Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 15th April 2019
at 7.30pm in Amport and Monxton Village Hall.
Present: Ian Long (Chairman), Stephen Coke, Allan Maddern, Christopher Harris, Jill McAvoy, Angela Reckitt), Tessa Hawkings-Byass and Suzanne Hoare (clerk) TVBC Councillor Ben Few-Brown
Apologies: Nicholas Hoare (Vice Chairman), Johnny Kitson, Sheela Putt, Jo Stewart
Neighbourhood Watch, PCSO Catherine Williams, HCC Councillor Zilliah Brookes
In attendance: Caroline Unwin Village Correspondent plus 1 visitor
1. Apologies and welcome.
Apologies have been received from NH, JK and SP plus Zilliah Brookes.
IL extended apologies from the local PCSO and Jo Stewart from neighbourhood Watch
No report was made available to the PC
2. Watercress & Winterbournes – Upper Tributaries of the River Test
• AM reported on a workshop he attended recently run by Maggie Shelton of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
• It is hoped that the Parish will become involved with this scientific research of their section of the Pillhill Brook being part of one of those tributaries.
The lottery funded project needs local people to undertake tasks as volunteers.
Research is needed to identify wildlife both in the streams and out.
• The project is intended to last 5 years and is seeking ideas and improvements such as creating weirs and pools to provide havens for wildlife when the water dries up.
• Abbotts Ann have already become involved and the entire project is likely to attract 1.5 million pounds of funding. The project covers all the relevant Test tributaries across Hampshire.
• Apps exist to help volunteers identify flora and fauna.
The project leaders would like to see all ages involved with the aim of creating a local map with all the research data added to it.
A final comment on this project is please get involved, all skill levels are needed to help improve our local habitat.
2. Chairman’s Report
Recently the media has highlighted the fact that there is no control or inspectorate of Parish Councils. The Sunday Times article noted that there are 10,000 parish and town councils, with the strap line ‘they are the lowest rung of government, but they control a surprising amount of your life – from planning to playgrounds.’ The item then included the quote: ‘They are free to make arbitrary decisions and when challenged answer to no-one.’ Overall the narrative was informative, although some of the claims were overstated, this PC is largely ignored in determining planning issues for example, but in response to the question of a review of the work of Amport Parish Council this annual report will hopefully satisfy any concerns about best practice and integrity.
Probably the most important issue is the question of representation. As Chairman I rely on the advice, guidance and work of key individual cllrs, who have an impressive collective wisdom and some have professional experience in areas in law, accounting and finance; however, we struggle to maintain a full Council as colleagues move on or have over-riding commitments and the northern part of the parish is always light on representation. We would welcome new expressions of interest in joining the PC and that invitation remains open.
This year has been busy. There has been a well-received refurbishment and expansion of the play equipment on The Green. The sub-committee included a local resident to the Green, a member of the school PTA and 3 members of the PC, and the team scaled, sourced and arranged funding for the work. This project piqued considerable debate as the initial plans included a pavilion style building. We listened to these comments and disquiet about the structure and the plans were adapted accordingly. In addition, Will Hawkings-Byass designed, built and with a small team placed a boardwalk bridge across the brook which now links the play area part of the Green to the Fen – a truly impressive feature. The planting of daffodils on the edge of the Green and bordering the play equipment has also been a welcome addition.
Hampshire Highways have completed some much-needed maintenance work on Wiremead Lane, including clearing drainage and adding a kerb, there is still work to do however. In co-ordination with our Hampshire Cllr Mrs Zilliah Brooks the footpath along the Amesbury Road has been repaved. The Lengthsman project continued successfully, effective maintenance and drainage work has been completed and a full plan is being finalised for next year. Similar work has been undertaken on the Fen this year. Tony Derbyshire has again led a team of community members to complete tree surgery work and co-ordinated litter picking projects have been undertaken around the parish. The PC has bought some new litter picking items which are available to loan to members of the parish who would like to help.
We continue to reach-out to other Parishes and agencies. We have liaised closely with Monxton PC to try and nudge the AMVH project forward, but we have had to re-buff an advance by Quarley PC in their attempt to re-draw the parish boundary adjacent to that part of the parish. It was a little disappointing that this request was received after the Community Governance Review discussion and I do not believe they understand the problem, but we will continue to offer effective representation to all. On that note, we are concerned about the sale of two sites used for garaging within the parish, we will naturally support the residents, and our voice regarding planning matters may well have to be raised, should privateers try and develop sites that were previously part of affordable housing. Likewise, we have tried to mitigate a solution for the situation of the Millennium Footpath crossing worked farmland.
One problem that does need addressing is the situation of the repeated return of the water tankers that attempt to drain off the excess water that is entering the drainage system. Surely a better solution can be found rather than this recourse to noisy tankers working through the night and causing great disturbance.
The website has been updated, there is a promised upgrade as well, but it is certainly fit for purpose and links to FB. Many smaller projects have been completed: updating of notice boards, maintenance of the graveyard, provision of bins and the very attractive Butterfly Board has been refurbished. Next year we expect to get actively involved in the Watercress and Winterbourne project, which is a research programme and is an opportunity to study the natural world of the Pill hill Brook. There were social and sporting events on The Green, including the lively Equinox Rocks, which raised considerable funds, although we need to be mindful of the effect on the community of such events.
Last year the question of adverse possession of part of The Green raised an on-going legal search and careful consideration resulted in a pragmatic result: we believe the status of the Green is now settled.
In review, this PC should be proud that it maintains an approachable and effective stance, that the work is completed accurately, effectively and with integrity. As always I am grateful for the support of such an able team and I am particularly grateful to rely on the expertise and energy of our highly proficient Clerk Suzanne.
The clerk distributed draft copies of the Balance sheet for the year ended March 31st 2019
The accounts cannot be approved before the internal audit is completed, this will be ready for the May meeting. A draft copy is attached
AM prepared a report which was circulated to councillors, this will be further discussed in the following Ordinary Meeting.
See attached report
There were no questions on the accounts.
5. Public Participation
Richard Unwin asked if there was the possibility for more funds to be given to the Church restoration project.
IL responded that he felt more discussion within the council was needed to decide where the remaining £5,750 of INRG money should be spent, the PC continually strives to provide some play equipment north of the A303.
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at 8.15pm.