Minutes of Meeting 11th March 2008


Minutes of meeting of Upton Parish Council

held on Tuesday, 11th March 2008 at 8.00 pm in the Village Hall

Present: Mr M Brown (Chairman), Mr J Dickens, Mr S Norman, Mrs T Seelig, part-time,

Mrs C Lightfoot (Clerk), Mr R Farrell, part-time.

Parishioners: Mr & Mrs B Arnold, Mr A Miller, Mr M Tibbetts, Mr G de Wilde

1. Apologies for absence received from Miss B Drew

2. Declaration of Interest

Members are asked to declare any personal interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting).

None were recorded

3. Minutes of meeting of Upton Parish Council held on 8th January 2008.

The minutes having been previously circulated were agreed as a true record and duly signed by the Chairman.

4. Matters Arising

(i) Field at rear of George & Dragon: The Chairman proposed that this item be taken when Mr Farrell was present.

(ii) A417 Footpath. The landlord at the George and Dragon had now completed the footpath. The Clerk to write thanking him. CL

iii) Litter Pick – this is scheduled for 15th March at 9.30 a.m.

iv) Grass Cutting: A John Deere ride on mower has been purchased. The selection of this had been made by a working party consisting of Mr Nehring, Mr de Wilde and the Chairman, following a visit to 3 suppliers. The Chairman said that he was awaiting a demonstration of a self-propelled mower suitable for cutting the children’s playground.

Additional Note

PCSO Claydon briefly joined the meeting to address any specific issues. He reported that a new SID machine had been purchased to be used exclusively by the Wantage East section which means it will be used more frequently in the village. He said that warning letters had been sent to motorists speeding on the A417.

5. County Councillor’s Report

In Mr Lamont’s absence there was no report.

District Councillor’s Report

Mr Farrell reported that fly tipping had occurred at the edge of the Parish towards Cbilton. He will ask the Environmental people to take appropriate action.

AONB at Rear of George & Dragon. (See item 4i)

The Chairman adjourned the meeting to allow an open discussion on the state of an area of the AONB at the rear of the George and Dragon.

The Chairman began the discussion by stating that the Parish Council has been, and remains frustrated by the lack of response to emails and correspondence by the Planning Department at the Vale of the White Horse District Council. Our most recent email, which sought answers to three important questions regarding the state of the area had, like others before it, gone unanswered.

A lively discussion took place including input from five members of the public.

Mr Farrell advised that if the Parish Council were not happy with the way in which the Planning Office dealt with the correspondence they should initially write to the Vale Chief Executive with a letter of complaint and that if they were still dissatisfied they could take the matter to the District Council Ombudsman.

Mr Farrell defended the action taken by the Vale Enforcement Officer in protecting the AONB stating that the officer was the expert in such matters and that it was also Vale policy to give protection of such areas a low priority. This opinion was disputed by the members of the public who generally felt that the Vale had not given out information as it should or taken reasonable action to protect the area.

At the end of the discussion the Chairman re-convened the meeting.

The Chairman stated that in his opinion the Vale had not shown the competence expected of them either in answering letters and emails sent to them or in protecting the AONB. He proposed that a letter of complaint be sent to the Chief Executive and that if that did not result in acceptable changes in the working practice of the Planning Dept, that the Parish Council should take the matter to the Ombudsman.

This proposal was accepted unanimously by members of the council. Clerk

7. Villagers’ Open Forum – nothing to discuss

8. Parish Transport Representatives Report.

A note had been received from Mr & Mrs Gardiner setting out the timetable for the conclusion of the subsidised bus review. Decisions made – 27 March; decisions notified – 10 April; new timetable announced – ~1May; new service starts – 1 June 08.

9. Reports from Councillors’ on areas of responsibility:

i) Roads and Footpaths:

Improvements to Footpath to Blewbury: negotiations with landlords are continuing,

Chilton Road; results of traffic survey showed 14,000 vehicles a week use Chilton Road. There is no evidence of excessive speeding although the majority are exceeding the speed limit. Highways Department will look at the figures before deciding on what safety improvements should be made.

Frog Alley: it is hoped to make progress on this when the weather improves.

Cyclepath/Bridleway: acknowledgement of our correspondence has been received from Oxfordshire County Council.

ii) Recreation Ground: it was noted that there is an increasing amount of dog faeces in the mound in the Recreation Ground. Mrs Seelig brought to the PC’s attention that balls are still being kicked against the hall doors. Mr Dickens will investigate the cost of providing hard standing around the ball wall to try to deter this. JD

It was noted that the 6 aside goal posts had been vandalised. The Chairman has repaired the damage.

iii) Village Hall: A meeting had been held with the Funding Advice Officer to investigate funding for the hall extension project. It was noted that the Parish Council will need to handle the finances of the project.

iv) Planning: nothing to report

v) Young Parishioners:

The young parishioners web page is not being used and information is not being provided for the ‘Young Upton’ page of the Upton News. It was agreed there is nothing further the PC can do at this time.

vi) Communications and other Amenities:

There are a disappointingly low number of entries so far on the local businesses directory on the web site, more are expected.

vii) NAG: Mr Dickens or Mr Brown will attend the next NAG meeting. JD/MB

viii) UKAEA Stakeholders Committee: No report.

ix) Playground Management Committee:

Mrs Seelig has done an inspection. She reported that there are 2 slats missing from the fence and the safety surface under the slide is mossy and slippery. It was agreed the fence should be left as it is as any repair is quickly removed in order to gain quick access to the climbing tree. Mrs Seelig will remove the worst of the moss. Mrs Seelig said that there are 2 vacancies on this committee, it was agreed to advertise these vacancies in Upton News. TS/MB

Mrs Seelig has spoken to users of the playground about which item of equipment we might consider purchasing. There is £1300 available for playground improvements which must include new safety mats around the swings. TS

x) Energy Saving Initiative: in Miss Drew’s absence there was no report.

10. Finance

i) Invoices for payment

Clerk’s salary – February & March + expenses – £315.60

Samba Sports – replacement parts for 6 aside goal posts – £54.97

Vale of White Horse – dog bin emptying – £46.21

Kalehurst Ltd – purchase of John Deere ride-on mower – £2050.00

The Parish Council agreed that the above invoices be paid.

iii) Financial transactions since last meeting

Bank Interest – January & February 2008 – £80.65

Donation for playground improvement – £30

Refund VAT – £96.57

UVHAT half cost of emptying dog bin – £92.42

The above receipts were noted.

iii) Charitable Donations:

The following donations were agreed:

£200 – St Mary’s Church (towards upkeep of cemetery and production of Upton News)

£25 – Mr & Mrs Churchman (gratuity for locking and unlocking recreation ground gates)

This payment is justified under para 8 of the Local Govt Act 1972.

£50 – South and Vale Carers

£40 – Ryder-Cheshire Volunteers

£40 – CPRE

£40 – Air Ambulance

11. Post Office:

Parishioners had organised a petition which contained ~250 signatures. Clerk to dispatch to Post Office Ltd, with copies going to Ed Vaizey and Mr Gordon Brown.

The Chairman stated that he had been in touch with Postwatch who had instructed Post Office Ltd to make contact with him to discuss the situation regarding the village branch, he is still waiting.

12. Nomination for Celebrating Youth in the Vale

The Chairman proposed we nominate Ben Shaw for his contribution in the Parish Plan, his help with the presentation for Village of Year competition and his public spiritedness in running a stall at the fete. Clerk

13. Correspondence in circulation and recently received

i) Audit Commission – BDO have been appointed auditors for a 5 year period commencing 2007/8

ii) Vale of White Horse – Policy on Trees

iii) ORCC review on primary school provision – update

iv) Didcot Power Station sponsorship for community groups and educational institutions

v) Thames Valley Police – requesting nominations for Community Police Awards

vi) Play and Sports Seminar Roadshow – 14/5/08

The above correspondence was noted.

Date of Next Meeting:

The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Tuesday 8th April at 8.00 p.m.

The next Parish Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday 13th May 2008 at 8.00 p.m.

There being no further business the Chairman closed the meeting at 10.35 p.m.

Clare Lightfoot, Clerk

Tel: 01235 850486

14th March 2008