Sidlesham Parish Council.

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Hand-drawn Sidlesham signpost with lapwing bird.

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting 2010 (Unapproved)

Held in the Church Hall, Sidlesham on Wednesday 26 May 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Councillors present: Mr Adrian Harland (Chairman), Mr Colin Field (Vice-chairman), Mrs Patricia Tull, Mrs Debbie Kennedy, Mrs Elizabeth Smart, Mrs Diana Pound, Mrs Carole Ranjbar, Mr Alastair Malir, apology for absence was received from Mr Christopher Bond.
Also present: Fifty-five Sidlesham Electors, Mrs Margaret Whitehead (County Councillor) Mr Lewes Brown (Chichester Observer) and Mr John Paul (Parish Clerk)

Mr Adrian Harland as Chairman of the Parish Council opened the proceedings and welcomed all present to the meeting.

1. Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on Wednesday 27 May 2009
These were proposed by Mr Guy Borer seconded by Mrs Tricia Tull and agreed by those present as being a true record to be signed by the Chairman.

2. Parish, District and County Councillors. To the electors Mr Harland introduced the Parish Councillors and Clerk with their functions / jobs for the PC, Mrs Whitehead as the County Councillor and Mrs Tull in her addition role as the District Councillor. 

3. Parish Council report of the past year by Mr Harland.
In many ways, this has been a particularly busy year for the council, and in particular for myself and the vice-chairman, Colin Field, to whom I am indebted for his unstinting time in assisting me in dealing with a number of matters, not all of which have been straightforward. During some periods of the year I seemed to spend a week at a time dealing with these matters – every time I thought I had got to the end, my computer would ping yet again to tell me that more correspondence had arrived! Perhaps this is the moment to point out to all of you that the parish councillors, although putting themselves forward for election, are unpaid volunteers who can and do spend a lot of time looking after the interests of our widespread parish. Please also bear in mind that we are parishioners too, just like yourselves. As is often quoted, we cannot please everyone all the time, but we do our best to come up with balanced decisions for the benefit of the parish as a whole.
This is particularly relevant in looking at the very recent planning application to turn School House and its garden into an affordable housing project, consisting of 2 flats within the school house, and 3 ‘terraced’ 3 bedroom houses. A number of people, including governors, parents and others have raised objections to this scheme. However the Parish Council has had this building and the site on its agenda for at least the last 10 years, and during this time parishioners have also raised the unkempt and unsightly state of the building to our attention. Eventually the WSCC declared the building redundant for educational purposes, and have looked at the best way of using the building and its site bearing in mind its closeness to the school itself. A plan to convert it into keyworker accommodation was looked at in 2003, and then rejected. Plans to sell the site on the open market, to include the demolition of school house, were also considered. The parish council was not on the whole very happy with the possibility of demolition, nor were the planners when the next and current scheme was put on the table. Thus the current application came to be formulated. In all of this discussion your parish council was not pushing for one solution or another, just that the building and its site should be put to good use, and an eyesore removed. Whilst the council has a good deal of sympathy for those who would like to see the building retained within the school framework, the costs of doing this would seem to be beyond the resources of interested parties ie raising say 250k to purchase the building and its land together with refurbishment costs said to total a minimum of 50k. As such a scheme would not be covered by the school budget, future maintenance and annual rates, utilities etc would additionally have to be found. As the current affordable housing application is the only concrete proposal put forward to deal with this site, and would provide rented accommodation for 5 families with direct connections to the parish, the council has given its support. A decision is now awaited from CDC for this planning application.

As always the most regular task of the Parish Council is to consider Planning Applications. During the past year the planning committee met 15 times. The trend of the previous year has been reversed, so that again we are seeing an application on average once a week. For a parish of this size that is a high volume, as it represents about 8% of all dwellings, with a few business applications also. In fact we have looked at 53 applications, of which we raised no objection or supported 39, and objected to 14. Of the latter one refusal was later replaced by a ‘no objection’ after further information was provided, and a second was objected to on a second occasion when resubmitted. Subsequently the CDC Planning Officers or its Planning Committee permitted 37, and refused 4. One matter, the application to build a large greenhouse development on the western edge of the parish, was withdrawn before the CDC gave a formal decision – the parish council had raised a number of objections to it. Another to which we had objected was ruled to need a full application.  I think I am correct in stating that in only one case was our outright objection overturned with a straight permit by the CDC planners/committee. That leaves a further half a dozen matters on which no decision has yet been made.

I think it is also pertinent to inform you all that following recent changes to planning regulations a number of past applications would no longer require to obtain planning approval in certain circumstances, so that could lead to a reduction in number of those that come before us in future.

Enforcement Matters. We continue to raise concerns about certain situations, some minor, some of more major significance. The Enforcement Dept at CDC has undergone a review, with a new protocol laid down, and a small projected increase in staff numbers. Under this system complaints are broken down into those requiring immediate action, and so on, but all are intended to be looked at within a far shorter time span than before. Two matters brought to the officer’s attention have now been dealt with; a third longstanding item is yet to be resolved.

Appeals against planning decisions.
One application refused by both the parish council and the CDC planning dept was appealed. Subsequently the Government Inspector confirmed the decision to ‘Refuse’.

Council Committees and Work Groups
All members of the Council can sit on the Planning Committee. The Council meets formally every 2 months, when all remaining business is conducted. This covers the ever present concern over traffic matters on all of the parish’s roads, footpaths both alongside the roads and across fields etc, the parish amenities such as seats and bus shelters, the upkeep of the parish open spaces, such as the Paddock Straight, and ponds. We also review the parish finances, receive reports from various other bodies on which members of the council sit, amongst which are the Peninsular Community Forum, Chichester Association of Local Councils (CALC), the Manhood Parishes Road Safety Group, the Manhood Peninsular Steering Group (MPSG) {sea defences}, the Pagham Harbour Coastal Issues Advisory Group {sea defences}, the Medmerry Stakeholders Advisory Group (MStAG) {sea defences etc}, and the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve Advisory Board (PHNRAB). Councillors may also attend the South Chichester County Local Committee when agenda items are relevant to the parish.

Parish Playground Work Group
I am pleased to report that the council will shortly be placing orders for equipment, having obtained grant finance totalling £110,000 towards this project. In addition there is a further £8,000 from parish resources including individuals, Natures Way, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. The Work Group need to finalise a few details, but we hope to have the playground completed by the end of the summer. The latest plan is to locate the playground in the southwest corner of the Recreation Ground, which it is considered will give it a much more rural and sympathetic ambience, rather than putting it onto the old site on the edge of the car park with its inherent traffic dangers. A rough plan of how the site will look, and the equipment that will be available is on view on the table over there. A good deal of hard work has gone into putting this project together, and I would like to record my thanks to the Work Group Team members under my chairmanship of Councillors Colin Field, Alistair Malir, & Diana Pound, and  Mark Scott & Bill Martin from the Sidlesham Playground Community Group, which under Mark Scott’s chairmanship put together a successful Lottery Application of £50,000, (other members are Patsy Scott, Vanessa Foden, Jenny Hudson & Dan Bailey), Eleanor Scott for her petition and raising awareness through the Chichester Observer, our MP Andrew Tyrie, who together with Dame Jenny Trimble, Robert Back, our District Councillor Tricia Tull,  and our County Councillor Margaret Whitehead wrote in support of our application to the Lottery Funds. Also to Lisa Rumbold who splits her time between WSCC & CDC, and has given us valuable advice and assistance along the way in framing applications, and tender documents, and to Rebbeca Luff, the facilitator for the lottery bid. My apologies if I have omitted anyone else I should have mentioned.

Parish Hall Work Group.
This work group, chaired by Councillor Diana Pound, with parishioners Paul Bedford, Richard & Corina Hall, Valerie Thorncroft & Bill Martin, has looked at a number of options for a new hall, and has yet to come to any firm conclusions as to whether or not a viable proposition can be pursued. Their deliberations continue, and we thank them for their time and effort to date.

Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve Advisory Board.
The question of boat permits for the use of Sidlesham residents has continued to be looked after by Liz Smart, who is our council representative on the board, ably assisted by Councillor Chris Bond, and Malcolm Davis-White, a parishioner, who has given extensive legal advice. However at the time of writing this remains unresolved. A further complication is that during the year the WSCC made it known that they were negotiating with the RSPB for the latter to take over the management of the Reserve. Very limited consultation has taken place, and it would seem that even county councillors have been kept somewhat in the dark! At their insistence a re-appraisal of this policy is taking place, and a work party has been set up to look into the matter further, on which this council has a seat. In fact the first meeting was held yesterday afternoon, attended by Liz Smart and myself, as well as District Councillor Tricia Tull wearing her CDC hat, and Margaret Whitehead, our County Councillor. The RSPB is also heavily involved with the Medmerry sea breach plan, and ultimately one can only guess that the impact of decisions yet to be made could heavily influence plans to refurbish or rebuild the Nature Reserve facility on the southern edge of the parish boundary near the Ferry.

Sea Defences.
The council has representatives sitting on various advisory boards/committees. These are MedmerryStAG group overseeing the plans for the proposed Medmerry breach, for which we believe planning proposals will shortly be submitted, the Manhood Peninsular Steering Group co-chaired by our MP Andrew Tyrie, which seems to be a leading light in formulating policies on sea defences nationally as well as locally, and the Pagham Harbour Coastal Issues Group, looking after the sea defences from the harbour mouth through to the Pagham village sea front. There is also the Ham Residents Association actively looking after their own concerns re the Medmerry breach proposals including new footpaths, bridle paths etc, etc. With the parish at risk of encroachment from the sea on two sides, you can be sure the council continues to be active in looking after our long term interests.

The Finance Work Group meets to draw up the budget, and then recommends the precept for the next financial year. The precept for the year ended 31st March was £13,751. The current precept was set at £17,945. That is quite a steep increase in percentage terms (30%). But included in those figures is a lump sum contribution to the Parochial Church Council of £2,500 towards the purchase of land to enlarge the burial ground. There will be a similar sum to pay in the following year too. Also included was a sum of £1,000 to cover a survey of the Football Club, so that the council could be given professional advice as to its current state of the building. For there was some suggestion that the building could be turned into a parish hall, but I regret to advise you that the survey report has ruled that out.  The plans to install a playground also mean that there will be additional sums to pay out to cover insurance. In future years we shall also have to include a sum for maintenance and capital replacement. Details of the Income & Expenditure for the past financial year will be posted on the Parish Notice boards as soon as the audit has been completed.

Roads Matters
I am pleased to report that the Manhood Parishes Road Safety Group has continued to be active in their attempts to make the roads on the peninsula safer for us all. Our council representatives are Colin Field, and Carole Ranjbar who took over from Liz Smart during the year. Volunteers organised by Richard Hall have manned the Speed Indicator Device (SID) on a regular basis during the past 12 months, and if anyone else would like to join the team, please contact any councillor or the clerk who will be pleased to pass your names onto Richard. The presence of this device and the yellow jackets we wear does seem to have quite an effect on the speed of traffic whilst the machine is operating. The CASPAR equipment has sadly not been so evident, but we are hoping that it will be seen again before long. During the year, and out of the blue, two permanent Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) were installed at the entrance to the southern end of the parish, one by Manhood Lane facing the traffic entering the parish from Selsey, and the second outside Shotford Cottages facing north – unfortunately the latter never seems to have worked, and we are pursuing why this is so!

Sadly there have been 3 fatalities during the past year, and from what we know at this time, it would seem that no additional speed measures would have prevented these unfortunate events. Certainly in two cases speed probably paid a part, but it is impossible to legislate for motorists who ignore speed limits. In the latest incident, it would seem that a medical condition not known to hospital staff may have played a significant part in the subsequent death of the casualty, rather than the extent of his injuries. At this point in time we have no clear idea as to what exactly happened to cause this accident.

Mill Lane Fingerboard
Unless you live in this area of the parish, you may not be aware of the controversy that ensued following a change of name on this board when it was renovated. A great deal of robust correspondence took place over a period of 4 months from September to January between residents in this area both for and against the new name, and with the council. It certainly left me exhausted! At the end of the day the council agreed to restore the name on the board to Mill Lane.

I would like to pass on my thanks to all of your councillors for the time and effort they have put in over the last 12 months dealing with a whole host of other matters in addition to those I have highlighted. And although I do so at the risk of repeating what I have said in the past, once again a special thank you to our clerk, John Paul, without whose hard work the parish could not operate efficiently. John is also responsible for keeping our excellent website up to date – the address is, and if you have never visited it, then I recommend you do so. For instance you will find all the records of the council minutes, as well as much else. Sadly this will be his last year as he has informed us that he wishes to retire by May of next year, possibly earlier if circumstances allow. You will probably be aware that he and Joan have now moved to Runcton, and we wish both of them every happiness in their new home. That of course means we shall be looking for a new clerk – maybe there is someone within the parish who would like to consider taking on this job. For instance it might suit a mother whose home responsibilities are leaving her with more time as the children get older!

Lastly as usual our thanks in advance to the ladies of the WI for the refreshments you will enjoy during the interval.

4. Emergency Plan. Mrs Pound introduced the topic. The plan is in addition to the ‘Emergency Refuge Centres’ already identified by the Parish Council as the Church Hall and the School. Emergency are defined by Chichester District Council as any situation the Emergency Services cannot cope with. The audience volunteered that these could be the result of snow, gales, terrorist action, trees down etc. Mrs Pound identified that the parish required emergency coordinators for four areas and that for three of these volunteers had come forward; for Ham Dee Caldwell and James Duke, for Sidlesham Common and the NW area Matthew Ede, for Street End and Church Area down to Rookery Lane Mike Allistone and Dudley Pound, volunteers were sought for other areas.
The coordinators would be required to identify people with tractors; boats etc; to draw up lists of vulnerable people and to co-opt wardens able to knock on doors etc during an emergency as usual communication systems may not be operating. These lists to be forwarded to the Parish Council and updated annually. Further organisation of the plan would be taking place.

Mr Harland was very pleased to welcome Mr Chris Spiby and Mrs Caroline Spiby (Chalder Farm)’ and Mr Tom Monnington (Mapsons Farm) who had kindly agreed to make presentations on the subject.

5.1. Mr Tom Monnington. With a slide show the presentation covered the benefits of diversification and the process at Mapsons Farm. Some years ago the farm grew cereals and had a dairy herd; neither were present ‘in house’ now. The farming practice had moved to extensive potato production with the rotation years of cereals leased out to specialist growers able to make the best of the reduced margins (1977 cereal prices were equal to current ones). The farming industry is unstable due to supermarkets squeezing on prices plus ever increasing fuel and electricity costs. To stay competitive required farmers to keep ahead. At Mapsons Farm the latest diversifications were the growing of horse-radish and equine livery. Mr Monnington explained that as a root crop horse-radish utilised their expertise and specialist farm equipment on the growing of potatoes. The extensive (24 stable) livery facility recently installed used the buildings and hard areas formally used for the dairy business. In addition the livery contributed to local quality of life as all the horse owners enjoyed the ‘club’ atmosphere meeting each, employment was generated and the facility was totally utilised by people from south of the A27.

5.2. Mr and Mrs Chris Spiby. Mr Spiby explained that Chalder Farm was almost totally pasture land near to the harbour and the rifes draining the area. Therefore the choice was really beef, sheep or dairy. The current choice was dairy and they were increasing the stock. Previously some cereals and also roses were grown as diversification but these were discontinued. Much of the land was permanent pasture, in itself an endangered habitat.  At Chalder Farm they were involved with Countryside Stewardship this involved the care of ponds, hedges etc. As immediate neighbours of the Pagham Harbour they were involved with the Local Nature Reserve, parts of the farm were now classified as a RAMSA site. This involved fencing the edge of the Bremere Rife to protect the habitat of the water voles, also silage cutting on some field was stopped to protect ground nesting birds. As maize grows well on the land this crop had increased for cattle feed, (Mr Spiby apologised for the recent ‘pong’ of muck spreading on the maize but the wind changed and blew over Sidlesham rather than over a neighbouring parish).
Other diversifications tried and moved out of were pedigree livestock for 10 years (exports banned after national BSE problems); now moved into commercial herd milk production, first tried as organic milk production but that became non viable with the recession therefore since 2008 Chalder has had a commercial conventional dairy herd.
A current diversification was first considered many years ago but needed someone enthusiastic to organise and run it, ‘ice cream’. The enthusiast is his wife Caroline.  Mrs Spiby then gave her presentation.
Ice cream production started with the expensive conversion of the old dairy buildings to ‘food hygiene’ standards, also her attendance at several courses to learn production, hygiene and supervision. Then donning chef’s whites production started.
Mrs Spiby explained the production process and equipment needed. Of particular interest was the explanation of why ‘Caroline’s Ice Cream from Chalder Farm Sidlesham’ is different.
•It is made from very fresh ‘home grown’ milk on the day of production.
•It is made in small carefully controlled batches.
•No air is mixed in to create high volume ‘easy scoop’. Therefore weight for weight is good value. (Mrs Spiby said let it soften slightly before eating to experience the excellent taste.
•The fruit in the ice cream eg raspberries are also grown locally therefore exceptionally fresh and tasty.
Mrs Spiby concluded her presentation with the very welcome information that ice cream samples were available during the refreshment interval.

Mr Harland thanked the presenters very much and noted that the listeners had clearly enjoyed the presentations as shown by their enthusiastic applause.
6. Refreshment interval organised by Sidlesham WI (plus samples of ‘Caroline’s Ice Cream).

7. Open forum on topics of parish interest.
•With regret Mr Harland informed the assembly that it had been said that the current reputation of the Parish Council was as low as it could possibly be. This was received with acclaimed disbelief by the electors. Mr Harland thanked them for the reassurance and asked if anyone felt not welcome at PC meetings, none did.
•Mrs Clarke-Adams raised the topic of her recent email that the PC appeared determined to scrap its Village Hall Work Group.
Mr Martin of the WG said their interim report identified the potential of the Football Club building and asked for the views of others.
Mr Allistone considered that it was a moral of the Church Commissioners to supply facility for a Church Hall as at present and he did not consider the parish required two halls.
Mr Pound said that in ten years the parish would require a more modern building than the current church hall.
Mr Harland stated that the Football Club building was the agreed responsibility of the Football Club.
Mrs Clarke-Adams re-iterated ‘why try to get rid of the Hall Work Group?’ Mr Field said the idea was to suspend activity until probably 2016 when negotiations start (Church with Commissioners). Also is there a presumption that there will be a new hall?
Mr Harland stated he could not see that there was sufficient income to make a new village hall viable; the lottery only gives 50% at most, this would leave £500,000 required from the people of Sidlesham. He noted that recently Funtington despite having an asset to sell were turned down by the lottery.
Mrs Pound disagreed that a village hall would cost £1m, also the WG had found there was a new lottery next year for village halls but had not yet reported this to the Parish Council.

Mr Harland closed the discussion and informed the assembly that at the last PC meeting the Work Group was given another year to investigate the hall topic.

•Mr M Bond asked what was the significance of the ‘traffic counter tubes’ recently seen across Mill Lane and Rookery Lane. Mr Harland replied that the PC received no information about them from the WSCC Highways; Mr Paul agreed to seek information.
Discussion developed about the ‘single carriageway’ construction of Rookery Lane and the damage and danger generated by the increased traffic. Passing places were considered to be a possible solution. Mr Paul agreed to ask Highways if some could be constructed.

Mr Harland drew the meeting to a conclusion, thanking the 35 people still present for their interest in raising, discussing and considering the various items.

The Mr Harland closed the Sidlesham Annual Parish Meeting 2010 at 9.45 pm.