The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Community Room, Downing Court on Tuesday, 18th May 2011. The meeting started at 7.30pm
Present: Margaret Chadwick (Chairman), Brian Ambrose, Bert Collins, Giles Merritt, Lynn Reed (Vice-Chairman), Sharyn Robinson, Mary Smith, and David Turner.
In attendance: Cllr David Brown, Cllr Allen Alderson-ECDC, Karen King (Clerk to the Parish Council) and six members of the public.
1. Welcome and Apologies for Absence: The Chairman welcomed everyone attending. Apologies were received from Cheryl Ling, Secretary to the Relief-in-Need Charity.
2. Approval of the Minutes of Meeting Tuesday, 18th May 2010: Subject to minor amendment these were approved and signed.
3. Matters Arising:
Margaret Chadwick read out a brief report for 2010/11 on behalf of the Trustees of the David Urwin Arts Award;
“During 2010-11 Trustees saw the completion and installation of the sculpture World Tree by Matt Sanderson. It consists of a large sphere of galvanised steel standing some 12 feet high in the shape of a tree, including its root system, on the new layout of grass and paths behind the main hall at Bottisham Village College. Trustees, including Jenny Urwin (and her sons), are delighted by the impact that it has made on the College pupils, staff and parents and it seems likely that this sculpture will be seen in the years to come as a work of considerable significance by a sculptor who may well become an established international figure. It is open to the public to visit whenever the College is open for community education, but not during the school day.
The year has also seen a Sculpture Trail established between the seven sculptures at the College, each of which has a plaque describing the sculpture; a leaflet with brief information about each of the sculptors is also available. Before the trail was created one sculpture had to be realigned because of the removal of the pond next to it and, where necessary, repairs to the others were carried out. The result is that the College is almost certainly the first comprehensive school in the country to have a sculpture trail with works by national and internationals sculptors.
Financially the David Urwin Arts Award is now, as planned, virtually spent up and the Trust will be wound up shortly with remaining funds being given to the sculpture maintenance fund at Bottisham Village College. Trustees would like to thank Parish Councillors for the way in which they have supported the fund over the years and hope they will share the Trustees’ view that David Urwin would have been delighted with the final project that saw the creation of the World Tree and the Sculpture Trail. Over the last 21 years the Arts Award has helped some 42 individuals and 54 groups in the area with awards totalling over £50,000.”
At this point a member of the public told the meeting that the wreaths and crosses laid for Armistice Day had been “mangled” when the grass cutting was carried out around the War Memorial. The Chairman assured everyone that this would not happen again.
(Item 6 of agenda brought forward)
(6).County Councillor’s Annual Report–(Cllr Brown reported to the meeting):
• Financial pressures and setting a balanced budget dominated time and work at Cambridgeshire County Council over the last year. Following the General Election we were faced with a financial settlement from the Coalition Government requiring savings of £160 million over 5 years. If that was not bad enough, the settlement meant that we had to find savings of £65 million in 2011/12, as well as significant in-year savings. Budget setting was a long process, culminating in bad-tempered 10 hour meeting of the County Council in February, which was interrupted on numerous occasions and saw the Police being called to remove demonstrators.
• At the local level considerable disquiet was caused when East Cambridgeshire District Council suggested County Council-owned land at Heath Road, Swaffham Prior as a suitable site for gypsies and travellers. Following a campaign led by local residents, East Cambs Strategic Development Committee ruled out the suggestion and also said that Swaffham Prior should no longer be considered as a suitable locality for a gypsy and traveller site.
• As well as attending meetings of the Full Council I took part in a number of other committees over the year including the Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee and the Safer and Stronger Communities Committee. I sat on several home to school transport appeals and also the East Cambs South Neighbourhood Panel. The Neighbourhood Panel this year seemed to be dominated with problems associated with cars at Bottisham Village College as well as speeding cars across the patch.
• I also sat on a small group looking at highways policies in general. The final report of this group has now been published and it is hoped this will give much greater flexibility to allow, for example, parishes to change local speed limits.
• Numerous potholes in our local area were repaired following reports, although thankfully this winter did not go on as long as last year so there were fewer reports. I also supported Burwell residents in presenting a petition regarding dropped kerbs in the village to the County Council Cabinet. This has resulted in some improvements already.
• On the less formal side, the Cambridgeshire Schools Carol Service, held at King’s College was a pleasure to attend, as was the official opening of the new bridge across Reach Lode.
• Finally, the year ended with the personal honour (and challenge) of being asked to join the new Cabinet as Lead Member for Children and Young People Services.
With reference to the point made about allowing parishes to change local speed limits, Loder Bevington asked if this was just the speed or length of the limit? Cllr Brown replied that it was not just about the speed but also the length suggesting that the Parish put in requests and see what happens.
Margaret Chadwick asked if the Parish would be expected to pay. Cllr Brown replied that this would depend with individual circumstances looked at.
Cllr Brown left the meeting at 7.50pm.
4. Presentation by Mark Mehaffey on his role as Clean Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer for East Cambridgeshire District Council:
A presentation was given by Mark Mahaffey of ECDC on his role as Clean Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer for East Cambridgeshire District Council. This was very informative particularly with reference to the measures being taken to reduce fly-tipping in the District as a whole. Copies of an information leaflet outlining what to do if witness to any fly-tipping was given to the Clerk. This gave contact numbers for fly-tipping and to report any suspicious vehicles or persons asking for waste and scrap call Waste Services.
Cllr Alderson congratulated Mark on his comprehensive report and said he welcomed not being called out quite so often to deal with fly-tipping issues.
There followed some discussion on the types of fly-tipping and the measures being taken. Loder Bevington suggested a small piece in the Beacon confirming contact numbers for reporting fly-tipping and other issues.
The Chairman thanked Mark Mehaffey for his presentation.
5. Chairman’s Report: (Margaret Chadwick reported to the meeting):
Margaret Chadwick reported to the meeting. She started by thanking everybody who has been involved in working on behalf of the parish during the year:
– Councillors David Brown and Allen Alderson, our representatives at County and District level.
– Frank Frankland for continuing to act as our internal auditor and meeting the tight deadlines required.
– Cecil and Jean Nash who empty the waste bins on the recreation ground.
– All those who organise and run the various events, clubs and societies in the village which make Swaffham Bulbeck the friendly and welcoming place it is.
Election and Parish Council Changes:
• Since then there has been an election and Loder Bevington decided not to stand for re-election this time. I’d like to say a big thank you to Loder for all the work he has done as a member and as Chairman of the Council and hope that he’ll still be able to help us out now and again in the future.
• Since the last Annual meeting Daphne Dodds resigned from the Council, Brian Ambrose was co-opted in her place and we welcome him. Thank you to all the Councillors and Karen King our Clerk, for their contributions at meetings and all their hard work outside them.
• Special thanks go to Bert Collins who was obliged to step in as Chair when I was away in New Zealand.
• There was no parish vote in Swaffham Bulbeck at the election because only 8 people were nominated for 9 places and so there is a vacancy. If anyone would like to be a Councillor please let Karen know. All the other existing Councillors were re-elected.
Responsibilities & Achievements:
The Parish Council is responsible for looking after, maintaining, repairing, enhancing and insuring the assets of the parish – the recreation ground, the Denny wood, the cemetery, the war memorial and various other bits and pieces. The pavilion is owned by the council but is administered by a trust, which is funded by the council.
• All our meetings are open to the public and everyone is welcome. Last year we had 19 of them. The District Council also holds Neighbourhood Panels in various places in the area. These are forums where local residents are very welcome and where they can raise their concerns. Action will be taken on all of them before the next Panel. Mary Smith attends Panel meetings on our behalf.
• The Council receives details of all planning applications for the village and these are discussed at Council meetings. The Council cannot itself approve or reject an application, but we can make comments and recommendations to the District Council.
• Each year we have to work out how much we think this is going to cost and this amount is raised by means of a small addition to the council tax. For last year we asked for £15,000 and for 2011/12 £15,500.
• This year we have spent a lot of time talking about buses and bus stops.
• We have commented on the reduction in the bus service to Swaffham Bulbeck.
• We consulted people informally about the proposal to move the Newmarket bound bus stop to Station Road. With this in mind, we made an application for Jointly Funded Minor Highways Improvements funding for a pedestrian crossing on Station Road but this was not successful, so the proposal has been shelved.
• We received a petition supporting the idea of a bus shelter on The Recreation Ground opposite the shop and held an open meeting. It was felt that a shelter would be impractical and unsightly but decided instead to install a bench there. Thanks to David Bert and Brian for sorting this out.
• The bus shelter outside the shop had been vandalized and we queried via the Beacon whether it should be removed. We have now decided to repair it as a result of this consultation.
• The village website is now up and running thanks to Giles’ efforts. It has been set up by the Parish Council but it is there for the whole village to use. It is anticipated that it will be administered jointly with the Beacon team. The address is swaffhambulbeckpc.org.uk
• On the Recreation Ground, the opening ceremony for the new play equipment was held in April. Remedial work was necessary on the new cantilever swing and on the zip wire and was carried out over the summer.
• A contractor cuts the grass for us there, in the cemetery and around the village and the cost of this is subsidised by the District Council. We try to keep it in good condition for the football and cricket teams to use.
• At the end of the season the contract for cutting came up for competitive tendering and after obtaining tenders, the contract was awarded to Herts and Cambs Ground Maintenance Ltd.
• One of the jobs carried forward from last year was the refurbishment of the war memorial. We received a grant of £935 from the War Memorials Trust to help pay for this and the work was completed in time for Armistice Day. Thanks to Mary Smith for overseeing this.
• Around the village we have installed 2 new litter bins, 4 dog bins and 3 salt and grit bins.
• The village footpaths leaflet is due to be printed shortly and a copy will be distributed with each Beacon.
• Ongoing work includes:
– The creation of a second gate in the playground fence.
– Completion of the renovation of the finger sign posts.
There were no questions for the Chairman.
7. District Councillor’s Annual Report: Cllr Allen Alderson reported to the meeting.
• East Cambs Budget 2011/12: Once again we have to set a very tough budget with a cut in the Government Revenue Support Grant, plus a drop in income from business rates, etc., due to the recession. There has been no increase in Council Tax this year.
• Black sack collections: We have maintained the weekly black sack collections despite a call from Liberal councillors to change to fortnightly collections as a way of encouraging more recycling.
• Leisure: The Council now has planning permission for a new Leisure Centre on the Ely by-pass. This will incorporate a six land swimming pool, a sports hall and a fitness suite.
• Tourism: Ely’s Tourist Information Centre has seen yet another successful year having once again scooped the accolade of Regional TIC of the Year. Its visitor numbers have increased by over 500. The tourist website (www.visitEly.org) attracted 100,000 visits last year, up from 60,000 the previous year. This year we have already had over 12,000 visits in April.
• Housing (Affordable): There are currently over 30 being built in Fordham and 5 four bedroom houses in Isleham. The Council has bids in for a total of 100 houses at Isleham, Bottisham and Haddenham.
• Fly-tipping: Fly-tipping has decreased this last year due in no small part to Mark Mahaffey, our Enforcement Officer who works closely with the local Police.
• Travellers: By working together with the local action committee representing local residents and also the Parish Councils, I was able to stop the proposal for an extended families travellers’ site at Goodwin Farm, Swaffham Prior.
• Newmarket Waste Recycling Centre: The site is to remain open until July 31st to give time to explore alternative funding options for the site. At present the site costs £214,000 per year to run. The Newmarket site has approximately 50,000 visits per year. A customer survey gave 43% of respondents from Cambridgeshire.
• Committees: During the past year I have been a member of the Licensing and the Strategic Development committees. I was also a District Council panel member of the south area Neighbourhood Panel.
There were no questions for Cllr Alderson.
8. Parish Council Accounts:
Copies were available of the unaudited receipts and payments account for 2010/11 for all those attending. The Chairman summarised the detail suggesting that some items may need an increase in precept and possibly over several years with grants becoming more and more difficult to get. Cllr Alderson suggested that the Parish Council enquire about the possibility of applying for funding through ECDC’s “Small Villages Grant”. The Chairman asked if there were any questions about the accounts. There were none.
9. Swaffham Bulbeck Pavilion Charity: The Chairman reported on the Pavilion Charity:
• The Pavilion is owned by the Parish Council.
• The Pavilion Charity was set up to administer the maintenance and running costs of the pavilion in order to avoid paying rates.
• The Trustees of the Charity 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.
• The decoration of the Pavilion both inside and out was carried out during the summer.
• The Pavilion continues to suffer from vandalism. The guttering and downpipes have been damaged several times over the years and last summer the store at the back was broken into. New doors and frame were needed.
• Other work at the Pavilion included the replacement of the cold water storage tank and PAT testing of electrical equipment.
• The clubs who use the pavilion are responsible for clearing up afterwards but it is occasionally necessary for the Councillors to have a working party to give it a thorough clean.
Loder Bevington reported that the new door installed at the Pavilion was broken. This was still secure but needing repairing free-of-charge.
Brian Ambrose added that someone had tried to force the front doors. Margaret Chadwick said that any incidents must be reported to the Police.
10. Swaffham Bulbeck Primary School Report: Sharyn Robinson reported on behalf of School:
• Last year 105 pupils attended the school and for the forthcoming academic year, 111 are expected. So with prudent budgeting in the past, the school is in a good position for next year.
• After many years teaching at the school, Carol Turner retired last year but fortunately for the school, continues to help out a couple of hours a week. Emma Double, a newly qualified teacher, was appointed to replace Carol and has settled in very well.
• In July the school had their OFSTED inspection. I am very pleased to report that it was awarded outstanding status. The inspector noted many things of which a few examples include; inspirational leadership from the Head Teacher, Donna Cornwell; excellent teaching; outstanding pastoral care for the pupils; and of the pupils, he noted their impeccable behaviour and great enthusiasm which anyone visiting the school can’t fail to notice.
• The school had a Churches School inspection as well in September which also recognised the school as outstanding.
• Being part of the community has always been very important to the school. Wanting to include the village, during their 170th anniversary celebrations in June, many people were able to enjoy the Victorian music hall production.
• As part of the wider community, the children attended a special event with Bishop Stephen before his installation at Ely Cathedral in March and as part of the 200th anniversary of church school celebrations, they designed and sewed a beautiful square for a quilt which will eventually be hung in Westminster Abbey.
• The teachers like to enrich the children’s learning through both educational visits and by encouraging visitors to come into the school to share their experiences. I’m sure one unforgettable group of visitors for the children last year was in October when one morning eight Maasai Warriors danced their way into the school hall. The children were able to spend much of the day with them and hear firsthand what it is like living in a village in Kenya.
• Donna has provided a photo album of some of the school’s memorable events over the past year so please feel free to have a look through it. I’ve only been a governor for one year but if you have any questions, I will try to answer them.
Loder Bevington asked that the School be congratulated for its very high standard.
11. Swaffham Bulbeck Youth Club Report: Nick Froy reported on behalf of the Youth Club:
• Thanks to all those involved in the Youth Club.
• The Youth Club has been running for approximately one year with about 20 young people from the village attending. The main activities are centered around the Fenland Youth Elite Bus.
• With the support of the Pavilion Charity the Youth Club now uses the Pavilion.
• With a ‘Young Lives’ (Government Support Grant) of £2,750 and a donation from the Relief-in-Need Charity. This means the YC is solvent for another year but funding will be needed for the future and perhaps the Parish Council might be able to help.
• Volunteers are always needed and if anyone is interested please make contact with any member of the YC Committee.
• Storage box needed in the Pavilion for YC equipment.
There followed some discussion with the following comments:
• Brian Ambrose said the fire extinguisher was found in the bushes noting that this had been taken for repair and refilling.
• Brian Ambrose reported that a donation of £250 was given to the YC by the Relief-in-Need Charity.
• Margaret Chadwick suggested that the Youth Club write to the Parish Council about a possible donation.
• Loder Bevington felt that the storage request for YC equipment was very important and asked the Parish Council to look at this. There followed some discussion on the type of storage needed. Brian Ambrose suggested that perhaps one of the changing rooms could be used with access for YC supervisors only.
• David Turner again mentioned the need for volunteers and confirmed that anyone could drive the bus as no special license was needed.
12. Swaffham Bulbeck Relief-In-Need Charity Report: Copies of the accounts for the year ending 31st December 2011 were available. Brian Ambrose and Bert Collins reported on behalf of the Charity giving a summary of donations made. There were no questions.
13. Any Other Business:
• Free Church: Sharyn Robinson asked what was happening with the Free Church. It was confirmed that this belonged to the Free Church congregation and Loder Bevington explained that as part of the conditions, a wait of 3 years would apply before anything could be done. LB added that the back of the building was collapsing and there were no foundations making the building unsafe.
The meeting closed at 9.25pm.