Minutes Annual Parish Meeting 2019

Annual Parish Meeting held at 7:00PM on Wednesday 8th May 2019 at Whittington Village Hall


Present: Susan MacLeod (Chair), Rob Adams (District and County Councillor), David Hunter-Miller (Parish Clerk), members of the public

1. Introduction and welcome
Susan MacLeod opened the meeting and welcomed residents.

2. Apologies for absence
Les Wiltshire sent apologies but forwarded a report on the Village Charities Accounts.
Gary Richards sent apologies but forwarded a report on Whittington C of E Primary School.
The Police sent apologies but forwarded an annual Police report.

3. To approve the minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 29th May 2018
It was resolved to adopt the minutes as a true record and these were signed by the Chair.

4. Matters arising from those minutes (if any)
No matters arising.

5. To invite a representative of Persimmon Homes to address the meeting
A representative from Persimmon Homes was unable to attend the meeting to give a report. The Clerk offered to contact Persimmon Homes with any questions or concerns raised.

It was confirmed that discussions were ongoing with Persimmon Homes and Wychavon District Council regarding footways/bridleways on the site that had deteriorated very quickly.

It was suggested that Persimmon Homes might consider sponsoring a parish noticeboard.

A member of the public requested an update on the road adoption of the Bloor Estate. The Parish Council confirmed that they were also keen to see resolved, but unfortunately the onus is on the developer to get the roads up to specification and adopted, and there is often little pressure that the Parish Council, through Worcestershire County Council, can apply. Rob Adams agreed to liaise with the County Council to try and expedite this.

6. To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council by the Chairman
Reading over last year’s report, which I started by saying …The Parish Council has had a few changes this year, I find I am going to repeat myself! Because once again, over the period of a year, we have had some councillors step down, but I am delighted to say we have welcomed several new faces to the Parish Council. Still here and positively wanting to make a difference are Steve Brooker, Dan Bayliss and myself, and we were pleased to have been joined by Steve Burrows, Jenny Knight and Robert Stepniewski. This Parish Council is working really well together as a team and achieving some great results. We had one vacancy for a councillor until recently, and that is likely to be filled by Nick Golledge at our next meeting, which is the Annual meeting of the Parish Council at 7:30PM on Tuesday 21st May 2019.

We have now moved our Ordinary Parish Council meetings to be on the third Tuesday of every other month. They start at 7.30PM, here in the Village Hall, unless otherwise notified on our notice boards, on our facebook and website pages.

More news from this past year – Carol Chamber our Clerk resigned in August. I was sorry to see her go after all the time and commitment that she had given the Parish. A period of uncertainly followed, but we were pleased to engage the help of an interim Clerk, David Hunter-Miller. David came highly recommended and was the Clerk to four other parishes. He has proved to be a great asset and in the autumn went on to accept the position as our Clerk to the Council, for which we were delighted. As a professional full time Clerk, David brings a wealth of experience which has already proved invaluable to the Parish. He has helped us move forward with our Data Privacy Policy and the creation of a new website, which can be accessed on line at whittingtonparishcouncil.co.uk

As well as finding and securing a new Clerk we have had several projects that have been a focus for the Parish Council – The Village Hall, the Parish Allotments, ongoing traffic issues, the noticeboards and signage for the Wildmore estate and the Parish Lengthsman.

The Village Hall
The Parish Council, along with the Village Hall Management Committee, applied last Autumn for funding from Wychavon District Council’s Community Legacy Grant. In March this year we heard the great news that we had been awarded a significant sum towards building a new hall that has the potential to be a desirable place where the community will want to come together more often. After numerous meetings, discussion, networking, collaboration, workshops, lots of forms and nail biting, we have reached a point where the future of a new facility on this site is looking positively possible. Our thanks are extended to Wychavon and Cllr Rob Adams for their support. I shall leave the detail of what we have achieved, and where we now stand, and what is to be done, for you to hear from the Chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee. I would however like to congratulate and commend Malcolm on his contribution to this project. Without the voluntary work he has done it just wouldn’t have moved forward as it has. I would like to also thank David Chestney for the time he has given to help the project too.

The Parish Council Allotments
We owe thanks to Parish Cllr’s Steve Burrows and Dan Bayliss for time and energy spent dealing with the Uffnell farm allotments, which are situated within the Wildmore estate. Steve has led the formation of an allotment working group and they have liaised with allotment holders and local residents, reviewed the lengthy agreement and terms and conditions, suggested amendments to provide clarity and helpful ideas for consideration and implementation by the Parish Council. There are 16 allotments and they are available for anyone living in the Parish to rent on an annual basis. Contact the Clerk if you would like to apply to rent one.

This continues to be an ongoing issue, especially because of where we are located, surrounded by main roadways criss-crossing through Parish. Wychavon District Councillor Rob Adams has continued to support us on concerns that the Parish Council has raised. Cllr Steve Brooker has been working with Rob over resident’s concerns about inconsiderate parking within the village. Steve, with the help of fellow councillors Jenny and Robert carried out a survey in the Old Road area and put forward parking recommendations to the Parish Council to be considered by Worcestershire County Council, we await the results of the request.

New Noticeboard
During the year the Parish Council moved forward with installing a new notice board within the Wildmore estate, thank you to Cllr Dan, who lives in that area, for managing the notices and communications for that part of our community. We hope to have more events that can help to bring the two communities together.

The Parish Lengthsman
The Parish Council is part of the County Councils Lengthsman scheme. Steve Gwilliam finished as our Parish Lenthsman this year after ill health. We thank Steve for his work that he did here. We have now employed a new Lengthsman, Sam Joyner who lives locally. Sam did a great job getting the area around the allotments into shape earlier this year. We are waiting for him to have some official training before he can take up the highways jobs within the Parish.

I have a couple of additional acknowledgements that I would like to make. Firstly to thank Robert Stepniewski for the work that he has done to help bring high speed broadband to parts of the village. Through his work we hope and expect that residents, businesses and the Village Hall users will benefit in the not too distant future.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank new Whittington Parishioners Mike and Chris for their public spiritedness and generosity cleaning the white gates at the entrances to the village and putting on a wonderful spring display in the flower troughs for us to enjoy.

Susan MacLeod, Chairman WPC

7. To receive a report from the District Councillor
Rob Adams provided a report on Wychavon District Council.

Rob thanked will be returning as District Councillor following the May 2019 elections and he thanked residents for their support. It was confirmed that Wychavon District Council still had a conservative majority.

The District Council continue to offer excellent value for money with some of the lowest costs per resident of any similar authority across the country.

Wychavon District Council is supporting the introduction of new wildflower meadows to help pollinators.

8. To receive a report from the County Councillor
Rob Adams provided a report on Worcestershire County Council.

One of Worcestershire County Council’s priorities was keeping the county ‘open for business’ and remaining attractive for future investment.

The Parkway Rail Station is due to open later this year and will be a massive boon to the area. Plans for the Carrington Bridge improvements are progressing, with a potential two-year timescale.

Traffic speeds and congestion concerns were an issue across the county and steps were being taken to try and resolve some of these issues in Whittington.

9. To receive a report from the Police
The last 12 months has continued to be busy throughout our ever increasing local policing area.

This report is based using the recorded crime figures between 01/01/2018 and 01/01/2019. Overall the Parish had 32 recordable crimes (incidents where a specific offence has occurred) this was in comparison to 32 recordable crimes the previous year.

The breakdown of offences is as follows:

2017/18                2018/19

Burglary Residential                         0                                  4
(includes garages and sheds)

Theft from vehicle                             2                                  1

Theft of Vehicle                                  1                                  0

Theft other                                          2                                  3

Criminal damage                               7                                  7

Fraud/deception                                1                                  2

Motor vehicle interference              0                                  0

Road Related Offence                       1                                  0

Other Offences                                   24                                15
(Includes mostly concerns for welfare or domestic related incidents and assaults)

This year has unfortunately seen a slight increase in residential burglaries in Whittington. We have continued with increased patrols in the area and have issued security advice to residents but the main contributing factor in all of the burglaries throughout the year is that the properties are left without lights during the hours of darkness. We would strongly advise residents to use a lamp/s on a timer switch to give the impression that someone is present inside the property.

The ‘other offences’ incidents are increasing throughout the West Mercia area as police are dealing more often with vulnerable people.

Overall the figures still show that Whittington and the surrounding area is a safe place to both live and work, however we all have a responsibility to ensure we maintain that.

On behalf of the team and myself I should like to offer my thanks to the Parish Council for all its help over the last 12 months. I would also like to say thank you to the parish as a whole for its continued support of the local policing team and for the numerous calls we have received relating to suspicious activity, all we ask is that you continue to do this.

Pershore Rural North and South Local Policing Team

A number of other issues were reported by members of the public as follows:

There had been a recurrence of anti-social issues on the bridleway under the motorway bridge, it was reported that steps had been taken to re-secure the site.

A stile has been damaged in an attempted theft on Walkers Lane, near to the Brethren Church. The sign for the Gospel Hall had been pulled off its frame and the letter box for the hall had also been vandalised.

Fly-tipping and litter had also been an issue across the parish.

10. To receive a report from Whittington Village Hall Management Committee
I was elected as Chairman of Whittington Village Hall Committee in September 2018. Much of this time has been spent working with my fellow Committee members and Whittington Parish Council to ensure that the Village Hall continues to play an essential role within the Whittington community and local area.

During the year we have taken continuing steps to keep the hall open for the community.
Our plans to completely refurbish the Village Hall last year were frustrated by unrealistic building costs which scuppered our vision of creating a fully functional/eco-friendly village hall on the existing footprint.

Financially, the Village Hall Committee has had to commit considerable funds to keep the hall open and enable the delivery of our successful bid to Wychavon. Unfortunately income has been in decline year on year mainly due to the condition of the hall.

However after many months of hard work and engaging with the community of Whittington, Whittington Parish Council and Wychavon District Council we bid for Community Legacy Grant funding.

It’s a ‘very good news story’ Whittington Parish Council was awarded £300k towards the building of a new village hall. In fact just yesterday I had to give our Community Programme Manager at Wychavon District Council one of my regular updates on our draft project plan to date. After consultation with him it was agreed and recommended that a qualified Project Manager be engaged to move this project forward, someone with the relevant skills and capability of dealing at a professional level with all potential suppliers and stakeholders.

Make no mistake this is a complex project and the pressure is on to deliver a new village hall. The ‘Whittington project’ is regarded by the senior management team at Wychavon District Council as a ‘Flagship Project’.

The Parish Council and the Village Hall Committee are required to match fund a percentage of this award therefore the hard work is just beginning, we need the community of Whittington parish, new and existing hall users to work with us to raise additional funds wherever and whenever possible.

The Village Hall Committee is in the process of developing an events team with key objectives of driving community engagement, delivering fun and interesting events and very importantly generating much needed village hall funds.

During October and November of last year we held a couple of ‘Save Our Village Hall’ open days where several parishioners and friends of the parish offered their support and expertise to the cause, if you are still interested please come and join us on our journey. Please contact myself or any other member of the Village Hall Committee if you are interested.

On the subject of village hall funding I would like to thank Steve Brooker for initiating the idea of a Fish’n Chip Quiz night. The event takes place this Friday 10th May and has already sold out! Thanks to all supporting this event and apologies to those of you that may have missed out on this occasion, however watch this space for future events!

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that at last week’s Village Hall Management Committee AGM two new members were elected to the committee…Sue Burrows and Steve Brooker have joined us and we look forward to working with them at this exciting time of change.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Whittington Village Hall Committee members and Whittington Parish Council for all their hard work and support throughout the year.
I would also like to thank Councillor Rob Adams for his support towards our funding bid and to Wychavon District Council for their generous award.

Malcolm MacLeod, Chair Whittington Village Hall Committee

A member of the public queried the match funding required for this project and it was confirmed that approximately £100,000 had been put aside by the Village Hall Committee for this purpose.

11. To receive a report on the Village Charities Accounts
As I have reported in previous years, these two village charities have been dormant for quite some time. The Elizabeth Stephens Charity dates back to 1668 and was a legacy of £50.00 with which three cottages were built in Swinesherd. These were liquidated in 1880 and the interest used to provide grocery parcels for the poor and needy of the parish.

Balance at 31/03/18 £37.81
Income £0.00
Balance at 31/03/19 £37.81

The Fanny Clifton Charity was founded by Miss Clifton’s will in 1888. Her legacy of £900.00 was to be used to provide coal at Christmas for the poor of the parish.

Balance at 31/03/18 £735.51
Income £0.36
Balance at 31/03/19 £735.87

The accounts show that no payments have been made and only a small amount of income in the form of interest has been received.

L Wiltshire, Trustee

12. To receive a report from Whittington C Of E Primary School
Whittington Church of England Primary School draws its children from the village of Whittington and the immediate area. A lot of the new housing developments in the local area fall within our catchment and this is beginning to have an impact on the make-up of our Reception cohort with increasing numbers of pupils coming from within the school’s catchment. A large majority of the pupils entering the school in September 2019 are either living within the school’s catchment or are siblings of pupils already at our school. As a Church of England school we have close links with the Church of St. Philip and St. James, located in the village. This is a very positive relationship with our Vicar conducting regular services both in the church and at school, as well as serving as a school governor. Parishioners welcome classes into the church over the course of the year in order to celebrate key festivals of the Anglican calendar. These activities give our pupils an excellent understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

The school itself continues to thrive. Our outcomes are improving and look set to be equally strong this year. The focus within education is shifting towards ensuring that schools are offering a rich curriculum. Staff and governors are working very hard to ensure that the children at Whittington receive an excellent education that gives the pupils an interesting curriculum which encourages a lifelong love for learning in a range of subjects.

All the other schools in our cluster are at least two form entry, whilst we remain a single form entry primary school with a pupil admission number of 30. This puts us in the unique position where we can offer a range of extra-curricular activities to all of our pupils (we rarely need to select pupils for events). We believe that this gives all of our pupils excellent opportunities to participate in a wide range of exciting, competitive or challenging activities which would not be available in bigger schools. We also retain a family feel with all staff building excellent relationships with our pupils.

In the last year we have fielded a boys’ football team, a girls’ football team and a girls’ netball team. All these teams have represented the school well in competitive tournaments. As well as this, all of our children have competed in sporting fixtures as varied as tag rugby, golf, swimming and cross country. Music continues to be a real strength at the school and from the age of seven all pupils learn a musical instrument. In Year 3 all the pupils are given a recorder by the school and learn this instrument. In Year 4 all the children learn to play the violin and in Year 5 they learn a brass instrument. We also have a school choir who perform in a variety of regional events including ‘Young Voices’ and ‘The Big Sing’. French is taught across Key Stage Two and our teaching has been described as exemplary. Drama is also a strength, with two full scale performances each academic year. Other subjects, such as history and geography, are brought to life with trips, and visits from expert speakers.

My staff, governors and I are very proud of Whittington Church of England Primary School and we work very hard to make it the best school possible. Children enjoy attending the school and we deliver a challenging, engaging and varied curriculum where all pupils apply themselves and persevere in order to achieve their best.

Gary Richards, Head Teacher

13. To receive a report from Whittington Church St Philip & St James
2018 was our first full year as a parish and we were delighted to welcome Bishop John to celebrate with us in October. A new morning service has been introduced in place of Matins when there are five Sundays in the month. Evensong continues during the summer months. Our annual memorial service was held in July and Harvest Lunch in the Village Hall in October. A communal lunch was organised to celebrate the centenary of the end of World War 1 and we are grateful to the Parish Council for their grant towards the cost. Easter and Christmas services were well attended and we were pleased to welcome Archdeacon Robert to celebrate on Christmas Day.

Close involvement with the school continues with each year group visiting the workshops and services for the whole school, in two sessions once a term. Year 6 leavers receive a bible and a copy of a leaflet ‘It’s Your Move’ with advice to help smooth the move to secondary school.

The churchyard is well looked after by a group of hardworking volunteers – more are always welcome.

Much of the year was spent on our third attempt to secure space to replace the vital facilities of toilet, kitchen and meeting room in the portacabin. Sadly planning permission was refused late in the year. We are now actively looking at another scheme on the same site.

The Church is open on Saturday mornings for the ‘Great Yew Brew’ and everyone is welcome to join us for coffee or tea and a chat.

Jayne Rayner, Church Warden

14. To invite the public to raise any matters of interest
Apologies were extended to the Brethren Church for not including a slot on the agenda and they were invited to submit a report, now or in future. The Parish Council welcomed the support of the Brethren Church at meetings.

A member of the public thanked Parish Councillors and the Chair for their hard work in the parish.

Following the meeting refreshments were provided.