Annual Village Meeting, 2nd July 2009

OFFCHURCH VILLAGE HALL

Present

4 Members of the Public

Parish Councillors: Dave Crisford (Chair), Jane Hedderwick, Roger Sargent, David Varnish

Apologies

Apologies were received from Mo Chivers, John Denning, Jim Graham, Valerie Graham, Robert Inman and Ray Pullin.

Minutes of the last meeting

These were agreed, and signed, as a true and accurate record – proposed by Kate Sargent and seconded by Jane Inman.

Matters arising

Affordable housing – the suggestions submitted by Offchurch Councillors for expanding the scope for providing affordable housing have not been adopted by the District Council.

School House gates- in response to an enquiry, the PC undertook to pursue this issue with the owner of the property.  They will report any outcome to the Chair of the Village Hall Committee.

Highways and Road Safety – the Parish Council agreed to contact a local resident with a view to obtaining information regarding the frequency of incidents on Long Itchington Road.

Parish Plan – a decision was made in September to proceed with the Parish Plan.

Signage – the County Council have improved the signage at the lower end of the public footpath on Welsh Road.

Floral displays – it was agreed that this would be best achieved through a voluntary group rather than the Parish Council.  Jane Inman offered to investigate grant funding available for such an initiative.

Overhanging branches on School Hill – his first request having received no response, the clerk to the JPC is to appeal again to the landowners, requesting action.

Report from Parish Council – 2009

DC presented and summarised the contents:

During the year the Offchurch Parish Councillors and the wider Joint Parish Council (JPC) have continued to address a range of issues concerning highways, planning, public safety and policing, and have received presentations from officers of Warwick District Council (WDC) concerning the district’s Core Strategy and Affordable Housing Policy.

As part of our commitment to open communications with residents we place the formal minutes of each JPC meeting on the village website (once they have been confirmed at the following meeting). A summary outlining matters pertinent to Offchurch also appears in the Offchurch News as soon as possible after the meeting.

Planning

A major part of the work of the Council involves assessing the impact of, and making comments on, new planning applications within the parish.  This year we have submitted comments on a number of applications where we have had concerns  –  however, in respect of the majority of applications we raised no objections.  We are encouraged that a new planning application has been agreed (with conditions) for the restoration and extension of Holly Cottage and we hope this will lead to this important dwelling being occupied in the not too distant future. We also hope a similar planning application will be forthcoming in the future to restore the derelict barn at the rear of the cottage.  Another significant application relates to the construction of a new pavilion at the Offchurch Sports Club. We have supported the application and also made a small grant available to the Club.

Parish Plan

At the last AGM a decision was taken to ask councillors to arrange a public meeting to provide more detailed information about the merits of Offchurch developing a Parish Plan.  The meeting resulted in a decision to proceed with a Plan and at the meeting an independent Steering Group was established to begin the work.  When the Steering Group has completed draft proposals for the Plan these will be presented to the Parish Councillors who will be asked to adopt the Plan.

Highways

§ Once again our major concern has been the dangers presented by speeding traffic along the Fosse Way. We have argued for a reduction in the speed limit and the installation of ‘average speed’ cameras along the most dangerous stretch of the road. Although these suggestions have not been adopted the scheme now agreed by the Highways Department has our support.  It involves fixed speed cameras and new signage and road markings. We will continue to monitor the impact of these improvements and will urge the County Council to consider the installation of more effective ‘average speed’ cameras when financial resources allow.

§ As part of our work to address the issue of speeding traffic the JPC persuaded the Safer Neighbourhoods Panel to purchase hand held speed guns to be made available for use by Councillors.  Unfortunately the local Police subsequently raised concerns about the use of speed guns by ‘volunteers’ in situations where they felt the volunteers’ safety could be jeopardised. The upshot of this is that the police will not support us using the speed guns in the two main danger spots in the parish – Welsh Road and Fosse Way.

§ We have been asked to take up a number of other issues including the cutting of trees and hedgerows in Village Street, School Hill and Long Itchington Road., and the cleaning of gullies and footpaths.  Our efforts have resulted in some success but there are other issues where the authority of the Parish Council, and indeed other statutory authorities, is very limited, and no progress has been possible.

§ We have been successful in pursuing problems with the raised footway over the River Leam flood plane. Extensive work has been completed to reinstate the footway, improve drainage, repair the bridge and introduce new signage.

Policing and Public Safety

Following a spate of burglaries earlier this year, mainly from sheds, the Police were asked to increase the number of night-time patrols in the village.  These incidents highlighted the need for closer cooperation between the police, the public and the JPC, aimed at improving surveillance and responsiveness.  To help improve communications we have made the regular police reports – giving advice and details of incidents – more widely available for people with email access. In the long term we would like to see the reintroduction of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Other Matters

Village Field.  The JPC is responsible for the Field and has introduced new arrangements this year for the maintenance of the field and the hedge.  The cutting of both is now being undertaken by local businesses.

Telephone Box.  Following the withdrawal of the public telephone the JPC has taken over responsibility for the box. We have still to decide on how to use it but are grateful to the volunteers who are keeping it tidy on behalf of the village.

Village Hall.  Dave Crisford continues to represent the JPC on the Village Hall Committee and David Varnish acts as Charity Correspondent and leads on matters concerning the Village Field.

Finally Councillors would like to thank all those who contributed to last year’s ‘Best Village’ application. We were successful in the Environment and Health categories and also won an award in the Calor Village of the Year contest. Compliments and congratulations all round!  Buoyed by this success Offchuch has entered the 2009 competition.

Matters arising from the above report

Neighbourhood Watch Scheme – it was agreed that the need for a scheme might be best ascertained following analysis of responses to the Community Plan questionnaire.

Telephone box – a small group was identified to take responsibility for the box and put it to some community use.

Holly Cottage – the agreed planning application satisfies some boundary concerns but does not include reference to the barn or the ‘bakehouse’.

Aylesford and Haddon Charity

In the absence of Robert Inman (Clerk to the Trustees),  DV presented and summarised this report.  The Charity’s income is derived from 670 shares in the Charity Investment Funds and building society interest.  Seven grants were made in the last financial year to the total value of £205.00.  DC thanked Robert Inman for his report.

Any other business

  • a member of the public expressed ‘dismay that only four non-councillors showed the slightest interest in the village in which they live by turning up at the Annual Parish Meeting’.  This sentiment was echoed by the other attendees.
  • two members of the public proposed a vote of thanks to the Parish Councillors who ‘work very hard, throughout the year, on behalf of the village’.  The other attendees concurred with this view.

There being no other business, DC called the meeting to a close at 8.25pm.  He thanked everyone for attending.