Villagers have their say
There was a special Old Buckenham Parish Council meeting held on Saturday 9 October in the Village Hall.
Tim Ing was chairman for the meeting and welcomed the residents and thanked them for attending the meeting. There were 26 members of the public present as well as the parish councillors Adrian Joel, Derek Smalley, Stephen Thorley, Carol Marshall and the parish clerk James Watling.
Update by councillors on village projects. Carol Marshall said the Recreation Area had been in the pipeline for six years and that the project had not progressed as well as they had hoped. She said that the school with its new sports status would attract the major funding but the working party on the recreation area would still try to source other grants as the Parish Council hoped to install outside gym equipment on the area. Tim Ing said the play area had been a tremendous success with a £75,000 play area which the village had contributed £5,000. A resident suggested that the Parish Council go back to look at the Recreation Area and see how they could invigorate more interest in the project. Adrian Joel talked about the new allotments which were requested in April 2010. The Parish Council had set up a working party which had written to local land owners asking if they had land available for the project. The Parish Council had looked at four areas and decided the land at Ragmere Road was the most suitable. An agreement was reached with the land owner to lease some land. The owner has since made it more suitable for allotments of which 15 had been created and the official opening day is Monday 25 October. The Parish Council has donated a half plot free to the High School. This means that there was a half plot left available for anyone interested. Derek Smalley said he is a volunteer driver with the Community Car Scheme and that the whole scheme was undergoing changes in regulations. In the past year the scheme had achieved in fulfilling all car journeys requested.
Matters raised by residents. A resident raised the matter of the Green which he thought in the last ten years had deteriorated. Grass and trees were overgrown and the pond needed continual work done on it, not just on rare occasions. He also said the track across the green was a mess and the Green Right Proprietors had no money to deal with it. Mike Read of the Green Rights Proprietors gave a detailed explanation of the issues facing them including the on-going legal action against the Ox & Plough. He said once the issue was dealt with it is hoped that a management partnership could be created including the Parish Council for the future maintenance of the Green. He agreed the Green was in a bad state this year but they were trying very hard to resolve the issue with the person who has the hay rights. He finished with expressing his deep concerns on the forthcoming appeal against the judgement made in the small claims court against the Green Rights Proprietors. He said if the appeal was lost it could throw the whole management of the Green into total chaos. He then asked if residents had any questions. Various questions were asked and Mike Read replied to them. Concerns were expressed about the play area including anti-social behaviour by young persons including the consumption of alcohol, the police are aware of this problem. Concerns were also raised about parking by people using the play area which caused problems for the Church and nearby residents including the using of the Church Room’s toilet facilities. One resident raised the matter of the two apple trees which were offered free to plant in the play area. Tim Ing said the Parish Council had discussed the matter and, after safety concerns, had voted not to take up the offer. The matter of the churchyard maintenance was raised by the churchwarden. This work is mainly carried out by volunteers who were now getting older and so the work would soon have to be paid for. He asked if the Parish Council could assist with grants. Tim Ing said a lot of work had been carried out by Norman Cawston and other volunteers but that a grant request from the church was due to be considered at next week’s precept meeting. A resident raised the matter of the Parish Council’s accounts not being available at the Annual Parish meeting. The Parish Clerk said he would make a copy of the accounts available to be used on the village blog* but that residents of the village could view the full accounts at Parish Clerk’s home with prior notice. They would now also be available at each year’s Annual Parish meeting. The same resident raised the matter of more consultation and communication by the Parish Council which he thought was lacking. He then went on to raise the matter of the bollards outside the village shop which he claimed had affected the business of the shop. Tim Ing informed the meeting that Norman Cawston (as a resident and not as a parish councillor) had undertaken the repair work himself without charge at the request of the Green Right’s Proprietors. These bollards had now been replaced with others by Norfolk County Council. Other residents expressed the view that all parties should be working together for the sake of the village and make positive strides forward rather than keep looking back. Jill Emms gave an overview of the Village Hall including past refurbishments and ones that are planned for the near future including the car park resurfacing and improvements to the toilets. She also expressed concern that in the future the whole heating system, which in winter was not very effective, may have to be replaced. Two residents raised the matter of VAT on spending by the Village Hall and asked why the Parish Council did not claim the VAT back for them. The Parish Clerk explained the legal position on VAT and said that to make a claim for refund of VAT on any expenditure by the Village Hall would be illegal. A resident said that the Parish Council should make more efforts to involve younger people in the work of the Parish Council and Tim Ing said this would be discussed by the Council. Derek Smalley asked if it would be possible for contact to be made to people newly moving into the village. The Parish Clerk said he would arrange for a welcome pack used by another village to be obtained and then discussed by Parish Council.
Tim Ing again thanked everyone for attending and, as there were no further points that people wished to raise, he declared the meeting closed.
*these accounts were posted on the blog on Monday 11 October