Earlier this month, In the warmth of the Fountain Room at the Village Hall, members of the Council stood in silent respect as we remembered Her Majesty the Queen. This was our first meeting since her sad passing, and we all called to mind our fond recollections of a truly historic monarch. As the silence closed, we all sang out ‘God Save The King’ as we welcomed King Charles III to the throne. But, even in the saddest of times, things go on. And so, the Council turned its attention to yet another jam-packed agenda.
This is truly the season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and the village is looking resplendent in its autumn colours. The hedgerows are alive with birdsong as our feathered friends tuck into nature’s smorgasbord of berries, nuts, and fruits. Cider apples are being pressed, jam is boiling on the hob, chutneys are slowly pickling in kitchen cupboards and allotments are giving up their last bounty. Halloween is ticking towards us; clocks will spin backwards, and this will bring down the final curtain on the glorious summer of 2022. I will be out walking the circular path this weekend and taking in the magnificent views across to the Cathedral Spire from the ridge above Bunckley’s Copse, its one of my favourite views in the village. Hiking boots or wellies? Hmmm, tricky choice. Wellies, I think. Then it’s down to Lidl for jam and chutney!
After years of lobbying, nagging and grumpy letters from the Council, Wiltshire Councillor, Richard Britton has given us the news for which we have longed. Southampton Road is scheduled for resurfacing from The Green Dragon right through to Whaddon. Hurrah for that and a huge thank you to Richard for never giving up on this project. It has been a long frustrating wait, but works are now due to start on 15th February. Every silver cloud has its lining of course and there will be some disruption when these works begin. We will keep everyone informed as news emerges. But I am sure you will all be overjoyed by the news – especially the poor cyclists, whose posteriors are due some much needed relief.
Oh yes, it’s just around the corner and the Council is making plans to put up the jolly illuminated Christmas tree on Waleran Close. The Scouts and Guides are planning their annual event with carols and refreshments, so please put a note in your diary before it overflows – Saturday 3rd December from 6.00pm.
Vacancy for Councillor
Following the resignation of Ken Bath, the Returning Officer for Wiltshire has been notified of the vacancy on the Council, and this was advertised on 29th September. An election to fill the vacancy will be held if ten electors from the Parish write to the Returning Officer by 19 October 2022 asking for an election. If an election is not requested by that date, then the vacancy must be filled by co-option as soon as possible. In that event, the Council will advertise for people interested in serving as a councillor and select from suitable applications received. Let me know if you areinterested.
Recruitment of Clerk
Following two years in post, I have decided – with an incredibly heavy heart – that it is time to hang up my wig and quill and move on. I have been offered a Partnership with the Local Government Resource Centre and it’s just too good an opportunity to refuse. I really have loved every minute in this job. Alderbury is truly lucky to have such a hardworking and dedicated Council. You might not always agree with everything the Council does but take a walk around the village at any time of the year and remind yourself what a beautiful place it is to live. That doesn’t happen by chance, a lot of very arduous work goes into keeping the village looking its best. When Matt Allwright from the BBC One Show visited back in June, he was so impressed, he asked me about house prices in the area. My last working day will be Tuesday 27th December 2022, but I will hang around a little longer to help train up the new Clerk. See our website if you are interested in applying for my job.
Solar Panels for the Village Hall
At our last meeting, Cllr Fuller reported that the technical survey of the Village Hall for the solar installation was now scheduled for 17th October. This will identify the most suitable scheme and the costs involved – this will be reported to the Council in November. Cllr Fuller has contacted the Social Club to examine the option of splitting the energy input between the Village Hall and the Club, a move welcomed by the Council. I’m pleased to say the Village Hall Committee has supported the scheme and the Chair of the Committee, Peter Tapper, will be fully involved as things move forward. The Parish Council cannot do a lot about the climate crisis, but it remains focused on doing everything it can to make Alderbury a green and sustainable village.
Wildlife Friendly Alderbury – Next Steps
Our eco champion Cllr Lawrence reported that consultation with residents adjoining Oakwood Grove Open Space, explaining the Council’s plans to plant native hedgerows around parts of the perimeter will get underway in the following week. Subject to their views, planting is scheduled for the first weeks of November. Quotations are being sought for the supply of hedging whips, trees, mulch, and rabbit guards. The Woodland Trust has been contacted about the possible supply of free plants and an order has been placed. She explained that the scheme will preserve the well-used pathway at the top of the bank from the gate at Southampton Road down past Farthing House to the cul de sac. The scarification and seeding of the wildflower meadow in Waleran Close took place on Saturday 15th October. Mel also reported that a member of the Wildlife Volunteers has offered to provide an area of wild planting adjoining Silverwood, where Wiltshire Council has removed diseased trees. The Council fully supported this idea and thanked the volunteer for his kind offer.
Southampton Road Allotments
I informed councillors that the Council has submitted its response to Formula Land (Alderbury) Ltd welcoming the proposed retention of the existing allotments and requesting the transfer of the freehold of the allotments, access, and car park. At the date of publication, no response had been received. The Council agreed that it is now important, that all matters relating to the acquisition of the freehold, its terms and extent are managed by the Council as legal licensee. Of course, we will continue to consult and engage with tenants to reflect their wishes in any final agreement with the developers, however as all legal liabilities and obligations will rest with the parish council, this is now a matter for the Council itself to decide – it’s your money after all.
Junction of Folly Lane and Lights Lane
The owner of a property on this nasty junction reported repeated damage to his property caused by large vehicles turning left from Folly Lane into Lights Lane. The Council considered his request for the implementation of a ‘no left turn’ sign at this difficult junction. This will need to be approved by Wiltshire Council’s, Southern Area Local Highways and Footpath Improvement Group, and the Council will have to meet 25% of any costs involved. Councillor Britton advised the Council to consult the Area Highway Engineer prior to submitting a formal application for funding to assess the options available.
This month we have been casting a beady eye over four applications. The first was for the Installation of an air source heat pump at the back of The Old Cottage in Castle Lane. We welcomed this way of reducing carbon emissions in the village and supported the idea. Addressing climate change is a priority for the Council and in terms of planning we could see nothing wrong with the plan. We also looked at a plan to demolish Alderbury Farm Cottage in Witherington Road and replace it with a new house of similar size. We had no objections to the plans, but we did insist that an independent ecological assessment is undertaken to determine the presence of protected species, particularly bats, and the implementation of any recommendations arising therefrom. We also pressed for the replacement of any trees removed during the development with semi-mature native species. Next, we examined plans to alter the approved design at Old Rectory House in Lights Lane. The plan also relocates the access through the adjoining woods, and this caused us some concerns. So, we raised no objection provided existing trees are protected to avoid the loss of important ecology and habitat. Finally, we have been informed that an application turned down by the Council has been taken to planning appeal at Snowflakes in Rectory Road. We will be maintaining our strong objections to this unsuitable backland scheme.
PC Pete Jung reported that it has been a quiet month following actions taken to address the spate of non-domestic thefts in the village. He explained that, following an announcement by the Home Secretary, a police officer would now visit every victim of domestic burglary. Pete confirmed that this was his usual practice in any event. An additional PC is joining the Neighbourhood Policing Team, and this will mean a more visible presence in the village.
Around the Village
Our very industrious Chair, Elaine Hartford, has been remarkably busy this month. She keeps an eye on our open spaces and facilities. She has been sniffing around the trunk of the old oak tree in Oakwood Grove Open Space where she inspected a spectacular growth of bracket fungus. Prolific growth of bracket fungus can be a sign of disease and Wiltshire’s Tree Man has recommended we have a specialist radar survey to check the health of this ancient citizen (the tree, not our chair!). She also reported that trees at the Recreation Ground are now drooping over the picnic tables and need pruning back a bit. Sadly, the last remaining pane of glass in the bus shelter at the Southampton Road/Grimstead Road junction had been smashed. I was tasked to get this fixed as soon as possible. She also reported that ivy growing on the wall of Hurstbourne House in Southampton Road was beginning to obstruct the pavement. I will be sending a polite letter to the owners asking if this can be cut back. We are still waiting for the fences at the Recreation Ground and at Old Road to be mended – we have let a contract, so that should be done soon, and we will add the old rotten post at the Cemetery to the schedule of works. Cllr Sloan who heads-up our Winter Weather volunteers reported that the grit bins need topping up before Winter sets in. The Chair agreed to contact the very wonderful Marcus Light to check reserves and arrange the top up.
Salisbury Live – Coronation Event
The Council has received an enquiry from Salisbury Live about the possibility of a grant to stage an event in the village to coincide with the Coronation of King Charles III. The Council welcomed the suggestion and has asked that a grant application is submitted setting out the arrangements with a breakdown of costs involved.
Well, that’s it for another month, the next meeting is heading my way and there will be lots to discuss including projects for 2023, so if you have any ideas why not come along. We meet again at 7.30pm on Thursday 3 November in the Fountain Room and then our final meeting of the year (and my last) follows on Monday 5 December
My very best to everyone!