This report first appeared in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald.

This month’s Parish Council meeting was held in the new Wellesbourne Sports and Community Centre (WSCC) which was opened to the public in early January. Councillors and members of the public expressed their positive views on the quality and range of facilities available within the new Centre. So far, 73 people have joined the gym and interest has been shown by a variety of groups for making use of the available meeting space.

In the open forum session, a member of the public raised continuing concern about the inadequacy of signage to deter traffic from entering the one way system between Warwick Road and Church Street in the wrong direction. Another “near-miss” incident was reported to have occurred recently. Councillors shared this concern and resolved to raise this matter again with the WCC Highways Department.

Another issue was raised about, what appears to be, an encroachment by the housing development on the previous Equidebt site onto land owned by the County Council. A check is to be made with the WCC Highways Department by Councillors as to whether the current use of land was agreed and, if not, whether changes in layout or some form of compensation might be appropriate.

A revised housing application for 4 new houses on the site of the existing Medical Centre was reviewed by Councillors. The changes from the previous version appeared to relate to a challenge by the site architect of statements made by the WCC Highways Department regarding the adequacy of parking. The Parish Council agreed to reaffirm their previous position of objection to the development in its current form. A brief discussion took place about Wellesbourne Airfield but no new information was available beyond that already stated in the local press.

Councillors approved the Parish precept for the year 2017/18 at £221,700 (plus a tax grant from SDC). This represents an increase from the current year which typically breaks down to be about £10 per household to cover the £200,000 loan to enable the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) to be built as the next phase of the sports and community centre, and a further approximately £20 per household to cover rising costs and reduced Government support funding.  The expectation is that work on the new MUGA will begin in March and should be complete by mid-year. This will provide much needed floodlit football pitches and tennis courts.

Concern was again raised about the extent of dog fouling around Wellesbourne and Walton, and in particular, on the Mountford sports field. Councillors are considering ways in which to raise awareness of this issue within the community. A key initiative being developed is to organise a six-week “Spring offensive” campaign, to include publicity and possibly a “Dog Day” event, against the small number of irresponsible dog owners who routinely do not pick up mess created by their dogs.

The local community action group OSCARS have advised the Parish Council that they have secured additional funding that would permit an additional 2 benches being placed within Wellesbourne. Councillors are to provide suggestions as to where these benches might most appropriately be placed.

There was general agreement that the Christmas lights around Wellesbourne were a great success this year. The Parish Council has received numerous messages of congratulations including from shop holders who felt that the Christmas trees placed in the Precinct area were very attractive and most probably led to greater footfall and an improvement in their business. In addition, the Methodist Church felt that the lights encouraged more people to visit their Christmas tree festival which was better attended than in previous years.

A draft report has been prepared which promotes the view that the hamlet of Walton and its surrounding area should be designated as a conservation area. Councillors supported the recommendation that this draft should be sent to the SDC Conservation Officer to seek views on the adequacy of this proposal.

A meeting has taken place between Councillors and the youth groups within Wellesbourne. The key issue relates to where the youth club, scouts and guides might meet. An option being considered is the refurbishment of the existing hut behind the Village Hall. Assessments are first of all required to establish whether any asbestos is present within the hut which will influence the viability of refurbishment rather than pursing alternative options. It was noted that the scouts have funding to build a new premises for their exclusive use and they are proposing that this could be located on land to the rear of Mountford Primary School at a raised elevation to avoid potential flooding.

Chedham’s Yard representatives reported that their Christmas open day was a great success with over 100 visitors and, despite free entry, led to the highest ever amount of takings as a result of sales of gifts and refreshments in the café.   The Yard is currently recruiting a “Young People’s Learning Officer” who will take responsibility for developing, promoting and delivering activity based sessions for pre-school, school and community groups in the daytime.

Concern was expressed about the extent of vehicles routinely parking on pavements which cause an obstruction for pedestrians and a potential safety hazard for people with push chairs etc. Councillors agreed to take up this issue with the relevant authorities to establish what can be done.

The Annual Parish Meeting will take place in the Village Hall on Wednesday 22nd March. Suggestions for speakers are being reviewed by Councillors.

As a final point, special note was made of the excellent gesture made by the Wellesbourne Wanderers youth football club who donated gifts to young people in the Children’s Ward at Warwick Hospital over Christmas. This was acknowledged as a truly wonderful thing to have done, particularly as some of the club members helped to hand out the presents. All present felt very moved and proud of what these young people had done.