Minutes of Sibford Gower Annual Parish Meeting held in Sibford Village Hall on Monday, 11th April 2016

Parish Cllrs Peter Abbott, Mrs Susan Bannister, Oswyn Murray (Chairman), Alan Parkin and Mrs Gilian Soden.  Peter Hardman (Clerk).
County & District Cllr George Reynolds, Mrs Maureen Hicks (Sibford Ferris Parish Council)
Twenty eight Local Residents.

Apologies were received from two local residents.

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 15th April 2015 were approved and signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising
There were no matters arising which did not feature in the agenda items.

Chairman’s Report
There have been four meetings of the PC during the year.

Miriam Tebbs land: the land has been cleared and the hedge laid very expertly by Nigel Prickett. We shall proceed with planting the apple trees very soon. We are very grateful to TOE2 for their grant to cover the costs of this work.

High speed Broadband: Tim Huckvale informs me that this will arrive in Burdrop this summer, though the Ferris will have to wait longer.

Village pond: on the advice of a legal expert resident it was decided not to proceed with the question of who owned the pond.

Joint Gower and Ferris business
O2 and vodaphone mast at Sibford Elm is proposed (not EE), and will be discussed at the Ferris PC.

Village Power Consumption Project: this grant was awarded to the Ferris but we are hoping to collaborate with them.

The budget cuts imposed by Oxfordshire CC are a serious worry:

On waste disposal we have not yet had any information about the proposal to close the Alkerton tip.

However OCC has decided to withdraw all rural bus subsidies from the end of July. This clearly affects the 50A service from Stratford to Banbury. We are in a better position than most villages, because Warwickshire CC will continue to subsidise part of the route. Negotiations are going on for a new contract, which will probably mean a reduction of the service from 7 buses a day each way to four. We hope to hear more in early May.

I am attending a meeting at Wroxton later this month to discuss whether we can create a consortium of north Oxon villages to take over some of the services that OCC is abandoning; in the meantime the PC has agreed to spend a small sum on a third cutting of the verges this year in addition to the two that OCC is prepared to pay for.

There have been 24 planning applications this year, mostly for things like extensions or tree work. But four perhaps warrant specific mention:

  • Yew Tree House: a proposal for restoration of this important listed but run down property was made by Mr and Mrs Mallows; it was accompanied by an extremely interesting history of the house and its relationship to the village prepared by a professional expert, which with their permission has been deposited with the Sibfords Society. The PC thought the restoration was sympathetic and imaginative, and recommended it strongly to the Cherwell planners. We look forward to its completion.
  • Muddle Barn Farm: The plans for a large Georgian mansion with Victorian extensions were twice submitted to Cherwell: on both occasions the PC offered detailed objections. Two of your parish councillors attended the Planning meeting of Cherwell at which it was to be discussed, but half an hour before the meeting the proposal was withdrawn. However the Planning department had already recommended refusal on the following grounds:

    Recommendation – Refuse, for the following reason:
    The proposal would result in a considerably larger dwelling than the one it would replace, on a different siting and not within the curtilage of the existing dwelling, and would not be for an agricultural or other land based business. Therefore, by virtue of its scale and siting, the proposal would not constitute an appropriate replacement dwelling and would result in a new dwelling in an isolated location in the countryside. In addition, by virtue of its scale, design and siting, the proposal would fail to preserve the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and adversely affect the character and visual amenity of the local landscape. The proposal therefore conflicts with Policies H17 and H18 of the Cherwell Local Plan 1996, policies ESD13 and ESD15 of the Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 Part 1 and paragraphs 17 and 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
    These are essentially the grounds on which your PC had already objected, and it is not easy to see in what form the proposal can be resubmitted.
  • Haynes Barn: permission has already been granted for conversion of this derelict barn into a dwelling; the new purchasers wished to run a smallholding from it, and requested permission for an agricultural barn to be added. The PC were divided in their comments, but Cherwell has permitted the development.
    These two applications have raised the question of the Sib valley, and in a recent consultation with Cherwell the PC has asked for special protection for this area to the south of the village, and for greater clarity in future planning policies about the concept of the village envelope.
  • Bishop Blaize: Apart from the usual cycle of applications, refusals, Planning appeals and Inspectors’ refusals, there has been an important development. The PC with the support of the Ferris had previously twice failed to have this property designated as an Asset of Community Value: the refusal had been on the grounds that it was exempt because it was in actual occupation as a private dwelling, albeit illegally; however in January the owners advertised it for sale as a public house, and were no longer in occupation. So the PC applied again on the same grounds as before, and Cherwell finally agreed to add it to the list. The owners are contesting this, and next week I shall have to attend a hearing at Bodicote House to defend the listing. I believe that it will be upheld.

    One consequence of this is to allow the community to enter into negotiations for the purchase of the property; in order to do so we must set up within a specified time frame a Community Interest Group, which may be either a charity or a parish council or a not-for-profit company. We have decided not to do this until we have called a Public Meeting of the two villages, the Gower and the Ferris, to take place at 7 pm on 20th June in the Village Hall; this meeting will seek to ascertain the wishes of the two villages, and explore ways forward. For instance a successful community purchase may use the Bishop Blaize not necessarily or wholly as a pub, as long as it is “a non-ancillary use of the Asset which will further (whether or not in the same way) the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”. 

    In the meantime the existence of the ACV means that Cherwell will not permit any change in the Planning status of the property, which must remain that of A4 Drinking Establishment.

    The announcement of this public meeting will appear in the Sibford Scene and the website, and will also be circulated.

Defibrillator service
Cllr Gilian Soden reported that two residents are now trained and taking calls. One person is awaiting training and another has just applied. Two enquiries have been received about being first responders. We come under the Hook Norton Area Co-ordinator. Training has been difficult and some has been cancelled.

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations
Cllr Gilian Soden reported that plans for the concert on 11th June and the street party,  service and activities on 12th June  have been provided. Information will be delivered to each house when the Sibford Scenes are delivered.

Clerk’s & Financial Report
The Clerk reported on the current financial position of the Parish Council providing information of the cost, shared with Sibford Ferris Parish Council, of maintenance of the churchyard and burial ground, grants made to the village hall, the Sibford Scene and the Primary School. He expressed his thanks to Mr David Soden for carrying out the Internal Examination of the accounts and to the Parish Councillors for the support he receives in carrying out the duties of Clerk.

Thames Valley Police Matters
Thames Valley Police advised the Parish Council in February that because of a lack of resources visits to Annual Parish Meetings would not be possible. Instead, Parish Councils were invited to send two representatives to a meeting at Banbury Police Station on 15th March when the Neighbourhood Policing Administrator and Inspector John Batty would speak about issues that had been dealt with over the year and provide time for questions at the end. The Chairman and Clerk attended. Matters on the agenda included Speeding, Parking particularly outside and around schools and Anti-Social behaviour.

Highway & Footpath Matters
A representative from Oxfordshire Highways had been invited to the Meeting but no one was available. Local situations were discussed and the major issue being the very poor state of the roads and the lack of clearance of gullies leading to road flooding. It would appear that remedial work in filling potholes is quite ineffective with whatever material is used being washed away quite quickly.  It was decided that a strongly worded letter  be composed and sent to Oxfordshire Highways. The Clerk was instructed to put this in hand and he is to seek the help of a local resident who has professional experience in the subject matter.

Holy Trinity Church 
The Rev Ronald Hawkes presented the report which included information about Sibford 175 last year, the church clock  (mechanism fixed, electric winding installed) , awaiting refurbshment of dial, re-gilding of hands and numbers and refitting of hammer spring. He thanked the many individuals and the Gower PC who have supported the project financially. He spoke of the HM the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations (Concert by Worcester College Oxford chapel choir – Saturday 11th June at 6.30pm.), and the Sibford Village Plan.

The Friends Meeting House 
Judith Weeks was unable to be present and her report was presented by Cllr Susan Bannister. It included nine points ranging from Sunday Meetings, Work for the disadvantaged, Weekly meetings at Grendon Underwood Therapeutic Prison, Monthly meetings at RAF Croughton, Facilities available at the Meeting House and the receipt of two generous donations.

Primary School Report
The Head Teacher was unable to be present and sent her apologies. A school governor was also unavailable to attend.

Report by The Town Estate Charity
Jean White presented the Report which included information about discussion taking place to update the Trust Scheme and its records, the cuurent situation with regard to Wheathills, relationship with Warriner School Partnership Academy and monies provided for the benefit of local residents, local organizations and the church.

Report by The Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator
The Report was presented by Mrs Mollie Mulley. It included information about the present Banbury Rural Police Team, the current Neighbourhood Watch Team, other news about Mrs Mulley’s involvement as Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator.

Sibford Village Hall Report
Mrs Joan Broady’s report was presented by Muriel Chandler. It included information regarding Village Hall usage, day to day management, the co-option of David Allen to take over grant applications, hoped for refurbishment and insulation of main hall, grant applications made to renovate toilets, resurfacing car park and new shingles for the roof.

Muriel said that the Village Hall Committee was very grateful to the Ferris and Gower Parish Councils and The Town Estate Charity for their continued help.

The Chairman thanked Muriel Chandler for her many years of devoted service to the Village Hall. She was Secretary for twenty five years and Manager for a lot of those. All of them on an unpaid basis. (A Hall Manager is now employed).  Everything Muriel did was very much appreciated. This was endorsed by a round of applause from everyone at the meeting.

The Sibfords Community Plan
The Chairman gave a verbal Report. Nothing specific mentioned but the principles established in the plan were still central to the thinking of the Parish Council

                              The Reports in full are available from the Clerk upon request

As the Meeting drew to a close Mrs Mollie Mullie once again raised the issue of parking around the Village Pond.

The Chairman thanked all those who had presented the reports and there being no further business to discuss, declared the Meeting closed at 8.50pm.