Minutes of PC Meeting, 1st March 2021

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCI  held in Stert on 1st March 2021  

Present:    

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

Philip Whitehead (PW), Wiltshire Councillor for Urchfont and the Cannings, was also present as well as three members of the public.

The meeting was held virtually in Stert using Zoom.

Devizes Gateway Railway Station

Prior to the PC meeting, Tamara Reay (TR) and Catharine Symington (CS) of the Devizes Development Partnership (DDP) gave a presentation on the progress of the studies being carried out for the Devizes Gateway Railway Station. 

TR started by giving the background for the studies being carried out by WS Atkins, Transport Consultants hired by WC and DDP.  Funds had been made available under Round 1 of the 2020 Department for Transport’s program for the study of Rail Revival Projects. The Devizes Gateway Station was one of ten projects selected from 60 to 70 projects considered for feasibility study funding. The study includes comparison of various modes of transport (car, bus, rail), assessment of demand  for a new station, growth forecasting, operation options considering existing rail services, and capital cost estimation. The objective would be to provide a hourly service in both directions, possibly by extending the Great Bedwyn service as far as Westbury and/or by an extra stop of the semi-fast service to Exeter. This frequency of service appeared to be critical to the business case for the station. The present Strategic Outline Business Case is due to be completed by late April. A recent study by the Swindon and Wiltshire Economic Partnership had estimated that the Devizes Gateway Station would result in £6.5 million per annum Gross Value Added to the town’s income.

TR finished by showing the timeline for the projects completion. As stated above, the current phase of the study will be completed by the end of April followed by 4 months for evaluation by DfT/Network Rail/GWR. The detailed design study would be completed by the end of 2022 and the Full Business Case and procurement of contractor by the end of 2024 with completion of construction by the end of 2025.

CS then highlighted the results of the demand survey which had recently been completed. To the eleven questions asked, 2539 responses had been received from people living in the Devizes area and 500 from those living in the East Wilts area around Marlborough, Hungerford and Bedwyn. The responses were very positive. The results showed the use of the proposed station would be mostly for leisure and then for business with a smaller demand for commuting, mostly to London, Reading or Newbury. There was also a significant demand for services to Bath and Bristol. A small amount of traffic was likely to be generated from the east Wilts villages travelling to Devizes and further west. Presently, 75 percent of journeys were made by car or by car/train.  A typical comment from people questioned in Devizes was that “the proposed station would be a huge benefit to Devizes and the surrounding areas” and “the new station will not turn Devizes into a dormitory town”.

When asked after the presentation, TR again assured the meeting that a housing scheme was not being considered as part of the station development. She also confirmed that bicycle access was being studied, but the probable route would be north of the A342 to avoid having to cross the main road. Access to the station would be studied during the detailed design stage of the project when all alternatives would be considered. All stakeholders would be consulted at this stage, especially the residents of Clock Inn Park.

CB thanked TR and CS for their presentation and they then left the meeting. CB then opened the formal PC meeting which Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead also joined.

  1. Apologies for absence  

There were no apologies for absence.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1.  Formal complaint to Stert PC

Following the publication of the Minutes of the Meeting of Stert PC held on 14th December 2020, a formal complaint dated 23rd December had been issued. Following receipt of the complaint, Stert PC had sought the advice of Wiltshire County Council. It was advised that, as some of the matters reported in the Minutes of that meeting were of a personal nature, they should have been kept confidential. 

Stert PC hereby wishes to apologise to the complainants for publishing these matters in the public domain. They should have been discussed in private session. The entire paragraph 9 entitled Land at Stert should therefore be deleted from the minutes. This should be formally ratified later in this meeting.

As the deleted minutes concerned a planning application and compliance, Wiltshire County Council have suggested that the PC advise residents that any further representations concerning the Planning Permission should be referred directly to Wiltshire Council Planning department rather than being taken up by the Parish Council. 

A further complaint was received by the PC following an incident  on 22nd February. Following discussion with the police no further action has been taken. The councillor has the full support of the PC as, like the rest of the PC, he has always sought to respond to the concerns of Stert residents.

That is the statement from the PC.  

The PC now has to formally address the matter of the last minutes of meeting. 

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

Item 9 of the Minutes of the PC meeting of 14th December 2020 is hereby deleted and replaced with the following:

“A number of queries regarding the planning permission granted for the land at Stert (planning application 20/08044/FUL) were discussed. However, given the personal nature of many of the particulars covered, details of these discussions will be treated as confidential.”

Those in favour of this amendment were unanimous as seen by a show of hands.

The minutes as amended were agreed. They will be signed by the Chairman after the meeting.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that there had been one item of expenditure since the last meeting: £143.88 for an annual Zoom subscription as the free version of Zoom limits the time for each meeting to 40 minutes. This amount has not been budgeted for. We have received £1.70 of interest and the balance now stands at £3,051.80, confirmed by WH in the passbook. This balance includes £500 promised to WC for implementation of of the A342 speed limit and £100 set aside for the next renovation of the phone box.

  1. A342 Speed limit

LB had contacted Andrew Jack and Richard Gamble of WC by phone and email to correct a misunderstanding that Stert PC had promised £500 for implementation of the speed limit not £1000 as implied in the minutes of the previous meeting. (Stert PC had already paid £500 for the traffic survey).  Andrew Jack told LB that as the minutes of the latest CATG meeting were still to be confirmed by Richard Gamble, he was not able to comment one way or another.

PW confirmed that it had been agreed during his tenure as CATG chairman to accept Stert’s contribution of £500 towards the cost of implementation in addition to £500 already paid for the traffic survey. He said that he would attend the next CATG meeting to reaffirm the agreement previously made and to resolve the matter once and for all.

  1. Devizes Local Plan

CB reminded residents that consultation on Local Plan closes on 9th March so now was the time for Stert residents to complete the questionnaire which can be downloaded from the WC website. 

The Local Plan aims to provide 330 new homes in the Devizes area in addition to the 1000 already built or in the pipeline during the current plan period 2016 – 2036. The Plan identifies 8 possible sites for housing development around Devizes,  one area (Area 5) is the open land opposite the Fox & Hounds pub adjacent to the Sleight lane where the driving range is located. PW explained that the eight sites identified were more than would be required to meet the targeted number of houses to be built during the coming plan period and 90% of the sites indicated would therefore not be built on in the foreseeable future. 

  1. Work needed to repair footbridge subsidence

CB had taken a photo of a hole which had appeared in the approach to the footbridge over the stream at the bottom of Stert Lane. He had asked WH to report this to WC and WH confirmed that he had done so by filling in a maintenance request form on My Wiltshire website, case number 00019246.

  1. A342 remedial work on potholes

AE reported that WC had already completed repair works on the potholes by the Grist Recycling centre. PW thought that the work carried out was only a temporary repair pending a more radical repair work to be done in the spring. He subsequently informed WH that, on further checking, this was not the case: future work was only scheduled for the roundabout area further towards town.

  1. Reopening the church

CB reported that, following Government road map, the church, which had been closed since March last year, was planned to reopen from Monday 17th May.

  1. Local Covid review 

CB referred to an article in the Devizes Gazette that there had been a recent rise of 30 cases of Covid19 reported in the Devizes West area as well as 15 cases in Devizes East, 9 more than the previous week. He urged residents to keep up with following the government guidelines on social distancing etc. PW warned that this sudden increase was due to a recent outbreak in Erlestoke prison (not an outbreak of prisoners!). He said they had been increasing the amount of testing to isolate this outbreak. He said the numbers for Wiltshire were down to 82 per hundred thousand, significantly lower than the national average. WC was quite satisfied with the downward trend in the number of cases in the county.

  1. Census 2021

Census day is 21st March. Each household would receive instructions with their access code by mail and fliers had been ordered and would be posted, when received, on the notice boards. WH informed that he had received an email from WC informing that assistance in filling in the census form on-line would be available from Devizes Library, tel: 826190, email: libraryenquiries@wiltshire.gov.uk.

  1. Cancer Research Car Boot Sale

The Car Boot Sale, now in its tenth year, has been rescheduled for Saturday 11th September. CB said that there was a special price of £20 for Stert residents to reserve a pitch so urged everyone to take this opportunity to clear out their garages and bring along their unwanted items to support Cancer Research and our little church.

  1. Future events

CB said that the PC would like to hold two events in the coming year,. It was hoped to hold a Stert Day, an afternoon event to celebrate the end of lock-down possibly sometime in July but depending on the lifting of lock-down.  Then it was hoped to hold the long postponed Christmas Party that had to be cancelled last year. Details of these events will be notified later in due course. 

  1. AOB

None.   

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 17th May 2021.

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