Minutes of Claxton Annual Parish Meeting, 16 April 2014

Present: Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mrs M Button and Mr D Hamblin (Councillors), Mr M Balmer (Clerk), Mr A Gunson (County Councillor) and 5 Parishioners.

Apologies from Mr P Wright (Parish Councillor) and Mr D Blake (District Councillor).

1. Approval and Signature of the minutes of the 2013 Annual Parish Meeting
There being no objections, Pat Clare signed the minutes of the 2013 Annual Parish Meeting.

2. Chairman’s Annual Report
Pat Clare recalled that there had been an Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council in 2013 to discuss a number of planning issues, following declarations of interest by Councillors at the previous meeting.

She reminded the meeting that Councillors were volunteers and that there remained one vacancy on the Council, but added that there had been a recent expression of interest from a villager, with the hope that the Parish Council might fill all its seats by the Annual Meeting in May.

The decision in 2013 to develop a Flood Guidance Plan had proved wise, even though Claxton did not suffer particularly in comparison with other parts of the County. A copy of the Plan had been delivered to every house in the village. It will be reviewed regularly but not reprinted for a few years, given the cost.

It is looking increasingly likely that Claxton will not see any real benefit from Better Broadband, given the lack of businesses in the village save farming and the small number of people who work from home.

The Parish Council remains keen to see some form of playground facility established on the Village Hall grounds but needs more help, especially from villagers with children who would benefit from this facility.

There had been a number of occasions in the past year when parishioners have asked for topics to be discussed at future meetings and not turned up themselves to explain their concerns. Clearly it made more sense if the person requesting the topic was present to launch the discussion.

In January the Parish Council agreed a modest rise in their Precept meaning for most villagers around 50p per annum on their Council Tax bill.

Governance arrangements for the Council had been reviewed, and the current versions are all available on the village website. Similarly regular Financial Reports have been published, including the full year 2013-14, as part of the Council’s determination to be as transparent as possible about its dealings.

The website is an asset and she encouraged people to use it.

At the March meeting it was agreed that dogs would no longer be permitted onto the grass behind the Village Hall, because a small number of dog owners were not clearing up after their pets. The signage would go up soon.

3. Police Community Support Officer’s Annual Report
The Clerk explained that resource issues in Norfolk Constabulary meant that PCSOs were not able to cover all local meeting, but focussed on those where crime was higher and they were busiest. Claxton did not fall into ether category. In the past 12 months there had been 7 domestic incidents in Claxton (ll at the same address) and 2 recorded crimes (both assaults on police constables). To put this into context there had been 16 recorded crimes in Rockland St May and 44 in Chedgrave. 36 calls to the 101 non-emergency number had come from Claxton over the same period, compared to more than 500 from Loddon. PCSOs often ride in the Mobile Library vehicle to make contact with villagers easier.

4. District Councillor’s Report
Derek Blake had offered his apologies as he had to attend the Bergh Apton Annual Parish Meeting as Chairman of their Parish Council. He had provided the Clerk with a number of copies of his lengthy report which can be accessed online by clicking here.  The Clerk read out the report which focussed on South Norfolk Council’s success in growing the economy by giving practical support to business, planning and housing, their focus on looking after those who need the Council’s help the most, and maximising the quality of life for local residents and businesses with no change in Council Tax and a drop in central government funding.

5. County Councillor’s Report
Adrian Gunson reported that potholes had been repaired much more quickly this year because of the milder winter.

New Inn Hill at Rockland St Mary (RSM) had been surface dressed again and had a flashing speed monitor installed for a month.

The Street in RSM would be resurfaced in 2014.

Sallows Lane and Langley Road in Chedgrave will be surface dressed this year.

He had had new signpost fingers installed at the junction of Church Lane and Claxton corner. and was chasing a new footpath sign at Lambs Court, which had nee delayed by a demarcation dispute between the Council and Norfolk Trails (who are responsible as it is part of the Wherryman’s Way).

Hobart School has just celebrated one year as an Academy by coming 10th in Norfolk by exam success.

The Junior and First/Infant Schools in Loddon may become a federation under one headmaster.

Planning approval for 200 new homes behind the surgery in George Lane, Loddon, has been given, despite his opposition, but a bonus will be the establishment of a roundabout where George Lane meets the A146.

Yellow lines had now been painted on the road opposite the Loddon Medical Centre.

He did not share the Chair’s pessimism about Broadband and thought some headway would be made next year.

The Trowse bypass will have a new 50mph speed limit in the Autumn.

Dualling of the A11 between Elveden and Barton Mills will be completed by September.

The Thickthorn roundabout has finally been resurfaced.

The public inquiry into the Northern Distributor Road will open in the summer, and there is hope that work will start early in 2015. Improvements to the Postwick junction will begin later this month in preparation for the expansion of the Broadland Business Park development bringing in 1,600 new homes and 5,000 jobs.

The County Councils share of Council Tax has again been frozen, with cuts having been made in several areas with more to come.

He has had several battles over footpaths.

Finally, there is significant local opposition to a planned solar farm at Yelverton next to the garage, partly because of traffic loads on small roads and the fact that the field being proposed floods regularly onto the A146.

6. Village Annual Reports

Pits Trust. Roland Kaye reminded the meeting of the Trust’s objectives and principles, which were that funds should be used for the benefit of the population of the village of Claxton. A new Governing Document had been drawn up setting out the aims and ways in which the Trust should operate. It was available on the website and would be regularly reviewed. He added that Trustees were not paid.

He went through the Trust’s assets. Ducan’s Marsh was an SSSI with specific flora, fauna and insect life. Natural England had worked with the Trust to establish what might be done on the site, and Kevin Parker had facilitated the involvement of the South Yare Wildlife Group in two workdays to begin clearing parts of the site. There was also seasonal grazing. Some new gates and fences were required and the Trust would fund these. It was planned to have two Open Days during 2014 with guided tours of the site, at times when the flora and fauna were at their best. The Trust also administered the allotments on behalf of the Parish Council. 3 were used and 1/2 were vacant. The Trust had agreed an annual rent of £20 per plot with the users meeting the water consumed. No3 The Warren was the Trust’s main asset, and there was a running programme of maintenance and clearance going on.

The Trust operated within the limits of the Claxton Parish Plan (2010-15). It offer up to £2,000 each year as a bursary, and individual Trustees could be approached in confidence for help and assistance.

In the past 12 months a number of specific grants had been made, including the Children’s Christmas Party, a PA system for the Fair on the Yare and other events, a marquee – also for the Fair on the Yare but in addition available for private hire (through Pat Clare), and most recently a solar panel installation at the Village Hall which would reduce the Hall’s expenditure on electricity and also benefit the Trust with an agreed income split between the two.

Future Plans included replacement of a window and new access gates in the church.

As always, the Trust was keen to hear of any other ideas for ways in which the village as a whole could benefit.

Lastly Roland thanked Chris Dix for more than 20 years of service as Treasurer to the Trust, following the hand over of this duty to Mike Balmer.

The full text of the Trust’s Annual Report is on the village website and can be accessed through the online version of these minutes by clicking here.

Village Hall. Linda Clitheroe had been unable to attend in person and had left a short report which was read out. It had been a quiet 12 months. The Committee still aims to upgrade the toilet facilities but grants are proving difficult and many require matching funding. Fundraising events are being held, and Linda regularly attends car boot sales and fetes to raise funds. She is still collecting aluminium cans and silver foil, though the cost of these has dropped considerably. She wished to thank the Pits Trust for the solar panel installation which would help reduce the Hall’s costs. Finally she wished to thank the Hall Committee for their unstinting support over the year.

Social Club. Sue Ellis’ poor health meant no-one from the Social Club was present to report.

Church. Paul Carter could not attend the meeting but had provided a report which Janice Dix read out. A link to the full report is in the online version of these minutes here. Janice drew attention to the work the community had done inside the church and outside, to tidy the building and churchyard, and acknowledged the contributions of particular individuals in staging a Harvest Supper and a Country Dancing evening. She also confirmed that this year there would be no Flying Festival as the date (Pentecost) now clashed with the new date for the Fair on the Yare. This was a pity because not only did the Festival bring people to the church and raise necessary funds, but there was no real alternative date to stage it.

7. Parishioners’ Questions.
Clarification was sought on the cancellation of the Flying Festival. There were no other questions.

The meeting closed at 2028.

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