Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting of Upton Monday 8th April 2013

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting of Upton

Held on Monday 8th April 2013 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall

Present: Mr J Dickens (Chairman), Dr B Lott, Mr S Fraser, Mrs L Shaw, Mr S Norman, Ms J Shelley (District Councillor), Mr S Lilley (County Councillor), Mrs J West (Upton Village Hall Amenities Trust), Mrs A Hoy (Parish Clerk) and 3 members of the public

Apologies for Absence: Mr B Shaw

1. Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 16th April 2012 were agreed to be a true record and signed by the Chairman.

2. Annual Reports

(a) Parish Council Chairman: Mr Dickens opened the meeting by welcoming those present. In his report he thanked Clare Lightfoot for her all hard work and outstanding long service to the PC over 7 years as Parish Clerk, and welcomed Angela Hoy as the newly appointed Parish Clerk from 1st April 2013. He advised that he would be standing down as Chair at the next PC meeting, at which time a new Chair and Vice would be appointed. He intended to retire from the PC within the next few months, thus a vacancy would arise for a councillor position and anyone interested was requested to contact the Clerk. He also thanked the Playground Working Party for all their hard work on the Playground and Recreation Ground, which had been an enormous success. The organizers of the Uptonogood (Bob Lott and Mike Tibbetts) were also thanked for their contribution to the cycle pump track about to be installed. Discussions were ongoing with the Land Agent for the Coffin Way footpath and proposed hedge-planting, and it was noted that Blewbury Parish Council and Sustainable Blewbury were interested in being involved, so a joint approach could be made. The village notice board had been repaired and was about to be reinstated outside the Village Hall, thanks to Ralph True for his work on this. The 2004 Parish Plan remained valid but could do with updating; however the current PC workload prevented such a review, although if a group of parishioners would like to undertake this task, it would be most welcome.

(b) Parish Council Finance: Mr S Norman presented the Income and Expenditure Report for 2012/2013 that showed that the precept was unchanged at £7250. The unusual carry forward figure reflected the outstanding payment to Kompan, due to a small amount of work remaining unfinished. It was hope this would be regularised very shortly. The financial position of the PC was considered healthy, and included £5k for the new cycle pump track about to be installed.

(c) District Council: Ms Janet Shelley reported on the recommended boundary changes, which will see the number of councillors reduced from 51 to 38. They recommended a two-member Blewbury and Harwell ward and a single member Hendreds ward. A small new homes bonus is available for the South East corner of the Vale area and Cllr Shelley would work to secure whatever she could for Upton. Benefits have arisen from the sharing of services of VoWH and OCC since 2008 with employment cost savings of £3.9m. A consultation document to be known as Local Plan 2029 was being implemented, with Part 1 setting out the strategic objectives for the area, focussing on sustainable growth within the Science Vale UK area principally in the enterprise area of Milton Park and Harwell. She will continue to work on improving increased infrastructure, with particular emphasis on the A417 road.

(d) County Council: Mr S Lilly reported on the reduction of manpower (largely administrative) within the Council. New methods of governance agreed by all political parties will come into force after the May elections (at which he was up for re-election), designed to simplify and rationalise committees. A new 30mph VAS sign has now been installed on the west side of the village and road markings refreshed; the A417 was getting more attention because of the increased housing along its route and he was meeting a senior officer of the CPRE tomorrow to discuss the Harwell relief road. He also mentioned the proposed four-way interchange at Chilton. Mr Lilley advised that the CC is investing over £13.5m to enhance broadband throughout the County, which will result in 90% of the area being on high-speed broadband. Upgrades to Didcot Parkway station forecourt were due for completion late Summer 2013, easing the traffic congestion in that area. He noted that the line was shortly due to be electrified, with an anticipated increase in passenger numbers as services improved. He commented on the sustainability of local bus services, which was improving; he added that an Oyster-type scheme was coming soon which would help to improve viability. If re-elected, Mr Lilley intended to concentrate on improving the infrastructure in particular medical facilities currently available in Didcot and environs, which were inadequate for a growing population. His report is attached to these minutes.

(e) Parish Transport Representative: Mrs J West reported that there had been several recent problems with the new bus service, with buses failing to stop to pick up people or not arriving by the scheduled time, and she felt Thames Travel had taken on more contracts than they could handle. Mrs West suggested that a local minibus service be investigated, as was in place in South Stoke, subsidised by OCC; she had spoken to Cllr Roy McMillan from South Stoke PC for information on such a service. The aim would be to cover Upton, West Hagbourne and the Astons which were poorly served at the moment; this would be in addition to the existing Blewbury/Didcot route but much more frequent. Mrs West agreed to investigate further. This was not the same as the Dial-a-ride service which provided a service to individual parishioners on demand. Mrs J West

(f) UVHAT : In her report Mrs West commented on the financial viability of the Hall and the various groups which used it regularly. She commented that new equipment was required in the toilets, including three electric hand driers. She also mentioned the plan to remove the wall between the kitchen and the small adjoining room to give better storage facilities and install better appliances, for which a £5k grant was available from the late Theo Gordon’s estate.

(g) United Charities: Mrs C Lightfoot presented a report on behalf of the Charity in which she advised that Mrs Chris Traynor had agreed to take on the role of Trustee on behalf of Upton. Clerk to advise the Charity

(h) Blewbury School: James Wanstall was unable to be present but had sent a report which was read by the Chairman. There were currently 153 children attending the school, who were making pleasing progress in their studies. In 2012 the school had been involved in a European Comenius project with Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, and in 2013 was starting another similar project, this year’s partners being Poland Germany and Italy.

(i) Neighbourhood Action Group: John Lightfoot was unable to be present but had submitted a report, read by the Chairman. Cllr Shelley commented that at recent meetings she had attended, attendees were often outnumbered by Police representatives. Cllr Lilley offered to raise queries on our behalf with central authorities.

(j) St Mary’s Church: Mr P Batho reported that Fr Geoffrey Borrowdale would be leaving the Benefice later this year but he had been promised that a replacement would be provided in due course. Church services were being well attended and charitable events had been well supported. The PCC had recently held a meeting to discuss raising the profile of St Mary’s, including using the Church for concerts and other events. An inter-village tug-of-war was suggested.

(k) UKAEA Stakeholders Meeting: Dr D Whitmell had submitted a report describing the treatment of the remaining nuclear waste with plans to move it to Sellafield by 2021. Outline plans were being submitted to demolish existing UKAEA houses on the site and erect 120 new houses.

3. Open Forum

The Vale Draft local plan was discussed, with the main impact being on link roads. Other items had already been discussed within the individual reports.

Mrs West reported a loud noise which had been heard by several residents near the corner of the recreation ground and the track to the Horse and Harrow. It was thought this was unlikely to have been caused by a farmer’s bird scarer. The Chairman agreed to investigate. J Dickens

4. The Chairman closed the meeting by thanking everyone for attending, and presented Clare Lightfoot with a bouquet from the PC in recognition of her service to the community. The meeting closed at 9.15pm.

5. Date of Next Annual General Meeting: 14th April 2014

ACH 14.4.13