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Clerk’s Column April 2006

Litter and other nuisances. The Clean Up Test Valley Campaign has sent us some fliers and sticky posters with which to decorate the village, warning that Enforcement Officers are on patrol with powers to obtain fines of up to £2,500. The CUTVC spokesperson* at Beech Hurst, gave assurances that Test Valley’s own Officers would be patrolling our village from time to time. To put the problem in perspective, she mentioned, in passing, that her loyal workforce had assisted the local Parish Council in removing 2 tonnes of waste from Lockerley, while the annual clean-up at Anton Lakes had yielded 6 tonnes.

From the same department, Mr. Rod Mason introduced himself as Chief Dog Warden, and sent details, under the witty heading of Taking the Lead, of someone’s (surely not Mr. Prescott’s) latest Bright Idea; this is a “Traffic-light” system of notices for the disciplining of dog-walkers, as follows:

  • Green Paw Dogs can be exercised off-lead
  • Amber Paw Dogs can be exercised if kept on a lead
  • Red Paw No Dogs Allowed

Fortunately there is no statutory obligation to display these commandments.
Also enclosed was publicity for an organisation for dealing with stray dogs entitled – wait for it – Lost Paws.
Roadside litter seems to have been involved in a who-does-what tangle, the only clear part of which is that it is not the Parish Council’s responsibility; however, this Council has been backing up residents in pressing the Borough to deal with the problem, particularly of bits of plastic festooning hedgerows and verges.

Recycling. We are daily threatened with the implementation of the Borough’s new ABC – Alternate (or is it Alternative?) Bin Collection policy. If you are puzzled by the re-cycling logos printed on packaging, you are not alone; however help is at hand in the form of a comprehensive, and, one hopes, comprehensible, English translation on the TVBC website.

Bird Flu. Defra has issued guide-lines, which have to be taken seriously. If you find one or more dead swans, ducks or geese, more than 3 dead birds of the same species, or more than 5 birds of different species, do not move them, but contact the Defra Helpline (08459 33 55 77). It would be helpful if you would then inform the Chairman and/or Clerk of the Parish Council.

Speeding. It is now possible to hire a radar gun to check on speeding drivers; one enterprising Parish Council Chairman is reported to have caught 17 speeders in a 2-hour session. He found it more rewarding than fishing in the local stream.
Roads and Footpaths. “Clatford Road”. TVBC has now put the blame for this previously unknown address on the Ordnance Survey, on whose maps it has started to appear. Because of this the Borough claims that it is irrevocably embedded in their database. The Clerk was unable to minute the short Anglo- Saxon comment passed by a computer-literate Councillor on this claim. However, there is no need to use the address for postal purposes.
Some of you may have noticed strange markings on the surface of Church Path. These are not random graffiti, but messages from the Highway Authority, and signify that repairs will, in due course, be carried out.

Signs and Wonders. Our road signs seem to be jinxed. It was ironical that the “Unsuitable for Long Vehicles” sign by the Jubilee Oak was demolished by a lost bus driver attempting a three-point turn , but two similar signs are in trouble – one on the Monxton Road, smashed by a BMW, while the other, by the Poplar Farm is, for some reason, at half-mast. Also the finger-post at the top of Green Lane has been chewed up by a hedge-cutter. Is there some connection, M. Poirot?

Conservation Area Appraisal. A sumptuous booklet has been produced by TVBC to take its place beside the Village Design Statement, as both a document of record and a reference guide in considering development plans. It contains excellent photographs and a largely accurate text, and should have a place in every home. Unfortunately, the Borough only provided a handful of free copies and invited us to call at Beech Hurst with a cheque for £15 per copy if we want any more, an offer which your Council received with scant enthusiasm.

Fourth Notice-Board. The positioning of the notice Board at the Village Shop has made the one by the Village School entrance redundant; it is proposed to move this to the bus shelter at Bulbery to reach a wider public. In due course.

PARISH COUNCIL MEETING 6TH APRIL 2006

Consideration of the above, and much more, gave your Councillors plenty to think about, including:

Planning

There had been applications for two substantial dwellings in the village, but both have now been withdrawn, as their impact in the neighbourhood, together with the nature and scale of their designs required further consultation.

20 Cattle Lane (TV No 06/00383/FULLN) was recorded in last month’s Newsletter. The application for extensions at Dingwall, Little Ann (TV No 06/00764/FULLN) was found to be incomplete, for instance showing no dimensions, and had attracted some vigorous reactions from neighbours. The Council appreciated the applicant’s contribution in reclaiming a near-derelict site, but could not comment on detail in the absence of a definitive application.

On TV No 06/00931/FULLN, conservatory at 1 Catherine’s walk, the Council had no objection in principle to the addition of a conservatory but registered an objection on the grounds that uPVC was an unsuitable material for the neighbourhood and for the house itself.

Emergencies

Councillors had copies of the Hampshire County Council’s document on planning for emergencies. There was, however, a need for more time to consider the issues, including the question whether we needed such a plan at all in view of the existing provision by HCC and TVBC, the need for a voluntary co-ordinator, and the assessment of possible risks in a village noted more for the occasional power-cut than for earthquakes, landslides, flooding or plague. So discussion was brief.
The procedure for reporting possible victims of bird flu was noted as a matter to be treated with the greatest seriousness.

Correspondence. The main issue arising from correspondence centred on Litter and other nuisances. Councillors were willing to display posters and fliers warning about Enforcement Officers and fines for everyday litter, but could not bring themselves to approve those offered by the Chief Dog Warden (promptly referred to as “Top Dog” in discussion, but more respectfully in the Minutes) on grounds of design (involving a cartoon canine) and an assertiveness which was considered unnecessary in a village containing a large, but overwhelmingly well-behaved, population of dogs and their owners.

An exchange of letters produced at the meeting clarified the issue of responsibility for rubbish-ridden roadsides, so we are now assured that surfaces, road-markings, signs and drains are Hampshire’s headache, while the Borough bears the burden of the verges. So now we know who to nag about the broken road-signs, the lake at St. John’s Cross, the invisible signs at the Jubilee Oak and the litter-strewn verges of the A343. And the Council lost no time in instructing the Clerk to get nagging.

Fly-tipping. As mentioned last month, fly-tipping covers dumping as little as a barrow-load of garden rubbish on someone else’s private or public land , which can incur substantial fines. A huge deposit of old clothes has appeared on the Red Rice Road beyond St. John’s Cross, another load of garden rubbish is disfiguring the Coach Road and more has been pitched over the fence along Church Path. It would be appreciated if those responsible would clear up these dumps, or at least refrain from a repeat performance.

Insurance. Correspondence with the Council’s insurers has made it clear that they only cover risks associated with the grounds and fixed equipment. This means that anyone organising an event on Council property, or bringing equipment in (a recent example was a bouncy castle), must arrange their own insurance.

Events. The Council is willing to give permission to event organisers for cars to be parked on the grass around the War Memorial Hall unless the weather is such that the ground would be damaged. Please note that the Sports Field, with its extensive hard-standing and pavilion, is also available for events, and could prove especially suitable when many cars are expected.

Finance. Not the most exciting topic, but it can be reported that the Council’s accounts show that a fair balance has been maintained throughout the financial year between Receipts and Payments, and these have corresponded satisfactorily with budget forecasts. The details of each month’s expenditure are recorded in the Minutes, so anyone who is really interested, or even just curious, can keep track of what the Council does with your money. Or, provided they do not suddenly think of it in the middle of the night, they can even ask the Clerk.

Minutes. Full Minutes are available in the Village Shop, on the Website and from the Clerk.

Next Meeting. The next meeting constitutes the Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council and will be held on Thursday 4th May 2006 at 7 p.m. in the Jubilee Room of the War Memorial Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Adrian Stokes, Clerk to the Parish Council

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