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Clerk’s Column March 2006

Teeth. We can all think of some silly questions about odd place-names (such as “Who was Little Ann?”), but the answers usually lie in the remote past; not always, however, as the one-time residents of Lower Clatford are aware. Another not-so-old name is in a remote Yorkshire village where you will find yourself crossing False Tooth Bridge, which had an unfortunate builder’s set of dentures embedded in the concrete. When the bridge was recently widened, villagers were distressed to find that the bridge was toothless and asked their ever-resourceful Parish Council to intervene. As always, who-you-know is at least as important as what-you-know, and the Council contacted a local dentist, who donated a new set and ensured a perfect fit.

More Teeth. Local authorities are acquiring more legal teeth, especially in dealing with anti-social activities. Fly-tipping covers anything from a barrow-load of garden rubbish to a lorry-load of nuclear waste; a little-known change in the law means that anyone caught dumping the wrong stuff in the wrong place faces an astonishing £50,000 fine or five years in the cooler. A recent outbreak of graffiti around Marchwood ended with four boys charged with criminal damage and having to pay £6,500 in compensation towards a total bill for repairs of £12,000. Now Test Valley fields a team of eagle-eyed officials who patrol the towns and the villages to enforce the anti-litter laws, including those covering dog-offences, with fines of up to £2,500.

Grave Matters. If anyone is wondering why the modern memorial stones in the Parish Burial Ground are subject to a height restriction, they may find their answer in a report to Parliament by Ann McGuire, Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whose brief seems to stretch to what happens after that; those MPs who were both present and awake heard that there had been 21 serious accidents in graveyards in the last six years. The safety of a memorial is strictly the responsibility of the owner, but there are obvious difficulties of communication, which usually means that the task of maintenance, if not the memorial itself, falls on the owner of the cemetery.

Housing. HCC and PUSH have published their recommendations about future housing plans. We will have to wait and see how much notice is taken by SEERA, ODPM or DEFRA, but at first sight it does not look as if Test Valley will be concreted over, at least until after 2012. Meanwhile the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire will soon have to decide where Southampton ends and Portsmouth begins. And did you know that RA in DEFRA stands for Regional Affairs? So there is some confusion over where John Prescott ends.

Take Heart. A Hampshire publication contains the encouraging news, based on a survey of our neighbours in the Hart district, that North Hampshire residents live longer than anyone else in the UK, averaging five years more than the good people of Manchester.

Annual Parish Assembly. At the time when the date for the parish Assembly was discussed, the Parish Council was not aware of a clash with the Concert in St. Mary’s Church that had been arranged, but not publicised, by the late Jill Jones, who will be sadly missed. The Assembly will now be held in the War Memorial Hall on April 21st; this provides an important opportunity to meet and hear from your representatives on the Parish Council and other village organisations, together with the County and Borough Councillors, as well as offering them the chance to hear from you. Liquid refreshment will be provided, too. Please go back to your diaries and mark the new date.

PARISH COUNCIL MEETING: 2nd MARCH 2006

The Chairman welcomed four members of the public as well as our two Borough Councillors, Arthur Peters and Andrew Dunnett.

Local Plan Review. Following the discussion of the Local Plan Review at the last meeting, Prof. Gibson reported on amendments suggested by himself and Ray Lucas for Abbotts Ann Action, who considered that the wording of the descriptive paragraphs was unsatisfactory, quite apart from the fact that the Pill Hill Brook was wrongly spelt and the Northern boundary incorrectly defined. It is hoped that their suggestions will be incorporated in the final report; Prof. Gibson and Mr. Lucas are well-known for their optimism.

Planning. Of the nine applications scrutinised, three were debated in particular detail:

23 Red Rice Road (TVNo 06/00536/FULLN and 06/00538/LBWN). New proposals for an extension had been submitted, but the Council resolved to object again, finding no compelling reason to revise the view previously expressed, that the extension would have a negative effect on the neighbouring properties.

20, Cattle Lane (TVNo 06/00383/FULLN). It was proposed to demolish the existing bungalow and build a substantial dwelling on the site. After discussion, with contributions from the applicants and their representatives, it was resolved to register an objection on a number of grounds, including the fact that the design was out of character with its surroundings; it was a 2-storey building contrary to established policy for the Cattle Lane area; because of its size and scale it could not be described as a replacement of the existing bungalow; the proposal was not consistent with the principles of the Village Design Statement. So it was considered to be an admirable design, but for somewhere else. The visitors departed with thoughtful expressions.

24, Cattle Lane (TVNo 06/00607FULLN). The main drift of the discussion here was on the question “When is a Conservatory not a Conservatory?” which had little to do with conserving anything or indeed with the Conservation Area. Though the extension proposed had walls almost entirely of glass, the roof was tiled. However, it looked like a Good Idea whatever it was called, so it was thought unnecessary to quibble about calling it a sun-room and no objection was registered.

TVBC Planning. Cllr Peters reported on a Planning Committee meeting, attended by himself and the Chairman in connection with the proposed new dwelling at 85 Little Ann, in which the Planning Officers had been forcefully reminded of the importance of applying the principles of wildlife conservation to consideration of applications; a valuable contribution had come in a written statement from Dr John Moon (representing the Hampshire Wildlife Trust) in which the welfare of the resident water-voles was emphasised. As a result the Planning Committee deferred their decision.

Clerk’s Report. The Clerk had attended a seminar run by the Hampshire Association of Town and Parish Councils, which is worth its weight in gold, about new grants from the Lottery Fund. Many of their schemes are “community” orientated, and range in size from £500 to £50,000. They are very keen on “outcomes”, and applicants need to think hard about long-term or (that ever more familiar buzz-word) sustainable benefits. Therefore, if anyone has a bright idea which would benefit the Parish but would need some funding, don’t be shy of making suggestions; if Councillors think they are crazy, they will be gentle, so get in touch with the Chairman or the Clerk, because there could well be a chance of getting quite a lot from Camelot.

Correspondence

Hampshire Highways had no record of the reason why the footpath on Red Rice Road stops short of St. John’s Cross; its completion will be included in their projects for consideration (to use their favourite expression) in due course.

“Clatford Road” continues to appear in TVBC documents, but the Clerk has received an acknowledgement that its use in referring to Little Ann could be considered “inappropriate”. It seems to have something to do with changes to the corporate database, which have thrown up some other unspecified anomalies. The Borough’s GIS Team (don’t ask me) is looking into it.

Emergency Planning. A very large document, produced by a very tall ex-police Superintendent, has arrived, containing a great number of things to think about if we are to be prepared for dire emergencies, such as flood, fire, loss of power, water or telephone, loss of road access, severe weather and other nameless horrors (so far no mention of Bird Flu or politically motivated explosions). Mr. Sims and the Clerk were about to attend separate meetings at which these topics were to be discussed, and so would be in a better position to make Councillors’ flesh creep at the next meeting.

Test Valley Arts Foundation. This organisation is offering awards to artists and musicians of all ages. Their website is www.communigate.co.uk/hants/tvaf.

Finance

Dog Bin. The Council was a little surprised that TVBC charges £128 a year for emptying and servicing the Dog Bin on the Sports Field, but authorised the payment to be made and the service to be continued.

Other Business

Archives. The Clerk reported that there had been no response to the request in the February Newsletter for historic photographs for the website though he had received some unconnected emails and phone calls. There seemed to be a case for establishing a central organisation for co-ordinating the collection of archival material and for ensuring that the memories of residents are recorded for posterity. He asked that Councillors should give thought to this matter and to bring ideas to the next meeting.

Jubilee Oak It had been noticed that drivers approaching the Jubilee Oak from the Cattle Lane direction could not see the “Keep Left” sign, because it was orientated towards the Village Shop. There was therefore a danger that they would pass on the wrong side of the tree if they were turning right up West Hill/Monxton Road. This has been pointed out to Hampshire Highways, who, we are assured, are not itching to install a mini-roundabout.

On-road parking by builders. The Chairman had received apologies from Millway Builders for the obstruction of the Little Ann roadway by their vehicles. They had hoped to be able to use the Poplar Farm car-park, but this had been ruled out on safety grounds. The current contract was close to completion.

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

Future Meetings

The next Parish Council Meeting will be held on Thursday 6th April at 7 p.m. in the Jubilee Room of the War Memorial Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Annual Parish Assembly will be held on Friday 21st April at 7 p.m in the War Memorial Hall. Liquid refreshments will be provided, and it is promised that the proceedings will be of interest and relevance and will not go on for ever. Please come to listen and be listened to.

Adrian Stokes, Clerk to the Parish Council

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