Draft Minutes of Houghton Annual Parish Assembly

Included:

  • Chairman’s Report (Cllr Philip Page)
  • HOUGHTON AP Assembly 14/4/2014 – Report by Borough Councillor Peter Boulton
  • VILLAGE HALL REPORT FOR THE PARISH ASSEMBLY – 14TH APRIL 2014
  • All Saints’ Church Report – 2013/14
  • Hampshire County Councillor Report  –  April, 2014, Andrew Gibson, Hampshire County Councillor

Draft Minutes of Houghton Annual Parish Assembly

Held on Monday 14 April 2014 in Houghton Village Hall

Present: Cllr P Page; Cllr I Burt, Cllr A Young, Cllr P Kennesion, Cllr G Butler, 

TVBC Cllrs P Boulton and D Busk, Mrs B Barker (clerk), PCSO Catherine Bonter, Mrs R Cardoe (Chairman VHMC) and 11 members of the public.

Apologies were received from Cllrs T Scougall and C Bradby and HCC Cllr A Gibson

The Chairman welcomed all present and the minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly of

22 April 2013, which had been circulated previously to councillors, were approved. 

Parish Council Chairman’s report – Councillor Philip Page (copy attached)

Report from Catherine Bonter (Police Community Support Officer)

Catherine introduced herself as the PCSO for our area.  She had been in the role for 5 months and was based in Stockbridge.  She advised that the most reported incidents consisted of sitings of suspicious people or vehicles. There were several incidents (approx 45) of criminal damage in the Stockbridge, Broughton, Kings Somborne areas where people were driving around using catapults to cause damage to windscreens etc.  3 arrests were made but no convictions.  PCSO Bonter talked about the “Vulnerable Vehicles Scheme” – The registration numbers of vehicles left in rural areas with valuables on display are taken and the police write to the owners with advice.  Cllr Young asked whether Entrapment Cameras could be fitted at fly-tipping areas at The Beeches.  PCSO Bonter said she would take this forward.

Finance 

The Clerk reported that the accounts for year 2012/13, which had been verified by the Council’s Internal Auditor and then submitted to an External Auditor, had received approval and certification.  The Clerk then presented the draft accounts for the year 2013/14 which would be subject to the same procedure. (Copy attached). She confirmed that the accounts would be made available for inspection between 6th May and 3rd June.  The accounts would be reviewed in more detail at the AGM on 12th May, presented to the Internal Auditor on 19th May and submitted to the External Auditor by 4th June.  

Test Valley Borough Council Report – Cllr Peter Boulton (Copy attached)

Village Hall Management Committee – Rosie Cardoe (Chairman) (Copy attached)

All Saints Parochial Church Council Report (Richard Burnett-Hall)(Copy attached)

Parishioners’ and Councillors’ Comments

Mr Woodall confirmed, in Cllr Gibson’s absence, that Cllr Gibson was still trying to get someone to take responsibility for the Horse Chestnut trees at Bossington Mill.

Cllr Young advised that he had received a complaint from a parishioner regarding the burning of green waste at the Recreation Ground.  Cllr Young explained that the Parish Council insure the playground equipment and lighting bonfires could not be permitted.

Cllr Boulton explained that the Environmental Services department at TVBC are able to arrange for entrapment cameras.  He will make contact.

Cllr Butler expressed his concern that the Environment Agency was not managing the rivers which was not helping the flooding situation.  

Cllr Burt thanked the Houghton Fishing Club who worked very hard during the floods to keep the village safe.

The meeting closed at 9.00pm

N.B: HCC Councillor Gibson subsequently sent his report – copy attached

Chairman’s Report (Cllr Philip Page)

Good evening and thank you for coming this evening.  I’d like to start by thanking my fellow councillors for the hard work they have undertaken and the many hours spent at meetings with TVBC regarding the Settlement Boundary and with Broughton Parish Council and Kronos with regard to the proposed solar farm at Eveley.  I would also like to thank our clerk, Bev, who has worked tirelessly ensuring that she keeps on top of our finances and audit requirements etc.  

The Parish Council’s first task after our last Parish Assembly was to draft a letter and submit our proposed revisions to the Settlement Boundary Plan devised by TVBC to include garden land omitted and to remove the land at Drayton Corner.  The Revised Draft Plan was sent to us in February of this year and, at our meeting on 3rd March, we agreed to the TVBC proposals.  Bev confirmed this to TVBC so hopefully the Settlement Boundary has now been fully agreed and no further changes will be made.  As we were preparing our Settlement Boundary submission in April 2013, we had our first notification of the solar farm proposals from Kronos.  The public showing of the proposal was in June 2013.  Several parishioners took the opportunity to have a tour of the site and I’d like to thank Daniel for showing us around the proposed site. Ingrid has had the lead role with regard to the proposed solar farm and has spent many hours sourcing information, discussing the project with TVBC and Broughton Parish Council and I would like to thank her for her hard work.  When the planning application was submitted in December 2013 it revealed many anomalies, inaccuracies and omissions. TVBC requested an amended application from Kronos which they have now received and again have requested further corrections to inconsistencies.  We have not yet seen the amended application but expect it to arrive shortly and will keep you all informed about it.   As the scheme affects both Houghton and Broughton, the two parish councils have been working together closely and attending joint meetings to formulate a joint response on matters.  We are also working together with regard to the Unilateral Undertaking which would be a payment made to the parish councils by Kronos.  This is similar to a section 106 payment made to TVBC as part of any new development but, in this instance, it would be made to the parish councils.  A joint parish negotiating team made up of councillors and parishioners is ongoing. So with regard to the solar farm, we are at present awaiting the amended planning application and will assess it when it is to hand.

A third contentious matter we have been dealing with this last year is the proposal for new houses in Stockbridge by David Wilson Homes.  Following the submission of the planning application, we wrote a letter of objection to TVBC.  At present the planning application is still under consideration.  Planning applications in the village over the last year have been mainly of a small nature, e.g. extensions to existing dwellings. The only notable exception to this was an outline application for 4 new houses on the Four Winds site.  The Parish Council objected to the application.  However it has been approved by TVBC.

This year saw the unprecedented spell of wet weather in January and February.  On the whole Houghton came through it remarkably unscathed considering how low-lying we are.  No properties suffered flood damage but, as you know, the Horsebridge Road over the bridges was underwater for a few weeks but passable with care.  The roads obviously suffered as a result and we shall be pushing HCC for good quality repairs to be made.  

You may have seen the new gateway into the playing field from Stevens Drove.  This will enable easy access to the field in the future and negate the need for vehicles to squeeze past the front of the hall.  It will also enable the Houghton Trail to finish in a more satisfactory manner.  

HOUGHTON AP Assembly 14/4/2014

Report by Borough Councillor Peter Boulton

Any report of the past year is inevitably dominated by the weather events of recent months, so I will start with a fairly lengthy resume of the flooding that affected a large proportion of the valley floor of the River Test and its tributaries.

As a result of the almost continuous rain of January and February there was a lot of road and field flooding, and as it soaked into the chalk it led to a proliferation of springs. These occurred not only in the usual places but often also in unexpected places such as the middle of roads, in back gardens, under houses in cellars, and under floors. This led to ingress and overloading of the sewage systems causing many other problems. Chilbolton suffered in the centre of the village and some houses behind their village shop were seriously affected and for a week or so there was considerable pumping and a “tankering” operation.  In this ward Houghton appeared to miss the worst effects –  I didn’t hear of any flooded houses but maybe you will tell me if there were any.

Stockbridge had several properties which were made uninhabitable because of the difficulties of getting water under or around the High Street, due to the numerous carriers not coping, or banks of carriers giving way.  Bossington seemed to cope fairly well; Broughton had some threatening flooding in the water meadows in the south of the village, with 100’s of sandbags deployed around a small cluster of houses located near the river. Nether Wallop had a number of problems in their main street – Heathman Street, there were a whole series of springs emerging from the high ground behind houses and threatening to damage ground floors and foundations.

I am convinced that the Borough Council did everything they could to cope with the extensive emergencies that occurred the length of Test Valley, and to direct the right resources  to alleviate the exceptional and suddenly serious conditions.

There was a 24hr 7day continuous emergency system implemented at Beech Hurst and a number of agencies were called in daily to be deployed where ever necessary – the Army, the Highways Agency, the Fire service, and the Councils own Environmental Service, all took part in the daily discussions. The Chief Executive and the two Corporate Directors, plus all the Heads of Service and many other senior staff were diverted from normal duties, and most if not all, did their turn on  night duties.

As a result most serious problems were addressed promptly and the necessary outside services were persuaded, cajoled, bullied even, to get involved and pullout all the stops to provide help. Southern Water had to be constantly badgered and was often difficult to contact. I believe that The river areas North of Stockbridge  were badly threatened and needed a lot of support from, for example, Southern Water, and the Environment Agency who had to be constantly chased. 

My role as the local Councillor was often to liaise between TVBC and the villages in my Ward which had problems, to see the issues for myself and be aware of the extent of the problems. 

I forwarded all the daily flood bulletins to the Parish Councils and to the Flood Action Groups throughout our Ward, and was able to feed back information and situations to the emergency committee .Understandably the main pre-occupation of the emergency committee and a lot of the army resources, were deployed in attempting to re-direct flood water around Romsey, which was threatened by an excessive build up of water just to the north of the town.

The focus of attention now is to clear up the consequences, to collect the 1000’s of sandbags which need to be picked up and to establish where financial help is required – ie suspension of Council tax where homes are uninhabitable, and the payment of  grants to improve flood resilience. There is also help for businesses which have been affected. Details can be found on the TVBC website. But above all, to learn lessons from the whole experience – what worked, what could be done to make things better, and to improve the response should it happen again. 

I think the Borough Council worked well and were very efficient in deploying sandbags in the first few days, and constantly giving us up to date information. The Flood Action Groups also worked well and proved their worth. 

Briefly – some other items I should report to you. The Borough Council tax is frozen again, a testament to the increasing efficiency measures of all the departments of the Council, we hope with no loss of service.  There is the prospect that it can be frozen again next year, this is despite a reduction in Government contributions to Councils costs, by way of returning the rates we collect. 

Mostly, Parish Councils have exercised restraint in their rate precepts.

I was pleased to see that Houghton PC took very seriously the consultation process for the new Local Development and had several meetings with officers to discuss their concerns . This Plan is now being updated to reflect the comments and there is hope that this will be approved by the Inspector later this summer. This plan will set the tone of planning and development in TVBC for the next 20 years

I attend Houghton Parish Council whenever possible.  In the last year there have been several difficult housing and planning proposals in the Ward – some have yet to be decided, and it has been important that I attend   meetings as often as possible to hear and understand local opinions.  therefore appreciate the continuing communication particularly with your Council and your Clerk who keeps me up to date, when I am unable to attend your meetings.

I will always help if I can – liaising with the Borough Council – for example.   Cllr Busk and I have a small pot of grant money which we can offer for community initiatives. We were pleased to help Chilbolton PC set up some First Aid courses for Councillors and residents, and Stockbridge needed some help with new equipment for their weekly market.  We can also help with larger grants from the Community Asset Fund, which are available as a result of a new Government Fund called the New Homes Bonus which TVBC receives and can distribute.  This is paid to Councils to encourage the building of necessary homes in Andover, Romsey and elsewhere. 

Your representatives on the Borough Council are always ready to respond to any concerns you may have, and  we appreciate the work the Parish Council does to represent their residents, and are very aware that it not always a comfortable or rewarding role.

Thank you for listening. 

 

Answer to Cllr Young query re fly tipping  – the leader of the team at Environmental Services dealing with these problems, and who has a lot of useful experience is Emma Wykes. I think it might be best (proper) if I make the first contact on this problem, then I will get back to you.

VILLAGE HALL REPORT FOR THE PARISH ASSEMBLY

14TH APRIL 2014

YEARLY REPORT

Boiler, thermostats and radiators went in in last summer with the £5K grant from Veolia, thanks to Mike Woodhall’s support + £800 of our own funds.

  • Harvest Supper – First event with the PCC.
  • Range Cooker ordered and delivered.
  • Fishing Day Auction at The Boot raised £1200.
  • Lighting overhauled with dimmers and downlighters.
  • Curtain poles put up.
  • Gate put in on corner of playground and Stevens Drove.
  • (fence and possible hedge to follow)
  • Porch renovated.

PLANS FOR THE COMING FUTURE

We have approximately £13K of funds altogether.  We would like to do the following:

Renovate the back of the Village Hall.  Existing barriers are very old and need replacing.  Roof also needs replacing.  Suggestions are to replace roof with asphalt.  New more attractive barrier.  (Check whether this can be enclosed?), which can be opened onto a small patio.  Check whether planning permission is needed.

Plants and climbers and troughs with bedding plants all round the front and sides.

Bring the Village Hall up to Hallmark standard and publish Terms and Conditions.

Replace floor in kitchen, repair holes in wall and fit cooker.

Begin to raise money in order to finance the extension of the kitchen.

Rosie Cardoe

All Saints’ Church Report – 2013/14

Some of you may recall that I said last year that in 2011 the routine 5-yearly (“quinquennial”) report indicated, among other things, that the north aisle roof should be replaced, at a cost that currently looks to be at least £30,000.  That has necessarily stimulated much discussion and activity.  For a start, it is debatable, to put it no higher, whether spending money of that order on the church is justifiable, unless it is used, not only more often, but also by a wider cross-section of those living in the parish.  One of the first decisions has been that if we are going to spend any significant money at all, then we should do a proper job, and not be content with mere patch and mend.  Hence we are now looking at a much more substantial upgrade.  Bear in mind that the last time that the church underwent any significant redevelopment was over 130 years ago; few of us would be content to live in a house that was essentially unchanged from the way it was in the 1880s.

The PCC has therefore set up both a Renewal Scheme Committee, under David Livermore, to consider what physical changes might usefully be made, and at what approximate cost, and also a Church Uses Committee, under Anthony Salz, to liaise with parishioners generally and to consider what changes in how the church building is used, after upgrading as appropriate, would be supported, and so would lead to its greater use by more people.  The intention is that the PCC should consider the conclusions of these two committees, and then decide how to proceed.  Though this is likely to be quite soon, no conclusions have as yet been finalised, so all suggestions that people may have would still be very welcome.  

It would be premature to discuss in detail what will be proposed, though I can assure you that this will certainly happen once there is something firm to report.  However, it is generally agreed that any upgrading of the facilities at the church would have to include the provision of at least a toilet, a kitchenette, and a meeting room large enough for around a dozen people at least, for holding meetings of all sorts, including a Sunday school and/or crèche during church services.  The Renewal Scheme Committee members have visited a large number of other churches in Hampshire that have been in similar situations to see how they have responded, and these visits have been most illuminating and constructive.  Thanks are due to the many people who have shared with us their difficulties and solutions, perhaps especially those at St. Andrew’s at South Warnborough (a very similar church and parish to ours); what they have done there has been particularly influential.

The principal question that the PCC has to decide is whether the very substantial cost of both the upgrading works and those of repairing the roof and windows will be justified by the likelihood of a significantly greater use of the church than has been the case in recent years.  We would all like that decision to be positive, but must recognise that the “Dr Beeching” financially prudent outcome would be a decision to close the church entirely.  However, it has been here for the entire community of Houghton, not just regular churchgoers, for centuries, and its closure would be a sad loss for all.  A decision to go ahead and spend what could easily be some £200,000 or more (if it can be raised) would necessarily be a leap of faith, trusting that future generations will be glad of what we bequeath them, and will use it, and not regret it.  

Undoubtedly the church, both as a building and as an institution, now plays a much smaller role in the lives of many parishioners, than it did, say, 100 years ago.  We see it as vital that it is re-integrated into the community – not by seeking to turn the clock back, but by positive collaboration in the future.  We have been greatly encouraged by the many signs that this attitude is reciprocated by those the church is here to serve.

A very recent initiative has been the putting together of the “Singing for Fun” group by Lucy Gosse and Iona Priestley, with the essential help of Helen King with the music, who aim to meet roughly fortnightly in the church to have fun singing all sorts of music.  You will, I am sure, hear more of this group in the future.

There has also been splendid support, both physical and moral, from throughout the village given to proposals to improve our churchyard.  It has become sadly neglected over the years, and we want to transform it into a beautiful place of peace and quiet, that is also a haven for wildlife.  We have had tremendous help in this over the last few months from the Hampshire Gardens Trust (the HGT), who have paid for a topographical survey and half the fees of a landscape architect to advise us on a planting scheme.  This will include wildflower areas designed to benefit insects of all sorts – and to please us as well – also trees, shrubs and other native plants providing food and shelter for birds, bees and butterflies.  Our thanks are due particularly to Michael Woodhall for organising the successful churchyard working parties, and for introducing us to the HGT.  When the draft plans have taken a bit more shape, they will be discussed at an open meeting, when everyone interested will be more than welcome to join in.

The PCC has ultimate responsibility – which it cannot shed, but may delegate – for looking after the churchyard in compliance with both the diocesan and normal planning controls; in practice this means the churchwardens.  But we don’t pretend to have anything like the expertise to do this interestingly and well that others here in Houghton undoubtedly have.  It is therefore intended to establish a body (a “Churchyard Group”) that will take responsibility for the planting up of the churchyard in line with the plans, and for then taking care of it long term.  This needs to have an executive committee, one that is not so large as to be unwieldy, for deciding exactly what needs doing and when, and then a wider group of members who will come along and do whatever work is called for, so far as they can.  

I have drafted a simple set of rules for such a Group for discussion.  Nothing is yet fixed in stone, but I am suggesting that the PCC and the Friends of All Saints (who we hope will be able to provide us with a bit of funding from gifts to their “Churchyard” account) should each appoint one member to the committee, and that two more should be appointed by the Parish Council, recognising that the churchyard is there for the entire village, and also the regular financial contributions made by the Council for its maintenance, for which we are always grateful.  Further members should be elected annually by the members of the Group as a whole.

In closing I would particularly like to thank to the many individuals in and around the village who have helped and supported the church in numerous ways throughout the past year.  Among these are Jill Harding, who with the team of flower arrangers, adorns the church brilliantly throughout the year; all those who clean the church regularly every week, and who can easily be taken for granted, but certainly shouldn’t be; and last, but far from least, Rosie Cardoe, Fiona Evans and Lucy Gosse for all the work they do in producing the Parish Magazine so well and on time.

Richard Burnett-Hall

14th April 2014

Churchwarden, All Saints’ Church

Hampshire County Councillor Report  –  April, 2014

Andrew Gibson, Hampshire County Councillor    

Test Valley Central

The Economic Situation

This has been a tough year and the next 12 months look even tougher with the target of another £90M of cuts by March 2015.  While HCC has a turnover of £1.75Billion, much of the money flows through HCC and we do not have control of how it is spent, hence £90M is a significant sum of money to cut form the budget. HCC is however very well run and despite a number of years of cuts we believe that front line services have not been significantly affected.  Despite the cuts Hampshire County Council has managed to continue with an invest of £149M in new schools and extensions to others to meet the increasing number of children of school age within Hampshire.  Additionally Hampshire County Council(HCC) has frozen the Council Tax for a fifth consecutive year.

Flooding– Hampshire County Council rising to the challenge but counting the cost of keeping people, property and highways safe

Sixty eight and a half million pounds – that’s the estimated potential cost to Hampshire County Council of its response and recovery operation in the aftermath of this winter’s flooding. The impact of the most significant rainfall for 250 years and the scale of the measures taken to protect life and property are in a report to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on 14 April 2014.  The longer term capital costs of remedial work to damaged highways, at more than 300 locations and flood and coastal defense works, to avoid future flooding in badly affected areas, is estimated to be about £63M. The cost of the emergency response including sandbagging, tree clearing and clean-up costs, adds up to a further £5million.  The multi-agency response, overseen by the Local Resilience Forum in Hampshire, has been praised by Government for the way agencies worked together and for the outcomes that were achieved in very difficult circumstances. A major part of the County Council’s contribution was keeping highways safe and open. 

This included:  

100 council staff and 200 contractors on deployment around the clock, putting in place preventative and mitigation measures

354 weeks, or 13,127 hours of highways’ staff’s time spend on responding to and dealing with the aftermath 

1,000 fallen trees removed from roads 

22,000 reports and requests for help from the public over the two months, more than three times the average. 

160 tonnes of crushed concrete used to build a temporary elevated road at Andover Road, Winchester in just 72 hours 

80 investigations into floods, with engineering advice, temporary schemes and water diversions and advice to property owners and businesses to protect their homes and possessions 

33 detailed bids for funding to the Environment Agency’s Regional Flood and Coastal Committee for future flood risk management researched and prepared 

Over 70,000 sandbags deployed on highways across the county 

The detailed report from the Director of Economy, Transport and Environment and the Head of Finance, outlines the huge multi-agency efforts in a number of areas that suffered the worst of the flooding and the emerging financial consequences. Very different scenarios existed, requiring different types of response – from a violent coastal storm in Milford on Sea, to high groundwater levels flooding properties, overwhelming the sewers in Basingstoke and Test Valley, to river flooding threatening properties in Winchester, Romsey and Fordingbridge. 

Work with district councils to evacuate properties and set up rest centres, checks on vulnerable residents by social services and the distribution of Public Health advice around issues such as contaminated water are highlighted. The report also refers to the recycling or disposal of a high volume of wood panels, fencing and other storm damaged materials and the work to help people dispose of their sandbags. 

It is anticipated that the Council will be making a Bellwin claim to the Government for between £3.5million to £4.5million for the cost of the emergency response. 

An £11.5million grant for highways works has been received from Government, which is about a third of the estimated cost of repairs to damaged highways. 

Getting the £11.5million is a really helpful first- step from Government and we’ll be bidding for more resources, bearing in mind we estimate that another £25million, or more, is needed to fix damaged roads alone. 

We are committed to continuing to fund an enhanced maintenance programme to improve the resilience of our 5,000 miles of roads, which, together with resources we are planning to spend in the recent budget, is testimony to the importance we attach to investing in Hampshire. 

We do however need to have a ditching strategy to ensure that villages are prepared for the future

Best regards  

Andrew Gibson