MARCH MEETING NOTES
The March meeting of the Parish Council took place remotely over Zoom on 3rd March. All Parish Councillors participated, including Cllr Sarah Younger who had been recently co-opted to fill a vacancy outstanding from May last year. One member of the public joined for part of the meeting to discuss a planning related issue concerning the change of use of some of the designated open space with the Parklands Farm development to private garden land. As always, whether on-line or in person, in the village hall, there is always an opportunity for public questions or comments to be raised at the start of the meeting but there were no other issues discussed.
As the meeting progressed there were no declarations of interest and only limited matters relating to Police & Community Safety issues, this being perhaps a positive benefit of the ongoing lockdown. However, there has recently been evidence of substance abuse within the dugouts at the playing field and Cllr Jones explained that it is for this reason they had been boarded over. The Police and Neighbourhood Warden have been asked if they can be observant in case this activity should relocate within the village and parents are asked to be alert.
Under planning matters, there were no applications to consider but a decision was noted in that the District Council had granted a Certificate of Lawfulness relating to a proposed single storey kitchen extension to the rear of 23 Paynes Meadow. Obviously, the major planning issues facing the village at present are the pending application for 100 new dwellings in the field adjacent to Schoolfield Close and the proposed 2,500 or more new houses and additional developments on land East of the A38 and both North and South of Grove Lane. It is not too late for anyone with views on these proposals to put them forward to the Planning Department at the District Council.
During the lockdowns the value of accessible local footpaths for daily exercise has been more important than ever. Cllr Paynter has been monitoring the various local routes and keeping a record of actions needed to address obstructions and other problems. With restrictions easing and business at the County Council looking to return to normal, he will follow up the issues concerning the Parish with the relevant Public Rights of Way Officer. On Highway matters, Council is looking to arrange a discussion at a forthcoming Parish Council meeting with the Area Highways Supervisor to further consider what traffic calming measures may be appropriate for School Lane in the vicinity of the School. Council is also in touch with the County Council on issues concerning overgrown hedges and would urge all residents to consider if their hedges, trees or other foliage might be impinging on a footpath, roadway or other public space and take action before the nesting season arrives.
Council was pleased to have received a grant payment of £5,000 from the Urbaser Community Fund following the completion of the installation of the outdoor gym equipment at the playing field. Together with grant aid from the County Council, secured by District & County Councillor Stephen Davies and a generous contribution from the Whitminster Village Hall & Playing Field Management Committee, this means that the equipment has been paid for entirely by grant support. Unfortunately, the equipment remains out of use for now in accordance with lockdown rules but given the excellent progress of the vaccine rollout it is hoped that this may change shortly. Council’s next project is the skate ramp and consideration continues as to what could be provided in the current location that will not restrict the site for the rebuilding of the proposed new Playing Field Pavilion. Additional funding is also needed and any ideas or offers of support to help with raising funds would be much appreciated.
As Spring approaches thoughts turn to the local elections scheduled to take place in May. These have been postponed from 2020 and will include an election to form a new Parish Council if the number of nominations exceeds the available number of seats, being 7. Anyone interested in standing is encouraged to make contact with an existing Councillor to discuss what might be involved and to come along to the next meeting (in person or virtually depending on how it is convened) to get an idea of a typical meeting. Details of the nomination procedure will soon appear on the Parish notice boards once nominations are open.
The next meeting of the Parish Council will take place on Wednesday 7th April at 7:30pm and the agenda along with additional information will be circulated in due course.