Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Old Buckenham's Annual Parish Meeting

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
These notes have been written by the newsletter editor from the draft minutes and so may contain information that is altered at a later date.

This meeting took place on Wednesday 18 March. Visiting speakers included Julie Kennealy, Breckland Council Deputy Chief Executive Officer, and Ian Whithington, Breckland Council Planning Policy team leader. Twenty-four members of the public attended.
Welcome by Parish Council chairman. Steve Milner welcomed everyone to the meeting which he said was an important one as feedback is wanted by the Parish Council regarding development of the village in the future and also the new Chapel Road School.
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting in March 2014. These were signed as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
Matters arising from the minutes. A resident asked if minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting could be referred to prior to the meeting enabling residents to refresh their memories.
Greater Attleborough Development Plan (GADP).
Julie Kennealy gave a brief overview of her duties with Breckland Council. She then went on to explain that there is no GADP, there has just been informal discussions regarding Attleborough. It was called GADP because experience says that when you have an area of land, planned growth discussions have to take place. Infrastructures like schools, roads, health, need to be considered and section 106 payments are for this purpose. Growth usually goes outside boundaries of proposed development and therefore nearby communities can be affected. Discussions should take place in terms of what infrastructure will be required in support of large scale development. Collective views are best put forward in group form and not individual groups on their own. Breckland Council, Norfolk County Council, Health Authorities, the Highways Agency and Local Enterprise Partnerships - all these bodies should have input into any proposed large development. Discussions in Attleborough were difficult due to long standing relationships between Town and Parish Councils with the District Council. Attleborough Town Council have gone a long way to develop their own Neighbourhood Plan. GADP does not exist and Town and Parish Councils will still develop their own Neighbourhood Plans. Mrs Kennealy then took questions from the members of the public. She advised the meeting that grants were available up to £16,000 and Neighbourhood Plans could work within a place-based plan.
Neighbourhood Plan. Parish Councillor Jonathan Kemp gave an overview of the discussions that a Parish Council Working Party have had regarding the possible need for a Neighbourhood Plan for Old Buckenham. The areas considered were Why, How, Cost and what support is available. Sarah Hornbrook, a member of the working party, explained the reasoning for a neighbourhood plan for Old Buckenham. It would give villagers a voice to influence development in the village for the foreseeable future in conjunction with the Breckland Council Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan could not set strategic policies but can set the details of the strategic policies within Breckland’?s Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan could not be used to stop development but would look to control development to suit local needs. There are certain financial benefits to having a Neighbourhood Plan if and when Breckland introduce Community Infrastructure Levies. Parish Councillor Adrian Joel, also a member of the working party, said a Neighbourhood Plan looks at what will happen in 20 years time in terms of development. This will involve consultation with residents in the village to produce a vision statement along with a map to be submitted to Breckland Council. The vision statement cannot be turned down by Breckland but the map can. Breckland will then vote on what the village has submitted. If successful then the whole process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan can go ahead and when this is done a Local Referendum of villagers takes place. If a majority of the voters approve the plan it then becomes a legal document. Cost for producing a Neighbourhood Plan varies greatly. Information from other Parish Councils indicate it would cost between £4,500 to possibly £20,000. Ian Withington of Breckland Council said his main role was to bring forward the Breckland Council Local Plan and any Neighbourhood Plan had to conform to the Local Plan which is still emerging in terms of core strategies and would have to be considered against national and district policies. Steve Milner thanked all concerned with the Neighbourhood Plan for all the work they have done so far on the project. Various members of the public asked questions and then Steve Milner asked for a show of hands from residents if they thought Old Buckenham should have a Neighbourhood Plan. There was an almost unanimous show of support for one.
Chapel Road School. Richard Lindner, a governor of the school, read a prepared statement on the matter of the estate of the late Mr Alston and the legality of the transfer of the land to Norfolk County Council and some possible effects on the timetable of the construction of the school. Questions were raised on matter of access roads to the site and whether construction had already started. Steve Milner said no construction worked had started and the working currently being done was purely archaeological.
Parish Chairman’s report. Steve Milner reported it had been an interesting year with the new school on the way and continued efforts to improve road safety in the village. The amenities and facilities within in the village continue to grow and improve. Chapel Road School had been given a guarded welcome. A group has visited the site to see the work they do and he felt good that the village is helping to improve facilities for the children to help them acquire the tools to face their future. There are still concerns about infrastructure and so the Parish Council is working with the school to ensure the relocation has a minimal negative impact. On road safety, the speed of cars and inconsiderate driving are a major concern. The Speedwatch group continues to work to report speeding motorists. There are now flashing 20 mph speed signs for busy crossing points at peak times. Also the Parish Council have been informed they have been successful in getting 50% funding for a SAM speed sign. The primary school pupils are designing posters to help launch a give way campaign. The Parish Council has had to finance some of the projects but feel it worthwhile to pay for increased road safety. With regard to parking in the village the simple truth is that there are too many cars and this fact has to be accepted. Increased road safety should give parents confidence to use alternative methods to go to and from school with their children. Unfortunately parking spaces near the church have not worked out. The Village Hall car park’s controlled use by parents aims to meet the requirements of all. Thanks are due to Sally Honour and Village Hall Management Committee. The possibility of adding fifty more parking spaces is being looked at but this is in its infancy. The facilities of Old Buckenham include a village hall, active village shop, three excellent schools, a restaurant, thriving village pubs, a village green that is seeing increased activities and a church with its restored tower and windows. There is a need to consider how to manage development in Old Buckenham, informally or in a more structured manner. There are Parish Council elections due in May and some of the existing councillors are retiring. People are needed to come forward to fill these vacancies. Final date for submitting applications to Breckland Council is Saturday 25 April.
Parish Clerk’s report. The Precept Meeting for the financial year 2015/16 was held in November 2014 and the precept was set at £20,246.23. This was an increase on the previous year. The Parish Council awarded grants to local organisations of £4,330. There may be changes to how Breckland Council will fund future precepts due to changes being discussed. The Parish Council are fully aware of the difficult economic times for a large number of villagers who are on fixed incomes. The Parish Council will therefore ensure strict financial and monetary controls are effected at all times and that all expenditure is within budgetary limits. Expenditure for the year up to March 2015 totals approximately £17,290 net of VAT from a total income of £20,910. All figures are subject to audit as the financial year end has not yet arrived. During the current financial year the village has been able to acquire 20mph flashing speed signs (from accumulated surpluses over previous years) for £3,148 with Norfolk County Council paying 50% of the total cost. The Parish Council have, due to changes in legislation, drafted and adopted new Standing Orders, new Financial Regulations, new Financial Risk Assessment, new Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures and new Transparency Policy. The Clerk took the opportunity of thanking the parish councillors for their hard work and commitment as well as the support they have given over the past year.
Open session. A resident raised the question of the duck house on the pond, he was informed that it was a matter for the Green Right Proprietors and they were intending to have it replaced. Another resident commented on the poor turn out for the meeting and wondered if it was due to timing and suggested having the meeting in April next year.

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