The Parish Council holds it's Annual Parish Meeting each May. At the Annual Parish Meeting the Chairman delivers his Annual Report and Clubs and Societies are welcomed to give reports of their activities over the discuss any issues of concern to them.
The minutes below are in draft form for approval at the next Annual Parish Meeting
Little Gaddesden Parish Council
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
HELD IN THE MAIN HALL OF THE VILLAGE HALL
on MONDAY 16th MAY 2016
PRESENT: Cllrs. Archer (Chairman), Heaphy, Hyde, Irving (Vice Chairman), Kelly, Kutluoglu and Townsend. Also in attendance, Alastair Greene (Clerk), District Councillor Terry Douris, and thirty members of the public.
1. WELCOME – Cllr. Archer welcomed the public to the meeting and acted as Chair of the Annual Parish Meeting.
The minutes of the Annual Meeting dated 18th May 2015 were approved as drafted.
3. ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
Good evening and welcome to the Annual Meeting of the electorate of the village. You have the agenda in front of you and the purpose of this meeting is for the Council to report on its activities for the past year, for any village groups who wish to, to report on their activities, and for issues of particular local interest to be considered.
Our County Councillor, David Lloyd, will be joining us. He has been unable to come at the start but he will report on his area of work both as County Councillor and Police Commissioner recently re-elected and the ways in which this relates to our affairs as a village. He will of course be willing to take questions.
This year past has been marked by some important housekeeping and governance matters which while they might not seem terribly exciting, are actually matters which your Council regard as important as your representatives and stewards of the Parish Council’s assets. We were successful in concluding negotiations with Hertfordshire County Council regarding the purchase of the freehold of the Green, which has always been regarded as a particularly important amenity. We now benefit from a 125 year lease and were able to negotiate the flexibility for future tree planting without recourse to the County Council. Of course we still are responsible for maintaining the trees. I want to pay tribute to Councillor Lyn Hyde for her tireless work in keeping the trees surveys updated and liaising with parishioners on matters flora and fauna. Whilst on the subject of the Green, the Council has started to review the Byelaws, more with a view to modernising some of the terms rather than making any revisions. Residents whose properties adjoin the Green were written to in February of this year.
In terms of other land issues, new leases were signed with the Sports Club, the Village Produce Association and with the Bowls and Croquet Club. A draft lease is under discussion with the Drama Club and once this is completed, we will have regularised the use of all village land assets, to the benefit of the Council and the respective tenants.
We continue to liaise regularly with the National Trust regarding matters of concern and I am most grateful to Councillor Rachel Heaphy for her work in this area. We held a useful meeting with Ashridge Management College during the year under review and agreed to invest more time in developing our relationship, not least because of the changes at Ashridge following its new association with Hult International Business School.
Your Parish Council welcomed Councillor Terry Douris to our May meeting. A regular attender at our meetings, Terry is our link to Dacorum and, as such, provides insight, advice and help regarding planning and a number of other important services.
The safety of the Fourways Junction is still of concern despite Dacorum vegetation clearance work in the area having taken place as a result of liaison with Central Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council. Terry has advised that the A4146 will be detrunked and renamed the B440 when the A5 Bypass link to the MI is completed. It is hoped this will result in a reduction in heavy traffic.
In August, as a result of a casual vacancy, we also welcomed a new Councillor – Paul Kelly to our team – thank you to him for his work on planning and playgrounds!
Work regarding the cutting back of the tree line opposite the Post Office has taken place although the present situation is far from satisfactory. Authorisation for the work resulted from Parish Council consultations regarding the road safety of the area and following comments from a local farmer and a bus company about tree growth encroaching on and narrowing of the road and damaging vehicles. It’s a poor excuse, but the wet winter weather has not helped! The present situation is that we await results of possible funding for kerbing. In the short term the area will be rye grass and poppy seeded to improve the appearance.
We took advantage of the ‘Clean for the Queen’ initiative and were encouraged that many clubs and societies and individual villagers participated in this. Thank you to all of those that took part and helped – your efforts are greatly appreciated and we urge you all to continue to litter pick in the village to maintain our very high standards. Sunnyside Rural Trust are our official ‘wardens’ in the village – they are employed by your Council to keep the village tidy on your behalf and we think they do a good job.
On the planning front, your Parish Council continues to be vigilant. All planning applications are seen by a majority of Councillors and the Clerk collates the views and ensures that we make appropriate representations to Dacorum. I mentioned the Valley View application in last year’s report and it is clearly disappointing that the Secretary of State has so far decided, for whatever reason, not to make a final decision. We have no news on this.
The increasing number of applications for demolition of houses and their replacement with new builds is exercising the Council, particularly where these occur within the Conservation Area. A number of Councillors recently met with James Doe, the Head of Planning at Dacorum Borough Council and gained some valuable insights into how best the Parish Council can exercise its powers. Ultimately, however, these are somewhat limited with the ultimate decision resting with democratically elected Councillors on the planning committee. Members of the village and other groups are of course free to make their own representations, and often do.
Regarding finance, your Council sought the same level of funding for 2016/17 as we received for 2015/16 the year under review. There is therefore no increase in the precept and this has been agreed by Dacorum Borough Council. Furthermore, we were successful in obtaining a grant of £2,500 from County Councillor David Lloyds Locality Budget and £980 from the Parish Paths Partnership scheme, also from Herts County Council. As far as our reserves are concerned, we plan, as before, to have about half of the year’s average spend in reserve to cover emergencies. Our spend last year was £40,000, half of that is £20,000 but actually we had £30,000 in reserve at 31 March. You will hear more shortly about YOUR ideas on how we might spend some of this.
We continue to be grateful to the work of Councillor Irving regarding our communications. We issued two newsletters during the year and also contributed quarterly pieces for the Gaddesden Diary. The Parish Council pages on the Gaddesden Society website have also been improved during the year with the Clerk uploading news items and pictures of interest on a regular basis.
Good news for Little Gaddesden regarding Superfast Broadband. The village has started to receive Broadband from at least one of its cabinets. We understand that plans have been accelerated and you will have seen BT vans working through the night to install fibre into all the village cabinets. We were told the entire village might expect Superfast Broadband coverage by the end of the year but it is looking hopeful that it might be even sooner.
Although as I have said, this year has been one of housekeeping and consolidation, one aspect of our work which we do take very seriously is how we engage with the village community in general and parishioners in particular. Many parishioners are more than happy to leave us to get on with our work, seeing it as the role of their elected representatives and, of course, we are very happy to do this. Others are keen to engage on particular areas of interest and concern and we want to make sure we are receptive to these matters. It was with this in mind that we decided to undertake a second village survey which Councillor Rob Irving is going to present and lead a discussion on shortly. We really do want to know what you think we should be focusing on and, where we are able to unlock resources, what we should be investing in for the good of the village.
Most importantly, a big thank you to all Councillors for the many hours they give on a voluntary basis to the village and for all the work they have done through the past year. Amongst many other things, Jim Townsend has worked tirelessly on improving footpaths and, along with George Godar, has undertaken a sign cleaning and hedge trimming programme as well as offering his experience and advice on property matters. Omer continues to remain our important link with the increasingly popular sports facilities in the village and to challenge us with his independent thinking.
Of course none of this would be possible without the constant vigilance and attention from our Clerk, Alastair Greene, working well in excess of the hours he is contracted and investing a lot of his personal time in harmonising good village relations!
Louise Archer – Chairman of the Parish Council
4. REPORT FROM THE TRUSTEES OF THE LITTLE GADDESDEN CHARITIES
The Clerk read out the report:
The aim of the Charity, as defined in the Charity Commissioners’ ”Scheme” which regulates its activities, is to “Relieve either generally or individually, persons resident in the Parish of Little Gaddesden who are in need, hardship or distress, by making grants of money or providing or paying for items, services or facilities calculated to redress the need, hardship or distress of such persons”.
The Trustees during 2015 were:-
The Team Vicar of Little Gaddesden Church, Reverend John Russell, (Chairman)
Mrs Jane Murray (appointed 19th November 2015)
Mrs. Louise Archer as representative of the Parish Council,
Mrs. Mary Lishman (Chairman until July 2015)
Mr. Michael Thompson nominated by Ashridge College.
Mrs. Pat Catchpole acted as Secretary and Treasurer.
The Accounts were examined by Hillier Hopkins, Chartered Accountants of Watford. The expenditure for the year was £2,150.
The strictest confidentiality is observed in the handling of requests for assistance and details about cases are never made public in any form. Any of the Trustees, however will be glad to answer questions of a general nature on how the charity operates.
Pat Catchpole – Secretary and Treasurer
5. CONSIDERATION OF WRITTEN RESOLUTIONS OF WHICH NOTICE HAS BEEN GIVEN
No notice of any written resolutions had been given.
Barbara Sheard asked about the origin and funding of the meeting. The Chair answered in part at the
Meeting and followed up with further detail after the meeting.
On 27th June 1997 the former Turney Trust and Lady Caroline and Other Charities merged to form The Little Gaddesden Charities. The settlor of the former Turney Trust was Mrs Gladys Mary Turney, Deceased. The trust was created in her will dated 20th May 1981. The Lady Caroline and Other Charities were set up under a number of legacies, made over recent centuries. Both of the charities had an objective of aiding the poor of Little Gaddesden and certain surrounding areas. If you would like to see a copy of the latest set of accounts, please contact the Treasurer and secretary of the charity: Pat Catchpole.
The business of the Annual Parish Meeting concluded at 8.05 pm.