Minutes of the Great Staughton Annual Parish Assembly
held on 16th April 2015 in the Village Hall
Present: Councillors – Hugh Duberly (HD) (Chairman), Janet Bowen (JB), Geoff Gilbert (GG), Bob Jewell (RJ), Will Mumford (WM), Peter Willmer (PW), Anthony Withers (AW), Dianne Palmer (Clerk)
Parishioners: Michael Askew, Dawn Auton, Roy Benford, Maria Benford, Barbara Bishop, Eileen Gilbert, Jacqueline Cook, Sue Cowley, KJ Dainty, Doris Dainty, Margaret Emeleus, Kevin Fisk, Guy Freeman, Dave Giddings, Susan Giddings, Helen Glanville, Vicky Goldsmith, Roger Harding, Olive Hynes, Paddy Hynes, Mike Keeble, Maria McArdle, Shirley Mockford, Mike Mockford, David Moore, Andy Moulds, Erkan Mustafa, Audrey Newman, Jenny O’Dell, David Palmer, Janet Perrett, Jean Philpott, Shaun Prince, Tricia Richards, Phil Rowe, Ivy Sturgeon, Neil Taylor, Alex Turner, John Wakefield, Caroline Wakefield, Sheila Wells, Dennis Wells, Graham Westcott, Nicole Yates, Phil Yates, Judy York, and Peter York.
Peter Downes (County Councillor), Jonathan Gray (District Councillor), Sgt Kevin Thorne (St Neots Police) were also present.
Chairman’s Address: HD gave a warm welcome to everyone and repeated his comments from 2014 saying what a pleasure it was to see Great Staughton looking so attractive. He expressed thanks to those responsible – John Harrison for maintenance of the grass verges, the Horticultural Society, and the Tree Wardens (Norman Hardy & John Bashford). He also thanked AW and WM for organising the Annual Litter Pick and thanked all those who took part. HD said that during the year new street lamps had been installed, the road and pavements had been resurfaced and improved signage had been installed on the junction of The Highway and The Causeway. He mentioned that mains sewerage will be installed in Dillington later in the year.
HD informed the meeting that some members of the Parish Council will be standing down and he has been informed that, as only 9 people have put their names forward for the Parish Council, an election will not need to take place and they will automatically be elected to the Parish Council. The Chairman said he looked forward to working with the new Councillors who are David Moore, Kevin Fisk and Nicole Yates. The Councillors standing down are Mervyn Young who has been involved with the Village Hall and the Playing Field, Frank Backhouse who worked on the Village Plan and established the Neighbourhood Watch group, and Peter Willmer who has been a Parish Councillor for 60 years and was Chairman for 19 years. HD thanked PW and presented him with an engraved crystal tumbler.
- Apologies for absence: Frank Backhouse, Rev Judi Clarke, Judy Chalkley, Howard Chalkley, Dennis Clarke, Caroline Taylor, Barbara Wallis, Mervyn Young and Jen Able.
- Minutes of the last Parish Assembly held on 10th April 2014 were agreed as a true record and signed. Proposed by AW and seconded by JB.
- Matters Arising
Broadband – Roger Harding gave a brief report mentioning that the box is now installed on The Green and said he is waiting to hear when the fibre connection will be done. Janet Perrett asked what the speed would be and Roger Harding thought it could be in the region of 50 to 60 mbps. HD thanked Roger Harding for his update.
- Parish Accounts
Village Precept – Bob Jewell (RJ) explained how the Parish Council applied to Hunts DC for the Parish Precept and how a budget was circulated and discussed prior to the application. RJ gave further details about some items and mentioned that the Clerk is the only salaried person associated with the Parish Council. Neil Taylor asked about any overspend and RJ said this was covered by the reserves. Roy Benford asked why some Playing Field items were paid for direct by the Parish Council rather than by the Playing Field accounts and RJ said this is a historical routine and, if paid for by the Playing Field committee, it would mean that the grant to the Playing Field would need to be increased.
Playing Field – Bob Jewell (RJ) circulated the figures prior to the meeting and presented the accounts mentioning income was received through various clubs and parties. Business Rates, electricity, waste collection and minor repairs were responsible for most of the outgoings. Overall he felt the accounts were in a stable position. AW proposed that the accounts be accepted, seconded by Janet Perrett and carried unanimously.
Parish Charities – Eileen Gilbert said that an income from the Parish Charity fields and dividends came to £3,936.95 and a sum of £2,591.16 had been distributed to various education causes within the village. The bank Balance is £11,460.42. Although grants were lower this year due in part to the demise of Guides and Brownies, it was anticipated that a grant would be made to Piglets in support of the building work they wish to do. The Trustees meet in March and October to consider grant applications and welcome submissions from local groups supporting young people. Eileen Gilbert expressed thanks from the Trustees to Tom Sayer who kindly audited the accounts. Maria McArdle mentioned that a Rainbow Group is meeting in the school and is run by Liz Wetzel. JB proposed the accounts be accepted, seconded by PW and carried unanimously.
HD mentioned that one of the charity fields comprising a small paddock is available to rent. He also said that the Trustees are considering giving a bursary for educational purposes.
Village Hall – Helen Glanville presented the audited accounts for 2014 mentioning that there was a surplus of £679.00 although the income had reduced slightly from 2013. In line with new government directives, the village hall will need to be made more efficient and the cost of this could be £35,000.00. At present the committee is going through the process of applying for grants for this work and some of the minor works have been done. RJ proposed the accounts be accepted, seconded by GG and carried unanimously. Helen Glanville thanked Kathy Wilson for auditing the accounts.
Life Magazine – Helen Glanville presented the audited accounts for 2014 which ended with a surplus of £5,622.00. Thanks were expressed to Valerie Downes who acted as joint editor for many years. Shaun Prince has now taken on this role and a laptop and email address have been provided to make the work easier. During the past year, advertising in the magazine has increased, there has been more printing in colour and larger magazines have been produced. Helen said that the collection pots still make a good contribution to the income. HD said he felt the village was fortunate to have the magazine.
HD thanked everyone for presenting the Parish accounts.
- Reports from County & District Councillors and the Police
Peter Downes (PD) circulated a printed report prior to the meeting and gave further information on some of the points. He expressed concern that demand for services was increasing as funds were being reduced. He thought older people and young people were 2 parts of the demography which were growing, placing severe pressure on education and care services. PD also said that he felt that residents in Great Staughton were very fortunate as there were many benefits to living in the village, the greatest resource being the people in the village who are prepared to give their time and do things for the village. PD left the meeting at 7.45pm.
Jonathan Gray (JG) circulated an informative report at the meeting. He said it was a pleasure to attend the Annual Parish Assembly at Great Staughton as there was always such a good turn-out. JG mentioned that Hunts DC is responsible for strategic planning as well as day-to-day planning applications. The Government has requested that more houses be built as demand is going up. The target set locally is for an additional 20,000 houses to be built between now and 2036. If the District Council does not work to achieve this number developers/builders can apply to build on land that would not normally be available so it is important that Hunts DC develops a workable plan. JG informed the meeting of the local Community Chest which is available for grant applications up to £5,000.00 by voluntary organisations. Contact details available from the clerk.
Jenny O’Dell asked about the new staff members at Hunts DC. JG said, although new staff had been recruited, overall there had been a reduction in staff numbers and also people recruited on lower salary scales. Dennis Wells asked whether any of the villages would be expanded in the strategic planning process, with particular consideration for supporting village school numbers. JG said villages have the option to infill without increasing the overall size of the village and a need to be flexible. Janet Perrett asked about plans for the A428 and JG said this is still under consideration by the committee.
HD thanked the Councillors for their reports and continued support of the Parish Council. A copy of the Councillor’s reports can be obtained from the Clerk
Police Report – Sgt Kevin Thorne has been based at St Neots since July 2014 and he said that Great Staughton has an amazingly low crime rate. Areas where the Police will be focussing in future are: supporting victims of crime and exploitation such as modern day slavery; cyber-crime and safeguarding vulnerable persons. Sgt Thorne said currently there is an increase in theft from motor vehicles and he asked people to be careful when parking not to leave valuables on view in the vehicle. Oil and diesel theft is still common and burglaries from businesses. Work has taken place with the local Neighbourhood Watch group and with the Speed Watch group. The safety camera has been deployed in the village recently. WM pointed out that when the speed camera was situated in the village it was very quickly posted on the village Facebook page. He expressly asked people not to do this in future. HD thanked Sgt Thorne for his report and attendance.
- Village School
Maria McArdle was introduced as the new Headmistress of the Village School and she thanked everyone for their support locally. HD extended a warm welcome and said that the Parish Council is keen to ensure that the village school thrives and will do everything in their power to support the school.
- Community Defibrillator
HD explained that the Parish Council have been trying to ensure that there is a community defibrillator available for general use. It was initially thought that one would be publicly available at the Doctors Surgery but they have installed it inside the building. At present the Parish Council is looking at how to finance the equipment and offer training.
- Highway Improvement Funding Applications
HD said that Great Staughton has been successful with recent funding applications for Highway Improvement grants and AW gave an overview of the scheme and details of the recent grants achieved. Following feedback from local residents, in December 2014 an application was submitted to install a crossing on the B645 from Beachampstead to the playing field. AW and PW attended a meeting where a presentation was given to support the application and in January the Parish Council was awarded a grant for a crossing. The estimated cost is £15,000.00 and the grant is for £10,000.00 so a further £5,000.00 will need to be raised. AW said any suggestions would be most welcome.
A request has been put to the Parish Council to extend the restricted speed limit on The Green and AW said this may be suitable for the next application.
HD invited David Moore to inform the meeting of progress with Speed Watch. At present there are 5 trained volunteers and they have been monitoring sites within the village which are forwarded to the police for approval. So far 5 sites have been identified and 2 monitors have taken place during the last 2 weeks. On 8th April during the monitoring 352 cars came into the village with 7 cars above the approved limit. On 10th April, 277 cars came into the village from Kimbolton with 10 cars over the limit. Please contact David Moore if you have any suggestions for monitoring sites or are interested in joining the team. Olive Hynes asked whether cars could see the Speed Watch operation and David Moore thought drivers were aware.
- Affordable Housing for Local People
AW gave an update on the progress. The working party has joined the National Community Land trust to gain more information and guidance for the proposal. In addition to the steering group; the Parish Charities, Charity Commission, Cambs ACRE, Community Land Trust, Luminus and Hunts DC are all involved in the project. HD said he has already been approached by people to be kept informed of the Affordable Housing Project with a view to putting their name down for a property. Jenny O’Dell asked how local did people need to be in order to be eligible. AW informed her that many things still needed to be discussed and agreed but in general those with a local connection such as family or work would be eligible. Paddy Hynes asked what provision would there be to stop the houses being sold on the open market. This will be part of the terms agreed with the tenants.
- Highway Warden’s Report
RJ felt that the village looks better following the road and pavement repairs. He said a number of trees have been planted in the village by the Tree Wardens. Jenny O’Dell said that the pavement repairs were patchy and needed further attention.
- Parish Matters
Neighbourhood Watch – John Wakefield reported that some areas need deputies and more volunteers would be welcome.
Jenny O’Dell said many of the manhole covers on The Highway do not fit cleanly and rattle when vehicles pass over them.
Paddy Hynes expressed his thanks for the re-positioning of the lamp outside his house and said he and his wife were extremely happy with the new position of the lamp.
Roger Harding informed the meeting that he thought the new bulbs were a higher wattage than the old ones and, following 4 visits by engineers, he had yet to be convinced that the lights were dimmed late at night.
Roy Benford drew attention to the straw which had been stacked in the field to the rear of his house and suggested that it was a fire hazard and a danger to children.
Jacqueline Cook had received a letter from National Grid Gas plc following her request for an estimate to have gas installed to her home on The Green. However, it does not seem cost effective as approx. 130 premises would need to express an interest and the budget cost per household would be in excess of £5,700.00 for mains gas installation plus an additional cost for connection from each house to the road. HD thanked Mrs Cook for her research.
RJ informed the meeting that he expected the 150 bus service will remain in operation with an improved service to the railway station and Tesco. The 400/401 service to Huntingdon will continue and will run twice a day each way. However, there will not be a weekly service to Peterborough or Bedford.
HD reminded everyone that, prior to each Parish Council meeting, there is a Resident’s Forum which gives villagers the opportunity to raise matters of concern. He thanked the current Parish Councillors for their service during the last 5 years and paid tribute to the work of the Parish Clerk.
The meeting closed at 9.05pm.