Minutes of Meeting of Stert PC, 14th December 2020

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  held in Stert House on 14th December 2020  


  • Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE) Dty Chairman
  • Ann Harris (AH) Councillor
  • Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

The meeting was held in Stert House with councillors observing social distancing.

  1. Apologies for absence  

Chris Lawrence and Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead sent their apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.  

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved (proposed by LB and seconded by AH) and signed by the chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that there had been one item of expenditure since the last meeting: £350 to Alick Edwards for village maintenance, as agreed at our previous meeting. Alick was thanked for his hard work throughout the year.

The balance now stands at £3,193.98, confirmed by WH in the passbook.

  1. Precept for FY 2021/22

LB presented a spreadsheet showing the income and expenditure for FY2019/20 and FY2020/21 to date compared with the budgeted amount of expenditure. The spreadsheet also showed her proposed budget for FY 2021/22 and can be seen on the Parish website www.stertparish.com

It was agreed to reduce the precept for the coming year from £1,800 to £1,500 now that the payment to WC for the implementation of the A342 speed limit had been covered in the current year’s budget. The 2021/22 budget, totalling £1,140, included an increase in allowance for village maintenance from £350 to £400 as agreed at the previous meeting. It was also agreed to increase the sum set aside for Stert PC’s annual party from £250 to £350. 

  1. Stert PC party

The PC regrets that it had to cancel its traditional Christmas party this year due to the Covid 19 restrictions. However, it is hoped that it will be able to hold a summer party in 2021 instead. CB kindly offered to host this party in his garden at Stert House. The date and arrangements for the party will be discussed at later meetings.

  1. A342 Speed limit

The latest CATG meeting was scheduled for 15th December. In the published meeting notes, it was stated that “Stert PC had increased their contribution from £500 to £1,000, which for a parish of that size is a large amount. RG to check this is correct. Proposed to approve the work.” LB had sent an email to Richard Gamble on 8th November clarifying that Stert PC had paid £500 towards the cost of the speed survey and had offered a further £500 towards the cost of implementation, totalling in all £1,000. This email was forwarded again to RG by WH on 23rd November.

It was noted that John Ericsson had sent an email to WH thanking the PC for its efforts in getting the speed limit approved.

  1. Reopening the church

CB reported that the repairs to the fallen plaster in the ceiling had been completed by Ady Knapp who did the work for free. This gesture was much appreciated. The church would open for the service on Christmas Day, but with number restricted to about 30.

  1. Land at Stert

WH reported he had written to Lucy Rutter (LR) (WC’s planning officer for this application), raising some of the queries sent in by Stert residents. The following is a summary of the queries and LR’s answers.

Q: The Elderfields appear to be living on site in a mobile home. How long are they permitted to do so? LR: The siting of a mobile home for use by the Elderfields is permitted during construction of the barn and stable providing they are carrying out the works themselves. The planning enforcement team have already investigated this and have raised no concerns.

LR advised separately that ‘this would become an enforcement issue if the mobile unit were to remain on site post construction.’

Q: They have moved in a shed with a bright orange roof used for temporary stables. The PC has received complaints about this eyesore that can be seen from several properties in the village. Can they be required to remove this shed when the new stables is completed?  LR: As far as I am aware the equestrian use does not benefit from any permitted development. It is difficult for me to comment on this as it was not on site during my site visit and I have no plans, location or dimensions to comment on. If there is concern that this has been erected unlawfully I would advise the matter be raised with the planning enforcement team.

Q: The Elderfields have brought in a number of pigs which may have been set out on the equestrian land. Are there any constraints to pig farming on this land near the village which will be affected by the stink? LR: I believe keeping pigs comes under the agricultural use of the and, as such the pigs should not be kept on the land recently changed to equestrian use, however I am seeking further advice on this matter.

Q: The erection of the stables is pending an archeological review. When will this be completed?  LR: This will be entirely dependant on when the applicant decides to commence works. The condition requires Archaeological investigation prior to ground works taking place. The applicants will need to submit an application to discharge the condition when they are ready to (start work).

Q: The erection of the stables is also conditional on approval of a construction management plan by WC. Who will be responsible for monitoring compliance? Can Stert PC receive a copy of this plan? How can WC ensure that the new barn is not used for storage of heavy agricultural machinery used for outside contracting purposes? LR: Unfortunately WC does not have the capacity to police compliance with every condition or application made. The applicant will need to submit an application to discharge this condition. Generally these are not part of a public consultation process, the highways department will consider whether the management plan is acceptable, the applications will need to adhere to the plan and be mindful that enforcement could come to check on compliance.

The PC agreed to seek a meeting with LR to resolve some of the queries not answered by LR’s email and other issues raised by residents such as the deterioration of the verges down the lane caused by the heavy traffic, the use of a generator to supply power to their mobile home, the building waste used as hardcore on the site, the damage already done to the clearing of undergrowth designated as “priority woodland habitat” by Defra. Concern was raised by several residents that WC did not carry out an ecology survey prior to granting APD approval of the barn.

One resident has asked if it is permitted to graze horses on agricultural land which has not been granted equestrian change of use. Research by the PC indicates that horses can be grazed on agricultural land as long as they are not being supplementary fed, ridden or lunged on that land, unless that use is for 28 days or less per year.

  1. AOB

10.1. AH had contacted Philippa Hatlapa offering her help with setting up a defibrillator in Stert, but hadn’t heard back from Philippa. She is ready to offer advice at any time.

10.2  AE warned that there had been reports of dog-nappers in the area who were on the look out for pedigree dogs to steal. AH had heard of a woman seen locally knocking on the front door while her accomplice went round to try to gain entry via the back door. 

10.3 CB had applied for approval to fell an ash tree in his garden that was suffering from ash die-back. This was agreed.

10.4  The PC presented a case of wine to CB on the occasion of his 80th birthday on 15th December. WH expressed the PC’s appreciation of the many years of service he had given the village and the wisdom which he brought to the PC’s deliberations  in carrying out these duties.   

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for 18th January 2021.

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