Annual Parish Meeting minutes 23 April 2013

23 April 2013


Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held in Ellingham Church Hall on Tuesday 23 April 2013 at 7.30pm.

Present: Cllr Burtenshaw – Chairman      Cllr Lane – Vice Chairman  Cllr Stokes Cllr Webster Cllr Errington Cllr Shand Cllr Spark Cllr Richardson

Apologies County Councillor Edward Heron

In attendance: Lee Hulin, Outdoors Ranger, National Trust – guest speaker 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 and for their assistance throughout the year. Chairman’s Annual Report. What do we do??! It is difficult, if not impossible to summarise in 10 minutes all the work covered by the Parish Council in the last year and to recognise and thank all the councillors for their continual dedication and commitment both during and outside the usual bi-monthly meetings. However, I shall do my best! THE PLANNING COMMITTEE meets on the second Tuesday of every month and it considered about 80 applications in 2012.  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. 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 The Current Account stands at £3,850.96 with cheques for £2,748.03 outstanding. The Capital Reserve Account stands at £44,838.02 with £28,224 of that being funds for the footpath work about which I spoke earlier and £16,614 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 £1,083.10. 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. 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! ENVIRONMENTAL 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. Hanson benches at Ibsley Lakes. We are indebted to the Hanson Concrete Charitable Trust for their grant aid to be able to install 2 lovely bench seats surrounding the lakes at Ibsley which I know are being enjoyed by many to watch wildlife or simply take a rest along their walks. 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 with keeping the debris away from culverts and ditches so as to reduce the effect of flooding.  Thank you Terry for your hard work. HIGHWAYS issues Community Speed Watch  PC Russ Skinner has kindly brought along a CSW camera to illustrate what is at stake. Some residents have already volunteered to assist with this scheme, but we need more for the scheme to be successful. 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. Potholes!  The perennial problem was exacerbated last year by the icy conditions and this year by the continuous rain and flooding. 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! Flooding. One of the worst years for flooding I think? The main issue in our parish is the size and number of the many culverts which take rainwater off the forest, through the myriad of drainage ditches to the lakes etc. Many of the ditches are small or get trodden in by grazing livestock plus the culverts are old or are of too small a diameter or are not kept clear! The PC have taken responsibility for some of the verges and helping to keep the culvert entrances clear but please do your part if ongoing maintenance is required on your own property. Protection of Verges Again a constant, ongoing problem and difficult to resolve completely! Most of the verges in the parish along the Gorley Road (and including the Greens at South Gorley and Cross Lanes) are SSSI. Those that we know belong to the Council are subject to a management agreement with Natural England. Parking and driving over the verges can destroy the grass and special plants growing therein. I am told that Ibsley and Mockbeggar are one of the very few habitats in the South of England for the Small Fleabane plant and if we do not take better care of the environment, the Council could be heavily fined. Protection already exists in parts of the parish and you will have noticed the new dragon’s teeth to replace the old rails at Moyles Court. We are immensely grateful to the Hanson Concrete Charitable Trust for providing the necessary funding for these essential repairs. Further repairs may be needed to replace the rails by Ibsley Service station but a long term answer to lorry road parking would be preferable as a preliminary step! Dragon’s teeth are an option but personally, I am reluctant to dot these around all our lovely Forest roads – they are just not attractive! We are considering  more ditch and bank schemes and are in discussion with NE especially as to what to do at Cross Lanes. Understandably people wish to park their cars or horse boxes in order to walk or ride out to enjoy the Forest open spaces. The downside is the extremely limited designated parking areas – other than the Sandpit. This is an ongoing issue we are trying to address. COMMUNITY MATTERS The Community Plan. As you will all know, the Community Plan is now completed and circulated to all households. My renewed thanks to Cllr Simon Richardson who represented the Council and all the members of the Steering Group, especially the Chairman, Hugh Brook who have persevered to see this through. It is now up to us, the Parish Council, to action the many points and recommendations contained in the document and up to you, the residents to continue to let us have your comments and thoughts for improving our community and environment. Community Payback. This is a scheme whereby both young and older offenders carry out community work rather than serve a prison sentence. We have been asked to find suitable projects in the parish, such as footpath clearance where their endeavours can be directed (under supervision) and if you have any ideas, please let the Clerk know. HARAH. (Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing) Many of you are aware that we have been working closely with HARAH to set up an affordable housing project within our parish. We have to establish a ‘Need’ amongst our younger residents and also find suitable sites. Some considerable progress has been made and I believe a further meeting is planned for the beginning of May to take this forward with their co-ordinator, Mags Wylie. Please support us in this worthwhile effort. CRIME I will ask our Police representatives Sgt. Paul Towler and PC Russell Skinner to make a brief 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 2012. COMMUNICATION Newsletter.  As you may know, due to rising costs, we have decided to circulate the Newsletter 3 not 4 times a year. If anyone would like to receive it by email please let the clerk know.  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. Web site is now up and running. Hooray! Although I think I said that last year, we have encountered ongoing problems but I am delighted to say that due to the very hard work and commitment of Richard Loader, we now have something that can be worked on and enhanced by your further input.  I do believe it is the communication tool both for the present and the future and we would like to link to other sites of interest to residents and visitors alike.  Please let us have your suggestions and feedback. Broadband. We are currently awaiting the outcome of Hampshire County Council’s discussions with British Telecom in order to assess how to improve broadband connection throughout the Forest via independent means. I am so grateful to Cllr Roly Errington for keeping tabs on this important topic and ensuring we are moving forward in the right direction. 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. Ellingham & Ringwood Show for the fifth 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 10 August! 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. My thanks to all the Councillors – to Cllr Emma Lane as my Vice Chairman who has so ably stepped in during my recent absence from meetings, to Cllr Jim Spark and Cllr Roly Errington as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Planning Committee which can be an unenviable task. To Cllrs. Patrick, John, Simon and Ann for their dedication in attending meetings and consultations and contributing to the life of the Parish Council in so many ways. Last but by no means least, I am continually grateful to our clerk Natasha who has been with us for a couple of years.  Although now familiar with all our nuances and bad habits, she is kind enough not to hold it against us! but on a personal note, Natasha has been invaluable in making my task much less challenging. Thank you too to all of you for your support and constructive criticism. I should now like to hand over to our Guest Speakers, Lee Hulin and Dylan Everett from the National Trust. Much of the Western Escarpment and the New Forest immediately adjoining to the east was acquired by the National Trust in the last decade. They together with the Forestry Commission managing the Crown Lands are 2 of our largest landowners in The Parish and we are delighted that 2 of the Trust representatives are able to join us this evening and provide an insight into the work they do and how we can help enhance our joint interests in the adjoining Commons. Dylan is Operations Manager and took over the guardianship of the New Forest in 2011. His principal responsibility is key projects within the Forest. Lee is a Lead Outdoor Ranger and ensures good communication with local communities. Now is his chance to communicate with our parish! 2. GUEST SPEAKER – LEE HULIN Lee introduced himself as the lead Ranger for the National Trust and explained the many aspects of his role, such as engaging with the community and coordinating the volunteer teams.  The aim of the National Trust is to be “a charity that works to protect and preserve historic places and open spaces, for ever, for everyone”.  Lee’s responsibilities are Hightown Common, Rockford and Ibsley Commons, Hale Purlieu, Bramshaw Common and Foxbury Plantation.  Rockford and Ibsley commons were purchased from the Somerly Estate in 1999 and are considered globally rarer than rainforest whilst being subject to high visitor numbers all year round.  Lee highlighted how they plan to manage the commons, such as: by addressing the dense bracken, rhododendrum, gorse and heather, invasive trees such as Turkey Oaks, birch and Scots Pine, and also carrying out traditional habitat management, such as commoners grazing. The National Trust wants the public to get involved; by holding events at Foxbury and via a new mobile unit which will visit the Rockford sandpit carpark in the summer holidays.  There are 15 active volunteers on the Wednesday Volunteer Team, ‘Visiteering Days’ are held to encourage people to come along a see what it is like to be a volunteer. Finally, Lee advised a new Outdoor Ranger has been appointed – Laura Baker.  He reiterated the contact details for the National Trust are 01425-650035. 3. OPEN FORUM The Chairman asked for questions to Lee before opening the questioning to general Parish matters. Barbara Alsopp, Snails Lane.  The question was raised on a group of deer which are regularly seen in the Snails Lane area which is close to the A338.  Can they be moved back to the forest? Lee explained there us a new deer stalker who will be working closely with the Forestry Commission keepers.  There is a high deer population, and once the deer movements are understood there will be a cull in December. Fiona MacDonald, Chairman of the  Equine Association.    Concerns were expressed of 10 reports of the Forest Fit club operating outside it’s designated area.  She explained megaphones are frequently used, and it can be intimidating and frightening.  Riders are opting not to ride out. Lee summarised that since the complaints at the end of the Summer 2012, a short term license has been issued by the National Trust to the Forest Fit club.  Natural England were consulted, and the club is licensed to operate twice a day at set times, within a set area.  They have been asked for the training to not be motivational military style.  It has been apparent that a second fitness group have been operating on the commons, and the National Trust is carefully monitoring this situation.  Lee reiterated that everybody has a right to enjoy the commons, when done sensitively.  He will provide the Parish Council with a map of the designated area, which can be published on their website. Richard Hordle.  The National Trust was asked for their views on the recent installation of dragon’s teeth at the top of Mockbeggar Lane East. Lee advised this was investigated, and the National Trust is confident that these were installed on a private track, not on National Trust Land.  Natural England had commented that there are protecting encroachment.  Richard Hordle detailed he had enquired for the information on the boundaries to be made public, however the National Trust had not responded.  Lee apologised, but advised that Natural England and the NPA had looked at their mapping and were both happy it is not NT land. Further discussion ensued on the issues of the lack of parking within the Parish for people to explore the commons.  Currently there is only a designated car park at Rockford Sandpit, and where people previously parked at the top of Mockbeggar Lane East, now more parking has been observed at Cross Lanes green (opposite the chapel).  The lack of progress with the partnership between Ibsley Village Hall and the National Trust was discussed, and the Parish Council pledged to ensure they pursue this matter. Cllr Patrick Webster.  Asked for the National Trust’s opinion on the erosion caused on the track by horse riders to Ibsley Common.  Lee advised that all recreational visitors are urged to keep to designated paths, to minimise disturbance to wildlife and flora; such erosion will be monitored and a drive to educate visitors is essential. 4. CRIME The Chairman invited Sergeant Paul Towler and PC Russ Skinner to report on crime in the Parish.  They both updated the Parish Council and the residents on local issues and statistics of crime within the Parish.  The Crime Report will be available as a separate document, please contact the Clerk if you would like further information. The Chairman concluded the meeting at 9.30pm and thanked everyone for attending. She invited them to enjoy the refreshments and to continue asking questions of the councillors and the guest speaker.