Parish Councillors Present:
James Mellor, Researcher to David Cameron
West Oxfordshire District Council:
Phil Page, Head of Street Scene
Hilary Hibbert-Biles, District Councillor
Ascott Recovery Committee (ARC):
Members of the Public: 8
Apologies were received from County Councillor, Rodney Rose.
The October minutes and Appendices referred to were agreed, dated, signed and filed.
3 MATTERS ARISING:
Flooding – The chairman introduced Phil Page from WODC who had come to give an update on progress from the October meeting. Phil thanked Keith Macaulay for inviting him back to have a good look at the local brooks, streams and rivers. He reported that his initial report was sent to the Cabinet meeting on 10th October requesting more resources and confirmed that resources had been approved of £75k with a potential of £50k for emergency works. Phil also reported that 2 more engineers had been appointed and that the ex-Chief Engineer, David West had been appointed for 1 to 2 days per week. Phil advised the meeting that a monthly update would be sent out and that his main report was targeted for March 2008. He confirmed that there was good co-operation and communication between the Environment Agency, Thames Water and WODC.
The chairman then introduced the two representatives from the Environment Agency; David vanBeeston and Jim Sokal. David had been an engineer for some 35 years and he had been drafted in from Reading to help in identifying larger problems and help co-ordinate any quick-fix problems and remedies. A report would be prepared, hopefully before Christmas and he advised that although this may not include many solutions initially it would include a longer term project. Jim Sokal reiterated that their role would be to identify problems and hopefully solutions as soon as funding was made available. It was confirmed that both the WODC report and the Environment Agency’s report would be discussed simultaneously.
Q: The chairman asked the Environment Agency if they could guarantee Ascott-under-Wychwood receiving the funding necessary to carry out essential and preventative works?
A: David vanBeeston answered that unfortunately they could not guarantee this.
Q: Philippa Carter, The Barn House, asked the Environment Agency about dredging rivers and responsibilities of removing wood, trees etc. from their own part of the river?
A: David vanBeeston answered that it was imperative for anybody wishing to carry out these type of works to seek permission and advice from the Envrionment Agency first.
Q: Andrew Jackson, Shipton Road, asked if the Environment Agency were aware of the tree that had been down in the river now for some 18 months? Andrew also advised that he had in fact telephoned the Environment Agency to notify them of this and found them extremely unhelpful.
Jim Sokal advised the meeting that Ascott-under-Wychwood was deemed a “medium” risk area. This was not received well at the meeting and Hilary Hibbert-Biles strongly urged both Jim Sokal and David vanBeeston to take this information back to the Environment Agency. Hilary and a number of public members advised that Ascott-under-Wychwood were very lucky that no lives were lost during the flooding on the evening of Friday 20th July.
John Cull advised the Environment Agency that ARC had received some 30 written accounts of what had happened from individuals affected by the floods.
Q: Nick Carter, The Barn House asked about Insurance companies not offering insurance cover in the future for houses that had suffered due to flooding?
A: David vanBeeston answered that they were indeed working with the ABi and providing plans were in progress then Insurance should not be a problem.
The chairman thanked both gentlemen from the Environment Agency and Phil Page for attending the meeting, all three left the meeting and the Parish Council took a 5 minute break. The chairman then gave a summary; he had identified 10 different sources of flooding and that a fundamental decision would need to be made in which way to take this issue forward:
Option 1 would be to wait for the relevant companies, Environment Agency, WODC and Thames Water to complete their findings. The negative side to this option is that committment could not be given 100% to Ascott, what if there were to be further flooding either in Ascott or indeed countrywide. How would works and funding be prioritised so far as Ascott is concerned?
Option 2 would be for Ascott to invest resources into the original 5 questions, this would enable the Village to not exclusively rely on the Environment Agency, Thames Water, but to carry out its own investigative works. The first step would be to approach a company called Wallingford Hydrosolutions Limited, who have already given a quotation. The cost to the Village would be £12,500 – although the Village had not got this amount of money yet, the chairman was confident this could be raised by various sources. The chairman reported that the Parish Council would not be able to manage this and a project management team would need to be formed to take this forward. The chairman gave a summary of what the Village would gain by taking this route, i.e. a quality assessment and the Village being clear on what works were needed.
The Parish Council were then asked for their thoughts;
Stuart Fox, Elaine Byles and Sally Franks expressed their concerns with regards to cost and duplication as both West Oxfordshire District Council and the Environment Agency were preparing reports and felt it would be best to see their results before making a decision. Stuart also advised the meeting that after seeking advice from the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils (OALC), the Parish Council’s contribution would be very limited by Section 137 Expenditure and indeed any funding would need to be proportional to the population, which would reduce any contribution further.
Bridgette Crundwell – was concerned how funding would be met.
The chairman confirmed that ARC currently held £2500, the PC could give a small amount, a Villager had offered to help fund this project and with further fundraising was confident this could be met. The chairman also asked Hilary Hibbert-Biles if she would like to comment, but who did not feel in a position to cast a vote.
The chairman then asked the Parish Council to show their hands either in favour of either option;
Option 1 a show of 3 hands
Option 2 a show of 2 hands.
The Village would now wait for the relevant bodies to submit their reports on the flooding and how solutions, remedies and preventative measures can be taken.
OCC Highways – Ongoing
Pavilion/Sports Club – Ongoing
Village Shop – Ongoing
Parish Conservation Plan – It had been reported that garden rubbish had been tipped into the Pound. Clerk to ask Shane Barnes if he could erect a couple of pallets at the entrance into the Pound and the Clerk to put a notice up “No Tipping”. No progress on timescales to move the electricity pole, Clerk to keep chasing. Stuart advised the meeting that he would need to seek further funding for the moving and re-siting of the Ascott Barrow, Hilary Hibbert-Biles noted this and would look into also.
Freedom of Information Act – Clerk attending a course on Tuesday 13th November.
5 Shilling Quarries – It was agreed that a Village consultation should be held in the Tiddy Hall at the January meeting. Clerk to prepare a “Flyer” to be hand delivered throughout the Village. Chairman to supply wording for flyer.
2a Shipton Road – Ongoing
Cornbury Estate – Clerk had received a telephone call and email from Belinda Young at Savills confirming that works would be started, some of the works i.e. stone walls were being dealt with by Lady Rotherwick herself, via her insurers. Clerk had also received an email from Lord Rotherwick confirming he would like to attend the December meeting.
Precept – Ongoing, will need to be discussed at the December meeting.
Risk Assessment – Ongoing
· Letter received from WODC planning; Windrush School rooflights – planning had been granted, but the removal fo the Chimney stack was being investigated. Copy letter in Envelope No. 47.
· Email received from WODC re flood protection – clerk had forwarded to PC and ARC.
· Email received from Cornbury Estate – Lord Rotherwick would like to attend the December meeting.
· Letter from WODC with regards to the Precept – original in Envelope No. 47
Internal Audit – to be discussed at the December meeting.
07/1638/P/FP INSTALLATION OF ROOF LIGHTS at WINDRUSH VALLEY SCHOOL, 2 LONDON LANE, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD (Retrospective)
07/1816/P/LB INTERNAL ALTERATIONS at ASCOTT EARL HOUSE, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD
07/1924/P/FP ERECTION OF DETACHED DWELLING at LAND ADJACENT TO 14 HIGH STREET, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD.
6. FINANCIAL REPORT:
Payments In £
ToE Grant for stone walling £1,380
WODC 2nd Precept Instalment £4,833
Payments Out £
OPFA Subscription £30.00 (S.137 Exp.) Chq. No. 100618
Wychwood Day Centre £50.00 (S.137 Exp.) Chq. No. 100619
Stuart Fox reported that NALC had now confirmed the recommended national salary awards for clerks. The hourly rate for part-time clerks had now been increased by 2.475% and the mileage to 55.8p. Stuart proposed rounding up the increase to 2.50%, this was seconded by the Chairman and would be backdated to April 2007.
7. COUNTY COUNCILLORS REPORT:
No report, apologies received.
8. DISTRICT COUNCILLORS REPORT:
Hilary Hibbert-Biles reported that £250k was available via the Red Cross to target support for the hard effected by the floods. Hilary also reported that the enforcement breach which had been opened on the Yew Tree Farm development had now unfortunately been confirmed not possible to enforce.
Hilary reported that a breach of planning had been opened on Planning Application: 06/1197/P/FP at 35 High Street, Ascott-under-Wychwood. She also reported that the Horton Hospital were being investigated with reference to their maternity unit and finally grants were still available for the Sports & Arts Coach of the Year – this had now been extended to 21st January 2007.
9. PUBLIC QUESTIONS:
Karen Purvis, The Old Farmhouse and Alan Chubb, Long Barn both expressed their concerns with regards to Planning Application 07/1924/P/FP. These having been noted by the Parish Council, the District Councillor asked the Clerk to copy the response from the PC to her.
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
There being no further business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 11.00pm and confirmed the next meeting to be held on Monday 10th December.