ALDERBURY PARISH COUNCIL
Caring for Alderbury and Whaddon
The Council got back to normal business again after the August recess. We met in the Fountain Room at the Village Hall which will be perfect for our meetings once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. It’s interesting working for a local council, there is a lot going on under the radar between meetings, stuff that often goes unnoticed. This is as it should be, as we try to tackle issues as soon as we become aware of them and before local people have to make complaints. I thought it would be interesting to share a typical week in the life of Alderbury Parish Council.
Our wonderful Chair, Elaine Hartford, has been out and about, chatting to villagers and picking up niggles. She nipped up to Oakwood Grove after a report that the gatepost has rotted and needs replacement. She reported back to the Council and it was agreed that we ask our fencing chap to get it sorted right away – on the case. While out and about, and after another report, she also found the bench at the Copse is a little rocky and needs some TLC, well in this case, a bit of concrete around the base – on the case. There are wobbly and missing posts at the Green – noted and on the list. And, like every Monday, I am busy replying to emails that have come in over the weekend.
Drains, drains, drains. Drains are always fun and a great source of emails. Elaine has been out peering into the underworld at Grimstead Road and Rectory Road. After chatting to a resident and our Parish Steward, we found out that the drain in Grimstead Road has collapsed and needs repair – over to Wiltshire Council on that one then. The blocked drain in Rectory Road is not such a big problem; the Parish Steward will clear it for now and check if it needs a mechanical clean. Fingers crossed that does the trick. I set aside an hour to read the Wiltshire Climate Strategy. Its good but not exactly a riveting read. Full of very positive statements of course but it does lack detail and is silent on funding commitments – always the acid test. There is no doubt that climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face today, so it will be interesting to see what the Council says about the document tomorrow at our meeting. Finally, I had some to-and-fro with our auditors on our annual accounts before I put down my pen for the day.
I was out in the Recreation Ground putting safety covers on some exposed bolts – glue – hammer – bruised thumb! While there, I noticed the bins were full to overflowing so I made a quick call to our contractors Idverde and they were emptied in the afternoon. I strolled around and checked the play equipment – all looked in good order, but it’s reassuring that we have a full RoSPA inspection coming up later this month. The repairs to the garage are going well but we had a call from our builder to say there will be a slight delay as he has been asked to self-isolate after getting the dreaded ‘ping.’ On to the pavilion where the slab is still missing – I make a note to chase the Football Club. Next, I walked a section of the circular village footpath to get a better understanding of issues that have cropped up on the village Facebook page, took a few photos and headed home. Back in the village at 6.00pm for the Parish Council meeting in the new Fountain Room at the Village Hall – it’s going to be ideal for our meetings. We packed up at 9.30pm and I was home for my cocoa by 10.00pm, glancing anxiously at my new ‘to-do’ list.
Always my busiest day of the month. Following the decisions taken the night before, I wrote up the Council’s planning comments and got them agreed with Elaine and our Vice-Chair John Fuller, then pinged them off to Wiltshire Council – tick. I emailed Idverde to report overflowing bins in other parts of the village – they got their crew out within a couple of hours, so all good – tick. Then into the accounts system to process the monthly payments and enter them into the online banking app for approval – tick. I fired a quick email off to the Police passing on complaints about noisy cars in the village, they have confirmed they will check out the issue and have a word with the noisy vehicle owners – tick. Finally, I wrote up the Council’s response to Wiltshire Council Climate Strategy, supportive on the whole but some concerns about the lack of details and funding (see below), pinged off the email – tick.
Finished writing up the minutes of the Council meeting and sent them off to the Chair and Vice-Chair for approval. A few comments quickly incorporated and they are filed ready to upload to the website – tick. Once the minutes are agreed, I set about getting on with the decisions approved by the Council. I wrote to Nick at Wild Landscapes to get the next step in the wildlife project underway. The Council has agreed to focus on Waleran Close first which is good because everyone passes there and it will raise the profile of the campaign. So, I need to set up an engagement event for volunteers, consult Longford Estate to make sure they are OK with our plans and then get on with consulting the residents of the Close before anything happens. I also start to prepare a contract specification for tenders for the clearance of the footpath verges and gutters along Southampton Road – and – oh yes, I need to get the article for the Fountain to Jane by Wednesday next week too. After that lot is cleared it will be time to start preparing the agenda for October’s meeting – that’s just how it rolls.
Playground at Tozer Way
Good news on this one, the residents of the new estate have now taken on full responsibility for the playground. So, after being closed for well over 18 months, it will once again be ringing with happy young voices. Good luck to the residents with their new management company.
There were questions raised at the Council meeting about the long grass along the village roads and lanes. After a bit of digging, we found Wiltshire Council’s new maintenance policy and it explains that verge cutting will be reduced to one cut each year to encourage biodiversity. The Council has no problem with this, but feels it should be better explained to local residents. Wiltshire Council also confirmed that it will continue to cut grass more regularly at junctions and other sites to maintain visibility and highway safety.
Wiltshire Climate Strategy
You may have seen press coverage of the new strategy published by Wiltshire Council. You can have your say if you google ‘Wiltshire Council Climate Change Strategy.’ The Parish Council had a very good look at the document and on the whole, we welcomed the plans. However, we did feel it is a little light on details and the Council has called for:
- Proposals to encourage home working – the pandemic has shown how this can reduce private car use and cut carbon emissions.
- Proposals to switch off highway lighting where not required for public or highway safety.
- The inclusion of climate change objectives in all council activities and policies. In particular the review of planning policy to require low carbon or carbon neutral development, currently the draft local plan does not go nearly far enough.
- Proposals to introduce food waste collection and recycling schemes for a wider range of disposable products.
- Proposals to plant more trees and policies to protect existing trees, woodlands and greenspace.
- Proposals to support renewable energy schemes.
- Adequate investment to achieve carbon reduction targets. Without this in place the strategy will not achieve the urgent impacts needed.
- Measures to hold the Council to account for the achievement of its carbon targets, including a community-led commission.
- Proposals to encourage climate action at community level through the area boards.
The Council received a report from Phil Spooner, our local footpath group coordinator. It was a very helpful report and drew attention to ongoing discussions about some of the issues with the circular village footpath. The Council is keen to help with improvements and asked Phil to make recommendations – for example areas where raised boardwalks might be needed. Obviously, projects like this need the consent of the landowners, so its not always as simple as it sounds. Watch this space for further reports.
Every month we consider local planning applications and this time around we had three to look at. The Council has objected to a plan to convert a single dwelling in Junction Road into two four bedroomed detached houses. The Council feels the proposal is just way too big for the site, will rob neighbours of light and privacy and will be harmful to wildlife. There is also some concern about water run-off and drainage. The Council looked at two other applications; one at 66 Spiders Island and one at Whitedown, Southampton Road – no objections were raised to either proposal.
Right, that’s my article finished – tick.