Hook Norton Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on
14th April 2011 in the Memorial Hall, Hook Norton at 7pm
Present: the meeting was attended by Councillors Timms [Chairman], Hayward, Jelf, Kane, Leader, Richardson and Stubbs, together with District Cllr Irvine, Mr Porter, the Parish Clerk, and two members of the public.
Apologies: were received from Cllrs Brotherston and Millar, Pauline Walters [Heath Allotment Trust] and Anne Evans [Chipping Norton School Trust]
1.Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Thursday 8th April 2010 were approved as a true record of the meeting.
2.Conduct of the Meeting: The Chairman welcomed everyone and informed those present that the meeting would be informal.
3.Report by Chairman of the Parish Council: Cllr Timms reported another busy year and, having completed eight years as Chairman he has decided to stand down to allow another councillor to take over in the new Parish year. Unfortunately during the Parish year we lost the services of Albert Walsham, who decided that he no longer had the time to devote to the role and the Chairman thanked him for his efforts both as Vice-Chairman and for heading the group responsible for the Memorial Hall. Since his resignation the PC has operated with only ten councillors and efforts will be made to restore a full complement early in the new Parish year. The Chairman thanked all of his fellow councillors for their contribution during the past year, particularly those who had headed up the working groups, and he also expressed thanks for their support to Marie Stubbs, the Planning Co-ordinator, District Cllr Irvine and Ray Jelf who doubles as both County and Parish Councillor. Cllr Timms recalled the wanton act of vandalism in the Play Area in Spring 2009, which had resulted in a serious injury to a child, and which in turn had led to Cllrs Emma Kane and Jonathan Leader setting up a working group to obtain funding to re-equip the Play Area by replacing damaged and tired equipment. Largely due to the efforts of Emma almost 100,000 was raised and the completely re-equipped Play Area has now re-opened to well-deserved praise from everyone in the village and the Chairman formally recorded the thanks of the PC to Emma for the tremendous amount of time and effort she had devoted to the project. Additionally further money is being spent in this area on general maintenance, particularly repairing and replacing the dry-stone walling. The Chairman also thanked the Clerk, Ken Porter, who continues to give invaluable advice and assistance with the ever increasing burden of bureaucracy and legislation besides producing excellent records of meetings. He also thanked Doug Marshall for his continued support in maintaining standards in the Recreation Area, along with his other environmental duties and Maggie White for maintaining high standards of cleanliness in the Memorial Hall. Additional thanks were expressed to Pauline Walters for her role in chairing the Heath Allotment Trust and Anne Evans, who represents the village on the Chipping Norton School Trust Fund, and their reports follow. Derek Brotherston, who chairs the working group responsible for the Memorial Hall, is on holiday but he has provided a report and it is pleasing to note that the Hall continues to be well supported within the village. Ray Jelf, supported by the Clerk, has finalised the transfer of the lease of the Norman Matthews Hall to the Church and it is pleasing to report that this being fully utilised by both the Church and the Library. Once again, however, he had to report that little progress has been made during the year on the Affordable Housing issue but pressure is being maintained in an attempt to obtain a positive resolution to our requirements. Finally the Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting.
Cllr Stubbs thanked the Cllr Timms for his many years service as Chairman of the PC.
4.Report by Chairman of the Memorial Hall Trust: in the absence of Cllr Brotherston the Clerk read his report. During the past twelve months, with a small exception, the Hall has largely continued to provide a good standard of accommodation for the many regular groups and occasional users. It is generally in a reasonable state and over the past twelve months minor repairs have ensured that its facilities continue to be available. Representatives of the Hook Norton Low Carbon group have visited to see if improvements can be made to improve insulation and general efficiency. Unfortunately the age and construction method does not lend itself to much in the way of a quick fix and major work would be required to make any significant improvement. This will remain under consideration but it is not felt to be appropriate at the present time. Unfortunately the hard winter did take its toll with a sequence of events which resulted in the heating pipes rupturing leading to the wooden floor, which had just been treated, being completely ruined by the leaking water. Fortunately our insurers responded very quickly and authorised a fully financed repair and the work was completed in time for the annual Hook Norton Pantomime to proceed as originally planned. At about the same time the Hall was broken into and a few small items were stolen. The Police did attend and, as one of the offenders cut himself in the process a DNA sample was obtained which might one day lead to the identification of those responsible. Repairs to the doors are still outstanding as is the challenge of keeping the floor slip free enough for the Badminton club. The repaired floor was treated with a non-slip coating but this does not seem effective and a more permanent solution is needed. The Hall now needs an individual to lead a team to take it forward to a full revamp to ensure that it remains a desirable facility for the future and Cllr Brotherston expressed the hope that somebody will take up the challenge in the coming year.
The Meeting thanked Cllr Brotherston for his report.
5.Report by the Chairman of the Heath Allotment Trust: in the absence of Pauline Walters, chair of the Trust, the Clerk read her report. The trustees now comprise herself, Ray Gasson, Clive Timms, Nigel Shields and Ray Jelf, who also acted as Secretary. During the past year the trustees worked to ensure that available funds continued to reach the poor and needy and it was decided not to keep any annual income in reserve, but to allocate all available. To this end the 500 kept in reserve to meet any appropriate claims from Home-Start Banbury and Chipping Norton was withdrawn. Home Start was asked to inform the trustees should any Hook Norton family be referred for support in the future. Two donations were agreed during the year, one of 750 to the Hook Norton Church of England Primary School and one of 750 to the Friends of Hook Norton Community Library, to help to continue availability and accessibility of books to the poor and needy, including those delivered individually to elderly villagers. From the previous donation of 750, the library is shortly to purchase a number of items, including books suitable for the elderly, some picture books for reading for those suffering from Alzheimers, sitting rings to encourage children to join events, and two comfortable chairs to be located in the Reading Room. The Library Manager is liaising with the Baptist minister to ensure that these resources are best used. One tenant of the charity land has been served notice of a review of rent during the autumn, to ensure that the income is kept to the most appropriate level. The five individual trustees remain in place, however Ray Jelf has recently had to resign as secretary and Nigel Shields has kindly agreed to take on this responsibility. A vote of thanks was given in respect of Ray Jelfs contribution as secretary over the last few years.
The meeting thanked Ms Walters for her report.
6.Report by County Council Representative: Cllr Jelf commented that some people believe we live in interesting times, although his belief is that it is a welcome adjustment. The re-organisation currently taking place should lead to a slimmed-down and efficient organisation more in keeping with the private sector. Staffing reductions begin at the very top and will result in more streamlined administration. While there are bound to be teething problems the end result should ultimately benefit the people of Oxfordshire. The new Highways contract is bearing fruit with overdue road repairs now progressing and the quality of the work is much improved. Cllr Jelf then apologised to everyone on behalf of county for the problems experienced as a result of a lack of grit during the very bad period of snow caused by the fact that the main contractors were unable to meet agreed commitments to supply Oxfordshire; he has been assured that this will not happen again. On a local level the main issue of concern is the threat to close Deddington library and considerable efforts are being made to find a solution albeit that this will probably have to involve local volunteers. Official consultation with the public will commence in May 2011 but fortunately HN library is not under threat. Cllr Jelf concluded by thanking all who had sent their good wishes during his recent illness.
The meeting thanked Cllr Jelf for his report.
7.Report by the District Council Representative: Cllr Irvine reported that council tax in the district has not been increased for the second consecutive year. There has been a 33% reduction in spending, amounting to 7.7m, in the past five years. During this financial year we will welcome a new Chief Executive, Sue Smith, who will start in May and the beginning of the recruitment of a shared Senior Management team with South Northamptonshire District Council. CDC has pledged to work with partners to reduce the number of youngsters not in education, employment or training; to deliver 100 affordable homes; to increase the household recycling rate to 60%; to maintain levels of satisfaction with street cleanliness; to reduce the councils carbon footprint; to work with partners to improve energy efficiency of homes; to continue to provide a wide range of recreational activities; to work with partners to maintain low levels of crime; to secure further savings of at least 1m to help meet the reduction in government funding; improve information on costs and expenditure; maintain high levels of satisfaction with its services and improve access to services by increasing online payment and appointment options.
The meeting thanked Cllr Irvine for her report.
8.Report on Chipping Norton School Trust Fund in the absence of Anne Evans the Clerk read her report. The Trustees have met once in the current academic year and one award was made to Chipping Norton Allstars, which is an outstanding school band which frequently performs in the Community and whose members include pupils from Hook Norton. No individual awards were made.
The meeting thanked Ms Evans for her report.
9. Questions from the Public: there were no questions on this occasion.
10.Closure of the Meeting: There being no further business the Chairman formally closed the Annual Parish Meeting at 7.20pm.