Minutes of Annual Parish Meeting, 13 May 2015

Present: Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mr P Wright, Mrs M Button and Mr D Hamblin (Councillors), Mr M Balmer (Clerk) and 8 Parishioners.

  1. Approval and Signature of the minutes of the 2014 Annual Parish Meeting

There being no objections, Pat Clare signed the minutes of the 2014 Annual Parish Meeting.

  1. Chairman’s Annual Report

Pat Clare reminded the meeting that there had recently been not just a General Election but also elections at County, District and Parish level. Unfortunately there had not been an election for the Parish Council as only four candidates had come forward to serve, the same four as for the previous 4 years. The Council needs a fifth member and can now directly co-opt one if a volunteer comes forward.

The Parish Clerk has finalised the 2014-15 accounts and unaudited versions were available in the Hall, on the noticeboard and the Village website. The website was for the Village not the Parish Council alone. All contributions were welcome though the Clerk had discretion over what to publish.

Allotment plots are still available. They are managed by the Pits Trust and Roland Kaye will speak more later in the meeting.

The Council had agreed to roll the Parish Plan forward rather than undertake the costly and laborious process of rewriting it.

There had been no progress on a village playground though possibly in the next year. She had received one offer of support with the project.

Adrian Gunson had recently retired after 41 years as County Councillor. He would be missed but had also asked to be kept informed of village events as he would attend those he could.

She congratulated Derek Blake on his re-election as District Councillor and election as County Councillor in Adrian’s place. Given that he was also a Bergh Apton Parish Councillor, she wondered how often he would attend Claxton meetings.

In mid-2014 a survey had been carried out on Broadband speeds in the village and the results used in a letter to Richard Bacon MP, who had responded positively at the time and after his re-election had said Broadband for rural areas was his top priority.

The last newsletter was just before Christmas and there will be another by the summer.

Work is in progress on turning the £1,000 donation from Anglian Water into a village broadband hub located at the Village Hall.

The Clerk had asked her to mention the Community Gym in Loddon which was doing reasonably but still needed more members. There were no joining fees and it was open to all ages 16+.

She would like to thank her fellow Councillors for their support and hard work during the year as well as the Parish Clerk.

Lastly, the 2015 Fair on the Yare would take place on Sunday 7 June and she hoped to see as many of the parish there as possible.

  1. Police Community Support Officer’s Annual Report

The Clerk explained that as there had not been a single incident reported in the village in the past year, there was little point in a report from the PCSO. Long may this continue.

  1. District Councillor’s Report

There was no report following the elections 6 days earlier.

  1. County Councillor’s Report

There was no report following the elections 6 days earlier.

  1. Village Annual Reports

Pits Trust. The full report will appear on the website and notice board. Roland Kaye reminded the meeting of the Trust’s membership. While the guiding principle was that funds should be used for the benefit of the population of the village of Claxton, the Trust had developed this to include educational bursaries, assistance with properties excluding capital works which would increase the value, and a sum for hospital visits to family. The Trust would also consider all other requests.

During the year the Trust had met seven times. Trustees received no remuneration or expenses and 2014-15 had been a busy year for them.

He went through the Trust’s assets. Ducan’s Marsh was an SSSI with specific flora, fauna and insect life. A new High Level Stewardship Agreement was in place which required the Trust to manage the site in line with Natural England (NE) guidance. Thanks to the South Yare Wildlife Group and some Trustees, under the close supervision and leadership of Kevin Parker, a number of workdays had taken place, mostly clearing the encroaching alders and brambles and starting on the list of improvements from NE. There will be further calls in 2015. Seasonal grazing will continue. There is unfinished work on replacing gates and fencing which the Trust may have to fund. An Open Day for Claxton residents is planned in June (currently Sunday 21st but this could change) with guided tours of the site when the flora and fauna were at their best. An invitation would be hand-delivered to each house in the village.

The Trust’s primary asset is 3 The Warren, which after 25 years of occupation was vacated last Autumn when the occupier left the village. A great deal of work is required to modernise the property and this has just begun after several months managing a competitive tendering exercise. This will eat significantly into the Trust’s reserves. It is hoped the work will take no more than 2 months, after which the house will be let through an agent, bringing in a higher rent which will eventually build reserves back to current levels.

The Trust also administered the allotments on behalf of the Parish Council. Only 1 was currently let. 2 of the remaining 4 had been used for the past 4 years and were in a reasonable condition, though some tidying up might be needed.

The Trust received some financial benefit from the solar panels on the Village Hall roof, in the region of £700 or more each year.

In the past 12 months a number of specific grants had been made, including educational assistance to a family in the village, and help to an elderly householder with tree felling.

The Trust’s account are still to be audited professionally, though an unaudited version is available, as well as on the notice board and website. Much of the planned expenditure in 2014-15 did not take place bringing the forecast overspend of >£4,000 to an underspend of >£1,300.

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

Village Hall. Julia Kaye had been Chair of the Village Hall Committee for almost a year. Her main objective was to get the Hall used more. Booking were about the same as in 2013-14, and the Committee would like more. A promotional leaflet had been produced and would be used to attract more interest. Two-thirds of the hirers asked for the bar which is a real asset. A Grant Application to the Neighbourhood Board Fund for money to improve the toilets had missed the deadline last year but would be resubmitted this year.

On fund-raising, the donation from the Fair on the Yare was appreciated. Last year’s Quiz Night had been moved from July to September but clashed with many holiday absences, so this year it would be in July again (Saturday 4th). There had been disappointing numbers at the Easter Fayre, some of which was down to inadequate or late advertising.

The Hall had been decorated in December but the main beneficiaries were those using the Social Club. A new Committee member representing Carleton St Peter would join soon. This was very welcome.

In figures, the Hall had £3,518 in its current account, £3,669 in savings and £585 in the improvement account.

Social Club. The Clerk read out a short report from the Social Club. It had not been a good year. Attendance on Friday evenings was sometimes as low as 2. They may decide not to open on Fridays except before the last Saturday in the month. The monthly entertainment is fairly well attended though it is a struggle to cover costs, helped by a raffle.  The Children’s Party is very popular with more than 20 enjoying a buffet, party games and Razz the Clown followed by a disco. The event costs the Club quite a lot. New Year’s Eve went very well. They decided not to have food and the admission price was reduced from £8 to £6, and there was a raffle.

There followed a long discussion about this rather downbeat report, with many villagers wondering about the Club’s future and concerned that any financial burdens might pass to the Village Hall or the Parish Council. This will be discussed at the Village Hall Committee meeting on 14 May.

Church. Mike Balmer had informed Paul Carter about the meeting and the request for a report but no response had been received. Paul Wright undertook to see if a report could be provided to publicise on the website.

  1. Parishioners’ Questions. There were none.

The meeting closed at 2010.

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