Category Archives: Minutes of meetings

Minutes of PC Meeting 5th December 2022

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 5th December 2022  

Present:    

Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

Also present were several members of the public.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the two previous meetings of the PC were agreed, proposed by AH and seconded by LC, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that since the meeting on 22nd August, there had been the following payments; £120 to LC for the balance the PC agreed to pay for the hire of the musician at the Jubilee party, £400 to AE for village maintenance, and £40 to Stert PCC for use of the church for the previous PC meetings. 

The PC’s balance currently stands at £4,298.49, confirmed by WH on the printed statement.

LB raised the question of the budget for the Christmas party. She proposed a budget of £150 and this was agreed.

LB also sought approval for the purchase of a tree to acknowledge the service of Clive Boyes to the village on his retirement as Chairman of the PC. He wished for an apple tree to be planted for future residents of the village to enjoy. LB had done some research and estimated the cost would be about £50, and sought agreement to spend this amount. 

The speed limit signage had at last been put up and LB requested approval to pay WC the £500 previously approved when it requested payment. This was agreed.

  1. Precept

LB presented a spreadsheet showing the receipts and payments made during the past year 2021/22, and the budget for the current year 2022/23. It also showed a proposed budget for the coming year 2023/24 totalling £1685. She therefore proposed that the precept be kept at £1800, which is far lower than Urchfont or Etchilhampton. It was unanimously agreed to keep the precept as LB proposed.

  1. Planning application PL/2022/07031 Saddlepack Farm

CL explained why he was opposed to the application. He said that he did not blame the applicants for pursuing their various planning applications but rather he blamed Wiltshire Council for not following the guidelines set out in its core strategy regarding protection of the landscape, it being classified as prime woodland/hedgerows, and for not following up on enforcement of the conditions set for the approval of the applications. Regarding the present application, his objection was that the proposed stables building was much larger than the previously approved building and was not justified just for personal use, as stated in the application. CL said he would circulate to the PC a draft comment to be submitted to WC. He then invited the applicants to respond to his statement. Mrs. Elderfield explained that they had always planned to keep 6 horses, but had previously thought that two could be kept outside. However, the ground had proved too wet for this, so they now needed stabling for all six horses. Mr. Elderfield also disagreed that the proposed revised building was significantly higher than the one previously approved by WC.

WH said he was opposed to the application on the basis of its size and LC stated that although he was aware that many people in the village opposed the application, he could see no reason not to support it.

CL, having asked if there were any further comments, called for a vote on whether the PC supported the application. The vote was two to one objecting to the application with two abstentions.

  1. Previous chairman

CL had discussed with Clive Boyes the planting of a.tree in acknowledgement of his service to the village as chairman of the PC. It was agreed that a suitable place for the tree was on the bank of the lane next to the bench just before Manor Cottage.  LB offered to purchase the tree and CL said he would draft a text for a plaque to be attached to the tree. 

  1. Tree work

Should the PC be involved in applications for tree work in the village? This was discussed and it was agreed that the PC should retain its right to object to trees being felled in the village preservation area, but would routinely leave applications to be decided by WC’s tree officer. Tree work applications would be circulated to the PC by the Clerk and commented on by email.

  1. Stert party

The party is set for 7 pm on13th December. LC reported that he would set up a marquee for the party but if the weather turned inclement he would hold the party in doors where there was room for 40 to 50 people. All the arrangements were under control.

  1. Devizes Gateway Station

WH had not been able to get an update from Catherine Symington so there was nothing new to report.

  1. AOB

11.1 Flood damage to the footbridge at the end of the village had been reported but this had since been fixed by the Greenberg’s gardener.

11.2 WH reported that Ian Roberts had offered to run a Facebook page for the village where resident could post notices of relevance to the village. The PC welcomed this initiative providing that he would set it up and run it.

  1. Next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for February 6th, 13th or 20th, to be confirmed at a future date.

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL , 16/10/22

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 16th October 2022  

Present:    

Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

  1. Attendance

All the PC members attended the meeting. The meeting was also attended by Mr. and Mrs Elderfield and several other members of the public.

  1. Chairman’s remarks

CL explained that he had called the meeting to discuss only the planning application (PL/2022/07031) for a new stables building to replace the one previously approved at Saddleback Farm. He had prepared a draft statement giving the reasons for complaint about this new application on which he sought the PC’s approval prior to submitting it to WC. Before reading out the statement, he invited the Elderfields to make any comments in support of the application but they declined to do so.

The following statement was read out by CL.

Stert Parish Council objection  to application PL/2022/07031

  1. The proposed new stables are contrary the Wiltshire Council’s Core Policy 51 in regard to the preservation of the landscape in that it is too large and poorly sited. There is an existing approved application for a stable block at 4.75m high. This application is for a much larger stable block at 6.075m high. By volume the proposed stables are an estimated 65% larger and the application is for 6 stalls rather than the 4 currently approved.  The proposed stable block has also been re-sited in that it is no longer screened from the village by a hedgerow. It is in a more prominent position closer to the village. The size and positioning of the stables compromises Core 51 (vi) ‘Important views and visual amenity.’
  2. Wiltshire Council in February 22 adopted  the ‘Climate Strategy and Green & Blue Infrastructure Strategy and Wiltshire’s Natural Environment Plan’. As quoted on the Wiltshire.gov website, Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: ‘These two strategies show just how seriously we are taking the climate emergency and the need to safeguard Wiltshire’s countryside and support nature’s recovery. We know that we have much more to do, but these strategies will help to guide us as we ensure that environmental considerations and carbon reduction are at the core of everything we do. But we can’t do this alone, and I’d urge our town, parishes and communities to get involved and make changes that will help us to reduce carbon emissions across Wiltshire as we aim to make the county carbon neutral’. (Our italics)

The proposed Saddlepack stables are in the middle of a classic Green and Blue natural landscape, containing within it Worton stream, ponds, hedgerows and a small wood.

In line with the above policy, we would hope that Wiltshire Council would seek to reduce the deleterious impact on this environment and not increase it by approving substantially larger stables.

  1. There is representation from Stert residents that significant work has started on the proposed site in advance of planning permission, despite claims to the contrary in the application. The application states that no trees or hedgerows will need to be removed. This is because it is believed that they have already been removed by the applicants. As this contention is supplied by Stert residents, we would hope the Wiltshire planning department will verify this for themselves.

In view of the fact that these stables are for private use and that no livelihoods would be threatened and in light of the above, Stert Parish Council objects to this application.

  1. Discussion by the PC

This draft objection was discussed by the PC. LC held the view that the landscape could not be expected to remain the same indefinitely and that barns and stables were commonly seen in the Wiltshire landscape. He could therefore find no objection to the proposed building. WH asked the Elderfields why the proposed stables needed to be so high and the building so large. Mr Elderfield explained that the height and size was needed for the storage of hay and straw. WH said his objection was against the size and the building rather than its proposed siting which he thought would be screened from the village by the trees. CL said he would amend the text of the draft complaint to remove the siting as an issue.

There being no further comments from the PC, CL called for a vote to authorise sending the complaint in to WC. The result of the vote was that the majority (2 for, 1 against, 2 abstentions) was for the amended draft to be sent to WC on behalf of Stert PC.  

Minutes of Meeting of Stert PC on 22nd August 2022

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 22nd August 2022  

Present:    

Chris Lawrence (CL) Chairman

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

  1. Apologies for absence

Alick Edwards sent his apologies.

  1. Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting of the PC were agreed, proposed by LC and seconded by AH, and signed by the Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

LB reported that the consultation period for members of the public to examine the PC accounts had expired. This means that the accounts for 2021/22 are now finalised.

The PC’s balance currently stands at £4,858.49, confirmed by WH on the printed statement.

Since the last meeting on May 23rd, receipts totalled £130 for various uses of the marquee, tables and chairs and £2.34 in interest.

Expenses included £236.41 to renew the PC insurance (inline with our budget) and £20 for the use of the church for the May PC meeting. The Stert Jubilee party expenditure came to a total of £481.85, the breakdown being: £100 to the Clock Inn Park as a contribution to their Jubilee party, £261.85 for alcohol and barbecue and £120 to LC to pay for the excellent musician. However this figure only represents half the cost of the musician, since LC had funded the balance. LB thought this was wrong as the musician contributed hugely to everyone’s enjoyment. She therefore asked for authority to pay LC the remaining £120 which was unanimously agreed. This would bring the total party cost to £601.85 which is over budget, but the PC accounts are in a healthy state and have received more than expected for use of the PC’s marquee etc.

LB said she had given the usual gift of 6 bottles of wine costing £59.94 to our auditor, Neville Burrell, in lieu of his fee. She asked for authority to pay Alick Edwards £400 being the annual reimbursement for his time and resources in maintaining the village verges etc. She also asked for authority to continue paying Stert PCC for the use of the church for these meetings. Both these requests were agreed.

  1. New banking arrangements

As LB explained at our previous meeting, Nationwide had advised they were closing all Parish Council accounts and Stert PC would have to find a new bank by July 30th 2022. Therefore on July 8th 2022, the PC’s account was closed and the money transferred to Lloyds Bank. This happened more smoothly than LB dared hope. She now holds a cheque book, cheques requiring 2 signatures (as agreed at our May meeting).

LB also holds a visa debit card and will also be able to do internet banking, once the extra paperwork has been completed.  She noted that she would be able to use either of these on her sole authority.

  1. Previous chairman

CL proposed that the PC should show its appreciation to Clive Boyes for his 16 years of service as chairman of Stert PC by planting a tree in his honour. It was agreed that this was a good idea and it was suggested that the tree could be planted in the field adjacent to the entrance to the village (subject to Alick Edward’s agreement) or in the field belonging to Stert House in the vicinity of the tree already there. CL said he would talk to Clive about what kind of tree and where he would like it planted.  

  1. Speed limit

WH said there was nothing further to report.

  1. Footpaths

WH had received a mail from Peter Newell of Urchfont PC about a sign that had been put up by Fullaway Farm indicating incorrectly that the footpath (Ster5) down to Ruddelbats Hanging is a “permissive footpath” rather than a full designated footpath. CL said he would talk to Amber House to get the sign corrected. WH would inform Peter Newell accordingly.

  1. Stert Jubilee Party

CL wished to express the PC’s thanks to LC and his team for the success of the Jubilee party which had been such a success and enjoyed by everyone. Special thanks should also go to Alex Cooper, and to LB and Philip Normington for hosting the party in their garden.

  1. 10. Devizes Gateway

WH reported he had spoken to Catharine Symington, Devizes Development Partnership’s consultant. She informed that the Strategic Business Case Study had passed its first assessment by DfT/Network Rail with the conclusion that more study was needed into the operational feasibility such as timetabling, required infrastructure, etc. It has also concluded that the Devizes station development is also linked to development of Westbury Station. DfT has made additional funds available for the further studies which are scheduled to be concluded by March 2023 so that DfT can make a final decision whether to go ahead with the scheme by next summer. This is taken as very encouraging news as it appears that DfT has accepted that there is a valid business argument for the new station. 

  1. 11. AOB

A Stert resident had made a complaint to WH about having to jump out of the way of a speeding driver while walking his dogs down the narrow lane through the village. His wife had had a similar experience with the same driver. While it was agreed that such complaints be made to the police, the PC would send a message to residents asking that consideration be shown to walkers and horse riders using the village lanes. 

  1. 12.Next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for 5th December.

Minutes of Meeting of Stert PC, 23rd May 2022

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 23rd May 2022

Present:    

Chris Lawrence (CL) Incoming Chairman

Clive Boyes (CB) Outgoing Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

  1. Apologies for absence  

None.

  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

CB informed the meeting that, having served the PC for 16 years as Chairman, he felt it was time to step down and hand over to a new candidate. He had made his intention to step down at his 80th birthday the previous year, but had been persuaded to extend his tenure for another year by his fellow councillors.

As CL had indicated that he was willing to stand as the new chairman, LC proposed that he be elected and was seconded by AH. This motion was unanimously agreed by all PC councillors. AE had indicated that he was willing to stand as Vice Chairman for another year. His nomination was also proposed by LC and seconded by AH and unanimously agreed.

Before leaving the meeting, CB thanked all the PC councillors for their hard work and the support shown to him over the years. WH expressed the PC’s indebtedness to him for his hard work and wisdom in guiding the PC in its representation of the village residents.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 7th March 2022 were agreed (proposed by AE and seconded by LB), and signed by CL, the new Chairman.

  1. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that since the last meeting there had been two payments, £40 to Stert PCC for use of the church for our PC meeting on 7th March. This was the final payment for FY 2021/22. For the current year, there had been a payment of £240 for the purchase of 15 Ikea chairs for village use. She reported that this year’s precept of £1800 had been received and that the account’s balance now stood at £5524.35. This was confirmed by WH in the passbook.

LB requested authority to pay £236.41 for the parish insurance, £60 for a gift to our auditor, Neville Burrell, for auditing the accounts and £20 per hour or part thereof for use of the church for this meeting. These expenses were unanimously agreed.

  1. Review of budget for Jubilee party

AH had asked the PC if it could make a contribution to the party being arranged by the Clock Inn for its residents. It was agreed that £100 would be appropriate and LB was authorised to give AH the amount in cash. LB was authorised to increase the overall party budget from £350 to £450.

  1. PC audit for 2021/22

LB reported that Neville Burrell had carried out the internal audit and had signed the internal audit report..

  1. Certificate of Exemption from external audit 

As our annual expenditure was less than £25,000, no external audit is required. The certificate of exemption was therefore signed by LB and CL.

  1. Governance Statement

CL read out the various items of compliance with governance regulations all of which were found to have been met. The form was signed by CL and WH.

  1. Agree Accounts

LB handed out copies of the PC accounts for the year 2021/22.  The total receipts for the year had been £1688.90 and the total expenses £776.35, giving a surplus of £912.55. The balance at the end of March 2022 stood at £3964.35. Approval of the accounts was proposed by LC and seconded by CL and agreed unanimously. The accounting statements were therefore signed by CL and LB.

  1. Change of bank

LB reported that Nationwide had given noticed that it would soon no longer be prepared to continue as the PC’s bank. She therefore suggested that the PC should change to Lloyds Bank since their branch in Devizes continued to offer personal service. It was agreed that the choice of bank and when to move the account was entirely at LB’s discretion. The new account would be provided with a cheque book for making payments and it was agreed that CL, WH, AE and LB should be designated signatories (LC was also included after the meeting).

  1. Speed limit within Stert

Following the posting of notices by WC of a proposed 30 mph speed limit within the village, WH had expressed objection on behalf of the PC on the grounds that the limit should be set at 20 mph or not set at all. He was informed that the limit of 30 mph was a standard speed for built-up areas, and setting the limit at 20 mph would involve another traffic survey costing the village £5000. He had therefore withdrawn the objection.

  1. Parish Steward

WH reported he had circulated an email from WC giving the dates scheduled for the Parish Steward to visit Stert. These were 21st June, 19th July, 16th August and 13th September. PC members were asked to photograph anything they would like the Steward to look at and forward it to WH.

  1. Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

LC reported that he had received 50 replies to the invitation sent out to the village and had received plenty of offers of food. Katie Elderfield had offered to supply her home grown pork sausages for which LC thanked her for the generous offer. Miles Elderfield said he could lend his grill. 

  1. AOB

15.1 AE reported that a dangerous hole had appeared at the northwest corner of the old railway bridge opposite the phone box in the village. This needed to be fenced off to prevent someone falling into it.

15.2 It was agreed that CL approach Sam Deacon to ask if she would be willing to serve again as a councillor. 

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 22nd August 2022.

Minutes of Annual Parish Meeting of Stert PC, 23rd May 2022

MINUTES OF ANNUAL PARISH MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 23rd May 2022  

Present:    

Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

  1. Apologies for absence

None.

  1. Chairman’s report

A Government directive requires that the Parish Council Chairman presents a report on Council activities at the Annual Parish Meeting.

Report

2021/2022 is a watershed year for Stert Parish Council as it marked a return to regular face to face meetings held in our Church for the first time since lockdown in March 2020.

As many other important changes have taken place, it seemed a fitting time now for your Chairman to step down which, although signalled to the Council in December 2019 had been postponed at the request of councillors.

Your present Chairman was appointed in 2006 and has therefore completed 16 years in this post. He feels honoured to have served  the Stert Community, supported at all times by a dedicated and talented team of Councillors. He leaves the Council confident that his successor will continue to ensure that Stert remains a quiet rural hamlet as set out in the Conservation Document agreed with the Authorities at the beginning of the present Chairman’s term in 2006.

Without going into detail, the Parish Council’s minutes during the Chairman’s term demonstrate the achievements by the Council in representing the resident’s wishes with various issues that otherwise could have  impacted adversely on their life in the village.

The Chairman thanks the present Council for all their help and hard work over the past year and wishes the incoming Chair every success for the future. Thanks also to our Wiltshire Councillor,Philip Whitehead, for his help and guidance.

2021/2022 Review

At our PC meeting in May 2021 following the local election, there being no other candidates putting their names forward, the present council members were duly elected.  Lewis Cowen was co-opted later in the year and his previous experience as a councillor  has already proved invaluable.

Our treasurer, Lucy Barker, has received compliments on her preparation  of the accounts by Neville Burrell, the PC auditor, who has approved PC accounts at no cost. We have duly thanked him and presented him an annual gift.

Throughout the year, Stert PC has been kept abreast of the possible development of Devizes Gateway Station which is planned to be developed in our parish near Lydeway. However at the time of writing, due to Covid, timing has slipped and no significant progress can be reported.

The Council successfully won a speed limit reduction for the residents of the Clock Inn for a section of the A342. This has now been followed by a restriction being planned for the roads in Stert Village with appropriate signage approved.

For all years starting in 2006, Stert House has been the venue at no cost for all PC meetings. However as Covid had meant that the Church had received a sharp drop in income it was decided to move PC meetings to the church accompanied by a donation for usage.

The annual Parish Christmas party, also held at Stert House for past 15 years was postponed due to Covid restrictions. This event will now be replaced by a village party on June 2 to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

After 16 years, this is my final Chairman’s report and again I thank all councillors past and present and wish Stert PC every success in the future.

  1. Financial Report

LB reported that the income received during FY 2021/22 was £1688.90 and the expenses incurred amounted to £776.35. The balance in the PC’s account on 31st March 2022 stood at £3964.35. Full details of the account have been posted on the PC’s website. This included the provision of £500 earmarked for the A342 speed limit implementation and £150 towards the cumulative reserve for the phone box renovation.

  1. Questions from the public

Miles Elderfield brought to the attention of the PC that he had been told by WC’s enforcement officer that a member of the PC had made a complaint to WC about matters relating to Saddleback Farm. He wished to raise his objection to this interference by the PC. WH denied that he had had any contact with WC about Saddlepack Farm and all the other PC members denied doing so as well. Mr. Elderfield would not say who the PC member was that had contacted WC or what was the complaint about. CL stated that the PC had kept strictly out of any matters of enforcement regarding Saddleback Farm.

There were no other matters raised by members of the public.

Minutes of PC Meeting, 7th March 2022

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in St. James’ Church on 7th March 2022  

Present:    

Clive Boyes (CB) Chairman

Alick Edwards (AE) Vice Chairman

Chris Lawrence (CL) Councillor

Ann Harris (AH) Councillor

Lewis Cowen (LC) Councillor

Lucy Barker (LB)  Councillor/Treasurer 

William Howkins (WH) Councillor/Clerk

  1. 1. Apologies for absence  

Wiltshire Cllr Philip Whitehead sent his apologies.

  1. 2. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. 3. Minutes of previous meeting

The Minutes of the PC meeting of 13th December 2021 were agreed (proposed by CL and seconded by LC), and signed by the Chairman.

  1. 4. Treasurer’s report

LB reported that there had been one item of expenditure since the last meeting, £40 paid to Stert PCC for use of the church for our last PC meeting. She requested authority to pay Stert PCC £20 per hour or part thereof for the present meeting. This was agreed. 

The account balance now stood at £4002.23. LB reminded the PC that this balance included £500 allocated to WC as Stert’s contribution to the cost of implementation of the A342 speed limit.

  1. 5. 5tatus of A342 speed limit

WH reported that he had received an email from WC advising that a notice of a public consultation for the proposed implementation of the speed limit on A342 would be gazetted on 17th March. The consultation period ends on 11th April. Comments on the proposal can be made to WC on trafficorderconsultation@wiltshire.gov.uk

  1. 6. Repair of potholes on A342 near Grist Recycling Centre

CB reported that WC had carried out preliminary repairs of the potholed section of the road by Grist’s Recycling Centre. Further more permanent works are planned in the coming months.

  1. 7. Parish Steward

CB had met the Parish Steward when he made a routine visit to the village recently. They inspected the broken drain at the junction to Fullaway Lane and the PS agreed that WC would order the repair work. WH was asked to forward the schedule of visits of the Parish Steward to other PC members so that they could raise any issues with him when he came to Stert.

  1. 8. Future use of church facilities

CB opened a discussion on the proposal to rearrange the seating in the church to make it more suitable for use as a village hall as well as serving the religious needs of the parish by removing some of the pews and replacing them with chairs which could be rearranged to suit the different functions. He felt that the village needed to be consulted either by a questionnaire or by holding an open meeting of residents. LC said that we would get more feedback from a questionnaire than from a meeting which might be attended by only the regular churchgoers and therefore resulting in a biased opinion being given. CL said that  the PC should not get involved in discussions of what should be done to the church seating as it was up to the PCC to come up with definite proposals. The PC would then be able to offer its support to the church as decided at the previous PC meeting.

  1. 9. Devizes Gateway Station

WH reported that he had spoken to Catherine Symington who informed him that she expected to hear the DfT’s comments on the Strategic Business Case report prepared by WS Atkins at a meeting to be held on 14th March. She would then report these back to stakeholders including Stert PC.

  1. 10. Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

CB reported that he had received an email from Mervyn Woods, Etchilhampton PC, relaying notes from their meeting about their planning for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations on 2nd June and asking if Stert would build a beacon. They also asked whether Stert would be interested in joining their village party. AE said he would be happy to build the beacon to which Etchilhampton residents would have course be welcome. This offer was much appreciated by the PC. However, it was also agreed that Stert should hold its own village party rather than join in Etchilhampton’s celebration as we had not held a village party during the past year due to covid. WH would pass this decision on to Mervyn. 

CB asked LC if he would take on responsibility for planning the Stert celebrations to which he agreed.

  1. 11. Purchase of folding chairs for village events

CB asked for the PC’s approval to purchase some folding chairs for village events’ use to replace those that had been broken. It was agreed that LB be authorised to purchase 15 white wooden chairs from Ikea at a cost of £15 each. She said £200 had been allocated for such expenses in the budget for 2021.

Charges for the hire of the village’s marquees were also discussed as the present charges had not been raised for a number of years. To avoid the damage caused by hiring them to people outside the village, it was agreed to limit their hire to village residents. It was also agreed to raise the hire rates to £40 for a marquee and £20 for the tables and chairs.

  1. 12. Village stream

A village resident had recently reported the discolouration of the village stream to the Environmental Agency. CB had informed village residents of this occurrence, advising them to keep an eye on the condition of the water.

  1. 13. AOB

13.1 AH reported that she had been in touch with WC to complain about the state of the footpath between Clock Inn Park and Stert village entrance as well as the blocked culvert pipe draining the main road in the dip near the entrance to the Park that had recently caused flooding of the road.  She was advised to contact Richard Dobson, Highway Engineer, in charge of the Parish Steward.

13.2 Steve Lanson-Dale, who lives in the Old SchoolHouse, has been trying to prevent his sheep from escaping from his field in front of his house. He should be contacted if they escape in future.

  1. 14. Date of next meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 23rd May 2022.

Minutes of PC meeting, 13th December 2021

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL

Held at St James Church on 13th December 2021

Present:

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

MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

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

MINUTES OF 

MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL  

held in Stert House on 17th May 2021  

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 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 (lucybarker23@hotmail.com)

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

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.