Hook Norton Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on
9th April 2009 in the Memorial Hall, Hook Norton at 7pm
Present: the meeting was attended by Councillors Walsham [Vice Chairman], Barnes, Jelf, Millar, Richardson, Riley and Stubbs, together with Pauline Walters [Heath Allotment Trust], the Parish Clerk and four members of the public.
Apologies: were received from Cllrs Brotherston, Hayward and Leader and District Cllr Irvine.
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Thursday 10th April 2008 were approved as a true record of the meeting.
Conduct of the Meeting: Cllr Walsham welcomed everyone and informed those present that the meeting would be informal.
3. Report by Chairman of the Parish Council: Cllr Walsham informed the meeting that he was presenting the report as Clive Timms, who had been Chairman, had decided that he was no longer able to continue and resigned from the PC in February. Cllr Walsham thanked him for his contribution to Parish affairs over so many years. Going into the Parish year we had two vacancies which were filled by Sharron Barnes and Marie Stubbs and when Rob Bartlett found that juggling work and Parish commitments was becoming increasingly difficult he also resigned and his replacement is Meg Richardson and all three ladies were thanked for agreeing to assist in the running of the Parish. Cllr Walsham also thanked his fellow councillors for their contribution during the past year and, in particular, those who had chaired the various working groups and not forgetting our District Councillor, Victoria Irvine, and Ray Jelf who doubles both as our County Councillor and a serving member of the PC. Cllr Walsham also thanked the Clerk, Ken Porter, for his advice and assistance with the ever increasing burden of bureaucracy, and Doug Marshall for his continued support in maintaining standards in the Recreation Area, along with his other environmental tasks. Finally he thanked Pauline Walters for her role in chairing the Heath Allotment Trust and her report follows. His report on the Memorial Hall is given below but it is pleasing to record that it continues to be well supported despite stiff competition from more modern facilities, not least of which is the Sports & Social Club, which continues to go from strength to strength and is very much a focal point within the village. Ray Jelf continues to progress with OCC various aspects regarding the lease of the Norman Matthews Hall, which is now being fully utilised by the Church and the Library. Whilst some progress has been made with Affordable Housing this is extremely slow and seems hampered at every turn by ever stringent requirements. Finally Cllr Walsham thanked everyone for attending this evening.
4. Report by Chairman of the Memorial Hall Trust: Cllr Walsham reported that the Hall has been successfully used during the past year with a 20% increase in revenue from both regular users as well as occasional usage for events such as children’s parties. The Hall is now used most days by regular weekly user groups such as the two Brownies packs, Guides, Art classes, Ladies Badminton, Pilates and Karate, with other regular hirers being the Film Society, the Market and the Garden Club. Hooky Players had a successful summer play as well as the usual brilliant Pantomime. Cllr Walsham thanked the Clerk for his excellent handling of the Hall diary and for maintaining the high usage. Bi-monthly meetings of the Working group have continued and included an invitation to all regular users to attend in March. An action list has been created to track jobs which need to be done and ensure they are fixed. The major job in the past year has been repairing and resealing the floor, which was completed in October/November, with new white lines laid down for the badminton court. A 50% grant for this work was received from CDC towards the overall cost. Problems have occurred with water leaks into the new kitchen partly due to the new extension and deterioration of the main hall roof. Two repairs have been completed and we now hope the problem is fixed. Many other items of repair have been carried out with further plans for redecoration etc. being discussed. In September our cleaner Gill decided she could no longer continue and Cllr Walsham thanked her for all her efforts. We now have a new cleaner for the Hall, Maggie White, and she is doing an excellent job. Finally Cllr Walsham thanked all members of the working group for their excellent support and all the user groups for their continued use of the Hall which maintains its financial viability. Cllr Stubbs thanked Cllr Walsham for his report.
5. Report by the Chairman of the Heath Allotment Trust: Pauline Walters, chair of the Trust, reported that the trustees now comprise herself, Ray Gasson, Clive Timms , Nigel Shields and Ray Jelf. Following the resignation of Brian Clay, his place as Secretary has been filled by Ray Jelf who, along with Clive Timms, act as signatories. During the year a donation of £1000 had been given to HN Church of England School with £500 to Chipping Norton School for the benefit of pupils who might not otherwise be able to participate fully in school activities. A further £500 is to be held in reserve for Home-Start Banbury and Chipping Norton should any families within the village be supported by the charity. As the bank balance is growing it was decided to make a donation of up to £1000 to the Hook Norton library through the Friends of the Library, subject to sight of an estimate for items to improve accessibility and utilisation of existing space. This it is hoped will increase use of the library among non-traditional members. The Chipping Norton School meeting to allocate funds to pupils was attended by the Secretary and a letter is being sent to the school to seek assurance that all funds allocated by the charity are allocated directly to needy pupils. As previously reported one tenant is paying the increased half-yearly rent and action is being taken to ensure that both adopt the new rate. At the end of the year the Trust owns land valued at £45000 and the balance at the Bank is £3683.36 [excluding money for the library and the provision for Home-Start]. Cllr Jelf informed the meeting that in 2001 Anne Evans had been appointed by the Parish Council to be Hook Norton’s representative on the Chipping Norton School Trust Fund, a position she still holds. Cllr Stubbs asked, as a patron of Home-Start, whether there have been any families in Hook Norton supported by the Charity and Mrs Walters responded that there had been last year but none so far this year.
6. Report by County Council Representative: Cllr Jelf commented that this was something of an end of term report as it is almost four years since the current administration was formed after thirty years of no overall control. Whilst this led to a considerable upheaval they were able to take their officers with them which in turn has led to a number of significant improvements. Achievements include a much needed reduction in the rate of increase of council tax, which it is intended to improve further in the next administration. Transformation in the way the Council operates has led to a highly efficient business that has delivered substantial savings and freed up more cash for front line services. This year the Council has been awarded four stars [the top score] for Use of Resources by the Audit Commission. Albeit slowly we are seeing an improvement in school results, although more needs to be done, and funding of youth work has substantially increased both in capital and revenue terms. On a local level it has been a privilege to help both individuals and PCs in matters of concern regarding county issues.
7. Report by the District Council Representative: in the absence of Cllr Irvine the clerk read her report. All councils in the country are graded and in 2004 CDC was assessed as Good but now has gone one better having achieved 54 out of a possible 60 points and achieving an Excellent assessment. This highlighted that the Council’s strategic and community leadership is strong and that it is highly effective in delivering wider community outcomes and has an excellent record in achieving what it sets out to do with its partners. Financial management is strong with a robust approach in achieving value for money and there is a culture of performance management and a focus on customers throughout the council. As our District Councillor Mrs Irvine has promised not to be complacent as there is more to do and always areas that can be improved and parishioners should always feel free to contact her. CDC has kept its promise to keep council tax rises below inflation and maintain front line services within a balanced budget and it has done this through efficiency savings of around £2 million without having to use reserves. While the Recession has resulted in a slow down of income, coupled with an increase in homelessness and the amount of benefits being paid, the 2.9% increase is below the Consumer Price Index of 3% and below the forecast average council tax increase across the country. The Council has seventeen promises for 2009-10 which include making it easier for local businesses to trade with them, placing 10 new “Link Points” in rural areas to provide residents with a greater choice of access to the Council’s services, reducing vehicle emissions by 10%, improving environmental cleanliness, increasing household recycling to 50%, helping reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, contributing to the creation of 200 new jobs and delivering 100 affordable homes.
8. Questions from the Public: Christopher Barry expressed interest in the 200 new jobs which CDC is promising to help create and he wondered where these are likely to be. The Clerk will pass the enquiry on to District Cllr Irvine and let Mr Barry know in due course.
9. Closure of the Meeting: There being no further business the Chairman formally closed the Annual Parish Meeting at 7.30pm.
[Chairman] 8 April 2010