Category Archives: Parish Council

PC Meeting 14th December 2020


held in Stert House on 14th December 2020  


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

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

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.

  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.

Minutes of PC Meeting, 1st March 2021

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


  • 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:

  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


  1. Date of next meeting

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

Agenda for PC Meeting 1st March 2021

The meeting will commence with a presentation on the Devizes Gateway station project from Tamara Reay and Catharine Symington representing Devizes Development Partnership.

  1. Apologies
  2. Declarations of interest
  3. Formal complaint to Stert Parish Council
  4. Minutes of previous meeting
  5. Treasurers report 
  6. A342 speed limit progress
  7. Devizes local plan
  8. Works needed to repair bridge subsidence over stream
  9. A342 needs remedial works to potholes near recycling centre
  10. Reopening of church scheduled May 17.
  11. Local Covid review
  12. Census 2021
  13. Cancer Research Car boot sale rescheduled to Saturday September 11
  14. Future events
  15. AOB
  16. Date of next meeting

This meeting will be recorded

PC Meeting 18th January 2021

This is to advise that because of lockdown we have postponed our next PC meeting from Jan 18 until Feb 22.
We intend to hold this meeting virtually by Zoom. More details about this will be published later.

BUDGET 2020/21

Agenda for PC meeting, 14th December 2020

Agenda for Meeting of Stert P.C to be held at Stert House on Monday 14 Dec at 6.30 pm

1. Apologies

2. Declarations of Interest

3. Minutes of previous meeting

4.Treasurers report

5.Precept for 2021/2022

6. Stert PC annual party

7. A342 Speed limit 

8. Reopening of Church

9. Land at Stert

10. AOB

11. Date of next meeting

This meeting is being organised in line with Government Social distancing and Lockdown requirements.

Please would members of the public who wish to comment on this Agenda please advise the Parish Treasurer by email to       

by Monday 14 December 12.00pm.

Minutes of Special Meeting of Stert PC, 30th October 2020


held in Stert House on 30th October 2020  


  • Clive Boyes (CB), Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE), Dty Chairman
  • Chris Lawrence (CL). Councillor
  • 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.

This Special Meeting was convened to agree the PC’s response to Planning Application 20/08044 for the change in use of part of the land purchased by the Elderfields south of Stert from agricultural to equestrian and for the erection of a stables building. 

  1. Apologies for absence  

There were no apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.  

  1. Planning application 20/08044

LB presented the results of the email survey conducted on 27th to 30th October. Of the 46 people who had expressed an opinion, 41 objected to the application, 5 had no opinion and there were no supporters. 37 objected due to increased traffic down the narrow lane, 19 were concerned that the change in use would lead to further commercialisation, 15 were concerned about damage to the ecology and light pollution and 13 objected due to the lack of services (power and water). 

The PC voted unanimously to uphold the views of the village by objecting to the planning application.

The following response to WC was agreed at the meeting:

Stert PC objects to the application. The PC conducted an email survey of the entire village and there was a high response:

  • 41 residents considered the PC should object.
  • 5 had no opinion.
  • No-one supported the application.

The PC is unanimous in upholding the views of the residents.

The principal objections, which reflect the views of the village, are as follows:

1. TRAFFIC. The access road is shared with walkers and horse riders on the Wessex Ridgeway. It is steep and narrow in places and will be under more pressure from the heavy traffic arising from the agricultural machinery contracting business from the barn under construction on the site, see 20/05021/APD and see

In addition, the applicants stated at a village meeting that they plan to run an equestrian business from the site (buying and selling event horses), this must necessarily generate even further heavy traffic and the village road infrastructure is unable to cope with this. 

In particular:

  • The turning from the A342 in and out of the village is dangerous for heavy agricultural equipment and horse boxes.
  • The acute angled turning by Fullaway Cottage is too sharp for heavy vehicles, especially tractors and trailers which endanger Fullaway Cottage and walkers and horse riders.
  • The lane on the slope leading down towards the site is narrow without passing places. The tarmac surface is too weak for heavy traffic.

Access to the site should be assessed by the Highways department.

2.  NO VIABLE SUSTAINABLE FARMING ENTERPRISE at the site, contrary to what the applicants state. The applicants state that they wish to have the horses in close proximity to the farm whilst they are working on the land.  However, this is misleading since the land remaining for agricultural purposes will only be 6 hectares (15 acres), made up of pasture land which hardly constitutes a viable and sustainable farming enterprise.  There are no welfare facilities on site for working the farm for this extended length of time.  It is obvious to many residents that the addition of horses to the site will only lead to a future application for a permanent dwelling on the land – which the application makes no mention of, but was disclosed as an objective at a village meeting with the applicants on 7th Sept.

3. NO SUSTAINABLE SUPPLY OF WATER AND ELECTRICITY. Horses need both.The application makes no reference to how services/utilities to the land will be achieved for the welfare of horses, other livestock and those working on the land.  There are real concerns regarding the use of generators and the noise pollution these create, along with the transporting of water bowsers to the site.

4. ECOLOGY. The clearing of the adjacent copse (during the nesting season) to facilitate the construction of 20/05021/APD has already put severe pressure on the wildlife and general ecology of the area. The building of the stables will exacerbate the problem and increase the light pollution to the detriment of the barn owls and bats frequently spotted here. A full environmental survey is required.

5. NEGATIVE IMPACT ON OPEN COUNTRYSIDE. As mentioned above the applicants seek to run 2 businesses from the site.There is concern about possible future development of expanded equestrian business activities, which change of use would permit. The PC sees this as overdevelopment of the natural landscape.

To conclude, there is some concern amongst the village that the planning application does not fully reflect the intentions of the applicants.

CB reported that he had received an email from Katie Elderfield requesting copies of all the emails sent in by residents, However, the PC agreed that it should treat these responses as confidential. Those who wished their views to be made public would be encouraged to post their views on WC’s planning website. The PC was of the opinion that by posting these minutes on the notice boards and website it had fully disclosed the results of the survey.

Minutes of Annual PC Meeting, 7th September 2020

Minutes of Annual Meeting held in Stert House on 7th September 2020  


  • Clive Boyes (CB), Chairman
  • Chris Lawrence (CL), Councillor
  • 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  

Alick Edwards sent his apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.  

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 13th July 2020, were approved (proposed by LB and seconded by CL) and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that there had been one item of expenditure since the last meeting: £59.94, the usual gift (6 bottles of wine) for our internal auditor, Neville Burrell. This amount is slightly over our budgeted figure. The account  had received interest of £1.39 and a £25 donation for use of the village marquee.

The balance stands at £3,543.98, confirmed by WH in the pass book.

It’s the time of the year when the PC thanks Alick Edwards for the maintenance work he does around the village, cutting the verges, trimming hedges etc. It was agreed to pay him £350, an increase on the £300 we’ve been paying for nearly 10 years. This amount will increase to £400 in the year 2021/2. The PC sees no need to seek alternative quotes as the PC has always felt that AE gives very good value for money and there are many advantages in having maintenance done by a village resident who is able to respond very quickly, if necessary.

At the next PC meeting in December we will need to agree the precept for 2021/2, for which the treasurer needs to prepare a budget. It would be helpful if councillors could advise the treasurer in advance of any possible extraordinary expenses in both this and the next financial year.

  1. Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

The PC unanimously thanked CB for his service as Chairman during the past year. WH proposed and CL seconded that he be asked to stand again as Chairman for the coming year, to which he agreed. He was duly elected. CB said that he had received confirmation that Alick Edwards was happy to continue as Vice Chairman. His tenure for the coming year was proposed by LB and seconded by AH and he was duly elected.

  1. Stert Website

WH reported that on 4th August he had sent an email to all Stert residents on the mailing list asking them whether they thought it was justified hiring specialist IT help to make our website conform to the new government accessibility regulations or whether they considered this to be “disproportionate burden” for our small community.  He had received replies from 25 residents all of whom opposed making any changes to the current website. WH had therefore prepared the required accessibility statement claiming disproportionate burden and had posted this on the website. He had emailed NALC’s Katie Fielding asking her to confirm that this would satisfy government regulations. and, in her reply, she appeared to do so. 

The PC offered a special vote of thanks to WH for his work on this.

  1. A342 Speed limit

CB reported that he had spoken earlier that day to Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) about implementation of the speed limit. He said that if CB could confirm that the PC would pay £500 towards the cost of implementation, then he would advise Richard Gamble, Chairman of Devizes CATG, to recommend its approval. CB had sent PW an email to confirm that the PC was ready to make this final payment in addition to the £500 it had already paid for the speed survey. AH said that residents of the Clock Inn Park read the PC’s minutes posted on their notice board and noted the references made to progress with the speed limit.

  1. Closure of the Church

CB said that the congregation was not in favour of opening the church under the present government regulations. However, they hoped to be able to open the church by mid October in time to celebrate harvest festival. He thanked LB for her initiative with her roadside plant sale which had now raised almost £600.

  1. Lockdown review

AH said that Clock Inn residents were still staying at home. Col. Bob Fram of Valley View had very kindly been collecting prescriptions for residents since the beginning of lock-down. She reported that one resident, Gary Speck, had regretfully died recently of respiratory problems, possibly infected by Covid 19.

  1. AOB

10.1 LB, Philip Normington and two volunteers from Urchfont had cleared the bramble growth over the footpath to Urchfont over the railway embankment. She suggested that walkers to take a pair a secateurs with them on their walks to snip off encroaching growth.

10.2. The PC’s Christmas party was set for Friday 18th December.

  1. Next Meeting

The next PC meeting is scheduled to be held in Stert House on Monday 14th December 2020, at 6.30 pm.  

Website Accessibility Statement

Accessibility statement for

This accessibility statement applies to the website belonging to Stert Parish Council, Wiltshire.

This website is run by Stert Parish Council and operated by WordPress, as a blog site. It has the capabilities for zooming in to 300% without the text spilling off the screen and navigating most of the website using just the keyboard. However, users are not able to:

  • change colours, contrast levels and fonts
  • navigate most of the website using speech recognition software
  • listen to most of the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)

We’ve also made the website text as simple as possible to understand.

How accessible this website is

We know some parts of this website are not fully accessible:

  • the text will not reflow in a single column when you change the size of the browser window
  • you cannot modify the line height or spacing of text
  • most older PDF documents are not fully accessible to screen reader software
  • live video streams do not have captions
  • some of our online forms are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard
  • you cannot skip to the main content when using a screen reader

Feedback and contact information

If you need information on this website in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read:

  • call William Howkins on 01380 729 638
  • email

We’ll consider your request and get back to you in 7 days.

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact William Howkins.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

Stert Parish Council is committed to making its website accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Compliance status

This website is not compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard. The ‘non-compliances and exemptions’ are listed below.

Non-accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Some images do not have a text alternative, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).

We plan to add text alternatives for all images by September 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.

Disproportionate burden

Since the website is built on a simple blogging format, it is not possible to change colours, contrast levels and fonts, navigate the website using speech recognition software or listen to the website using a screen reader.

Stert is a very small parish with only some 150 residents and a precept of £1700 per annum. The cost of hiring an IT expert for 3 days at £1500/day to prepare an accessibility statement is clearly beyond the PC’s resources. A recent questionnaire to village residents has unanimously indicated that residents do not feel the need to change the present website and that the costs of doing so would not be not justified. The PC therefore claims that doing so would represent a disproportionate burden.

Navigation and accessing information

There’s no way to skip the repeated content in the page header (for example, a ‘skip to main content’ option).

It’s not always possible to change the device orientation from horizontal to vertical without making it more difficult to view the content. 

It’s not possible for users to change text size without some of the content overlapping.

Interactive tools and transactions

Some of our interactive forms are difficult to navigate using a keyboard. For example, because some form controls are missing a ‘label’ tag.

Our forms are built and hosted through third party software and ‘skinned’ to look like our website.

We’ve assessed the cost of fixing the issues with navigation and accessing information, and with interactive tools and transactions. We believe that doing so now would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations. We will make another assessment when the supplier contract is up for renewal, likely to be in one year’s time.

Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

PDFs and other documents

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.

The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.

Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

Live video

We do not plan to add captions to live video streams because live video is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 18th August 2020. It has not been reviewed or tested.

Minutes of PC Meeting, 13th July 2020


held in Stert House on 13th July 2020


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

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

  1. Apologies for absence  


  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 11th May 2020 were approved (proposed by LB and seconded by AE) and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the last meeting there were 2 items of expenditure to report: £36 to Bill Howkins as reimbursement for our WordPress subscription to maintain our website address and £228.44 to Zurich insurance company for renewal of our parish insurance. Both these amounts are less than the budgeted figures.

The PC’s balance stands at £3577.53. This includes an ‘earmarked reserve’ of £50 for future renovation of the telephone box and also includes £500 for the further contribution towards the A342 speed limit project that Wiltshire Council have requested from Stert PC.

The accounts for 2019/20 have now been approved by Neville Burrell and they are now on the village website and are open for inspection by interested members of the public. LB requested approval to buy the usual gift for Neville Burrell in recognition of his helpful and thorough work which he does for free.

Now seems a good moment to compare the Stert parish precept with other local parishes. For a Band  D rated property in Stert the precept is £19.84 for the current year. If you lived in Urchfont that Band  D figure would be £93.38, and in Chirton it would be £68.85.

One of the reasons the precept is so low here in Stert is because, unlike those parishes, we have no paid employees. Bill, as clerk doesn’t even claim office expenses. However we are now facing 2 challenges which may result in us having to pay for technical help (with the obvious impact on next year’s precept) unless there are some kind volunteers in the village who feel they may be able to help. We are trying to research setting up remote access for our PC meetings, which is why this meeting is being held in person. Remote access is needed to allow members of the public to join our meetings, especially in winter when we can’t meet outside.  If anyone has experience of eg. Zoom/Microsoft teams and feels they could help us, we would be very grateful.

Secondly, we are required by law to ensure our website is accessible to people with various disabilities, such as impaired vision or learning disabilities. However there is a ‘get out’ in that we can plead this would impose a ‘disproportionate burden’ on our resources. To plead disproportionate burden we must first have carried out an assessment of the work involved to make  the website accessible. It is carrying out this assessment that the PC would appreciate help with. If anyone thinks they might be able to help, please contact Bill.

  1. Land at Stert

Three fields opposite Byde and Fullaway Farms have recently been purchased (April/May) by Miles Elderfield. He is presently based in Ludgershall from where he runs an agricultural contracting business.  In early June, he started clearing the brambles and undergrowth beneath the wooded area of the land. At subsequent meetings with the PC on site, he and his wife, Katie, explained that they intended “to give the woodland some much needed tlc by clearing the brambles and thorns that seem to be strangling the trees, encouraging them to grow and flourish for the future.” He said they will shortly be cutting the grass for hay and hoped to be able to graze a few cows on the land once all fencing etc is secure. Katie said her goal was to breed horses on the land. They said that they hoped to spend some time on the land and in the long term were hoping to live on site in a caravan or in a log cabin. To begin with,  they were planning to build a barn in the clearing within the wooded area for which they had applied to WC for planning permission.

The PC has been concerned that the Elderfields started clearing the undergrowth during the nesting season, which risked disturbing ground nesting birds. Bats and barn owls are regularly seen over the woodland.  LB had been in touch with the Forestry Commission, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Louisa Kilgallen, the Wiltshire Council ecology officer, who had advised that Stert PC should be sure to request a full ecology survey when a planning application is submitted. Members of the parish expressed grave concern about possibly reckless disturbance to an area of high biodiversity, which almost certainly is a habitat to wildlife protected by the Wildlife and Countryside act of 1981. There is also concern about increased farm vehicle traffic on the narrow approach lane, which is also part of the Wessex Ridgeway. So far, no planning application has been registered by WC on its planning website: the PC is monitoring this daily. Until an application has been submitted, the PC cannot take any action. It was agreed that CB would send a email to the Elderfields asking them if they have had confirmation of receipt of their application from WC.

  1. Stert Website

WH reported that he had recently received a notification from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) that, from September, all council websites would be required by law to be made accessible for handicapped users. The web sites should allow fonts, colour and contrast to be adjustable, the image to be zoomed to 300% without spilling off the page, the site to be navigable using the keyboard alone, with speech recognition and items to be audible using a screen reader. There was an opt out if “disproportionate burden” can be shown. This entails preparing an accessibility statement and an assessment of the costs and benefits of making the website confirm to the new requirements. The accessibility statement is estimated to take 1 to 3 days to prepare at a cost for an IT expert at £1,500 per day, or at a cost of £1,500 to £4,500.

The PC suggested that WH send an email to village residents asking whether anyone had any special accessibility problems with the current website so as to demonstrate the benefits or lack thereof of changing it.

  1. A342 Speed limit

WH reported that Community Area Transport Group (CATG) still had not met due to the corona virus since their meeting held on 28th April. No new date had yet been set for the next meeting and until then, there was no action taken on the implementation of the speed limit. WC Councillor Richard Gamble told the PC that he had just taken over as Chairman of the Group and confirmed that this item was still top of the agenda for the next meeting.

  1. Closure of the Church

CB stated that the church would remain closed until further notice. 

  1. Lockdown review

Members of the public present were asked if they had any problems with the lockdown restrictions. It was generally felt that everyone had managed well and the PC was thanked for its help in identifying local shops with a delivery service, click&collect etc.. Philippa Hatlapa’s local shop had also been a helpful source of groceries.  

  1. AOB

There were no items of the other business.

  1. Next Meeting

The Annual PC meeting is scheduled to be held in Stert House on Monday 7th September 2020, at 6.30 pm.