Draft minutes 10 January 2023

SOUTH PERROTT PARISH COUNCIL

Minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on Thursday 10th January 2023 at 6.30pm the Village Hall

Present: Cllr Jonathan Baker, Cllr Bee Bavalant, Cllr Tom Scott-Malden, Cllr Gill Denny

In Attendance: Jane Thicknesse, Clerk, and 6 members of the public.

Item No.

 

Action

2023/001

Apologies / Declarations of interest / grant of dispensations

Apologies were received and accepted from Cllr Yvonne Harris, Cllr Rebecca Knox and PCSO Alex Bishop.

2023/002

Approval of Minutes of meeting held on 10th November 2022

The minutes of the last meeting were approved, and were signed by the Chairman. Proposed by Cllr Barber and seconded by Cllr Scott- Malden

2023/003

Matters arising from Minutes of meeting held on 10th November 2022

a. Condition of various roads in South Perrott

The Clerk reported that Pipplepen Lane was being re-assessed for re-surfacing by DC and that a repair had been carried out in Picket Lane

b. Road Signs

The Clerk reported that the road maintenance signs had been collected.

c. Drain/Gully in Picket Lane

Following a further inspection DC reported that the drain/gully was flowing freely and no further action was required.

d. Pipplepen Solar Farm

The Clerk reported that the Case Officer for SSDC had finished her report and was recommending approval. The application will be decided by the SSDC Regulation Committee at a meeting on 17 January 2023.

NB. Since the meeting the report has been published and can be found at

21/00701/FUL | Ground mounted solar farm with DNO substation, point of connection, ancillary infrastructure and associated works, landscape planting and access tracks. | Land At Pipplepen Farm (Solar Park) Pipplepen Lane North Perrott Crewkerne Somerset (southsomerset.gov.uk)

e. The Pound Project

The Chairman reported that work on this project was now complete and again expressed his thanks to Michael Stevenette. Terence Wybrew will continue to maintain the area.

f. Wall in Manor Close

No progress has been made on this project. The Chairman requested help with the work and it was suggested that a request for volunteers was put in the Pump and Pound.

g. SID

The Clerk reported that the SID had developed a fault (speed shown in KMH instead of MPH) but was still under warranty and was being replaced. The new SID should be operational at the end of the week commencing 16 January 2023.
























Clerk


















Clerk

2023/004

Millennium Green

Martyn Gillingham, Secretary to the Millennium Green Trust presented a paper about the future of the Millennium Green (MG) which had been prepared by Dr David Lines, Trustee to the MG. (Copy attached at Annex A). The conclusion of the paper was a proposal for the Parish Council to adopt the MG to ensure its future.

Following a brief discussion (including management, costs, insurance) it was decided that the Councillors would meet on 16th January to discuss further. The Chairman stressed that this issue would take some time to resolve due to the long-term implications and the research that needed to be done to ensure the best outcome.

 












All

2023/005

Planning Matters

a. Applications handled since last meeting

None

b. Decisions notified by DC since last meeting

i. P/LBC/2022/05144 – Bridge House – approved

ii. ii. P/PAPA/2022/07488 – Picket Farm – addition of private farm tracks for farm use. Prior approval not required.

c. New applications to be considered

None

d.Tree applications since last meeting

None

e. Other Planning Matters

i. WD/D/20/001708 – Coach and Horses

The Clerk reported that the appeal by the Coach and Horses had been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate. Following up on this decision the Clerk had contacted DC Enforcement Team for advice on what action would be taken to on the unauthorized development. A disappointing reply had been received so a further email has been sent requesting an agreed and realistic plan of action showing how the required remedial work would be done to ensure this matter is brought to a rapid conclusion.

 



























Clerk

2023/006

Reports from Dorset Councillor, Police Officer, River Warden and Footpaths Officer

a. Dorset Councillor

Cllr Knox sent a report which is available on SPPC website and on request from the Clerk.

b. River Warden

The start of the Winter season has been wet, apart from a prolonged dry cold spell in the first two weeks of December. Despite the persistent rainfall, there have been no instances of flooding in the village, other than the usual suspects!

I cleared the gulleys on the A356 at Lecher Bridge on the way to Crewkerne on 12 November, and was surprised to find Dorset Council workmen at the same location two days later. Apparently, they were only clearing vegetation around the bridge for the annual inspection by the Bridge Inspector!

The River Warden also read out a report from Flood Wessex @the Environment Agency:

Following one of the driest summers on record it could have been expected that the chances of groundwater flooding this winter would be very low. Recharge in the chalk aquifer is very limited during the summer months as vegetation takes up most of the rainfall.
However the first three months of the water year, which starts on the 1st of October, have been exceptionally wet. Rainfall during the period was well above the long-term average (October 150%, November 200% and December 175%). Consequently, groundwater levels have risen steeply in most areas.
In the first week of January 2023, the Environment Agency (EA) issued 19 groundwater flood warnings across Wessex. These were mainly in Dorset due to higher rainfall totals and more responsive geology. Across both counties, levels remain high and have become very responsive to each new band of rainfall. With more rain forecast, groundwater levels are expected to increase.’

Martyn Gillingham

River/Flood Warden

Tel: 01935 891931 Email: mcvgillingham@btinternet.com

c. Footpaths Officer

The Footpaths Officer said that there was little to report. The bank along Langmoor Lane continues to disintegrate but the promised visit by Russell Gough, Senior Ranger (West and Coast), Dorset Council to investigate had still not taken place.

Sue Coutanche

SP Footpath Officer

d. PCSO

PCSO Bishop sent his apologies and reported that there was nothing to report on this occasion.

His next planned attendances at the village coffee mornings are Saturdays 14th January, 11 February, 11 March and 8 April at 9.30.

PCSO Alex Bishop

 















































Footpaths Officer/Clerk

2023/007

Review and Adoption of SPPC Policies

Prior to the meeting the Clerk had circulated copies of the proposed South Perrott Parish Council Data Protection and Data Policy policies. Both were unanimously adopted.

Proposed: Cllr Scott-Malden Seconded: Cllr Barber Approved: Unanimous

Copies will be placed on the website and they and will be reviewed annually.











Clerk

2022/008

Finance

a. Financial Status

Payments made since 10th November 2022

Clerking Work (Nov, Dec 22 and Back Pay)

504.96

Insurance

192.81

Payroll Administration

15.00

Christmas Tree

99.95

Total

£812.72

 

Income since 10th November 2022

Total

£0.00

New cheques/payments for consideration

Total

£0.00

Bank balance as at 10th January 2023 £5611.80

b. 2023-24 Budget/Precept

The Clerk reported that following receipt of the tax base from DC the proposed budget had been circulated to all Councillors. The main additional item to the 2022-23 budget was a proposed payment of £500 for grass cutting in the graveyard. This was agreed.

Proposed: Cllr Denny Seconded: Cllr Scott Malden Approved: Unanimous

Following this it was proposed that this new item should be a separate line item on the budget sheet.

Proposed: Cllr Baker Seconded: Cllr Scott-Malden Approved: 3 for, 1 against

Following these decisions the Chairman suggested that the proposed precept request to cover all the expenses for SPPC for the financial year 2023-24 should be £6000. This is an increase of £500 on the previous year and would mean an annual increase of £5.37 for a Band D property.

This was agreed.

Proposed: Cllr Scott-Malden Seconded: Cllr Denny Approved: Unanimous

c. Payroll

The Chairman informed the meeting that payroll is done by Vicky Reed which avoids the Clerk being responsible for her own pay and is considered best practice. The current arrangement is done on a self-employed basis but this situation is due to change and it is proposed that from 1 April 2023, Vicky becomes an employee of SPPC to continue her work. The suggested contract would be for 30 minutes a month on pay scale SCP10. This was agreed.

Proposed: Cllr Barber Seconded: Cllr Denny Approved: Unanimous



























































Clerk












Clerk

2023/009

Matters of report and items for the next meeting

a. Chairman

i. The Chairman reported that local MP Chris Loder had offered to attend a parish council or village meeting. This was met with enthusiasm and it was decided to invite him to the Annual Village Meeting on Tuesday 25th April.

b. Clerk

Dates:

Annual Village Meeting – Tuesday 25th April 2023

SPPC Annual General Meeting – Tuesday 9 May 2023 (preceding regular SPPC bi-monthly meeting)

c. Members

Nothing to report







Clerk

2023/010

Dates of Future Meetings

Tuesday 14 March

The meeting closed at 8.07pm

Public Session to raise items for future agendas

Nothing to report

Annex A to SPPC Minutes

 

THE MILLENNIUM GREEN, SOUTH PERROTT

  1. Synopsis
    The Millennium Green (MG) has provided an open space for activities, the enjoyment of nature and quiet reflection for nearly a quarter of a century. It was created as part of the Millennium celebrations and funded in the main by grants from the Countryside Commission’s Millennium Greens Fund as well as fund-raising by residents of the two villages: South Perrott and Chedington, who jointly manage the Green’s Trust. Over the twenty plus years of its existence, the MG’s form and function have evolved, though its organisational management and direction have not. It is the Trustees’ contention that it is time for a change to reflect current best practice and ensure a future for the Green into the next quarter century. That change is the adoption of the MG by the South Perrott Parish Council.

  2. Introduction
    1. The Millennium Green was established to provide an open space for the enjoyment of all, but primarily the residents of Chedington and South Perrott, and, more recently the focus has been to encourage a more diverse, sustainable habitat for flora and fauna. The MG Trust was registered in 1998 with the Charity Commission on a 999 year lease, currently from the Environment Agency (EA).

    2. It was established thanks to the sterling efforts of the residents of the two communities, who together raised an astonishing £6,000 towards the total cost of £40,000; the majority of which was funded by grants from the Millennium Greens Fund, the Countryside Agency and the Millennium Festival Awards for All Programme..

    3. The Green has over the years been the focus of a number of village activities. It has hosted the South Perrott annual village picnic and the Teddy Bear’s picnic as well as the annual Tug- of-War between the two villages. Residents have used the BBQ facilities, the children’s play area and willow tunnel. However, in recent times these activities have either diminished or disappeared altogether. Instead, given changes in local demography and an increasing interest in environmental matters, the focus has shifted towards encouraging the flora and fauna found in and around the Green. Bird boxes, ‘animal highways’ and a pond have been created to encourage wildlife..

    4. The aforementioned shift in focus has not been met with universal approval, and some called into question the very raison d’etre of the Green. In response, in October 2018 the Trustees undertook a survey to canvas views on whether or not it should remain, or the lease handed back. In South Perrott 41% of survey forms were returned and 50% of these were in favour of retention; In Chedington, 68% were returned and 54% were in favour. Subsequently, at the South Perrott Annual Village Meeting held in May 2022, a proposal to hold a further survey on retention was defeated by 17 votes to 3 on the grounds that views had not shifted significantly from the original survey.

  3. Management and Financial Structure
    1. The Charity Commission requires a minimum of two and Natural England a minimum of three Trustees to serve on the board of the Trust. Currently there are only two Trustees, one from Chedington and the other a former resident of South Perrott. It has proved difficult, if not impossible to find people willing to act in that capacity and with the impending resignation of one of the two current Trustees, matters have come to a head.

    2. One reason for a reluctance on the part of community members to become Trustees is that the role carries some financial liability. Although the Green has insurance for Trustees’ Liability, it is by definition limited, and although it is unlikely ever to be breached, that possibility does exist.

    3. The Trustees and the Secretary have, over the years, done everything they can to reduce the costs of maintaining the Green. The children’s play area, which had come to the end of its useful life, has been removed, obviating the need for annual ROSPA inspections and reducing insurance costs considerably, and the grass cutting regime has been altered. But both come with costs of other kinds: people have lamented the loss of the play area whilst others have complained that the grass is too long and it has taken many hours of labour on the part of volunteers to shift and collect the cuttings.

    4. On the revenue side, the Green has relied entirely on voluntary donations and fund-raising activities. The Secretary has organised Strawberry Cream Teas and pressed and sold apple juice made from the trees on the Green. In addition, the proceeds from one of the ‘Big Breakfasts’ were in aid of the Green, and other residents have set up direct debits and made regular payments each month. Thanks to these contributions the Green is currently in a stable financial state (a balance of £4,212.89 at 31.10.22), although it has to be said it is only that way because of the efforts of the few, who might, with some justification, at some stage say ‘enough is enough’ and walk away.

    5. The conclusion from the above is that the current position is unsustainable. The Trust is, or soon will be, in breach of its legal obligations; its financial position is currently stable but subject to unusual circumstances and there are no reserves; the Green relies on the efforts and commitment of a tiny minority to sustain a facility that exists for the benefit of all.

    6. All of which might again call the Green’s existence into question, but there is a fundamental point here, quite apart from the day-to-day issues dealt with under 3.3, and that is our obligation, not only to those who worked so hard to create and sustain the Green, but also to future generations. They will not thank us if we give up the village’s only open communal space, over which they can exercise democratic control, and simply give it away.

  4. The role of the Parish Council
    1. Were the Parish Council (PC) to take over the role of Trustee, there would be advantages and opportunities for both the PC and the MG. The MG would benefit from improved sustainability, financial stability and accountability; for the Council there would be an opportunity to exercise some influence beyond planning matters and the A356. In addition, since the majority of other Parish Councils count public spaces, such as play areas, allotments and so on as their responsibility, this change would bring South Perrott into line.

    2. The MG is a facility open to all and yet it is maintained by a few. The PC, in contrast, is sustained through the precept, paid by every household in the village. As a matter of basic equity, it surely makes sense for all to contribute to something which belongs to all. The next paragraph is an attempt to quantify the financial implications of the change.

    3. If it is assumed that some of the current income generation from fund-raising continues following a transfer, it would generate in the region of £250 per year (COVID has distorted recent income figures). The main cost to the Green is grass cutting (which over the last couple of years has been paid for by the EA while they have carried out work on the spillway). Dependent upon the frequency of mowing, it would be around £500 per annum. The insurance premium of £151.27 would be saved, less a small increase in PC insurance, say £50. The overall cost to the Parish Council would therefore be in the region of £300 (£550 minus £250) or an average of approximately £3 per year per household in the village.

    4. The PC answers directly to those who pay the precept. At its bi-monthly meetings parishioners have the opportunity to question councillors on their actions, or lack of them. At present villagers can only express a view on the MG through ‘unofficial channels’ or at the Annual General Meeting. Bringing more accountability into the running of the MG might encourage greater participation and set a direction for environmental sustainability into the future.

    5. The MG Trustees suggest that, were the PC to adopt the MG, a management committee be established that would report to the PC. It would have at least one councillor on it, but it would not require the detailed attention of other councillors or the clerk.

    6. As outlined above, the MG was created by and for the residents of Chedington as well as those living in South Perrott. Given that there is no parish authority in Chedington presently, it falls to the MG’s Chedington Trustee to agree to the proposed structural change. Following a discussion regarding the relationship between Chedington and South Perrott, that Trustee gave his assent to the proposal at the Annual MG Meeting held on 15 November 2022.

  5. Conclusion
    The Millennium Green was established by enthusiastic locals to celebrate a thousand years of history and the start of a new century. It is a fair assumption that those who took part in that endeavour would have been confident that their efforts would last. They would have hoped that generation after generation of villagers would be able to enjoy an environmentally friendly space that belonged to everyone and one which was supported financially by everyone and could be changed, if desired, through a democratic process, driven by everyone. This proposal is a way of ensuring that optimism is sustained and nurtured. The Trustees commend it to you.


    Dr David Lines
    Trustee
    South Perrott & Chedington Millennium Green Trust