East Hampshire Association of Parish & Town Councils – Minutes of Meeting
Chairman: Jim MacDonald firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile 07986 003742
Secretary: Jenny Hollington, Rose Cottage, Ridge Common Lane, Stroud, Petersfield GU32 1AX
Tel – 01730 267784, email@example.com
A Meeting of the Association was held on Wednesday, 14th September 2016
at 7.30pm at Hawkley Village Hall
Present: Brian Foster (Clanfield), Bob Raley and David Hooper (Rowlands Castle), Keith Budden and Sue Halstead (Liss), Derrick Speed (Ropley), Rosemary Hopewell (Langrish), Doug Jones (Buriton), Geoff Brighton, Jilly Caesar, Robin Crittenden and Susan Sinclair (Hawkley), Christine Philp and Dennis Tregay (Headley), Stanley Bennett (Lindford), David Cooper and Mark Davison (Whitehill & Bordon), Andrew Hedges (Grayshott), Charles Church (Wokingham), Simon Thomas (Four Marks), James Deane and Lesley Farrow (Petersfield), and Lynn Evans (Horndean)
Apologies – Apologies had been received from District Councillor, Ingrid Thomas, and Michael Croucher (Bramshott & Liphook)
Welcome – Jim MacDonald introduced himself as the new Chairman of EHAP&TC and Jenny Hollington as Secretary – Jim is Chairman of Steep Parish Council and Jenny is Clerk for both Steep and Sheet Parish Councils.
- Devolution – Ferris Cowper, Leader of EHDC, was welcomed to the meeting to present EHDC’s preferred option of a Combined Authority.
Cllr. Cowper explained the perceived benefits of a Combined Authority over the Single County Unitary proposals. He said that financial benefits would include business rate retention, additional Government grants, plus there would be no additional start-up costs. Services would continue to be provided and driven by local demand. Potential Issues include a democratically elected mayor and split delivery of services.
Following the presentation, concerns were raised focussing on the role of Town and Parish Councils, especially small rural parishes not aligned to an urban combined authority, and decision making across the 8 combined councils. Cllr. Cowper confirmed that the role of Parish and Town Councils would remain unchanged and he didn’t feel that reaching agreement across the combined authority would be an issue. The issue of problems caused through sharing of services with Havant Borough Council was raised – Cllr. Cowper was surprised as a recent survey records high level of satisfaction from EHDC residents with no diminishing of services. He said that he wasn’t aware of any issues and that if any Councils do have problems contacting staff/resolving issues, they should get in touch with him direct as there is scope within the budget to make changes. In a response to a question about EHDC and HCC Cllr. Cowper suggested that negotiations continue in the background with regard to re-opening discussion with Hampshire.
The Chairman drew the discussion to a close, saying that he looked forward to whatever came next! He urged Councils to respond to the current HCC Consultation which closes on 20th September.
- 2. Parish Charter – Bob Coleman, Team Leader, Community Services, EHDC presented a copy of the Parish Charter which, once approved, will represent a mutual agreement between Parish and Town Councils and East Hampshire District Council. The current draft will now be sent out to all East Hampshire Town and Parish Councils for consideration – any feedback should be sent directly to Bob before the end of November in time for the Charter to go before Cabinet in the New Year. Bob was thanked for getting the document to this stage – it has been 10 years in the making!
- Deep Devolution – Consideration was given to what services Parish and Town Councils would feel able to take on if responsibilities are devolved under either a Unitary or Combined Authority. Town councils and larger parishes expressed some enthusiasm for taking on more responsibilities. However, there was a general concern expressed amongst smaller, more isolated, parishes, that they may have neither the skills or enthusiasm to take on more responsibility – but it was felt that by working together in parish clusters (e.g. as per the Lengthsman Scheme), more could be achieved at local level. Concerns expressed included the possibility that this could lead to a loss of parish identity and that the workload could become onerous on Parish Clerks.
- Previous Minutes – The Minutes of the Meeting held on Wednesday, 8th June 2016 were approved – proposed by Keith Budden and seconded by James Deane.
- Matters Arising
TAG Farnborough – The proposal for changes to airspace have been further refined and the additional consultation period extended to 2nd November (from 5th October). The proposals were discussed and concerns noted with regard to the lack of data and compliance. Although aviation at Farnborough provides employment within East Hampshire, it was felt that the tranquillity of the South Downs National Park is not fully appreciated by TAG – those living under the flight path will be affected by noise of aircraft on a much more regular basis, gliding at Lasham will also be impacted. Following a show of hands, it was agreed that the Chairman should respond objecting to the proposals and setting out the concerns with regard to the poor consultation process.
- Buckingham Palace Garden Party Nominations – Members were asked whether there is a deserving candidate in their parish – if so, names should be put forward to the November meeting for consideration.
- South Downs National Park Authority – Doug Jones’ report had been circulated prior to the meeting and is appended – he was thanked for keeping members so well informed. The dates of the Autumn Workshops were noted and Councillors are advised to book their places.
- Any Other Business –
Speed limit signage –The issue of rural signage being damaged by hedge cutting or lost in overgrown hedgerows, meaning that police are unable to carryout speed checks was discussed. It was agreed to ask a representative of Hampshire Highways to attend a future meeting to discuss the issues raised.
9 Date of next Meeting – It is hoped to hold a combined EHAP&TC/EHDC meeting towards the end of November (this is to replace the EHDC meeting due to be held at Penns Place on 15th September) – date to be confirmed.
The meeting closed at 9.35 p.m.