Minutes Upton Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting 29th April 2019

THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING OF UPTON PARISH COUNCIL 

Minutes of the Upton Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting held on Monday 29th April 2019. 

Present:- Cllrs Stuart Fraser (Chair/SCF), Mr Stuart Norman (Vice Chair/SN), Mr Brendan Heneghan (BH), Mr Ian Sykes (IS), Miss K Marshall (KM), Ms Jo Fidgen (JF), and 30+ villagers. 

The following reports were made available for attendees to read from 7pm 

Chairman’s Report (Annex 1)

Parish Council Finance (Annex 2)

District Council (Annex 3)

Parish Transport Representative (Annex 4)

United Charities (Annex 5)

UKAEA Stakeholders Meeting (Annex 6)

Parish Footpaths/Village recreational grounds – Graham de Wilde/Mike Brown (Annex 7)

County Councillor Mr M Fox-Davies (Annex 8)

 

The meeting started formally at  7.30pm 

  1. Welcome and opening remarks – Parish Council Chair Stuart Fraser

The Chair welcomed everyone to the 72nd Annual Parish Meeting and read key extracts from the Chairman’s Statement (Appendix A, below), including the main focus of this meeting (see 3. below). The Chairman also explained that changes to the play areas and recreational ground would involve raising money, applying for grants and may take a few years to accomplish.

Mr M Brown handed a donation of £75 to the Clerk for the Parish Council from Upton News.

  1. Apologies for absence

Cllr M Fox-Davies, PCSO Mr G Kirby

  1. Open Forum

Upton Recreation Ground and Play Areas – suggestions for future improvements.

      3.1 Toddler Play Area (currently situated behind the village hall)

The Chairman explained that the slide in the toddler play area was in need of replacement. This gave the opportunity to review the usage of the toddler play area and to consider creating a new toddler play area near to or in the same area as the newer play area on the field. Some considerations were:-

  1. line of sight for parents with children of different ages playing in either play area;
  2. old equipment cannot be moved and used, so new, up to date  equipment would need to be sourced;
  3. Not all equipment was suitable for toddlers in the new play area

In creating a new play area, the following comments were also made.

  1. The Upton rec already attracted people from outside the village. Making the facilities ‘too good’ may draw more than the village is comfortable with.

If more people were drawn to the village, could refreshments be made  available at least during the summer to take advantage of visitors, e.g. volunteers or suitably aged children (for pocket money) potentially operating out of the village hall for tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits, snacks?

  1. Multi-generational facilities could also be provided if the need was identified.
  2. The adventure play area cost c£50,000, with the help of a grant from WREN. SCF confirmed grants would need to be applied for once a plan was agreed.
  3. An increase in visitors may also mean an increase in rubbish left on the rec.
  4. Any new installation must be mindful of residents whose properties border the rec.

A show of hands was taken for those in favour of decommissioning and moving the toddler play area closer to the adventure play area, with the majority of those present in favour.  It was also noted that all that would be needed were toddler swings and a slide or easier access onto the existing slide in the play area on the rec.

3.2 What to do with the ‘old’ Toddler Play Area

SCF asked for suggestions as to what to do with the space behind the village hall that would be created by decommissioning it as a play area. Most of those present were against the use of this area as:

  1. additional car parking;
  2. use as a ‘picnic area’ with the provision of wooden tables/benches;
  3. use as a dog run.

It was felt that 1. and 2. may encourage unsociable use, and iii. may increase the level of dog waste, which was already an ongoing issue.

However, the use of this space as a wild flower area / community orchard / managed woodland /planted area of some kind was seen as positive by a majority of those present. The question of who would manage this area was raised, and whether it could it be left to manage itself.

3.3 Additional car parking

Whilst most of those present were not in favour of creating more car parking, they were in favour of making the current area of additional parking more distinguishable.  The PC agreed to look into various options.  It was  agreed that marking the area out in some way was definitely required.

3.4 Main area of the rec

It was strongly felt that the football/rugby pitch area should be left as it was.

Additional trees/plants could be used around the edges, with consideration given to how these areas would then be maintained/mowed. It was noted that few were in favour of this.

The provision of tables on rec was also considered – again this presented a problem for mowing. Tables might need to be bolted down. The PC was aware that this could create an unsociable element on the rec. The majority of those present were against picnic tables.

However, the provision of benches (fixed in place), possibly near the play areas, was seen as positive The majority of those present were in favour of this idea.

Less than half of those present were in favour of a Boules Pit (although there was some confusion as to what was meant by this).

The majority of those present were against the provision of keep fit equipment.

The potential increase in rubbish left on the rec was a concern.

Additional / better signage on the rec was already being looked in to by SCF.

3.5 Other questions from the floor

3.5.1    The contents of a report written by Mrs L Shaw, who was unable to attend the meeting, were taken in to account and largely covered above.

3.5.2    Mr M Brown asked that a training session be offered to villagers on the use of the defibrillator. The majority of those present thought this was a good idea. It was noted that there are no longer any community responders in the village. The PC would look in to the training.

4. Chairman’s Closing Remarks

SCF appealed for people to consider becoming a parish councillor and explained the current situation and the need for more people to become involved.

SCF thanked everyone for taking the time to come to the meeting and for their input and for guiding the PC as to what the village wanted for the rec, toddler play area and the car parking.

Finally, SCF thanked all the organisers, volunteers and those that support the village in a variety of ways, stating that there were far too many to name individually, but that he hoped they knew who they were. He thanked them for making Upton a great place in which to live.

5. Date of next APM meeting – TBC April 2020

6. The meeting closed at 9.05pm.

 

 

 

Annex 1 – Upton Parish Council – Chairman’s Statement 2019

Good evening everyone and thank you for coming to the 72nd Annual Parish Council Meeting.

We will be changing the format of this evening’s proceedings.  Rather than reading out individual contributor’s reports after the Chairman’s Statement, we have arranged for copies of these reports to be available here tonight for your perusal, and copies will also be available on the Upton Village website at a future date.

This year we would like to use this meeting as a forum for gauging the village’s opinions on what to do with the toddler play area, the recreation ground and parking outside the village hall.

Before we do this, I would like to give you a quick update on what the Parish Council has been up to over the last year.

In last year’s Chairman Statement I stated I would be stepping down, as you can see that didn’t happen.  However, I can confirm this will be my last meeting for Upton Parish Council.  It will also be the last meeting for Karen Marshall, who has also reached the end of her tenure.  Karen has been a fantastic asset for the PC with her calm and reasoned approach.  Karen, thank you for all your time and hard work with the PC.

I would like to thank our remaining Councillors, Jo, Brendan and Stuart, for their continued hard work and support over the last year.  It gives me great pleasure to welcome Ian Sykes to the PC and thank him for putting himself forward.  Last but not least, my thanks go to Liz Cooper, our most amazing and hardworking Clerk.  Liz, thank you for all your help, support, enthusiasm and drive over the last couple of years.  The PC is lucky to have you.

With Karen and myself stepping down this leaves two vacancies that urgently need to be filled.  Raise your hand if you are interested in becoming a member of the PC…  Before you do, perhaps I should tell you what the requirements for the role are:

To be over 18;

To have lived in the village for the last 12 months;

No criminal record;

A love of the village; and

Common sense.

If you match the criteria, and are interested, then please speak to one of us at the meeting tonight and we will give you more information.

So, what has the PC been up to?

Planning

Planning has been relatively calm this year with no controversial applications to deal with.  Planning applications are usually the main reason for additional meetings.  Some of these meetings can be as quick as 15-20 minutes.  Normal meetings are held every other month.

Finances

The PC is responsible for setting the precept.  The precept is the amount of money given to the PC from the Council Tax.  This year there was a small increase of £1.04 based on a band D property.

This money is used to fund various works.  The largest expenditures this year were for tree work and for the Cushionfall wood chip for the large play area.

There was another large expenditure this year, the defibrillator cabinet and its installation.  The funding for these items came from money donated by Uptonogood?  The defibrillator itself was kindly donated by the Lime Walk Gospel Hall Trust.

There is a financial report and accounts on the wall for your perusal.  Please feel free to have a read.

The PC is currently in a comfortable position financially, but we may have some big expense over the next couple of years depending on what is decided later when we discuss the play areas and car parking.

The PC has had a couple of successes this year:

A new dog bin was installed and is getting good use.  It is now being emptied on a regular basis! All at no cost to the PC.

The top part of Stream Road has had some work done to reduce flooding and tidy up that section of Stream Road.  This is an issue dating back to the 1990s.  So I am very pleased the PC has finally got a positive result and has hopefully resolved the situation.

The latest success has happened over the last week and that is the white lines being refreshed on the roads around the village.   There will also be “unsuitable for HGV” signs going up on the access routes to Chilton Road.

On that positive note I will close the Chairman’s statement of 2019 by thanking everyone on the PC, all the villagers that help in so many ways, from the organisers to the volunteers who all give up their time to make Upton the wonderful village it is.  There are too many to list.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

 

Annex 2 – Upton Parish Council – Annual Parish Meeting

Finance Report

The Parish Council funds are in a reasonably healthy state in consideration of potential large expenditures to come over this and future financial years – especially in reference to play areas and the recreational ground itself.

Total funds held at the end of the last financial year were £17,070. The emphasis in the past year was the continued maintenance of the recreation ground, the play areas and the green areas in the village. The largest expenditure in the past year was the new floor covering in the adventure play area.

There is also the ongoing servicing and maintenance of the equipment used to maintain the green areas and in this financial year careful consideration will be given to the further maintenance or purchase of a new ‘push’ mower.

The village is fortunate that whilst new and major items such play area equipment must be paid for, the labour is provided free of charge by volunteer villagers.

The parish council has also purchased the defib cabinet to house the donated defib machine, and also paid for the installation of it at the village hall.

The Parish Council remains grateful for the donations from Upton News, via Mike Brown, which helps to pay for the printing of the Upton News.

This year, more substantial work may be needed, but not before consulting with the good people of Upton to find out what they want from the recreation ground and it’s play areas.

Please also see the end of year Payments and Receipts details attached.

ClerkUPCAPM2019

 

 

Annex 3 – Upton Parish Council Annual Report for Parish Councillors on Monday, 29th April 2019 from Cllr Janet Shelley & Cllr Reg Waite

Introduction:

Upton Parish became part of the larger ward, Blewbury & Harwell Ward in May 2015 and we have certainly seen a number of changes and challenges during that time.

The number of dwellings within the Ward, and indeed within the Vale of White Horse District, has increased significantly, particularly in the Harwell Parish section of Great Western Park.  However, your delightful small village falls in the category where no housing developments well arise.

The last four years have been particularly challenging in many ways, but Janet and Reg are pleased to report that none of the Vale’s front-line services to residents have been reduced as has happened in so many local authorities throughout the country.

The past year:

Janet has continued to be a hard-working member of the demanding Planning Committee and was appointed Deputy Chairman of that Committee.

Reg completed his year as Chairman of the Council in May 2018 and attended numerous formal and informal functions, which provided considerable learning.  The number of people I met from all walks of life in the Vale was tremendous and the number of residents suffering from one illness or another was staggering and highlighted the huge number of carers in the area. We are extremely fortunate to have substantial numbers of volunteers in the district, who give up so much of their time to play important roles in parish councils, clubs, societies and organisations of such a wide range of activities.  With the support of so many residents I raised just more than ten thousand pounds for my two chosen charities – the Alzheimer’s Society and the Children’s Air Ambulance.

Since then my District Council duties have been no less busy and on behalf of the Vale, I am also involved as Chairman of Milton Park Liaison Group and local council member of Harwell Campus Site Stakeholder Group

Despite ongoing cuts in Government grants, the Vale has demonstrated good management throughout the year without any reduction in the standard of services to the residents and naturally have been under continual scrutiny.

With the introduction of a new fleet of vehicles the collection of our waste has been very good, and our success in being one of the top Councils in the country for recyclable waste is down to our residents, and particularly to all of you here in Chilton for which we are very grateful.

Fly-tipping remains a national problem.  The Vale has suffered too but the employment of a first-class team has resulted in several large fines.  The Government’s introduction of on-the-spot fines should assist in the number of incidents.

The waste littered everywhere, and particularly along our main thoroughfares, the A34. A417 and A420, has caused major concerns – the whole matter is closely monitored.

Dog poo is another headache, and residents are requested to report any culprits to us so action can be taken.

Planning applications have been demanding throughout the year but following the adoption of our Local Plan 2031 Part 2 this will ensure speculative development applications will no longer succeed.

So many villages, parishes and towns have been affected by the need for additional housing and a planning application for 4,265 dwellings in Valley Park was granted.  These properties fall mainly in Harwell Parish and it is expected the first tranche will be under construction later this year.

The Vale’s annual survey of 1,000 council tax payers is important.  Feedback illustrates the majority of the Vale’s residents are happy with the Council’s services.  Around three quarters of them said the Council offered good quality services, and seven out 10 agreed they provided good value for money – the best result since the surveys began in 2012.

The year ahead:

This will be another challenging year without any doubt, calling for caution and prudent approach with its finances.

With further central financial cuts expected, the Vale will continue to explore means of reducing costs and expenditure.

Further discussion will arise with the Didcot Garden Town status concept with firm decisions made how it will affect the town and the surrounding villages.

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – the unknown remains but public consultation is planned later this year.

District Council elections are being held throughout the Vale on Thursday, 2nd May 2019.  Reg will be standing for this ward again and will be joined by Mike Johnston, whilst Janet will be standing for the Hendreds Ward as she resides in East Hendred.

Finally, we wish to especially thank Upton Parish Councillors and Parish Clerk, Liz, for all their committed and unstinting work on behalf of all the residents of the village.

JS & RWW 29 April 2019

 

Annex 4 – Downland Villages Transport Group

We continue to enjoy a good daily bus service at least while the present subsidy lasts.

There have been a few more users across the route but not sufficient to maintain a service without support.

The early morning service had to discontinue.

However those who required transport to get to the railway station have joined together on a shared taxi basis. (Please make enquires through the Parish Council if interested)

We don’t lose heart and might in the future have to make similar arrangements for transport for the shoppers.

Maybe not daily as we now enjoy and perhaps limited times.

Who knows anything could happen!  Better public transport!  Fewer cars on our roads!  Cleaner fuels!  Less pollution. We would all like that wouldn’t we?

 

Annex 5 – THE UNITED CHARITIES OF THE ANCIENT PARISH OF BLEWBURY

Registered Charity No: 203538

The charity’s origins date from the C17th with the bequeathal of land and of investments by several gentlemen; followed most significantly by the endowment of two almshouses by James Bacon in 1747. The ancient parish comprised the three now civil parishes of Blewbury, Upton and Aston Upthorpe. The charity is managed by a board of seven trustees and their clerk.

The main functions of The United Charities are firstly to help people of all ages who live in these parishes and who may need financial help, and secondly to be responsible for the maintenance of the two almshouses in Blewbury. The charity takes very seriously the care and upkeep of the almshouses in the churchyard (Grade II Listed Buildings) which are gifted to local residents in exchange for a maintenance contribution. This is one source of the charity’s income as is some wise investment from the sale of land. You may have noticed that we have undertaken significant work on Almshouse No. 2 as a consequence of severe flooding in October 2016. We are very pleased that the work is now complete and that the house has a new resident.

The charity aims to remain up-to-date with the needs of those within the villages who may require assistance and also to make everyone aware of the valuable work it does close to home in the community we share. Anyone needing help, or who knows of someone in need, should get in touch with the trustees via the charity’s clerk. Self-referrals are very welcome. The charity is able to give financial gifts to more people than currently request help. It may be that people are sometimes reluctant to ask for help. However, all applications are treated in the strictest confidence.

As well as small 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 disabilities, school uniform and many other instances where people are having difficulties paying for essential items as well as unexpected events. The charity can also provide emotional support and in many cases give advice on dealing with a range of issues such as finding tradesmen or carers. All applications are looked at entirely on a case by case basis and any gifts are made at the trustees’ discretion. Amounts will vary depending on levels of need.

The trustees are:

Blewbury:

Sheila Loy (Chair), Mark Palethorpe (Vice-Chair), Ann Dendy, Jill Willison, Jackie Maguire

Upton: Liz Hardy

Aston Upthorpe: Louise Brimacombe

The clerk is Sarah Donne, to whom initial enquiries should be sent sarahdonne@btinternet.com

IF THE TRUSTEES DO NOT KNOW – THEY CANNOT HELP

 

Annex 6 – Report to the 2019 Upton Parish Annual Meeting

On The Harwell Site Stakeholders’ Meetings.

I have continued to attend the Harwell Site Stakeholders’ Meetings on the behalf of Upton Parish Council. The purpose of the Stakeholders Group is to provide a forum between the nuclear activities on the site and interested local organisations. Three meetings a year, chaired by an elected local councillor, are held where the Site Closure Director, the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA), the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) present reports. We also hear from other organisations such as the Rutherford Lab from time to time.

Work is continuing to decommission the nuclear facilities and to treat radioactive wastes. The new Intermediate Level Waste store is nearly complete and will be used to store concrete blocks containing ILW on site. The decommissioning of the old liquid waste treatment plant is proceeding well, with the aim to restore this area to Green Field conditions. Waste material is being recovered from the old stores and repackaged for long term storage. None of the nuclear activities have had any impact on the Upton Parish.

Attention is drawn the Magnox Socio-Economic plan which provides small grants to encourage education, the development of employment and other similar investments in the local area. Upton has received a grant in previous years to contribute to the cost of staging in Upton Hall. At the time of writing some funding is still available.

I am happy to continue to represent Upton Parish Council if the members so wish and I will continue to report on any issues that might affect the parish.  Please contact if you want any further details of activities on the Harwell Licensed site.

Derek Whitmell

 

Annex 7 – Parish Footpath Report

We are not aware at the moment of any serious problems with any of the footpaths in the parish.

There are two broken stiles on Footpath 389/8 but neither is a problem as there are adequate gates alongside both and the path is perfectly usable for both pedestrians and dogs. The landowner has been informed of the problem next to the railway cutting and in the case of the stile next to the George and Dragon the landowner is denying that he owns the path. If the Parish Council wants this stile repaired then one of us (Mike) will repair the damage. There is also recent animal damage to the section of the path near to the pub which will need to be repaired. The future of this section of the path, which is very well used, needs to be discussed by the P.C. There are early signs that maintenance work will soon be needed on the bridge over the stream bed on the same path.

Since Footpath Wardens were introduced about 8 years ago we have shared the duty. Unfortunately we are both about to tender our resignations at the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council in May. If anyone is interested in taking on one of the most pleasant voluntary roles in the parish then either of us will be pleased to explain the duties to you. 95% of the job is enjoying strolling around our very pleasant footpaths looking out for any problems.

Mike Brown and Graham de Wilde

Parish Footpath Wardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annex 8