Strawberry Tree Cottage, Radwell Road, Milton Ernest MK44 1RY; 01234 823889

Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held in the Village Hall on Thursday 4th April 2013

Meeting commenced 8.03pm

Present:- Cllrs R Atkinson (chair), R Winter, C Sharman, M Quince and D Newman; Ward Cllr D McMurdo

Clerk B Gale                            6 Residents


Public Forum

No issues were raised.

1.         To receive apologies for absence. 

Cllrs J Williams and D Snowball tendered their apologies.

2.         Declaration of Interests – Members were reminded that where they have a local and/or disclosable pecuniary interest in any business of the Council to be considered at this meeting they must disclose the existence and nature of that interest at the commencement of that consideration, or when the interest becomes apparent, in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Cllr Atkinson advised that she was a contributor to the Milton Ernest Environmental Group Facebook page;

she further advised that she had checked her status wrt Riverside Meadow with the Borough solicitor and he had confirmed that she was free to discuss and vote on issues relating to the Meadow.

3.         Planning Applications

            3.1 – 13/00310/FUL & 13/00310/LBC, extension at The Old Rectory, Thurleigh Road, ME, MK44 1RF.

The details having been previously circulated, councillors confirmed they had no objections to this development; this has already been conveyed to BBC and permission has been granted.

            3.2 – 13/00490/FUL, Change of use for storage rooms, Bodyflight Ltd, Twinwoods BP, ME, MK44 1FD.

Details are being circulated to Councillors; it was thought that there may be no objections to the work per se but that any increase in business would exacerbate the problems brought about by Bodyflight using an inappropriate postcode to guide customers; the clerk was asked to reflect this concern when responding to the BBC Planning Dept although it is not a material planning consideration.

4.         To consider approving the Minutes of the meeting on 7th March 2013

Cllr Quince proposed the approval of the minutes as a true and accurate record of the meeting; this was seconded by Cllr Newman and unanimously agreed. The minutes were duly signed by the Chair.

Decision: It was resolved to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 7th March 2013.

5.         Matters Arising – for information only

            5.1 – Report on progress of road layout and signage around Thurleigh Rd. (09/10/4p)

Cllr McMurdo advised that the possibility of getting the South Gate of Twinwoods Business Park reopened was still being pursued; also, that a firm plan had been agreed with BBC to impose width restrictions, adjust signage and remodel the pavement on Thurleigh Road; full details will be sent soon and these will be shared with residents and the school to get their views; the scheme will cost about £20,000 and the Borough will look to the Parish to make a contribution of £5,000, £2,000 of which Cllr McMurdo could make available from his Ward Fund. Concern was expressed over the proliferation of “infrastructure” into the village environment.

Action: Cllr McMurdo to send Thurleigh Road development plans for clerk to circulate to residents of Thurleigh Road and ME Lower school.

            5.2 – Report on Old post Office & other footpaths. (09/02/6a)

It was noted that Amey were still to address the problem with Old Post Office footpath.

            5.3 – Report on progress with Land Registry. (07/04/8)

As a final detail, Resident G Atkinson was incorporating information into the submission to the Land Registry; when this was complete and the clerk had signed his statutory declaration, the claim would be made, hopefully within the week.

Action: Resident G Atkinson to finalize submission.

6.         Parish Action Plan – for information only

            6.1 – Report on progress with A6 “average speed” cameras. (07/12/11d)

No further developments have taken place but a few vehicles were still noted to be going fast up the A6.

Actions: Cllr McMurdo to check with the police over progress with prosecutions.

                Clerk to re-contact the Highways Dept over an extra sign.

            6.2 – Report on progress with allotment provision. (08/07/6h)

Cllr McMurdo has still to re-establish contact with the main stakeholders viz. Bedfordia, Majesticare and Allsops, the Twinwoods administrator.

Actions: Cllr McMurdo to re-contact allotment stakeholders.

7.         Finance

7.1Acceptance of Monthly Reconciliation.

Financial Situation @ 31st March 2013
Bank Balances @ 28th February  2013    
 HSBC Community A/C  £  21,291.27  
 HSBC BMM  £          27.16  
 Total in bank accounts  £  21,318.43  £     21,318.43
 Receipts since last reconciliation    
 Book sales  £          30.00  
 Total  £          30.00  £             30.00
 Total    £     21,348.43
 Payments since last reconciliation    
 Clerk’s Expenses  £          30.00  
 Clerk’s Salary  £       535.50  
 Ben Combe Litter picking  £          30.00  
 Village Hall Rent  £          90.75  
 Wildman Transport  £          59.40  
 Total  £       745.65  £           745.65
 Calculated Balance @ 31st March  2013    £     20,602.78
 c/w Actual Bank Balances @ 31st March  2013  
 HSBC Community A/C  £  20,575.62  
 HSBC BMM  £          27.16  
 Total in bank accounts  £  20,602.78  £     20,602.78
 Receipts yet to be credited    
 None  £                -    
 Total  £                -    £                    -  
 Cheques not presented    
 Villager Minibus  £       150.00  
 Total  £       150.00  £           150.00
 Payments to be made    
 Clerk’s Expenses  £          30.00  
 Ben Combe Litter picking  £          30.00  
 Mrs H Snowball – Neighbourhood Watch  £          10.00  
 Bedfordshire Regiment Memorial Donation  £          50.00  
 All Saints Donation/ Villager Sponsorship  £    1,150.00  
 RAE-DPP  £       125.00  
 Total  £    1,395.00  £       1,395.00
 Total Committed Expenditure    £       1,545.00
 Latest position    £     19,057.78
 Ring-fenced Funds    £       5,722.60
 Position at month-end exc. ring-fenced funds    £     13,335.18

Decision:- It was resolved to approve the reconciliation.

            7.2Payments to be made.

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

Action:- Clerk to make payments.

            7.3 - Review of Clerk’s Salary.

Discussion deferred.

8.         Village Welfare

            8.1 – 64 Radwell Road – Report on the insurance situation of the adjacent trees and the quotations received to control the same trees.

It was noted that there had been no developments concerning insurance issues. The clerk reported on tree reduction quotations; an item will be included in the next meeting to make a decision on how to proceed.

            8.2 – Overview of Milton Ernest’s Riverside Meadow Policy.

A document dated 3rd April (Appendix 1) having previously been circulated to councillors and 7 Riverside View residents, Cllr Newman presented the historical background. Following discussion including, inter alia, about disabled access, Cllr Quince proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Cllr Newman and unanimously agreed:-

Decision:- In accordance with Decision 1 in Appendix 1, it was resolved that Milton Ernest Parish Council will create and maintain the Riverside Meadow open space amenity area, with river frontage and wild flower meadows, for the mutual benefit of the general public and wildlife.

            8.3 – Riverside Meadow Maintenance Plan – Discussion on proposals for meadow and hedge maintenance.

A document dated 3rd April (Appendix 1) having previously been circulated to councillors and 7 Riverside View residents, Cllr Newman presented a proposal for a maintenance regime for Riverside Meadow and its hedges. Following discussion, in which it was agreed that the managed walkways grass should be cut to a nominal length of 5cm and that the Meadow Entrance area be reduced slightly, Cllr Atkinson proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Cllr Sharman and unanimously agreed:-

Decision:- In accordance with Decision 2 in Appendix 1, it was resolved to implement the maintenance policy for Riverside Meadow detailed in that document modified by the above minor changes.

Action:- Cllr Newman to revise the maintenance regime to incorporate the above changes.

The possibility of “migrating” the hedge approximately 1m from residents driveways towards the centre of the meadow was discussed. Cllr Quince proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Cllr Winter and unanimously agreed:-

Decision:- In accordance with Decision 3 in Appendix 1, it was resolved to “migrate” the hedge 1m as detailed in that document.

Cllr Atkinson advised that she had been approached by an experienced tree surgeon who was prepared to do the necessary work on the hedge; she was encouraged to take advantage of this offer.

            8.4 – Riverside Meadow - Discussion on enhancement proposals for Riverside Meadow and procedures to progress.

A document dated 3rd April (Appendix 1) having previously been circulated to councillors and 7 Riverside View residents, Cllr Newman presented proposals for the enhancement of Riverside Meadow. Following discussion in which it was agreed that a step-by-step approach be adopted involving professional environmentalists and all village residents, Cllr Quince proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Cllr Winter and unanimously agreed:-

Decision:- In accordance with Decision 4 in Appendix 1, it was resolved to investigate the creation of an open area of riverside frontage.

            8.5 – Installation of Village “gates” – Report on status of the project.

The clerk advised that the next step was to agree a date for the work to be done with the contractor; a license would then be obtained from BBC. The job should be completed in 2-3 weeks.

Action:- Clerk to progress “gate” installation.

            8.6 – Cultivation of the “Brandon Strip” – Report on the status of the project.

The clerk reported he was to have a meeting with the new resident of 36 Radwell Road on 6th April.

Action:- Clerk to progress the Brandon Strip project.

            8.7 – Neighbourhood Development Plan for the village – Discussion of the way forward.

See item 10.1 below.

            8.8 – New Village Welfare raised by Councillors.

  1. a.    Cllr Atkinson announced that the clerk was to relinquish his post at the end of June or earlier if a suitable replacement could be found. Notices asking for replacement candidates will be placed in “The Villager” and on notice boards and BATPC advised. 

Action:- Clerk to place notices and advise BATPC about vacancy for clerk. 

  1. It was noted that there were still defective man-hole covers in Radwell Road.

Action:- Clerk to progress repair of man-hole covers. 

  1. It was noted that A6 lights numbers 202, 203, 206 and 211 are not working.

Action:- Clerk to report defective lights. 

  1. It was noted that there had been a couple of accidents near the brow of the hill on the A6 leaving ME northwards.

Action:- Cllr McMurdo to highlight A6 accidents to BBC authorities.

  1. It was noted that there had been incidents of parking by the zebra crossing when the pavement  had been completely blocked necessitating pedestrians to step onto the A6.

Action:- Clerk to write to all nearby neighbours about parking. 

  1. f.     It was noted that there was a long delay between requesting a light change at the zebra crossing and the lights actually changing, tempting youngsters to cross before it is completely safe.

Action:- Cllr McMurdo to request Highways Helpdesk to effect change to crossing lights timing.

  1. g.    It was noted that the bottom of River Lane still needed further clearance.

Action:- Clerk to progress clearance with Grangers.

  1. h.    It was noted that sewage was leaking near the pumping station at the bottom of River Lane, an H&S situation which had been brought to the attention of Anglian Water by a resident and BBC Environmental Health Dept.

Action:- Cllr McMurdo to progress sewage leak with Anglian Water and BBC Environmental Health.

9.         Correspondence – for information only; documents in the circulation file

  1. From BBC concerning help for carers in the Borough. Put on web-site.
  2. From BBC response concerning our notification about sewage in River Lane.
  3. From Biogen concerning fertiliser spreading following our request.
  4. From BBC press release concerning the use of “real” nappies. Put on web-site.
  5. From BBC response from Highways following our request about previously proposed schemes.
  6. From BBC press release concerning the opening of Number Thirteen, a new cafe/bar. Put on web-site.
  7. From BBC press release advising of a Family Fun Day aimed at families caring for a child with a disability or additional needs. Put on web-site.
  8. From BBC press release supporting World Water Day.
  9. From Bedfordshire CPRE – invitation to their AGM.
  10. From BBC Planning Dept advising on progress on the ME application to be designated a Neighbourhood Area.
  11. From BBC concerning Empty Homes Strategy Consultation.
  12. From BBC press release concerning opportunities for apprentices. Put on web-site.
  13. From DCLG via BATPC “Guidance on Openness and Transparency on personal interests”.
  14. From BBC notification of the re-opening of Higgins Art Gallery. Put on web-site.
  15. From BBC M&W Planning; notice of consultation on proposals to the M&W Local Plan.
  16. From BBC A&D Plan Consultation.
  17. From BBC Statement of Community Involvement Consultation.


10.       Reports by Representatives

            10.1 – Neighbourhood Development Plan – RAE-DPP

Cllr Atkinson reported that she and Cllr Quince had attended a meeting of RAE-DPP on 2nd April, along with representatives from Thurleigh, Bletsoe and Clapham where the important issues had been identified and the importance of reaching out to the public emphasised. A general Mission Statement is to be issued soon and advice sought from the first CPRE support package.

            10.2 – Village Hall committee

A committee meeting is scheduled for May; new circular tables have been bought with Ward Fund money (courtesy of Cllr McMurdo); new toilets are to be installed in the next few weeks; a new sound system is to be considered.

            10.3 – Playing Field Association Committee

There is to be a meeting this month to consider preparations for the Fete; A new safety report has just been received from Wicksteed Leisure. Litter bin emptying is to be re-considered; it was felt that emptying once a month would be adequate. Cllr McMurdo will visit the site with an Environmental Health officer to see what would be best.

Action:- Cllr McMurdo to visit playing field with an Environmental Health officer.

            10.4 – P3 Sub-committee

No report.

            10.5 – Village Fete Committee

Meeting scheduled for 29th May.

            10.6 – Neighbourhood Watch

No report.

11.       Review of Actions Summary from the last meeting

Item in March 2013 minutes Who Action Refer/


PF Clerk To place a notice in “The Villager” to ensure residents are familiar with the need to register questions with the clerk at least 3 days before Council meetings. Complete
5.3 Resident To lodge claims with The Land Registry on behalf of the Parish Council. See item 5.3 above
6.1 Clerk To contact the Highways Dept over the “Average Speed” camera sign. See item 6.1 above
6.2 Clerk To progress communication with Majesticare. See item 6.2 above
7 Clerk To advise the BBC of the work required and ask about the status of previous projects. Complete
9.2 Clerk To make agreed payments. Complete
9.3 Clerk To make payment to All Saints Church. Complete
9.4 Clerk To make payment to The Bedfordshire Regiment Memorial Appeal. Complete
9.5 JW To review the clerk’s Contract of Employment for discussion at the next meeting. See item 7.3 above
10.1 Clerk To get quotations to cut back trees near 64 Radwell Road. See item 8.1 above
10.2 DN To refine his Riverside Meadow plan. See items 8.2, 3 & 4 above
10.2 RA To evolve a maintenance schedule for immediate action on the hedge. See item 8.3 above
10.3 Clerk To progress work on the installation of “gates”. See item 8.5 above
10.4 Clerk To progress the Brandon Strip project. See item 8.6 above
10.5 Clerk To put a “fertilizer” notice in ”The Villager” and seek information from Bedfordia. Complete
10.6 RA To undertake the initial work in preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan. See item 10.1 above
10.8 Clerk To seek advice from BBC Environmental Health on sewage. See item 8.8h above
10.8a Clerk To invite Grangers to re-address the overgrowth problem. See item 8.8g above
10.8b Clerk To investigate and remedy broken man-hole cover. See item 8.8b above
10.8c DN To investigate the deep ruts and fly-tipping in the playing field. Complete
Held over DMcM To check on action against speeding offenders. See item 6.1 above
Held over DMcM To re-arrange meeting with Bedfordia over allotments. See item 6.2 above
Held over DMcM To review charges for playing field bin emptying with BBC Environmental Health Dept. See item 10.3 above
Held over DMcM To pursue “postcode” issue via Economic Development Dept. See item 3.2 above


12.       Member’s Calendar

13.       Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be on 2nd May 2013 at 8.00pm at The Village Hall, Milton.

The Chair offered her thanks to all attendees and the meeting closed at 9.59pm.

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

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

                  Mrs R Atkinson, Chair

Appendix 1

Riverside Meadow Proposal Document 3rd April 2013

The History of Riverside Meadow in Milton Ernest:

  • Riverside Meadow was formed from part of Village Farm land, owned by Bedfordia.
  • 20 May 1996 the Village Farm land (Ordnance Survey reference TL0156SW) was transferred from John Ibbett to Castleden Limited.
  • Bewick Homes Limited built Riverside View housing development on the site.
  • 27 May 1999 the land to the south-west side of Riverside View was transferred to Bedford Borough Council (BBC) (Land Registry Title BD194409) after Milton Ernest Parish Council (MEPC) declined the opportunity of owning the land. A covenant stated that the owner will “forever maintain the Property as an open grassed or otherwise landscaped amenity open space….”
  • By March 2004 MEPC had a number of new Councillors with different views to those who had previously declined the offer of ownership. A decision was made to take on the ownership of Riverside Meadow and to create a village amenity area with a wildflower meadow. MEPC entered into negotiations with BBC’s Parks & Open Spaces Department.
  • By December 2004 BBC had agreed in principle to transfer the land to MEPC. This was later ratified by The Executive Committee of BBC.
  • In October 2006 a site visit was undertaken by Simon Fisher, the Conservation Officer for BBC. Amongst his recommendations were that the bank should be cleared of nettles in two or three places to the edge of the river so it would become more attractive to visitors.
  • 5 April 2007 the land to the south-west side of Riverside View was transferred from Bedford Borough Council to Milton Ernest Parish Council (Land Registry Title BD209256) with the sum of £5,266.30 to be used in respect of maintaining the Property as a public open space for the benefit of the public at large.
  • The Parish Plan which was accepted by Milton Ernest Parish Council in June 2009 had the following Findings which relate to Riverside Meadow:
    • Finding 14: 72% of households consider certain open spaces must be preserved. MEPC to explore the possibility of registering open spaces as Public Open Spaces and designate these areas for wildlife value etc.
    • Finding 15: 73% of parishioners would like to see wild flowers in grass areas. MEPC to consider planting projects which enhance the value of open spaces.
    • Finding 16: Percentages of parishioners in favour of areas of the village to be managed for wildlife by planting are: 72% wild flowers in grass area, 71% trees, 54% hedgerows.
    • Other comments in the Parish Plan:
      • Riverside Meadow is being maintained as an amenity area and wildlife habitat.
      • The A6 and Radwell Road verges, Riverside Meadow, the margins of the Playing Field and the grass area between the village hall and the A6 bus stop were the places most frequently proposed for wildlife-friendly initiatives.
      • 70% of villagers were not in favour of less regular mowing in order to attract wildlife.

Covenants (within BD209256) which have to be observed by Milton Ernest Parish Council:

  • Not to use the Property for any purpose other than as an area of open space for the benefit of the general public.
  • Not to erect or cause to be erected on the Property any building or structure whatsoever.
  • To keep the Property in good order and condition consistent with the use of the Property as a public amenity.
  • To maintain and repair the fencing situate on the western boundary (Garden Centre side) of the Property.

REQUIRED DECISION #1: To agree on Milton Ernest’s Riverside Meadow Policy:

  • Milton Ernest Parish Council will create and maintain the Riverside Meadow open space amenity area, with river frontage and wild flower meadows, for the mutual benefit of the general public and wildlife.

Dictionary definitions: (i) ‘Amenity’: any feature that provides comfort, convenience, or pleasure. (ii)’ Mutual’: held in common; shared: mutual interests.

REQUIRED DECISION #2: To agree on the following Maintenance Policy for Riverside Meadow:

Riverside Meadow Maintenance Plan

Managed Grass Walkways (Green areas on plan)

  • Managed grass walkways to be cut 10 times per year as per schedule below by a contractor employed by Milton Ernest Parish Council.
  • The area marked ‘Meadow Entrance’ not to be cut until ‘Mid May’ allowing any spring flowers to die down naturally. This area, therefore, will only be cut 7 times per year.
  • Managed grass walkways to be cut to a low level, circa 2.5cm (1”), and to be a minimum of 2.0m (6’ 6”) wide.
      Early Apr Early May Early Jun Early Jul Early Aug Early Sep Early Oct    
      Mid Apr Mid May Mid Jun            


Natural Areas (Yellow areas on plan)

  • Natural areas to be cut once a year as per schedule below by a contractor employed by Milton Ernest Parish Council.
  • Grass to be removed by the contractor.
  • Milton Ernest P3 Group to plant and manage wild flowers in the natural areas.
                Early Sep      


Managed Hedgerows (Black areas on plan)

  • Managed hedgerows to be cut once a year as per schedule below by a contractor employed by Milton Ernest Parish Council. Please note that in the interests of harmony Milton Ernest P3 Group will no longer have responsibility for maintenance of the managed hedgerows.
  • To maximise the natural appearance the hedge will be cut to give a variation in height and density along its length, taking into account the particular plant at any one location.
  • The maximum height of any part of the hedge will be limited to 3.0m (9’ 10”), therefore, it shall be pruned down to 2.5m (8’ 2”) at the scheduled time of each cut. This will allow for growth of 0.5m (1’ 7”) during the year.
  • The hedge shall be cut lower in front of the lounge windows of the houses facing Riverside Meadow.  These lower sections of the hedge will be 3.0m (9’ 10”) wide and shall be cut down to a height of 1.5m (4’ 11”) at the scheduled time allowing for growth of circa 0.5m (1’ 7”) through the year increasing the managed hedgerow height to circa 2.0m (6’ 6”). If a resident does not wish to have a lower hedge in front of their window they must advise Milton Ernest Parish Council, in writing, by 31st January, so that the contractor can be advised accordingly.
  • Only the height of the hedge to be cut leaving the hedge to thicken out.
  • Residents should not undertake any work on the hedge except to cut back any growth encroaching onto their drives.
  • All trees within the managed hedgerows to be left to grow naturally.




Natural Hedgerows (Red areas on plan)

  • Natural hedgerows to be left to grow to their natural width and height.

REQUIRED DECISION #3: To agree to migrate the managed hedgerow back 1 metre:

  • Additional planting of hedgerow species (predominantly hawthorn) will be positioned on the meadow side of the hedge with appropriate lower-growing species planted in the ‘3 metre gaps’.  This work will be carried out in Autumn. The long term aim of this planting is to ‘migrate’ the hedge towards the meadow and eventually cut back the hedge to create a 1m wide strip between the hedge and the driveways.

REQUIRED DECISION #4: To agree to investigate the creation of an open area of riverside frontage:

Riverside Meadow Enhancement Plan

Potential Enhancements to Riverside Meadow

  • Create an ’Embankment’ area of river frontage by removing a maximum of 40 metres and a minimum of 20 metres of trees and bushes.  See attached potential plans.
  • Remove trees growing in the river as they collect debris and make the area unsightly. As a minimum remove the trees overhanging the river in the picnic area and the proposed embankment area. As a maximum remove all trees overhanging the river. See attached photos.
  • Cut and remove any overhanging tree branches so that none are head height or below.
  • Install a second life buoy, to the left hand side of the meadow.
  • Two benches to be placed in front of the ‘Embankment’.
  • Install a ‘Welcome to River Side Meadow’ sign at the entrance – include a few rules e.g. no vehicle access without prior consent of MEPC, no dog fouling etc.
  • Provide an information board giving insight into the flowers, trees and wildlife that exist on the meadow.
  • Fishing rights to be secured in the name of Milton Ernest Parish Council.
  • Encouragement of Milton Ernest residents to fish from the ‘Embankment’.
  • Create a ‘fishing swim’.
  • Actively plant wild flowers in ‘Wild Flower Meadow Area A’ and ‘Wild Flower Meadow Area B’.

Procedures Ahead of any Potential Enhancements to Riverside Meadow

  • Liaise with the Environment Agency regarding removal of bushes and small trees to create the proposed ‘Embankment’ to assess whether this will cause any issues with riverbank erosion or any other major problems.
  • Liaise with the Environment Agency regarding the removal of some or all of the trees growing into the river to assess whether this will cause any major problems.
  • Providing the Environment Agency assessment allows for the creation of an ‘Embankment’ then MEPC to establish a need for the proposed ‘Embankment’ through consultation with the entire Village. Consultation to consist of an Open Meeting followed by documentation of the proposals being sent to every house with a “yes” or “no” response required, in a Parish Action Plan style exercise.
  • Ultimate aim to create the ‘Embankment’ in February 2014.


Proposed removal of trees and bushes growing out of the river which collect debris