|The Chairwoman opened the meeting at 7.50 pm. Approximately 100 residents and Parish Council members were in attendance.
1. Apologies for absence: Cllr Judith Gallop
2. The Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 27th April 2007 were read out by the Clerk. These were adopted and signed as a true record by the Chairwoman.
3. Chairwoman’s Report:
Cllr E Irving presented a report on the past year’s activities. This had involved some important changes for the Parish Council, as Cllr Roy Clements had retired after fifteen years as Chairman, and the Clerk, Terry Yearsley, had also retired after ten years in post. Cllr Irving commented on the enormous increase in the demands on Parish Councils over the past ten years, often involving members in several hours of voluntary work each week. She felt that although Parish Councils may not have a great deal of formal power, nevertheless they could exert considerable influence on the decision making process. There continue to be threats to rural services, such as reductions in public transport, potential loss of mobile library services, and the closure of public conveniences. In order to manage the Council’s workload, a new arrangement had been put in place involving four working groups, covering Highways, Environment, Finance and the Airport. These groups look at issues in depth, and make recommendations to be considered by the full Council. One area of particular concern is the increasing incidence of flooding in Wrington village, and the Parish Council has been putting pressure on North Somerset Council to investigate the causes of this problem. Regular meetings have taken place during the year with the management of Bristol International Airport, which have enabled councillors to keep up to date with the airport’s plans and to comment on these. Alongside this, there has been concern about a proposal to put through a link road between the airport and junction 21 of the M5, and the Parish Council is facilitating a group of local residents who are studying the potential effects of this, with a view to producing a report. A new initiative during the past year has been the exploration of the concept of ‘shared space’ and how it might be applied to Wrington. This is a long-term project, and needs careful consideration.
In summary, the Chairwoman said she felt that the Parish Council is a strong and effective team, and thanked colleagues for their support during her first year in the Chair.
PC Kim Tacchi was in attendance, and the Chairwoman invited him to make a report. PC Tacchi stated that 140 crimes had been reported in the parish this was an increase of sixteen on the previous year. There were 51 incidents of theft, twenty of criminal damage, twenty motor vehicle crimes, and eight incidents of assault. There were also 21 incidents of possession of drugs, which represented a slight decrease. Detection rates are about 25 per cent. PC Tacchi explained that crimes can now be reported on-line. There were continuing problems with vehicles speeding in Wrington Road, and with parking in Broad Street. The past year has seen the appointment of PCSO Yvette Jordan, and her presence in the local community has been well received.
4. Budget Report
a. Parish Council: copies of a Financial Review had been provided for attendees at the beginning of the meeting, outlining the main items of income and expenditure during the 2007/08 financial year. The Clerk reported that the Council’s finances were in a healthy state, with just over £38,000 in the current account at the end of the financial year on 31st March. This meant that the aim of holding a reserve of six months’ operating costs had been achieved.
b. Memorial Hall & Recreation Field Committee: Figures for the Committee’s income and expenditure for the past financial year were included in the Financial Review. A grant of £16,000 had been made by the Parish Council for the support of the Memorial Hall, and this had enabled further refurbishment to take place, in addition to essential maintenance. Details of the receipts from the Parish Trust were also provided. The income from the Trust is divided 75% to the Memorial Hall and 25% to Redhill Village Hall.
5. Legg’s Charity
Ms Echo Irving, as Secretary of Legg’s Charity, briefly reported on the year’s activities. This charity exists to make grants to residents of the parish for educational purposes, and although the sums involved are quite modest, they can be very helpful in enabling young people to pursue activities that they would not otherwise be able to afford. All details of the grants given are confidential.
6. Wrington Parish Charities
Mr M M Collins provided a verbal report on the activities of the Parish Charities during the year. This chiefly involves providing vouchers for elderly people to purchase goods at local stores.
7. District Councillor’s Review
Cllr Deborah Yamanaka provided an overview of the past year’s events. She reported that the major planning application from Bristol International Airport for expansion of the terminal was still awaited. The airport is now processing six million passengers per annum. The travel plan put forward by Wrington School has been accepted by the District Council, and the installation of scooter and bicycle stands is awaited. She was hoping that a new school building could be funded within the next few years. With regard to St Katherine’s School at Felton, the District Council have not been successful in purchasing a new site for this, which is likely to result in a combined school with Winford. In terms of local services, she felt it was likely that mobile libraries and public conveniences would be affected by reductions in funding next year. Cuts to the 121 bus service have resulted in half the journeys from Weston-super-Mare ending at Langford. The subsidised section of the journey, from Wrington to Bristol, is to be re-tendered. This service is supposed to be part of the BIA Surface Access Strategy.
8. Open Forum
The Chairwoman invited members of the public to raise any issues of concern.
Mr Peter Jones asked whether the street lighting the parish could be adopted by North Somerset Council. Cllr Yamanaka explained that historically the Parish Council has been responsible for the costs of street lighting, and NSC were no longer prepared to adopt such local schemes. However, the Parish Council is attempting to resolve the situation whereby local residents pay for street lighting through the precept, but also contribute to street lighting throughout the district through their Council tax.
Ms Anne Gower of Redhill commented on the amount of litter on the A38, particularly around the airport. Cllr Geoff Matthews responded that the Parish Council regularly requests BIA to clear up this litter, and this matter will be raised with them again.
9. Environment Agency
The Chairwoman then introduced three members of the Environment Agency Nigel Smith, Development Control Engineer, Vanessa Leavy of the Flood Incident Management Team, and Jody Grabham of the Asset Systems Management Team, who provided a presentation on the subject of flood risk. It was explained that there are three levels of flood risk, and some parts of Wrington Parish are in the highest category. There is now new legislation relating to assessing flood risk for planning applications, which enables the Environment Agency to have much more influence than previously. A large number of questions was raised from the floor, which reflected the level of concern within Wrington village in particular, following two serious flooding incidents in the previous twelve months. The Chairwoman called upon Mr John Inman, Principal Drainage Engineer at North Somerset Council, who was in attendance, to respond to some of the queries. Ms Leavy offered to provide assistance in setting up a Flood Watch group in Wrington.
There being no other business the meeting was closed at 10.00 pm.