WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
Five members of the public.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Simon Goddard and Cheryl Hemming.
Borough Councillor Latif Khan.
Beat Officer Cerrig Shardlow.
1. ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN
Councillors Dave Davies and Henry Egan were nominated for the position of Chairman and a vote took place by a show of hands.
RESOLVED: (By a majority of five votes) that Councillor Henry Egan be elected Chairman for the ensuing Municipal Year.
2. ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIRMAN
RESOLVED: (Unanimously) that Councillor Dave Davies be elected Vice-Chairman for the ensuing Municipal Year.
3. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
The Chairman declared an interest in regard to his membership of the Wexham Bowls Club and discussions involving the Parish Council Trophy. Councillors MacIsaac and Davies also declared interests in respect of associate membership of the Bowls Club.
4. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 11TH APRIL 2006
The Minutes of the Meeting of 11th April 2006 were approved as a correct record and there were no matters arising.
5. APPOINTMENTS TO COMMITTEES:
a) FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSE COMMITTEE
RESOLVED: That Councillors Robert Aldridge, Dave Davies, Cheryl Hemming, and Gavin Hemming be appointed to serve on the Finance & General Purpose Committee for the current Municipal Year, and that all the Members be authorised to sign cheques on behalf of the Council.
b) HEALTH & SAFETY WORKING GROUP
The Clerk pointed out that Councillor Corps’ Health & Safety knowledge and expertise was often beneficial to this Committee. He was therefore asked whether he would be able to remain as a member of the working group despite his ill health, and he kindly agreed to do so.
RESOLVED: That Councillors Dave Davies and Gavin Hemming be appointed to serve on the Health & Safety Working Group for the current Municipal Year, and that Councillor Bryan Corps also remain as an Honorary Member.
c) NEWSLETTER COMMITTEE
RESOLVED: That Councillors Dave Davies, David MacIsaac, and the Clerk be appointed to serve on the Newsletter Committee for the current Municipal Year.
d) REPRESENTATIVES TO OTHER BODIES - BALC
RESOLVED: That Councillor David MacIsaac be appointed to represent the Council in matters relating to BALC.
6. DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
The Chairman requested that a schedule of meeting dates for the ensuing year be diarised by all Committees at their next meetings, and notified to the Clerk.
RESOLVED: That meetings of Full Council continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month, except during January and August.
7. POLICE LIAISON
The Clerk reported that Beat Officer Shardlow was unable to attend this evening. Police Operations had recently taken place in Wexham in relation to speeding and other motoring offences, and further such operations were planned.
8. INFORMATION REPORTS
Councillor Haines reported that he had been dealing with various general casework on the estate during the last month. Councillor MacIsaac had also been carrying out casework and had been successful in dealing with the removal of damaged cars and issues in relation to multiple occupation of local properties. He also reported that his forthcoming appointment as Mayor had been confirmed.
Councillor Davies had continued to deal with various planning issues and, in particular, had been following up the problems with some SBC Planning Officers who appeared to be disregarding Parish Council objections. He thanked Councillors Haines and MacIsaac for their offer to mediate in resolving this issue. He had also been liaising with PC Shardlow in relation to various estate issues.
Councillor Gavin Hemming reported that ongoing problems at a multiple occupation property in Farm Crescent were now being dealt with by Environmental Health.
Councillor Corps had contacted the water authorities to report a broken drain cover, which had now been replaced. He had also reported damage to various footpaths caused by potholes and tree roots and would continue to pursue this matter. He noted that the new green recycling scheme had been causing some problems since green waste was being left in bags in some areas which had not been collected. Councillor MacIsaac offered to follow this up.
The Chairman had previously prepared a written report and this was circulated to Members and to the public attending the meeting.
With regard to recent incidents occurring in the tennis courts, Councillor Rajput suggested that CCTV cameras could be obtained at a cost of circa £500. Various options were discussed and Councillor Rajput was asked to make further enquiries and obtain accurate costings for further consideration by Council.
9. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statement for the 1st to 31st March and invited questions from Members. She reported that the income from ad-hoc hirers had been high this month and confirmed that the application had been submitted to reclaim VAT. The annual accounts were currently being prepared for audit purposes. Councillor Davies requested that new B&Q cards be obtained for the Caretaker and the Clerk for Parish Hall purchases.
A refund had been received from Southern Electric due to the recent overpayment following an estimated meter reading.
The Clerk raised the concerns of the Booking Clerk in relation to the amount of the deposit for outside hires, which was currently £600. The matter was discussed and it was agreed that this level should be retained on the grounds that it had resulted in a better quality of hirers now using the hall. The F&GP Committee was asked to keep this under review.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statement for March 2006 be approved, and authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
10. PROPOSAL FOR MEMBERS TO RECEIVE AN ANNUAL ALLOWANCE
It was clarified that Members were entitled to receive an Annual Allowance to assist them in the carrying out of their public duties, but this had never been claimed by the Parish Council. Efforts were being made to increase the profile of the Parish Council in the Community but it had been noted that other bodies often gained the credit for projects that were undertaken (provision of the renovated tennis courts for the City Tennis initiative being a prime example). It was therefore proposed that payment of an allowance to Members could be used to fund a Badge of Office for the Chairman, thus increasing the visibility of the Parish Council at public events. The Clerk had requested guidance from SBC and BALC in relation to the level of any such allowance.
This matter was discussed at length and it was agreed that Members would not wish to use public money to fund such items. However, all three Borough Councillors kindly pledged donations to raise the estimated amount required for the said item. Councillor Davies was authorised to pursue the matter and obtain further details regarding the design and cost for an appropriate Chairman’s Badge of Office. Thanks were recorded to the Borough Councillors for their generosity and the proposal for a Members’ annual allowance was withdrawn.
11. REPORT OF THE CLERK AND PLANNING MATTERS
The Clerk had previously circulated updates to Members regarding recent planning applications and various items were discussed. It was confirmed that the proposed development at Hartley’s Yard would be decided by the Borough Planning Committee. Concerns were also raised in regard to a retrospective application at 25 Hillersdon, and objections had been raised to applications at 128 Norway Drive and 137 Knolton Way. A meeting would be called with the Planning Department to discuss such issues, including the parking and environmental problems caused by the increasing number of multiple occupation properties in the area. In particular, it was noted that one individual now owned a total of fourteen properties in Wexham that were being extended and rented out.
The revised SBC planning guidelines were currently being tested prior to approval. The consultation period had now been completed and the Planning Department had been asked to officially adopt the guidelines as soon as possible. It was suggested that the Local Development Plan may be amended to take account of the problems with ‘saturated parking’ in certain areas and, in addition, the Local Government Framework was attempting to halt the current trend of conversions to flats which were exacerbating this problem.
Letters of thanks had been received from Mr & Mrs Gale for their diamond wedding gift, and also from St Mary’s Church for the donation to their churchyard maintenance fund. Members were notified of the dates of various forthcoming meetings.
Councillor Davies provided an update with regard to the purchase of trophies for the local schools and Bowls Club and two of the said trophies were displayed. The third was currently being engraved and would be displayed at the next meeting.
12. PURCHASE OF REPLACEMENT CURTAINS FOR MAIN HALL
Councillor Davies clarified that several companies had been approached with a view to obtaining replacement curtains and amounts of up to £6,000 had been quoted. However, the Chairman and Clerk negotiated a discounted quotation of £1,881 with Debenhams, including free fireproofing, on condition of immediate acceptance of the offer. Following urgent consultation with members of the F&GP Committee, the offer was accepted and an order placed. Councillor MacIsaac formally proposed the acceptance of this quote and the purchase was unanimously approved. The Clerk and Councillors Davies and Egan were congratulated on having obtained an excellent deal.
RESOLVED: That the quotation of £1,881 for purchase of the replacement Main Hall curtains be approved.
13. ATTENDANCE AT THE 2006 NALC ANNUAL CONFERENCE
The next NALC Annual Conference would be taking place in Liverpool, between 22nd-24th September 2006 and the Clerk requested confirmation of who would be attending to enable her to place the bookings. It was agreed that the Chairman should attend and that Councillor Cheryl Hemming should also be offered the opportunity. Alternatively, Councillor Davies would be happy to attend.
14. BOROUGH COUNCILLOR REPORTS
Councillor MacIsaac had included matters relating to the Borough in his Parish report above. Councillor Haines provided an update from Dugald Miller in regard to the proposed elderly care homes on the Wexham site and had been advised that the plans should be available in early June, including the provision of some remaining open space for continued use by the public. He provided the Clerk with the promised list of dates for forthcoming SBC estate inspections.
THERE FOLLOWED A PARISH MEETING
TO RECEIVE THE ANNUAL REPORT
15. ANNUAL REPORT
The Annual Report for the year 2005-2006, copies of which had been distributed to each home in the Parish, was formally submitted and approved.
16. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk reported that the income from the Parish Hall had increased by 28% during the last year, including one regular hirer having exceeded the budgeted income. In addition, expenses had been well controlled and kept below the budgeted amounts. The Finance Clerk also pointed out that all recent works and repairs at the Parish Hall had been budgeted for.
PAYE was now being submitted online, which earned the benefit of a small refund, and reclaiming of VAT would also be filed online. The 2004-2005 audit had been successfully completed and further improvements were planned in respect of finance statements and procedures.
Overall, the Council’s efficient financial performance had enabled the Precept to be kept low. Preparations had now commenced for the end of year Finance Report and the next audit, and the Chairman offered his assistance in this regard. The Finance Clerk expressed her appreciation to the Clerk for all her help and support, and the Chairman recorded the Council’s sincere thanks to the Finance Clerk for all her efforts to date.
17. BOROUGH COUNCILLORS’ OBSERVATIONS
Councillor MacIsaac praised the Parish Council for its very proactive approach and the entirely voluntary work of its Members. He heartily congratulated the Members and Officers and expressed his appreciation of their efficiency in running the Council. He also pointed out that he had corrected the misleading information in relation to the Parish Council that had recently been given by some election canvassers.
Councillor Haines wished it noted that he echoed Councillor MacIsaac’s statements above. He clarified that although he often asks questions this is only for the purpose of obtaining information, and he is pleased with the responses received. He stated that the Parish Council had improved its management and had performed well, and he was pleased that expenditure was being kept in check. He expressed his confidence in the future of the Council.
18. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
The Chairman invited members of the public to put their questions to Members. Concerns were raised regarding the volume of refuse associated with multiple occupational properties as discussed earlier. The ongoing problem of parking on verges and footpaths was also raised, particularly at some properties in Quinbrookes where available parking space was limited. The Borough Councillors reported that the grass verges in this area would be repaired and charged to the property owners responsible, and that several properties had been reported to Environmental Health in respect of excess rubbish and were being monitored.
A complaint was also received regarding the parking of vehicles across a resident’s dropped kerb, thus blocking access to and from her home. She was advised that the Police could deal with this issue and arrangements could also be made to install road markings for disabled access. The Police could also take action if someone was caught driving on a verge. Councillor Haines had been liaising with PC Shardlow in this regard.
The landlords of the multiple occupation properties were charging excessive amounts of rent and tenants were therefore forced to sub-let rooms in order to meet the costs. The problems raised were not the fault of the individuals living in the properties, but were brought on by the landlords who were in the business of renting them out. Councillor Haines explained that landlords currently only had to be licensed if the property was three storeys or more, but it was hoped that such licensing requirements would be reviewed in the near future. The Health & Safety, Fire Safety Regulations, and Tax issues raised by such landlords would be followed up by the Borough Councillors in an attempt to deter them from targeting Wexham to run their businesses.
It was noted that the parking area outside No’s 2-10 Norway Drive had still not been swept and this would be followed up.
The Meeting closed at 9.00 p.m.
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