The following Councillors were present: Mr N Braithwaite (Chairman), Mr S Fox, Mrs W Pearse, Mrs E Byles, Mr R Rose (County Councillor), Mrs H Hibbert-Biles (District Councillor). Mrs M Ismail, Parish Clerk was in attendance.
1. APOLOGIES Were received from Councillor M Pearce.
2. MINUTES The minutes of the previous Annual Meeting held on 8th April 2002 were agreed and signed.
3. Mr R ROSE (COUNTY COUNCILLOR) Over the year as Deputy Chairman of the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee Mr Rose has worked on the following areas; speed limits in South Oxfordshire, domestic violence and fire safety in the home. His work on the Democracy and Organisation Committee looks into the legal side of the way the County Council works. A review of local bus services will be taking place in the near future and Mr Rose promised to take a keen interest in developments and welcomed any comments on recent changes or future improvements. He has also been involved with a local group in Milton to try and maintain local care for the elderly in the light of developments at Langston House and Castle View. Mr Rose explained some of the complex reasons for the rise in Council Tax.
4. MRS H HIBBERT-BILES Mrs Hibbert-Biles thanked everyone for their support since the election last May especially the excellent and helpful officers at WODC. It had been a busy year of full of training courses and getting to know all the various committees. She is now the West Oxfordshire’s District Councillor on the new County Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee which replaced the Community Health Council. Planning has been a large part of the job and Mrs Hibbert-Biles explained some of the issues regarding the new code of conduct. In future there will be more delegation to officers and she explained how important it is that she is aware of views in order to bring a delegated application that is controversial to the planning committee. The new Local Plan was explained. Our area will be asked for up to 50% affordable housing on any application of two houses or more. The fight to keep Langston House open continues but does not look hopeful and she urged everyone to write to their Member of Parliament. With regard to the flooding and inadequate drainage in Ascott she had met with the WODC Engineer, the Environment Agency and Thames Water and felt that things will now progress. West Oxfordshire Community Safety Partnership has launched a new initiate for tackling anti social behaviour called an Acceptable Behaviour Contract and an office liaising with the police has been set up to pilot the scheme. She hoped the shop was progressing
and was pleased to see that it would attract leadersplus European funding. She is enjoying life as a District Councillor and urged people to contact her if they have any problems.
5. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Since the elections last May the Parish Council has had to deal with increasing amounts of bureaucracy which takes up a lot of time. To celebrate The Queens Jubilee there had been a dinner for 200 villagers in the Tiddy Hall, new church gates, new benches at the pavilion, one donated by WODC and one purchased by the Parish Council and jubilee mugs had been given to 118 children in the village. The village shop has been a major project this year with the village survey, public meeting and negotiations for purchase of the building. The venture is now moving forward and a Management Committee is now running the project. The Chairman thanked Mrs Hibbert-Biles for her help and support with the project. Other projects over the year had included handrails on the Maple Way footpath, Kerbing around the village green to stop the erosion by traffic, repair of the bridge over the Evenlode near Manor Farm, child height handrails over the bridge near the Mill, and speed roundels in London Lane. There is an ongoing sewage problem in Shipton Road near the pub which is being investigated and Thames Water are producing a report on the problem. The District Councillor is meeting with the environment agency and WODC engineers to try and resolve the problem of the drains in the village generally.
6. FINANCIAL REPORT Mr Fox explained that the accounts had not yet been approved or audited and were therefore draft accounts at this stage. The balance of the account is £5,876.54. Exceptional items have been the New Church Gates £2,470.50, Millennium Mugs £590.00, increase of Clerks salary and administration £2,203.49 and maintenance of the playing field and grounds £1,865.09.
Expenditure next year will include kerbing around the village green with an agreed cost of £3,288 to be paid in 2003/04. The precept will be increased by £1000 to rebuild and fund the village shop. Compared to other villages Ascott is in the middle band of precept levels.
7. ORGANISATIONS REPORTS
CARTERTON POLICE PC Jon Badrick introduced himself to the Parish Council and the community having recently taken over from PC Hamilton. He reported that the area was relatively safe with a small crime risk. There had been 14 incidents last year including burglaries, domestic assault and minor theft. PC Badrick has undertaken special responsibility to work with children aged between 12-18 . He urged the community to keep the police informed and stressed that he was willing to be involved in community affairs.
Q. J Cull asked how the community could avoid becoming complacent about the low crime risk and what proactive measurers could be taken.
A. P C Badrick replied that communication and accessibility were always necessary however crime free an area is.
PRE-SCHOOL Mrs Pauline Plant reported. There are 45 children on role, 6 from Ascott. Staff levels have increased to 6 and all staff have attended courses including first aid, music and special needs. There is a good committee with strong support from the parents. Fund raising events have included a jumble sale, bingo, raffle and Christmas concert.
Q. Mrs Hibbert-Biles asked if the pre-school had received a grant from WODC
A. Mrs Plant replied that they had and it was spent on books and book cases.
FOOTBALL CLUB A report had been sent from Allister Moore. The 2003/03 season has seen a marked improvement with the team likely to finish in the top 4 in Division 3. More games have been won than lost and they have a positive goal difference for the first time in several years. They have twice beaten the league winners Eynsham A and there are now 5 players from Ascott in the club. Costs are being covered. They are pleased with the condition of the pitch and would like to thank Mary Barnes for cleaning the changing facilities each week.
TIDDY HALL Roger Shepherd reported a good year with the hall serving the community well. The anniversary party had been cancelled due to other commitments and the decision to reduce fund raising activity because there is healthy bank balance in excess of £10,000. Major improvements costing £4000 had included safety bollards, relaying the steps which were in poor repair, a landscaping scheme and interior heaters. Future improvements will include better lighting. The hall is regularly used for Yoga, pre-school, badminton and scouts. Bookings for private events are good.
CRICKET CLUB John Cull reported that the Club was £800 in credit at their AGM. Shipton 3rd team had used the ground last year but it had created too much pressure on the square and they have decided that it cannot support two clubs. The season starts on May 11th until 14th September. They will be competing in the village knockout and have added a Presidents match to the fixture list. 19 matches have been confirmed home and away. They are struggling to find new people but aim to increase fixtures.
PAROCHIAL CHURCH COUNCIL Mr Roland Stedeford reported. This has been the first full year under the care of Revd Mark Abrey and he was joined by Revd. Nigel Hakes as curate to the Benefice in June. Benefice services were held in Ascott on Palm Sunday with a procession from the Green to the church and on Jubilee Sunday 3rd June; both were well attended and attracted members of the other four churches in the Benefice. The Church Fete had raised £2,063. A service of dedication was held 17th November for the new church gates. A timetable of Church Services in Ascott and the Benefice is now displayed in the church porch together with the form of Liturgy used at each. The pulley system for the bells was renewed in the spring. Some work needs to be done on loose plaster behind the organ. There is a proposal to acquire a reconditioned pipe organ but this will hopefully be independent of PCC funds. The PCC are investigating the possibility of creating a room in the north aisle to be used as a meeting room for Sunday School etc and the provision of disabled access, toilet and small kitchen area. The PCC is supporting an initiative to provide a youth worker in the Deanery and it is hoped to eventually have youth group in the village. At a Thanksgiving Service in September an appeal was made for financial support and produced an encouraging result.
COLDSTONE ANGLING CLUB Mr Don Barnes reported a successful season for the Club. Only one match had to be cancelled on the Evenlode. Membership numbers remain poor but a feature in the Oxford Mail had brought 9 new members. A new match record had been set with a carp catch of 92lbs. Fund raising events had included bingo, raffle and open matches. Raising £540 in total. The system of 10 year pledges had now run out which will mean they should be better off in the future. They were pleased to have Nigel Braithwaite as their new president.
ASCOTT GRAPEVINE Mrs Anne Braithwaite had sent a report. The Grapevine is now in its tenth year. Thanks were given to Viv Lewis for producing the cover, Information Press, everyone who helps with delivery and the Parish Council for their financial support. Mrs Braithwaite intends to retire at the end of the year and suggested that the magazine might be better run by a small committee in the future. She hoped that volunteers will come forward.
LEAFIELD C of E PRIMARY SCHOOL Mr Owen Green reported. A high level achievement has continued and the schools academic achievements have been complimented by many of the Local Education Advisers. The school enjoys the support of many parents and the PTA and 200 Club have combined to form the “Friends of Leafield School”. Staffing levels remain constant at the start of the Academic year and many of the staff and assistants have attended additional training courses. There are 71 children on the register with three starting in January and two after half term. The financial situation at the school is sound and it is hoped to build an extension to provide a new classroom and play area. The three year forecast of pupil numbers and expected income should enable three classes to be maintained. A production of ‘Oliver’ was performed raising over £750 and ‘It’s a Baby’ was performed at Christmas. A mixed cricket team got to second place in Cricket tournament at Charlbury Cricket Club in June and the football and netball teams both had draws against teams from Brize Norton Schoool. An inter-school football tournament had been organised during October. In January 30 children spent a week at the Yenworthy Outdoor Centre in North Devon where children learned the value to teamwork and offering help and support to others. A Japanese day had been organised to learn about the culture, life-style and art in Japan.
SPORTS CLUB John Cull reported an improvement in the financial situation with the club now being £2000 in credit due to a fund raising folk evening and coffee morning. Thanks were given to Lyn Collins for organising these events. The look of the pavilion has been greatly improved and Mr Cull thanked the village ladies who had spent many evenings recovering the benches inside the pavilion. Thanks were also expressed to WODC and the Parish Council for the Jubilee benches. They are pleased with the condition of the ground and thanked the Parish Council for the grass cutting although they felt that more weed control would beneficial. The club welcomes new members and a full programme is planned for the year. Wychwood Boys U16 have chosen Ascott as their home ground and the Football and Cricket Club are looking forward to a busy season.
VILLAGE SHOP COMMITTEE John Cull, Chairman of the Management Committee reported. After the open evening and results of the village questionnaire in February a Management Committee of eight people has now been set up to take over the responsibility for the village shop project. Three committees have been formed for funding, facilities and operations. £130,000 needs to be raised to buy and stock the shop. The main sources of funding will be WODC leaderplus funding, grants which ViRSA are helping to obtain, Independent Provident Society ownership scheme with £10 shares and fund raising activities. It is hoped that the shop will offer various services such as computer facilities, fax and photocopying as well as the normal basic goods. There have been 33 offers of voluntary help to run the shop and it is hoped to find a paid manager or a partnership scheme may be considered.
Q. Roger Shepherd asked how much of the £130,000 does the village have to raise
A. John Cull replied that it is hoped £10,000 will come from village fundraising and the £120,000 from other sources.
Q. Mr Barnes asked what happens if the shop fails
A. Mr Braithwaite replied that the building would be converted into low cost units
Q. District Councillor asked how far the committee have got with the grant applications.
A. Mr Cull replied that they are complete. Helen Datsun is helping Peter Swan and meeting with WODC regarding Leaderplus
This concluded the Organisations Reports and the Chairman thanked all those who had reported to the Meeting.
There being no further business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 9.30 pm