Report of Milverton Parish Council meeting 13th April 2015
Councillors considered a packed agenda in their last meeting before the elections. Thanks and appreciation were given to the four Councillors who are standing down. The longest serving was Rachel Renfree who had been on the Parish Council since 1991 and had been Chairman twice. The others were Eileen McHardy, Ian Gauntlett and Guy Hannaford who had all served 12 years.
It was noted with some disappointment that only three new prospective Councillors had come forward and that as a result there would not be the need for an election. This is the first time for many years that there has not been a Parish Council election in Milverton. In the past these elections have frequently delivered a turnout of 60% one of the the best in the South West. The only bright spot is that the Council will save £700 of election expenses.
Therefore the first task of the new Council will be to co-opt a new member to fill the vacancy and Councillors will discuss this at the Annual Parish Council Meeting on 11th May.
Under Planning, Councillors used their delegated planning powers to approve application 23/15/0004, an extension to a property in Wood Street. Councillors noted that the development was of sufficient size to attract a charge of £16000 under the provisions of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). TDBC Planning Officer Bryn Kitching explained that the figure was correct but that relief would be available under certain circumstances.
Councillors were aware that Parish Councils are eligible for 10% of CIL payments in their area and the Clerk reported that TDBC had offered training in how this would operate. Councillors thought that this was an excellent idea in what was bound to become an important and probably contentious aspect of local planning.
The item on Creedwell was dominated by traffic issues. It was becoming clear that SCC Highways were only prepared to judge the application on the information supplied when the road widening requirement was removed in 2012. There seemed to be no acknowledgement of the traffic impact away from the Creedwell junction onto Fore Street and an assumption that traffic flowed freely along the B3187 and the presence of on street parking in Silver Street, Fore Street and Sand Street was being ignored. Councillors were told that SCC Highways would be prepared to consider a further traffic assessment if the village cared to commission one – however the costs were expected to be between £3-5000. Unsurprisingly Councillors were incensed at SCC's apparent abdication of its responsibilities and the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Clerk agreed to meet to take the matter forward. TDBC Councillor Gwil Wren agreed to speak to his SCC counterpart James Hunt with a view to getting a meeting with the SCC officers involved.
(NB Since the meeting Notaro has withdrawn its offer of Affordable Housing and is pressing TDBC to determine the application as soon as possible.)
As previously reported SCC has offered to supply the village with its own Speed Indicator Device (SID). These display and record vehicle speeds and make drivers slow down. Before taking responsibility for a device Parish Councils have to sign up to a series of undertakings including training operatives and providing adequate insurance. Parishes also have to have a minimum of 8 qualifying sites but can team up with neighbouring communities to make up the numbers. Councillors were very happy to endorse their previous decision to acquire a SID and invited the local Speed Watch group to take part in the management and deployment of it. The Speed Watch group will consider this and let the Council know.
The Clerk reported that the Triathlon will again use the village. It would be on Sunday 17th May and a one way system would operate around St Michaels Hill, North Street, Silver Street and Fore Street between 9am and 3pm.
The Clerk also reported on a meeting with TDBC about the transfer of ownership of the toilets to the Parish Council. All but two of the Heads of Terms were agreed and the Clerk is reworking these into a counter proposal. Cllr Wren reported that he would be attending another meeting on 22nd April to discuss how the extra £80000 allocated by TDBC tow toilet transfer would be distributed. To honour this long running saga retiring Councillor Ian Gauntlet presented the Parish Council with a copy of Clochmerle, a humorous account of a small French town which also had its ups and downs over the provision of public conveniences.
Mr Cotton reported that the Community Defibrillator project was almost complete and was in the process of getting an invoice so that it could be paid for. The Clerk reported that the extra insurance cost would be £26pa.
Following the Milverton Trust request to use the Jubilee Gardens again as part of the Street Fair, the Clerk had drawn up terms for a licence, which would remove the need for annual discussions as long as there were no changes. Councillors were happy with the terms and the Clerk was asked to offer them to the Trust.
Councillors spent some time debating telecommunication and internet issues. Mrs Lumby reported a long running problem with the telephone exchange. Over the last six months over 20 residents of Milverton, Fitzhead and Hillcommon have had problems with calls when they can hear but they cannot be heard by the other party. These breakups have lasted for about an hour before clearing. All the residents had contacted BT who denied it was 'their fault' and in some cases charged the £130 call out fee. Eventually, as a result of extreme persistence and the involvement of a 3rd party land line provider, BT acknowledged that there was a fault in the exchange and have replaced the broken part. Despite the apparent resolution of the problem Councillors felt that this issue deserved to be escalated. The Clerk was therefore asked to write to BT and Offcom.
Still on the subject of telecommunications Mrs Hoyle reported that several residents had contacted her about housing a Vodaphone base unit. These boost Vodaphone signals up to 500m and would significantly increase and improve signal coverage in the village. Vodaphone would be following this up with a site suitability survey on 14th May.
Councillors were told that the new Milverton Village website would be demonstrated by the Trust at the Annual Parish meeting on 15th April. It was hoped that the site would 'go live' in mid May.
The Clerk reported that the Council's regular gardener had suffered a car accident and would be off work for several months. He was asked to find a temporary replacement to cover the gap. Councillors asked for Best Wishes to be sent.
Councillors authorised expenditure of £1569. This included salaries, grants, gardening costs and annual subscriptions.