WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Borough Councillor Latif Khan.
83. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillor MacIsaac reiterated his interest in respect of being Chair of the SBC Planning Committee.
84. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 11TH DECEMBER 2007
The Minutes of the Meeting of 11th December 2007 were approved as a correct record. There were no matters arising.
85. POLICE AND COMMUNITY WARDEN LIAISON
The Policing Team reported that they had been very busy since the last meeting and were starting to see a real difference in the local area. Statistics showed that crime was down by 16% on last year. Street cautions had been issued for possession of cannabis, and cocaine and ecstasy users had also been apprehended. Various antisocial behaviour incidents had also been dealt with including youths consuming alcohol in public places. Graffiti at the shops and Kola Court had been removed.
Speeding operations were planned to take place using an advanced speed gun which had now been made available for this purpose. Parking issues outside schools were also being dealt with and meetings with school Heads had been arranged. The Team were also liaising with Wexham School in relation to other issues.
New PCSO, Pietro Mingola, had been getting to know the area and its residents and had highlighted a number of alcohol related issues particularly in the area of the shops at Knolton Way and Upton Lea. He reported that increased CCTV signage and criminal damage signs would be put in place in an effort to deter bad behaviour such as drinking, graffiti and vandalism. Dumped tyres and bottles of oil at Quinbrookes garages were to be removed during the next couple of weeks.
Councillors and members of the public enquired about parking tickets being issued for parking outside the hospital, complaints received in relation to The Cherries, and school-run drivers abusing the footpaths and verges. The Team reported that they patrol the problem areas regularly but had recently been concentrating their efforts in Bell Close, due to youths who had been causing problems on their way home from school.
The Chairman thanked the Policing Team for all their efforts.
Community Warden Linda Corcoran reported that she had carried out an estate inspection with the Chairman and Clerk, during which various issues had been highlighted. The Borough Council was now considering the legal options to deal with these issues.
The blue transit van previously reported had now been removed by the DVLA. The ongoing problem of dog fouling was also discussed and further signage was requested in the local area to try and deter this. It was also agreed that more dog bins were needed, and the Clerk would agenda the funding of two additional bins for the next meeting.
86. ADDRESS TO COUNCIL BY REPRESENTATIVE OF SBC FINANCE
Slough Borough Council wished to enhance their communications with local communities and had therefore arranged for a representative to provide an update on their current budget, together with the ongoing issue of the Government’s erroneous population figures for Slough. Liz Frawley was invited to address the Council and provided various information in this regard, assisted by Councillor Tony Haines. They explained that the flawed population figures would take some time to rectify and, in the meantime, the Borough Council were having to juggle resources to make up for the shortfall of funding. The public had given priority to several items including youth services, green spaces, and recycling.
Despite the problems caused by this under-funding the Borough Council had managed to set a balanced budget including reserves, and was investing in various public services and amenities.
The Slough Citizen continued to be published quarterly and this contained various information including public surveys. However, it appeared that this was not being delivered in some areas and this would be investigated. The Chairman commented that Wexham often seems to get the short end of the straw in relation to financial assistance for local projects, youth activities, etc., and that we often tend to be left out of the loop because we have an active Parish Council. Councillor Haines pointed out that Wexham has, however, been included in various schemes including the installation of updated kitchens and bathrooms in Council properties. A new recycling scheme would also be rolled out during the next year and brown wheelie-bins would be provided to all households. This would include the re-introduction of recycling of plastics. A schedule of schemes and work being undertaken locally could be found on the Borough Council’s website.
Members asked what steps were being taken to resolve the issue of the flawed population figures and were assured that SBC were applying every possible pressure including media coverage. It was planned for a Government Minister to hold a meeting with SBC in the near future to discuss this.
It was noted that the lack of funding for Slough had pushed up the local Council Tax increase to 4.99% (capped at no more than 5%). This raised questions in relation to how the Borough Council deals with people who don’t pay their Council Tax and Members were advised that there is a 96% success rate for recovery of arrears and also catching fraudsters. They were also advised that landlords are responsible for notifying the Borough Council about people who migrate into Slough in rented accommodation. A survey would be undertaken in the near future to identify properties being used for multiple occupation, and all reported cases were investigated. It was also proposed that 2-storey properties, as well as 3-storey, should be required to be licensed.
The Chairman closed this item by pointing out that many local people do not feel they are getting the services they deserve, but that this would hopefully improve when the funding situation is resolved, and he thanked Liz Frawley and Councillor Haines for an informative discussion.
87. INFORMATION REPORTS - MEMBERS & BOROUGH COUNCILLORS
Councillor MacIsaac reported the following:
v It had been reported that Travellers were placing chalk markings outside local properties as an indicator to thieves. A list of these symbols was handed to the Clerk and would be distributed to all Members.
v The bus pass scheme was being extended to include travel to other areas.
v Welden, Shortfern, The Cherries, and Almons Way roads were scheduled to be re-surfaced in the Spring.
v The Knolton Way pizza shop was still being dealt with and a Court case was pending.
v An invitation had been extended to the Parish and Borough Councils to attend a foundation stone ceremony at the new Care Home site.
v It has been discovered that gangs are buying the services of immigrant children to use as pickpockets on the streets. One property in Chalvey was recently found to be housing a group of 38 such people.
v Some multi-occupational properties in Wexham were being put up for sale. However, it was suspected that this may be for the purpose of regularly moving occupants on to prevent them from obtaining tenants’ rights.
v Graffiti at the back of the shops was still being dealt with.
v The house breeding dogs in The Frithe was still being pursued.
v Councillor MacIsaac had now become a Governor at Wexham School and reported that there were still vacancies for this role.
Councillor Haines reported that he had been involved in various matters. Permission for a development consisting of flats had been sought on the site of Christchurch Hall in Upton Lea, which had previously been used for hire by parishioners. He had also been involved in a visit to park rangers at Langley Park and Black Park in relation to the availability of footpaths leading there from Wexham. He discovered that there is a footpath which leads directly to the car park in Black Park, although it seemed that few residents were aware of this.
The Borough Councillors were asked whether the SBC Planning Department is doing anything to deal with multiple occupancy issues and they advised that conditions are applied to local developments to avoid such issues. However, it was noted that the conditions could not work if people choose to ignore them and no enforcement takes place. It was pointed out that the planning enforcement takes time since there is a legal process to follow.
The Chairman discussed some of the issues that were highlighted on the recent estate inspection with the Community Warden and the Clerk and it was hoped that some of these issues could be resolved in the near future. He had also dealt with some incidents of misbehaving youths and speeding vehicles in the area.
88. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statements for the 1st to 30th November and the 1st to 31st December, and invited questions from Members.
The Finance Clerk had been notified that a new Auditor had been appointed for the next five year period, although no explanation had been provided as to why the services of Hacker Young were no longer being used. In light of recent issues that WCPC had experienced with them, it was assumed that other authorities may have had similar problems.
A refund of £250 had been received from the Inland Revenue for submitting employee tax and contribution details online.
The new bank mandate had been prepared and the signatures of the new F&GP Members were obtained. The Clerk would arrange for the Members to accompany her to the bank to submit the mandate, together with the necessary identification documents and an accompanying letter detailing all current F&GP Committee Members.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statements for November and December 2007 be approved, and authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
89. 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 had been raised to applications at 25/25a The Cherries, 1 Farm Crescent, 1 Knolton Way, and 175 Knolton Way. It was noted that some applicants submit repeated planning applications in the hope that their proposed developments may slip by us, but the Clerk kept a sharp eye on this.
The Clerk reported that the Land Registry documents in respect of the Parish Leases had now been received. The solicitor would also be applying to register the new piece of land which would be leased when the Care Home development is completed.
The Parish Council would be represented at the Foundation Stone Ceremony on the 29th February by the Chairman and his wife, the Clerk, and Councillor Evelyn Aldridge.
The Christmas Charity Fundraising Event had again been a successful and enjoyable evening and a total of £313 had been raised, which would be doubled and presented to the Air Ambulance Trust as before.
A new Caretaker had come forward to fill the vacancy at the Parish Hall and the Clerk introduced Mr Ken Whitehead who was in attendance at the meeting.
90. APPROVAL OF CAMERA UPGRADE FOR PARISH HALL CCTV
The Chairman clarified the need for improved CCTV cameras since many of the budget units originally installed were not performing as expected. This met with a mixed reaction. Some Members felt that the Council should not need to be revisiting this matter and spending additional money so soon after the installation. The Chairman explained that a ‘best value’ system had been budgeted for, but that this had now proved to be inadequate and better cameras were needed. He also felt that more conspicuous cameras might act as a greater deterrent to anti-social behaviour. The quoted upgrade which included an additional camera overseeing the eastern side of the car park (currently a blind spot) would add £912 per annum to the existing lease agreement.
Since agreement could not be reached on this item it was deferred to the next meeting and all Members were invited to make arrangements with the Clerk to come and view the performance of the existing cameras in the interim.
91. CONSIDERATION OF QUOTES RECEIVED FOR NEW GAMES AREA
This item was deferred to a subsequent meeting due to time constraints. However, it was agreed that in the meantime the Clerk and Chairman would make arrangements to carry out a consultation with nearby residents to ascertain their thoughts about the installation of a games area, and possible youth shelter, on the Parish amenity land.
92. NALC ANNUAL CONFERENCE, 20-22 MAY 2008
The Clerk clarified the arrangements for the annual NALC Conference, which would be taking place in May this year, and asked Members to let her know if they wished to attend. Approval was given for the Chairman, the Clerk, and two other Members.
93. CO-OPTION OF NEW MEMBERS – CANDIDATES ADDRESS
The Chairman opened this item by outlining what is required of a Parish Councillor and how the current Members/Officers work together as a non-political team purely in the interests of the residents of Wexham.
The three candidates in attendance were each invited to address the Council to introduce themselves, and to clarify their reasons for wishing to be co-opted. A discussion and ballot would take place during a Part II meeting to decide the successful candidates to fill the two vacancies, following which the Clerk would notify them of the Council’s decision in writing.
Part I of the Meeting closed and it was Resolved that, in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted, it was advisable in the public interest that the Press and Public be temporarily excluded, and they were instructed to withdraw.
94. CO-OPTION OF NEW MEMBERS – BALLOT
In Part II it was Resolved that Ms Pauline Cordery and Mr Patrick Donachy be co-opted to serve as Members of Wexham Court Parish Council, Declarations of Acceptance of Office to be signed at the next Meeting of Full Council.
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