Branston & Mere Parish Council Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held at Branston Hall Hotel, Lincoln Road, Branston on Monday 16th April 2012 at 7 pm. Chairman: Cllr R Cucksey Clerk: Mrs S Stead Members of the Council: 11 Members of the Public & guests: 42 Item 1 Welcome The Chairman welcomed everyone to Branston Hall. He thanked the hotel management for allowing the meeting to again be held at the hotel. Item 2 Guest Speaker – Nina Camm – NKDC Environment Manager. Nina introduced herself with a brief resume of her 28 year career in waste; recalling the early days when a trailer with a basket was towed behind the dustcart to collect waste paper; suggesting that the recycling idea had gone full circle. The Wheelie bin had been introduced in 1989 and had been a revolutionary idea. She invited a discussion on the new service calendar and weekly collections before giving some behind the scenes information on fly tipping, street cleansing, emergency planning and the hosepipe ban. Waste from the brown bin, which had previously been sent to Caythorpe was now taken to Swinderby, to be recycled as compost, which had saved time and fuel. She commended Branston for taking a pride in the village and the Council for taking the issue of litter and dog mess seriously. Item 3 Guest Speaker – Students from Branston Academy – Fair Trade. Matthew and Luke gave an update on their aim to make Branston a Fair Trade village. They said that the Parish Council had given their support by passing a resolution to use Fair Trade products whenever possible (including the wine served this evening). The Church, Junior School and Community Academy had also signed up to the idea and other organisations were being approached. They said that they had already achieved two of their goals which would lead to Branston being recognised on an international scale. People were asked to support the charity and buy Fair Trade goods whenever possible. Item 4 Guest Speaker – Stephen Hyde – LIVES. Stephen gave some background to the LIVES group which had been formed by two doctors in 1975 after a serious road accident. The intention had been to get local people with medical knowledge to incidents quickly and had at first been confined to doctors and then paramedics. The First Responder scheme had started in 1999. 205 lives had been saved by the intervention of responders in 2011 and patients were three times more likely to survive with responders arriving within five minutes of the call. It was considered important that Branston should have a team of responders. The Chairman presented the group with a cheque for £500. Item 5 Guest Speaker – PC Wayne Pilkington – Beat Manager. PC Pilkington introduced the three PCSOs who patrolled the area and updated the non-emergency number as 101. He warned residents to be aware of the recent spate of burglaries which seemed to target bungalows without alarms between 4 – 10pm. Several UPVC windows had been removed from properties and jewellery and small items stolen. PC Pilkington explained that the recent financial constraints meant that fewer beat patrols would be possible. A resident requested more speed checks in the village and was disappointed that officers had to be conspicuous by law. Notes from the Annual Parish Meeting held on 18th April 2011, to be approved as the Minutes. Acceptance of the notes was proposed by Malcolm Ross and seconded by Linda Price. There were no matters arising. Item 6 Item 7 Chairman’s Annual Report. It gives me great pleasure once again to present my report to the parish, outlining some of the activities that your Parish Council has been involved in. The past year has seen your Parish Council continue its good work overseeing ongoing projects and putting forward constructive observations and views. Elections for the Parish Council are held every four years and the current term started last May, when twelve current and one new councillor were elected. Cllr Hill, elected last May, unfortunately resigned his seat due to ill health. Following no request for a further election, the casual vacancy was filled through cooption; Andy Marchant was welcomed by members and they look forward to his contribution. As part of the statutory requirements of the Parish Council, the Chairman has to report to the community (as its electorate) on what has been achieved throughout the preceding year. Tonight is not a meeting of the Parish Council but a meeting of the community with the Parish Council; to provide the community with an open and public opportunity to ask questions and find out what the Council has been doing. As I looked back at the activities of the past year with a view to compiling this report, I was struck by the similarity of what goes on year after year. Those of you who have heard previous reports will perhaps wonder if anything changes in the Parish from one year to the next. This year however there is a significant difference. Following many years of discussion and preparation, the project for an Astro Court was finally achieved, following financial support from WREN and Branston Ltd. The multi-sport facility was formally opened in November 2011 and is achieving substantial success with bookings. Each year in December, the Parish Council prepares a budget for the next financial year. No one likes having to pay for services but without the Parish Precept there are many things that could not happen here in Branston. The Parish Council receives no subsidy at all from the government and the Council ensures that money raised from your pocket is spent in the best way possible within the Parish. Following much consideration, it was agreed to increase the precept from £77,785 to £83,270, an increase of 7% following a decrease in last year’s Precept of 2.77%. This still offers excellent value for money and remains below our immediate neighbours. Once again, the Council thanked the History & Mosaic Group for providing a splendid display of their talents with the magnificent mosaic on the wall of the Co-op. Following a successful bid for funding from the Co-op’s birthday awards, their work continued with the replacement of the roof structure to the spring in Rectory Lane, the restoration of the public pump on Lincoln Road and work to the waterwheel. Their commitment to the community is applauded and we thank them for their continued efforts. Whilst paying tribute to the work of the History Group, may I also pay tribute to a long serving member of our community; Hilary Hawkyard. Hilary sadly died on 31st March following a long illness that she fought so valiantly. Hilary was an ardent worker for her community in so many ways; to name just a few, as a member of this Council, including a time as Chairman; as a governor of the infant school and more recently as Chairman of the History Group. Our condolences go to her family at this sad time. In response to the request through the Parish Plan for additional bus shelters within the village and following consultation with residents, it was agreed to reinstate the shelter on Station Road. I don’t normally bring to the attention of this meeting the valued work of the Village Hall Management Committee but, putting aside that I am the Chairman; I believe it is important to acknowledge the tremendous work they have achieved with an extensive programme of refurbishment. The results are magnificent and we should be justly proud of this first class venue within our community. The District Council approached the Council for a suitable name for their new development in the village. Following some research, it was formally named Cooper Close, in honour of a local hero and WWII pilot, Flying Officer William (Bill) Cooper, who resided in the village at the time of his tragic death. The Council has decided to carry out restoration to the Church clock, given to the village in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It is fitting that we should be conducting the work in the same year that we celebrate her great granddaughter’s Diamond Jubilee. While the clock is being restored, the winding mechanism will be electrified thus preventing the need to wind the clock manually each week. It is hoped that this will be completed in time for the Jubilee celebrations on 2 June. With the publication of the Localism Bill in December, which aims to shift power from central government into the hands of individuals, communities and councils, your Council is currently considering the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan and is anxious to form a spirited response. The Bill provides greater recognition of the role of local parish councils, along with a range of new powers. Your Council continues to meet with our three neighbouring parishes, which form the Four Parish Cluster Group, meeting representatives from Canwick, Heighington and Washingborough to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the employment of a Dog Warden, where each parish has been able to buy into a wider contract at lower individual cost and illustrates that we can work together to our mutual advantage. We once again missed out on winning the Best Kept Village Competition. In the two rounds we achieved 96 out of 120 and 118 out of 130. Credit was given to private gardens, public areas and a general lack of litter. Unfortunately, some areas were beyond our control and not considered up to standard and we lost out to Woodhall Spa, Welton and Thurlby. My thanks and appreciation goes to the support given during the year by my fellow councillors for their time and devotion to the community. My sincere thanks go also to the work of our County and District councillors, Marianne Overton and Joyce Frost. And whilst thanking people, it would be remiss of me not to mention the splendid work of our handyman, Bob Williamson, who keeps our parish neat and tidy. Bob has, for a number of months, been on long term sick following an operation and we wish him well. During that time, we have appreciated the work done by Rick Wilkinson, who was appointed to fill the post on a temporary basis. My sincere thanks and appreciation go to our Proper Officer, more commonly known as the Parish Clerk, Sarah Stead. Over the past seven years as your Chairman, Sarah has always been around when needed, which has made my role much easier. She endeavours to keep us on the straight and narrow and indeed sometimes actually achieves that! She works far beyond the call of duty in so many ways and I thank her personally for her dedication and commitment. The next few years are going to be a challenging experience for all local councils due to budget cuts. Rest assured that your Parish Council will continue to strive to do what it believes is in the best interests of the community, within the confines of its financial resources. Finally may I remind everyone that the Council welcomes members of the public at the monthly meetings. It is important that we are kept aware of issues that affect the parish of Branston & Mere and I would encourage you to participate when you can. Please note that regular updates are published on the Council’s website. I wish the Council well over the coming year. It has been a pleasure to present this report and I conclude by commending it to the meeting. Item 8 Public Forum – Your chance to ask a question. A resident thanked the Council for their part in the school safety zone on Beech Road. It was thought that it had improved safety in the area at school times. Rev Johnnie Parkin asked for volunteers to come forward to support the Youth Club. A resident suggested that the small amount given to the Parish Council through the precept was good value and asked, if they had a greater share, what they would spend it on. The pavements in certain areas of the village were considered to be in a poor state of repair. The Chairman explained that it was the responsibility of LCC Highways who were also struggling with budget cuts. The meeting closed at 8.50pm.