Category Archives: Minutes of meetings

PC Meeting 14th December 2020

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in Stert House on 14th December 2020  

Present:    

  • 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 www.stertparish.com

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  

Present:    

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

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

The meeting was held virtually in Stert using Zoom.

Devizes Gateway Railway Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Apologies for absence  

There were no apologies for absence.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1.  Formal complaint to Stert PC

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

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

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

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

That is the statement from the PC.  

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

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

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

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

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

  1. Treasurer’s report

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

  1. A342 Speed limit

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

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

  1. Devizes Local Plan

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

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

  1. Work needed to repair footbridge subsidence

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

  1. A342 remedial work on potholes

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

  1. Reopening the church

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

  1. Local Covid review 

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

  1. Census 2021

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

  1. Cancer Research Car Boot Sale

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

  1. Future events

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

  1. AOB

None.   

  1. Date of next meeting

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

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

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in Stert House on 30th October 2020  

Present:    

  • 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 www.meagri.co.uk

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  

Present:    

  • 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

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL 

held in Stert House on 13th July 2020

Present:

  • 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  

None.

  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

Present: 

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.

Minutes of PC Meeting, 11th May 2020

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL 

held in Stert House on 11th May 2020

Present:

  • Clive Boyes (CB),   Chairman
  • Alick Edwards (AE),  Dty. Chairman
  • Lucy Barker (LB),  Councillor/Treasurer 
  • William Howkins (WH),  Councillor/Clerk

The meeting was held outdoors in the garden of Stert House with councillors observing social distancing.

  1. Apologies for absence  

Chris Lawrence and Ann Harris and Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) sent their apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 24th February 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 in February there have been no payments and that the balance at the end of the 2019/20 financial year was £2041.97. This was confirmed by WH in the passbook. LB had since received email confirmation from Wiltshire Council that our account has been credited with £1800, being our precept for the current year. WH submitted an invoice for £36, the annual cost of the PC’s website. This was approved for payment.

4.1   LB presented a spreadsheet summarising the PC accounts. The total receipts for 2019/20 were £1747.70 and the total expenditure was £1573.44.

4,2   LB presented the Certificate of Exemption which exempts the PC from an external audit, the internal audit being carried out by Neville Burrell. Both our income and expenditure are well below the qualifying threshold of £25,000. This certificate was signed by CB and herby minuted.

4.3   The Governance Statement was read out and all the ‘yes’ boxes were ticked. It was signed by CB and WH and hereby minuted.

4.4   The parish asset register was the same as for last year and signed by CB.

4.5   Finally, the Accounting Statement, derived from the PC accounts (from 4.1 above) was signed by CB and hereby minuted.

  1. A342 Speed limit review

WH reported that CATG meeting which was scheduled to be held on 28th April had been cancelled due to the corona virus and no new date had been set for the next meeting. Until then, there was no action taken on the implementation of the speed limit.

  1. Closure of the Church

CB brought to the PC’s notice on the state of the church’s finances which had been severely affected by the lock down due to the corona virus. With the closure of the church, no collections at services have been received and its main fund raising event from the sale of cakes and plants in connection with the car boot sale had to be cancelled. The PC has a vested interest in the state of the church’s finances as it provides a social meeting place for the village quite apart from its spiritual importance. The details of the church’s finances have been posted on the notice board in the porch of the church. 

  1. Lockdown restrictions

The PC welcomed the community spirit exemplified by the Thursday evening clapping for the NHS. The PM’s roadmap to the easing of restrictions did not result in significant changes to the lockdown requirements for Stert residents. The annual Cancer Research Car Boot Sale and the Classic Car Event had to be cancelled and no new events have been planned for the village in the foreseeable future.

  1. AOB

8.1  WH had notified the PC of an application to WC by Nick Herrod Taylor of Crookwood Mill Farm to convert a tractor shed into an apartment dwelling. WH said he thought the plans looked sympathetically drawn up, in keeping with the original building and he could see no reason not to approve the application. The PC agreed with his assessment and asked him to notify WC accordingly.

8.2  WH had passed on to LB a proposal from an alternative insurer for the parish. Although marginally cheaper than our present insurer, LB recommended staying with Zurich in view of its wide experience with parish insurance nationwide.

  1. Next Meeting

The next PC meeting is scheduled to be held in Stert House on Monday 13th July 2020, at 6.30 pm.

 

Minutes of PC Meeting, 24th February 2020

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL 

held in Stert House on 24th February 2020

Present:

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

Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) 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 9th December 2019 were approved (proposed by CL and seconded by LB) and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the last meeting, there had been three items of expenditure; £45 to Neville Moody for repair of the broken glass in the phone box, £196.59 to Clive Boyes for the Christmas party and £500 to Wiltshire Council as a contribution to the A342 speed survey. The account was credited £1.49 in interest. The balance stood at £2041.97, verified by WH in the passbook.

LB advised that since this was the last PC meeting before the new financial year, the budget for 2020/21 needed to be finalised. At the last PC meeting, it was agreed to increase the precept from £1700 to £1800. The expenditure for the current year will come to £1623.44 compared with the budget of £1600. LB therefore proposed to increase the budget for 2020/21 to £1700 to allow for unforeseen costs that seem to arise every year. This was unanimously agreed.

  1. A342 Speed limit review

WH reported that he had received the notes of the recent CATG meeting held on 4th February in which it was noted that there were no members of Stert PC present. The meeting reiterated an indicative cost of £6000 for implementation of the limit. It noted that Stert was a very small parish with limited resources and should not be expected to be the sole contributor to this cost as the speed limit affected several parishes. As agreed at the last PC meeting, WH had written to WC to say the PC was prepared to contribute a further £500 towards the implementation costs (on top of the £500 already paid for the survey). CATG were seeking a contribution of 25% of the cost from the affected parishes and concluded that the other affected parishes should also be asked to contribute. The matter was shelved until the next meeting which is to take place on 28th April.

  1. Railway station at Lydeway 

CB reported on the recent DDP meeting chaired by Mr. Iain Wallis that he and WH had attended at which progress on the proposed new railway station at Lydeway was reported. Mr. Noel Woolrych reported that meetings had been held with GWR who showed interest in the scheme and Devizes MP, Mr. Danny Kruger who actively supported the proposal and would try to obtain funding to develop the scheme from the Government’s new £500 million fund to help towns to reopen railway lines and stations closed by Dr. Beeching. Mr. Peter Lay said the next step was to raise £125,000 for a study to establish the technical and financial feasibility of the project. Mr. Richard Gamble explained that the new hybrid trains running between Paddington and Great Bedwin might be extended to Westbury and could also stop at Lydeway, allowing the fast long distance service to Devon and Cornwall to bypass these stations. These technical aspects would need to be addressed in the study. Mr Lay was asked if the housing development behind Clock Inn Park was still part of the proposal. He replied that he had received such a negative reception to this proposal at the meeting in Stert two years ago that this was not presently part of the project.

  1. Tinkfield Recycling Centre

CB reported that he had recently spoken to Mr. Nigel Grist. He told CB that work on the bund had been halted by the recent heavy rains but it was planned to complete the earthworks this summer and complete tree planting in August/September. There would be no more building on the site but concreting of the internal roads would be completed. They were presently concreting the floor of the big storage building. A new concreted entrance to the site would be constructed in the summer.

  1. Classic car event

CB reported that Paula Winchcombe of Devizes Rotary Club had recently asked Frank Edwards if he would be willing to host a classic car show at Manor Farm in aid of Cancer Research UK. She proposed it should be held on the day after the Car Boot Sale to avoid unnecessary duplication of site works and facilities. Frank Edwards agreed. He, AE, LB and WH had had a meeting last week with Paula Winchcombe and Alan Truscott who informed that they expected 150 classic cars to attend, if the weather was dry. The cars would arrive at 10 am and leave at 2 pm. The Rotary Club would supply their own volunteers to marshal the event and would not need assistance from Stert residents. AE did not foresee any significant additional work for him and said he was happy to agree to host the rally. CL suggested that the PC should approach the Rotary Club for a donation to the church as a way of generating good will from the villagers for similar events in future years, as the event will cause some disruption to the village. This was unanimously agreed and CB volunteered to contact the Rotary Club.

  1. Replacement of water main on A342

AE reported that he had been notified that the work would be completed by 9th March. Wessex Water had reinstated the fields where they had worked, but AE said it would take a year for the ground to settle down.

  1. AOB

10.1  WH reported that he had received two application for tree work. Mrs. Susan Phelps had requested approval for the felling of  five small trees near the back of her garden where they were causing the boundary hedge to die. Only one tree is of any size, a whitebeam. She proposes to plant fruit trees as replacements, but this is not mentioned in her application. He proposed that the PC agree to this application subject to the new trees being planted. This was agreed.

The second application was from Mrs. Linda Ball in the Burrow to fell two conifers and prune an apple tree. One conifer is blocking the light into her front room and the other is dead. WH proposed that the PC also approve this application and this was agreed.

10.2  Brian Phelps had raised concern over the subsidence of the outer edge of the paved roadway just opposite of Manor Cottage. WH had also noticed this and said it should be reported to the Parish Steward and scheduled for repair. He promised to take action.

  1. Next Meeting

The next PC meeting is scheduled to be held in Stert House on Monday 4th May 2020, at 6.30 pm.

 

Minutes of PC Meeting, 9th December 2019

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL 

held in Stert House on 9th December 2019

Present:

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

Alick Edwards (AE) and Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead (PW) sent their apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 30th September 2019 was approved (proposed by LB and seconded by AH) and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the last meeting, there had been one payment of £300 to Alick Edwards for village maintenance as previously agreed.  The bank balance now stands at £2,782.07, verified in the passbook by WH.

  1. Precept for 2020/21

LB presented a sheet showing the receipts and expenditures for the past two years and her proposed budget for FY2020/21. It was agreed to set aside £500 for the expected payment to Wiltshire Council for implementation of the A342 speed limit (see next item). This brought the budgeted expenditures to £1420. In setting the coming year’s precept, LB recommended a 5.9% increase over last year’s precept to cover inflation and unforeseen costs bringing the new precept to £1,800. This would amount to an increase of £1.71 for a Band D council tax payer in Stert. It was noted that for Band D properties, last year Stert residents only paid £18, compared with £45 for Etchilhampton and £92 for Urchfont. In view of the above, the PC unanimously agreed to raise the precept to £1,800 (proposed by CL and seconded by AH).

  1. Speed limit on A342

WH had circulated to the PC an extract of the notes from the Devizes CATG meeting held on 5th November. Here it was recorded that the consultants, WS Atkins, had recommended that the speed limit from the entrance to Stert village to the railway bridge by Clock Inn be lowered from 60 to 50 mph. It also recommended that the stretch of the road past the railway bridge to the existing 50 mph limit at Lydeway also be lowered to 50 mph. The indicative cost to implement these changes was estimated at £6,000 of which parish councils concerned would be expected to pay 25%, ie. £1,500.

Following an enquiry by WH to Mr. Andrew Jack, WC’s Devizes Community Engagement Manager, to confirm if Stert PC’s contribution was expected to pay for the whole stretch of road as far as Lydeway, he replied that neighbouring parishes (Urchfont and Etchilhampton) would be asked to contribute. It was strongly felt by the PC that the responsibility for the safety of road users along this national trunk road should be the responsibility of the County Council and not be devolved to the parishes through which the road happened to pass. In view of these considerations, WH proposed that, as only half the stretch was within the Stert Parish boundary, the PC should write a letter to WC explaining that in view of our modest precept we should offer a contribution to the implementation costs of £500. It was agreed that LB should help WH draft this letter for CB to send to WC.

  1. Overhanging growth along Stert Lane

Mrs. Phelps and Mrs Lane had complained to CB that trees and bushes overhanging the lower lane past Orchard Cottage were scratching passing vehicles. CB said that he would get someone to cut the branches back.

  1. Tinkfield Recycling Centre

It was noted that there had been some progress since the last meeting towards completing the bund. The planting of trees was planned but had not yet started due to the recent wet weather.

  1. Lydeway Station update

It had recently been reported in the local press that all the Devizes parliamentary candidates had expressed support for the new station, but that there had been no further definite progress reported.

  1. Replacement of water main on A342

The PC noted that there had been no lengthy traffic delays due to the single lane operation along the A342  in spite of the very narrow passing lane down towards Clock Inn. The work was reported to be on schedule for completion by February.

  1. Damage to telephone box

The recent breakage of a pane in the telephone box was a mystery: no one had reported what had happened to cause the breakage. LB advised that there was a £100 deductible on the insurance policy coverage, so we need not report the damage to the insurer. WH had spoken to Neville Moody who said he could easily make the repair. CL said he would ask him to carry out the work.

  1. PC Christmas Party

CB reported that he had already received a lot of replies from residents wishing to attend the party. He asked for assistance with canapés and for CL to attend his usual barman duties.

  1. AOB

13.1  The street lamp by the phone box was reported to be flickering. WH said he would contact our Parish Steward at WC to see to its repair.

13.2  WH had just circulated a planning application WC  from Helena Carney at Rose Cottage to approve an extension at the rear of her property. As this would affect the neighbouring attached cottage (The Lofts), belonging to the Baggarleys, it was agreed that the PC should discuss the plans with them.

  1. Next Meeting

The next PC meeting is scheduled to be held in Stert House on Monday 24th February 2020, at 6.30 pm.