Caring for Alderbury and Whaddon
Alderbury and Whaddon really made the big time this month with a star appearance on the BBC One Show – yes that daily 7.00pm show with Alex Jones and Ronan Keating. Featuring the wildlife and footpath volunteers, the film crew took a stroll around the village to see the Green, the new community orchard, and the spanking new Village Hall. Presenter Matt Allwright was bowled over with the village and wished us well with our entry in the Best Kept Village Competition. Sadly, the parish council cannot organise litter picking this year because of Public Health England’s rules on the Novichok incident. It’s a blow, but we fight on – Whiteparish watch out!
It’s been an incredibly busy month for the council, and we had a shedload of stuff to get through at our May meeting – we didn’t turn out of the Village Hall until well after 10.30pm, so there is plenty to report.
Looking after the Village
As usual, our Chair, Elaine Hartford, has been busy around the village keeping an eye on things. She reported that the footpath between Junction Road and Firs Road is getting a bit overgrown in places, so we have asked our wonderful footpath volunteers to take a look. The gardening group are taking up their trowels to plant out the summer bedding in the village troughs and planters, just in time for the Best Kept Village Competition judging. While on the subject of green fingers, Cllr Lawrence reported that the very lovely band of wildlife volunteers are also on the case, planting-up the big new raised bed at the Community Resource Hub (fancy-pants name for the old garage on the Rec) with native and bee-friendly wildflowers – annual and perennials. Everyone was delighted to hear that the owners of a property adjoining Oakwood Grove want to replace a close boarded wooden fence with a wildlife friendly post and rail fence and native hedging. Its just what the wildlife volunteers hope to do more of in the Autumn. A big thumbs up from the Council for that. Elaine reported that one of the white posts has gone missing at The Green where the junction verges have been eroded by vehicles. Everyone agreed that the Clerk should contact Wiltshire Council to seek a replacement. While on the subject of roads, the new post for the speed indicator device has popped up at the southern end of the village complete with solar panel ready for the SID to be rotated between our two sites – it’s certainly helped cut speeds up at the top of the village. Elaine has also changed the defibrillator pads and batteries at the Village Hall, so in an emergency you know where to head.
The Council has been looking forward and although the Council Tax charge did not go up this year, our ambitions remain high. There are plenty of projects to look forward to this year. The focus on wildlife will carry on a-pace with the completion of the wildflower meadow at the community orchard. Plans are in hand for the re-wilding of Oakwood Grove open Space with native hedges, trees, wildflowers and possibly a pond and we then want to get the spades flying to create a mini forest at Spiders Island. Another project has been included in the plan too, an idea to plant beautiful perennial wildflowers along the Southampton Road banks – primroses, native bluebells, cowslips, daisies and more. That should look spectacular in years to come. We were also delighted to hear that the school is jumping on board with the wildlife project too – a huge ‘thank you’ to the staff and pupils. Also in the plan is a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of Alderbury and Whaddon, we would like to be the greenest village in the County. So, one thing we will look at is generating electricity from solar panels on the village hall roof. We also want to offer more activities during holiday periods for our village youngsters. Yes, a lot for the Clerk to be getting on with!
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Picnic in the Park and Salisbury Live Event
Just another quick reminder that the big ‘Picnic in the Park’ event celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee will take place on the afternoon and evening of Saturday 11th June. It promises to be quite a spectacle with bunting, bouncy castle, food vendors and stalls arranged around the picnic area and main stage where acts will perform all afternoon and into the evening. Make a date in your diary, it’s definitely one you just can’t afford to miss this year.
PC Pete Jung from Wiltshire Constabulary recovered from COVID-19 just in time to attend our meeting to report on policing issues around the village. This month Pete has had his hands full; a pair of very expensive solid oak automatic gates have been stolen from a property in Tunnel Hill and a car had its tires slashed in Firs Road. Several outbuildings were broken into, and items stolen in Old Road, School Hill and Rectory Road and another outbuilding has been broken into, but nothing taken in Lights Lane. Investigations are ongoing but the criminals are not thought to be local. There has also been an incident of anti-social behaviour at the Recreation Ground which is being investigated. So, keep an eye out and if you see anything suspicious, please report it using the Police 101 number (999 for serious emergency cases) or contact your local Neighbourhood Watch rep.
Southampton Road Allotments
You might recall that I reported in Autumn 2021 that Longford Estate had sold the fields behind Junction Road to a property developer. Well, this has caused a lot of concern and uncertainty for the allotment holders who, it is fair to say, fear the worst. John Turley came along to our meeting to speak up for the tenants and he tore us off a strip too for not doing enough to keep the allotment holders informed. The Council holds it hands up to that – we can and will do better. Mr Turley explained that due to the uncertainty, tenants were now reluctant to invest in the improvement of their plots. He also drew attention to a memorial shed that had been purchased through donations and erected to honour the memory of the site’s first warden Keith Whitmarsh who died suddenly in 2017. The clear preference of all tenants was to stay on the existing site. Following his statement Mr Turley presented a petition signed by 24 allotment holders to the Chair of the Council. The Council strongly supported the position taken by the allotment holders and will press the new owners to preserve the allotments where they are now with car parking and access. We will do what we can to try and acquire the freehold so that the allotments may be given statutory protection for the future; we will try and renegotiate the licence to provide a 12 months’ notice period; and we will ask for clarity over the expected planning application. Most of all, we will now work side-by-side with the allotment tenants on our shared mission to save the allotments.
Cllr Fuller reported on the outcome of a meeting to talk over safety concerns at the school in Firs Road arising from the new development on the old football pitches. The road surfacing works are now underway following a slight hold-up due to dodgy sub soils. The new school pedestrian access has been agreed and this will improve safety of children going to and from the school. A speed ramp will slow traffic speeds and a 20mph speed limit is being investigated for the whole length of Firs Road. John reported that the developers had been working with the Football Club with a view to completing the club car park. Issues raised by residents had been taken up with the developers and site supervision was now in place and operating more effectively. A few other issues had been raised including a request for a copy of the final approved biodiversity plan. The Council will be inviting Alderbury Football Club to our next meeting in June to discuss progress with the club house and car park.
Councillors are always getting asked; ‘what is happening at the Three Crowns?’ At our meeting the owners came along to tell us just that. COVID-19 has hit the pub trade hard, and the Three Crowns is no exception. We heard that it is no longer a viable business and that alternative uses are being explored. Planning applications are expected shortly.
The Village Hall
The Parish Council was very happy to support a grant of £750 towards the cost of a commercial dishwasher for the sparkling new Village Hall kitchen, the committee hope to raise more funds to cover the total cost of around £2,000. The committee is also busy sorting out Wi-Fi throughout the building and we certainly had no problems using the internet at our recent meeting, so all seems good on the broadband front. The hall is now comparable to some of the very best in Wiltshire and quite understandably, the committee has reviewed fees and charges – it’s long overdue really and much needed to keep the hall in tip-top repair. There have been some increases, but the committee members have tried to minimise impact on users while being consistent across the board.
Wiltshire Councillor Richard Britton reported that he had taken up the Council’s concerns about the long-overdue resurfacing work along Southampton Road. He continues to press for updates, but, alas, as yet no firm dates have been agreed. In his role of Chair of Wiltshire’s Southern Area Board Richard told us about changes to the way local grants and highway funds are managed. The good news here is that more funding has been devolved for highways and footpaths with £45k now in the kitty. Richard also warned that the high rate of national inflation was likely to place a significant strain on the Wiltshire Council budget with overspends expected. Richard explained that nearly 65% of all Wiltshire Council funding was absorbed by adult social care and children’s services and that the squeeze was likely to be felt most keenly in the non- statutory service areas.
We had four planning applications to look at this month. The first was for a temporary change of use from what is currently open grassland (previously Alderbury FC pitches) to a parking area for the sales centre at the new development at the bottom of Firs Road. We could see no harm in this provided the land is properly reinstated afterwards, so we raised no objection subject to that condition. However, we did object very strongly to a proposed new dwelling and access drive to the rear of Caynton Lawns in Oak Drive. The access is just not acceptable, its dangerous and emergency vehicles and refuse lorries cannot get down there at all. A better solution is needed. We raised no objections to plans for Pippins in Old Road which we think will improve the streescene in that part of the village. Finally, we gave the green light to the conversion of garage roof space to living accommodation at The Field House in Southampton Road, provided it is used for the domestic use only and not used, let, licensed, rented or sold-off separately.
A quick reminder to hold off cutting hedges until after the nesting season. The Council has been made aware of hedge cutting in May which is very bad news for our feathered friends.
Staying Safe Online
Over the last few months the Police have reported incidents of residents being defrauded by cyber criminals and phone scammers. I am please to say the Police are coming along to our Annual Parish Meeting on Thursday 26th May to explain just how you can avoid becoming a victim of these heartless individuals. Do come along to the Social Club at 7.30pm to hear this timely presentation by the Police.
The Council has received a request from a local street food vendor for permission to park a takeaway food van in the village once or twice a week. Th Council could see no harm in the idea now that the fish and chip van is only visiting twice a month, so we raised no objection to a trial run – provided the village hall committee is happy with the idea. We would prefer one evening per week, preferably Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Dates of future meetings
The Council next meets on 9th June. For details of the venue, agenda and future meetings please check out our website.