Category Archives: Minutes of meetings

Minutes of PC meeting, 13th December 2021


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.

Minutes of PC Meeting on 16th August 2021


held in Stert House on 16th August 2021  

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

  • 1. Apologies for absence  

Alick Edwards and Philip Whitehead sent their apologies.

2. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. 3. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 17th May 2021 were agreed, proposed by LB and seconded by CL, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. 4. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that there were two items of expenditure to record since the last meeting.  Renewal of the Parish insurance at a cost of £236.41. This was approved at the previous PC meeting and is just over the budgeted figure of £230. The second item is the Auditor’s gift costing £59.94. This was also approved at the previous meeting and is in line with the budgeted figure of £60.

Our Nationwide account has been credited with £1,78 in interest and the balance now stands at £4257.23, confirmed by WH in the passbook.This balance includes £500 reserve carried over from last year being the PC’s contribution to implementation of the A42 speed limit and £150 earmarked for the next phone box renovation.

  1. 5, Approval of A342 speed limit

WH had received a copy of the notes from the CATG meeting held on 27th July as follows: 

WS Atkins have completed the Speed Limit assessment. It has concluded that a 50mph restriction can be considered. Indicative cost £6,000WH stated that the contribution which Stert PC agreed to make is £500 not £1,000 as listed within the budget. DM wanted to push through this project and was happy to accept this level of contribution from Stert PC. GR was happy to go ahead with this level.

Scheme has been added to 2021/22 Programme and will be developed.

It was agreed that the PC would only pay the agreed sum to WC on completion of the installation of the signage.

  1. 6. Clearance of footpath along A342

CB reported that he had received a complaint about brambles and hedge growth obstructing the footpath along  A342 between Clock Inn and the recycling centre. The footpath has become so overgrown that it is barely possible to walk along it without stepping into the roadway and hindering a Clock Inn resident from carrying out his routine litter picking. WH said that he would report this to WC’s parish steward scheme.

  1. 7. Dog fouling

The PC had received a complaint about dog fouling along the track to the north of the village along the route of the old railway line. Dog owners are urged always to carry a bag with them to pick up their dog’s mess. They are also reminded that this track is on Frank Edwards’s land and is not a public right of way. (Since the meeting, the owner has informed WH that he has no objection to villagers walking along this track.)

  1. 8. Reopening of the church

CB informed that the church had just had its first service after lockdown at which hymns had been sung. 

A discussion followed on whether the PC was able to support the church financially after a year during which it had been unable to generate any funds due to the Covid lockdown. CL said that PC funds could only be used to support secular activities such as social or cultural events held in the church and organised on behalf of all village residents.The replacement of  the church pews by chairs allowing them to be rearranged for concerts or events was discussed. This would make the church much more suited to uses other than just church services. The initiative for implementing such a scheme should come from the PCC and if so, the PC could consider contributing to it. CL said that if the PC wished to hold its meetings in the church, he would support paying the church to do so.

  1. 9. Local Covid review

CB reported that now government restrictions had been lifted, there was nothing to report..

  1. 10. Devizes Gateway Station

WH had spoken to Catharine Symington, consultant to Devizes Development Partnership, to get an update on progress with the station planning process.  She reported that the draft Strategic Outline Business Case document had been submitted to Department for Transport in May and comments on this have been received by WS Atkins, DDP/WC’s consultant, who are currently reviewing them.The revised submission date of the final document will be notified shortly. The final decision by DfT on whether to proceed with the project is expected within a month of resubmission. At this point, Catharine will arrange a meeting with Stert, Etchilhampton and Urchfont to present the findings.

  1. 11. Cancer Research Car Boot Sale

CB reported that the Car Boot sale will be held on Saturday 11th September. Village residents are encouraged to take a stall costing £25. LB said she would be taking a stall. CB will be grateful for volunteers to direct traffic and the PCC will be arranging its usual tea and cakes sale. 

  1. 12. Future Events

It was confirmed that the PC would hold its traditional Christmas party, the date and details to be arranged in due course.

  1. 13. AOB

13.1 HM’s Platinum Jubilee. WH had received notification from the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire that the Queen’s platinum jubilee will be celebrated by lighting beacons on 22nd June 2022. Stert’s participation in this celebration will be discussed further at a future meeting.

13.2 It was decided to ask members of the public who wish to attend PC meetings to notify the Clerk of their intention to do so at least two days in advance.

13.3 LB asked for volunteers to help clear the footpath across the railway line to Urchfont which had become overgrown with brambles.

  1. 14.Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 11th October.

Minutes of PC Meeting, 17th May 2021



held in Stert House on 17th May 2021  


  • 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 face to face with 2 members of the public attending using Zoom.

  1. Reelection of PC members

The Clerk opened the meeting with the following statement. In the recent elections held on 6th May, there being no other candidates putting themselves forward for election to Stert Parish Council, the present council members were duly elected and will continue in their present positions on the Council for the coming term.

  1. Apologies for absence  

Alick Edwards and Philip Whitehead sent their apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 1st March 2021 were agreed, proposed by CL and seconded by LB, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that the annual precept of £1500 for the year 2021/2 has been received. The balance now stands at £4,551.80. confirmed by WH in the passbook. The balance includes the £500 already committed to Stert PC’s contribution to the A342 speed limit implementation. It also includes £150 earmarked for the next phone box renovation.

The parish insurance is now due for renewal. We are entering the second year of a 3 year long term agreement so the renewal premium is unchanged at £228.43. This includes insuring the phone box for the sum of £3000. The replacement value of red phone boxes is increasing and my research suggests we should insure it for the sum of £4000, which would cost approximately £8 more, making the renewal premium £236.41, slightly over the budgeted figure of £230. LB asked for authority to renew for the sum of £236.41. This was unanimously agreed.

LB informed that Neville Burrell, our internal auditor, had approved the accounts. She sought authority to buy him the usual gift of 6 bottles of wine to the value of approx. £60. This was also unanimously agreed.

  1. Approval of PC governance and accounts

LB had previously circulated a letter from Neville Burrell confirming the accounts have been prepared correctly. This letter was highly complimentary about how meticulously the accounts had been prepared, the the PC unanimously gave a vote of thanks to LB for her work.

6.1   Approval of certificate of exemption from an external audit, as both our income and expenditure are below £25,000. This certificate asks for a generic email address, which we don’t have. Instead LB gave her own (

6.2.   Approval of financial governance statement. CB read out the 9 questions the PC is required to answer, confirming that there is a sound system of internal control, including arrangements for the preparation of the Accounting statements. 

6.3.   Approval of the Accounting statements. LB handed each councillor a copy of the parish accounts, from which the accounting statement has been produced, and which has been approved by Neville Burrell.

Finally, LB pointed out that the internal auditor, when completing his form has new questions to answer this year. The most important one asks him to confirm: ‘ the authority publishes information on a website in accordance with the transparency code for smaller authorities’. LB has a copy of the transparency code. It is important that all documents relating to the PC’s accounts (including the notice re the exercise of the public’s rights to inspect the accounts) are published on the stertparish website.

  1. Stert Village Party

At the previous PC meeting, it was proposed to hold a village party to celebrate the release from lock-down sometime in July. However, in view of the uncertainty about the final opening up of Covid restrictions, it was agreed to postpone setting a date for the party until after the final milestone in the road  map on June 21st.

  1. A342 speed limit

WH reported that April’s CATG meeting had been cancelled and the next meeting was scheduled for 27th May. At the previous PC meeting, Philip Whitehead said he would attend this meeting and seek approval for implementation of the speed limit following the PC’s undertaking to contribute £500 towards the cost. AH said that Urchfont had recently obtained approval for a new speed limit to the east of the village in a few months whereas the present case had taken over a year and was still not approved by WC.

  1. Reopening of the church

CB informed that the church would reopen for services on this coming Sunday. Services would be held fortnightly. A wedding had been held at the church last weekend, the first in over a year. CB expressed his thanks to Richard Curtis for his excellent communications skills during the lockdown period. He also thanked LB for her fund-raising plant stall She has raised about £200 this spring.

  1. Planning matters

CB reported that there were no current outstanding planning applications.

11. AOB

11.1 CB referred to the minutes of the previous meeting giving the timeline for the proposed railway station studies at Lydeway. The current fact-finding phase was due to have been completed at the end of April. This will then be followed by a four month evaluation period by Network Rail and GWR before a decision is taken on whether to proceed with the detailed design phase. AH said that nobody at the Clock Inn had been contacted by the consultant’s team.

11.2  CB asked if anyone had been in touch with Sam Deacon about representing Stert at WC’s webinar on May 25 about  Wiltshire Green and Blue Infrastructure and Climate Strategies, Sam had applied for an invitation but was refused as not representing a stakeholder organisation. LB said she would contact Sam to see if she could represent Stert instead. Post meeting: LB applied to join the webinar but was also refused, the organiser explained the webinar is not intended for PCs!

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 16th August.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

Proposed New Railway Station at Lydeway

Notes on Meeting of PC with Devizes Development Partnership (DDP)

held in Stert House on Monday 13th July at 6 pm


DDP: Iain Wallis (IW), Richard Gamble (RG)

Stert PC: Clive Boyes (CB), Alick Edwards (AE), Lucy Barker (LB), Ann Harris (AH), Chris Lawrence (CL), William Howkins (WH)

The meeting was held between two members of the DDP and Stert PC. The meeting was called by DDP to update the PC on the status of the proposals for a new railway station at Lydeway.

Richard Gamble introduced himself as a director of the DDP, a Wiltshire councillor and chairman of the Devizes Community Area Transport Group (CATG). Ian Wallis is chairman of the DDP and a Devizes businessman.

In February 2018, when DDP (represented by Peter Lay) last briefed the village on their proposals, a plan was shown for a station, comprising two platforms with a foot bridge linking them and a large carpark adjacent to the station. The access road was shown branching off the A342 just below the Etchilhampton turnoff and after swinging in an arc northwards into the field belonging to Richard Hill, then running parallel to the railway line. The station and car park were shown on the north side of the railway by the existing airstrip. Also shown on the plans was a housing development in Richard Hill’s field. The proposal for the housing development was strongly opposed by members of the audience at that meeting. A response as part of the consultation for the renewal of the GWR franchise was submitted by DDP to Network Rail in February 2018 in which the new station was proposed.

At Monday’s meeting, RG summarised the changes that had occurred since 2018. Devizes was the largest town in Wiltshire which is not served by rail and DDP had received strong support for the proposal from Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, who thought that it would stand a good chance to receive funding from the Government’s £500 million fund to help towns develop plans for new railway lines and stations. Devizes is estimated to have a population of 37,000 by 2026.

What is needed now is for DDP to complete the study to prove the economic and technical feasibility of the scheme. He explained that the developments in rolling stock offered an opportunity to achieve an hourly service for Devizes, The existing long distance trains were too heavy and slow to stop and start and were not suited for stopping at smaller country stations. A new generation of five coach binary trains, electric/diesel powered, which were lighter and more powerful, could operate an hourly service stopping at Gt. Bedwyn, Pewsey, Devizes, Frome and Westbury. This was entirely feasible and there was sufficient capacity on the line for such a service without conflicting with the through fast service London-Reading-Newbury- Westbury-Yeovil etc.

A key feature of the proposals was connectivity with the north/south services operating through Westbury. This would offer a service to Bath and Bristol,  as well as south to Southhampton. RG said that in discussions with GWR, they had shown interest in the proposed new station and saw an opportunity to take some of the traffic load off the congested Swindon line.

IW explained the need for businesses to attract skilled workers to work in Devizes. At present there was a definite constraint in attracting qualified staff due to the lack  of a rail service to the town. He also said that international visitors were put off attending meetings in Devizes as it was not served by a rail. RG said that from his time as WC Councillor for education, he found that a much smaller percentage of school leavers in Devizes went on to further education than elsewhere in Wiltshire due to the lack of a  rail service. He also stressed the importance of a rail connection for the development of tourism in Devizes, with its archeological sites, the canal and the open landscape. Whilst the station would serve commuters travelling from Devizes, that is not intended to be its primary function.

The Devizes station project is one of 10 schemes in the country that has been approved to make a ‘strategic outline business case’ for a station. RG informed that a consultant, WS Atkins,  had just been selected to carry our the feasibility study. DDP had received £50,000 from the Department for Transport (from a ‘Restoring your Railway’ fund) and Wiltshire Council  had pledged £25,000 towards the cost of the study. The study is due to be submitted by the end of September. He emphasised that at the present stage, no definite plans had been submitted and all options were on the table as far as layout, access road etc, was concerned.  The only thing fixed was the location of the station by the airfield opposite Lydeway as this was the nearest level straight section of track to Devizes. There would have to be access by sustainable means, so a cycle path between Devizes and the station would be essential. The route is currently undecided. 

He also stated categorically that the housing shown on the 2018 plans were not part of the project and there was no way that such housing would be considered in open countryside. Peter Lay is now only  involved peripherally. Danny Kruger has stressed that this project should be identified with community involvement and that was why DDP had wanted to meet with Stert PC. LB pointed out that the original plan, showing the housing development, were still shown on the website and suggested that this drawing should be removed so that it was quite clear that this was no longer being considered.

At this stage, it was thought that the project would cost around £15 million and that it could be built in five years.