Rona welcomed everyone and, in particular Marcus Bridger, the new Head Teacher of Burton Green School; Gordon Gatward, Acting Chair of the Parish Council; Pat Maddison, Clerk to the Parish Council; P.C. Peter King; and all the councillors.
Regret was expressed regarding the recent death of Howard Baker, formerly Chairman of the Parish Council.
Apologies had been received from Paddy Deeley, Carol Green, Adrian Hickinbottom and Jerry Marshall.
Minutes of the last meeting and Matters Arising
The minutes of the last Annual General Meeting of October 2010 were accepted.
Proposed: Marlene Hills
Seconded: Judi Hibberd
The Chair, Rona Taylor, explained the focal points for 2011 had been:
HS2 – opposition continuing to dominate the local situation. An Extraordinary Meeting had updated residents on progress. Burton Green was still leading the field in its opposition to HS2 and representatives had recently been amongst those attending the Labour and Conservative conferences.
Independent Parish Council – following support at the 2010 AGM, a petition had been raised before the end of March 2011 with the aim of implementing a separate PC by April 2012. Although consultation had taken place about the wording of the petition, Warwick District Councillor lawyers decided that it needed to be amended and hence a delay had been caused. They agreed that they would not create further delays with regard to a second, re-worded petition, which had now been raised and signed by 308 people and had been submitted by the end of July 2011. A period of consultation was now taking place. The overall decision would be taken on the strength of the argument.
Once a decision had been reached by the regulatory committee, the BGRA committee would decide if it was necessary to call an Extraordinary Meeting. A note was made that 25 people who had signed the petition were not found on the Electoral Roll and residents were asked to check this for themselves.
Rona went on to explain why it was felt a separate independent Parish Council would better serve the needs of local residents:
Burton Green was a talented and proactive community which she felt could easily run its own Parish Council and become the democratic voice of the community.
As a ward of the current Parish Council, Burton Green affairs were not currently well served as Stoneleigh village matters tended to dominate the meetings. This was partly because Stoneleigh did not have a Residents’ Association which could filter” matters before they reached the Parish Council meetings.
Burton Green was faced with the enormous challenge of HS2 which would cut straight through the community and threaten both housing and the Village Hall. A separate Parish Council could concentrate on this.
Rona felt the formation of a separate Parish Council was the next step in forging Burton Green’s identity. She envisaged it would integrate with the BGRA committee, the Village Hall committee, the school and other local groups.
A map of the area was displayed and the amount of Green Belt around the village was highlighted as another area to be protected by the work of a Parish Council.
Transport – There had been cutbacks regarding the bus service. Cuts had meant that the village had previously had three buses a day to Kenilworth for six days and now had one bus a week on a Monday only. Investigations were taking place to see if a bus service could be operated on Thursday (market day).Investigations were taking place regarding the setting up of a service like the Solihull taxi bus service operated by Centro.
Planning Issues – Earlier in the year, a group of residents had attended an appeal meeting regarding the number of mobile homes allowed on the site of Le Van in Red Lane. Thanks to residents’ comments, the appeal had been turned down.
The site of a demolished house in Cromwell Lane had caused some concern to neighbours with regard to its future. Permission had been granted to build a substantial house and BGRA committee was keeping a watching brief.
Following consultation, a response had been submitted to WDC’s Plans for the Future of Warwickshire. Residents wished development to remain linear; to support the local school; and to retain a Village Hall. It was suggested a Neighbourhood Plan be developed and this was to be covered later in the agenda.
Bugle – Mary Webb was thanked for taking over the editing and production of the Bugle. The most recent edition had been funded through local advertisers and Mary asked for ideas for future funding to be sent to her. Thanks were extended to the team of distributors.
Roads and pavements – Problems with the pavement at the top of Red Lane had been reported to WCC and this was to be addressed. The condition of Hob Lane road surface was also a concern of a number of residents and the meeting agreed that BGRA committee should seek agreement from the Local Authority to settle this issue.
Election of Committee members
Janet Hickinbottom, as Joint Secretary, conducted this agenda item.
The constitution required that the officers and three committee members should stand down. Rona Taylor, Marlene Hills, Janet Hickinbottom and Judi Hibberd, were re-elected.
Proposed: Martin Beckett
Seconded: Sylvia Clifford
Mike Holt stood down as Vice Chair. Mary Webb had agreed to stand.
Proposed: Andy Gibbs
Seconded: Archie Taylor
Others remaining on the committee were Bron Putnam, John Levett, John Nisbet and Faith Ward.
Andy Gibbs had been a co-opted member because of his Chairmanship of the HS2 Action Group. He had now agreed to stand as a full committee member.
Proposed: Betty Woodward
Seconded: Steve Webb
Andy Gibb said that six months ago preparations had been taking place for the consultation. He extended thanks to John and Diana Levett who had worked so hard on that score. He explained that the battle had become a PR one. Arguments against HS2 had been very well made (HS2 would at best be carbon neutral; transfer of jobs to the North unlikely; cost benefits argument flawed etc). Vast subsidies would be required in the future to pay for HS2. The current problem was getting the general public, especially those not living near the proposed route, to be aware of and to understand the situation.
An upcoming event was a debate in the House of Commons and Andy urged residents to pass on to friends and relatives a website address http://www.highspeedrail.org.uk which explains MPs’ constituencies and asks for your support in writing to your MP to encourage him/her to attend the debate.
Andy also mentioned the government e-petition 353 called Stop HS2.
In November 2011 the Transport Select Committee would be publishing its findings and in December Philip Hammond would announce his decision. Dependent upon the outcome, there would then be much to do in 2012.
Andy gave sincere thanks to all who had contributed in whatever way to the struggle against HS2.
Cllr Archie Taylor reiterated that it was important to contact MPs in time for the debate. He felt that if a judicial review was held following an announcement in favour of HS2, it would be possible to show that the consultation was flawed and this should lead to a public inquiry. He also felt there were many communities who would be missed out by the introduction of HS2 including Coventry, Stoke and Liverpool.
Archie added that if the line was approved, there would be a need to work on mitigation.
Costing of separate Parish Council for Burton Green
Marlene said if the proposal for a separate Parish Council proved successful, a decision would have to be taken whether to increase the precept which is paid via the council tax.
She had drawn up a draft document having referred to the WCC Finance Department, and the West Midlands and Warwickshire Association of Local Councils. She had compared figures to those of the existing Parish Council as completed and submitted by Pat Maddison, the Parish Clerk, whose book keeping was exemplary. Marlene had based salary scale and number of hours on discussions with the WCC and had included costs for home working and travel. An additional amount of £509 was added for contingencies. In addition there would be costs for the statutory audit and a provisional figure for room hire at the Village Hall.
The total expected income from the precept (729 individuals at the last census) would show £6775 and expected costs were £6958 resulting in a deficit of £183. There would be no money to fund the Bugle or for any grants.
Marlene’s draft figures showed that the proposal would be just about workable but with no room for manoeuvre.
It had been suggested that the percentage for the precept could be increased. The precept is based on the number of D band houses in a parish and is pro rata upwards depending upon the band category. A deduction is then made for the number of single people living in a house with a 25% reduction (or empty houses) etc
Neighbourhood Plan and Community Plan
A small group had been formed at the time of the consultation submission to focus on what would happen if the Village Hall was threatened with demolition. The group members had spoken to the County planners who had recommended drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan in order to find out people’s views on all aspects of the village future. A final Plan has to be completed by a Parish Council (or a Forum such as Kenilworth Community Forum).
Cllr George Illingworth explained this was part of the proposed Localism Bill. He said the community could produce the Plan but the Parish Council, as the legal body, should be consulted.
It was unanimously agreed that BGRA committee should ask the Parish Council to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan.
Rona explained that a Community Plan was quite separate and contained the hopes and aspirations of all sections of the village community. She showed an example from Offchurch.
A comment was made that matters affecting those just over the boundaries should be included and it was agreed, as Offchurch had also done this,
Costing and funding needed to be researched and Marlene agreed to do this.
In response to another question asking if relevant information was available from the councils, Cllr. Blacklock said they would be happy to help and all information was available via the Freedom of Information Act.
It was generally felt that a lot was going on at present to take on another project, but anyone interested in forming a steering group should see Rona.
Mary Webb reported on behalf of a small group from the BGRA committee and the Village Hall committee. They had ambitious plans for a number of events during the weekend of June 2nd-5th 2012. These included:
- Village Hall supper and sing song
- Art display involving local schools and groups
- Photography exhibition with images of Burton Green over the past 60 years
- Oral and visual newsreel featuring a number of older properties with Living History participation
- A memory tree
- A community mosaic to be made by villagers and sited within the village
- A series of living sculptures on the Greenway
- A beacon to be lighted on a high point
- A picnic on the school field with music and entertainment
A further planning meeting was to be held on Monday November 14th to which all were welcome.
Diane Swindells welcomed everyone to the hall and thanked residents for their support over the past year. Much time had been taken up with opposition to HS2 and the Village Hall committee was pleased the Hall was the focal point of the struggle. The committee wished to thank the Action Group and Jerry Marshall in particular for their brilliant work. Following a lengthy meeting at the Roadshow, a letter had been sent to HS2 with no response except an acknowledgement.
As trustees of the Village Hall, the committee would join with some members of the BGRA committee to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. Vic Stuthridge would be the Village Hall representative. Vic had also taken over the bookings of the Hall (which could now be made through the website) and thanks were extended to Maxine Viney who had been Bookings Secretary for 17 years.
The Produce Show had been a great success. Jill Lines was thanked for her work and everyone was pleased to hear that David Lines was making progress following his bad accident.
The Village Hall AGM would be held on November 2nd at 7.30p.m. and all were welcome.
The final event of the year would be the Senior Citizens’ Christmas lunch and residents were urged to bring this to the attention of any neighbours who might be interested.
Police Matters and Neighbourhood Watch:
P.C. Peter King introduced himself as the beat manager for Kenilworth. He explained that there had been significant restructure in the force in May 2010 and Kenilworth had lost its Safer Neighbourhoods team. Now P.C.King and two community support officers were in post.
Burton Green’s isolation had come to his attention and he suggested holding community surgeries at the Village Hall where residents could raise issues of concern. This was generally deemed a good idea and he agreed to liaise with Diane regarding available times.
He was also looking at a pilot Junior Neighbourhood Watch scheme to help local children learn to trust and communicate with the police. Marcus Bridger of Burton Green School had welcomed the idea.
P.C.King was asked about levels of crime in the area. He said it was generally low but throughout the county had risen by 4.3% since the new model of working had been introduced. He said that most crime was opportunistic and urged residents not to leave valuables on display in the home or in vehicles.
Residents at the meeting commended the force for speedy responses to individual incidents.
P.C. King concluded by saying he was overwhelmed to see so many residents in attendance with such an interest in their community and he thanked everyone for making him welcome.
John Levett spoke on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch to encourage everyone to remain vigilant in the light of reduced police budgets. He reminded everyone to be alert to telephone and internet scams.
He referred residents to his article in the recent edition of the Bugle which explained how to receive messages direct from the Warwickshire Police Watch Co-ordinator. He urged everyone with an email address to register on the successful village email distribution list managed by Paddy Deeley.
County Councillor’s Report:
Cllr. Whitehouse commended Burton Green as a fantastic community which he was proud to represent.
In discussing the opening of the cycle bridge on the Greenway, he said the National Director of Sustrans had declared the Greenway was now part of the National Cycle Network and Cllr. Whitehouse made sure HS2 was aware of this fact.
He was considering again what opportunities there were to look at the speed limits within Burton Green. In the recent past, residents had decided they did not want road cushions or chicanes but in the light of Solihull’s proposals to review speed limits on roads including some entering the village, he wondered if residents would like him to make enquiries. It was agreed he should do so.
Action: Cllr. Whitehouse
Consultations had taken place about the future of the county’s libraries. It was proposed to cut the opening hours of Kenilworth Library from 51-35 per week. Discussions were taking place with WDC and Cllr. Whitehouse was aiming to find out why a decision was delayed. He said provision of mobile libraries was being discussed with Solihull MBC with the intention of enhancing the service.
The future of the Youth Service lay in the possibility of it being established as charity following withdrawal of council funding. An Open Day was to be held on October 29th from 2-6p.m. He urged residents to vote on http://communityforce.natwest.com in support of the project in the hope of winning funding.
Residents expressed dissatisfaction about the surface of the Greenway in the Burton Green area. This had been removed in readiness for new surfacing but this was not scheduled until 2012. Cllr. Whitehouse agreed to make enquiries about when this might take place and to convey residents’ concerns.
Action: Cllr. Whitehouse
District Councillors’ Reports
Cllr. Blacklock said it was a depressing time with so many cutbacks and many projects had been shelved because of loss of funding from central government.
She explained a review of district wards was taking place and there would be an opportunity to comment.
Grant funding was being reviewed to ensure best value for money.
Cllr. Coker gave further insight into the library situation where its employees were those of WCC but those of the One Stop Shop within the library were employed by WDC; and so the two councils were trying to collaborate to reach a satisfactory conclusion for all.
He condemned the decision by WCC to withdraw funding from the Youth Centre and said this was a central facility next to the new Senior Citizens ‘Club which was a very valuable asset. Kenilworth Town Council would be in support of the Youth Centre and the District Council did not intend to see it closed.
The past year had been taken up with HS2. WDC played a major part in the founding of 51m: eighteen councils which had come together to challenge the evidence base about the HS2 project.
He closed by saying the rates would not be going up the next year.
Cllr. Illingworth said his particular interest was planning matters. He referred again to the Le Van planning appeal and how intervention by residents had played a crucial part in overturning this.
With reference to planning at the national strategic level, he said the Localism Bill would bring power to a local level and he commended the Neighbourhood Plan proposal. He said Burton Green should take an interest in the strategy framework and gave examples of likely revisions. He added that residents should be pleased that the government had said the Green Belt was to be protected.
Rona thanked all the councillors for their continued support.
Parish Councillor’s Report
Cllr. Taylor said many issues raised at the Parish Council were only relevant to Stoneleigh. For Burton Green, the issue of prime importance was HS2 and it was a tribute to the late Howard Baker that he had been responsible for increasing the precept to have funds to fight HS2.
He knew representatives of Stoneleigh and of the university would be disappointed if Burton Green formed its own Parish Council, but he felt strongly that the village needed its own representation but it needed to get it right. He reiterated that it would work in partnership with BGRA.
Marlene presented the accounts which were a collaborative effort between herself and Archie Taylor (who had managed the accounts until March 2011). She explained income (£991.59) was down on the previous year (£1031.47). £350 of the income was being held for the Kenilworth to Berkswell Charity, the formation of which was to be finalised. Hence the actual income was £641.59. There had been a significant reduction in subscriptions collected (down from £531 to £297.83) and residents who had not contributed £2 were urged to do so.
The Parish Council had kindly donated £250 to cover the cost of printing the Bugle.
The Royal Wedding event had made a loss of £39.76 but everyone attending, especially the children, had enjoyed it.
A donation of £250 had been made earlier in the year to the Action Group.
The brought forward figure from last year was £280.02. Expenditure for the year (£705.59) was greater than income and so a small portion of the brought forward amount was used to cover expenses.
The bank account had been moved from Santander to Lloyds TSB, Kenilworth. At the yearend BGRA bank account held £1817.24 of which £350 was kept for the Greenway Charity making the true figure £1,467.24.
Peter Tacon had received the accounts at very short notice but had independently examined them.
Marlene suggested setting up a system of collecting subscriptions by standing order and of increasing the amount top £3p.a. There was a general consensus of agreement.
Finally, Marlene suggested setting up BGRA as a charity in order to benefit from Gift Aid. A resident commented that BGRA would also be able to use online donating as a charity. Marlene felt BGRA’s work was closely allied to that of a charity. Marlene would make further enquiries and this would be discussed at the next committee meeting.
Rona thanked Marlene for all her work.
Any Other Business and Date of Next Annual General Meeting
The parliamentary boundaries review consultation would need a BGRA response.
Rona said funding was being sought to provide a notice board for Red Lane residents.
The next meeting of the newly-formed History Group would take place on November 7th.
Residents were again urged to sign up for the village email distribution list.
Election of Independent Examiner
Peter Tacon again agreed to act as Independent Examiner.
Proposed: Marlene Hills
Seconded: Deirdre Vernon.
Thanks were extended to the residents who had attended.
The next Annual General Meeting would be held on Monday October 1st 2012 at the Village Hall.