Open forum meetingOn Saturday 24 September the Parish Council held an informal forum to report back on their activities and achievements to the villagers of Old Buckenham. The councillors present at the village hall were the chairman Tim Ing, Adrian Joel, Derek Smalley, Jonathan Kemp, Sandra Dye, Akis Chrisovelides, Carol Marshall and the parish clerk James Watling.
Only ten members of the public came along.
Tim Ing welcomed members of the public and said he was disappointed with the turn out. He then went on to introduce the parish councillors and explained their particular areas of responsibility (all parish councillors sit on one of the working parties or have special tasks allocated to them).
Sandra Dye said the play area is up and running and a tremendous success. It is a project the village should be proud of. On-going maintenance is being carried out to keep it up to a high standard. Some issues have arisen with the play area and these include car parking, dog fouling and funerals at All Saints but these are being addressed.
Derek Smalley said the discounted oil scheme is up and running. There had been some issues on the price savings being achieved but he was talking to both Norfolk RCC and AF Affinity to improve the prices being charged. There was still the opportunity for more people to join the scheme which could generate better pricing rates and anyone interested in joining the scheme should contact him. Derek Smalley has also arranged Welcome Packs for new residents to the village which contain lots of useful information. So far five have gone out and he asked if anyone knew of any new residents to let him know. He welcomed any suggestions for new additions to the packs. He then went on to discuss the Community Car Scheme which over the past twelve months had completed nearly 1,000 trips to doctors, dentists, hospitals, opticians or to visit sick relatives at care homes. The scheme has around twelve volunteer drivers who work very hard. There has been a small increase in the cost of the journeys with the Parish Council paying a total of 10p per mile as their contribution of the total 45p per mile new rate.
Akis Chrisovelides said he was responsible for the Youth Council which the Parish Council said should be set up to allow young people in the village to have some representation and to provide a platform to put forward their views. He gave details of the issues facing the scheme which make it very difficult to set up. There were currently two Youth Councils already set up, one with Breckland District Council (BDC). He is in contact with BDC on setting up the Youth Council. He gave an over view of the different types of Youth Councils that could be set up and he will be continuing his work on the matter.
Adrian Joel gave an overview of the allotments that are up and running. He gave a brief history of the project which from the start took only a matter of months to completion because of the efforts of the Parish Council. Water has been installed with three stand pipes so all allotments have access to the facility and fencing has been completed. The school has a plot and will be using it for a school project. The Parish Council were grateful for the grants received from Breckland District Council and Old Buckenham 2000 Trust. The first year has been a learning curve and amendments to the tenancy agreement will be made in 2012.
Jonathan Kemp gave details of the Recreation Area. The work has been split into three phases following consultation with the residents. Phase 1 has now been completed with the obtaining of a 25 year lease from the Village Hall. The ground has been prepared and picnic tables installed, along with a football pitch. The cost of this phase was approximately £5,000. Phase 2 will be the installation of a multi-games area which will cost around £42,500 and it is hoped this will be completed in 2012. Phase 3, which will be for a BMX track is expected to cost about £30,000 and it is hoped this will be completed in 2013. Grant applications and funding activities will continue to take place throughout the year.
Finally Tim Ing introduced James Watling, the Parish Clerk, and said he was the person responsible for keeping the Parish Council informed of what they needed to do and what they could not do. He thanked the Parish Clerk for his work.
There was then an open forum for residents.
One resident raised the matter of toilets on the Recreation area. Carol Marshall said that following advice from the police no toilets would be provided as they could cause problems. A representative of Village Hall added that allowing the village hall toilets to be used would cause them considerable problems too. They had to consider the security of the hall, who would be responsible for opening and closing the hall and there was also the question of the cost of cleaning the toilets after use.
The secretary of the Old Buckenham Allotment Society said they fully support the Parish Council through the Allotment Liaison Committee and that there were a couple of issues that remained unresolved at this time. A resident raised the matter of verges being damaged by vehicles, especially large agricultural equipment and HGVs. Tim Ing said the matter would be raised with NCC Highways.
One resident raised the question of who is responsible for the maintenance of Prince Harry Wood. Adrian Joel said Breckland Council was trying to establish new woods under the Jubilee Wood Scheme and were looking for suitable land for the project.
A further resident said that he was impressed with the Parish Council and its professionalism in the running of the meeting and he also was disappointed by the attendance and said that residents should be more involved. He then raised the matter of the Attleborough expansion plan and the traffic problems it would cause. He then went on to say that a lot of expenditure was being made on the younger children of the village and more consideration should be given to older children. He also raised the matter of the Green. He commented on the level of the Parish Council precept which had been reduced from a previously higher level and which had not increased over the past couple of years. He felt this was wrong and the precept should be raised. He also mentioned the matter of the stage lighting for the Old Buckenham Players which it said was in need of replacement.
Tim Ing said the Parish Council was moving forward in a positive way and engaging with the High School and that the headteacher, Peter Whear, would be attending the November meeting of the Parish Council. He said the Parish Council have £500 to contribute towards any Diamond Jubilee celebrations being arranged for next year. He said the amenity area on the Green opposite the village shop would not be going ahead as it would only create six more parking spaces and would not increase trade at the shop. Tim Ing also said that as the Green Right proprietors were a private organisation, the Parish Council could not give them any funding. He then read out a letter from a resident regarding the present siting of the children’s play area. The letter then went on to express views regarding the recreational area where he felt that the response received in consultations with all residents was not high enough to move the project forward. He suggested further consultation with the village on the subject. Tim Ing responded on the location of the play area. The Parish Clerk explained to the meeting that the Parish Council (and he as Responsible Financial Officer) had strict guidelines as to how the financial affairs of the Parish Council were recorded and reported. He said the Parish Council would not deviate from them and would always fully comply with guidelines and legislation.
Tim Ing said he wanted to engage the community on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the best way to spend the £500 allocated for this. A Village Hall representative said they would be having a meeting soon to discuss what celebrations they felt would be appropriate. A resident then raised the matter of funding for the war memorial. The Parish Clerk explained that funding had been provided for future cleaning and maintenance on the memorial and that further funding would be available. The Old Buckenham Allotment Society secretary raised the point that, under new legislation, Common’s Councils could be created to manage village Greens and he said that the Parish Council should look at this in the near future.