Once again, the Christmas tree is twinkling away on a very frosty Waleran Close as we come to the end of another busy year in the village. Christmas is a happy time and yet for me it is tinged with a little sadness this year. This is my last article for the Fountain magazine as I move on from Alderbury to pastures new. I have enjoyed every minute of my time in the village, working alongside a great bunch of volunteers – your elected councillors. They all do a great job on your behalf. Take my word for it, they are hardworking, conscientious, and committed passionately to making the village better for everyone. You can see for yourself from the report here – and the many that have gone before – that the Council is incredibly active on your behalf. I must also pay a personal tribute to our lovely Chair, Elaine Hartford who is an unstoppable force of nature, a whirlwind of positivity and a truly great servant to the village. John Fuller, our vice-chair, is also a source of great wisdom on the Council and I have been grateful for his support and guidance over the last few years. So, it is farewell from me and its…
Hello to Liz!
I am delighted to report that my shoes have been filled by an excellent successor. From 1st January, my wig, quill, and gavel will be taken up by your new clerk, Liz Holland. A professional accountant, Liz spent her early years in South Wiltshire before moving to America, returning to live in Northamptonshire where she held posts on several parish councils. Liz has always been a keen volunteer and she is looking forward to working with the volunteer groups in the village. Alderbury Parish Council is in very safe hands.
Solar Panels – Alderbury Village Hall
You will recall that the Council has been exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the Village Hall roof. I am delighted to let you know that the project has now been approved. Our project leader, Councillor John Fuller explained that the recommended scheme will secure the optimum benefit for the Village Hall and Social Club. We really have given this scheme a great deal of thought over the last few months – it is a big investment. After much discussion we agreed that as the Hall supports such a wide range of services and activities for villagers, investing in the financial sustainability of the facilities into the future is the right thing to do. It is also an important commitment to do more to reduce the impact of climate change and this is another small step towards a low carbon future.
Wildlife Friendly Alderbury
As our feathered friends fluff up their plumage to beat off the effects of the cold snap, Councillor Lawrence provided an update on the hedge and tree planting scheme at Oakwood Grove open space that was completed in November. She also reported on the latest phase of works at the community orchard and wildflower meadow at Waleran Close. She paid tribute to the volunteers who had given their time to make these projects happen. The Council thanked Mel for her hard work and the excellent progress made with the wildlife projects. If you can do anything to help our feathered friends through the cold winter months, that too will help increase the biodiversity of Alderbury and Whaddon.
Southampton Road Allotments
The future of the Southampton Road Allotments is an ongoing theme at Council meetings. At the last meeting I was able to confirm that a formal request had been made to Formula Land (Alderbury) Ltd for the transfer of the freehold of the allotments to the Council. Formula Land have submitted a response to the Council but explained that, at this stage, they needed to keep details confidential until the planning application was ready for submission – when full consultation will take place. They have agreed in principle to the sale of the allotment land, access, and parking area to the Council, subject to planning. It seems clear that the provision of the allotments will form part of the planning application and we expect that to come forward in the new year. Of course, this does not resolve the ongoing uncertainty, but at least the allotment tenants know that the Council is doing everything it can to secure the future of the allotments in the long term.
As the cold weather bites and the cost of heating goes through the roof, a lot of people are really struggling to make ends meet. And for that reason, the Council has welcomed the new ‘warm spaces’ project launched by St Mary’s in the Community. Warm spaces are places where people can go to keep warm and socialise in a friendly and safe space. The project will provide soup, drinks, friendship, and social activities between 12.00pm and 4.00pm on Tuesdays at St Mary’s Hall in Whaddon. Wiltshire Council has published a directory of support services available, and this has been posted on the Parish Council’s website.
Alderbury and Whaddon Circular Footpath
One of our tireless volunteers, Phil Spooner, came along to our meeting and provided an overview of work undertaken by the Village Footpath Volunteers over the last 12 months. Phil reported that Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species, had been discovered in the watercourses and this had been reported to Wiltshire Wildlife for further advice. He also reported that the group were working alongside Wiltshire Council’s Footpaths Team to address local issues. Members thanked Phil for his report and extended their gratitude to him and the team for the amazing work they do to maintain the footpaths. And, as a little gesture of goodwill, it was agreed to buy a new wheelbarrow to keep in the community resource hub (the garage at the Rec) for all volunteers to use when needed.
School Parking at Firs Road
Cllr Fuller reported that the Police had visited the school and undertaken enforcement action to address illegal parking which all came as a bit of a shock to some of the parents. We all agreed, it is not obvious what the parking restrictions are, and we have asked Wiltshire Council to provide details of the road markings and traffic calming measures proposed for Firs Road. But, in the meantime, make sure you observe the highway code when dropping off your little ones or you might just get a fine.
It’s been a quiet time in the village when it comes to new planning applications. At our last meeting we supported an application at Alderbury House. The Council really appreciates the efforts being made to restore the historic integrity of this important listed building in the village. Over the years, the building has been degraded by rather shoddy additions and alterations. The new owners, through a process of forensic architectural study of the building, are seeking to restore its original design and unique features, as far as this is possible. The Council commends the owners for this approach. Apart from that, we nodded through an application for a porch extension at 17 Woodlea Grange and raised no objections to new overhead electricity lines at Marldon in Clarendon Road. Other than that, nothing of note to report.
Council Budget 2023/24
The Council has been having a good hard look at its budget for next year with an eye firmly on the economy and the need to keep increases as low as possible to help residents through the worst of the downturn. Unfortunately, inflation has an impact on our running costs, so some small increase is inevitable. At the moment, this is looking like it will be less than £5 per year extra for average homeowners – not bad given the pressures we have faced. We will be adopting the budget at our meeting in January and make sure to keep you all posted.
Our man on the Village Hall Committee, Cllr Mike Huntley, reports that bookings have continued to increase. Its great to see the lovely new hall being so well used by the community and it certainly justifies the investment the Council made in 2020-21. Mike also raised the issue of parking by football teams using the Rec which causes some issues when there are also activities in the hall. The car park is a decent size but when there is a clash things get very tight. We will have a look at the issue again in the New Year.
Around the Village
Our unstoppable Chair, Cllr Elaine Hartford, reports that the vandalised bus shelter has been repaired by our excellent contractors GW Shelters Ltd. The white railings at Old Road have been repaired and Elaine is hoping to find a local volunteer to paint the other posts to match the new. If you have a brush and overalls and a couple of hours free do let me know. The gate post at the entrance to the Cemetery has rotted through and needs urgent replacement. I’m on the case. The owners of some particularly shaggy hedges have now received letters and already some have been trimmed. Please keep an eye on your hedge and if it is overhanging a pavement or obstructing a junction, please give it a quick snip. The autumn leaves that have drifted into heffalump sized piles in Avon Drive are due to be collected by Wiltshire Council in the next few days. Our excellent Parish Steward will be in the village anytime now and Elaine will ask him to peer down into the drains along Southampton Road and book the mechanical vactor to clear them where needed.
So that’s it from me, over to Liz for the next edition. Have a super Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year to one and all.
Parish Clerk, Alderbury Parish Council
Salisbury, SP2 2NY