Minutes 24 April 2012

24 April 2012

ELLINGHAM, HARBRIDGE & IBSLEY PARISH COUNCIL

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held in Ellingham Church Hall on Tuesday 24 April 2012 at 7.00pm.

Present:

Cllr Burtenshaw – Chairman

Cllr Stokes – Vice Chairman

Cllr Webster

Cllr Errington

Cllr Lane

Cllr Shand

Cllr Richardson

Apologies

Cllr Spark.

In attendance:

Steve Avery, Director of Park Services, New Forest National Park Authority – guest speaker

County Councillor Edward Heron

District Councillor Bill Dow

Natasha Mackenzie – Clerk

50 invited guests and residents

  1. Welcome

Cllr Burtenshaw, Chairman, welcomed everyone to the EHI Annual Parish Meeting, and introduced the councillors to the audience. She also welcomed the representatives of many of the local organisations and others who help the Council during the year and thanked them for coming this evening.

The Chairman then extended a particularly warm welcome to the guest speaker Steve Avery the Director of park Services for the New Forest National Park Authority. She explained he has spoken previously at some of our monthly Parish Council meetings, enticing our residents to come and hear him speak. He therefore kindly agreed to return tonight and update us on how the Localism Bill affects us all and on what is happening within the Park.

Chairman’s Annual Report

Good news this year is the progress being made by the Community Plan Steering Group, whose endeavours are on the point of bearing fruit. Their comprehensive questionnaire achieved just under a 60% response rate, helping us learn a great deal about you, the residents, and providing a clear idea of your views, wishes and aspirations for the Parish. The resultant Community Plan will help guide the Parish Council in its work for the next 10 years or more, so it is very important that we know exactly what you think. It is scheduled to be published in time for the results to be available at the Ellingham Show in August. Some members of the Steering Group are here tonight and I thank them for their commitment and look forward to seeing the results soon.

THE PLANNING COMMITTEE meets on the second Tuesday of every month and it considered almost 60
applications in 2011. We write to every applicant advising a Councillor will be coming to take photographs of the site and talk with the applicant. This benefits the assessing Councillor when presenting the plans to the other Councillors on the Planning Committee, to help them understand the proposed plans and their context. We are also delighted if applicants take the opportunity to attend the planning committee and answer any questions – it is always good to hear their views and to meet them. The Parish Council then makes its recommendation to the NFDC or NPA, and the final decision is then in their hands.

The Parish Council is always keen to see that planning regulations are observed; it will and does report to either the NPA of NFDC planning enforcement officers, any breaches in these regulations. There are a number of outstanding cases within the Parish but once they have been reported the Parish Council has to rely on the relevant authorities to take appropriate action.

FOOTPATHS

HCC Countryside department are still in negotiations regarding the bridge on footpath 703. The removal of the old bridge would be hugely expensive, so they are still liaising with Wessex Water in relation to diverting the footpath over their road bridge nearby. Sam Jones, who was unable to attend this evening, is still working on getting this project off the ground.

The Parish still faces considerable cost in maintaining the hitch rails and posts and dragons teeth opposite Ibsley Service Station and at Moyles Court Ford. These rails are there to protect the SSSI verges – if only people would desist in standing and jumping on them, reversing or driving into them it would delight us all.

Also we are discussing ways in which to protect the PC owned SSSI verges in the Mockbeggar area where parking is destroying the grass and special plants therein. If Natural England wished they could fine the Parish Council for not taking better care of these verges. Should parking continue on them, we will have no choice but to consider methods to stop this parking.

As always, many thanks to Terry Mason who acts as the PCs handyman. He has done a wonderful job this year maintaining the bus stops at Snails Lane and Ibsley, as well as the parish notice boards and helping me to clear the overgrown willow trees in the stream at Hucklesbrook! One of the more surprising duties of the Chairman! Thank you Terry for your hard work.

HIGHWAYS issues

We are thankful to the residents who have volunteered to assist with the Community SpeedWatch scheme, which will hopefully be in place later in 2012.  The idea of the scheme is to alert drivers to their excessive speed, and not fine them.  It is operational in other areas, such as Bransgore and feedback shows it proves helpful for drivers to be alerted how far over the speed limit they are and try and change the behaviour of drivers, residents often being the worst offenders for speeding in their back yard according to statistics as they know the roads.

The perennial problem of potholes was again exacerbated this year by the icy conditions. The clerk has made dozens of reports, often involving multiple holes, gouges and gashes. I would like to thank Bob Brown and his HCC Highways team for their hard work in keeping up with this demand as best they can, bearing in mind that we are one tiny part of the County. I would ask you, if you see a pothole, to report it to the clerk – if it’s not reported it can’t be fixed!

Members of the Parish Council sit on many Outside Bodies, far too many to list here, but which include such things as the Blashford Lakes Forum, the NFDC Transport Forum, the Western Escarpment, Plumley Wood Liaison Panel, to being a trustee of the Almshouses. I would like to thank all the Councillors who play an active part as representatives, making sure that the views of the Parish Council and therefore you, the electors, are heard. This work is time consuming but essential.

Similarly the Parish Council gets involved in many local consultations. We have had our say in the Governance Arrangements of National Parks; the Hampshire Minerals and Waste development Plan; the Independent Panel for Forestry; and the Guidelines for Horse-Related Development to name but a few. Each time a Councillor takes the lead in preparing a report for their colleagues to consider and this can take many hours of trawling through hundreds of pages until the relevant section for our Parish is found! Again I think my fellow members for their painstaking, and unpaid, work!

CRIME

I will ask our Police representatives Sgt Mark Freeman and PC Russell Skinner to make a report in a moment, but I would like to thank them and their colleagues for doing their very best to protect us and our property throughout 2011.

COMMUNICATION

We continue to receive many positive comments about the quarterly Newsletter. If anyone would like to receive it by email please let the clerk know as the cost is steadily rising to post it to you every three months. I would like to thank our volunteer Colin Millar of Harbridge for his input, final editing and helping prepare the newsletter for dispatch. Colin, thank you.

I am absolutely delighted to say that the new Web site is now up and running. Hurray! However we do still see it as a ‘work in progress’. We have many ideas of what else we could feature on there, such as historical information about the parish and links to other sites of interest to residents and visitors alike. The site is up to date and contains agendas and minutes from all our meetings as well as the dates of the meetings and contact details for all the Councillors and the clerk. Your feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

Up to date information is also always available on the four Notice Boards at New Road, Ibsley, Harbridge, which is shared with the Church, beside Ellingham Church Hall & next to the phone box at Red Shoot. The clerk updates them every two weeks with the Agenda for the next meeting and any other important notices.

We attended the Ellingham & Ringwood Show for the fourth year running, and were pleased to greet the many electors who took the opportunity come and visit the stand. If you missed us, just look out for our red sail banner this year and please come along and try your luck at our fiendish photo competition! Strangely enough, we find our 12 til 1pm lunchtime drinks reception is very popular…. Do come and have a glass of wine with us on Saturday 11 August!

FINANCES

The Parish Council remains in good financial health with our expenditure for last year coming in well under budget. This was mainly due to funds being put aside for an election (which was not needed), a reduction in travel costs and training expenses and unspent funds for proposed dragon’s teeth in the Mockbeggar Area.

The Current Account stands at £6,114.68 with cheques for £1,003.96 outstanding.

The Capital Reserve Account stands at £38,312.62 with £28,224 of that being funds for the footpath work about which I spoke earlier and £10,088.62 being Parish Council reserves.

The Reserve Account, which forms the gratuity for the clerk once they have worked a minimum of five years, stands at £845.75.

The accounts will be with the internal auditor next week, then onto the Audit Commission for external adjudication before the June deadline. Once they are returned you will be able to inspect them if you wish. The Clerk will post notices on the notice boards telling you when they are available. In the meantime she has copies of the payments and receipts with her should you wish to view them.

FINALLY – I believe we should all be grateful we live in such a beautiful area and are fortunate to have a committed council who want to preserve the best of it whilst also adapting to changing perceptions and demands.

Many thanks to all the Councillors – to Cllr John Stokes as Vice Chairman, Cllr Jim Spark who has recently taken the reins of the Planning Committee, and to Cllr Roly Errington who has become the Vice Chairman of the Planning Committee to share his extensive experience and wisdom with Cllr Spark. Thanks also to the clerk Natasha who has been with us for a year now. She is now familiar with all our nuances and bad habits, but is kind enough not to hold it against us! Thank you too to all of you for your support.

  1. GUEST SPEAKER – STEVE AVERY

Steve gave a very interesting and in depth presentation on Localism and what it means to residents. He explained the Localism Bill and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) go hand in hand, allowing the local community and parish council’s to get involved and have a say in what goes on in the local area. It works along with the Core Strategies of NPA & NFDC and can only propose more development.

  1. OPEN FORUM

The Chairman asked for questions to Steve before opening the questioning to general Parish matters.

  1. Mr Coundley – Regarding the Western Escarpment Consultation I am concerned the National Park are laying the groundwork for enforced micro-management of how private individuals develop their property.
    Steve explained the theory behind this consultation is the Parish Councils got together to decide what is covered in the conservation action plan, as people were becoming increasingly concerned about creeping urbanisation and wanted to try and limit &/or address loss of character. He confirmed that specified landscaping is a fairly standard condition in order to give the right setting befitting the local environment.

  2. Several questions from residents raising concerns over Latchmore Restoration Works scheduled for the summer, specifically transportation routes.
    To ensure everyone was aware of the location, Cllr Burtenshaw showed on the screen where Latchmore brook is situated. She advised as the actual brook is outside of the Parish, the Parish Council’s concern is whether the agreed route for the transportation for the materials required for the restoration project is through the Parish and its’ subsequent effect on the largely unsuitable roads. The Forestry Commission has a ‘Question & Answer’ page on its site specifically to address queries surrounding this project. Presently, the proposed routes are either across Broomy Plain or through Mockbeggar heading north through South Gorley and onto Ogden’s car park. Cllr Burtenshaw advised at this time EHI PC had not been directly consulted on the transport routes; however she will ensure the views of the parishioners are voiced to the Forestry Commission by urging them to consult with EHI PC on this matter.

    Cllr Burtenshaw asked if Richard Bastow (HCC Highways) could comment on this matter. Richard advised he is very interested in the project from a highways perspective, and as it involves large vehicles travelling on minor roads he felt an agreed plan should be put in place to manage the chosen routes. The plan should ideally include a set route, speed limits to minimise damage to roads, suitable passing places and a process for remediation and damage limitation once the project has concluded. He did however reiterate that the highway network is for use by anyone, and as such the Forestry commission are not bound to consult with HCC Highways on this matter.

    CCllr Heron agreed with Richard, confirming the works undertaken are within the weight restriction and therefore within the law. EHI PC can ask for any damage to be addressed to repair the roads.

  3. John East-Rigby – Concerning the erosion on Ibsley Common due to the high volume of recreational horses using it, what comments does Steve Avery have on this?

    Steve commented on Newlands Farm, where the Somerley land is being used for grass liveries advising he is seeking to encourage them to submit a planning application to agree the number of horses to be kept here, to provide ample car parking facilities for the owners and an agreed access route onto the open forest. He advised his preference is to negotiate and gain the appropriate planning application to see the Farm managed in a better manner, rather than issue an enforcement notice as then all the horses would need to be removed from the land.

    Cllr Burtenshaw confirmed the desire to regularise horse keeping activities at Newlands Farm has been ongoing for many years, with the correct planning permission and suitable car parking for the livery users. She confirmed the Parish Council has decided to go ahead with installing dragon’s teeth to protect the severely eroded SSSI verges on Mockbeggar Lane.

    John East-Rigby questioned further why the Somerley Land is allowed to be used for horse-keeping when the land is designated for agricultural use only. He commented the horse owners bring their whole families, parking inappropriately along the roads and contribute to destroying the National Park, which is not being protected as it should be. Steve responded advising the 1995 document quoting ‘the average number of horses’ was a badly worded document which is open to misinterpretation. Subsequently there are fences creating individual paddocks, and corrals used to tack up and groom horses. He confirmed a middle ground needs to be found to keep a local business operating effectively within the rules and the views of the residents in mind.

  4. CRIME
    The Chairman asked Sergeant Mark Freeman to say a few words to the audience. He advised he has been in the role since January 2011, utilising his 27 years policing experience. He confirmed there have been cuts as there is a smaller budget, and while the number of police officers has been cut they are being lost through natural wastage. Also there are going to be 18 less police stations throughout Hampshire; Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst stations will be closing. There will still be a presence in both of the towns via the safer neighbourhood teams. He then introduced PC Russell Skinner to present the Crime Report.

    PC Skinner reported that 555 crimes were reported in the period Apr’11 to Mar’12, which is a slight increase on the previous year; however the increase is due to reports of suspicious incidents, not actual crimes. Theft from Motor Vehicles is one of the top three crimes, with beauty spot crimes being prevalent. This type of crime is recognised as being a problem across the region and it is being tackled by Operation Celsius.

    There was only 1 dwelling burglary reported, and 60% of the ‘other’ thefts reported were from unsecure or poorly secured outbuildings. He encouraged everyone to ensure their outbuildings are properly secured.

    The peak time that a burglary is most likely to be committed is between 11am-5pm, not as one would assume during the dark hours. Beauty spot crimes are most likely to occur Fri-Sat-Sun, and if you are going to lock a handbag in the boot of your car he encouraged to stop a distance before reaching your destination to do this, as there are often people in and around the forest car parks watching your actions.

    The full crime report will be published with these minutes.

The Chairman concluded the meeting at 9.00pm and thanked everyone for attending. She invited them to enjoy the refreshments and to continue asking questions of the councillors and the guest speakers.

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