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Monday, 27 January 2020

Minutes of Residents' Association Committee January 22nd 2020

Hilary Cox; Paddy Deeley; Andy Gibbs; Judi Hibberd; Janet Hickinbottom; Rona Taylor; Faith Ward; Mary Webb

1. Apologies and Minutes of the last meeting

Apologies had been received from Bron Putnam

Summary of actions following the meetingResponsible
To enquire if a management committee existed at Cala Homes sitePaddy 
Continued planning of VE day celebrations Jubilee committee Community fund item to remain on agenda Judi 
Visit to Hickory’s Smokehouse to discuss community involvement Rona
Liaise with school about 2020 Santa Sleigh dateFaith
Children In Need ramble to remain on agendaJudi

Minutes of the last meeting and Matters Arising

See Minutes of November 27th 2019 meeting

The minutes of the meeting were approved.

  • Matters Arising from the previous minutes
  • Application for grant from PC had been submitted
  • Mess opposite Cala site reported
  • All Santa sleigh actions completed
  • Broken recycling boxes had been moved by residents

All other matters arising were to be agenda items.

2. Village Hall Update

Paddy said there had been little progress with HS2 and the new hall. A pre-Christmas meeting had been cancelled at short notice. The likelihood of the new hall being built by the autumn seemed increasingly unlikely as tenders for the building work had not been issued yet.

An application to the Community Fund for a commissioned stained glass window had been declined on the grounds that the trustees did not own the land.

Paddy had asked about the next drop-in session and had been told that the effectiveness of these sessions was under scrutiny (even though these had been happening since 2010.)

3. Treasurer's Report

A report had been circulated. A refund was expected for the defibrillator service cost.

4. Residents’ views/concerns

  • The question of the ex-air raid warden’s shelter had arisen again after a resident said a petition was being arranged to save the shelter. This was surprising after Rona had visited local residents to find out their views and after both BGRA and the Parish Council had discussed its fate at length. There were problems because costs to remove its overgrown ivy had been prohibitive. Ownership, and hence responsibility, was unknown. WCC said they would inspect it from a safety angle but could not afford to demolish it. Was it used as a shelter by residents? There were conflicting views about whether schoolchildren waiting for the morning bus used it and other residents did not. This was a matter for the Parish Council to pursue rather than BGRA.
  • The problem of scam phone calls was raised again and Paddy agreed to add something on the email loop.
  • There had been some vandalism at the Red Lane playground but equipment had been repaired.
  • A resident had drawn attention to the work of CAVA(Community and Voluntary Action). A presentation had been given to the committee the previous year.  www.wcava.org.uk
  • A complaint had been raised about the damage to verges in Cromwell Lane that a gas company had caused. This was being followed up with Cllr John Cooke along with the filling of potholes.

5. Update on and discussion of Residents’ Association initiatives and issues

  • Cala Homes update on the site.  Paddy said there were now at least 18 houses occupied with families with a number of small children. Some concerns were expressed about the safety of the balance pond: the builders had erected a fence and Paddy said it was quite shallow. A question was posed about whether there was a residential management committee to monitor roads, paths etc. Action: Paddy
  • Problems with drainage into the ditch reflected the state in which the field opposite had been left. Cala had paid for the pipe to be washed out under pressure.
  • VE DAY May 8th 2020. A sub committee to include members of the Village Hall committee had met. Funding would also be sought from the WDC Forum fund for VE Day events. Planning was still taking place regarding a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. John Webb was compiling a short video; the VE letters were to be displayed on the Jubilee verge; and an afternoon tea would take place in the hall on Friday May 8th. Confirmation was needed from Vic that the hall was available. Action: Jubilee committee
  • HS2 fund – what should we ask for? This remained a difficult question as it appeared proposals could not be considered unless the applicant owned the site of the proposal. As suggestions generally referred to the site of the tunnel, this was impossible. A cycle route from the Crest Nicholson site on Westwood Heath Road through to the site of the new Village Hall has been suggested. This should remain as an agenda item. Action: Judi
  • Santa’s Sleigh review. This had been a successful event raising £730. Unfortunately, Hickory’s Smokehouse had been asked if they would round up the amount collected as in previous years but had not responded. Rona would visit the new management. Action: Rona
  • Faith agreed to liaise with the school about the 2020 date to avoid another clash with events. Action: Faith
  • Priorities for precept money: the previous year’s grant had been spent. The application for an increased grant had been agreed by the Parish Council.
  • Retired lunches: the next lunch was being arranged and 50 people had booked already. Shirley Howes had asked if she could circulate an article at the event about Bill and the pigs.
  • Bugle: a question was asked about the cost of advertising in the Bugle. Mary said there was a minimal charge but space was at a premium.

8. Greenway Trust update

There was nothing to report. The Trust was awaiting details of the road crossings for the re-routed Greenway. It appeared that there was little or no liaison between the Trust and the Parish Council - the latter was also in discussions regarding the route but there was still much uncertainty.

9. Parish Councillor's Report

Two new councillors had been appointed: Archie Taylor and Lucy Hatton.
A car park area of 18 spaces on the Cala site had been signed over to the Parish Council. The aim was to alleviate parking problems at either end of the school day.
The Neighbourhood Plan consultation was in progress. A technical specialist had responded and these comments along with any others received would be incorporated in the next draft before it was submitted to WCC.

Community Infrastructure Levy money was still available for projects of community benefit. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/community-infrastructure-levy

The Parish Council had discussed the impact of the 240 houses to be built in Cromwell Lane (near Tile Hill station). They were concerned about the lack of infrastructure and where any children from the homes might go to school.

10.  Any Other Business

  • Children in Need ramble. It was hoped this would go ahead in September 2020. Mary was liaising with local walkers to create a simple route for families to use at a low- key event. This would remain on the agenda. Action: Judi
  • It was noted that two mitigation ponds were being constructed in the field where the new Village Hall was to be sited and some members expressed concern that these would impact on the re-routed Greenway.
  • Rona forwarded the following correspondence sent to Cllr Skinner by Coventry City Council:

    Further to your recent e-mail requests on behalf of your constituents, I am able to provide the following update on the A46 Strategic Link Road proposal. 

You will be aware that this scheme forms part of the Coventry South Strategic Transport Package, which includes a range of transport measures aimed at enabling future travel demand generated by existing and future residential and employment development to be managed in the most sustainable manner.  The package includes improvements to public transport and highway infrastructure, and the City Council is working closely with colleagues at Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council to develop the individual transport measures and secure the necessary statutory and funding approvals to allow them to proceed.  The three Councils are also working together to ensure that local communities have the chance to comment on the proposals at the appropriate time which was originally intended to commence early this year. 
You will also be aware that the first element of the package, the A46 Stoneleigh Junction improvement, is scheduled to start work on site in Spring 2020 subject to receiving the final funding approvals from the Department for Transport.  There will be some advance site clearance works in February, as indicated in the attached correspondence from Warwickshire County Council. 
With regard to the next section of the A46 Strategic Link Road, which is intended to improve access to the South Coventry area, including the University of Warwick campus, by providing an alternative route to Stoneleigh Road and Gibbets Hill Road, there has been a significant amount of work on developing concept designs, which we are now aiming to bring forward for public consultation later in 2020.  This is later than previously hoped for but it is considered by Coventry City Council that the timing of a consultation now would interfere with the purdah period for local elections in Coventry and Combined Authority Mayoral elections and so the consultation has been deferred. This does however present the opportunity to progress with developing the consultation material to ensure that we give local communities the fullest opportunity to have their say on the transport scenarios, scheme detail, and issues of local concern such as whether, or how, the Link Road should connect into the local road network to maximise the benefit of the scheme whilst minimising the impact upon local communities.  The consultation will include meetings with neighbourhood groups such as the Westwood Heath Residents Association and Parish Councils as well as specific Ward Member briefings. 
The three Councils are acutely aware of the strong interest in the proposal from the local community, and the differing views that have previously been expressed on what form any scheme should take.  We need to ensure that we identify the most appropriate scheme to address the numerous transport issues that currently exist, and have undertaken extensive work to assess the effectiveness of different approaches to tackle these issues.  This work has taken longer than anticipated and compounded by purdah, which as a public body we have a duty to observe but we want to ensure that we give consultees the best possible information when we do consult with them. 
We are also keeping in close contact with Solihull MBC as they move into their Local Plan Review, as cross-boundary travel is clearly significant in this area.

  • Following recent media interest in the impact of HS2, Chris Langton had kindly supplied the following information:

I have enquired of local residents who have sold (reluctantly) to HS2 who would be prepared to discuss their experience – and have so far drawn a blank. Also several key people are away on holiday at the moment. However I gather that the Levetts have been interviewed.

From our discussion it appears that you are keen to talk to people with personal experience in dealing with HS2 – I have not done so as I have chosen so far not to put my house on the market. Also when you interviewed me at the beginning of this project I was in an official capacity as chair of the Residents’ Association which I am no longer directly involved in. Therefore I think it would be more appropriate to have a representative from either/both the Parish Council or Residents’ Association.

I have spoken with Rona Taylor the Chair of the Residents Association and she has agreed for me to pass on her contact details. 
The deputy chair of the Parish Council is Alan Marshall, a resident for a few years and former railway planning professional who is a close associate of Michael Bing who has advised the Government on HS2. Another Councillor is Andrew Gibbs who handles HS2 matters.

What I can provide you with is an ‘overview’ of the situation regarding compensation based on a log of all purchases in Burton Green by HS2 since March 2010 and knowledge of many of my neighbour’s experiences.

Within the 120 metre ‘automatic’ compensation zone there are 50 properties in Burton Green. 27 of these have so far been purchased by HS2.

HS2 have to date purchased 16 within the 0-60 metre zone where owners receive an un blighted value plus 10% and moving costs – in the majority of cases this appears to have provided adequate compensation though it may have forced a move earlier than planned.

They have purchased a further 11 within the 60-120 metre zone where owners receive just an un-blighted value for their properties. In some of these and a number of other cases the valuation identified has been significantly lower than the owners estate agent valuations resulting in them being forced to stay or accept an unsatisfactory valuation as well as carrying the burden of moving costs – in the case of my next door neighbours that amounted to £35k

Beyond 120 metres HS2 have also purchased a total of 10 properties under the Need to Sell Scheme (and it’s predecessor EHS) – these have generally been within 300 metres of the line after which the full impact of blight does appear to be reduced - a number of these have been to wind up estates after the owners death – apart from putting your property on the market for a minimum of 3 months to prove that it cannot sell the owner has to meet one of four hardship criteria – job move – divorce – financial difficulty or ill health and provide HS2 with full access to all of their medical and/or financial records, something which has put some off making a claim. Historically 2 out of 3 applications have been turned down under this scheme. Also following the Parliamentary petitioning process HS2 were supposed to incorporate into the Need criteria what was termed ‘age and stage’ allowing retired people to move closer to relatives or start a new life in retirement – there is no evidence that this has been adopted.

More sinister, as the costs of the scheme have escalated, HS2 have been reneging on offers reducing them by tens of thousands of pounds on the basis that they have to ‘provide value for money for the taxpayer’ thereby expecting these owners to subsidise the scheme.

The impact of so many rental properties at the core of Burton Green has resulted in a reduction in community involvement by a largely transient population and extreme efforts have had to be made to force HS2 to bring up the rental standards of half a dozen houses which have been left empty some for up to two years.

This has left a significant number of the most affected home owners ‘trapped’ by the inadequacies of the compensation scheme and any potential changes to the HS2 scheme (for instance to start from the North) would extend one decade of blight into a quarter of a century by the time the full project is completed.

10. Date of 2020 Meetings

The next committee meetings were scheduled for March 4th, May 13th, July 15th, AGM September 9th, November 25th