WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Robert Aldridge (unwell), and Keith Nunn (studying).
Councillor Munawar Hussain.
The purpose of this Special Meeting of Council was to address various items of business that were deferred from the June 2012 meeting due to time constraints.
33. APPROVAL OF APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
RESOLVED: That apologies for absence offered in respect of this meeting be approved.
34. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
No declarations of interest were recorded.
35. CONSIDERATION OF ARRANGEMENTS FOR NEW PARISH LAND AND LEASE
The Clerk and Councillor Vyas clarified the current arrangements in respect of the Agreement for Lease and management of the new Parish Land. It had been agreed at the February 2012 Council meeting that the Clerk should cease actively pursuing the Borough Council, except to request occasional written updates, on the grounds that the public already had access to the land and there was currently no expense to the Parish in managing it. Councillor Gahir had requested a further review of this item as he wished to progress the necessary arrangements to make the land suitable for full public use. It was noted that further action would incur legal costs. The validity of the Agreement for Lease was questioned and the Clerk advised that it had been formally signed and was a binding document.
Further to the departure of the Officers who had previously been dealing with this matter at SBC, Councillor Vyas was thanked for establishing a new contact – Mr John Rice, Assistant Director, Regeneration and Estates. Mr Rice had confirmed that he would be available to attend the October Council meeting to discuss his proposals.
In the meantime it was suggested that Members consider the options and clarify the requirements of the Parish Council. The requirements of Wexham Lodge were also clarified by Councillor Gerstmann. The ongoing view was that the land should be largely maintained as a nature reserve with a wide path provided around the perimeter, and possibly through the centre, for safe public access. In the event of SBC’s failure to carry out the necessary work, consideration was given to the Ward Councillors being approached to fund the work out of their new budget.
Further discussion on the matter was deferred pending the outcome of the meeting with Mr Rice in October.
36. CONSIDERATION OF NEW PLAY FACILITIES FROM AVAILABLE FUNDING
The Chairman opened this item for discussion and asked the Members to consider the relating information that had recently been distributed by Councillor Vyas. He advised that local residents had not been in favour of a new recreational facility when a previous consultation had been carried out some four years ago. However, Councillor Vyas pointed out that the previous plans were to install a MUGA which was intended for all ages and could potentially attract more problems and noise. The current proposal was to provide a play area for young children on the green area next to the tennis courts, to include substantial fencing and an automated lock to restrict the hours of opening. It was agreed that this was likely to be far more acceptable to nearby residents and, if successful, a similar access control system could be considered at The Cherries Play Area in the near future to help resolve the ongoing problems there. Time-restricted access would also be of benefit in relation to the tennis courts, where troublesome youths were often found to gather late at night.
It was noted that the recent Fun Day had not provided sufficient opportunity for all local residents to comment and a more appropriate consultation would therefore need to be carried out in the Norway Drive/Bell Close/Mansel Close/Hillersdon area.
A deadline of 11th July had been set for acceptance of the funding for the proposal. In light of this Councillor Gerstmann suggested that acceptance could be confirmed in principal, subject to a wider consultation and further consideration of the details.
It was agreed that the new play area would be only for young children aged 8 or under.
RESOLVED: That acceptance of the funding for a new play area be confirmed in principal, pending further public consultation and consideration.
37. CONSIDERATION OF USE OF FORMAL LETTER-HEADING BY MEMBERS
This item had been raised at the June meeting and was deferred to allow more in‑depth discussion.
Councillor Donachy advised that he had recently had cause to write to SBC in connection with a resident parking problem. He had received a response, but he felt that his correspondence would have appeared more official and professional on formal headed notepaper. Councillors Gahir and Zeib strongly supported this view.
The matter was discussed at some length and the pros and cons were carefully considered.
The Chairman advised that it had been the policy of the Parish Council for only the Officers to use the formal letter-heading since problems had come to light in the past as a result of previous Members making inappropriate written statements. The Clerk commented that poor correspondence received from outside bodies presented a poor image of that organisation or department. She advised that the Council was aware of the Officers’ qualifications in dealing with administrative duties since they had been interviewed and employed for their respective roles. However, she pointed out that the ability of the Members to perform this role was unknown since no qualifications had to be declared in order to become a Councillor. She stressed that this did not necessarily apply to current Members, but that consideration should also be given to problems that could arise with future new Members. It was noted that the current, and the previous two Chairmen, always consulted with the Clerk prior to sending out any formal communications. It was also noted that Standing Order Item 68 (b) stated that ‘no Member shall issue orders, instructions or directions unless authorised to do so by the Council'.
In order to resolve the issue it was suggested that a copy of all outgoing headed letters should be copied to the Clerk for information and, further, that a disclaimer should be included at the foot of the headed letters in order to safeguard the interests of the Council as a whole. It was noted that a similar disclaimer appeared at the foot of email correspondence sent by the Borough Council and the majority of Members considered this a good idea.
Councillor Gahir also requested that the Council provide business cards to all Members. This was discussed and rejected as it was considered an unnecessary cost, but it was agreed that Members could use the logo to print their own business cards if they wished.
RESOLVED: That the use of the formal Parish letter-heading by Members be approved, subject to all such correspondence being copied to the Clerk and the wording of a disclaimer being agreed at the next meeting.
RESOLVED: That Members be permitted use of the Parish Council logo to create their own business cards.
38. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
There were no members of the public present.
The meeting closed at 8.20 p.m.
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