WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Dalip Rajput (family bereavement), Vinay Vyas (unwell).
Prior to commencement of the proceedings Councillor Davies explained that vandalism of the cigarette box by the main doors, and deliberate cruelty to a nesting family of blue-tits that were inside it, had recently occurred. This had been captured on CCTV and was found to be caused by attendees of the regular Tuesday Sikh Band Practice. A meeting had subsequently taken place with the hirer to show him the CCTV footage. He had sincerely apologised and gave an assurance that the offending youths would be banned from attending his functions. He would also pay for a replacement box. The hirer was present together with two of the culprits, who were brought before the Council to answer for their actions.
The two individuals were addressed by Councillor Davies, PC Shardlow and the Clerk. Other Members declined to comment and the members of the public were not permitted to contribute in the interests of maintaining order. Councillor Davies stressed that, whilst the actions of the youths may have simply been a case of ‘high spirits’ at the time, their behaviour had been wholly unacceptable.
Borough Councillor Sohal suggested that the matter should have been dealt with privately in light of the age of the youths. However, Councillor Davies considered that it was appropriate to bring them before the Council in light of the gravity of their offence. This was supported by PC Shardlow who considered that they were more likely to learn from the experience of being brought in front of people. He explained to them that damage to Council property was criminal behaviour. The Clerk added that it was not the damage to the cigarette box that was the main concern, but the associated torture and death of the family of innocent wild birds. The hirer and the offenders were thanked for attending the meeting and left.
In accordance with the Member training requirements agreed at the recent AGM, Councillor Peter Gerstmann was invited to take the Chair for this meeting and duly accepted.
16. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
No Member had an interest to declare.
17. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 11TH MAY 2010
The Minutes of the Meeting of 11th May 2010 were approved as a correct record.
18. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 27TH MAY 2010
The Minutes of the F&GP Meeting of 27th May 2010 were approved as a correct record and the recommendations of the F&GP Committee therein were also approved. This included Full Council approval of the Annual Accounts and signing of the Annual Return, in accordance with the revised timescales set by the auditors.
RESOLVED: That the Annual Accounts for year ending March 2010 be approved, and that the Annual Return be duly signed and submitted to the auditor.
19. POLICE AND COMMUNITY WARDEN LIAISON
PC Shardlow reported that the Policing Team had been dealing with numerous matters since the last meeting including incidents of antisocial behaviour, criminal damage, and damage to vehicles. Two arrests had recently been made on the estate for possession of cannabis and shoplifting. They were currently dealing with a public order incident in relation to a parent who had been aggressive with a teacher at St Ethelbert’s School.
Thanks were recorded to PC Shardlow who had been called out by Councillor Davies and the Clerk at the weekend to deal with a group of Polish youths causing problems at the Parish Hall. The youths had been cautioned and instructed to stay away from the Hall.
Complaints had been received, via an email from Borough Councillor David MacIsaac, regarding youths playing football in the street and causing damage to parked vehicles. The Community Warden had been contacted and asked to deal with this. PCSO Kulaga reported that Councillor MacIsaac had also been speaking to residents about various local issues including drugs and prostitution, but the Policing Team were not aware of any prostitute activities in this area. Borough Councillor Paul Sohal stated that he had heard of possible brothel activities and would pass on the details.
20. INFORMATION REPORTS - MEMBERS & BOROUGH COUNCILLORS
Councillor Haines provided dates of forthcoming sporting events and open days that would be taking place in relation to the sporting program for the summer. He reported that Alison Hibbert would be happy to attend a Parish Council meeting to discuss the program. However, this was not considered necessary and Councillor Davies indicated that he would instead raise the item at the next Borough/Parish Councils Forum meeting.
Ward Councillor Paul Sohal reported that SBC’s AGM had taken place on the 20th May and the Officers for the forthcoming municipal year had been appointed. He would be working closely with Deputy Leader James Swindlehurst, who had indicated that he would be happy to attend a Parish Council meeting and would also be arranging a walkabout in August/September.
Councillor Swindlehurst had stated that the discussions relating to match-funding for grass verge protection measures had been part of an informal conversation, but that he would look into the matter further.
Further to the request by the Clerk at the last meeting, Councillor Sohal had arranged for re-painting of the Norway Drive step railings and this would take place during the next few weeks. He was thanked for progressing this.
Councillor Egan reported that he had taken part in the recent walkabout, and subsequent Grass Verge/Traffic Working Group meeting, the key purpose of which was to give Members the opportunity to right a few wrongs around the estate. He had also attended a meeting at the Allotment Site with a beekeeper who had been called in to rescue a bumblebee nest that would have been disturbed by the fencing project.
Councillor Davies advised that May was always a busy month due to preparations for the AGM and Annual Report, amongst other things, and his diary for the last month had been very full.
Councillor Nunn had attended a meeting with the hirer in relation to the vandalism of the bird nest and Council property, and would be reporting later on the IT Reform proposal.
Councillor Gerstmann had attended the estate walkabout and subsequent meeting with Councillors Davies, Donachy, Egan, Vyas and the Clerk. He was concerned to see the extent of the damage to local grass verges and was keen to progress the necessary measures to resolve this problem. He had been approached by residents in Quinbrookes where an electricity substation sheltered by an overhanging tree was attracting some troublesome youths. The Borough Council had been informed but no action had yet been taken. Councillor Davies and PC Shardlow would follow this up. PCSO Kulaga advised that similar problems had occurred at the Knolton Way substation and Southern Electric had dealt with it.
21. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statement for the 1st to 30th April and invited questions from Members.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statement for April 2010 be approved, and authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
22. REPORT OF THE CLERK AND PLANNING MATTERS
The Clerk had previously circulated updates to Members regarding recent planning applications and various items were discussed. No objections had been raised. Councillor Davies had been investigating a property in Quinbrookes that had been converted to flats without permission.
The Council’s solicitor had been chasing up SBC re the awaited clearance of the new Parish Land and completion of the Agreement for Lease. The Clerk enquired about the possibility of the strip of land to the north of the access road being sub-leased to The Lodge, since it would be of little use to Parish residents. However, the Members felt that it was not advisable to make any changes to the terms of the lease as this may delay its completion. Consideration was given to use of the main piece of land as a wildlife conservation area, rather than having it cleared, and Councillor Egan advised that he believed the area was still used by foxes, bats, and birds of prey. Councillor Haines requested the attendance of Members and the Clerk for an on-site meeting at midday on Saturday, 12th June, to determine whether public access to the land would be possible whilst retaining the wild habitat.
23. REPORT OF THE GRASS VERGE/TRAFFIC WORKING GROUP
(including approval of proposal for part-funding of verge protection measures)
At the recent meeting of the Working Group the Members had discussed the possibility of part-funding for verge protection measures, signage and enforcement. Councillor Davies clarified what had been discussed and gave a report on behalf of Councillor Vyas, who had been liaising with SBC in this regard. A written report had also been prepared detailing the costs for initial verge protection measures that had been identified in Almons Way and The Frithe.
The Clerk requested formal approval to propose to SBC the sum of £5K per annum part-funding from the Parish Council on condition that a rolling program be agreed in writing between the two Councils, including a commitment from SBC to progress the prosecution of offenders.
Councillor Aldridge enquired whether the program would include action being taken where no dropped kerbs, or illegally installed driveways, were present. Councillor Haines advised that Notice is served on residents with illegal dropped kerbs and that these would eventually be dealt with. He also suggested that People First should be approached with a view to dealing with verge abuse caused by their tenants. It was estimated that 40-50% of houses on the estate were still Council properties.
It was agreed that a meeting would be arranged with the Highways Department to provisionally propose £5K per annum part-funding and to discuss the various matters relating to the verge protection measures.
RESOLVED: That the sum of £5K per annum be approved as the Parish Council’s contribution to verge protection measures to be arranged with SBC.
24. CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSAL TO UTILISE THE COMMUNITY PAYBACK SCHEME AT THE ALLOTMENT SITE
Members discussed the possibility of hiring portaloos to enable a team of Probation Service youths to carry out work at the allotment site. Councillor Vyas had provided a written report on the associated costs. The Council did not consider that the cost of providing portaloos could be justified, particularly in light of the recent expense that the allotment site had already incurred in the previous and current financial years.
The Clerk suggested that the team could still be invited to carry out work at the site on a trial basis, and that the Parish Hall toilets could be made available for their use. This was agreed.
25. CONSIDERATION OF REVISED PROPOSAL TO PROVIDE CCTV COVERAGE AT THE CHERRIES AND KNOLTON WAY PARADE
Councillor Davies clarified that the sum of £5K had previously been approved to extend the system already in use at Knolton Way Parade thus providing CCTV coverage of The Cherries. However, it had now come to light that the existing system was on loan. A revised quote had therefore been received from PCSO Kulaga for a full system, including five cameras, to oversee both the Cherries and the shopping area. It was explained that this would provide full coverage of the area thus enabling continuity of evidence. The new quote was still within the approved £5K budget.
The Clerk and Councillor Davies had previously met with Tree Officer, Chris Smith, to try and arrange removal of one tree and pruning of two others at The Cherries Play Area to provide a clear camera view of the area. Regrettably Mr Smith had moved on before written confirmation of the necessary tree work could be obtained. A further meeting would therefore be arranged as soon as possible with Bill Farmer, who was currently covering the role. Installation of the cameras could not progress until the density of the trees was reduced.
The Clerk also advised that a written agreement would need to be put in place in respect of the system maintenance, guarantee terms, and insurance cover for the CCTV.
PCSO Kulaga advised that the Policing Team had dealt with three cases of antisocial behaviour and consumption of alcohol in the area during the last fortnight. He feared that new cameras installed in the Upton Lea area may result in an increase of youths gathering at The Cherries.
RESOLVED: That the revised quotation for a full CCTV system with five cameras to monitor The Cherries and Knolton Way Parade be approved, subject to a written agreement relating to maintenance, guarantee and insurance. A maximum sum of £500 per annum was further approved in respect of system maintenance.
26. CONSIDERATION OF IT REFORM PROPOSAL
Councillor Keith Nunn proposed this item and handed out information sheets to all Members/Officers prior to providing a verbal explanation of his recommendations.
It was evident that the use of Information Technology had already been of benefit to the Parish Council in respect of the widespread use of email for both internal and external communications, and the presence of a regularly maintained website. It was suggested that the use of shared services online could potentially improve the existing IT functionality.
The Members discussed at length whether various features such as a centralised calendar and shared document facilities would be beneficial. Councillor Haines indicated that he would be happy to further discuss this at the next Meeting of Full Council, and suggested that an interim meeting be arranged to consider the possibilities in more detail. It was agreed that this meeting would take place on the 30th June at 7.30pm.
27. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A resident enquired about the range of the new CCTV cameras and it was explained that both static and roving cameras would be used to gain a view of the whole area. Further clarification of the action being taken to protect grass verges was also requested.
Concern was raised about holes in a footpath at The Cherries and Councillor Davies would investigate this.
The Meeting closed at 9.35 p.m.
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