

  1. Reelection of PC members

The Clerk opened the meeting with the following statement. In the recent elections held on 6th May, there being no other candidates putting themselves forward for election to Stert Parish Council, the present council members were duly elected and will continue in their present positions on the Council for the coming term.

  1. Apologies for absence  

Alick Edwards and Philip Whitehead sent their apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 1st March 2021 were agreed, proposed by CL and seconded by LB, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that the annual precept of £1500 for the year 2021/2 has been received. The balance now stands at £4,551.80. confirmed by WH in the passbook. The balance includes the £500 already committed to Stert PC’s contribution to the A342 speed limit implementation. It also includes £150 earmarked for the next phone box renovation.

The parish insurance is now due for renewal. We are entering the second year of a 3 year long term agreement so the renewal premium is unchanged at £228.43. This includes insuring the phone box for the sum of £3000. The replacement value of red phone boxes is increasing and my research suggests we should insure it for the sum of £4000, which would cost approximately £8 more, making the renewal premium £236.41, slightly over the budgeted figure of £230. LB asked for authority to renew for the sum of £236.41. This was unanimously agreed.

LB informed that Neville Burrell, our internal auditor, had approved the accounts. She sought authority to buy him the usual gift of 6 bottles of wine to the value of approx. £60. This was also unanimously agreed.

  1. Approval of PC governance and accounts

LB had previously circulated a letter from Neville Burrell confirming the accounts have been prepared correctly. This letter was highly complimentary about how meticulously the accounts had been prepared, the the PC unanimously gave a vote of thanks to LB for her work.

6.1   Approval of certificate of exemption from an external audit, as both our income and expenditure are below £25,000. This certificate asks for a generic email address, which we don’t have. Instead LB gave her own (lucybarker23@hotmail.com)

6.2.   Approval of financial governance statement. CB read out the 9 questions the PC is required to answer, confirming that there is a sound system of internal control, including arrangements for the preparation of the Accounting statements. 

6.3.   Approval of the Accounting statements. LB handed each councillor a copy of the parish accounts, from which the accounting statement has been produced, and which has been approved by Neville Burrell.

Finally, LB pointed out that the internal auditor, when completing his form has new questions to answer this year. The most important one asks him to confirm: ‘ the authority publishes information on a website in accordance with the transparency code for smaller authorities’. LB has a copy of the transparency code. It is important that all documents relating to the PC’s accounts (including the notice re the exercise of the public’s rights to inspect the accounts) are published on the stertparish website.

  1. Stert Village Party

At the previous PC meeting, it was proposed to hold a village party to celebrate the release from lock-down sometime in July. However, in view of the uncertainty about the final opening up of Covid restrictions, it was agreed to postpone setting a date for the party until after the final milestone in the road  map on June 21st.

  1. A342 speed limit

WH reported that April’s CATG meeting had been cancelled and the next meeting was scheduled for 27th May. At the previous PC meeting, Philip Whitehead said he would attend this meeting and seek approval for implementation of the speed limit following the PC’s undertaking to contribute £500 towards the cost. AH said that Urchfont had recently obtained approval for a new speed limit to the east of the village in a few months whereas the present case had taken over a year and was still not approved by WC.

  1. Reopening of the church

CB informed that the church would reopen for services on this coming Sunday. Services would be held fortnightly. A wedding had been held at the church last weekend, the first in over a year. CB expressed his thanks to Richard Curtis for his excellent communications skills during the lockdown period. He also thanked LB for her fund-raising plant stall She has raised about £200 this spring.

  1. Planning matters

CB reported that there were no current outstanding planning applications.

11. AOB

11.1 CB referred to the minutes of the previous meeting giving the timeline for the proposed railway station studies at Lydeway. The current fact-finding phase was due to have been completed at the end of April. This will then be followed by a four month evaluation period by Network Rail and GWR before a decision is taken on whether to proceed with the detailed design phase. AH said that nobody at the Clock Inn had been contacted by the consultant’s team.

11.2  CB asked if anyone had been in touch with Sam Deacon about representing Stert at WC’s webinar on May 25 about  Wiltshire Green and Blue Infrastructure and Climate Strategies, Sam had applied for an invitation but was refused as not representing a stakeholder organisation. LB said she would contact Sam to see if she could represent Stert instead. Post meeting: LB applied to join the webinar but was also refused, the organiser explained the webinar is not intended for PCs!

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 16th August.

Agenda for PC meeting 17th May 2021

Agenda for Meeting of Stert P.C to be held at Stert House on Monday 17 May at 6.30 pm

1. Apologies

2. Declarations of Interest

3. Minutes of previous meeting

4.Treasurers report

5.Approval of PC Governance and accounts

6. Stert  village party   

7.Speed Limit A342

8. Reopening of Church

9. Planning matters

10. AOB

11. Date of next meeting

This meeting is being organised in line with Government Social distancing and Lockdown requirements.

Please would members of the public who wish to comment on this Agenda please advise the Parish Treasurer by email to lucybarker23@hotmail.com       

by Monday 17 May 12.00pm