Report of Annual Parish Council meeting, 2/5/2017

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

Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council Meeting 2nd May 2017

Last week was the annual meeting of the Council at which the Chairman, Anne Prior, was re-elected to serve for another year and Councillor Alan Shepherd was re-elected as Vice-Chairman.  New Committees were appointed along with council representatives on various other bodies and working parties.  The main committees now are Finance, Office and Staffing, Community Facilities, and the Highways, Environment and Emergency Committee.  The first task of these new committees will be to draw up their terms of reference for approval at the next Council meeting.

The Chairman reported on a meeting that took place recently between parish councillors, officers from the County Education Department, and the head and Chairman of Governors of Wellesbourne School.  The councillors were concerned that the formula used by the Education Department to predict school numbers appears to take little account of new housing completions giving unrealistically low results, and asked the officers to reconsider their findings.  The councillors also felt that communications between the officers and the school could be improved.  The Parish Council will continue to work with the school to ensure that their facilities are adequate for the number of children wishing to attend the school but accepted that funds are very short in the Education Department.

Under public questions Pat McDonaugh of Mountford Close again raised the problems caused to residents by parents driving children to and from the school.  The Chairman responded that the Parish Council had done all within its powers to alleviate the problem and could do no more unless the residents could agree a solution.  Following a complaint raised at the Annual Parish Meeting in March, the Council agreed that its seven public noticeboards need to be more tightly managed in order to make best use of the available space and a set of rules/guidelines is being drawn up to advise users of the boards.  In future each board will be overseen by a councillor who will remove any notices that are clearly of a commercial nature, are not relevant to local residents, are larger than A4, are past the date of the advertised event or put up more than a month in advance.  It was agreed to approach the developers of the newest housing estates to see if they would be prepared to provide a notice board for parish council/ public use on their sites.

District Councillor Anne Parry asked for action to be taken on the two unmown open spaces in the Frost Road area, in order to encourage children to play there rather than on the roads.  The Parish Council will approach the developer who owns the sites.  She also reported on the number of new shared ownership homes lying vacant in Wellesbourne because of the difficulty of getting mortgages.  She is urging the District Council to allocate more new housing for rent as there is a shortage of rental property in the village.  She also announced that the negotiations over the lease for the new medical centre are now concluding and work could start on site by June.

Councillor Alan Shepherd reported that under the new Council tax valuation for businesses, the Parish Council will no longer pay tax on its office as the premises were regarded as too small.  John Hargis reported that the hydraulic survey for the Neighbourhood Plan has been completed and he expects to receive a copy shortly.  He set out the programme for adoption of the plan assuming that the survey supports the current plan proposals.  All being well the plan could be adopted as early as February 2018.

Councillor Michael spoke about the Spring Offensive on dog-fouling launched by the council at the beginning of the month which is receiving a lot of attention and it is hoped will educate the few recalcitrant dog owners to behave more responsibly.

Councillor Bolton was tasked with checking the legality of the electric fencing recently erected by the landowner on both sides of the public footpath leading off Lowes Lane.    She also asked that the Council look into the feasibility of providing microphones for use at meetings as the acoustics of the current meeting place are not ideal.  Finally on a happier note, the Chairman reported that the Multi-games area being constructed alongside the Sports and Community Centre was due for handover to the Council at the end of May.