Present: Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mrs M Button and Mr D Hamblin (Councillors), Mr M Balmer (Clerk), Mr A Gunson (County Councillor) and 32 Parishioners.
Apologies from Mr P Wright (Parish Councillor) and Mr D Blake (District Councillor).
Pat Clare opened the meeting by allowing the PCSO to present his report, as he was just going on shift.
Police Community Support Officer’s Annual Report
Kevin Nightingale works on behalf of 31 Parishes in the Loddon Area (DI5). In the past year in Claxton there have been 4 crimes and 33 other incidents. Claxton is considered a very low crime area, and generally has as much crime in a year as some communities get in a month. Some suspicious behaviour has been reported, eg selling generators from the back of a van and questionable photographing of horses. They follow these up and encourage villagers to be vigilant. They have anti-social issues currently in Thurton, Ditchingham and Loddon.
Presentation by the Historical Environmental Service
Claire Bradshaw from Norfolk Museum Services explained her team were active in community engagement and got involved in planning applications. They have a historic record of some 57,000 sites in Norfolk. In Claxton these include historic sites, listed buildings and other digs. Details are on their website www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk. They also have some 85,000 aerial photographs taken over the past 100+ years, and are busy mapping them against archaeological sites. These photos can be viewed at their offices and/or purchased from them.
In Claxton they have records of hand axes being unearthed. There are signs of a large ring ditch some 67 metres across, located on the northern side of Home Piece across from the environmental pond. There have been small amounts of roman pottery. Saxon remains include St Andrew’s Church, where 12thC coins have been found. Claxton Castle dates from 1333, and earthworks and a moat have been mapped there. There are signs of a medieval farmstead south of The Beeches.
She was happy to be involved in any community initiative. There were several questions, particularly about the ring ditch.
Chairman’s Annual Report
Pat Clare said that the practice of holding the Annual Parish meeting immediately before the Council AGM seemed to work well and saved hire charges for the hall. The annual precept had not increased. Diamond Jubilee celebrations funded by the Pits Trust had been enjoyed by a large number of villagers. The Village Sign had also been funded by the Pits Trust and once final carving had been done there would be a formal opening ceremony. They had worked with BT and the District Council to remove the phone box, and with Anglian Water to maintain the hedge around their treatment plant. Norse had been persuaded to cut the Village Hall grounds for free last year as they had missed a couple of cuts at the Warren.
The diseased maple had been brought down. The Council has recently contracted for the emptying of the dog-bin, which had previously been done by a public-spirited resident. The new noticeboard was now in place thanks to Kenny Clare and Rick Button. The Council had drafted and approved a number of policy documents, all of which were on the website and would be reviewed this summer. The new Clerk has taken over management of the website, which averages 27 hits each day. The Council has also launched the “Thinking Fuel” initiative in Claxton. They have not produced a newsletter recently as they are unsure of how popular it is, but are happy to receive feedback.
The Council was trying to be more open, especially over finances. Lastly she wished to record her thanks to her fellow Councillors and Chris Dix for their contributions, and to Mike Balmer, who had just celebrated his first year as Clerk.
District Councillor’s Report
Derek Blake had been off work recently having undergone by-pass surgery and was still not fit enough to resume his role, and there was therefore no report from Long Stratton.
County Councillor’s Report
Adrian Gunson reported a continuing fight to get potholes repaired. Last winter the County Council had done more salting than before, indicating the amount of frost and resulting damage. May Gurney’s surface dressing performance had been inadequate, and would be fixed in June. Significant progress had already been seen on dualling the A11 which should be finished by Autumn 2014. The Northern Distributor Road had been delayed by objections. The County’s Construction Fund had helped improve Village Halls, playgrounds etc. The County Council had expanded the opportunities for apprenticeships. Loddon was being targeted for further housing development with plans for 300 homes behind the Surgery alongside over 90 on the Beccles side which were in the process of being built. There had been no news on Claxton House becoming a dementia unit. He was pressing for a 50mph limit on the a146 at Hellington corner because of the extensions planned at green pastures garden centre. The Council Tax remained the same. Hobart school had become an academy. The Wherryman’s Way had been given the status of a Norfolk Trail meaning it and link paths would continue to be cut regardless of budget pressures. The Environment Agency has agreed to repair and maintain the south bank of the River Chet at Loddon.
Village Annual Reports
Pits Trust. Roland Kaye explained that the Trust was a registered charity, and the Trustees were himself as an independent Chairman, all Parish Councillors, Paul Carter (on behalf of the Church), Kevin Parker (South Yare Wildlife Group), Mike Balmer (independent) and Chris Dix as Treasurer. The Trust’s assets were 3 The Warren, Ducan’s Marsh and the village allotments. 3 The Warren was in reasonable condition following extensive maintenance. 3 of the 5 allotments were rented out with 2 vacant. There was a water supply (which allotment holders paid for). Ducan’s Marsh was private land and an SSSI subject to seasonal grazing. There was work to be done. Surveys had been carried out by the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Broads Authority and the grazing tenant. They had been allocated a High Level Stewardship grant for the next 10 years and capital for clearance work.
Money was spent on maintenance, insurance, rates, professional fees etc. Trustees claimed neither remuneration nor expenses. The Trust had funded the Jubilee celebrations and the village sign and had established a bursary of £2,000 pa for education purposes, and he invited bids against this.
Annual income is around £4,900 with annual expenditure of £3,000 showing a small regular surplus. There is some £45,000 in the bank, and the Trustees are looking at ways of spending some of this for the benefit of the village as a whole. Among the current proposals are help with bring wifi to the village and erecting solar panels on the Village Hall roof. The full report would be on village noticeboards and the website.
Village Hall. Linda Clitheroe said the past 12 months had been fairly quiet. The Committee had had some new members. A project to upgrade the toilets was stalled because of a shortage of funds. She actively fund-raises for the Hall and is open to new ideas. Recycling aluminium cans had raised some £300 over the past 4 years.
Social Club. Sue Ellis (Secretary) said there were currently 70 members, not many of whom were from Claxton or Carleton St Peter. The bar was open every Friday from 8.30pm. The Club needed more support. They put on organised entertainment every last Saturday in the month apart from August with professional entertainers. They funded the children’s party just before Christmas, including the entertainer, food and Father Christmas. They run a New Year’s Eve party. Their financial year runs from 1 July.
Church. In Paul Carter’s absence Chris Dix reported. The spiritual needs of the community are covered by the three local vicars. The PCC is active across the whole community. It receives half the proceeds from the annual Fair on the Yare and had the 10th Flying Festival in 2012, with some 40 machines taking part. Participants come from all over, as a glance at the visitors’ book would show.
The PCC had registered with the Wispire project to improve broadband and mobile phone signals., and the church tower fits in well with the surrounding network, which now includes Loddon and Ashby St Mary. Last December’s carol service had been a success with an excellent turnout. Major work is needed on the fabric of the building. The 60-year old rush matting had been taken up and burned on the Jubilee beacon, exposing a large number of medieval floor tiles. This year already all the thatchwork and beams had been brushed down and cleaned, and the interior had been lime-washed. The next task is the east window which is in a fragile condition, and they have received promises of financial support for this Grade I listed building. The next Flying Festival would be on the coming Sunday 19 May.
Parishioner’s Questions. Linda Clitheroe asked about income from the bottlebank and was told the Council would receive at least £100 each year into its general funds, depending on the amount of glass collected. Jane Ives expressed her thanks for the repairs to Peascod Lane and asked whether any guarantees had been received from the landowner about future damage. David Hamblin said that the owner had shown a lot of goodwill and was now fully aware of the issue. If there was any repeat, villagers should contact the Parish Council again. Linda Clitheroe wanted to point out that, contrary to many beliefs, Loose Ends was not run by the Village Hall Committee. Robert Ellis pointed out that the Village Hall Committee had held its 2012 AGM in July, the earliest it was possible to meet with a full and fresh set of the previous year’s accounts, given their financial year end on 31 May. Alan Ives asked if there was a report from the Tree Warden (there was not) and whether the post of Footpaths Officer had been filled (it was still vacant). The Clerk would work up a job description and re-advertise the latter.
The meeting closed at 2050 hours.