Present: Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman
Alick Edwards (AE) Dty Chairman
Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor
Sam Deacon (SD) Councillor
Lucy Barker (LB) Councillor/Treasurer
William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk
Also present were Mr. Philip Whitehead (PW), Wiltshire Councillor.
Before starting the PC meeting, Mr. Nigel Grist, owner of the Tinkfield Recycling Site, was invited to brief the PC on the progress of the building works for the new sorting shed.
Mr. Grist said the building’s frame was completed and his staff were erecting the side cladding with their own labour when they had spare time from ongoing operations. This was the reason for the long time it was taking to finish the work. There was no specific schedule to complete the work, but when pressed, Mr Grist thought the sidings should be complete by the end of January. He was urged to do so as the mound of rubbish inside the building was an eyesore from the main road and after high winds from the SW, plastic bags were blown into the hedgerows of adjacent fields. Mr Grist said that the building had already eliminated the foul smell from the rotting rubbish by keeping it dry and this would also prevent fires from starting as happened in 2014.
The PC were also anxious to hear when Mr Grist would raise the bund to the east of the site and plant it with trees, an integral part of the works and a condition for WC giving planning permission for the new building. He replied that this work would be carried out using his own equipment and labour and would be done in the spring when the ground had firmed up: the planting would follow next autumn.
Mr Grist was also questioned about how he would reduce the mud on the main road outside the site which caused the road to be quite slippery at times. He replied that he was planning to extend the concrete hard standing within the site at the same time as installing a new weigh-bridge. This combined with pressure washing the wheels of lorries leaving the site should greatly improve the condition of the main road. PW informed that contractors operating from sites adjacent to public roads were only required to take reasonable measures to prevent mud being brought onto roads and that the public were responsible for driving with due care so as to prevent accidents near site entrances. However, he said he would make sure that signs were put up to warn motorists about the mud on the road.
Mr Grist ended by assuring the PC that they were always welcome to call him should they have any matters of concern. CB thanked Mr Grist for his briefing on the progress of the building works and he then left the meeting. This briefing was followed by the PC meeting:
1. Apologies for absence
2. Declaration of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
3. Minutes of previous meeting.
The minutes of the previous Parish Council meeting were approved (proposed by LB, seconded by CL) and signed by the Chairman.
4. Treasurer’s Report
LB reported that there had been one transaction since the last meeting: payment of £300 to Alick Edwards for maintaining the village verges and hedges. (The autumn round of maintenance had just been completed and AE was complimented by the PC on how neat the village lane looked.)
The account balance stood at £2,223.80 (confirmed in the passbook by WH).
5. Neighbourhood Watch
WH reported that he continued to receive warnings from Wiltshire Police from time to time of various scams that he had passed on to residents where relevant. Otherwise, there had been nothing to report. AE said there had been some fly tipping at the top of the track opposite the entrance to the village which he had cleared away, but he had not seen who was responsible.
6. Tinkfield Recycling
7. Verge Maintenance
CB had received a complaint about the footpath along the main road between Clock Inn and the entrance to the village. The path has become narrow and overgrown in places by the hedge so that it is no longer passable without stepping into the road. PW said that this should come under WC’s routine road maintenance program and the PC should request this through the Parish Steward Scheme. WH said he would fill in the necessary form on WC’s website and send PW the log number so he could follow up on it.
8. Church View
CB raised the matter of the view from the churchyard. The leylandii trees between Spout Cottage and Orchard Cottage had become so tall that they were blocking the view of the Vale from the churchyard. As this view was one of the important features of the village, much admired by residents and visitors, he suggested that the PC might help with the costs of cutting down these trees. SD said she would visit the churchyard to inspect the view. CB asked the other councillors to do so as well so that the matter could be discussed at the next PC meeting.
9. Salt Spreader
WH had been in touch with Andrew Perrett of WC and had arranged to schedule his and AE’s training in the operation of the salt spreader in late January. This is a requirement for the PC’s insurance cover.
10. Stert PC’s Christmas Party
The Christmas party will be held at Stert House at 6.30 pm on Friday 16th December. CB asked the PC members to come early to help with the drinks and canapés.
11.1 LB said that she had been warned that moss on the pavement outside Stert House had made the path very slippery. Cleaning the surface was WC’s responsibility and could be included as an item under the Parish Warden Scheme, but it would take time for it to be acted upon.
11.2 LB also informed that Maggie Faultless’s Music for Awhile group had agreed to give a concert in St. James’s Church next year on 14th October.
12. Next meeting
The next meeting will be held in Stert House on Monday 24th April, at 7.30 pm.
Signed ………………. Dated …………….
Clive Boyes, Chairman, Stert House, tel: 723 761
Alick Edwards, Deputy Chairman, Alspool, tel: 725 178
Sam Deacon, Councillor, Spout Cottage, tel:739 222
Chris Lawrence, Councillor, Landor House, tel: 730 523
Lucy Barker, Councillor/Treasurer, Farlingaye, tel: 728 459
William Howkins, Councillor/Clerk, Chatsworth, tel: 729 638.
Brief Report: Stert
The village of Stert has been defined by its geology both in character and in name (meaning ridge or tail of land). Hence it is described as a “village of views” (Chandler, 2003) where the community benefits from an outstanding rural outlook to the tranquil Stert Valley and beyond. St James’ churchyard provides the best public place from which to admire the village’s elevated position. Stert could be described as comprising three zones; the main village lane (which includes the Stert Conservation Area), the Clock Inn Park and the outlying farms and former mills. Within the main village are several 17th century cottages, Manor Farm with its attractive duck pond and the charming St. James’ church. Notwithstanding the small population and its unconventional layout, the village’s green spaces, such as the churchyard and steep verges, are routinely maintained by volunteers and the local farmer. The church is beautifully kept by a team of residents. These and other activities can best exemplify the village’s community spirit, include:
The community researched and published in celebration of the millennium a book titled “Stert: The Hidden Village” describing the history of the village and its properties. A second book is in preparation, telling the story of several of Stert’s more colourful characters from yesteryear.
Some of the residents of Stert have established allotments in a privately owned field towards the eastern end of the parish. The allotments are now quite productive in their fourth year of growth.
A few years ago, the Parish secured ownership of its traditional red telephone box. It has been re-painted and residents have used it to create exhibitions for display, such as seasonal photographs. It also provides a drop off point where daily newspapers are delivered by the local newsagent.
The village has recently purchased a salt spreader to ensure the village’s steep lanes are kept free of ice and snow during the winter months. The spreader will be operated by snow wardens appointed by the Parish Council.
Traditionally, the community comes together twice a year; in the summer on Stert Day, which is well attended by both current and past residents, and at the Christmas Party. The summer party typically involves live music, open gardens, a raffle and refreshments and is held either at Manor Farm or Stert House. Though principally organised by the Parish Council, substantial help is given by many residents who contribute to the success of the day. Typically, Stert Day has raised several hundred pounds for local charities.
In 2014, several events were held in the village. A “Springtime Celebration” of classical music was held in the church on Easter Monday with a programme of words and music including a Bach cello suite played by Bryony Moody and the Stertian Singers giving a world premiere of a new piece by David Mitcham, Manor Cottage. The music was greatly enjoyed with the little church filled to capacity. In May, Stert hosted a Country House Car Boot Sale in aid of Cancer Research, UK. This event, organised with the help of the village’s team of volunteers, was held in the field above Manor Farm, and has become increasingly popular with the field filled to capacity. In July, another concert of baroque music was held in St. James’ Church to a packed audience.
Later in the summer, Stert residents donated their home-grown produce and baking to a street stall in The Brittox with all proceeds in aid of St James’ Church.
In December, the Stertian singers again went round the village carol singing and started with a Christmas gathering at the Clock Inn Park where mince pies and mulled wine were served.
New activities for 2015 include another concert by the Stertian Singers in St. James’ Church on 3rd May, the annual car boot sale on 17th May at Manor Farm in aid of Cancer Research, UK, and a summer party on 12th July which will be attended by the Riley Club and other vintage cars when there will be live jazz music and refreshments.
The outstanding natural and managed landscape of the Stert Valley certainly enhances villagers’ quality of life but the community also translates this special quality by taking pride in the maintenance of its private gardens and public spaces. The village’s annual events act as focal points for disparate and busy families to come together and re-engage with each other, by providing the musicians, caterers and gardeners from within what must be one of the smallest village communities in Wiltshire. The parish is highly protective of its rural environment and is proud to showcase its village activities and projects in the Best Kept Village competition.
Stert, 20th April 2015