MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING OF CHARMOUTH
HELD ON TUESDAY 24 MARCH 2015 AT ST ANDREW’S COMMUNITY HALL
75 electors, 9 Councillors, guest speakers and Daryl Turner, County Councillor were present.
The Chair, Jane Bremner, welcomed parishioners, guest speakers and Daryl Turner as County Councillor.
Apologies were received from Paul Oatway and Jane Morrow who were both on holiday,.
The Chair explained that the meeting had been advertised in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972 using the Statutory Notice.
The Minutes of last year’s Annual Parish Meeting had been displayed on the website for the last 11 months and were also available around the room. The minutes were agreed as a true record and signed by the Chair.
There were no matters arising from the minutes.
Jane Bremner introduced the Councillors.
Reports were received from Guest Speakers: David Sarson, Charmouth Bowls Club; Kevin Payne, Charmouth Scout Group; Bob Hughes, Charmouth Central and Rovarn Wickremasinghe, Bridport CAB.
The Chair reported that it had been a very busy year across the whole of the Parish Council and she thanked the Councillors for all their hard work, very much as a team effort. She felt that this Council were an enthusiastic group who were engaged and involved in village life. Jane paid tribute to all the staff, the office team and the outside team, who had worked very hard, often in extreme weather conditions, and for this she thanked them. She reported on the appointment of the new Office Assistant and the new Seasonal Beach Attendant.
Jane reminded parishioners that the elections on 7 May included Parish Council elections and explained the work of a Parish Councillor and how to apply (handouts were available). She stated that there is also District Council elections and that she would not be re-standing. The District Wards had been rearranged and combined with Lyme Regis. She was confident that Charmouth’s voice would be heard if the current District Councillors are re-elected. Janice Gale confirmed that she is also standing as a District Councillor.
Reports of Committee Chairs
Phil Tritton reported that as a Councillor, he is pleased to make a difference and considers that as the Chair of the Foreshore Committee he is responsible for Charmouth’s greatest asset. He explained that this has his drawbacks, as to gain permission to do even the smallest job involves permission being granted by many outside organisations. Phil stated that beach huts are gradually being upgraded, a new lower evening parking rate is being introduced, weekend cover is being extended for more of the year and a new information point is to be provided, although the planning process has slowed this down. Phil talked of the frustration of Council bureaucracy being very different to running a normal business. However the Foreshore Committee were preparing A Vision for Charmouth Foreshore, on which consultation with parishioners would be sought.
A question was asked about parking permits for resident’s all year round and Phil Tritton confirmed that a balance has to be achieved to ensure the income required to maintain services.
A question was asked as to the penalties for not asking permission to undertake work on the beach and surrounding area. Phil Tritton confirmed that substantial fines can be imposed and gave examples. He explained that a Beach Management Plan would help to enable certain work to be undertaken quicker, ie, smoothing of the beach for boat owners, redirection of the river and moving of the tank traps. This is currently being worked on.
Jim Rose, Chair of CHCC Trustees publically expressed the Centre’s appreciation to the Council, and particularly the Foreshore Committee, for its support since the storms.
Andy Peters reported on the work of the Playing Field and Cemetery Committee and stated that dogs were of big concern. In this regard, more dog bins/bag dispensers had been provided around the village and these are being monitored, with Phase 2 being considered soon. He asked for people to let the Council know if they knew of a particular location where a dog bin would be useful. Andy stated that the bike track has been a huge success and this would be extended and improved, a basket ball hoop would be installed and new “exercise” equipment is to be purchased thanks to grants being obtained by Martin Sayers. The Committee would very much like to resurface Barrs Lane right up to the playing field fence to make it smoother to drive over and resolve the dog mess problems in the verge. Additional toilets at the top end of the field were also on the “wish list”. With regard to the Cemetery, repairs to the Chapel and Lych Gate are on-going and following the retirement of Tricia Forsey from the RBL, the Council are to take on the organisation of the Remembrance Day Parade.
A question was asked by David Cruikshank about the closers on the small gates to the Playing Field which may help prevent stray dogs accessing the field and messing on the bowls green.
Ian Simpson, as Chair of the Planning Committee, reported that as well as considering planning applications, the Committee were looking to produce a Neighbourhood Plan in order to shape the village for the next 10 years. Ian and David Clifford stated that they had taken advice from Cerne Abbas, who were the first parish in Dorset to adopt a neighbourhood plan. The completed plan needing a minimum 50% vote at a referendum to be adopted. In addition, Charmouth had been chosen by WDDC as one of 5 communities in desperate need of affordable housing, with over 60 people with affordable housing need. In this respect, potential sites had been identified and the process of setting up a Community Land Trust is being considered. Both these ventures, although established by the Parish Council, would need involvement of the whole community and Ian hoped that the village would come on board to help.
A question was asked by Marilyn Hinxman about the number of houses required and Ian Simpson stated that exact need would have to be established first.
A question was asked by Jan Gale about timescales for a Neighbourhood Plan and Ian confirmed that it was hoped to have a completed plan ready for a referendum in 18 months/2 years. It is very much about what the community want but also what they don’t want.
A question was asked whether the land for affordable housing would be given or purchased and Ian confirmed that this is not known at the moment as it is in the very early stages.
A question was asked by Sarah Smith about how parishioners can get involved and Ian confirmed that invitations would be advertised in due course.
Phil Tritton stated that Tourism is very important to the Charmouth economy and as such the Tourism Committee issued a visitor survey which ran right through last season with over 250 responses being received. As a result of this, new finger posts are to be installed shortly directing people to all the facilities in the village, the foreshore toilets are being opened 24 hours a day with improved cleaning and the dog rules on west beach from the end of the prom are being relaxed to allow dogs on leads westwards from this point. More eating places are being discussed with the Traders and Oliver Letwin has intervened regarding the opening of the coast paths. The Committee has listened to people’s views and made changes accordingly.
A question was asked by Malcolm Hinxman about why the east beach café had not been protected. Phil Tritton explained that as the beach is not populated it is unable to be protected. However, an application to install gabian baskets in front of the Kabin is to be submitted in order to create a walkway to enable the public to gain safe access to East Beach.
David Cruikshank was very pleased to hear that people will now be able to walk from Lyme Regis with dogs on leads. Phil Tritton confirmed that notices incorporating a map will be erected soon.
Keith Lander stated that whilst talking to visitors, being able to take dogs on the beach is very important to many people.
Phil Tritton reported that the website is being upgraded to help improve communication with parishioners. It is hoped to include agendas and minutes of the Committees as well as discussion papers to inform of what the Council are doing and why they are doing it. Ian Simpson has set up various social media accounts to help engage a younger audience and there seems to be an appetite with followers being gained. Obviously there is still a need for notices and press releases too.
Hazel Robinson complimented the Council on moving into the 21st Century and also for sending out invitations to this evenings meeting.
Peter Noel reported that on the Financial side, a new tenant is now renting the old Doctors area on the ground floor of The Elms and work will be progressing with the conversion of the old Dentist area. The storms of February 2014 cost £77000 without labour costs, £57000 has been reclaimed from the insurance company, with £20000 having to be found by the Parish. Without the reserves held by the Council, the wait for funds from the insurance company would have proved very difficult. Peter explained that finances in a Council are very different to normal business with everything being budget based and needing specific approvals.
A question was asked by Hazel Robinson about how much the Parish part of the Council tax has risen for 2015/16. Peter Noel confirmed that the rise is 25% which equates to about 50p per week for a Band D property. He explained that car park takings are down and the Council’s hand are tied much more than individuals.
Other questions/comments relating to wider Parish issues:
Mervyn Aggett asked the Council to consider the article written by Dr Sue Beckers in Shoreline regarding the changes to the NHS and the way surgeries are to be run. Jane Bremner confirmed that this would be included on the April Parish Council Meeting Agenda.
Jane Bremner mentioned the campaign to save Axminster Hospital beds which had been in the press recently and reported that information had been received which indicated that an additional 50% more nursing staff is required. Adverts are to be displayed and she encouraged people to spread the word to either newly qualified nurses or nurses ready to return after a break.
Jane Bremner reported that she had attended a meeting last week at Charmouth roundabout with Daryl Turner, the Highways Agency, Connect and Oliver Letwin MP regarding the speed with which traffic approaches the roundabout from Axminster. The Highways Agency agreed that improvements are required and are to come up with a plan to try and alleviate the problem within the next 13 months. Jane thanked Mr and Mrs Meadley of Thistlegate Cottages who have campaigned for this for a number of years.
County Councillor, Daryl Turner did a presentation about the work of the County Council and his involvement. It covered the cuts required in budgets and waste disposal amongst other things.
David Cruikshank asked about the deferral of the introduction of the new recycling service and Daryl confirmed that the garden waste service is still due to commence in July.
A question was asked as to whether the new recycling centre would run at a profit. Daryl confirmed that it would not.
Andy Peters, Vice Chair of Council, spoke to remind everyone that Jane Bremner is standing down as a Parish and District Councillor and he thanked Jane on behalf of the Council for being a great leader over the last 2 years. Jane was presented with a bouquet of flowers from her fellow Councillors and received a round of applause.
The meeting closed at 9.30pm and coffee was served.