- Philippa Carter
- Sandy Timms
- Brian Leach
- Pauline Plant
- Liz Leffman
- Angela Barnes
Members of the Public
- No members of the public
P Cllr Carter welcomed all participants to the first online Parish Council meeting. She advised that the Oxfordshire Association for Local Councils (OALC) March Newsletter advised that ‘the legislation has been passed to allow virtual meetings. However, this is enabling legislation which requires secondary legislation – the draft Regulations are out but have not been laid before Parliament yet.’
DCllr Jake Acock and Cllr Peter Rance.
2. Minutes of the Last Meeting
The Minutes recorded from the meeting held on 9 March 2020, were approved as a true record and will be duly signed, dated and filed when actual meetings resume.
3. Declarations of interest
4. Financial Report
Bank Balance £43441.38
Bank Statement reconciliation – to be checked at next actual meeting
Allotment Rents £123.00
200117 Maylarch £2490.00 Asbestos Disposal (Revised Cheque)
200118 A Barnes £34.50 Expenses
200119 WODC £85.67 Waste Disposal
200120 P Carter £166.11 Items for Notice Board Repairs
200121 S Fox £7.32 Stamps
200122 I D Godden £102.00 Boiler Repairs
Notice Boards – The first replacement notice board has been stained and the frame painted and attached (invoice for materials). We are waiting for the Covid-19 restrictions to lift so that it can be installed. There will be an added bill from Darren Elliott who did the carpentry to the frame and who will install it.
Godden Boiler Repair Invoice – this was the annual service, which maintains the guarantee. The boiler was in good state and needed no repairs.
Tiddy Hall – refurbishment of toilets – this project is now booked for the school summer holidays.
‘AUDIT 2019-20 Clerks will have been contacted by Moore (Stephens) external auditors. There was/is some hope that audit may be pushed back until later in the year but while MHCLG has announced (16th March) that this is the case for principal authorities the timetable for submission for smaller authorities remains unchanged. The external auditors (Moore, PKF Littlejohn and Mazars) and the SAAA have no power to extend deadlines or amend the timetable which is governed by existing legislation and therefore await advice coming forward from the government. Discussions are being had behind the scenes but clerks should continue as normal, talk to your internal auditor about how the internal audit can be done virtually.’
5. Reports from County and District Councillors
Cllr Leach requested further information on organisations which may help residents who are struggling in various ways with Covid-19 restrictions. C Cllr Leffman advised that WODC have a HUB which can direct people to different support services and that the usual customer service number should be called. Colleagues were asked to investigate and help to compile a list of Oxfordshire organisations which can be advertised to all residents.
6. Public Time
None – no public invited to the virtual meeting as experience new to Councillors. C Cllr Leffman remarked that no other Parish Council she works with has yet attempted a virtual meeting.
20/00340/FUL London Lane. Decision is still pending. Updated documents have appeared on the planning portal regarding Ecology and Drainage. There were many recommendations in the Ecology report but no objections. Thames Water now accept that there is an issue with inadequate capacity in the system. They recommend planning permission be granted and construction started while they model and build the upgrade. P Cllr Carter has questioned the wisdom of this and written to the planning officer and Milton-u-W Vice Chairman because Milton is where raw sewage is tipped into the river when the sewage system is overloaded. The ‘Planning’ email group has been advised.
19/02811/FUL High St. No appeal has yet been lodged although the Cornbury agents had stated that they would appeal.
8. Matters Arising
(a) Gigaclear – In line with Government guidelines to the telecommunications industry, Gigaclear emailed to say that they and other companies are offering reductions in charges to ease financial pressures. This has been sent by email to various groups and to Lianne Ranson for circulating on the village Facebook page.
(b) Grasscutting Contract – C Cllr Leffman advised that during Covid-19 restrictions, it is still permissible for contractor, Shane Barnes to cut the usual verges within the village, using his own dedicated equipment and making sure that he is no less than 2m from any other person.
(c) Footpaths – Cllr Plant will investigate the Ramblers Assoc advice on saving footpaths and contact the OCC Rights of Way team with regards to next steps. https://dontloseyourway.ramblers.org.uk/
(d) Neighbourhood Plan Cllr Carter spoke with Astrid Harvey, WODC officer in charge of Neighbourhood Planning. Ms Harvey informed her that the first step would be for the Parish Council to formally agree to take the lead on formulating a Neighbourhood Plan for Ascott-u-Wychwood. The whole suggestion was to be put to residents at the Annual Parish Meeting in late April, now postponed.
OALC has advertised the following book ‘The Power of Neighbourhood Planning by Peter Edwards’ (Due Out In May 2020). Cllr Carter has asked Richard Smith to advise on the value of buying this book.
(e) Water Resource Associates – The meeting with Frank Farquahason had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. Cllrs agreed that this should be re-arranged as soon as possible.
(f) Wychwood Day Centre Donation – Cllrs agreed unanimously that this should be paid immediately as it is overdue. The amount budgeted is £500.
9. Annual Parish Meeting
The date in April has been cancelled and the Clerk advised that it is no longer required to hold an APM this year. The Parish Council had planned to concentrate on the main themes of Neighbourhood Planning and Speeding in the village. They agreed to still hold a public meeting on both these issues as soon as it is allowed.
10. Risk Assessment and Ground Maintenance
The Playing Field and playground have been completely closed with 4 notices at entry points following Government rules during the Covid-19 crisis. Photos have been taken in line with OALC advice. There has only been 1 complaint which was settled amicably.
Before the closure the junior football goals were taken away for modification to make them free standing but still very strong (agreed in the PC March meeting). The Sports Club will contribute 50% of the cost as it enables cricket to take over from football and vice versa without a lot of work and digging up the pitch.
The contractor for weedkilling the pitch will do this work on Friday 10 April, weather permitting. He works alone and does not share equipment. He will charge £68 + VAT per acre and the pitch measure just under 3 acres i.e. £204 + VAT. Cllr Carter proposed that the Parish Council should agree this cost which was already budgeted. This was seconded by Cllr Plant.
Shane Barnes has started cutting and rolling the pitch. He works alone and does not share equipment. Cllr Carter has asked his advice on the need for grass fertiliser and also on the need to repair the potholes in the roadway. This is work that was not budgeted but has become necessary following the extraordinary wet conditions from November-February. Shane Barnes recommended 4 tonnes self-binding gravel, delivered, at £373 + VAT. Cllr Carter proposed accepting this cost, which was seconded by Cllr Timms.
Cllr Carter will organise work to expose the gravel drainage lines as per contractors’ recommendations. The drainage lines will not work well if they are allowed to become overgrown. Volunteers will exercise careful social distancing by working on separate lines. They always bring their own tools.
Stewart Moss will continue to prepare the cricket square on his own and with his own equipment. He has taken advice from the England Cricketing Board re keeping safe during Covid-19 and will work fortnightly.
Cllr Carter advised that she is making sure that contractors do not coincide on the same day.
11. Community Emergency Plan
COVID 19 Emergency Response
The Parish Council leafletted all households to inform them of contact details if anyone needed support or advice. The leaflet was delivered with one from the shop giving its number and advising on the services that they will provide.
The Village shop is still open to 1 customer at a time. It is taking orders and arranging delivery and also delivering prescriptions which are sent from the Wychwood and Charlbury surgeries.
A spreadsheet of all self-isolating residents with addresses and contact details has been created; information on the people who support them, with contact details, has been included. This list is confidential and shared only with other Parish Councillors who will deputise when necessary. Meanwhile, P Cllrs are supporting some residents.
Cllr Carter keeps in email contact with volunteer supporters and all the Emergency Team, which includes the shop, so that they know they can ask for support themselves, if needed. They have been informed of best practice to stay safe and keep others safe.
Milton-under-Wychwood Parish Council have been sharing their best practice.
The Wychwood Surgery practice manager and pharmacy are aware of the measures put in place. The Practice Manager has promised to inform doctors, nurses and reception in case there is anyone from Ascott who feels that they need support and do not know where to turn.
Cllr Carter asked the Clerk to write to Bridgette Crundwell to thank her officially from the Parish Council for all her personal dedication and for the wonderful support that everyone in the Village Shop has given at this difficult time.
All ceased until further notice. Biggest concern being their business viability to resume when clearly they are much valued and relied upon by some of our parishioners.
The weekday only “halts service” has been withdrawn during the virus crisis. When and if it will then return begs some questions. The spring edition of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group journal lists the overall passenger usage at each station on the line in 2019, and Ascott has yet another fall of 20% on 2018 usage, which was itself a 29% fall on 2017! Strangely, Combe Halt usage now exceeds that of Ascott! Hanborough itself has shown 3 consecutive years of reduced custom. All this despite valiant efforts of CLPG to get a very modest service increase at Ascott, but to no avail. Cllr Rance is not optimistic about the post virus crisis service usage, when surely a proportion of villagers will find working from home, or worse, not at all, is the new norm.
Potholes – Work near the level crossing had been planned to start on 5 April. The road was to be closed. Just days before, this work was cancelled as the team was needed somewhere else. Cllr Carter contacted Highways about the serious depth of the one pothole and the dangerous location but did not receive a satisfactory answer. C Cllr Leffman advised that the new proposed date is 27 April. Cllr Carter explained that special permission was needed from Network Rail as it was close to the level crossing and usually this permission takes several months to obtain. C Cllr Leffman will chase.
Proposals for a national pavement parking ban (OALC March Newsletter)
Quote ‘New proposals to tackle pavement parking and make streets safer for parents and disabled people were set out on 12th March by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The 12-week consultation will (no dates yet) include options such as allowing local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to crack down on unnecessary obstruction of the pavement. Currently, outside London, only police have this power. It will also consider how a nationwide ban on pavement parking enforced by local authorities might work, allowing for any necessary exceptions or designated spots for pavement parking where needed, and how a tailored approach may be required in rural and suburban areas which face very different challenges. In 2019 the Department for Transport concluded a review which looked at the problems caused by pavement parking, the effectiveness of legislation, and the case for reform. 15 It found that pavement parking was problematic for 95% of respondents who are visually impaired and 98% of wheelchair users. The Transport Select Committee also recently conducted an inquiry into the issue, with the commitment to consult on proposals forming a key part of the government’s response to its findings. The department is also looking at possible options to streamline and digitise the process used to create restrictions such as temporary road closures for roadworks, special events or permanent changes to speed limits and parking restrictions, known as ‘Traffic Regulation Orders’ (TRO).
A TRO Discovery Project, carried out in partnership with GeoPlace, Ordnance Survey and the British Parking Association, completed last year which explored the process of making TROs, and how TRO data is made available and used across the country. A legislative review of this is now underway to find ways to improve it and make it easier for local authorities to implement restrictions. More information here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/transport-secretary-acts-to-make-pavements-safer-for-pedestrians
Cllr Leach reported that the tenants were working their allotment plots, abiding by the social distancing ruling. He reported that, sadly due to Covid-19, the allotment tenants’ social meet-up had been cancelled / postponed.
15. Reports from Organisations
Stewart Moss is still planning to hold cricket matches as soon as the Covid-19 ban is lifted.
Cllr Timms reported that the first on-line meeting was attended by all 8 Trustees. Eleanor Bishop is our newest recruit, this being her first meeting and replacing Pauline Marshall. £240 is to be awarded to the newly formed Cricket Club for boundary rope to mark the cricket pitch. The charity run is on hold for now, awaiting to see what happens with Covid-19. A new poster is being be distributed on village social media and village noticeboards explaining the role of The Charity and how to contact the Trustees in the event that a villager finds themselves in extreme financial difficulty.
Nothing to report.
OCC – Coronavirus advice
OALC – Coronavirus advice
OALC March update
Land & Property Registration
OALC March Update
Cllr Leach was asked to look into the ‘REQUIREMENT FOR ACCESSIBLE WEBSITES FOR PARISH COUNCILS BY SEPTEMBER 2020’.
Land and Property Registration – Cllr Carter advised that the Playing Field was registered officially with the Land Registry when the Sport England grant was obtained. Cllr Carter will ask Stuart Fox about the other pieces of land that the village owns and PC maintain.
17. Any Other Business
Station Gardening – Cllr Carter received loud and prolonged harassment from one of the Signal Box men while she was working on the culvert garden opposite the Signal Box. A parishioner and her daughter were also included in the abuse. All were extremely upset and the daughter frightened as the signal man threatened repeatedly to call the police. Cllr Carter has written to Network Rail, who own the land, to ask if the signal box man could be taken off the rota for Ascott-u-Wychwood. This is the third time that Cllr Carter has been harassed by this person and she will have to re-consider working at the station if it happens again.
There being no further business, Cllr Carter declared the meeting closed at 8.25pm
Cllr Philippa Carter (Chairman)
Date: Monday 11 May 2020