BUDGET 2020/21

Agenda for PC meeting, 14th December 2020

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

1. Apologies

2. Declarations of Interest

3. Minutes of previous meeting

4.Treasurers report

5.Precept for 2021/2022

6. Stert PC annual party

7. A342 Speed limit 

8. Reopening of Church

9. Land at Stert

10. AOB

11. Date of next meeting

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

Please would members of the public who wish to comment on this Agenda please advise the Parish Treasurer by email to lucybarker23@hotmail.com       

by Monday 14 December 12.00pm.

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


held in Stert House on 30th October 2020  


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

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

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

  1. Apologies for absence  

There were no apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.  

  1. Planning application 20/08044

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

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

The following response to WC was agreed at the meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

Redhorn News, November 2020

Redhorn News, October 2020

October 2020 single pages digital

Minutes of Annual PC Meeting, 7th September 2020

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


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

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

  1. Apologies for absence  

Alick Edwards sent his apologies.

  1. Declaration of Interest  

There were no declarations of interest.  

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

  1. Treasurer’s Report

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

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

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

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

  1. Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

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

  1. Stert Website

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

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

  1. A342 Speed limit

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

  1. Closure of the Church

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

  1. Lockdown review

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

  1. AOB

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

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

  1. Next Meeting

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

Website Accessibility Statement

Accessibility statement for stertparish.com

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

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

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

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

How accessible this website is

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

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

Feedback and contact information

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

  • call William Howkins on 01380 729 638
  • email william@whowkins.com

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

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

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

Enforcement procedure

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

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

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

Compliance status

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

Non-accessible content

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

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

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

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

Disproportionate burden

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

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

Navigation and accessing information

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

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

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

Interactive tools and transactions

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

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

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

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

PDFs and other documents

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

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

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

Live video

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

Preparation of this accessibility statement

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

Minutes of PC Meeting, 13th July 2020


held in Stert House on 13th July 2020


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

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

  1. Apologies for absence  


  1. Declaration of Interest 

There were no declarations of interest.

  1. Minutes of previous meeting

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

  1. Treasurer’s Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Land at Stert

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

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

  1. Stert Website

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

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

  1. A342 Speed limit

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

  1. Closure of the Church

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

  1. Lockdown review

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

  1. AOB

There were no items of the other business.

  1. Next Meeting

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

Proposed New Railway Station at Lydeway

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PC Accounts 2019/20

PC Accounts 2019:20