Milverton Parish Council Report
Milverton Parish Council met on 9th January to discuss a varied agenda. Unfortunately four Councillors offered apologies due to sickness. The meeting was held at the earlier time of 7pm which most Councillors felt was an improvement. They therefore voted to change Standing Orders to start their future meetings at this earlier time.
Under planning Councillors approved changes to the plans for an extension to a house in Butts Way and supported an application to demolish a cottage in Spring Grove and replace it with a larger property.
The Clerk reported that he had received queries from two residents about TDBC's newly adopted Strategic Allocation Plan. Whilst noting the points made Councillors felt that the questions should be directed to TDBC directly.
The main business was the setting of the Precept for 2017/18. Currently at £14000 (approx £25 for a Band D property) Councillors considered whether an increase would be necessary and if so by how much. They were pleased that the Government had acknowledged the role of Parishes in taking on devolved responsibilities and had decided not to cap Precepts for the coming year.
The Clerk had provided a Work Plan and Estimates which showed that the Council was likely to spend £17500 in the coming year so without an increase would be running a deficit. Whilst much of the increased cost was due to the cost of running of the Fore Street toilets there was also a concern that inflation would start to increase general costs. The Clerk reported that there were also several impending maintenance issues in the Jubilee Gardens and at the allotments as well as a couple of projects that were unfunded. Councillors also noted that several village organisations depended on grant aid and that traditional sources may reduce or cease payments. Under those circumstances it was felt that the Parish Council ought to be in a position to help.
After some debate Councillors reluctantly concluded that a Precept that simply covered known costs would be unwise and therefore unanimously agreed to increase it to £20000. Whilst this represents a 43% increase it is only an extra £10 a year for a D band householder.
Mr Hendy reported that after a meeting in the Jubilee Gardens he had a proposal to sort out the drainage issue and would present a detailed plans and quote for the work to the February meeting.
Mr Hendy reported that the new bench had been installed at the Viewing Area and a generous resident had paid for it as a memorial to his wife.
Mrs Pine reported that SCC was reluctant to accept responsibility for the dead elms in North Street. It was agreed to ask the local Highways Manager for a visit to discuss this and also safety issues at England's Corner where there had been several near misses.
Councillor Wren set out his plans for a meeting of village organisations. As various groups are struggling to recruit new members and committees the purpose is to bring them together to see if they all share common problems and whether they can come up with shared solutions. The meeting will also include presentations on the proposed Community Benefit Society and the Village Emergency Plan. With public services increasingly stretched he hoped that this would be the start of a process to encourage and develop more participation in village life.
Councillors briefly discussed the proposal for a new District Council. The Vice Chairman and Clerk will be attending a briefing at TDBC on 25th January and the Council will have a detailed discussion at its next meeting on 6th February.
The Council is hoping to complete the acquisition of the Fore St toilets by the end of the month. It will be engaging a new contractor to maintain them from 1st February.
The Clerk reported that he had only received one tender for the tree felling and cutting works in the Jubilee Gardens. However it was a reasonable price and Councillors were happy to accept it. The Clerk will now talk to the successful tenderer, Aboricare, and try to schedule the work on a non school day.
The Clerk reported that he had placed a notice about avian flu on the Allotments noticeboard.
Finally Mrs Lumby reported that local BT engineers had traced a fault in the Milverton Exchange which had the potential to disrupt calls for 100 customers. All being well this had been fixed and a warning system set up to signal any further problems.
In December the Council spent £2650 on salaries and PAYE (£780), Grants to the Recreation Ground and PCC (£1600), subscriptions (£90) and room hire (£180).
Clerk to Milverton Parish Council
10th January 2017