Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting 20th April 2015

UPTON PARISH COUNCIL

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting of Upton

Held on Monday 20th April 2015 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall

Present: Dr B Lott (Chairman), Mrs L Shaw, Mr R Traynor, Mr S Norman, Mrs A Hoy, Mr S Fraser and 8 members of the public.

Apologies for Absence:  Cllr S Lilley, Cllr J Shelley, Mr D Reid, PCSO.

1. Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 14th April 2014 were agreed to be a true record and were signed by the Chairman.

2.  Annual Reports

(a) Parish Council Chairman: Dr Lott expressed the thanks of the Parish Council to all those who gave their time and energy towards the upkeep of Upton Village. In addition he thanked those who acted on behalf of the Parish Council:

  • John Lightfoot – Neighbourhood Action Group (now relinquished)
  • Jessie West – Transport Rep and UVHAT
  • Derek Whitmell – Harwell Stakeholders /committee
  • Simon Powell – Internal Auditor
  • Brian Rippon – Upton News Editor
  • Mike Brown and Graham de Wilde – Parish Path Wardens

During the year 19 planning applications were discussed, adding to the normal workload of seven meetings per year, and the Chairman expressed his thanks to the Parish councillors and clerk for their hard work.

The Chairman thanked Duncan Reid and Lesley Shaw for their time on the council and noted that at the forthcoming elections only four of the current Parish Councillors had put themselves up for re-election.  The Chairman invited any member of the parish to apply for the two councillor vacancies.

It was explained that the Parish Council had decided to increase the precept by £500 to help cover the cost of replacing maintenance machinery and maintaining the park.  Other matters mentioned in the report were the Upton Parish Plan, the Methodist Chapel, flood prevention in Stream Road and Chilton Road traffic calming.  The Chairman’s report appears in full at the end of these minutes.

(b) Parish Council Finance: Mr Norman presented the Income and Expenditure Report for 2014/2015 which recorded that the precept would be increased from £7,500 to £8,000, in addition to which substantial donations from Uptonogood had been received which had been used to pay for various items including two new marquees (for village events and available for private hire), as well as maintenance of the recreation play equipment and a contribution towards the new mower.  An amount of £1600 had been received from Oxford County Council for flood prevention measures in Stream Road.  This left £12,000 in the account at the beginning of the financial year but this had been largely allocated to Village Hall improvements, garden machinery, playground upkeep, and an election reserve.  This left only £2000 in reserve.  Mr Norman’s full report is attached to these minutes.

(c) District Council: nothing was reported due to Cllr Shelley’ s absence..

(d) County Council: Cllr Lilly had sent his apologies.

(e) PCSO: PCSO Michael Clayden having been moved to other duties, PCSO Sarah Merritt sent a report on reported crime in Upton during the year, which included burglaries and thefts, minor assaults and a dangerous dog incident.  A representative to serve on the NAG was requested and this had now been filled by Mrs Lesley Shaw.  In the absence of a dedicated PCSO, parishioners were encouraged to contact the Thames Valley Police in Wantage.  The full report was attached.

(f) Parish Transport Representative: Mrs West advised there was not much to report, with the 94/95 bus route still threatened with early morning and late evening cuts; confirmation should be received by May/June.  Some of the 2018 savings may be brought forward to this year.  However, there would be a pooled budget for all transport services, meaning cuts would be better proportioned across all transport areas.  There would be a need to look more carefully at subsidised bus routes.  Mrs West’s full report was attached to these minutes.

(g) UVHAT:  Mr B Rippon, new Chairman of UVHAT, had distributed his report to those present.  Thanks were given to Mrs West and also Ros Caffyn for their work over the years as Chair and Treasurer of UVHAT, and he welcomed John Haworth as new Treasurer.  Mrs Clare Lightfoot had also stepped down as a Trustee and a volunteer was needed to fill her role.  He reported that sizeable grants having been obtained, the improvement works on the Village Hall were going very well and should be completed on time and on budget.  Additionally a grant for AV equipment was successful and fibre internet and Wifi were to be installed at the hall, hopefully by the end of May 2015.  His full report was attached to these minutes.

(h) United Charities: Mrs Elizabeth Hardy in her role of Trustee to the Charity advised that five Upton villagers had received Christmas gifts from the Charity, and the Charity was happy to be notified of anyone else in need.

(i) Blewbury Primary School: Ms Marion Mills had circulated her report, highlights of which were a slight drop in numbers to 145 pupils and the departure of two teachers, followed by the appointment of a new one.  Building work had finally been completed on the new classroom.  Other subjects covered were the Comenius project, the new Prayer Space and better links with Sustainable Blewbury.  Ms Mills full report is attached to these minutes.

(j) Neighbourhood Action Group: Mr John Lightfoot had now resigned but Mrs Lesley Shaw had expressed her willingness to take over the role.  The Chairman offered thanks for Mr Lightfoot for his past years in the role and also to Mrs Shaw for offering to take it on.

(k) St Mary’s Church:  Mrs West was pleased to report the very successful launching of Friends of St Mary’s in 2014 with substantial donations being made to the Friend’s Scheme, which it was hoped would be used to improve the Church’s facilities, including a toilet and upgrading the vestry.  Services would remain unchanged apart from the fourth Sunday in the month.  The full report was attached.

(l) Harwell Site Stakeholder Group (formerly UKAEA):  Dr Derek Whitmell reported that decommissioning of the old research site had been reorganised, with a new parent body and a new operating company. The decontamination plant continued to work well and contamination levels continued to fall, although some chlorohydrocarbon contamination remained in Upton groundwater, within safe limits.  Several new buildings were being planned, including catering and sports facilities open to the public.  Dr Whitmell reported that there would be an open day in July.  There would continue to be 3 meetings a year. He reiterated that there were no concerns about the site, but there would be new employment in the area as well as new housing; this would exacerbate traffic problems as workers were now driving, whereas previously they had travelled to work on the bus.   Dr Whitmell’s report is attached to these minutes.

3. Open Forum:  The Chairman then closed the meeting to allow for those present to express their concerns.

Damage caused by Waste Collections:  A resident of 28 years raised the damage being caused by the large Biffa lorries eroding the verges of streets in the village.  Branches of trees were also being broken off. A similar problem had arisen in Blewbury, which after complaints, had resulted in smaller vehicles being used. The parishioner asked if Upton could do the same? Could a complaint be made to Biffa or the Council?  It was noted that this problem seemed to have got worse since the Vale and SODC had combined refuse collections (presumably to save money) and were using larger vehicles that were unsuitable in small village streets.  The Chairman agreed to investigate.  However, it was noted that there now more large cars parked on roads, which caused problems for bin lorries.  Mrs Shaw reported a similar earlier problem with Beeching Close but that it was usually a good service.

Village Plan – The Parish Plan versus a Neighbourhood plan was discussed and the Chairman explained that the purpose of the Parish Plan was for the village to give direction to the Parish Council’s decision making and policies, whereas a Neighbourhood Plan had an influence on the Vale’s Planning policy; it was felt that Upton was too small for such a plan and the expense of it would be difficult to justify. Also Upton’s classification in the Vale’s Local Plan as a Small Village afforded Upton sufficient protection from unwelcome housing developments. Mr Rippon asked whether the next phase of the Vale’s Local Plan would look at small villages but the Chairman replied that this was not his understanding.

Methodist Chapel: Mr Rippon expressed the unease in the village about the future of chapel.  The Chairman explained that although the Methodist Church wanted to sell it for housing and would like to be able to collaborate with a possible village purchase plan, they were constricted by the current D1 Community Use grading.  If it were to be sold to the Plymouth Brethren (who had expressed an interest) for use as a prayer room, it would be lost to the village as a community facility.  The Vale planning authority would not give change of use while community use was still a viable option. Much interest was expressed in using it as a community hall but there was the obvious problem of funding.  Mrs Hardy on behalf of the United Charities advised that the Charity was looking to buy one almshouse in each of the three villages, but only to house one person.  The Chairman explained the problems of funding the property, restoring it to use, running it and maintaining it for public use which would be very difficult unless it was self-sustaining, such as for a crèche or nursery facility. Blewbury Brass band had expressed an interest in using it for rehearsals.  It was noted that Chilton Village had two halls and they manage to make ends meet. However, time was of the essence.  He suggested starting a register of interested parties.

Schools and New Housing:  Ms Mills reported that there would be intense pressure on roads and schools with planned new housing developments, with little sign of new schools.  Eight families in Chilton have been unable to place their children in their local school, and expanding schools lost their individuality.  However, Schools must keep up with housing needs, which was where the District and County Councils were at odds.  New schools were now either academies or private, and not funded by OCC.  The Chairman replied that the Science Vale action plan attempted to deal with amenity issues that needed to be addressed and that the whole area was set for change; central Government was investing in the road network and there was a strong desire to improve transport means other than cars with a new focus on bus transport to cater for the new developments in Harwell.

Recreation Ground:  Mr Rippon asked whether the closing of the recreation ground at night in summer would be repeated or was there any need to continue it?  It was agreed that having the gate padlocked caused more problems than it cured and ideally a new caretaker was needed to open and close the gate.  After discussion it was agreed to try just closing the gate so that potential trespassers would assume it was locked and to ask hall users to close it after the last car left.

Mr Whitmell gave a vote of thanks to the Parish Council for all their hard work for the village of Upton during the past year.

4.  Closing Remarks

The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and for their contributions; he also expressed his thanks to those volunteers who had been unable to be present.

5.  Date of Next Annual General Meeting:  Monday 18th April 2016.

6.  There being no further business, the meeting closed at 9.25pm

Mrs Angela Hoy
Parish Clerk
20th April 2015