Minutes for the Annual Parish Meeting 26th April 2017

THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING OF UPTON PARISH

Held on Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 7.30 p.m. in the Upton Village Hall

  1. Present

Upton Parish Council:- Mr Stuart Fraser (Chair/SF), Miss Liz Cooper (Clerk/EC), Mr Stuart Norman

(SN), Miss Karen Marshall (KM), Mr Rob Traynor (RT), Mr Duncan Reid (DR)

PCSO Gary Kirby

14 people attended from the village.

  1. Apologies for absence

Liz Hardy (Blewbury School), Lesley Shaw (NAG), Brian Rippon (UVHAT), Duncan Reid (late arrival)

  1. Minutes of meeting held on Monday 18th April 2016

These minutes were agreed with no matters arising.

  1. Chairman’s Opening Remarks

The Chair thanked everyone for taking the time to attend the meeting and his report for the year is attached.

  1. Discussion on Annual Reports:

Reports were submitted in advance of the meeting and where the originator was unable to attend were read out by the chair.

  • Parish Council Finance – EC

The clerk gave a brief synopsis of spend over the past year and how PC finances stood for the beginning of this financial year. A question was raised as to why the precept had been raised by 23% over the last years? SF remarked that this equated to £2.95 per (band D) household and that the precept had not previously increased in ten years. As an example of costs, the new bark in the play area was £2500.

RT remarked that new garage doors would be required in the near future, although quotes had not yet been obtained.

Mike Brown asked when the burial ground loan would be repaid? ACTION EC to find out. Clerk’s note:- The burial ground loan will be paid off in June of 2019.

  • Policing – PCSO Gary Kirby (GK).

GK has recently replaced PCSO Keith Jennings in covering Upton and Blewbury. He is new to this area, but has 10 years’ experience in this area. Gary gave an update on crime in the Upton area from April 2016 to April 2017:

  • 9 burglaries from non-dwellings
  • 5 rural crimes
  • 4 sheds/outbuildings broken in to
  • 1 case of criminal damage
  • 1 case of theft
  • 1 case of a bladed article (related to rural crime)
  • 1 theft from a van

The problem of speeding through the village was discussed and GK said this was common to all villages and that resources were short to provide more time to monitoring this. GK can pass on information to the Traffic Officers if evidence continues to be provided, which may further engage traffic monitoring. GK also said he could pass on information to ‘speed watch’ people. He noted the Steventon has a speed sign installed that captures data. GK finished by saying that whilst crime in the area is low, you know your village so ‘if it doesn’t look right, call it in’.

  • Parish Transport Representative – report read by Jessie West
  • United Charities – report read by SF
  • Blewbury School – report read by SF
  • Neighbourhood Action Group – report read by SF
  • Mary’s Church – report read by Jessie West
  • UKAEA Stakeholders Meeting – report read by Derek Whitmell (DW)

DW remarked in particular that there is now nothing on the old UKAEA site that can be considered ‘hazardous’ and affect villages lying downwind or waterways. In this respect the site has been decommissioned and all nuclear materials had been removed. He also noted that more houses would be built in the area due to the increasing working population on the site.

  • UVHAT – report read by SF
  • Parish Footpaths / Village recreational grounds – reported by Graham de Wilde (GW) and Mike Brown (MB)

The recreational ground is in a good state, but the trees need to be looked at and an inspection would be arranged. The toddlers’ playground needs attention. An extension of the car park needs to be considered. The burial ground (not in use) is also kept under control. The possibility of CCTV for the village hall and rec  was raised. It was noted that dog fouling is getting worse across the whole village and pathways. MB reports on the footpaths every 6 months and the next report is due in November. Issues are reported on the village web site.

New and better signage in and around the rec and footpaths was suggested.  

  1. Update on Parish Plan 2016 – Cllr Rob Traynor

RT noted that from the Parish Plan new goal posts had been purchased and were in use, the film club

had recently started and was a success and that once the new staging was installed in the village hall,

that various productions etc could then be staged. RT will update Upton News accordingly.

  1. Open Forum

Parishioners’ comments and suggestions for the future.

RT stated that a new defib machine had been offered to the village and he was looking in to this. This

would require proper installation on the outside of the village hall and training may be required. The

PC would be looking in to the feasibility and benefits of this.

It was agreed that the facilities of the rec was bringing other people to the village.

  1. Chairman’s Closing Remarks

The chairman closed the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and for their contribution to

both the meeting and to the village.

Date of next APM meeting – Monday 16th April 2018

The meeting closed at 9.25pm.

Liz Cooper

Clerk, Upton Parish Council,

24th May 2017

Attached reports:-

Chairman’s report

Finance report

Parish Transport

United Charities

Blewbury School

Neighbourhood Action Group

St Mary’s Church

UKAEA Stakeholders

UVHAT

 

Chairman’s Statement 2017

I would like to start this year’s update with the most important asset of the Parish Council and our village

People 

One of the many things I love about our village is our community spirit.  We are very lucky to have so many organisations, clubs and volunteer groups. To think we are a small village with only 176 residences, yet we somehow manage to find people to fill the roles within each organisation/club.

On behalf of the Parish Council, I would like to thank all of the people that give up their time and energies for the benefit of the village.  It is truly appreciated, even if it is not always said out loud.

Talking of people, the Parish Council has had a few changes this year.  Dr Lott stood down from his role as Chairman, and also as a member of the Parish Council last year, which left a vacancy on the Council which has been filled by Duncan Reid, who, unfortunately, may not be able to attend tonight, but is going to try and arrive before we finish.

I have been given the “chalice” of Chairman, with Stuart Norman supporting as Vice Chair.  We also lost Angela Hoy, our Clerk, who handed the title of Clerk over to Liz Cooper, a very able replacement.  However, I have sad news which is that we will be losing Rob Traynor, who has been on the council for over three years now.  Rob has brought great insight and balance to the PC, and earlier this year spear headed the Parish Plan, which he will update you on later.  Rob, we are really sorry that you are leaving us and wish you continued success with all the other projects you are involved with around the village.

I’d like to personally thank each of my colleagues on the Parish Council for all their hard work, support and, most important of all, their precious time over the past year.  Thank you.

There are a couple of other people I would like to draw everyone’s attention to:

  • Lucy Ross, who is editor of Upton News, a challenge for any person. But Lucy is managing Upton News around her school work, which is amazing, given that she is in Year 2 of secondary school.  Well done and thank you, Lucy.
  • The other is Graham De-Wilde. Graham has taken over the management of the mowing volunteers from Mike Brown, who started the group years ago,  for which obviously we thank him.  Not everyone will realise that Graham is also the man with a baseball cap on his head, wandering around the village with a wheel barrow filled with gardening tools.  He almost single-handedly maintains the recreation ground, trees and even the sight lines out of the village hall car park etc.  So the next time you are wandering around the village, thinking how wonderful it looks, you know a lot of it is down to Graham and his team.  Thank you, Graham.
  • Brian Rippon should also be thanked, not just for his work as Chairman with UVHAT, but also for the village Website uptonvillage.co.uk, which Brian started and has maintained for the benefit of all in the village.

PLANNING

A large amount of the Parish Council year is taken up with planning applications and this year has been no different.  Most of the applications this year have been relatively straight forward.  The one exception would have to be the Gate House, where I am sorry to say that, as a PC, we feel the District Planning Department have got it totally wrong and let the village and themselves down.  The PC had no concerns with the first approved application.  That cannot be said for the subsequent applications that did not rectify any of the concerns or problems caused by building the house in the wrong position and location.

On a more positive note, Duncan and I have had a constructive conversation with the owner of Wattle farm and we are hoping to have a follow up meeting to include neighbours and the District Council, where we can agree a positive way forward.

TRAFFIC

The speed of the traffic passing through Upton on the A417 continues to be a concern. We continue to press the village’s frustration at every opportunity with the District and County Councils, along with Police, but this appears to be an uphill struggle as there are currently no resources or funds available to alleviate the problem.

Current Projects

We are currently in the process of updating and putting together a comprehensive set of documents and information to go onto the village website relating to the Parish Council and its finances.

Finances

Another part of the Parish Council duty is to set the precept.  This year, the rise was £2.95 for the whole year for a band D property. When you look at the village we live in, the assets that we have, the rec, the play grounds, the lawn mowers, the machinery etc, we are very lucky.  Unfortunately, all these wonderful assets need up keep and the costs keep rising, hence the need for the small increase.  You will note that I left out the village hall; this is managed by UVHAT, and is totally self-financing.

The major purchase for the Parish Council this year was the goal posts.  The Parish Council would like to thank Uptonogood? for the very generous donation that paid for these.

Again, it is thanks to the volunteers and the hard work of our villagers that we can keep the precept so low.  If we didn’t have the donations from Uptonogood?, or the grass cutting team cutting our rec, the charge could be a lot higher.  Isn’t it funny how we come back to people all the time, fortunately in a good way.

On that note, I will stop talking, and you can listen to other people and, later, in the meeting, there is an open forum and it would be great if you could give the Parish Council any comments or suggestions for the coming year.

Transport update for Upton PC    2017

The first Annual Meeting of the ‘Downland Villages Transport Group’ was held at Aston Upthorpe on Monday 10th October 2016.

The interim committee who had been working on behalf of all our villages’ along the 94 bus route were duly re-elected. We owe them a great deal for their dedication in seeking to maintain our bus service.

This coming July will be the end of the 12 month test period for our revised trial route, to know whether the increased usage has proved commercially viable for the bus company.

I am aware that there are more passengers, but it is hard to tell, as no bus can be full at every hour and every day.

The company listened to the various needs and produced a timetable accordingly.  They also secured the tender for transporting our children to the Didcot boys and girls schools. The council still financially supports the bus company for this, and without it they could not have embarked on this trial period.

Their efforts to provide a service for the commuters has not had the uptake expected.

That also applies to the school run, with some choosing not to use the bus anymore.

We still attend PTR meetings in Oxford. It is very noticeable how few of us there are now, as so many parishes are without bus transport altogether.

This also applies to the Astons and the Mortons’. In theory they can use the school run during term time, not what you might call convenient.

The committee has made every effort to secure a mini bus which runs every Friday from Blewbury to Wallingford, picking up from East Hagbourne, the Astons, and the Mortons etc on the way. This mini bus with capacity for 16, replaces the much loved service that ran for many years but also lost its subsidy.

The now mini bus which I think is called the Comet is part of a fleet of vehicles owned by Oxfordshire County Council and have been and still are used by volunteer drivers to transport Special Needs children and elderly to and from their respective venues, daily.

It was soon realised that as the vehicles remain parked up most of the day they could be used to alleviate some of the transport problems which parishes are faced with.

The set-up is quite different. My understanding is, would be passengers buy into a club initially, thereafter they purchase

Tickets from bespoke local venues i.e. village post offices or pubs.

The money is collected by the present DVTGs treasurer which is passed on to the council via bank transfer. The drivers do not handle the money.

This necessitated the need for the group to set up a bank account.

I believe the initial payment is for providing the bespoke tickets that users have to purchase.

This could be the way forward for us if all else fails, but we live in hope!

Jessie West PTR

 

The United Charities of the Ancient Parish of Blewbury, Upton and Aston Upthorpe

The two main functions of the charity are firstly to help people of all ages who live in the parish and who may need financial help and/or may have fallen on hard times and secondly to be responsible for the maintenance of the two almshouses in Blewbury. We are currently undertaking significant work on Alms-house no 2 due to severe flooding last autumn.

Anyone needing help or who knows of someone in need should contact the trustees. All applications are treated in confidence and are also discretionary. We are able to give financial gifts to more people than currently request help. As well as monetary gifts at Christmas the charity is able to help in other circumstances such as assisting with transport costs for frequent hospital visits, breaks for carers, items to help cope with disability and other instances where people are having difficulties paying for essential items such as school uniform. All applications are at the trustees’ discretion and looked at on a case by case basis.

The trustees’ continue to acquiring or building a third almshouse built for 21st century needs.

Current trustees are:

Blewbury: Sheila Loy (Chairman), Mark Palethorpe (Vice Chairman), Ann Dendy, Audrey Long and Jackie Maguire

Upton: Elizabeth Hardy

Aston Upthorpe: Louise Brimacombe

Clerk: Sarah Donne: moc.tenretnitbnull@ennodharas

 

Blewbury Primary School

It has been a varied year at Blewbury School with an increase in numbers, currently we have 154 on roll. We have had several children join us from Didcot especially in our Foundation year, due to the pressure of places in all local schools.  We were joined last September by Ms Sequeros from Spain, she has settled well into the school, teaching our Year 3 class. Both Mrs White and Mrs Willmott are currently on maternity leave and we were joined by Kerstin McDonald after Christmas. Since last September we have had a new leadership structure with myself, Ms Mills, starting phased retirement and only working (in theory) four days a week. Miss Costello is the co- head on the fifth day and deputy the rest of the time.

Our biodome worked quite well last year and we were able both to eat the produce at lunch times but also to sell at the village produce stall. This year we look set to achieve even greater targets and it is already flourishing. There should be plants to sell very soon at the Saturday market.  The children really love gardening and there are always many volunteers to help sow seeds and water. I’m sure as soon as tasting starts there will be many more. We are really grateful to Sustainable Blewbury who have supported this project not only by funding seeds and compost but also through their support, particularly Jo Lakeland who regularly comes into school to help at lunch times and has shared her enthusiasm and expertise.

We continue to take part in competitive sport and our Year 3 and 4 mixed football team got through to the School Games County Final playing very well. It was a great experience to compete against such a diverse range of schools. Our main team which often includes a girl and our girls’ team both played in leagues and tournaments this year with some very promising performances.  Netball has had a slightly stronger role again this year and we have also continued to encourage cross country running. One of our pupils, Josh Lewis competing at County level in the Year 3 /4 age group.

Our year 6 pupils continue to attend IMPS, which is an Injury Minimisation Programme, where they visit a local hospital, finding out about resuscitation, treatment for choking etc and the highlight is having a plaster cast put on their finger!  They also take part in Junior Citizens which takes them through building site safety, railways, electricity, fire situations as well as safety and the dangers of cyber bullying.

We continue with our European links, two members of staff attended a meeting in Germany to discuss our new project and at the beginning of March we were very pleased to host twenty four pupils in total from Germany, Spain and Finland and nine members of staff who accompanied them. The children stayed in host families and we are grateful for their commitment to our project. The children worked with eight children from Blewbury when they worked in mixed groups during workshops which all had music, as a stimulus. They had drama sessions, dance, music making, art, drumming and film making. The visiting teachers and pupils also spent time in class and of course the children mixed with everyone outside at playtimes. Everyone in our school as well as the visitors also learnt some songs beforehand even producing videos of their performance.

We have also been visited by two Lithuanian teachers and a German teacher will be staying soon. In May eight of our pupils with three members of staff will be flying to Finland for the next project meeting. We will go to Oulu which is another hour’s flight from Helsinki.

We are pleased to have been awarded Global Learning Network status which means that we hold training sessions for other local teachers. Subjects are very varied including Globalisation and Interdependence, Images and Perceptions and our last session was entitled Poverty, Development and Sustainability. Plenty to challenge us all and make us think.

We hosted a successful village evening with Richard Blackford earlier this year where we were able to share musical appreciation together. Not only hearing about Richard’s work but also from some young musicians.

We continue with our strong links with Blewbury Brass Band and our Year 4 pupils all learn the Cornet. Some of the children from last year’s group have continued and some have even diversified to trombone! We are really pleased to encourage this link and hope that an increasing number of our pupils will move into the band who we are happy to host in our school hall on a Wednesday for their regular practice sessions.

We continue to encourage our children to really challenge the way that they learn and to develop a Growth Mindset with an attitude of I can’t do something …. Yet!  We have also been developing Mindfulness and really helping children to know how to be still and give themselves some space in our hectic world. We are very aware of the greatly heightened occurrence of mental health issues amongst young people and feel that it is part of our preparation for secondary school to equip them not only academically but really understanding the way that they learn and knowing more about themselves so that they know when to take time out and how to respond to a variety of situations and pressures.

We continue to develop skills of confidence, social awareness and challenge through our residential visits. Last autumn 58 children between 7 -11 years old travelled to South Yorkshire to a Kingswood centre to take part in a long weekend of activities. They climbed, abseiled, built fires, orienteered, problem solved, learnt archery and fencing and interacted together. Last summer visits were to Stow on the Wold and Shropshire. This week Year 3 are staying at a centre on the Ridgeway and in June Year 4 and 5 will go to Cheddar whilst year 6 are at Minehead.

Many schools found the SATS last summer very challenging, including ourselves. With changes in expectations pupils who would have been deemed excellent at writing the year before were considered not to have sufficient grammatical content eg modal verbs and fronted adverbial clauses. Sadly sight was lost of the excellent creative content! Hopefully this year will show an improvement and the testing agencies have applied some more realistic guidelines.

We continue our strong links with the church, Father Jason leads an assembly once each week and we always hold a service each term. We had a successful SIAMS (Church School) Inspection in February, receiving a GOOD. One of the things we have really emphasised this academic year have been our Christian values of Forgiveness, Perseverance, Appreciation and Community. We will be having our next ‘Prayer Space’ in June and would welcome members of the community to support this event.

We have had an amazing response to our encouragement for further volunteers from the wider community to come into school and many pupils have really benefitted from the quiet individual attention that this group have been able to afford to support and encourage children in their reading and discussions.

Lastly we must not forget another important part of our community, our PTA. They really support the school admirably holding events for the children to enjoy as well as providing amazing fund raising events in the form of the Christmas Fair and Summer Fair.

Blewbury School is really proud to be an integral part of the community. Our pupils enjoyed being part of the big leaf clear up last autumn, we really enjoy hosting the now famous Blewfest and news of the Santa Fun run is spreading fast.

I’m really sorry not to be able to present this report in person this year but would be happy to discuss any of the aspects mentioned. Please contact me through the school details can be found on www.blewbury.oxon.sch.uk

Marion Mills

Neighbourhood Action Group Annual Report    April 2017

Lesley Shaw

The Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) supports Wantage East Constituancy which covers Harwell, Blewbury, The Hendreds, Ardington, Lockinge and Upton. The new Councillor is Mike Fox Davis who has replaced Stuart Lilly

There have not been any NAG Meetings this year and therefore the information that I am able to report back to Upton Parish Council is very limited.

In the light of the above I chased an update from District Councillor Janet Shelley in December 2016 and again in January 2017 when we did finally manage to ‘catch up’ on the phone.

Janet advised me of the following:

  • Thames Valley Police are undergoing a complete restructuring exercise. This includes a ‘Neighbourhood Team’ and a ‘Problem Solving Team’. Overall resource is being reduced from 4 to 2.
  • The Community Resilience priorities are all being reviewed
  • This year the priorities have focused on the terrible Boiler Collapse Disaster at Didcot Power Station and on ‘Operation Massey’ on the Ridgeway (the Ridgeway is a Restricted Access By-Way)

Future direction for the NAG is likely to focus on linking up with the Wantage NAG which is well attended and successful. A new Chair of NAG is likely to be proposed in the future – further update to follow in due course.

Locally I have provided updates for Upton News on Dog Fouling issues in the Recreation Ground which appears to be an ongoing problem intermittently. Dog Fouling is a Strict Liability Offence with a fine If seen by Upton Residents it should be reported. It is also extremely unpleasant for other Users of the Recreation Ground which is very well kept by our Volunteers. It is unlikely that the attendees of the Dog Training Groups are responsible as they are very well supervised. Upton does however attract other ad hoc Dog Trainers who use the Recreation Ground e.g. on Saturday Mornings and it also attracts many outside visitors many of whom use the Recreation Ground to exercise their dogs.

Proposal for UPC consideration  – Consider prominent signage at entrance to Recreation Ground about Dog Fouling and Strict Liability Fines 

ST MARY THE VIRGIN UPTON

CHURCHWARDENS’ REPORT FOR ANNUAL CHURCH MEETING 31 MARCH 2017

Building fabric

The church building, including the services, is generally in a good and sound condition. No major works of repair are currently anticipated.

During the last year a number of loose and slipped roof tiles have been replaced. Three damaged gravestones in the churchyard have been repaired; the costs of this work were largely covered by a generous contribution from Mr Simon Powell.

Statutory requirements

A formal Health and Safety Policy document for the church has been completed, thanks to the much-appreciated expertise of Mr Peter Butler. As is now required, health and safety issues are reviewed at each PCC meeting.

PAT testing has been undertaken for all required electrical appliances in the church.

Burial Ground improvements

An application for a faculty to undertake landscaping to the NW corner of the burial ground was made in January. A Notification of Advice has recently been issued and it is hoped that the formal faculty can now be completed swiftly.

A working party will be arranged to trim trees surrounding the burial ground and to repair the railings.

Vestry Improvements

It has been recognised that vestry improvements and the installation of a WC need to be undertaken as a single project.

Initial sketches showing proposals were prepared by the churchwardens and have been discussed at a meeting on site with Christine Fenn, the diocese Historic Churches Support Officer. She has subsequently issued a preliminary report and advised that an architect should be consulted to advise on the best approach before further consideration by the diocese. A meeting has been arranged with John Radice on 12 April. It may be possible to obtain a grant to cover his fees – an application will be made.

Other matters

At a recent benefice churchwardens’ meeting it was proposed that the liturgy for Common Worship should be reviewed. Consultation with the Upton congregation is planned.

Jessie West and Paul Batho March 2017

 

Report on Harwell Site Stakeholders Group, April 2017.

Work is continuing to decommission the nuclear part of the site and return it for general use. The old liquid effluent treatment plant is being dismantled and the land cleaned up.  This will then be handed over for housing.

A new off-site emergency plan has been drafted and if ONR approves, there will be no need for the Site Alarms and their monthly testing because there is no need to carry out any evacuations outside the nuclear site fence if there is an emergency. Already the flight restrictions over the site have been removed.

You are probably already aware that Upton applied successfully for a grant from the Magnox socio-economic scheme for partial funding for some staging for Upton Hall. (Details from Brian Rippon)

We are also kept informed of other developments on the site. Outline planning approval has been given for over 500,000 sq. ft. of buildings. These include office and lab space, shops, restaurants and a gym,( which will be open to the public). These are all part of the grand scheme for the Harwell-Milton Science Park.

The current contract with Magnox for decommissioning will end earlier than expected, due to problems with the original tendering process. I am not aware of the details.

A consultation is taking place to streamline the approval route for final decommissioning and handover. At present both the ONR and the Environmental Agency are involved and have to give their approval. It is possible that the ONR will cease to be involved (as their expertise lies in the operation of Nuclear Facilities) and the final decommissioning will be overseen by the Environmental Agency. This is unlikely to affect Upton!

I am happy to continue to represent Upton PC at the Harwell Stakeholders meetings.

Derek Whitmell

Upton Village Hall Amenities Trust

Report to the Annual Parish Meeting, 26th April 2017

Trustees

After many years of service to UVHAT, Yvonne Collins stood down this year. The trustees would like to thank Yvonne not only for her efforts over the years but also for her continuing support as a non-Trustee.

Finances

Thanks to the continued popularity of the hall as a venue, together with the financial support of Uptonogood, the finances of the trust remain strong and the trustees are able to maintain an adequate reserve. Full accounts will be prepared for the UVHAT AGM in May.

Bookings

The hall is more popular than ever as a venue for parties, with warm feedback received from hirers, and the hall now hosts a number of semi-regular fitness classes in addition to the existing regular hirers. The provision of Internet and WiFi in the hall makes it a good location for commercial bookings such as Planning Inquiries, taking advantage of otherwise quieter times for the hall during the week. The wedding reception last year was very successful, and to date we have two more such bookings in 2017.

Although the Guides no longer use the hall, that does make the hall available for more regular village use on a Friday evening. Film Club started in January, using the AV equipment purchased by UVHAT last year, and this appears to be popular and successful.

Fundraising

We are grateful to Lesley Shaw and her band of volunteers for organising the Upton 50 Club and maintaining its popularity within the village, perhaps enhanced by the increased prize values. The 50 Club remains popular and is a valuable source of additional funding.

Sarah Carter and Giulia Rippon organised a Jumble Sale in March, and this raised over £600 for UVHAT. The trustees wish to thank them and their band of volunteers who worked so hard to arrange and run this event.

Grants and Donations

Once again the organisers of Uptonogood made a very sizeable contribution towards the UVHAT funds, and for this the trustees are extremely grateful. The Parish Council has continued to be extremely helpful with support in procurement.

We are grateful to Derek Whitmell who drew our attention to the potential availability of a grant from Magnox for projects of an educational nature. Combined with matched funding from Uptonogood, this has enabled us to purchase a modular stage system for the hall (see below).

Development Projects

Following the disposal of the old tables last year, the replacements have been popular with hirers and are more convenient when villagers wish to hire them for private use. However the larger tables have proved less suitable for such purposes as serving teas at the fete or for occasional drinks in the hall; to this end we have purchased 10 contemporary round ‘bistro’ tables which are hopefully both smart and durable. They have already been put to good use during dog training classes to teach them how to behave in a café! It is expected that they will be popular for parties, film club, wine club, and any events where refreshments are served.

The Magnox grant was available for a project which would deliver an educational or skills-related benefit. The acquisition of a modular stage system has been on the wish list for some time, and this seemed an obvious project for an educational grant application. Magnox readily approved the submission, and the stage is to be delivered this week. Comprising 20 modular sections which are stored on a single trolley, the stage can be set up in a variety of configurations. Being quick and easy to assemble, it is hoped that it will prove popular for purposes ranging from readings, dramatic and musical performances, talks, raised seating at film shows, through to a stage for public meetings.

The trustees still hope to refurbish the main hall and meeting room, with the hope of creating a more contemporary environment and better ambience in these areas. The work in the main hall may be significant, and will probably involve major works to the floor, walls, lighting, improvements to the acoustics, and overhaul of the meeting room. This work will require significant external funding.

Caretaking

The aim of the trustees is to present the hall to users in a state which — as much as possible—leads them to feel that they are the first to use the amenity. This does depend upon all users of the hall leaving it in the same state that they found it, an objective encouraged by a security deposit being taken from ad hoc hirers and returned providing the hall is clean. However we require the same care to be taken by all hirers, and so ask our regular users to do all they can to maintain standards.

During the course of the year a wide range of maintenance tasks have been undertaken, and we would like to thank Graham de Wilde, Rob Traynor and others for their assistance.

Our regular cleaner continues to do an excellent job in ensuring that the hall is brought up to a high standard of hygiene once a week.

Conclusion

The village hall and the recreation ground in which it stands continue to be valuable assets to Upton and as a small village we can be proud to boast an amenity that attracts so much praise.

Brian Rippon Chair, UVHAT