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.