WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Evelyn Aldridge (unwell), Dave Davies (working),
Vinay Vyas (working).
Borough Councillor Latif Khan.
110. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillor Donachy declared an interest in relation to Item 9, Parish Hall WC Renovations, since the contractor quoting for this work was a personal friend.
111. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH FEBRUARY 2010
The Minutes of the Meeting of 9th February 2010 were approved as a correct record.
In relation to the quote for The Cherries Play Area the Clerk confirmed that Councillor Vyas had consulted SBC’s Gerald Pleace to obtain his advice. A further meeting had subsequently taken place with Chris Dixon of Kompan to discuss amendments to the quote, the details of which were discussed. The Clerk recorded her thanks to Councillor Vyas and Gerald Pleace for their assistance.
112. POLICE AND COMMUNITY WARDEN LIAISON
New Officers Tracey Fenton-Smyth and Matthew Lynch were welcomed and introduced themselves. They reported that they had been busy in their new roles. Suspected terrorist activity in the Upton Lea area had been investigated but was found to present no threat. They were aware that speeding continued to be a problem, and the speed awareness devices had now been put back up following the recent icy and snowy conditions. They had also been dealing with some incidents of antisocial behaviour and drug related problems in the Upton Lea and Rochford Garden areas.
The latest crime statistics were discussed and these showed an increase in violent crime, robberies and vehicle crime. However, it was noted that these statistics were for the whole Wexham Lea area and didn’t specifically apply to Wexham Court.
The Officers confirmed that the Dawes Moor Close garage site was a priority and had been placed on the ‘Patrol Plan’. A case of a local dog being attacked by two Staffordshire terriers was also discussed and this was being dealt with.
New Community Warden, Dave Lee, was welcomed and introduced. He reported that one of his priorities was to deal with dog fouling, and he had already been erecting signs and carrying out early morning patrols to catch offenders. It was brought to his notice that the verges and side roads along Church Lane were a particular problem. He was also dealing with some local youth issues and was getting to know the area.
Councillor MacIsaac asked Mr Lee to closely monitor the above-mentioned Staffordshire dogs which were not being kept under proper control by the owner.
The Clerk advised that Chairman Dave Davies would most likely be in touch in the near future to arrange an estate walkabout with the new Community Warden.
113. INFORMATION REPORTS - MEMBERS & BOROUGH COUNCILLORS
Councillor Haines reported that it had been a quiet month for him. A recent residents’ feedback questionnaire had identified abuse of grass verges as one of the key local issues. However, it also suggested that savings could be made by abolishing Parish Councils. This was contradictory since the Parish Council Members/Officers are the very people who are consistently trying to protect our verges! Councillor Haines also reported that the new Electoral Role figures indicated an increase in the population, and the Clerk requested a copy of this.
Councillor MacIsaac reported the following:
· The pedestrian crossing lights near the Khalsa School had now been repaired again.
· He had been challenging drivers who were causing damage to grass verges.
· The Borough Council had approved a 2% rise in Council Tax but big cuts would be taking place, some of which had not yet been disclosed.
· Following the retirement of the Wexham School Head, Ken Mason would be acting as interim Head although he didn’t wish to take on the role permanently.
· Latif Khan would be standing down as Wexham Lea Borough Councillor and a new candidate, Sarfraz Khan, was introduced.
Councillor Nunn had been undergoing some training with the Clerk and learning more about the role of the Parish Council and planning issues.
Councillor Donachy had received several complaints about damage to grass verges and asked whether anything could be done to resolve this issue. The Borough Councillors confirmed that the local Bylaw was currently ineffective because SBC would not enforce it. Also, the Police and Traffic Wardens seemed to be unclear as to who should deal with the problem. In the event of a civil case resulting from somebody getting hurt it would be difficult to prove who was at fault for failing to resolve the matter.
Councillor Egan reported that the captain of his darts team lives near the Quinbrookes garage site so he is keeping in contact with information relating to fly-tipping, etc.
Councillor Gerstmann had been approached by a disabled resident who had been refused a disabled parking bay outside her house and couldn’t afford the cost of a dropped kerb into her garden. This had been investigated and it was found that the road was too narrow for a disabled bay. Councillor MacIsaac offered to follow this up and enquire whether any assistance could be given to the resident to meet the costs of a dropped kerb.
Councillor Robert Aldridge reported that he had been dealing with ongoing problems caused by coaches visiting the Sikh Temple. On the day of the Temple March the coaches had been moved to the Parish Hall car park as a temporary measure. A meeting would be arranged with the Temple representatives with a view to suggesting that the coaches could use the Khalsa School car park in future.
The Clerk submitted a report on behalf of Councillor Vyas in his absence. He had recently arranged an estate walkabout with the Chairman, Clerk, and SBC Highways Engineer Shahzad Khan to identify problem areas relating to grass verge damage and discuss possible measures that could be taken. As a result of this bollards had already been installed around the greens adjacent to the Khalsa School, and at the alleyway between The Frithe/Wexham Road. A further meeting had been arranged with representatives of the Legal and Highways Departments for the 24th March to discuss verge protection measures and enforcement. SBC Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst had offered £30K towards verge improvements, subject to match funding from the Parish Council. This would be discussed further at our next meeting. The Clerk recorded her thanks to Councillor Vyas for all his recent work in progressing this ongoing matter. Councillor Haines suggested that People First could be approached with a view to enforcing their tenancy conditions with tenants who abuse the verges.
114. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statement for the 1st to 31st January and invited questions from Members.
Permission was sought to make Inland Revenue payments by Direct Debit to avoid delays, and this was approved. A Finance & General Purpose Committee meeting was arranged for the 31st March.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statement for January 2010 be approved, and authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
115. REPORT OF THE CLERK AND PLANNING MATTERS
The Clerk had previously circulated updates to Members regarding recent planning applications and various items were discussed. The applicant of a refused development at 24 Bell Close had submitted an appeal and the Borough Councillors were asked to submit their own objections to the Planning Inspectorate in support of this case.
Following complaints by neighbours, the Clerk had also made enquiries with the Planning Department in relation to a development at 20 Bell Close. This had been dealt with by Enforcement Officer Phil Rowe, who had subsequently advised that it falls within the Permitted Development guidelines. He had also advised that, under the new rules, buildings can take up to 50% of the available land at a property (including the space in the front garden). Sadly, this was a frustrating ruling which the Parish Council had no power to change.
Councillor Donachy requested an update in regard to enforcement proceedings for the unlawful flat conversion at 35 Hillersdon. Councillor MacIsaac advised that a massive fine had been imposed and a further Court Order had been issued to revert the flats to a single dwelling. SBC would therefore have the right to demolish the conversion after a given time.
The Clerk requested an urgent meeting of the Newsletter Working Group to make preparations for the Annual Report. This meeting would take place on the 16th March.
A letter of thanks had now been received from Help for Heroes following the fundraising event.
116. APPROVAL OF QUOTATION RECEIVED FOR MAINTENANCE/RE-FINISHING OF PARISH HALL WOOD FLOORING
The Clerk advised that the wood block flooring was now in need of re-finishing, and some damage had also occurred to the floor and stairs at a recent hire. A quote had been obtained in the sum of £6,799, some of which would be claimed back from the hirer responsible for the damage.
RESOLVED: That the quote in the sum of £6,799 be approved, and arrangements be made by the Clerk to have the necessary work carried out as soon as possible.
117. APPROVAL OF QUOTATION RECEIVED FOR RENOVATION OF PARISH HALL WCs
The Clerk presented the quotes to the Members and explained that extensive work was needed to bring the toilets up to an acceptable standard. The quotes were discussed and it was suggested that the costs could possibly be reduced if standard materials were used instead of the top-end materials quoted. It was also agreed that only the main front Ladies and Gents WCs would be renovated at the current time, and that the rear WCs may be closed pending enquiries as to the recommended number of cubicles that should be made available for the volume of customers using the hall.
RESOLVED: That the quotes in the sums of £6,177 and £4,841 be approved for renovation of the front Ladies and Gents WCs, and that the Clerk would make enquiries in relation to possible reduction of the quoted costs.
118. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A complaint was received in relation to the new seating areas in the High Street, which were unusable most of the time due to being wet. It appeared that the slightest hint of rain resulted in water remaining on the seats thus rendering them useless. This complaint was noted, but could not be resolved by the Parish Council since it had been given no part in the design process.
The meeting closed at 9.10pm
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