PC audit 2022/23

Certificate of exemption

Minutes of Meeting of Stert PC – 22nd May 2023

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 22nd May 2023  

Present:    

  • Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman
  • Ann Harris (AH) Councillor
  • Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

There were no members of the public present.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meetings

The minutes of the previous PC meetings held on 13th February and 20th March 2023 were approved, proposed by LC and AH respectively and seconded by AE and LB respectively and both signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported the balance of the PC account stood at £4,978.44, and this was verified by WH on the bank statement. She also reported that the precept for 2023/24 of £1,800 had been received. Since the last meeting there had been the following expenses: £20 to Stert PCC for use of the church, £43.90 for a plaque for the apple tree, £40 to Clock Inn as a contribution to their Coronation Party, and £43.20 to WH as reimbursement for the cost of the website.

LB requested authority to renew the parish insurance with Zurich via Community First. If we commit to another 3 years with Zurich, the cost will be £164.53, a significant reduction on last year’s rate as it excluded certain optional add-ons such as coverage for bouncy castles which are not needed. This was agreed. 

LB also requested authority to continue membership of WALC expected to cost £77.88 as last year. They had been most helpful with advice to the PC on freedom of information regulations. This was agreed. Finally she sought agreement to buy our auditor a gift in lieu of his fee, and suggested £100. This was also agreed.

  1. Marquee

CL invited a discussion of the management of the village marquee. The village owns two marquees, one in fair condition, and the other somewhat damaged. It was decided, given the age of the marquees, that the PC could not guarantee that it was loaned out with all the required parts and nothing broken. The PC did not want to be responsible for a potential event bing ruined by a marquee mishap. LB noted that the marquees had been bought a number of years ago, and the purchase price had been more than repaid by donations for their use since. It was therefore decided to try and sell the marquee.  LC to draft a suitable notice to be put in the Redhorn Parish Magazine.

  1. Saddleback: Rights of Way

There was representation from some residents over the ease of passage to the right of way at the cattle grid by Saddleback Farm. There were also other representations about ease of passage over the  rights of way at the stream  at the bottom of Stert. It is clear that both these rights of way are easily accessible by walkers. It is only those walking certain dogs (Saddlepack) and those with bikes/prams (stream) that have less easy access. As the PC is unsure of the rules concerning dogs/bikes/prams, and could find no definitive ruling on the matter, it was decided to seek guidance from the WC Rights of Way Officer.

  1. Devizes Gateway

CL reported on a stakeholder breakfast meeting he had attended in March given by Wiltshire Council.

He reported that plans for Devizes Gateway (nee Parkway) Station are on hold for a year pending further studies. This is because there is insufficient justification for incorporating a Devizes station into the rail network as a stand alone project. Time is needed for a new plan which is being proposed by Network Rail involving expanding Westbury station into a larger rail hub to accommodate freight traffic from the quarries in Cornwall as well as passenger services. An expansion of Westbury Station should make it possible for there to be an hourly service from Westbury to London Paddington calling at Devizes, Pewsey and Bedwyn.

The earliest that Devizes Gateway could open would be 2029. More detailed information on this proposal can be found on the Network Rail Website. 

  1. AOB

The tree that LB had planted to acknowledge Clive Boyes long service to the parish had unfortunately died. LB said she would buy another tree but said the bank where the previous tree had been planted was unsuitable due to weeds and roots. It was agreed to find an alternative place to plant the replacement.

  1. Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 4th September 2023.

Minutes of Annual Meeting of Stert PC – 22nd May 2023

MINUTES OF ANNUAL MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 22nd May 2023  

Present:    

  • Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman
  • Ann Harris (AH) Councillor
  • Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

There were no members of the public present.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies.

  1. Chairman’s Report

CL read his Chairman’s report as follows:

The purpose of the Chairman’s report is I understand to let residents know what we have been doing for the last year and more specifically what we have been doing with their money.

The main expenditure has been on the village parties. Last year we had the Queen’s Jubilee hosted by the Parish and Lucy Barker at Farlingaye  and the Christmas Party hosted by Alex Cooper and Lewis Cowen at their house. This year we had a Coronation party hosted by Daphne Moody, Alex Cooper, Lewis Cowen, Nete Howkins, Sue Bromhead, Hilary and Keith Hawkins and others. All three were very successful and enjoyable occasions. I am extremely grateful for the work done by these volunteers. I think these get togethers are an essential component of village life for many and very much hope that, as a village, we can keep them going.

Other matters that have occupied the council time and resources include the lobbying to reduce the speed limit on the A342 which has now been implemented. This was largely led by Ann Harris in order to make it safer for both the residents of the Clock Inn and rest of the village to pull out onto the main road.

The on-going potential Devizes Gateway station, due possibly to be in or right by the Parish, has been a recurring theme and Bill Howkins has been keeping a watching brief on developments.

Other Parish business has been the routine dealing of planning applications, village maintenance and general domestic issues.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the Parish Councillors for their valuable contributions and time over the year. Particular thanks to the Clerk (WH) and Treasurer (LB) for doing their jobs impeccably.

  1. Financial report

LB distributed a copy of the annual accounts to each councillor. These showed the receipts and expenditure for FY 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. 

3.1 She also presented the Certificate of Exemption from External Audit since the income and expenditure was below £25,000. This was agreed.

3.2 The Annual Governance Statement was read out by CL and each item was approved and signed by him. 

3.3 The accounting statement was also presented and signed by CL and WH. The accounts showed that on 31/3/23, the PC held a reserve of £3,262, this figure includes £200 set aside for future decoration of the phone box.

  1. Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

The previous Chairman and Vice Chairman, being willing to stand again for a further year, were duly elected, as proposed by AH and seconded by LC.

  1. Questions from the public

There were no questions from the public..

Minutes of PC Meeting on 20th March 2023

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 20th March 2023  

Present:    

  • Chris Lawrence (CL), Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE), Vice Chairman
  • Ann Harris (AH), Councillor
  • Lewis Cowen (LC), Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB),  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH), Councillor/Clerk

There were also several members of the public.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Planning application PL/2023/01303

The meeting was called by the Chairman to discuss the application to Wiltshire Council by Mr. & Mrs. Elderfield for the construction of a large barn to accommodate up to 150 cattle on the land opposite to the entrance to Saddleback Farm. The Chairman had circulated a draft text of the objection to PC members prior to the meeting and he now sought the PC’s approval for submitting it to WC. There was little discussion before the text was unanimously approved by the PC and WH was asked to post it on WC’s website.

The Chairman also sought the PC’s agreement to request Councillor Philip Whitehead to “call in” the application should WC’s Planning Committee approve the application. This proposal was also unanimously agreed by the PC.

  1. AOB

LB raised several finance matters. She reminded the PC that the audit was due at the end of June following the annual meeting of the PC scheduled for.the end of May.

Since the last meeting, she recorded the expenditure of £20 to Stert PCC for use of the church for the last meeting as well as a further £20 for this meeting. She had also paid out £191.76 for the purchase of Prosecco wine for the Coronation party. She requested approval to give a donation of £40 to the Clock Inn Park as a contribution to their Coronation Party. This was unanimously agreed.

She also sought approval of £44 to buy an A5 sized brass plaque for the apple tree planted in recognition of the past chairman’s long service. This was also unanimously agreed.

  1. Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 22nd May 2023.

Coronation Party

Agenda for PC Meeting 20th March 2023

STERT PC Meeting

St James Church Stert, Monday 6.30pm

20th March 2023

  1. Apologies
  2. Declaration of Interest
  3. Planning Application PL/2023/01303
  4. AOB

Minutes of PC Meeting, 13th February 2023

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 13th February 2023  

Present:    

  • Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman
  • Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk
  1. Apologies for absence

Alick Edwards and Ann Harris sent their apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting of the PC was agreed, proposed by LC and seconded by LB, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the meeting on 5th December 2022, there had been the following payments; 

  • £40 to Stert PCC for use of the church at the last meeting,
  • £29.80 for purchase of the apple tree to mark the retirement of the previous chairman,
  • £113.51 to LC for Christmas party costs. (The PC unanimously expressed their thanks to LC and Alex Cooper for arranging the party),
  • £77.88 for membership of Wiltshire Association of Local Councils. The PC had stopped being a member some years ago but rejoined this year as advice was needed on the freedom of information request received by the PC,
  • £500 to Wiltshire Council as the PC’s contribution to implementation of the A342 speed limit. This amount had been reserved in the accounts since 31/3/21.

The account’s balance currently stands at £3,537.30, confirmed by WH on LB’s phone.

  1. Previous chairman

The wording to be engraved on the plaque by the apple tree planted in acknowledgement of Clive Boyes’s long service as chairman of Stert PC was agreed as follows:

Planted in 2022 to mark 16 years of service by Clive Boyes, as chairman of Stert PC, ably assisted by his wife Georgie’.

  1. Coronation Party

It was unanimously agreed that the PC should hold a party to celebrate the coronation of HM King Charles on the day set by the Government for public celebrations, Sunday 7th May. It was suggested that a marquee could be set up in the church yard the residents asked to provide food. The PC would supply drinks up to a cost of £250. It is hoped that volunteers can be found to organise the party.

  1. PC Emails

LB suggested that the PC should have its own email address so as to separate the PC’s official correspondence from the clerk’s private mail. This would also facilitate future hand over of the PC’s correspondence to the Clerk’s successor in due course. WH agreed that this was a good idea and LB suggested that he ask Philip Normington if he could help in setting this up.

  1. Meeting protocol

The participation of the public at PC meetings was discussed. LB said that according to her understanding of government regulations, members of the public were only allowed to listen to the business being discussed at PC meetings, and were not entitled to speak unless specifically invited to do so by the Chairman. She suggested that the following clarification should be minuted:

‘Members of the public are welcome to observe at any PC meetings. They may raise questions by invitation of the Chairman during the time set aside at each meeting for public participation, but are otherwise not entitled to speak and should remain silent throughout the meeting. The public do not have a legal right to speak at parish council meetings.’

  1. Devizes Gateway Station

WH reported that he and LB had attended the AGM of the Devizes Development Partnership on 8th February at which Catherine Symington (CS), WC’s consultant for the Gateway Station studies, made a presentation of the progress to date. As a result of the submission of the Outline Business Case study last November, it was concluded that there was a good strategic argument for the station. Network Rail had therefore been appointed by the Department for Transport to undertake an Interim Feasibility Study to supplement these findings. The study will be submitted to DfT at the end of March 2023. At this stage, WC/DDP will present the findings of the study to stakeholders, including the parishes most affected by the proposed station. 

CS showed a tentative layout plan with access to the station from the A342 midway between the railway bridge and the Lydeway junction, and the station carpark to the south of the line. Further details of CS’s briefing are given on the Stert parish website, http://www.stertparish.com. 

  1. AOB

LB raised the question of the administration of the village marquees, tables and chairs. Quite a number of chairs had been broken over time and the marquees should be checked to see if all the components are complete. At present there are 37 chairs and 6 tables kept in the shed at Manor Farm. It was subsequently agreed that, in future, a deposit of £20 should be made to cover damage costs on top of a £20 donation to the PC for loan of the tables and chairs. LC offered to administrate the loan of the PC equipment and check it was returned clean and in good condition. 

  1. Next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for 22nd May.

Update on Devizes Gateway Station: February 2023

Update on Devizes Gateway Station, by Catharine Symington, Consultant to Wiltshire Council 

  • Network Rail (NR) was appointed by Department of Transport in August 2022 to undertake an Interim Feasibility Study to supplement the Strategic Outline Business Case submitted by Wiltshire Council in November 2021. DfT had decided there is good strategic argument for Devizes Gateway station but further assessment is needed to understand timetabling, operational constraints and any additional works (e.g. at Westbury) that may be required to enable Devizes Gateway station. 
  • The NR Study is investigating possibilities for a stand-alone Devizes Gateway station business case, examining:
    • train service options to serve the station
    • the cost and subsidy implications on existing operations 
    • additional infrastructure work required to operate the new station 
    • refining the costs associated with this project 
  • NR has been working with Wiltshire Council officers and Devizes Development Partnership, who are representing the local community voice. Wiltshire Council is responsible for assessing travel access options to the station site including walking and cycling routes. 
  • The Study has involved a huge amount of work and will provide a better understanding of the strategic and operational challenges and help identify suitable next steps for the project.
  • It is also exploring a wider rail strategy vision into which Devizes Gateway station would fit that could provide benefits across Wiltshire and South-West 
  • Study showed benefits to re-locating station facilities and road access from A342 south of the railway, further west and parallel to the airstrip
  • Station facilities will include a bus stop and cycle parking at the platform entrance, a car drop-off nearby and a station car park, two platforms, footbridge and lifts. Station will be unmanned but have ticket machines
  • Scheme must take account of bridleways and public rights of way. Solution for Stoner Level Crossing and the bridleway diversionary route are fundamental to project viability
  • Station scheme is at an early feasibility stage, so layout will change as the project progresses, taking onboard stakeholder feedback
  • Walking and cycling route will use old branch line initially north of railway to link into Devizes – 3 options have been considered by Wiltshire Council for the active travel route to Devizes
  • NR Timetabling engineers have looked at three different train service patterns as there are substantial challenges in finding available train paths to serve the new station. Extensive work has been done and this has clarified the challenges which means solutions can more easily be identified
  • Works will be required at Westbury station to enable a service to run onwards from Devizes Gateway. This will include re-instating the old Platform 0 and also looking at other interventions that could provide wider benefits. Westbury is a key rural interchange hub and is currently a source of congestion
  • Interim Feasibility Study will be submitted to DfT end of March 2023 to help them make their decision on Devizes Gateway station
  • Given the current funding restrictions, DfT/Government will be looking for consensus from regional level right down to local level – stakeholder support will be crucial to finding further investment
  • Our focus is on a standalone case for Devizes Gateway, but it could form part of a wider Wiltshire rail strategy that stakeholders have expressed commitment to deliver in future
  • A full communications pack will be provided when the study is completed at the end of March

Minutes of PC Meeting 5th December 2022

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 5th December 2022  

Present:    

Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

Also present were several members of the public.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the two previous meetings of the PC were agreed, proposed by AH and seconded by LC, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the meeting on 22nd August, there had been the following payments; £120 to LC for the balance the PC agreed to pay for the hire of the musician at the Jubilee party, £400 to AE for village maintenance, and £40 to Stert PCC for use of the church for the previous PC meetings. 

The PC’s balance currently stands at £4,298.49, confirmed by WH on the printed statement.

LB raised the question of the budget for the Christmas party. She proposed a budget of £150 and this was agreed.

LB also sought approval for the purchase of a tree to acknowledge the service of Clive Boyes to the village on his retirement as Chairman of the PC. He wished for an apple tree to be planted for future residents of the village to enjoy. LB had done some research and estimated the cost would be about £50, and sought agreement to spend this amount. 

The speed limit signage had at last been put up and LB requested approval to pay WC the £500 previously approved when it requested payment. This was agreed.

  1. Precept

LB presented a spreadsheet showing the receipts and payments made during the past year 2021/22, and the budget for the current year 2022/23. It also showed a proposed budget for the coming year 2023/24 totalling £1685. She therefore proposed that the precept be kept at £1800, which is far lower than Urchfont or Etchilhampton. It was unanimously agreed to keep the precept as LB proposed.

  1. Planning application PL/2022/07031 Saddlepack Farm

CL explained why he was opposed to the application. He said that he did not blame the applicants for pursuing their various planning applications but rather he blamed Wiltshire Council for not following the guidelines set out in its core strategy regarding protection of the landscape, it being classified as prime woodland/hedgerows, and for not following up on enforcement of the conditions set for the approval of the applications. Regarding the present application, his objection was that the proposed stables building was much larger than the previously approved building and was not justified just for personal use, as stated in the application. CL said he would circulate to the PC a draft comment to be submitted to WC. He then invited the applicants to respond to his statement. Mrs. Elderfield explained that they had always planned to keep 6 horses, but had previously thought that two could be kept outside. However, the ground had proved too wet for this, so they now needed stabling for all six horses. Mr. Elderfield also disagreed that the proposed revised building was significantly higher than the one previously approved by WC.

WH said he was opposed to the application on the basis of its size and LC stated that although he was aware that many people in the village opposed the application, he could see no reason not to support it.

CL, having asked if there were any further comments, called for a vote on whether the PC supported the application. The vote was two to one objecting to the application with two abstentions.

  1. Previous chairman

CL had discussed with Clive Boyes the planting of a.tree in acknowledgement of his service to the village as chairman of the PC. It was agreed that a suitable place for the tree was on the bank of the lane next to the bench just before Manor Cottage.  LB offered to purchase the tree and CL said he would draft a text for a plaque to be attached to the tree. 

  1. Tree work

Should the PC be involved in applications for tree work in the village? This was discussed and it was agreed that the PC should retain its right to object to trees being felled in the village preservation area, but would routinely leave applications to be decided by WC’s tree officer. Tree work applications would be circulated to the PC by the Clerk and commented on by email.

  1. Stert party

The party is set for 7 pm on13th December. LC reported that he would set up a marquee for the party but if the weather turned inclement he would hold the party in doors where there was room for 40 to 50 people. All the arrangements were under control.

  1. Devizes Gateway Station

WH had not been able to get an update from Catherine Symington so there was nothing new to report.

  1. AOB

11.1 Flood damage to the footbridge at the end of the village had been reported but this had since been fixed by the Greenberg’s gardener.

11.2 WH reported that Ian Roberts had offered to run a Facebook page for the village where resident could post notices of relevance to the village. The PC welcomed this initiative providing that he would set it up and run it.

  1. Next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for February 6th, 13th or 20th, to be confirmed at a future date.