Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held in the Village Hall on Thursday 7th April 2011

Present:- Cllrs D Inskip, R Atkinson, R Winter, C Sharman, D Snowball; BBC Cllr J Walker

Observing Cllr D McMurdo               14 Villagers

The Meeting proper was preceded by the Annual Parish Meeting at which the Chair, Cllr Inskip reviewed developments through the year, mentioned the grants made to various village enterprises including the Church, noted the evolution in social groups within the village and thanked people for their support and contributions.

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Cllrs D Newman and K Harte.

2. Declaration of Interests

The clerk read out the declared interests of the councillors:-

Cllr Newman and Cllr Winter are members of the Playing Field Association

Cllr Winter is a member of the Village Hall Committee

Cllr Atkinson is a member of the Gardens and Allotments Society

Cllr Inskip is a Governor of Milton Ernest Lower School

Cllr Sharman is a member of the Village Fete Committee

Cllr Harte is a member of the Neighbourhood Watch Group

Cllrs Atkinson, Newman and Winter have an interest in the Youth Club

Cllr Newman’s children undertake litter picking for the Parish Council

3. Minutes of the Meeting held on 3rd March 2011

Councillors accepted the minutes as a true and accurate record of the meeting and they were duly signed by the Chair. There was discussion involving a villager relating to an item in the Public Forum. However, the Council believes that what was recorded was correct.

Decision:- to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd march 2011.

4. Matters Arising – for information only

    a. Thurleigh Road Layout and Signage.  Cllr Inskip reviewed the meeting reported earlier with Cllr Royden and a subsequent meeting with Brian Hayward and Andrew Prigmore of BBC Highways Dept. It was confirmed that the speed tables were correctly sited and that it would be possible to place a zebra crossing on the lower one. The cost of this would be about £20k but there would be no BBC money available to support this because of the low rate of usage. Ward Funding would have to be sought. Modifications to the road and signage higher up are being considered and proposals are awaited from both Cllr Royden and BBC Highways. It is also proposed by BBC to completely over-haul the signage all the way up the A6 from the Sainsbury’s roundabout and a sight of the proposals has been promised. Cllr Harte will be delegated to progress matters.

Action:- Cllr Harte to progress proposals for Thurleigh Road.

    b. Old Post Office and other footpaths.  It was noted that the greenery overhanging Old Post Office footpath had been partially cut back by the adjacent residents but that quite a lot more was needed; Cllr Inskip will progress the matter with them. Repairs to the metalled surface of this and other footpaths are to be addressed in a rolling programme which it is hoped will start again now April (and its new budgets) had come. A villager, Mrs Vicky Parry, had been noted shovelling soil from the Post Office path; the clerk has been asked to write and thank her for her public spirit.

Actions:- Cllr Inskip to contact residents adjacent to the Old Post Office footpath.

               Clerk to write to Mrs Parry.

    c. “School Railings”.  Cllr Inskip advised that at the meeting with BBC Highways, it was agreed that a set of staggered railings would be installed near the bottom the footpath adjacent to the bus shelter on the east side of the A6, hopefully preventing children inadvertently rushing out onto the road.

    d. Protection of Village Open Spaces.  The clerk advised the meeting that he had written to a representative of Mr Brandon, owner of the plot in question, offering terms for the informal lease by the Council but that no response had yet been received; the clerk was asked to progress the matter.

Action:- Clerk to contact Mr Brandon’s representative.

    e. Rural Affordable Housing.  Cllr Inskip advised she had had informal discussion with Zoe Ashby of Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity who had sent further preliminary information. To enable the matter to be taken further, the clerk was asked to invite Ms Ashby to address the Council at its June meeting.

Action:- Clerk to issue an invitation to Ms Ashby.

    f. Scrutiny & Policy Review & Development Committees.  Since advertising these Committees’ work in “The Villager”, the clerk reported that he had received no requests for any investigations to be carried out by any one of these committees.

5. Parish Action Plan

    a. A6 “Average Speed” Cameras.  Since the meeting with Cllr Royden at which the notion of using “average speed” cameras on the A6 through ME had been discounted on cost grounds, Cllr Inskip has learned that a new range of systems under the brand-name Safezone (manufactured by Siemens) was being introduced at substantially lower prices than previous systems – approximately £20k equating to about £3k per month for a 3 camera system. While this is still a lot of money the idea of sharing a system with other villages was mooted. She will be having further meetings with BBC and the police and will promulgate information on the system to interested parties by email. It seems there may be a local benefit if transgressors elect to go on “Safer Driving Courses” rather than be fined since fines go to the Government while the proceeds from the courses got to local authorities to off-set the cost of the systems.

At this point villager Dave Kerr was asked to report on the recent speed detection trials carried out around the village; speed seems not to be a problem on the Thurleigh Road (but see more of this below) where HGVs continue to offend, but certainly is on the A6 and Radwell Road. The data could form the basis of discussion with Siemens who may be invited to assess our problem first hand.

    b. Village Street Lighting Plan.  The final phase of the plan (changing concrete standards and adding bollards) is due to be completed in April.

    c. Progress with Land Registry.  The modified maps have yet to be completed before letters can be sent to relevant residents.

Action:- Cllrs Atkinson and Sharman to liaise over map preparation.

    d. Progress on Allotment Provision.  Cllr Inskip has identified 3 new possible sites, two adjacent to the A6 and the third in the grounds of Milton Ernest Hall. This latter site is their walled garden measuring 65m square; this is probably too small but they have now agreed to look again at other locations in the field adjacent to River Lane. Initial responses from interested parties to this site were quite enthusiastic because of its central yet secluded location, the likelihood of there being water on site, the possibility of expansion, the quality of the land and good access.  This site is not yet on offer but Cllr Inskip will pursue it. Villager Dave Kerr reported that there were now 22 applications for plots.

Action:- Cllr Inskip to progress this latter site.

    e. Progress on new website. The website is now working well and a number of people have been trained to input and control data on the site. Villager Brian Inall queried the privacy policy which applies to the site. Cllr Sharman will speak to John Alsop to clarify the matter. He further suggested that the website should no longer be a Parish Plan item but still come onto the Agenda as an item in its own right to ensure that the data put up remains current.

Action:- Cllr Sharman to discuss the privacy policy with John Alsop.

    f. Provision of glass recycling facility.  Cllr Snowball reported that he had no response from the Recycling Officer at BBC or from Cllr Royden. They still want ME to have a large container but Cllr Snowball thinks it is inappropriate and is reluctant to approach the Garden Centre again. Cllr Walker said she would try and progress the matter.

Action:- Cllr Walker to speak to relevant authorities.

Public Forum

v  Villager David Purser reviewed his concern over traffic on Thurleigh Road, how it had been made worse by the closure of the Clapham gate to the Twinwoods site and how that gate closure was attributable to pressure from Clapham PC. It was also noted that permission for The Body Flight Centre and the Immigration Detention Centre had been predicated on the use of that gate. Cllr Inskip assured the meeting that that was still very much a live issue. Again the possibility of closing Thurleigh Road was raised and met with considerable sympathy.

v  The issue of street lighting was again raised along with a letter to a villager from Mr PJ Simpkins, Chief Executive of Bedford Borough, mooting the possibility of the Village being asked its opinion of the new street lighting arrangements at some time after the elections. At the appropriate time, this possibility will be considered by the Council.

v  It was reported that cars had again been using Church Green; since the Council own the road, it was suggested that its closure might be the answer and residents will be consulted to get their views and decide where to put a (movable) barrier.

v  Cllr Walker noted that there were speculative plans to redevelop the Twinwoods site and improve access by building a short length of road effectively by-passing both Clapham and ME.

v  Villager Neil Roy, while sharing concerns over Thurleigh Road problems, expressed his thanks to Cllr Walker for her work on many issues.

6. Finance

    a. Financial Situation@ month end March 2011  
  Community A/C 14,029.04  
  BMM 27.16  
  Total 14,056.20 14,056.20
  Income yet to be credited    
  Total 0.00 0.00
  Total Cash   14,056.20
  Uncashed cheques 0.00  
  Total 0.00 0.00
  Cheques to be written    
  Clerk’s Salary & Expenses 227.55  
  Dylan Newman 50.00  
  Express Monitoring (Website) 196.20  
  Total 473.75 473.75
  Total Committed Expenditure 473.75
  Latest position   13,582.45
  Ring-fenced Funds   7,715.97
  Position at month-end exc. ring-fenced funds   5,866.48

    b. Payment Decisions

Decision:- It was decided to effect the above payments.

    c. Payment of Clerk’s salary.  Because of new government regulations all local authority personnel must be considered to be employees (rather than self-employed) and payments made to them via the PAYE Scheme. It is a complicated matter to set up and run such a scheme for one person so the matter is best farmed out to a pay-roll company and arrangements are in hand to effect this. Because their charges are “per payment” (£15), to minimise costs, the clerk has agreed to receive payment quarterly.

    d. Grass cutting grant.  To help with the Council’s grass cutting costs, BBC are offering a grant of £344.13. It was decided to accept this grant and the clerk will make the necessary arrangements.

Decision:- It was decided to accept the BBC grass cutting grant.

Action:- The clerk will make the necessary arrangements.

7. Village Welfare

    a. Biogen Power Action Up-date.  Cllr Inskip outlined the actions which have been taken since the last Council meeting. She has been striving to put together a strong response leading up to the Planning Appeal starting on 4th May at Bedford Heights, Manton Lane, Bedford. At a meeting on 24th March, the Twinwoods Action Group was set up to coordinate actions to resist the Appeal; this includes preparing a website, establishing contact with surrounding villages, politicians, all possible stake-holders and other interested parties, producing posters, encouraging attendance at the Appeal, researching previous Appeals, preparing the highly complex technical response and fund-raising. One donor has offered to match all other funds raised up to £5k. There were numerous constructive comments from the floor and concerns raised about the roll of the BBC Planning Dept and the difficult position it finds itself in, having opposed the first planning application but supported the second. Their solicitor and barrister will play critical roles as will the Minerals and Waste Planning specialist they intend to employ. The role of the Environment Agency was questioned but, having not resisted the plan initially, they will play no part until later. Cllr Atkinson had noted a BBC Report on the Rookery Farm scheme; Cllr Walker will try and obtain a copy. The next TAG meeting is on 14th April. The Council approved Cllr Inskip speaking on its behalf at the Panning Appeal.

Decision:- To approve Cllr Inskip speaking on behalf of the Council.

    b. Royal Wedding Children’s Competitions Prizes.  As had been agreed in principle at the last meeting, Cllr Atkinson sought to quantify the value of the prizes the Council were prepared to offer; after some discussion, it was agreed to offer prizes to the total value of no more than £80, probably in the form of vouchers; the details have been left to the competition organizers.

Decision:- To offer prizes for the children’s competitions to a value not exceeding £80.

    c. Depression in Radwell Road.  Cllr Winter noted that the depression in the road outside 5, Radwell Road (probably associated with the main water pipe) had been filled in with a simple surface patch. He further noted the poor condition of the road surface in River Lane and London End. The clerk was asked to remind Brian Hayward of the Highways Dept that this needs attention.

Action:- Clerk to contact Brian Hayward of the Highways Dept.

    d. Christmas Tree lights.  A villager noted that he had had to re-activate the Christmas tree lights. There might be a problem which may need attention sometime.

    e. Loan of Christmas Tree Lights.  Cllr Atkinson had received a request for the use of the lights (which she has in her possession) to decorate the Village Hall during Royal Wedding celebrations; this was agreed. (It will be a test for the lights condition).

Decision:- To loan the lights to the Village Hall.

8. Correspondence

    a. Amey – A6 Speed activated sign.  Amey has advised that the warranty on the speed activated sign on the A6 just north of the centre of the village will expire at the end of March 2013 and that from then it will be the Council’s responsibility to maintain it. The question of a maintenance contract will be considered nearer the time.

    b. Traffic Survey Results.  Cllr Inskip had received the results of a recent traffic survey carried out by villagers in the centre of the village on vehicles on the A6. The full results are available but it was noted that on that day, a Thursday, there had been 6,200 vehicle movements in each direction, a low percentage being HGVs. It was commented that the number of HGVs anticipated by Biogen Power would represent a considerable increase in that type of vehicle in the village.

    c. Hand Tools.  A letter has been received from BBC confirming that a set of hand tools (for maintenance of the green environment in the village) has been donated to the Council for the use of the P3 Group.

    d. A Burt Meeting.  Alistair Burt MP has issued an invitation to Councillors to meet with him and the new Chief Constable in Biggleswade on 17th June. Councillors will advise the clerk of their intention to attend; the clerk will accept for the group.

Actions:- Councillors to advise the clerk of their intention to attend.

               Clerk to accept the invitation for the group.

    e. Letter from villager concerning village street lighting.  Cllr Inskip has received a letter from a villager expressing her on-going concerns. Cllr Inskip will reply. On the same issue a copy of a letter to the villager from PJ Simkins, CE of Bedford Borough, has been received and its contents noted.

Action:- Cllr Inskip to write to the villager.

9. Decisions on Planning Applications

    a. Application 11/00389/ADV – Erection of signs at Milton Ernest Hall.  This application was received shortly after the last council meeting and was circulated to all councillors. There were no objections and this has been confirmed to the Planning Officers.

Decision:- To confirm the decision to raise no objection to this development.

10. Reports from Representatives

    a. School Governors.  There had been a Full Governing Body meeting on 23 March at which an Ofsted and Church Inspection Report had been presented. The school’s involvement in the Village Fete was confirmed. There had been further discussion on progress towards federation with Eileen Wade Lower School of Upper Dean.

    b. Village Hall Committee.  New notice boards had been installed; the next meeting will be on 3rd May.

    c. Playing Field Association Committee.  There had been no recent meeting.

    d. P3 Sub-committee.  The Riverside View hedges have been clipped and there is to be further discussion to arrive at a sustainable policy over this. Branches overhanging 64 Radwell Road have been lopped.

    e. Village Fete Committee.  The next meeting will be on 23rd May – the last before the Fete. Following a question from the floor, Cllr Sharman confirmed that the results of the raffle would be published in “The Villager”. He also sought volunteers to sell raffle tickets at The Garden Centre on 4/5th June. Councillors will check their diaries.

    f. Neighbourhood Watch.  Nothing to report.

11. Members Calendar

    Members advised of their availability.

12. Date of next meeting

    Because of elections the next meeting will be on 12th May.

Finally, Cllr Inskip noted that this would be Cllr Walker’s last meeting in Milton Ernest and, on behalf of the Village, offered her thanks for all her efforts for the Village over the years. The Chair then offered her thanks to all attendees and the meeting closed at 10.08pm.

These minutes were signed as a true record of the meeting.

Signature……………………………………………………..                                Date………………………………