Two members of the public.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Robert Aldridge and Simon Goddard (arriving late).
Borough Councillor Latif Khan.
An apology was also recorded from a member of the public who was unable to attend.
55. INTRODUCTION OF NEW FINANCE CLERK
The Chairman introduced the new Finance Clerk, Tina Kellett, and welcomed her to Wexham Court Parish Council.
56. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillors Egan and Davies declared an interest in relation to Item 4 on the Agenda.
57. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 12TH JULY 2005
The Minutes of the Meeting of 12th July 2005 were approved as a correct record. Councillor Davies reported that, in relation to Item 46, the meeting with SBC Highways Department had been cancelled by them without notice and they had shown no interest in convening a further meeting.
58. MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING HELD ON 25TH JULY 2005
This item was deferred pending the arrival of Councillor Goddard who was expected to provide a report under matters arising.
59. MINUTES OF THE F&GP MEETING HELD ON 28TH JULY 2005
The Minutes of the Finance & General Purpose Committee Meeting held on 28th July 2005 were approved as a correct record, and the recommendations of the F&GP Committee therein were also approved.
60. MINUTES OF THE F&GP MEETING HELD ON 25TH AUGUST 2005
The Minutes of the Finance & General Purpose Committee Meeting held on 25th August 2005 were approved as a correct record, and the recommendations of the F&GP Committee therein were also approved.
The Finance Clerk presented the Annual Accounts for the year ending March 2005 and various questions were put to her by Members. The Chairman pointed out that all Members were invited to attend the recent F&GP Meeting for the purpose of approving the Accounts, and asked that in future they should attend the relevant F&GP Meeting to avoid delays in the proceedings during monthly Meetings of Council. The Annual Return was subsequently completed, approved, and signed by the Chairman and the Clerk.
61. PARISH COUNCIL VACANCIES
The Clerk had received confirmation from Slough Borough Council that no election had been called, and the Parish Council was therefore permitted to fill the current vacancies by co-option. Borough Councillor David MacIsaac had expressed his interest in serving on the Parish again, and he was therefore invited by the Chairman to address the Council. The co-option of Councillor MacIsaac was subsequently proposed and seconded, and he was duly elected by a majority show of hands. Councillor MacIsaac signed a Declaration of Acceptance of Office and the Chairman welcomed him as a renewed Member of WCPC.
RESOLVED: That Councillor David MacIsaac be co-opted as a Member of Wexham Court Parish Council for the remainder of the current electoral period.
62. POLICE LIAISON
Beat Officer Cerrig Shardlow was invited to address the Council. He stated that he was finding his new role very interesting and had been liaising with many Parish residents, who were now becoming aware that he would be serving the area on a permanent basis. He had developed a good relationship with several of the local youths, who he had found were willing to pass on valuable intelligence to him regarding various local problems in relation to drugs, violence, car theft, etc. Drug problems in Wexham had recently been reduced by half, particularly in the areas of the Knolton Way shops and The Cherries, and a regular police presence in Upton Lea had helped to disperse groups of youths in this area thus reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. PC Shardlow reiterated that he would appreciate any feedback or information that the public could provide.
A new initiative was currently underway to reduce the incidence of valuable items being left in view inside unattended vehicles, since this was one of the key factors in car crime. Any such sightings would be reported to the DVLC and the vehicle owners would subsequently be notified to warn them of the risks. The ongoing problem of untaxed vehicles was raised and PC Shardlow reported that he would be continuing his efforts to deal with this. The driving of mini-motorcycles and road-racers around the estate was also raised and it was noted that the recent actions of the Police was helping to resolve this problem.
The Chairman thanked PC Shardlow for all his good work and Councillor Davies, who had received several favourable reports from the public on the Beat Officer’s progress, also expressed his thanks. The Chairman highlighted recent problems with youths in the area of Clarendon Court and PC Shardlow gave his assurance that this would be investigated and also brought to the attention of his colleagues. Two Special Constabulary Officers had been joining him on his rounds and had been gaining an insight into the ongoing issues he was dealing with.
63. APPOINTMENT OF PARISH REPRESENTATIVE TO STANDARDS COMMITTEE
Councillor David MacIsaac volunteered his services in this regard and the Clerk was asked to notify Slough Borough Council’s Member Services Manager accordingly.
64. INFORMATION REPORTS
Councillor Davies reported that he was continuing to raise Planning issues with the Clerk and Slough Borough Council but was finding it difficult to establish contact with anybody in authority at the SBC Planning Department. He would continue to pursue this. A meeting would be taking place at Wexham Park Hospital on the 24th September at 2pm in relation to the hospital parking issues, and Members were welcome to attend.
Councillor Davies had been speaking to local youths who had requested the installation of a basketball post/net in the area. The said youths had been invited to attend tonight’s meeting to put forward their case, but had not turned up. Councillor Davies would liaise with them further regarding this matter. Councillor Haines reported that a basketball hoop had recently been donated to the Rochford Gardens area by SBC and he would enquire whether it would be possible to provide another in The Cherries. Meanwhile, the Clerk was asked to enquire with Chiltern Sports regarding the cost of installing dual markings to accommodate the playing of basketball on one of the Parish tennis courts.
Councillor Davies raised a previously discussed proposal with regard to progressing the arrangements for two youth representatives from Wexham School to be elected to serve on the Parish Council. The Chairman deferred this item to the next Meeting of Council and asked the Clerk to include it on the next Agenda.
Councillor MacIsaac reported that he has been taking care of The Cherries play area and ensuring its safety.
Councillor Rajput raised the ongoing problem of the parking of vehicles on the grass verges outside St Ethelbert’s School. He was gravely concerned that vehicles are driving dangerously close to the school children and thus causing a Health & Safety hazard. Councillor MacIsaac would contact SBC with a view to the problem being controlled by Parking Wardens.
Councillor Corps reported that a lack of dropped kerbs in some areas of the estate causes difficulties for disability vehicles, which are often forced to go onto the road where no dropped kerb is provided. Several hedges around the estate were also overgrown onto the pavement, thus preventing use of the footpaths by pedestrians and disability vehicles alike. The Chairman had recently contacted SBC regarding one such inaccessible kerb, leading from the Wexham Road service road to the Football Club, where a dropped kerb had now been installed. He also suggested that, with regard to the overgrown hedges, SBC should perhaps be challenged to come and use the paths in an attempt to encourage them to take the necessary action to rectify the problem.
Councillor Evelyn Aldridge reported that she had received a complaint regarding noise from the Sikh Temple. The noise was described as singing and chanting which had been taking place as early as 4.50am. It was suggested that a letter to the Temple, and possibly the Environmental Health Department, would be appropriate.
The Chairman had previously prepared a written report and this was circulated to Members and to the public attending the meeting. He was continuing to pursue the requested placement of walk-through barriers in the alleyways between Norway Drive and Almons Way/Bell Close to prevent their use by speeding motorcyclists. A donation of £50 had been approved by Members for the Bowls Club Charity Day and the Chairman reported that a total of £500 had been raised at this event. A letter of thanks to WCPC had subsequently been received from the Bowls Club. As a gesture of courtesy, the Bowls Club had recently notified the Chairman that work would soon be taking place to install an irrigation system for the bowls green.
65. SUB-COMMITTEE UPDATES
Preparation of an Autumn Newsletter was now well underway, and a Health & Safety Committee meeting would be arranged at the earliest opportunity.
66. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statements for the 1st to 30th June and the 1st to 31st July. Questions from Members were invited.
The Finance Clerk had now completed the handover to the new Finance Clerk, and the Chairman thanked her for the time she had spent with WCPC and wished her all the best for the future.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statements for June and July 2005 be approved, and that authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
67. REPORT OF THE CLERK AND PLANNING MATTERS
The Clerk had previously circulated updates to Members regarding recent planning applications and various items were discussed. Objections were raised to applications at The Old Corner House and the Kings Oak development, both in Church Lane, and also the planned erection of a telecommunications mast near Clarendon Court. Councillor Davies also reported his findings regarding an approved application in The Frithe for a ‘rear garage’, which was clearly intended to be a self-contained living area.
It was considered that, as a Local Authority, the Borough Council should take our views into account. However, some Members felt that the objections of the Parish Council to various planning matters were being largely ignored by SBC. Councillor Haines explained that the appeals procedure is costly and, more often than not, decisions are made in favour of the applicant. The Borough Council is therefore reluctant to refuse planning applications if they consider that the appeals process would be a waste of public money.
The Clerk reminded Members that any changes to their original declarations in the Register of Members Interests should be notified to her. She again thanked the Chairman and Councillor Davies for their continued assistance in dealing with Parish matters during her illness.
The Parish Hall Caretaker had approached the Clerk regarding the condition of the Main Hall flooring, which now needed re-treating. It had been almost a full year since the date of the previous treatment and the Clerk therefore sought approval to arrange this. It was decided to obtain the advice of an alternative floor specialist on this occasion, and the Clerk was asked to arrange a consultation and report back to Council with details of the estimated cost and the term during which any recommended treatment would remain effective.
The Clerk and the Chairman provided an update of recent developments in regard to the Parish Leases, and the proposal to build an elderly care complex on the land north of the amenity field. Despite various concerns it was still hoped that an agreement could eventually be reached with SBC and Borough Councillors Haines, Khan, and MacIsaac were asked for their assistance in dealing with this matter.
68. BOROUGH COUNCILLOR REPORTS
In relation to the matter previously raised regarding the control of parked vehicles, Councillor MacIsaac clarified the role of Parking Wardens and their restricted powers to deal with such issues. The growing number of vehicles per household was restricting the available road space in many areas, and there appeared to be no easy resolution to this problem. He advised that the parking of vehicles on pavements was only illegal if an obstruction was caused. PC Shardlow offered to seek clarification of the current laws in this regard.
Councillor Haines reported that official Government figures showed that the population in Slough was declining, but he considered that this was due to inaccurate Census information since local statistics showed that the population was increasing. The South-East Regional Planning Assembly had stated that 2,620 new homes per annum would be required in the Berkshire area.
69. MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING HELD ON 25TH JULY 2005
(DEFERRED FROM ITEM NO. 58)
Councillor Goddard, who had been expected to arrive late, was unable to attend. The Chairman therefore raised this deferred item for discussion. The Minutes of the Special Meeting could not be approved at the current time since, apart from the Members who had declared an interest, there was only one other Member present who had attended that meeting. Approval would therefore be sought at the next available opportunity.
The Chairman asked what progress had been made by the Council in relation to the Resolution made at the Special Meeting to deal with the accusation made. The question was raised as to whether the matter still needed to be pursued, in light of the fact that the Councillors who had made the accusation had now resigned, and the remaining Members had given their full support to those who were accused.
Councillor Davies responded to this by stating that it was not acceptable that he, the Chairman, and the Clerk had been libelled, and that third party bodies had also been included in the offending correspondence. He therefore felt that the matter should be dealt with in an official manner to ensure that all three individuals were fully exonerated. Councillor Davies stated that, since no progress had been made during the two months since the Special Meeting, he would now take one months’ leave of absence from his duties as a Councillor, with immediate effect. Furthermore, if the matter was not progressed by the time of the next Meeting of Council, he would permanently resign his position. He left the meeting at this point.
The Chairman supported Councillor Davies’ statement and agreed that he had also been libelled. Further to having notified Council of his intentions at the Special Meeting, he felt that its failure to progress the Resolution now left him no option but to stand down from his position as Chairman pending the matter being resolved. He vacated the Chair, and subsequently left the meeting.
In the absence of the Vice-Chairman, Councillor Goddard, the Clerk invited nominations for an alternative Member to Chair the remainder of the meeting. Councillor Rajput was elected as temporary Chairman.
Councillor Rajput agreed to take the matter forward, and would liaise with Councillor Goddard and the Clerk with a view to obtaining advice from BALC on how to proceed.
70. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A member of the public requested further clarification regarding the installation of the Bowls Club’s irrigation system and her questions were answered.
A resident raised her concerns regarding the possibility of future development on Parish land and asked whether this could be considered a Human Rights issue. Councillor MacIsaac explained that the Human Rights Act does not relate to open spaces.
PC Shardlow was asked about the possibility of cycling proficiency training taking place within the Parish, for the benefit of young people in the area who use our increasingly hazardous roads. Enquiries would be made.
The Meeting subsequently closed at 10:00 p.m.
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