This report first appeared in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald.
The meeting of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council in January opened with the Chairman, Anne Prior, reporting on meetings she had attended in December with different County and District Council officers, none of which had produced satisfactory outcomes. She was unable to report any progress on implementing the Safer Routes to Schools policy, improving and cleaning the underpass nor tackling anti-social behaviour in the area of the underpass. In addition, the long-awaited leases from Walton Estate had still not materialised. The only good news she was able to impart was that Stagecoach, the bus operator, had introduced a new improved timetable and were willing to meet with the Parish Council to discuss any outstanding issues with the bus service to the village.
In public questions, a resident raised concerns about safety of children accessing the new play area in Copeland Avenue. He stated that the drainage ponds beside the play area are not adequately fenced, there are no signs warning of deep water nor any life-saving equipment available. Councillors Jackson was able to respond that the residents of the area are aware of the problems and are currently forming a residents association to negotiate with Persimmon Homes on this and other issues of concern to residents. Councillors Barratt and Kendall are also members of the new association.
Another resident queried the provision of salt gritting bins in the village stating that the footways had been extremely dangerous in the recent bad weather. The Chairman explained that the County Council are willing to provide salt but it is up to residents and local businesses to supply a bin and spread the salt. This had happened in the shopping precinct.
County Councillor Anne Parry reported that work on the long-awaited medical centre starts on Monday 15th January. She also reported that Wellesbourne Primary School is getting £900,000 of funding to provide some temporary classrooms on the main site, and a small hall and servery on the Infants’ site so that the children do not have to be escorted to the main building every day for their lunch.
The recommendation from the Finance Committee to raise a precept of £225,000 in 2018 – 19 was approved. This is a 1.5% increase but with the additional housing in the village, the rise will be very small for householders. The Council also approved some tree and shrub work to be carried out in the Mountford Sportsfield and the Dovehouse playing field.
The Council decided to repeat its objection to a planning application for an agricultural dwelling at Friz Hill Barns on the grounds that the need for such a dwelling had not been established. The application to vary the consent for the new medical centre to allow work to commence on site prior to the new access being constructed was supported by the Council. The new access will be completed before the new building is occupied. This has the advantage of maintaining the lay-by for public parking whilst construction takes place and enables work to start on site without further delay.
Finally the Chairman reported on a meeting with the Sports Association at which the condition of the land between the Bowls Club and the Cricket Club was discussed. Because of the number of vehicles using the land for parking and to deliver to the clubs, the grass has become deeply rutted, muddy and dangerous to pedestrians. The Council has been advised by the District Council that any form of hard surfacing would require planning permission as it is a change of use and is unlikely to succeed, as well as being very expensive. Also, the Council should not be seen to be providing a car park for a private club – any hard surfacing would have to be open to the public which would cause other conflicts. The Parish Council is reluctant to spend money on remedial measures if they prove to be only temporary in effect. Even relevelling and reseeding will require the land to be closed for up to a year.
The Sports Clubs, on the other hand, wish to maintain access to the area at all times but only to users of the two clubs, although their right to use it is only at the discretion of the Parish Council. If the Council were to prohibit access it would cause parking problems in surrounding streets as well as difficulties for disabled people. The issue was discussed at length during the Council meeting but no solution to the problem was found.