WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillor Tony Haines (unwell).
Councillor Dalip Rajput.
Prior to commencement of the proceedings, and in light of the fact that this was the final meeting of the current Parish Council, the Chairman expressed his thanks to those Members who were standing down as of the 5th May.
107. APPROVAL OF APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
RESOLVED: That apologies for absence offered in respect of this meeting be approved.
108. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
The Chairman and Councillor Egan declared an interest in relation to Item 9c of the F&GP Minutes due to their membership of the Wexham Bowls Club, and Councillor Egan declared an interest in relation to Item 15 on the Agenda due to his relationship to the Clerk.
109. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 8TH MARCH 2011
The Minutes of the Meeting of 8th March 2011 were approved as a correct record.
110. MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING HELD ON 21ST MARCH 2011
The Minutes of the Special Meeting of 21st March 2011 were approved as a correct record.
111. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 11TH APRIL 2011
Item 9c of the F&GP Minutes was discussed in light of further information regarding the terms of the Bowls Club’s sub-lease. It was proposed that the rent be increased to £400 and this was carried by a show of hands. The Chairman and Councillor Egan abstained from voting due to their interest.
The Minutes of the F&GP Committee Meeting held on 11th April 2011 were approved as a correct record and the recommendations therein, including the above amendment to the Bowls Club Rent, were also approved.
112. POLICE AND COMMUNITY WARDEN LIAISON
PC Phil Hewitt introduced himself as the new member of the Policing Team. He reported that it had been a busy month and several warrants had been executed in relation to dangerous dogs, antisocial behaviour and drugs. The Team had also been liaising with Wexham School regarding antisocial behaviour issues, and shift patterns had been changed to monitor local incidents taking place during the night.
The speed monitoring devices were proving to be very effective but it was noted that the two devices only had one battery each and spare batteries would be useful to keep them operational at all times.
A ‘Clear Car Campaign’ was being put in place to help prevent the theft of items from vehicles, and regular parking patrols were being carried out together with a campaign to make drivers aware of how their behaviour affects others. A Speed-Watch pilot scheme was also currently taking place in Colnbrook with a view to extending this to other areas.
PC Hewitt advised that his Inspector had enquired about WCPC funding a dedicated PCSO for the Wexham Court area and the Chairman suggested that a meeting could take place to discuss this.
Various matters were brought to the attention of the PC including youths on motorbikes, problems caused by the hospital parking sprawling onto the estate, and complaints received about this and antisocial behaviour.
It was noted that the timing of the ‘Have Your Say’ meetings had been incorrectly advertised on the Police Website and this needed to be changed to prevent the meetings delaying the Parish Council proceedings.
Community Warden Dave Lee reported that he had been on leave and had noticed an increase in fly-tipping on his return. The Community Warden Team were working closely with the Police to deal with theft from vehicles, antisocial behaviour and drug issues, and hotspots such as The Cherries were being closely monitored. It was noted that recent reports had shown Wexham to be one of the safest areas in the Borough.
Rubbish being dumped from vehicles was a common problem in all areas and offenders were being threatened with fines to deter such behaviour.
The Chairman thanked PC Hewitt and Dave Lee for attending the meeting.
113. INFORMATION REPORTS - MEMBERS & BOROUGH COUNCILLORS
Borough Councillor Sohal thanked Members for attending the recent estate walkabout, during which a number of issues had been highlighted. The footpath next to The Cherries Play Area had now been widened, a large number of pot-holes had been repaired in The Frithe, and bays were to be installed in Quinbrookes to alleviate the parking problems. The issue regarding the blocked drain in The Frithe had now been resolved and the Sikh Temple had agreed to pay the full bill for the clearance. The Chairman advised that three of the affected residents had conveyed their thanks.
Councillor Gerstmann reported that he had attended the walkabout with Borough Councillors and had taken the opportunity to discuss items relating to the Grass Verge/Traffic Working Group with Councillor Swindlehurst. This included the planned installation of high kerbs near the school in Church Lane, and parking issues relating to Wexham Park Hospital.
Councillor Robert Aldridge reported that parking tickets had been issued by a traffic warden in the vicinity of the primary school, which had caused some of the recipients to become very irate. He was continuing to tackle the problem of vehicles parking on verges which often resulted in verbal abuse. In an unrelated incident, he had also given first aid to a person who had suffered a fit.
Councillor Donachy had attended a further walkabout with the Chairman and had also attended various Committee and Working Group meetings. He had made enquiries about the health and safety issues raised by a rat poison box that had been noticed at the rear of the Parish Hall garage, and this had now been removed by the Clerk.
Councillor Vyas had been liaising with SBC’s Martin Mallia in relation to the Grass Verge/Traffic Working Group’s plans to put yellow lines in place. Mr Mallia had suggested a door-knocking exercise to consult with local residents in this regard. Verge protection measures in Almons Way had been installed and this may be extended to other areas following the trial. The Borough Council was considering a publicity campaign to deter parking on verges and this would include the placement of more signs. The installation of each sign would cost in the region of £200 and the Working Group was asked to determine the key areas where these would be required.
Painting of the fencing at The Cherries Play Area was discussed as this would improve the appearance of the area. Councillor Sohal offered to approach Akzo Nobel (previously ICI) to obtain paint for this project but he needed to know the amount of paint required. Councillor Gerstmann suggested that a resident consultation should take place prior to the use of bright colours, but the Chairman pointed out that no such consultation had been deemed necessary prior to the installation of the colourful play equipment.
Councillor Nunn reported that, following the recent walkabout, he had received information regarding a community scheme that could be used to carry out the painting. This would be investigated further. He had also been assisting the Clerk with preparations for the Annual Report/Newsletter.
The Chairman reported that he had been busy as always and, in addition to his normal workload, had attended several walkabouts and dealt with several complaints.
114. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statement for the 1st to 28th February and invited questions from Members.
The tax year-end had been successfully completed and submitted online. A meeting with the auditor had been arranged and a meeting of the Finance & General Purpose Committee would need to take place during May in order to inspect the Annual Accounts for formal approval by Full Council in June.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statement for February 2011 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. Letters of objection had been sent in respect of re-submitted applications at 24 Bell Close and 21 Farm Crescent, about which Members had previously raised concerns. Councillor Donachy advised that the planning enforcement relating to the unapproved conversion to flats at 35 Hillersdon had still not taken place. The Clerk would provide a copy of all previous emails and letters that had been exchanged with SBC so that this item could be chased up.
The Annual Report/Newsletter had now been completed and would go to print as soon as the final attendance figures for the current municipal year were entered. The Clerk enquired about delivery arrangements and several Members volunteered to deliver the booklets to keep costs down. Councillor Sohal also kindly volunteered to assist. The Clerk would organise the delivery of boxes of the Report to the various Members as soon as they were received.
Concerns had been raised regarding the Annual Council Tax bills which had indicated a 0.6% increase in Parish Council Tax, even though the Precept had not been changed. Information had been received from SBC explaining that this increase was due to their calculations of the Council Tax Base Rate and could not be avoided. It was agreed that the Clerk and Chairman would submit a letter to the Press to explain to residents that no increase had been imposed by the Parish Council.
116. REVIEW OF PARISH COUNCIL STANDING ORDERS – FINAL APPROVAL
The Chairman explained that the review of the Council’s Standing Orders document had involved a large amount of work, and he expressed his thanks to Councillors Vyas and Nunn and the Clerk. The final document was now submitted for formal Full Council approval.
RESOLVED: That the revised Standing Orders be formally approved.
117. ANNUAL DONATION TO ST MARYS CHURCH, WEXHAM
RESOLVED: That the sum of £275 be donated to St Mary’s Church.
118. DONATION REQUEST FROM COUNTY BLIND SOCIETY
RESOLVED: That no donation be made on the grounds that the Society was a national organisation and was therefore not of specific benefit to the Parish.
119. CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSAL TO DISTRIBUTE A RESIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE, INCLUDING ARRANGEMENTS FOR A PRE-PAID RESPONSE SERVICE
Councillor Vyas clarified this proposal. He advised that a pre-paid license from Royal Mail would cost £76 per annum, plus printing of the envelopes and a quarterly postage bill which would vary depending on the number of responses.
It was felt that this would be a good means of engaging with the community and would enable the Parish Council to gather data and highlight any local issues. Both good and bad feedback would be expected and this would provide a balanced view.
Councillor Nunn offered to process the returned responses and prepare a database. It was agreed that an incentive would encourage residents to respond to the questionnaire, and Marks & Spencer vouchers to the value of £25 for the first response and £10 for the second and third response would be offered. Councillor Gerstmann advised that an 8% response for such consultations would be exceptional, and a 3% response would generally be considered a good result.
Further details of printing/delivery costs would be obtained in due course so that the item could be placed on a future agenda for further consideration, and a Working Group would be set up to handle the consultation process.
120. PROPOSED PURCHASE OF DICTAPHONE TO RECORD MEETING PROCEDURES
The Chairman explained that there were occasions when the Clerk may be required to leave a meeting and this posed difficulties in regard to the taking of the Minutes. The use of a digital recorder was therefore proposed to overcome this problem and to provide an accurate record of proceedings. An excellent model could be obtained for around £125. Recordings would be erased following approval of the Minutes.
It was suggested that the Clerk’s laptop may provide a suitable recording device and this would therefore be trialled at a future meeting prior to a decision being made to purchase a dedicated device.
121. AGENDA ITEM 15 DEFERRED TO PART II
122. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
The Chairman welcomed the members of the public and invited questions.
A regular attendee questioned why Item 15 was to be discussed in secret at a Part II meeting. The Chairman apologised, but clarified that it was not appropriate for the matter to be discussed in the public domain due to the nature of the item.
A resident raised further concerns about the abuse of grass verges. The Chairman explained that the Councillors and Clerk had recently dealt with the problems in Hillersdon and Farm Crescent that had been caused by the school construction works. In other areas this was an ongoing issue and ‘grass verge vandals’ were being targeted to try and resolve the situation. However the Parish Council had limited powers to deal with such matters in the absence of support from the Borough Council. It was reported that bollards are being installed at the entrance of the Edmunds Way garage site to prevent access by large vehicles.
Part I of the Meeting closed at 9.25 p.m. and it was Resolved that, in view of the 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.
123. A Part II meeting took place to discuss a private matter relating to the Members.
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