The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Community Room, Downing Court on Tuesday, 15th May 2012. The meeting started at 7.30pm (tea, coffee and refreshments were served from 7pm).
Present: Margaret Chadwick (Chairman), Brian Ambrose, Bert Collins, James Hardwicke, Lynn Reed (Vice-Chairman), Sharyn Robinson and Sue Romero.
In attendance: Cllr Allen Alderson-ECDC, PCSO Annie Austin, PCSO Ian Hawkins, Thelma Wadsley-Senior Community Development Officer for Care Network Cambridgeshire, Karen King-Clerk to the Parish Council and thirteen members of the public.
1. Welcome and Apologies for Absence: The Chairman welcomed everyone attending. Apologies were received from County Councillor David Brown, Parish Councillors Mary Smith and Ian Woodroffe, Cheryl Ling, Secretary to the Relief-in-Need Charity.
2. Approval of the Minutes of Meeting Tuesday, 17th May 2011: These were approved and signed as a correct record.
3. Matters Arising:
There were no reports under this item.
4. District Councillor’s Annual Report (brought forward as requested by Cllr Alderson):
Council Tax 2012/13: Council tax increased by 2.95% this year. Relates to £3.99 per year on a band D property, 7.67p per week. Accepting the Governments freeze grant again this year would most probably result in a budget gap of £273,000 by 2014/15, equivalent to an estimated 6.7% increase on a band D property. We are trying to set a balanced budget for the next 3 years. Also told to expect a nearly £1million increase in the new waste contract in 2015.
Newmarket Recycling Centre: Many residents from the District use this facility. When it closed for several weeks, then re-opened under new management with a charging schedule for some items, there was concern that it would lead to an increase in fly-tipping in the area. Thankfully so far this has not happened.
Unauthorised Traveller encampments: There has been none of note in the Ward during the last year.
The Swaffham Bulbeck Youth Bus: This is on the Denny every Tuesday. Following a visit I was pleased to see it was very well run. In good daylight evenings it shares the facilities of the Sports Pavilion.
Tourism: The ‘Visit Ely’ website proving to be a valuable information tool for anybody intending to visit Ely. Ely’s market continues to be popular with all pitches taken.
Housing: The average property cost in the District is £197,212 according to 2009 Land Registry figures. The District’s housing list register stands at 1446. The 2011-31 additional affordable homes plan shows a need for 264 homes per annum.
Last year there were 65 completions in the District, of which 18 were under the Government’s ‘first buy’ shared equity scheme.
An element of affordable housing is generally provided on open market housing sites that are built by developers – 30% north of district, 40% south of district – through Section 106 agreements.
Other affordable housing schemes are also brought forward by Housing Associations and Charitable Institutions generally on what are termed exception sites.
Community Land Trusts: CLT are proving a success in other parts of the country. This is a scheme where members of a community join together to form a trust and buy land for housing. The advantage is the Trust gets the tenancy criteria. The housing is owned by the Trust in perpetuity, thereby keeping rented housing within their community. Various funding streams available.
Ely Rail Crossing: The A142 through Ely carries 15,000 vehicles per day including 1200 HGV’s, leading to long queues at the level crossing near the Station as the existing underpass has a height restriction.
It is proposed to build a new by-pass from the A142 that will cross the river and railway line and join up with Angel Drove. In a consultation 80% of respondents chose this option, called the Southern Link Road. It is proposed to commence by 2015 following more information gathering and funding being available.
Council priorities for 2012-15:
• Business Growth – to ensure the commencement of the Southern Link Road by 2015. To meet with the
District’s top employers on an annual basis to support job creation.
• Housing – to implement a policy to prioritise people who work in the District for affordable housing.
• Leisure – to approve a model for leisure facilities across the District by 2013.
• Waste – to submit a bid for funding to DCLG by August 2012 to retain weekly collections of waste and
enhance recycling rates.
Note of Committees and other bodies involved with.
Margaret Chadwick asked when the new pool was to be built. Cllr Alderson replied that there was no funding at this time.
5. County Councillor’s Annual Report– Margaret read out report provided by Cllr Brown in his absence.
For me personally, 2011-12 at the County Council has been a very interesting and rewarding year. The year started with Cllr Nick Clarke, the new Leader of CCC offering me the role of Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. This is a role (and challenge) I was delighted to take on and have thoroughly enjoyed throughout the year. Any role with responsibility for Children’s Social care is bound to ring challenges and there have certainly been plenty of those. 2011-12 has seen the County Council introduce a total restructure of how we work in Children’s Social Care. This has taken considerable time, effort and resource but I am pleased to say that initial feedback from staff and partners has been extremely positive.
As a member of Cabinet, wrestling with the Integrated Plan for the next 4 years has taken up considerable time. Cambridgeshire faces significant demographic challenges as a rapidly growing County. The County Council is keen to position Cambridgeshire to take best advantage once the economy improves. This means investing in areas such as superfast broadband, roads and footpaths, and new infrastructure to deal with the bottleneck caused by the Ely Level Crossing junction. At the same time we are addressing pressures on school places and rising demand on services for vulnerable adults and children in the County. All this at a time of severe pressure on public finances, which means we need to continue to deliver savings across the Council. This necessitated a rise in Council Tax of 2.95% but as a Cabinet we believe our budget will deliver for the benefit of the people of Cambridgeshire.
Locally I have been involved in a number of issues on behalf of residents, both as a group and as individuals. Work continues on the Burwell Masterplan, where I represent the County Council on the Working Party. We have seen numerous improvements to roads, footpaths and drop kerbs in my area, and work is scheduled to start on more soon. The South Neighbourhood Panel has met frequently, with problems associated with speeding cars and anti-social driving at Bottisham Village College recurring themes. I have also intervened on behalf of a number of individuals experiencing problems, such as housing, bullying at school, problems with neighbours.
There have also been some truly memorable moments on the less formal side. The County Council holds the operating licence for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and I had the privilege of being presented with our licence by HRH Prince Philip at St James’ Palace. I also presented awards at a number of events, including to foster parents and carers, to Children in the care of the County Council and to school Governors.
There were no questions.
6. Presentation on Transport for Older and Isolated People in the Swaffhams by Thelma Wadsley, Senior Community Development Officer – Care Network Cambridgeshire:
Thelma Wadesley gave the meeting an insight into their work outlining projects such as ‘Help at Home’ which provided short term practical volunteer help when needed, e.g., after a spell in hospital. A possible option for the Swaffhams was the setting up of a ‘Community Car Scheme’ and Thelma explained how this would work and the support available to local groups wanting to set up such a project. It was noted that a £250 grant for set-up costs could be applied for. Recruitment of volunteer drivers would also be important.
There followed discussion on the different type of help schemes available and Thelma replied to questions asked.
With reference to a ‘Community Car Scheme’, it was agreed that it was difficult to assess the need for a car scheme in the village and perhaps a brief survey of residents would help with this. Thelma said she would be able to help with a survey template if it was decided to go ahead with this. It was agreed that this should be added as an agenda item at the next Parish Council.
Margaret Chadwick thanked Thelma for a very informative and interesting presentation.
At this point in the meeting PCSO’s Ian Hawkins and Annie Austin addressed the meeting outlining the changes in the policing areas and how these affected their duties. Ian explained that one of the top crimes at the moment was metal theft and related crime. Other crimes included thefts from and of motor vehicles, thefts of power tools and caravan thefts. He asked that members of the public report anything suspicious as this helped them build up a picture and target problem areas. Details were given of how to sign up for the e-cops interactive email scheme from the Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
In response to questions asked, PCSO’s Hawkins and Austin confirmed:
• They would be starting up Police Surgeries again and visiting Downing Court.
• They would also be liaising with Schools to arrange visits.
• Their area including Burwell to Bottisham and “everything in between”.
7. Chairman’s Report: (Margaret Chadwick reported to the meeting):
Margaret Chadwick reported to the meeting.
Firstly, a thank you to everyone who has helped or informed the Parish council over the last year, Councillors David Brown and Allen Alderson, Frank Frankland our internal auditor, Cecil and Jean Nash, Geoff Reed and several others.
After the election last May the council was one member short and Sue Romero has filled this place very enthusiastically. Welcome Sue.
Later in the year Giles Merritt resigned. In his time on the council he set up our website and designed and had printed the footpaths leaflet, which was distributed with the Beacon during the year and which has received many appreciative comments. Thanks go to him for these and for all his help over other things, including litter pickers and allotments.
Then early this year David Turner resigned after 36 years as a councillor, 23 of them as chairman. Two lovely pieces were written for the Beacon by former councillors and I will quote bits from one of them. “The outstanding feature of David’s chairmanship was his unstinting willingness to tackle things out in the village – the meetings themselves were just the tip of the iceberg. He knew all the village families and how they should best be approached when problems arose. He was always willing to use his time, his gear and whatever else he could contribute to the running of the village.” We owe him a lot – thank you David.
These two vacancies have been filled by Ian Woodroffe and James Hardwicke and we welcome them.
The year started in April with a tea party on the recreation ground to celebrate the royal wedding. This was organised by a committee of residents and underwritten by the council. It proved to be very enjoyable and the weather was kind.
In May we were consulted by the District Council on the contents of a questionnaire which was to be published for completion and comment by the residents of Swaffham Bulbeck. Its aim was to draw up a long term vision for the parish which will guide future development and will be included in the District’s statutory plan – the ‘Core Strategy’. The questionnaire was introduced at an open forum before the August council meeting and was eventually distributed to every household in the village thanks to Mary Smith’s efforts. The results were presented at the November meeting and the council voted on a number of the issues raised. The majority was against any new housing growth on the edge of the village outside the development envelope, against modifying the development envelope, and against providing more opportunities for small businesses, because it was felt that there was not adequate local infrastructure.
Arising from the comments made via the questionnaire, we recorded as priorities the improvement of bus services, provision of a pedestrian crossing, traffic calming, cycle routes and a new village hall when funds are available.
As a result of the village hall suggestion, we had an invitation from the PCC to join a project to investigate ways in which the church building might be re-arranged to make it more flexible and enable it to be available for village uses as well as services. We have agreed to do this and Sue will be going to the meetings.
A lot of time has been spent over the last year talking about the parking problems at the play area on cemetery corner. The playground has become very popular with people from outside the village since the new play equipment was installed. The parking area caters for only two cars. Visiting vehicles have been obstructing the entrance to Lordship Farm and there has been a lot of parking on the grass. To try to solve these problems the council set up a working party with a view to obtaining planning permission to extend the parking area, with the possibility of moving the access point. Several meetings with highways engineers, tree and conservation officers have been held to look at the options. It has emerged that no grants or funding is available to provide parking, so any extension to the area would have to be modest. Discussions have continued into the current year and a site meeting was held with Susan Mills, the Highway Development Control Engineer. This was to be discussed at the Parish Council meeting on 12 June. For the moment we are trying to control parking using signs and we will monitor the situation over the summer.
Concern has been expressed about the safety of vehicles turning into this parking area from the Swaffham Prior direction due to poor visibility. Over the winter the council arranged for the vegetation growing along the roadside fence in the cemetery to be cut back and the visibility is now much improved.
This year we have submitted a bid for funding for the construction of a zebra crossing on Station Road under the Jointly Funded Minor Highways Improvement Scheme. Only £10,000 is available per scheme so the cost to the village could be 8 or 9 thousand pounds. We have not budgeted for this in the current financial year so the scheme will be carried forward and discussions with Highways will take place over the summer.
We have a budget setting meeting in November and as a result of this the precept for the following year is set. The precept for 2012/13 is £16,000, an increase of £500. The accounts will be presented formally later in the meeting.
To look at ideas to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a working party has been created involving members of the Parish Council, the PCC and other interested parties. Sue will be reporting on this later on.
In March we had a letter from the office of the Lord Lieutenant asking us to nominate two people, who can each take a guest, from the village to attend the Queen’s Jubilee picnic at Burghley House. We are pleased to say that Cecil and Jean Nash, Ron Butler and Margaret Roberts are able to go.
The Chairman ended by thanking everyone for supporting the Parish Council over the past year and invited questions.
Loder Bevington commented that it had been a difficult year and thanked the Chairman and Parish Council for their efforts. This was supported by others attending.
There were no questions for the Chairman.
8. Parish Council Accounts:
Copies were available of the unaudited receipts and payments account for 2011/12. The Chairman summarised the detail noting that the biggest expenditure apart from the Clerk was grasscutting but that this was less than last year. MC also confirmed donations made during the year to the Youth Club and Red-2-Green. The Chairman asked if there were any questions about the accounts. There were no questions. Loder Bevington commented that he was pleased to see the fall in grasscutting costs.
9. Swaffham Bulbeck Pavilion Charity: The Chairman reported on the Pavilion Charity:
The Pavilion is owned by the Parish Council and is administered by a charity whose trustees are the current parish councillors.
The pavilion is available for hire and in addition to the football and cricket clubs, it is used regularly by the school and the Youth Club. It was also used for children and mums drop in mornings during last summer.
We do not have a caretaker, so groups using the pavilion are responsible for switching everything off and leaving it clean and tidy. Over the last year this has occasionally been a problem so we have created a check list which must be completed after each use. We have also replaced the vacuum cleaner and bought new brooms.
Due to its relatively isolated position, the pavilion does get mistreated and attempts are made to break in. We ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity or vandalism there to report it to the police.
Copies of the end-of-year accounts were available. The Chairman reported that there had not been any non-routine expenditure during the year.
10. Jubilee Group Report:
Sue Romero reported on behalf of the Jubilee Group noting the theme of the day was to be a combination of the 2012 Olympics and Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Some of the events to be held were to include a picnic, fun games for children and adults, drawing competition at the School, village scarecrow competition. Specially engraved ‘Olympic’ medals to be awarded on the day were shown to the meeting. There was also to be a trophy for the scarecrow competition. Sue asked everyone to get involved and attend. Donations had been received towards the costs of the day and it was hoped to break even but the PC and PCC had agreed to cover any shortfalls.
In the longer term, Sue told the meeting of a project to create a Jubilee Wood and explained that she and Robin Sewell had written to all landowners in the area to ask about possible areas of land that might be available for such a wood and received several positive responses. Negotiations were in the early stages and should any piece of land become available there would need to be a survey, etc., to assess the suitability for woodland trees.
11. Swaffham Bulbeck Primary School Report: Judith Rice reported to the meeting:
There were about 100 pupils in the school with roughly equal numbers of boys and girls. There were 4 classes, each with an age range spanning two years.
Staffing changes: Two of the teachers are leaving at the end of the School year. The vacancies have both been filled and we are confident that we will maintain our record of strong teaching.
Community involvement: Whilst excellent teaching remains at the heart of any school, it is important to help the children look outwards from the school into the community, both locally and further afield. Summary of activities:
School Council – following elections, 6 children from Years 1-6 were elected onto the School Council.
– group of 6 children worked hard to secure a final ‘Green Flag’ for Eco-School projects, e.g., ‘Walk to School, a ‘Switch Off Fortnight’ and raised money for a portable solar panel.
– Oldest and youngest pupil laid a wreath at the Remembrance Day Service.
– £346 for ‘Children in Need was raised at a disco & a tea and scones sale.
– School choir sand at the Christingle Service in St Mary’s Church and t Anglesey Abbey.
– Shoe boxes were filled for children in need in Eastern Europe.
– School made a square for a Diocese of Ely Church Schools’ Quilt to commemorate 200 years of church schools.
– Each child designed a cushion for St Mary’s Church to celebrate 400 years of the King James Bible.
– £109.50 was raised for Sport Relief and a clean water project in Tanzania.
– At School’s Easter service in the Church, £53 was raised for Karukerere Primary School in Tanzania.
– The London Olympics: Special certificates given to children who show the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence.
– Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Red, white and blue day held.
– Village Street Sale: School organising activities for children to join in.
There followed discussion on the number of children from Swaffham Bulbeck attending the School and the use of spaces for other villages.
Tim Oates commented that the education at the school was fantastic with a great sense of community and asked that the School be congratulated.
Loder Bevington asked that a letter be sent to the Head Teacher on behalf of the meeting to congratulate the School on its fundraising.
Sharyn Robinson explained that the School hall floor was in need of refurbishment and as this was also a community facility suggested the Parish Council is asked to consider contributing to the costs. To be added to agenda for next Parish Council meeting.
12. Swaffham Bulbeck Youth Club Report: (The Chairman read out a written report):
• Swaffham Bulbeck Youth Club (with the Fenland Elite Youth Bus) continues to operate from 7pm – 9pm on Tuesday evenings during term time. The Youth Club members use the Pavilion where there a Pool Table and various board games etc. are always available. They can also go on the Youth Bus which has various activities on offer e.g. karaoke, X-Box etc.
• During the winter months an organised activity is arranged most weeks. Over the past couple of terms we have done T-Shirt decorating, greeting card making, cooking (making muffins, pancakes, freezer cakes, salsa making and more!) model rocket design, jewellery making to name a few. When we have dry, light evenings most of the members take part in outdoor (often team) activities such as football, rounders, badminton etc.
• We have a team of volunteers including two drivers (with a third driver being trained) who collect the Youth Bus from Isleham and return it at the end of the evening. Each week two volunteers also attend and do whatever is required – helping / joining in with activities, generally supervising, making toasted sarnies for the members, clearing up etc.etc. Two trained Youth Workers also attend each session and help – in particular with organising sports and ensuring good behaviour.
• In December we had an enjoyable trip to a bowling alley in Cambridge for about 20 members where they had a meal and then each played two games. At the end of this summer term we will be having a barbeque as we did last year (hopefully without the rain this time!).
• The Youth Club acknowledges and is grateful for the support it has received from the village (the Parish Council, Relief in Need and Open Gardens). Currently it has sufficient funds to last until the end of this year. Thereafter being able to stay open becomes a challenge unless we are able to get new grant funding, which is very difficult in the current economic climate. We have made an application for Lottery funding – fingers crossed.
Robin Sewell said he was pleased that Cllr Alderson had visited the Youth Club and asked if there was any ECDC funding available. Cllr Alderson said he would find out and report back at next Parish Council meeting.
Brian Ambrose felt it was a shame 16/17 year olds could not attend the Youth Club.
13. Swaffham Bulbeck Relief-In-Need Charity Report: Copies of the accounts for the year ending 31st December 2012 were available. Brian Ambrose and Bert Collins reported on behalf of the Charity giving a summary of donations made.
Carole Stevens asked for more information on the Charity, its origins and how funds were raised. Brian Ambrose replied explaining funds were mainly raised through rents from land owned by the Charity which in turn was distributed as donations. Carole thanked the Relief-in-Need for their donations and the explanation on how the money was raised. There followed some general discussion on the purpose of the Charity and its history.
14. Any Other Business:
Carole Stevens explained that at a recent residents’ meeting it was asked if it was possible to install a zebra crossing on the High Street as this was very difficult to cross.
The meeting closed at 9.40pm.