The parish council meeting last week was a bit of an odd one. Many of the principal characters weren’t present – Councillor Bartley, Borough Councillor Ovenden, and the Community Warden Richard Sinden. Of those who were, many were celebrating their last council meeting (Councillors Donovan, Jacobs, Macfee, and Mansfield).
These are my recollections of the main points:
- Councillor Shoults reported on the changes being made to the Neighbourhood Plan as a result of the public consultation. It was explained that the public meeting originally scheduled for April 14 had been postponed because of a diary clash with another village event. And he also said that the committee was not quite ready.
- The main headline from his report (NP NPG report to Council 16 4 15) is that there was a high response rate in the parish – some 700 people out of a population of 1,900 – 37.5% reflecting a common referendum response rate for other NPs. The demographic of response is a bit short on 20-39 year olds whilst the more elderly were more conscientious. This bodes well for getting a good referendum response. 88% were in favour generally of the Plan, with 8% don’t knows and 4% against.
- There is still a degree of confusion regarding the management of the Our Place project. Councillors noted, once again, the absence of any written report. There was also concern that invitations to the Our Place project management group meeting on April 28 had not gone out. It had been agreed that these should be sent out following a resources committee meeting on April 2nd, but there is now a concern that people and organisations are not being given sufficient notice for the meeting (which is still going ahead). I also had questions regarding the finances of the Our Place project.
- A decision was made to apply to Ashford Council for a burial ground extension (to take up about 50% of the currently unused land on the north side of the allotments). Apparently this will incorporate a commemorative garden.
- A decision was made to support Ground Force in their efforts to move a drinking trough from Imperial College land to the traffic island between Wye News and the Co-op. (Imperial have already granted permission.)
- Councillor Donovan asked whether a refund had been obtained from the company who had carried out a flawed ROSPA inspection of the village play equipment. He was told that this is still to be done.
- Neither the borough councillor nor the community warden sent in written reports.
- Councillors leaving the council made short discourses on the achievements (and otherwise) of the past four years. Mention was made of the Neighbourhood Plan, the MUGA, and the village caretaker. Councillor Donovan expressed exasperation that nothing had been done about parking. Thanks were expressed to Councillor Shoults for providing strong leadership at a time of considerable turmoil.
- Mention was made of the people who have put themselves forward to be councillors for the next term. Councillors Bartley, Bouverie, Ovenden and Shoults are staying on. New councillors will be Aidan and Lucy Gillespie, Bruce McKay and David Reece. While all names will be on the ballot paper, there will not be an election as such because insufficient candidates put themselves forward.