Annual Parish Meeting held at 7:00PM on Tuesday 15th May 2018 at Wychbold Community Centre, School Road, Wychbold, WR9 7PU
Present: Alyson Keane (Chair), Doug Webb, Sue Howarth, Adam Joynes, James Leah (from 19:26PM)
In attendance: David Hunter-Miller (Clerk), Hugh Hamilton (District Councillor), members of the public
1. Introduction and Welcome
Alyson Keane welcomed residents to the meeting.
2. Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Suzanne Shinn, Mike Jones, Jo Lammas and Sean Mulvey.
3. To approve the minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Monday 19th June 2017
The minutes of the meeting were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chair.
4. Matters arising
No matters arising.
5. To invite the District Councillor, Hugh Hamilton, to address the meeting
Hugh Hamilton provided a report on Wychavon District Council as follows:
Wychavon comprises 66 parishes, 32 wards and has 45 councillors who are elected every four years. The next elections are in May 2019.
The population of the District is approximately 123,000 with nearly 52,000 households.
The Wychavon District Council benefits from strong leadership provided by the Managing Director Jack Hegarty and the Senior Management Team. There are approximately 240 established staff. The Council has a cabinet style administration, as opposed to a committee style administration. There is the leader Mrs Linda Robinson, a deputy leader and five portfolio holders who cover the various services provided. The deputy leader also holds the financial portfolio. There is as previously reported a close working relationship with Malvern Hills and Jack Hegarty is the Chief Executive of Malvern Hills. There is also a joint Senior Management Team. These joint working arrangements provide savings and economies to both councils.
The revised Wychavon budget for 2017/18 for total service expenditure was approximately £11m – with a projected outturn of approximately £10.5m. The Council is in a strong financial position and the Grow, Save and Charge business plan has generated savings of around £5m since to 2013.
The Council continues to be an innovative and entrepreneurial in its approach e.g. the Waitrose at Droitwich and at Evesham and the community hospital in Pershore . The council receives income from these assets which helps keep the Council Tax down. In respect of 2018/2019 Wychavon has frozen the Council Tax it charges. The council is also proposing a new housing company to provide new private rented units.
The Council provides a wide range of services – emptying bins and handling planning applications being two of the most recognised services. A new waste contract commenced last month and from the autumn the contractor will also collect small electrical items such as toasters and kettles. As you will be aware a number of services are provided by partnerships e.g. South Worcestershire Building Control, Worcester Regulatory Services and Wychavon Leisure.
The Council has a responsibility for housing and the team has recently had to prepare itself for the Homelessness Reduction Act which became effective last month. In 2016/17 Wychavon helped to deliver 231 affordable homes and the target for 2017/18 was 240.
The New Homes Bonus Protocol has recently been published and is available on the Council’s website. The new protocol doesn’t affect monies already allocated to town and parish councils in respect of years 2 -5 and unused monies are still available to draw down on. It is estimated that Wychavon will receive approximately £16m for years 6 to 9. It is intended to use this money in three ways:-
• Grants and Existing Commitments less than £1m
• Community Legacy Grant Scheme up to £3m
• District projects around £12m
The Council is establishing a Community Legacy Grant scheme of up to £3m that parish and town councils can bid for. It will be used to support innovative and ambitious projects that meet evidenced local needs and have local support. An event is being held on the 5th July at Pershore for town and parish councils to explain the new process and to give advice to those who may wish to bid. To date the New Homes Bonus Scheme has paid out over £1.4m and approved around 200 different projects.
Work has now started on the South Worcestershire Development Plan Review (the SWDP). The Government requires that the Plan, previously adopted in 2016, be reviewed every 5 years to ensure that it keeps up to date with housing requirements. The SWDP comprises three Councils working together Worcester City, Malvern Hills and Wychavon. Initial work on gathering evidence for the review has begun and an “issues and options” document will be published for public consultation towards the end of the year. The 3 councils aim to adopt the revised SWDP in November 2021. Dodderhill Parish Council could well be asked for its views in due course.
In March there was an LGA Peer Group review of Wychavon which provided an external challenge to the Council. The review went well and an action plan will follow shortly to enable the Council to follow up the various recommendations made in the report. This will be reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee before being finalised.
Last year I reported on the Overview and Scrutiny Review of Planning Enforcement and the setting up of a Planning Enforcement Scrutiny Panel. The Panel has proved to be extremely effective and as a result the Executive Board has recently agreed that it should continue in existence for at least a further year.
Finally one of Wychavon’s promises for 2018/19 is to launch a Wychavon Village of Culture competition which Dodderhill Parish Council may wish to consider entering. This will also be covered at the meeting on the 5th July.
There were no questions.
6. To invite the County Councillor, Peter Tomlinson, to address the meeting
No report available.
7. To receive a report from Wychbold Village Hall Committee
An update was provided as follows:
• The Village Hall Committee recently held their AGM.
• Adam Joynes was re-elected as Chair.
• There were a number of new events coming up this year.
• There will be revisions to the ‘200 club’ lottery.
8. To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council by the Chairman
The Chair provided a report as follows:
• Dodderhill Parish Council had welcomed a number of new members throughout the year and was looking to co-opt additional members at future meetings.
• There had been great successes in gaining ‘S106’ grant funding for substantial improvements to the playing field and children’s play area.
• A 30mph speed limit along the A38 had been successfully lobbied for and was recently introduced.
• Air pollution designation and monitoring was ongoing at various locations and the Parish Council were working with Wychavon District Council to identify possible solutions.
• There were a number of proposed alterations to the village hall coming in future, including a coffee shop, permanent separate meeting room and self-contained changing facilities.
Additionally, the Footpaths Officer, Steve Turner, provided a report as follows:
The Parish Paths Warden position is a voluntary role. Wardens are appointed by the County Council’s Countryside Service.
The Dodderhill Warden reports to Patrick White in the Countryside service. Patrick arranges access to the support services and for any works to be undertaken on footpaths. Wardens are supported with basic equipment to repair stiles and maintain waymarks. Clearing of major obstructions and dealing with landowners is a Council duty, not a Warden one.
I was appointed almost a year ago. I understand the position had been vacant for a little while before my appointment. The post is voluntary, and volunteers are expected to provide about 12 days of time per year.
There are just over 34km of public rights of way in the parish. This includes public footpaths and bridleways. It does not include pavements and roads/tracks, other than tracks which have a right of way along it.
These footpaths are recorded by the Council on written records called Definitive Statements. These determine whether paths have stiles, gates etc. Broadly speaking they are imprecise on locations and therefore the information is also recorded on the Council’s Geographic Information System (GIS). The Ordnance Survey information correlates with the Council’s GIS in every regard.
The parish has 117 recorded rights of way. Ten of the parish’s footpaths have been bisected by the M5 since the survey for the Definitive Statements, resulting in the effective loss of all of these as rights of way.
In the first 12 months in the role I have surveyed every path in the parish. My overall condition assessment of the paths is fair. There are a number of disused paths that I have not been able to locate satisfactorily due in the main to the impact of the M5. However, there are a number of paths where landowners and/or residents have obstructed paths with fences and/or buildings be it knowingly or unknowingly. There are a number of farmers who have not cleared adequate walking lines in fields of crops rendering paths impassable at times. There are a number of poorly maintained bridges, stiles, and ditch crossings making rights of way less accessible. And there are some instances of significantly overgrown vegetation which is effectively preventing access.
All of these concerns have been reported to the Countryside Service. Footpaths and rights of way are not a high priority for the County Council, and remedial work is therefore subject to other pressures on budgets.
I have started to renew the waymarks (those are the yellow/blue arrows on stiles and posts, not the finger posts on the roadsides (which needs the Council to renew or restore). I shall continue to identify minor remedial works such as stile repairs within my capabilities and liaise with the Countryside Department to arrange materials. For example I have contacted Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the landowner of Pipe’s Hill (Hanbury Woods) to install a number of new posts that would improve the waymarking of paths in the woods themselves. I will also clear vegetation where I can, although the Council only provides secateurs, a lightweight saw, and a lightweight slasher which means I can remove some fallen branches and cut back nettles and grasses; anything more substantive I refer to the Countryside Service.
For information it has taken about 1.5 days to re-waymark about 10% of the parish’s paths in April and May.
These are the paths currently, or seasonally blocked:
• DL501: Kingsland Hill Farm; Farm building over path, no diversion
• DL504, DL507, DL517 Withy Furlong Farm; Crops obscuring path
• DL512: Withy Furlong Farm; wire fence across path
• DL537, DL539, DL540: Mill House, Wychbold/ Mill Lane Farm: wire fence across path, path markings removed, paths realigned without permission.
• DL562, Brine Pits Farm; Farm building over path
• DL574, Redhouse Farm; Path obscured by crops
• DL621, Rashwood. Path obstructed by wire fence.
All of these have been brought to the attention of the Countryside Service.
9. To discuss proposed improvements to the playing field and village hall
A short update was provided on the S106 playing field improvements.
10. To invite the public to raise any matters of interest
A resident queried how much funding was available from S106 and New Homes Bonus for the playing field improvements. It was confirmed that there was approximately £70k New Homes Bonus and £400k S106 funding.
A question was asked as to the levels of affordable housing in the parish; this would be clarified and a response given to the resident.
A question was raised regarding a planning application ‘Henbrook Gardens’ and whether this fell within the parish boundary. This would be clarified and a response given to the resident.
A statement was read by Wychbold Football Club regarding the proposed pitch hire agreement and charges. The Football Club vehemently felt that the charges introduced for the sole use hire of the pitch and changing rooms were too high, and clarification was requested on how the charges had been calculated. Concern was also raised regarding the terms in the pitch hire agreement and again, clarification was sought. The Football Club emphasised their role in the community for a number of decades. The Football Club confirmed that it would not sign up to the agreement in its current form.
The rationale for the pitch hire agreement and proposed charges were clarified. The Parish Council and Village Hall Committee had previously been spending more on the facilities than it recovered in fees and so was effectively subsidising the running of the Football Club. The costs proposed would allow these facilities to be maintained in future. It was hoped that a working group could be formed with both Councillors and representatives of the Football Club to review the proposed pitch hire agreement and charges and identify a suitable way forward.