Minutes of the Great Staughton Annual Parish Assembly held on 6th April 2016 in the Village Hall
Present: Councillors – Sir Hugh Duberly (HD) (Chairman), Janet Bowen (JB), Kevin Fisk (KF), Geoff Gilbert (GG), Bob Jewell (RJ), David Moore (DM), Will Mumford (WM), Anthony Withers (AW), Nicole Yates (NY). Dianne Palmer (Clerk)
Parishioners: Michael Askew, Frank Backhouse, Pat Backhouse, John Bashford, Dennis Clarke, Rev Judi Clarke, Eileen Gilbert, Guy Freeman, Helen Glanville, Roger Harding, Norman Hardy, Patrick Harris, Olive Hynes, Paddy Hynes, Mike Keeble, Shirley Mockford, Mike Mockford, Andy Moulds, Emma Mumford, Audrey Newman, David Palmer, Janet Perrett, Ann Price, Dundas Rhind, Sue Roseblade, Ivy Sturgeon, Ralph Walter, Sheila Wells, Dennis Wells, Phil Yates, Mervyn Young, Judy York, and Peter York.
Peter Downes (County Councillor), Sgt Kevin Thorne (St Neots Police) were also present.
Chairman’s Address: The meeting opened with the Chairman giving a warm welcome to everyone including the 3 new Parish Councillors elected in 2015: Kevin Fisk, David Moore and Nicole Yates. HD also mentioned this is the last meeting Dianne Palmer is attending as clerk and Mrs Jo Reid, the new clerk, will be in office later in the month. A display of old photos and old issues of Life were placed around the village hall and HD thanked RJ and AW for putting this together.
HD expressed his thanks to everyone in the village who helped to keep it looking such a picture and in particular John Harrison. Special thanks were also expressed to those who carried on John’s good work when he was ill during the summer of 2015, in particular Guy Freeman who volunteered on behalf of the community and to David Hoenig. HD congratulated everyone involved with the litter pick which was organised by AW and WM. It seems that the amount of litter is gradually reducing and HD expressed his thanks to all of the volunteers.
Another major work in the village in 2015 was the installation by Anglian Water of the sewage works in Dillington which is quite an improvement. The Parish Council was pleased with the way the contractors left a very good finish and HD understands the Dillington residents are delighted. The Parish Council has been successful in obtaining a grant toward a new Zebra Crossing on Green Lane and this will be installed during 2016.
The Parish Council wish to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday and, having distributed mugs to village children in the past, decided to give a commemorative medal to each child in the village of primary school age and below.
1. Apologies for absence: received from Suzi Whiting, Jo Philpott and Vicky Goldsmith.
2. Minutes of the last Parish Assembly held on 16th April 2015 were agreed as a true record and signed.
3. Matters Arising There were no matters arising.
4. Skateboard Facility It was pointed out that the skateboard facility has always been run by Hunts DC who have taken responsibility for the maintenance and insurance. However, they have now withdrawn this support and the Parish Council has taken over full responsibility. Unfortunately the cost of the insurance is quite high and the Parish Council is seeking quotations for this facility.
5. Parish Accounts Village Precept – A copy of the budget upon which the Precept application was based was circulated prior to the meeting. Bob Jewell (RJ) said that the money that the Parish Council requests each year for the precept makes up a relatively small part of the Council Tax and is approximately £1.00 per week per household. The bulk of the money is used to keep the village looking attractive, the next cost is the clerk’s salary and admin expenses, followed by street lights and grants to community facilities such as the village hall, Life, the Pavilion, etc. A contribution will have to be paid towards the zebra crossing and this was included in the budget although this will now come out of the 2016/17 expenditure. The budget shows costs in the region of £18,825 were anticipated and the precept application was for £16,500 as some reserves are held by the Parish Council. At the financial year end for 2015/16 the reserves stood at approx. £20,000 but approximately £5,000 of this will go towards the zebra crossing. Dennis Wells said that although the the amount collected by the Parish Councilincrease was small, the increase this year and in previous years was large.
Hhe wondered whether it was due to the District and County Councils passing down some work. RJ agreed and said a specific examples of this was the skateboard now being part of the Parish Council’s role and the burden of Council tax benefit now falling on the Parish. RJ also said the reduction in maintenance levels by both the District and County Councils resulted in increased costs to the Parish.the maintenance of the verges in the village which was done by the District Council. Roger Harding queried whether the zebra crossing was actually going to take place and he was informed that the Parish Council has been assured that it will be installed. Roger Harding asked why the County Council did not replace all of the street lights in the village and RJ explained that a number of street lights have always been the property of the Parish Council. HD thanked RJ and said that he believes villages will have to do more work themselves in future.
Playing Field – Bob Jewell (RJ) circulated the accounts prior to the meeting and mentioned there was a surplus of £459.92 for the year. A grant was received from the Parish Council and also from Amey Cespa for major work carried out on the pavilion. Further income was received through various clubs and users. RJ expressed concern that the number of regular users has decreased which will mean a reduction in income for the next financial year. At present the Playing Field committee holds a reserve of £1,600.92. Pat Backhouse asked why there was a reduction in the income from Piglets and RJ explained that they stopped using the middle room as they felt they no longer needed it. MY proposed that the accounts be accepted, seconded by AW and carried unanimously.
Parish Charities – Eileen Gilbert said that the income comes to the Parish Charity from 2 parcels of agricultural land and dividends. The opening balance was £11,110.42, with an income of £5,619.72 and expenditure of £5,220.58 leaving a closing balance of £11,509.57. Grants went to the village school, Piglets, the Youth Club and also to support a young person through ballet school. The accounts are audited by Tom Sayer who has been doing this since 1983 and Eileen Gilbert expressed special thanks to him for his work. Mr Sayer would like to step down now from auditing the accounts and Eileen Gilbert invited anyone who might be willing to do this to contact her. NY proposed the accounts be accepted, seconded by KF and carried unanimously. HD mentioned an increase in the rent from charity fields which has given the Parish Charities additional funds to distribute.
Village Hall – Helen Glanville presented the audited accounts for 2015 mentioning that there was an opening balance of £3,746.00, plus income of £8,311.00 and less expenditure of £8,041.00, leaving a surplus of £225.00. Thanks were expressed to the Parish Council for their grant. Helen Glanville thanked Kathy Wilson for kindly auditing the accounts. GG proposed the accounts be accepted, seconded by JB and carried unanimously. Maintenance work is needed on the village hall and grant applications will be submitted to cover this.
Life Magazine – Helen Glanville presented the audited accounts for 2015 which opened with a balance of £5,622.00, plus an income of 4,321.00, less expenditure of £4,879.00 and ended the year with ££4,921.00 in the bank. Roger Harding asked whether money could be saved by not delivering Life to households who do not wish to receive it. A reduced price had been obtained for the current print run and it was felt the proposal was not feasible. HD expressed thanks to Helen Glanville and to the two Editors for their hard work. HD thanked everyone for presenting the Parish accounts.
6. Reports from County & District Councillors and the Police Sgt Kevin Thorne informed the meeting that crime was down in the Kimbolton and Great Staughton area with 78 crimes reported compared with 91 during the same period last year. Policing priorities have changed to focussing on emergency responses and the emphasis moving from detecting crime to looking after victims of crime and safeguarding vulnerable people. At present the area is covered by Sgt Thorne, plus 2 PCs and 6 PCSOs. Sgt Thorne said how important it was to notify the police of any suspicious activity spotted in the village. Notification can be done by ringing the 101 number, or the local neighbourhood watch group (Frank Backhouse 01480 861167) or, if difficulty is experienced on the 101 number, email Sgt Thorne. It is important to give as much information as possible such as car make, registration, and colour. There has been an increase in the number of patrols in the village with some plain clothes police visiting too. Ralph Walter asked whether results are being achieved. Sgt Thorne said that it is extremely difficult to catch burglars but they do have some leads on the most recent burglaries which took place last week. AW suggested that there may be a connection with delivery vehicles and could any checks be carried out on those delivering in the area. Sgt Thorne said they do not have sufficient resources to carry out such a major exercise. WM expressed concern with the 101 service and Sgt Thorne said if you feel your report is not being recorded please email him on Kevin.Thorne@cambs.pnn.police.uk.
Peter Downes (PD) circulated a printed report and drew attention to the points he thought relevant to the meeting including the changes as a result of the boundary review. Following the next County Council election in 2017 Great Staughton will be in a new division of 23 parishes and Great Staughton will be part of the Alconbury and Kimbolton ward.
A proposal has been made by central government that Norfolk Suffolk, Peterborough and Cambridge should be part of a Devolution package which would require a directly elected Mayor for the area. Cambridgeshire County Council are not supporting the suggestion as they do not feel another layer of government is cost effective or beneficial.
PD also expressed his concern regarding education and services for older people going forward. He felt that local communities will have to provide more support, possibly on a voluntary basis. He also reminded people that, following the change to provide free school meals for all infant school pupils, those families who were entitled to the Pupil Premium still need to register so that the school will receive an additional £1,300 per pupil. Mervyn Young asked whether it would be feasible for the village to provide a nurse to support elderly and vulnerable people in the village if this service is withdrawn. This could be quite difficult to implement. HD thanked PD for his continued support and mentioned his regular attendance at the Parish Council meetings and backing for the Highway Improvement applications.
Frank Backhouse spoke on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch in the village and said that the volunteer numbers are decreasing. He asked for suggestions as to how to attract more support and also what people wanted from the group. Frank Backhouse also asked whether the residents still want this organisation to continue to operate in the village. The steering group feel there is a need for new volunteers or NHW may collapse. HD on behalf of the Parish Council thanked Frank Backhouse and said the Councillors felt that NHW is absolutely essential. Any suggestions, please contact Frank Backhouse on 01480 861167. AW asked if there is anything NHW would like to see done and what would help matters. Frank requested that when people see anything of concern could they first report it to the police, then NHW. Often reports are going on Facebook which may alert some villagers but does not deal with the problem. Mike Keeble said a full complement of coordinators and deputies would help.
7. Village School Unfortunately no one was present to represent the school. HD mentioned that the Parish Council is very keen to work with the school and he understands that Councillor Kevin Fisk will be serving on the Board of Governors once the paperwork is completed.
8. Joanne Philpott, HACT Joanne Philpott was unable to attend due to illness so HD read a brief report to the effect that the ring and ride bus service is free with a Cambridgeshire bus pass with no restrictions on how often you use service. All vehicles are fully accessible accommodating wheelchairs, scooters, trolleys, etc Leaflets were on the table for anyone who wanted further information.
9. Community Defibrillator RJ pointed out that the defibrillator is now installed outside the front door on the village hall. Training has taken place with 13 representatives from village organisations. Each attendee was given a DVD to share with their colleagues. RJ said the equipment is really easy to use and actually talks you through the process. RJ reassured people that it is better to use the equipment even if you are uncertain. More training will take place later in the year. Frank Backhouse asked whether a list of people trained to use the equipment could be displayed and RJ thought this might be useful as long as permission is given by individuals. HD thanked RJ for his work in obtaining the defibrillator and he mentioned that the costs had been fully covered by grants from the British Heart Foundation and the Pope Charity.
10. Highway Improvement Funding Applications AW said that Great Staughton has been successful with 3 recent funding applications for Highway Improvement grants but not for the application for 2016/17 to move the 30mph sign further out of the village on The Green. Surprisingly the cost for this work was in the region of £3,000.00 and the Parish Council and County Councillor Peter Downes are seeking further information about how this is made up in the hope that the work could be done for less money. Dundas Rhind said that if the sign was moved without the correct procedure there could be legal problems.
11. Affordable Housing for Local People HD said this has been on hold for some time due to the government’s proposal to give tenants the right to buy. However, recently an exemption has been made from the proposal so that properties built on rural exception sites will not give tenants the right to buy and the charity field in the village will come under this option.
12. Highway Warden’s Report/Speed Watch Dennis Clarke voiced opposition to the proposal to move the 30mph sign further out of the village as he felt 50% of drivers ignored the current speeding restrictions. DM said the Speed Watch team have operated 12 times since the last meeting and monitored 12,000 vehicles. A total of 85 cars have been reported to the police who send out formal letters to the owners. A further 68 cars could not be reported for various reasons, one of which is that the vehicle did not match the number plate records. Dennis Clarke asked about the times these checks took place and DM said there was a range of different timings and the heaviest was 412 vehicles in an hour.
Sgt Thorne has also been in the village a number of times with the speed camera but, because he is highly visible, he only found 3 cars over the limit. Mervyn Young thought there has been a huge increase in the number of vehicles passing through the village in the last 2 years. Roger Harding thought there were fewer lorries and less speeding since the A14 opened.
13. Parish Matters Parking: HD said parking on The Highway, Vicarage Walk and Beachampstead have all caused concern with some vehicles being left in illegal and dangerous positions. Norman Hardy mentioned there used to be an arrangement with The White Hart for staff working at the Doctors’ surgery and wondered whether this could be reinstated. Janet Perrett said she has noticed several driveways which are not used by their owners. Could an arrangement be made to offer a vacant drive to a car owner?
Parish Charities Support: AW reported that the income for the Parish Charities has increased recently and following a recent meeting the Trustees would like to put in place a Bursary for local youngsters who are looking for help with further education and training. This would be available for residents of Great Staughton and Perry who are already involved in further education or training but find they need some financial assistance. The initial approach should be to The Parish Charities, c/o Mrs Eileen Gilbert, 27 Beachampstead, Great Staughton, PE19 5DX.
General Parish Matters: Pat Backhouse asked whether there would be funds available to repair the village sign. The Parish Council will look into this. Action: Clerk
NY said a new committee has been formed to try and re-establish the Tennis Club. Each Sunday from 10th April a committee member will be available at the courts at 10.30am to talk to prospective new members. The information is on the Facebook page and the village website. Please get in touch if you are interested.
Emma Mumford asked whether anything was being done about the play equipment on the playing field. NY said funding applications are being submitted by JB to replace the equipment but approximately £40,000.00 is needed.
RJ reminded everyone that Life magazine is now in its 40th year and he appealed for any historical information/photographs. He also expressed his thanks to the 2 editors for their work.
RJ told the meeting about the work done by the West Hunts Friendship Club which meets in the village hall on Mondays from 10.30 to 3.00. For many members it is the only time they go out in the week. RJ said David Palmer has been the Chair for the last 3 years and has done a tremendous job but would now like to step down. RJ said how important it is for this club to continue and said if anyone was interested in becoming the Chair could they please contact him on 01480 861259.
AW asked whether people thought the pink spray had worked and Roger Harding said the people doing the spraying felt there was less need at present.
HD expressed his thanks to everyone for attending the meeting and in particular Sgt Kevin Thorne, the Parish, District and County Councillors for all the work they have done for the village. He also thanked DM as Highway Warden, Norman Hardy and John Bashford as Tree Wardens. HD then reminded everyone present that Dianne Palmer has been the Clerk for more than 5 years and he expressed thanks on behalf of the Parish Council for her work and support in the role and presented her with a beautiful bouquet. The meeting closed at 9.05pm.