Minutes of the Parish Open Meeting, Thursday 20th May 2021

OPEN PARISH MEETING

MINUTES

Present: Cllr Barbara Cooper (Chairperson)
Cllr Geoff Hemmins
Cllr Ben Holland
Cllr Peter White
Sharon Brown – Clerk

Also present: Cllr Tumi Hawkins (SCDC), Cllr Mark Howell (CCC), Mr Richard Murden and residents of the Parish.

Minutes of the last Open Parish Meeting 2019 were available (no Open Meeting was held in 2020 due to the covid situation).

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Will Bevan.

Chairman’s Report: Cllr B Cooper gave a comprehensive report for the year 2020-2021. A copy will be kept with the Minutes.

A handout of the unaudited accounts for 2020-21 was available.

Cllr Cooper welcomed everyone present. She noted the dramatic effect that the covid year had had, requiring people to go above and beyond, together with the fact, that as covid restrictions lift again, it is vital that we remain connected in the Parish and therefore all feedback is welcome.

Cllr Cooper outlined that due to the High Court judgement that the legal position for on-line meetings had ended in April, the Parish Council would proceed with face-face meetings at the village hall. To that end, everyone was made aware that a risk assessment had been completed for meetings and use of the village hall and was being followed. Also noted was the point that LPC hope to apply for funding to livestream meetings so that people could attend in their chosen manner in future.

Thanks was extended for the support and advice from Cllr Tumi Hawkins and Cllr Mark Howell and for attending meetings regularly online, especially over this last year with the pandemic.

Cllr Cooper’s report also covered the financing of the activities of the LPC, the main source remaining the Precept. The support of the new Clerk, given by the previous Clerk, Mrs Bobbie Coe, was gratefully acknowledged. Future projects of LPC were outlined with a focus on speed reduction measures and the quality of life in the village.

The proposal by County Broadband to lay full-fibre connection through the village was welcomed, the more so as the covid lockdowns have shown how important this has become for maintaining work and social structures. All individuals were also encouraged to respond to the proposal from East-West Rail for the new line.
Finally, thanks were expressed to those taking an active role in village and parish concerns; the Village Hall committee for running the premises, the Sports Committee for the upkeep of the field and cricket pitch; Mr Michael Murden for the cleaning of the bus shelters, Mr Andy Church for the extensive job of grass cutting throughout the centre of the village, Mrs Chris Morton for taking on the editorship of the Skylark and the Skylark Supplements and Ms Charlotte Hemmins for the internal audit, as well as to fellow councillors. Ben Holland was thanked for taking on the role of Footpath Warden. A huge thanks was extended to Mr Dick Murden for his 41 years commitment as Footpath Warden, which he was now relinquishing.

Reports from District and County Councillor representatives to LPC.

Cllr Mark Howell, CCC commented on the high turnout at the local elections and the resulting coalition controlling the County Council. He noted how impressed he had been by all the community initiatives during the pandemic, including such simple but connecting actions as the thumbs-up signs in Longstowe village windows.

Cllr Tumi Hawkins, SCDC commenced with her thanks to all Parish Council members and residents for their work and community actions over the months of the pandemic and in working with the District Council to ensure that there was complete coverage and support for the most vulnerable and for businesses. She noted that SCDC would in the future, like to build on the networks created. The financing of SCDC was the summarised: government funding and council tax leave a deficit; an investment portfolio is therefore being developed. Various grant aid opportunities from SCDC were also noted and we were encouraged to develop projects and apply. Housing development and planning were noted as major issues for South Cambs, but that there is a 6.1 years land supply in the District. The next stage of the Local Plan will come forward in the autumn. Drainage and flooding were also noted as issues of concern in the area and were being worked on.

Discussion
There followed lively debate from the floor. Issues of concern included: East-West Rail proposed continuation of the rail line from Oxford into Cambridge; public transport and walking; traffic levels, the heavy goods vehicles passing through on the B1046, speeding both on the A1198 and the B1046 and speed reducing signs.

Mr Dick Murden then thanked the Parish Council for their work on checking and keeping an eye on the village and villagers throughout the pandemic and consequent lockdowns.

The Open Meeting concluded at 8.20pm.

Signed by:……………………………………………………… Date:. ………………..
Chairperson

LONGSTOWE Parish Open Meeting, 20th May 2021 – Chair’s Report
With COVID 19 case counts falling, thanks in large part to the growing numbers of UK’s vaccination programme and with the Government lifting of most of its coronavirus restrictions Longstowe is now able to host its first Parish meeting back in the village hall.
As a small parish we are lucky to have had the support of both Mark Howell and Tumi Hawkins over the past year, along with the other parish council members who have given up their time to support the Parish, attending monthly online and other meetings that have enabled the Parish Council to keep in touch with the challenges that face small villages like Longstowe.
With the exception of August, we have met monthly. At these meetings we have discussed matters raised locally, planning matters referred to us by the District Council, local environmental issues, correspondence received, and our finances. We have attended a variety of additional online meetings, both within the District and more locally, for training, information, or as part of the ongoing Planning process for the area.
Our major source of funding is the precept (£5,250) collected on our behalf by South Cambs District Council which forms part of the council tax that you pay. Apart from paying our clerk, the majority of your money continues to be spent on street-lighting, maintaining the bus shelters, fees to useful organisations and insurance. A final summary of income and expenditure for 2020–2021 will be available on the website.

Our Clerk’s pay rate is mandated by a National Agreement covering all council employees and reflects her experience in the role. We are very lucky to have Sharon as our clerk enhanced further with the generous support provided by our previous Clerk, Bobbie Coe.
We recognize that it is vital we remain connected to our parish and have an understanding of what you are experiencing, and how we can best support you. The legal position is that parish councils now need to meet face-to-face, rather than remotely, and be open to attendance in person from the parish. Meetings must be held in line with restrictions and public health advice in place at the time. Longstowe PC has prepared a risk assessment for holding meetings in the village hall.

We do not have the facility to live stream and have discussed the possibility of applying for funds to enable this in the future but have concerns about storage and theft. It would however make the meeting available for members of the parish to observe proceedings and encourage them to watch remotely if they are unable to attend face to face meetings.

County Broadband is working with local villages including Longstowe to help everyone get access to full-fibre broadband. This pandemic has shown all of us how important it is to stay connected and improve the speed we work with. If you have not already engaged with them to see how they can help you I would urge you to do so. They have a number of helpful videos and staff on hand to respond to your queries.

Over the forthcoming 12 months the Parish council will continue to campaign to reduce the speed limit through Longstowe. In the past we have been successful in securing grants towards speed reduction measures and new signs for the village and village hall. There are additional funds we will be seeking this year and we would love to hear from parishioners about what you think is needed in the community. The Government have indicated that they want to see safe roads which meet the needs of everyone, so it is vital that councils have clear and consistent guidance to help them set appropriate speed limits on the roads and obtain more suitable speed-reducing measures where appropriate. This is supposed to be based on their local knowledge and on the views of the community. One of their primary objectives is to ensure improved quality of life for local communities and a better balance between road safety, accessibility and environmental objectives, especially in rural communities. All applications for speed reduction schemes will be looked at to see if there is local support and a need for a speed reduction scheme. This list will then be prioritised and based on the highways annual budget for these schemes. The success of a speed restrictions scheme relies on local support, so we need to provide evidence that there is majority support from the parish for a scheme, before we begin working on it. This could be in the way of a signed “pledge of support” from Longstowe residents. Please do contact the chairman of the Parish Council if you wish to support this. All views are welcome!

Longstowe Parish Council will continue to ensure that we communicate with everyone in a timely and effective manner, to inform and consult you on matters which directly affect you. Our meetings are open to the public and are normally held on the evening of the third Thursday of each month, except August. This is your opportunity, as members of the parish, to engage with the Councillors. Do come along and make your voices heard. All meetings include an item for public participation. If you cannot attend in person, we encourage you to make written representations at least 5 days before the meeting so that items can be put on the agenda. While you remain silent we can only assume you are content, so please bring any issues to the Council so we can deal with them.

The Parish Council is happy to discuss any resident’s application with individuals before submission for planning approval and for parishioners to attend the meetings where planning issues are discussed.

The council would like to thank the village sports committee members who work tirelessly to keep the Longstowe sports field in such great condition, also Michael Murden who looks after the bus shelters and Andy Church who does the grass cutting.

Huge thanks are be extended to Dick Murden who has looked after the footpaths and rights-of-way as our warden for the village for over 40 years. We will all miss Dick’s valuable contribution and thank him for his hard work. We are however hugely grateful that Dick has agreed to support our new footpath warden and to Ben Holland who has agreed to take on this important role.

If you have not already participated in the consultation on the East–West Rail and the other factors that have a direct effect upon the village of Longstowe I would urge you to do so. The more people that express their views of what they want, the more likely we are to retain the identity of our lovely village.

Thankyou. Barbara Cooper Chairman LPC