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Hand-drawn Sidlesham signpost with lapwing bird.

Minutes of Annual Parish 28th May 2014

Sidlesham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
Held in the Church Hall, Sidlesham on Wednesday 28nd May 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

Councillors present: Mr Adrian Harland (Chairman), Mr Paul Bedford (Vice-chairman), Mrs Vanessa Foden, Mrs Diana Pound, Mrs Elizabeth Smart, and Mrs Patricia Tull.
Also present: 56 Sidlesham electors, Cllr Margaret Evans (West Sussex County Councillor) and Mrs Tessa MacIntyre (Parish Clerk)
Apologies:  Mr P Albrecht, Mr M Allisstone, Rev’d S Guise, Mrs C Hall, Mrs S Kelly Mr Brian Kennedy and Mrs C Ranjbar.

1.   Approve minutes of Annual Parish Meeting 22nd May 2013.  Mrs P Tull proposed and Mrs S Donato seconded that the minutes be approved.  The minutes were approved unanimously.

2. Parish Council report of the past year by Mr Harland.

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

Mr Harland introduced Parish Councillors and Mrs Tull in her additional role as the District Councillor for Sidlesham and Hunston, Cllr Margaret Evans West Sussex County Councillor and the Clerk.

3.   CHAIRMAN’S PARISH COUNCIL ANNUAL REPORT 2013/2014

Planning Applications continue to be a regular feature of council business. During the past year the planning committee met 13 times, one less than the last year. However the number of applications we considered remained at 65. We raised no objection or supported 55, of which 43 were permitted, 4 were withdrawn, 4 were refused and 4 are still outstanding, including the major Solar Panel application at Bakers Farm. We objected to 9, of which 3 were refused, 4 permitted, 2 withdrawn, and 2 are still outstanding. The council was also consulted about one potential application, and following our concerns it was ruled that a full application would be required. The council continues to support neighbouring councils when applications for large housing developments are tabled – clearly it is not within our remit to comment on design etc, but we do speak out as to the effect such schemes will have on road congestion, sewage and potential flooding. For instance the Clappers Lane scheme for 150+ houses in Bracklesham/Earnley has potentially significant implications for our local road network as it has been suggested that if agreed many of the new residents will tend to use the back roads, and so come across through our parish via Earnley/Almodington. Whilst we have seen fewer Existing Lawful Development (ELD) applications during the past 12 months, the council remains concerned as to how easy it is for applicants in this parish to conceal what they are doing behind high fences/hedges until it is too late for objections to be raised – a period of four years is generally allowed in such circumstances after which it becomes much more difficult to object. These are situations where the applicants are claiming that they have been living continuously in the ‘properties’ for more than 4 years, but in circumstances where it would have been difficult for members of the public to realise that the buildings were being domestically occupied ie hidden in barns, glasshouses, outbuildings etc. It is my understanding that new legislation might make it more difficult for applicants to succeed in such cases. Meantime we continue to ask all parishioners to be vigilant, and report to the council if they suspect non-standard buildings are being used for domestic purposes. The same also applies where caravans located on premises, particularly those on ex LSA holdings, are being occupied on a permanent basis – the occupants need to apply for a licence to use a caravan for such purposes, which are normally granted for a maximum of 3 years at a time.

Council Committees and Work Groups

All members of the Council can sit on the Planning Committee. The Council now meets formally on the 3rd Wednesday monthly except in August and December. Planning matters are incorporated within these meetings, although because of the need to make decisions within the timescales allowed, on some occasions additional planning meetings may have to be called. The Assets & Amenities Work Group looks after the parish amenities such as seats and bus shelters, the upkeep of the parish open spaces, such as the Paddock Straight, ponds, and the playground. The Finance Work Group draws up the annual precept for confirmation by the council. Other councillors sit on outside bodies, amongst which are the Peninsula Community Forum, Chichester District Association of Local Councils (CDALC),  the Pagham Harbour Coastal Issues Advisory Group {sea defences}, the Medmerry Stakeholders Advisory Group (MStAG) {sea defences etc}, and the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve Community Group. Councillors may also attend the WSCC South Chichester County Local Committee when agenda items are relevant to the parish.

Travellers

I guess most of you will have heard that travellers are back again. Whilst the Memorial Recreation Ground is now protected by a height barrier, there are clearly other open spaces within the parish, whether in public or private ownership, which are open to incursion, so I would ask you all to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity either to the police or to the clerk. You will also no doubt have read that a travellers site is being set up in Westhampnett. However this will not be ready until next year. It will only cater for a maximum of 9 pitches, whereas the travelling groups usually number more than this. However the authorities believe that the groups do not like to be split up, and charges do apply to any occupants. The way it will work is that the police will have the power to move travellers on to this site if spaces are available, and for reasons I have mentioned above it is hoped that the travellers will choose to move elsewhere – this policy has certainly been proved effective in East Sussex.

Incidentally, the costs the council incurred last year in covering eviction costs and the height barrier were later offset by a special grant made available by CDC, so that I believe I am correct in reporting that we recovered £1260, which was very welcome.

Memorial Playing Field

Following the damage caused by the circus in 2012 to the western side of the football pitch, the council applied for a grant to dig up this area and lay a junior football pitch. I am pleased to report that the council was awarded a grant of £6,250 to achieve this. The council is in the process of obtaining 3 quotes with a view to getting this work done this autumn.

Flooding and Drainage

After the exceptional rainfall in June 2012, I am sure it would not have escaped your notice that the winter of 2013/14 also saw a record rainfall. A few houses suffered flooding, and the roads were at times almost impassable, in particular Keynor Lane. The latter is a new phenomenon, and steps will be taken to understand why this is happening – a blocked drain system could well be the source of the problem. The council received grants totalling £23,050 from the WSCC Operation Watershed, and these are being used to cure the flooding in Kitchen Field down to Littleton Cottage, where the owner has built his own flood defences. This work is also linked to dealing with flooding in Church Farm Lane and Rookery Lane, which will be carried out once bird nesting and crop gathering has been completed. Further grants will be applied for to deal with the Keynor Lane problems. A blocked culvert in the vicinity of the Anchor, and the egress of sewage tainted water from the manhole cover opposite the petrol station are also on the agenda, with highways involved with both matters. Our Flood Group has also joined the National Flood Forum. As a result further grants totalling £1650 had been received. Incidentally it is the duty of any householder whose property abounds ditches to keep these clear, just as it is the responsibility of farmers (riparian) to keep field ditches open. I think it is fair to say that over the years many ditches have lacked maintenance, and with the wetter winters we have been told to expect, a concerted effort is needed to put the ditches in good order.

Incidentally the South West Sussex Internal Land Drainage Board which has been locally been the responsibility of the Environment Agency is being disbanded. The WSCC has now been nominated the local Flood Authority. A new Internal Land Drainage programme is being set up, with the EA still being responsible for main water courses, whilst we understand that smaller streams and ditches will be passed on to local farmers to keep in order. There is funding available to those responsible to cover the cost of the works.

Sea Defences

The new Medmerry scheme is now completed save, I think, some of the footpaths. So far as I am aware it is working as expected. I guess that you will all be aware that there are still problems along the coast at Pagham. The harbour spit has now extended almost all the way to the first properties on the beach front, which are most seriously threatened with the possibility that they will fall into the sea as the protection of the beach front is eroded. It would also seem that the likelihood of the harbour mouth closing up has been accelerated during the last winter. I have been told that if this happens, it should not affect the levels of the water in Pagham Harbour too much as the water will seep through the pebbles on a tidal cycle. However it is also thought that if this did happen, natural processes may open up a new harbour mouth elsewhere along the spit, or possibly through the ‘Lagoon’ on the eastern edge. At this stage there are no remedial plans for opening up an artificial new entrance, on the basis of ‘let’s wait and see what happens’. Certainly if the current harbour mouth close to the Pagham properties did get blocked, then the natural drift eastwards would probably restore much of the beach that has been lost in recent years given time. Works to strengthen the inner harbour defences along Pagham’s SW flank are also due to commence shortly. I can also report that Councillor Bedford and I met with an Environment Agency official this April, to discuss the strengthening of the inner harbour defences, starting at Ferry Pool right round to the Pagham Wall. The aim of these works is to provide protection for a one in two hundred year event. It would probably consist of a double bank to allow walking on one level and cyclists and horse riding on another. A purpose built wall would need to be put in place around the Quay area. £50k has been allocated for survey work this year. The EA plans to apply for a further £200k to complete the design stage in 2015, and then applications for £1.7m to carry out the project in 2016. Watch this space!

Pond Works

Some work has already been carried out around Florence Pond including the thinning of the trees, and the clearance of the scrub at the eastern end. This work has been carried out by the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group. Further works are in abeyance until the end of the nesting season. The next job will be to build a small dam at the eastern end, and clear the pipe under the Glebe Field entrance so that the ditch which carries excess water eastwards down Church Farm Lane can be made to work again. The plan is then to move down to a further pool opposite Christian’s Barn, which I suspect most of you don’t even know is there! A planning application has been submitted to fell the trees around this second pond so that it can be opened up. This pond is also fed from water coming off Chalder Lane, and it is hoped that the ditch on the eastern edge of the new graveyard can be cleaned out using further grant funds being requested from Operation Watershed. This clearance operation should assist the flooding problems in Chalder Lane.

Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve

The issue of access by boat on the harbour waters is, I believe, still awaiting formal approval from various bodies, where a ‘code of conduct’ is planned to be put in place. As the harbour is still currently able to be accessed from the sea, the Rights of Navigation on these waters is covered by UK law. Since I reported to you last year, a new Marine Conservation Zone has been created basically covering the Pagham Harbour waters and the shingle bank on the seaward side. The site offers specific protection to two different species and one habitat type. The environment within Ferry Pool lagoon supports the rare lagoon sand shrimp. These are small animals that only grow to about 2 cm in length, and are typically found within sheltered shallow environments that are made up of a mixture of silty sediments. Defolin’s lagoon snail is another rare species protected by this site, with colonies only known to occur in three locations in the UK. It is extremely small measuring only 2 mm long and tends to live within particular areas on shingle beaches that have suitable salinity levels. Both species are not only rare but also very vulnerable to disturbance and habitat loss. Seagrass beds made up of grass-like flowering plants, occur within the harbour itself. These provide an important food source for wildfowl and also contain nutrients which support a range of animal communities. The seagrass beds within the site are intertidal so they can offer protection to the juvenile fish and shellfish found amongst them at high tides. Seagrass beds are sensitive to physical disturbance caused by some activities. It is my understanding that an easier access over the causeway to the Medmerry Site is being planned, which will, I suspect, also form a crossing point to link the existing cycle path through to Selsey.

The Finance Work Group draws up the budget for the next financial year. The group then recommends the precept to the full council for approval. The precept for the financial year ended 31st March 2014 was £20690. The precept for the current year was calculated at £21760, an increase 5.2%. From this the council has to deduct council tax rebates of £1244, but this sum is refunded by way of a grant set at the same figure, so the parish will get the total sum it needs ie £21760.

Details of the Income & Expenditure for the past financial year will be posted on the Parish Notice boards as soon as the final audit process has been completed.

Roads Matters

The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) which was previously proposed to create a single speed limit of 30mph from the northern entrances to the parish on both the B2145 and the B2102 right through to Mill Lane has run into some difficulty and delay. Although our TRO had been adopted by WSCC South Chichester Local Committee, the officer dealing with the application was not happy to proceed with it as planned, particularly as the police authorities did not wish to endorse the proposals. We believe a compromise has been reached, but this will mean that the 30 mph limit will commence a little north of the Lockgate bus stops rather than at the existing 40 mph signs on the Hunston Road, and at Jury Lane. The WSCC department dealing with this application is short staffed which has led to further delays, but our County Councillor hopes to be able to unlock the bottleneck shortly. It does not look as though the order will include Rookery Lane/Mill Lane, but we are still hoping to get over this problem – the Quiet Lanes legislation might come to our rescue, to include Ham & Easton Lane.

Mr Harland concluded by thanking councillors for the time and effort they put in. Councillors do not receive any payment for the duties they perform on behalf of the parish, unlike some other parishes. It is open to councillors to vote themselves an allowance, but this council has consistently declined to take advantage of that possibility. But, Mr Harland emphasised that, although they stand for election to the council, at the end of the day they too are just members of the parish who give of their time to try and ensure parish matters are looked after.

Finally Mr Harland passed on the PC’s thanks to the Clerk, Tessa MacIntyre. Mr Harland said that his role in dealing with parish matters is made much easier because of her support, so he added his personal thanks too.

During the interval members of the WI will, as usual, be serving tea & coffee with biscuits, and once again Mr Harland thanked them for agreeing to undertake this task.

4.    GUEST SPEAKER:  Mr James Kenny – Archaeology of Medmerry Managed Retreat
Chichester District Archaeologist, James Kenny, gave an extremely interesting talk on the extensive archaeological finds that have been exposed as part of the Managed Realignment Scheme at Medmerry.  The construction work in creating this coastal flood defence scheme would have destroyed approximately 25 hectares of archaeologically rich land. As a result of intervention by archaeologists, the developers and Environment Agency funded this extensive archaeological investigation, the largest ever in West Sussex. The brick earth from the borrow pits, used in building the bunds, would have been dry land during the bronze age and heavily populated along the estuary and river system. This area has always been rich farm land and, as a result, people have lived here for many millennia. Mr Kenny opened with a map of the peninsula showing the area flooded to a contour, with Anglo Saxon place names from the Selsey Charter.  This showed that the land is dominated by a series of watercourses. The majority of the archaeological finds came from the Bronze Age when the area would have been inland with the coast 2 to 3 miles out and settlements alongside the river system.  The dig revealed settings for huts for bronze age huts, wickerwork well from about 1000 BC, cremation cemeteries, burnt mounds.(mounds of flints which were heated and used to heat water). and a fish weir.  Mr Kenny showed an artist’s impression of a bronze age settlement and agricultural system.  Pottery was found, including early Neolithic pottery and Roman cremation burial pots   The dig unearthed finds, through the bronze age, iron age and medieval period up to two WW2 crashed German bombers.  The finds are currently in the archaeological store for studying and preservation before a selection of artefacts will go on display in the Chichester Museum

INTERVAL .

5.    Police Report from PCSO Jacob McQuillan.  PCSOMcQuillan, officer responsible for Hunston, Donnington, Sidlesham and North Mundham reported on his role in the police force.  Crime in this area tends to be relatively low level, and quite often opportunistic rather than organised. PCSO McQuillan mentioned recent thefts from oil tanks, and stated that those with outdoor tanks should be vigilant and lock tanks.  In addition, hare and deer coursing has been and continues to be a problem. He requested that parishioners report suspicious vehicles; often large, bright torches are used and, if seen, should be reported to the police.  Mr Field stated that the parish used to have signs warning of hare coursing. PCSO McQuillan will investigate.

PCSO McQuillan reiterated the importance of reporting any incident to the police.  Lastly, he reminded parishioners of the police marking service for bicycles and garden equipment.  There is no charge for this service.

6.   LAND SETTLEMENT ASSOCIATION HERITAGE TRAIL PROJECT

Dr Bill Martin explained the research he is undertaking, with Mrs Val Gatehouse, to create an LSA heritage trail through Sidlesham.  This trail will lead one through the village to see landmarks of the Land Settlement Scheme and record stories of the time.  The aim is to commemorate and celebrate the achievements of the LSA as a significant historic event, both nationally and within the village.  The Land Settlement Association, started in 1935, gave the long term unemployed the opportunity to move, become market gardeners and work within a co-operative.  There were 20 settlements across the country but Sidlesham was the largest with 118 small holdings. Dr Martin has been awarded, a grant of £6000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a printed booklet, plus digital version, of the heritage trail.  He showed a recruitment film, made in 1937, for those thinking of joining the LSA.  Those joining the scheme were given advice and equipment to build their houses and lay irrigation pipes.  In becoming market gardeners, candidates were instructed in achieving the most from their glasshouses, raising chickens, and recognising a good pig. Each man was given tools and, when harvested, produce was taken to a packing station to be weighed, packed and delivered to market.    After 1 year one could become a tenant of the settlement with communal farm equipment available.

Dr Martin stressed how important it is to record the stories of this period and protect landmarks still standing, such as the estate manager’s office, the extension to the school and packing shed.  These stories which will bring the trail to life, should be recorded and not lost as time passes.

Dr Martin will hold a public meeting on 27th June for those interested in the project.  .    .

7.   ANY OTHER BUSINESS – questions from parishioners.

7.1  Mr M Janeiro stated that, in response to his recent planning application, CDC had made letters of objection to his application public by placing them of the Council’s web site.  Mr Janeiro had found some of these letters extremely offensive.  Mr Harland replied that the parish council had discussed his application on 21st May 2014 but the final decision on this planning application will be made by CDC and not the parish council.
7.2   Mrs S Harrison drew the Chairman’s attention to the difficulty of crossing the B2145 to the bus stop opposite the Anchor Pub safely. Pedestrians crossing the road to the footpath west of the road must cross at the corner of Rotten Row, avoiding traffic on the B2145 bend and from Rotten Row.  The level of traffic is likely to increase with the new housing developments planned for Selsey.  Mrs Harrison suggested either a crossing place or a bollard in the centre of the road.  Mr Harland replied that the PC is aware of the problem of the road but has been informed that WSCC Highways Dept will not put a crossing on a bend in the road and the road is too narrow for a central bollard.  Cllr Evans stated that the parish can register with the police as a speed awareness group and monitor traffic through the village using a SID camera. However, this would be manned by volunteers and, once again, these cannot be placed on a bend in the road.  Alternatively, should anyone be able to take the registration number of a speeding vehicle, it should be reported to the police using Operation Crackdown. The parish council has applied to WSCC for a Traffic Regulation Order to reduce the speed limit through the village to 30 mph   Lastly, Mr Harland stated that the PC has written to CDC, reiterating its concerns about traffic levels, in response to all large scale planning applications on the peninsula, particularly those in Selsey. Mrs Simms suggested that the PC move the bus stop, perhaps by 20 yards, to a safer spot, however Mr Harland stated it was already in the only practical position from a safety point of view.
7.3   Mr Field raised concerns about the number of people living in Jury Lane and asked if the PC had any information on the current situation at the far end of the lane.  A planning application to CDC recently gave consent for 8 caravans to house members of the Showmen’s Guild on the land.  The clerk will write to CDC Enforcement and request that they investigate.
7.4    Mr Harland informed parishioners that the village is to lose the bus shelter at the top of Lockgate Road.  Mr Harland suggested that the PC try to purchase a piece of land north of Lockgate Road (from Gorse Field) to build a replacement bus shelter.   Mr Harland requested a show of hands for the proposal and this showed general support.  Mr Harland will put the suggestion to the parish council to apply for funds from the New Homes Bonus scheme to fund the project.
7.5    Mr G Mason asked how much longer the graffiti on the side of a building at the Tyre Clinic in Lockgate Road is to remain.  The graffiti has been on the building for over a year and parishioners voted against a request to remove it at the Annual Parish Meeting in 2013. Mr Harland again asked for parishioners to, by a show of hands, give their view and this time it was that it should be removed.  The Clerk will write to Planning Enforcement and request that it be removed.
7.6     Mr T Rowland explained the dangers of traffic from the petrol station on the B2145.  The problems are exacerbated in the morning when lorries from Selsey cannot enter the forecourt and therefore queue on the road.  Mr Rowland suggested that the lay by be extended.  Cllr Evans thought it unlikely that WSCC Highways Dept would take this up.

Mr Harland closed the Sidlesham Annual Parish Meeting 2014 at 9.45 pm.