Chairman's Monthly Report March 2017

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At our March meeting, we discussed the changes to the regime for transporting pupils to and from their schools. The changes are driven by budget cuts at WBC which mean that the local authority is unable to fund the subsidies that it has historically provided to enable free or subsidised travel by bus. Under the new regime, some pupils still qualify for free bus travel depending upon family circumstances and the location of the school; but others have to pay (currently about £750 per annum) and are not guaranteed a place on the school bus if it is full.

The Parish Council has explored alternative methods of transport but has, so far, been unable to find one which is cheaper than the £750 per annum provided through WBC. We will continue to keep it under review and have invited the Transport Services Manager at WBC to a Parish Council meeting so we can consider other options.

Dominic Boeck, our District Councillor, brought us up to date on other WBC matters. He put the budget cuts into perspective by telling us that the grant to WBC from central government has been reduced from £33m to £3m over the past five years. In the face of this huge reduction in funds from central government, WBC has decided, in addition to the budget cuts, to increase Council Tax this year by the maximum allowed of 4.99% (of which 3% is ring-fenced for adult social care).

We were very disappointed to hear of the extent to which Greencell, the contractors installing the solar park at Manor Farm, and the operators of the site have ignored the conditions imposed by WBC. In breach of these conditions, the contractors have:

  • Failed to erect the safety fencing around the site before starting the installation, thus creating a health & safety hazard. The fence only went up three weeks after work started; and only then because we remonstrated.
  • Failed to ensure that large vehicles delivering materials use the permitted route to access the site. Despite many notifications and warnings, these vehicles are still coming through the middle of the village and causing traffic jams.
  • Failed to abide by the condition that work should not take place on Saturday afternoons or Sundays.
  • Failed to abide by the condition that, to protect wildlife, work should stop between the end of February and the start of November.

This track record of failure does not give us confidence in the ability of the operators to manage this solar park properly so we will continue to monitor closely and report breaches to WBC.

Finally, there have been instances recently of men calling on houses in the village to sell household cleaning materials. They claim to be released prisoners acting on the instructions of their probation officers. We have checked with the police and probation service, and they have confirmed that they have not authorised any such activity.

The next meeting is on Tuesday 4th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall. All are welcome.

Charles Brims

0118 971 4085

cdbrims@brimpton.com