MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL
Held at St James Church on 13th December 2021
Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman
Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman
Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor
Lucy Barker (LB) Councillor/treasurer
Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor
Ann Harris (AH) councillor
William Howkins (WH), Councillor/Clerk
Two members of the public were also present.
1. Apologies for absence
Wiltshire councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) sent his apologies.
2. Declaration of interests
There were no declarations of interest.
3. Minutes of previous meeting
The minutes of the PC meeting of 11th October 2021 were agreed, proposed by WH and seconded by AE.
4. Treasurer’s report
LB reported that our balance stands at £4,042.23, verified by WH from the passbook. Since the last meeting there had been one payment of £400 to Alick Edwards for village maintenance. This had been authorised at the previous PC meeting. Also, as agreed at that meeting, LB will be making a payment of £20 per hour (or part thereof) to the PCC for use of the church for this meeting.
5. Agreement of precept 2022/23
LB distributed copies of a spreadsheet showing an update on the PC’s income and expenditure for the current year 2021/2 and showing projected expenditure for the coming year 2022/23. As agreed at the previous meeting, a figure of £200 is budgeted for the purchase of replacement chairs for the marquee.
It was also agreed to reserve £500 towards a possible future contribution to the cost of remodelling the church (see item 9 below).
The total budget for 2022/23 amounts to £2,050. However it was agreed to limit the increase in the precept from £1,500 to £1,800 (back to the same precept figure for 2020/21) as there will be a surplus on the current year’s accounts: the PC’s income has exceeded expectations and we will have spent less than budgeted. LB pointed out that Stert’s precept will still be one of the smallest in the county. For the current year (2021/2) Stert’s precept cost for a Band D property is £16.53. compared to Etchilhampton at £37.99 and Urchfont at £94.31.
The increase in the precept was agreed by the PC (proposed by CL and seconded by AH).
6. Status of A342 speed limit near Clock Inn
WH reported that he had spoken to Gareth Rogers at Wiltshire Council. He confirmed that implementation of the speed limit between Stert village entrance and Lydeway had been approved some time ago and had been scheduled under the current works program. He expected work to start on it within the next 3 months.
7. Update on A342 road repairs by Grist’s Recycling Site entrance.
WH had also spoken to Gareth Rogers about the dangerous condition of the main road outside Grist’s site entrance. He told him that the road surface was presently being surveyed to identify what temporary repairs were necessary. A permanent reconstruction work would be scheduled for later in the spring. AE said that a number of vehicles had suffered from burst tyres or punctures from hitting the potholes including his own car. CL said the PC should make a formal complaint to WC about the state of the road but CB said he would contact PW to ask for his assistance in getting the work started. LC said he would contact the Wiltshire Herald to ask them to write a report about it in the local newspaper.
8. Schedule works for Parish Steward
WH reported he had spoken to Richard Dobson, WC’s officer in charge of the Parish Steward team, to report the deteriorated roadway surface by Bitham/Orchard Cottage. He promised to look at it on his next visit to the area and add the work to his schedule. LB asked WH to inform the PC when the Parish Steward was scheduled to visit Stert so they could get him to include other works such as repairs to the village footpaths. AH asked that the work should include clearance of the footpath between Stert and the Clock Inn and cleaning the drain in the dip in the main road which had recently been flooded.
9. Update on plan to make space for village events in the church
CB briefed the PC on discussions held by the PCC to make alterations to the church seating to make it suitable for holding social events and for PC meetings. He said that several years ago the Bishop of Salisbury had visited the church and recommended removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would facilitate changing the seating layout to suit the various events as had been done in many of the village churches. This would entail getting approval from the diocese and involve laying a new floor beneath the pews. Neville Moody had thought the cost of doing this would be at least £8,000. CB said that the church architect would need to be consulted to make a cost estimate. LB reported she had spoken to the Hopton reclamation yard who had indicated we could expect to receive a figure of about £100 for each pew sold. This would help to pay for the floor reconstruction.
CB said he was not sure whether there was a need to spend this kind of money in view of the small demand for having a village hall as most of the village activities took place informally in resident’s homes. LC strongly advised on looking at the project as a long term investment in the future. He offered to contact village residents to find out whether they would be willing to support the scheme. The question of whether the PC could support the scheme was also discussed. It was agreed that if there was a need for a place to hold village events, this could be considered as contributing to the wellbeing of the village and therefore could be supported by the PC. It was agreed that the PC set aside £500 per annum as its contribution to the church remodelling fund (see para 5 above).
10. Update on Devizes Parkway Station
WH reported that he had spoken to Catharine Symington who said that the revised Strategic Outline Business Case had bee submitted to Department for Transport (DfT) in the first week of November. She expected that comments would be received back by the end of January. This would enable the go-ahead to be given for the next stage of the detailed planning. She informed that she had attended regular monthly meetings to discuss issues arising from the submission. She promised to report back to us after receipt of the comments from DfT in January.
11. Christmas events in Stert.
CB reported that the Christmas party in the church had been postponed due to the rapid spread of the new Omicron Covid variant. It was now planned to hold the party in the coming summer as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Carol service would be held in the church on 22nd December at 6:00pm.
12. Any other business
AH reported on the glamping site at Sunnyside Farm, just east of the railway bridge on A342 recently advertised on Facebook. A number of tents had been set up in the field opposite the Clock Inn and left there for several weeks. This field was in Urchfont Parish, so AH had called the Urchfont Parish Clerk and Steven Jenkins, Planning Officer at WC.who confirmed that planning permission was needed for a glamping site to operate for more than 28 days per year. As this had not been sought, the tents had now been removed.
13. Date of next meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 7th March 2022.