Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on the 26th April 2014
Minutes of Birdham Annual Parish Meeting
held on Saturday 26th April 2014
at 7pm in Birdham Village Hall
Present: Cllr Finch (Chairman).
In attendance: The Clerk, Cllr Montyn (WSCC &CDC), Cllr Marshall (CDC), D Ayton, M Hobson, L Pocock, C Delahunty, R & H Rawlinson, A Parks, E Hamilton, T Dalby, R Green, M Evans and J Haig.
1-14APM The Chairman thanked all of those present had said that she hoped they would find the meeting useful.
Prior to the commencement of the formal part of the meeting an opportunity had arisen for those attending to hear from the Director of the Harbour Conservancy – Ms Siún Cranny.
Ms Cranny was introduced by the Chairman who then went on to say that she was grateful for the opportunity to speak about the work of the Harbour Conservancy – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), its aim and its aspirations to become an integral part of everyday life to local communities and businesses throughout the area. The hierarchy of the Conservancy was explained and how the conservancy relied heavily upon the large group of volunteers that it had at its disposal and without whom the Conservancy would not function as well as it does.
At the completion of her talk Ms Cranny took a number of questions from members of the audience which were in the main concerned with the water quality in the Harbour and the impact that the Apuldram waste water treatment plant was having when it released poorly or untreated effluent into the Harbour.
The Conservancy is aware of the problem and has been working with the treatment plant to resolve the issues. Recent UV treatment has reduced the problem to almost zero and the water now exceeds that expected at Blue Flag Beaches. Southern Water has also been ordered to invest in the structures to prevent the rainwater from leaking into the foul water system.
The Chairman thanked Ms Cranny for giving up her time to come along and make her presentation and invited her to take tea and perhaps stay around a little longer prior to the formal start of the meeting.
2-14APM Approve and sign the Minutes of the last Annual Parish Meeting held on the 18th May 2013
It was resolved by those present that the Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on the 18th May 2013 be signed as a true and accurate record.
3-14APM To receive the Chairmans Annual Report of the Parish Council.
The Chairman’s report is reproduced in full as annex a. to these minutes.
4-14APM To receive the Councils Observations on its Finances for the current year;
The Clerk presented the accounts for the year and explained the variations of the Council Tax Banding system and what it means to households. He went on to say that the Council went to great pains and spent considerable time on presenting a budget that it felt would meet the aims and aspirations of the Council without imposing a tax burden on residents that was impossible to meet. He explained that the largest proportion of the budget was for the loan repayment on the village hall refurbishment and this would be the case for a considerable number of years to come.
He asked if there were any questions on the accounts or any aspect of the budget. There were none.
5-14APM To receive the observations of the County and District Councillors for the Parish.
Cllr Marshall for CDC said that the Government was reducing funding overall and that savings across the board on both Chichester District Council and WSCC would have to be made.
Pressure to supply homes across the District continues and as such the CDC has agreed its Local Plan which now moves to the next stage, external inspection. It is hoped that the Local Plan will be approved by December. CDC now has quite a large number of Neighbourhood Plans that are progressing well.
Cllr Montyn for WSCC & CDC introduced himself and went on to say that some of the financial problems experienced by WSCC were also impacting on CDC and like WSCC it was anticipated that the Council would, over the next few years, be subjected to similar financial pressures.
He went on to say that the Planning Committee of CDC will be deciding on a planning application to provide some 9 pitches for travellers in Westhampnett which although not a lot will enable the Police to exercise greater powers to move on travellers from an illegal site.
The 20 mph speed restriction which was requested will not happen until sufficient consultation has been carried out and at the very earliest 2015.
The Better Roads Program has begun with a two year programme of repairs. £30M had been put into the budget from the reserves and would pay for improvements to urban, residential and unclassified roads. £25M had also been received from Government which will be spent on A road network.
Sewage and foul water network problems are still ongoing but WSCC is committed to keeping on top of the problem with £1M being put into Op Watershed which should help resolve some of the problems experienced in and around Birdham.
The second runway at Gatwick is taking a lot of work.
WSCC are still examining very closely the budget reduction requirements and trying very hard not to reduce services.
Q – A resident asked if it was known when Westlands Lane would be re-surfaced.
A – Not yet
Q – How will just nine sites at Westhampnett resolve the traveller problem?
A – It enables the Police to exercise an additional law to move them on which currently is not available.
Q – If there are insufficient pitches to keep the traveller family together are they likely to use the Human Rights Act?
A – Unknown.
6-14APM To consider questions that had been submitted.
There were none.
7-14APM To deal with any other business.
There was none.
8-14APM Presentation by speakers.
The Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group after saying why it was being done and under what authority gave a short update on the current position of the Neighbourhood Plan.
A tremendous amount had been done already with the formation of seven forums looking at all aspects of Birdham Village life. Open days had been held and the residents consulted, questionnaires had been designed and sent out, the answers from which had led to the design of the draft policies which were currently being checked with the help of a professional planning advisor.
It was hoped that the draft documents would be ready for consultation by the Parish from the 24th May for a 6 week period. Assuming the consultation didn’t throw up any problems the next stage would be the CDC consultation period of a further 6 weeks finally being sent to the Independent Examiner and if judged sound then to referendum.
Mr C Barrington of the Birdham & Earnley Flood Forum
Mr Barrington said that the Village had been lucky this year as although we had received some surface water there had been no reports of homes being flooded this year.
The ditch network was now getting its spring growth and care would be needed to ensure that this did not create a problem for the coming 2014/15 winter months. He stressed that it is the responsibility of the riparian owner to ensure that their ditches were clear and that water could be allowed to drain.
He went on to say that he had been working with Wetlands Wildlife Officer who has the responsibility to ensure that the water voles and other protected species are cared for.
Where work needed to be done it was proposed to recommend a competent contractor to carry out the work.
Q – Has much progress been made with the riparian owners along Westlands Lane?
A – Talks are being held with owners and a programme of works is being devised. The riparian owners will be advised of their responsibilities.
9-14APM Questions from members of the public who are resident in Birdham.
A resident suggested that the Village Pond was something and nothing.
It has been suggested that the pond be expanded into the field behind it thus enlarging the ponds ability to accept more water and preventing further flooding and with the right management becoming a destination rather than an eyesore.
Apparently the suggestion had been made to the owners of the field but met with some resistance as they – the owners – felt the maintenance of the pond would then fall upon them.
The Parish Council could undertake to provide full responsibility in the form of a contract.
A resident asked if it was possible for a pond to be built on the Land Bequest to be used as a method by which the playing field might be drained.
As no decision had been taken on what to do with the land, in fact the land was not at the time owned by the Parish Council, it was felt that this was an idea that could be explored at some future date.
As that concluded the meeting, the Chairman thanked all those who had come along and hoped that they had found it useful and enjoyable and closed the meeting at 9.20pm.
Signed ___________________________ Dated ____________________
Annex A – Chairman’s Report
The Chairman – Cllr Jane Finch Report to the Annual Meeting of the Parish 26th April 2014
It is often said that Change is the only constant and so it is with the Parish Council. The council year started last May with three new councillors being co-opted onto the council and a long serving member stepping down. Angela Parks had served on this council for many years, including over a year as Chairman, for which we extend our grateful thanks. At the council meeting last Tuesday we finally filled the remaining 2 vacancies through co-option, only for Andy Grafham to regretfully resign after 3 years’ service. Parish Councillors are volunteers and many of us have other jobs as well so I thank all councillors and ex-councillors for their willingness to contribute to the success of our community in this way. And I also thank residents who have supported the council in many ways, with newsletter deliveries, attending meetings and holding us to account, joining working groups and putting in hours of voluntary effort for the benefit of Birdham Parish.
Protecting our environment from excessive development has been uppermost in the minds of many of us for the last year, which is why we started the Neighbourhood Plan process in September 2012. Watching the progress of plans in other places it was clear that this was a long process if we were to produce a legally valid plan and so it has proved. I would particularly like to thank the residents who have worked on the plan. It has been a long and difficult task, which we have achieved on a restricted budget and with very little previous experience of this kind of project. We will hear more about the plan later this evening. It has been very frustrating for all of us that we could not stop the clock on applications coming forward. However thanks to the efforts of residents, parish councillors, the BVRA and our district councillors these battles with developers have been hard fought. Birdham does not take these assaults lying down!
Another battle we continue to have is with drainage and sewage. It is no consolation that we share these problems with our neighbouring parishes but I’m very pleased to say that Birdham leads the way in actively addressing the problems with support from our County Councillor, from the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, the Birdham and Earnley Flood Prevention Group and an increasingly knowledgeable parish. We have a speaker later to talk more on this subject.
There continue to be concerns about traffic and road safety and this year we have seen changes in the village as part of the safer routes to school scheme. Although this work is not yet completed we anticipate the benefits over the coming year of an extended car park here at the village hall and ultimately a 20 mph speed limit in the roads north west of the Birdham Straight.
And finally, although this is a report of the Council, I want to come back to what makes us successful as a parish: residents’ sense of community, which not only gets them doing all of the things I’ve already mentioned but also makes them press for a bin at the bus stop (thank you Mr Hope), encourages them to help plant trees with us on the playing field, gets them setting up a monthly Tea Party for residents to meet and chat, means they stand in front of travellers to stop them driving onto our playing field, encourages them to push until Hyde Martlett clear the land behind Florence Close and so many other things that people do for the benefit of their neighbours that we never hear about.
Thank you, everybody.