ASHAMPSTEAD PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held in the Jubilee Hall
on Monday 15 May 2017 at 7.00pm
Present: Councillors T Butcher, C Butler, R Butler and A Jeffrey
In attendance: Paul Thompson (Clerk), District Councillor V Von Celsing,
………………………… D Slack (Yattendon Estate) and one parishioner
Apologies: Councillors A Dick and A Keeley
Councillor Trudi Butcher chaired the meeting.
The Minutes of the last Annual Meeting were approved and signed by the Chairman.
I am pleased to report that one of our first actions at the Annual Parish Council Meeting last year was to co-opt Tony Keeley onto the Council following Zaz Worth’s resignation in March 2016.
The Council met seven times during the year to 31 March 2017, including one extraordinary meeting to discuss a planning application at Straight Ash. More recently, we held an extraordinary meeting to discuss a planning application at 12 Flowers Piece.
As in previous years, certain councillors agreed to take lead roles for specific matters. Alex Dick undertook police matters, Colin Butler undertook footpaths and highways, Tony Keeley took the lead on planning matters and I continued to represent the Council on ART. More recently, Rita Butler has taken over responsibility for the Village website. I would at this point like to thank Rob Barker for his work in successfully setting up the website and subsequently maintaining it. We will miss his support and contribution to village life following his move to Kent.
The Council was asked to make observations on a total of nine planning applications over the last year. One was refused but later allowed on appeal, two relating to the same property were refused but the latter refusal is subject to an appeal and the remaining six were granted planning permission.
West Berkshire Council responded again to our requests for action to reduce the flooding on the Aldworth Road by The Old Fleece and Feathers and also by Willow Tree Cottage. The Clerk continues to report potholes and other highway issues to West Berkshire Council on a regular basis. The Council is also now responsible for providing salt bins and consequently I must ask residents to ensure that the salt is only used on the hills for which the bins are provided.
The Council continues to monitor footpaths and byways, reporting problems to either the landowners or West Berkshire Council. We continue to cut the grass on the recreation ground and The Green. We have also allowed sums in the budget to meet the cost of tree surgery and essential playground repairs on behalf of ART. The Council has agreed to meet these costs until a regular hirer of the hall is found, although ART is expected to carry out works on the recreation ground that could be carried out by work parties.
Councillor Alex Dick continues to update us on police matters through the text alert system and dog watch which help to reduce local crime. These do however rely on residents being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to the police and Alex.
The Council responded, on behalf of residents, to the consultation carried out by West Berkshire Council requesting that mobile library services should continue. The Council has agreed to contribute £375 to the cost providing that the payment would guarantee the service offered.
The Council received a Community Infrastructure Levy of £2,263 which must be spent on a capital project within five years. The options currently being considered are a defibrillator and/or further play equipment such as a zip wire or new goal posts.
As regards finances, the Council had set a precept of £6,680 for 2016/17 to which was added the council tax support grant of £41. We also received the CIL payment of £2263.
Income was spent on the following items, excluding VAT:
Clerk’s salary £1,560; Clerk’s expenses and other administrative costs £510; Grass cutting £1,962; Dog waste collection £102; Donations to local charities £215; VAT paid on these items totalling £463 has been recovered in 2017/18. This resulted in a surplus for the year of £4,172 against a budgeted surplus of £1,050. The difference is largely due to the unexpected CIL payment and an underspend on Flowers Piece maintenance.
The Council’s retained funds of £9,206 at 31 March 2017 include an election reserve of £400, the CIL reserve of £2,263 and a Flowers Piece maintenance reserve of £850.
The precept for the current year was again set at £6,680 although no Council Tax Support Grant will be received in 2017/18.
I would like to thank our District Councillor, Virginia Von Celsing, for the information and support that she has given the Council on a number of matters. I would also like to thank my fellow Councillors for their support over the last year but most particularly Paul Thompson, the Clerk, whose help and advice are, as usual, so invaluable to the smooth running of the Parish Council.
The Chairman then invited District Councillor Virginia Von Clesing to update parishioners on matters concerning WBC:
Virginia reported that the District Council was continuing to face problems in managing its budgets with some services being devolved down to town and parish councils, such as library services and transport, and others that it is hoped will be shared with larger local authorities. Housing continues to be a problem with more sites being sought to meet the local development plan. This is unlikely to affect Ashampstead as we have no settlement boundary and are within the AONB. Our local MP, Richard Benyon is supporting initiatives to raise funds to provide accommodation for young people in the Newbury area. WBC were also concerned at the low life expectancy rates found in Newbury compared to the parishes in the area. Finally, Gigaclear are now promising to deliver broadband to Ashampstead by the end of August.
Anne Woodage advised the meeting that Carebus had obtained a Section 22 permit to provide its “Handybus” service to Reading. By providing a flexible routing service it is able to accept bus passes. Users will still need to phone and book the service which is provided on a Tuesday .
Anne also advised that the handrail provided for walkers where footpath 11 meets the Aldworth Road by Pyt Cottages has a crack which has been taped over. The Clerk was asked to report this to WBC.
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 7.28.