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Hand-drawn Sidlesham signpost with lapwing bird.

MINUTES of Annual Parish Meeting 25th April 2019 (Unapproved)

Sidlesham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
Held in the Church Hall, Sidlesham on Thursday 25th April 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
(Unapproved)
Councillors present:  Mr Martin Mellodey (Chairman), Mrs C Ranjbar, Mr Paul Bedford, Mr R Ryder, Mrs M Monnington and Mrs C Hall.
Also present: Cllr P Montyn (WSCC), Cllr Tricia Tull (CDC), Cllr C Purnell (CDC), 43 Sidlesham electors, and Mrs Tessa MacIntyre (Parish Clerk)
Apologies:  Mrs U Pearce, Dr F Lewis.
Parishioners were informed that a digital recording will be taken of the meeting.

Mr Mellodey welcomed parishioners and councillors to the 2019 Annual Parish Meeting

1.   Approve minutes of Annual Parish Meeting 2017.    The minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting on 24th May 2017 had been available for all to read on the website for one year.  Mrs Hall proposed and Mr Ryder seconded that the minutes be approved.  No objection was raised and the minutes were signed by the Chairman.

2.    Presentation on Flow Project by Jane Reeve-Foster
FLOW (Fixing and Linking Our Wetlands) is a Heritage Lottery Funded project to survey and improve the ditch networks of the 11 parishes on the Manhood Peninsula.  It aims to prevent flooding and increase vital habitat for wildlife.  Ms Reeve-Foster is Project Manager for FLOW which is run by the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group. The project started in 2015, with a pilot phase of 6 months of ditch condition assessment in West Wittering, followed by a period mapping the wetlands of the parish. An analysis of findings was written with a costed management plan of improvements of the wetlands that would benefit both drainage and wildlife.
The Manhood Peninsula has protected areas, such as RSPB, Medmerry and Chichester Harbour, but FLOW believes that the connecting wildlife corridors between those areas are equally important and FLOW now manages 45 sites outside the protected areas.  The project works with WSCC, CDC, Environment Agency, private landowners and Church Commissioners.
The aim of the FLOW project is, firstly, to map the ditches and ponds across the Peninsula and look for opportunities to hold back water during high rainfall.  By managing and linking ditches and ponds, this alleviates the flood risk and also turns wetlands into good wetland habitats.  All this work is carried out by volunteers over many man hours.  The volunteer team has carried out surveys on how ditches are linked, the direction of flow, what proportion of the year they are wet.  It has also carried out habitat surveys and physical improvement work on ditches.  The group gathers historic data and examines old time maps showing where ditches and ponds once were.  This information has been shared with CDC and WSCC.
The group started in West Itchenor and Birdham, walking the ditches collecting data; then, East Wittering, West Wittering and Bracklesham, Earnley, Sidlesham.  They are now in Selsey and Hunston.  The survey should be complete by the end of 2019.  In 2020 the group will collate all the information into reports, compare that information with other areas and share the information with land owners, WSCC, CDC and the Environment Agency.  They will create a ‘red light’ system for drainage systems.  A good ditch should be wide and deep with flowing water, native plants and vegetation, but not too many plants and not over-shading.  Hedgerows have been planted with 20 native species.  Improvements are costed, a programme of work set out, grants applied for and land owners involved.  Willow Glen, an example, has been dug out, and will help to drain the northern end of the village.
When ditches are cleared, it can lead to complaints at the time but research is carried out with the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre and once the ditch is replanted with native species, it soon recovers.  There is a wide range of species and FLOW uses i-record, a computer package to record different species.  Parishioners were asked to go online to i-record and record birds and wild animals spotted in the area.   The group reached the final 4 in a biodiversity competition.
Physical improvement work is carried out between September and March, focussing on areas that give both environmental and flooding benefits.  An area is surveyed and help given to cost a project, obtain funding from Operation Watershed and project managed the work.  FLOW has also helped with the environmental aspects of Neighbourhood Plans.
The Group organises training, environmental away days, university students interested in conservation join the group and team building days for businesses.  Riparian owners will be advised and educated on how to manage waterways sensitively and efficiently.
The aim is to recreate natural flood management.  The test will be if beavers can be reintroduced to the water system.  The project ends in March 2021 but volunteers will always be needed, not only to work in the field but also raise awareness by going into schools, attending village fetes and events.
3.    Chairman’s Parish Council Annual Report 2018/19

Mr Mellodey thanked Ms Reeve-Foster, not only for her presentation, but also for all the work she and the wildlife groups do in the village.

Mr Mellodey explained that this meeting has been called before the coming elections. Normally, the Annual Parish Meeting takes place in May with the idea of presenting the Council’s programme for the coming year. This year the PC decided that it would hold the meeting before the elections so as to advise parishioners of the policies debated this year and allow them to take a view of these before the new council takes office. The PC believes it is important that parishioners can take a view on the actions taken in their name. Of course, the new council can decide to modify these decisions in due course.

There will not be an election for the Parish Council.  As only 6 Councillors have applied, all councillors who submitted their names have been elected unopposed. Regrettably we have to record that four councillors have not put forward their names for re-election:  Una Pearce who is now happily recovering from an extended period of illness, Carole Ranjbar, the retiring vice-chairman who has moved Selsey and therefore cannot represent the parish.  Dr Fiona Lewis and Paul Bedford chairman of planning who, after many years of very hard work on the planning front, has decided to step back but not completely away. We are hoping that Mr Bedford will help to complete many of the planning projects in which he is deeply involved and which he has progressed throughout his term with great success.  Mr Mellodey stated that one of the reasons for his decision has been the number of aggressive phone calls vilifying him in his function. This is completely unacceptable. Parish Councillors are all volunteers doing a time-consuming job for free, and in the best interests of the village without prejudice. Any complaint should be directed to the Parish Clerk and she will direct it to the Councillor concerned.

However, Colin Field has joined the PC and he brings his experience to the Council. We offer him a warm welcome at a challenging time.

The PC is therefore a team of six, well below our needs of around nine, and will be looking to co-opt councillors as a matter of urgency after the elections.  Mr Mellodey appealed to anyone in the parish who is civic minded and wishes to contribute to the benefit of this delightful village. It might not be someone present but of someone you know. Please make yourself or your suggestion known to our Clerk.  Ideally, you will be younger than some of us and will live in one of the hamlets forming Sidlesham. The current council consists largely of those living in Church Hamlet. We badly need councillors from Ham, Manhood, Sidlesham Quay and Highleigh.

A secondary advantage of this early pre-election meeting is to allow Mr Mellodey to talk about the forthcoming District elections. He commented on the new District Ward alignment and how it affects Sidlesham.  Both Sidlesham and Selsey complained, without success, to both CDC and the Boundary Commission about the proposed amalgamation of Sidlesham with Selsey North. The cloth-eared would not listen so we now have the reality, as predicted, of an election where Sidlesham with 1019 electors is heavily outnumbered by Selsey North with 3813 electors for the election of two District representatives. The issues of the two areas are very different. Whoever is elected will need to gird their loins to have the voice of Sidlesham heard at District headquarters. The numbers do not stack up and Sidlesham risks being disenfranchised.

At the close of this council Mr Mellodey thanked all councillors for their hard work and commitment during the last four years, and in particular of course to those councillors leaving the council.  Many thanks also to the Clerk, Tessa MacIntyre without whose diligent support things would not happen as well as they have.  Thanks also to our CDC representative, Cllr Tull for her work with CDC.  She has issued more red cards, demanding a full Planning Meeting, on planning than most Premier league referees. Thanks also to Cllr Montyn of Witterings Division at WSCC who, after a couple of years with Sidlesham, has picked up the ball very well.  Then there are the unsung heroes in the shadows like David Baron of Neighbourhood Watch who wards off scams, travellers and the like, the community bus crew, litter pickers with Corina Hall at the helm who amass an amazing amount of litter from our roadsides. I must have forgotten someone so apologies in advance.  Mr Mellodey thanked the media: the Sidlesham Parishioner, the Spread and Nextdoor Sidlesham which contribute to the community with their information. The PC does its best to broadcast important items in the media and if all else fails you can always come along to the Parish Council meetings every month.  And lastly, to the WI for providing the tea and biscuits.

A report on the business of the council in the last year:
Planning
The Parish Council is charged as the lowest tier of local authority in advising the District Council on planning applications. We are charged with enhancing and protecting the village as far as the PC’s powers allow it.
When, however, government legislation bypasses the PC as Class Q legislation does, the PC feels it is correct to take issue with this legislation both at District Council and government level. Both Earnley and Sidlesham Parish Councils have jointly had meetings with CDCs planners about the issues surrounding the conversion of agricultural buildings and how government legislation is applied.  Although under pressure from central government for housing, we maintain that the local council, CDC, has the power to be more selective and rigorous in the Class Q applications it allows. Sidlesham and Earnley are awaiting a response from CDC and Gillian Keegan (this will be our second letter) to our latest dossier on the problem and for a date for a site visit when CDC planners can see how the legislation has been applied so far.   The council receives no benefit from these applications unlike the CIL money from larger housing sites so, despite increased numbers of houses and inhabitants, there is no increase in infrastructure spending in the village.

Housing and infrastructure impacts on the new Local Plan. Sidlesham is classed as a no new housing development area in the Local Plan. However we are not immune from development elsewhere. Combining the current Local Plan with the new one, the Manhood is looking at an increase in housing of some 1900 houses in the plan period. However there has been no infrastructure spend in either period so we are looking at cramming more and more into an already overloaded network.

The B2145 has seen and will see an increase in traffic from the developments in Selsey. Similarly, the A286 will suffer from more developments in The Witterings and Bracklesham. There are capacity questions at Sidlesham treatment works. We are aware of increased tanker movements from the works as the local plant has not the equipment to process the sludge to a finished product.
The Manhood parishes have therefore got together and formed an action group to contest the new Local Plan and are objecting very strongly to CDC, WSCC and the government that no more housing development should take place before infrastructure investment. This project is at an early stage. We shall see where it leads.

Neighbourhood Plan.
Sidlesham voted last year to write a Neighbourhood Plan in order that the community could have a say in its own destiny. A team of volunteers offered to help. Paul Bedford shall be detailing the necessary actions to complete the plan in his forthcoming presentation. Mr Bedford is very keen to go as far as he can with the plan even though it will not be able to be adopted until the new Local Plan is approved by the government.  On the current planning front all eyes are now on the Keynor Lane proposed traveller site, the PC is working very closely with the residents and Councillor Tull.  The PC has objected most strongly to this application on numerous grounds. Despite two refusals by CDC the applicants have been granted right to Appeal and we now await dates. Further objections have been forwarded to the Appeals Tribunal in Bristol. We are looking to CDC to defend our case most strongly.

Greenway Commuter Cycle Route from Selsey to Chichester
The project is making progress. Hopefully in early May you will be able to cycle on the RSPB stretch from the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve to Medmerry via the treatment works. Later in the year a link to this track along Golf Links Lane in Selsey will connect Selsey commuters to the RSPB track.
Progress is also being made in detailing a track from the new Free School to Hunston and hopefully on to north Sidlesham.
Thanks to the efforts of Cllr Montyn we are in discussions with WSCC to find a way through Sidlesham, avoiding the B2145 at its most dangerous point. This is proving difficult but we hope we can persuade landowners to help.
Work is also being carried out to improve the surface of Route 88 from the nature reserve towards Chichester across the fields.

Drainage
You have heard from Jane Reeve the good work that has been done on improving drainage in the area. Sidlesham is accumulating ponds at the rate of one per year thanks to Operation Watershed. Last year we had Church Farm Lane pond, this year it is the pond at the top of Rookery Lane. It is probable that the land recovered by removing the willow copse will be used for the Greenway Cycle Track.

Roads
As you will have gathered from the remarks on infrastructure, the PC has to report that nothing has changed on either the B2145, except it is busier, as is the A27.
Chris Grayling, MP appears to have rejected any move on the A27 northern route or a proper rebuild of the existing A27. It has been pointed out that the amount of money likely to accrue from housing developers will not meet the amendments to the A27 for the housing development in the Local Plan. Yet again, we have another consultancy at great cost coming up with already rejected proposals, like no right turns at the Whyke junction. And yet, the go-ahead has been given for the Arundel bypass which will only increase the pressure on both Worthing and Chichester.  The PC struggles on in the search for some joined-up thinking.

Finance
Once again, thanks to the good work of Carol Ranjbar, Adrian Harland and Corina Hall on the Finance Work Group and Adrian Harland as PC Accounts Monitor, the Council has to report a small surplus at year end.  From a total precept of £29,626, the council spent £23,500.  It saved £2,500 for the Memorial Playing Field project and £500 towards a new minibus.  The PC has also set aside funds for a new more up to date website and a contingency fund for possible legal fees.  In addition, the PC received a grant from Ferry Farm Community Fund of £2,000 to complete the new playground metal fence and received grants from WSCC’s Operation Watershed to cover the £12,711 spent on drainage work.

4.    Memorial Playiong Field Report
4.1  Heads of Agreement.

Mr Mellodey stated that this Parish Council has been determined that the Memorial Playing Field, a community asset under covenant, should be developed for the benefit of the whole village.  At present, its sporting use is mainly by Sidlesham Football Club.  The PC has had interest from the SCA and other clubs which would like to use the ground and is currently in discussion with Chichester University Sports Faculty seeking a programme to develop the ground for various sports.  The PC has always maintained it should be a multi-sport community facility.  In approaching funding bodies for developing the field, the Heads of Agreement with Sidlesham Football Club has proved an obstacle.  At the PC Meeting in January 2019, it was decided that the PC wished to terminate the Heads of Agreement.  In accordance with the HoA, this decision must be ratified by parishioners at a Parish Meeting.  The PC has 8 acres which should be used more fully and therefore needs an agreement with SFC which will fit the needs of the community in the future.  Mr Mellodey proposed that the parish approve the termination of the current Heads of Agreement.  The motion was carried unanimously.

Mr Robson, who has been co-opted by the PC as major fund raiser, explained that the HoA was originally drawn up in 1985.  It is now not fit for purpose.  Firstly, the Agreement allows SFC unlimited use of the ground at any time on any day.  This makes it difficult for other clubs to use the ground.  Secondly, Mr Robson believed that in any agreement between user and owner, the owner should have sight of the user’s accounts.  The owner would then be in a position to set a fair rent.  Under the current Agreement, no monetary rent is paid; SFC does, however, mow the grass, clear ditches and keep the field tidy.  Within the Agreement, railings round the pitch should be removed at the end of each season but this is not possible.  The clubhouse is in need of refurbishment and this makes it difficult to bring in other users. Any new agreement between SFC and SPC must be one in which both sides will benefit.

Mr Mellodey said that recent communication between SFC and SPC has been more positive and he hopes that the two parties will be able to work out a mutually beneficial agreement.

5.   Neighbourhood Plan
Mr Bedford explained that the PC submitted its plan for approval of the Designated Area to CDC immediately after the May 2018 Annual Parish Meeting. The process should have taken 6 weeks but in fact took 6 months due to staff shortages at CDC.  The Designated Area which will cover the whole parish has now been approved and advertised on CDC’s website.  CDC has now launched its new Local Plan Review.  The Neighbourhood Plan must conform within the Local Plan.  The PC consulted on the Local Plan and has submitted its response to CDC.

The PC has, since June 2018, looked at key areas and been building policies for its NP.  It has not been able to take those further until it is clear on how those will fit with the LP.  The PC will have a new Council in May and that PC must confirm that it wishes to proceed with the Neighbourhood Plan.  There will be wide consultation, followed by a referendum. If approved by the parish, it will be submitted to CDC for processing to ensure that it conforms within their main policies.  It is hoped the PC will reach that point within the next year.

The biggest asset of the parish is its parishioners, their land use, planning, wellbeing and how communities mesh together.  The project has been titled The Green Heart of the Village to reflect areas of natural beauty and issues surrounding climate change.
Land Drainage:   The Manhood Peninsula Partnership has set up a Work Group to look at land drainage and is building up a system of land drainage management plans.  It is expected that Clerks will have a map of riparian ownership in each parish.  WSCC funding will be able to prioritise funding for work to maintain the system.  It is hoped that the drainage management system will be incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan.
Horticulture/agriculture:  There will be changes in future horticulture practices.  Glass houses have a large run off of water which must be accommodated in the current drainage system.  However, in future, it may be necessary to conserve water as well.
STAG (Sidlesham Traffic Action Group):    STAG has produced a management plan for the B2145, linked with Hunston and north Selsey.  The plan was at the time put to and accepted by WSCC Highways.  Since then funding has been cut but it is intended to include the plan in the Neighbourhood Plan.
Mr Bedford felt that the Plan should look at ways in which young people who grew up in the village could be helped to stay in the village.
The new PC will be briefed on the current position soon after the election.  A working party and consultation group will be set up and volunteers invited to join. There will be meetings but it is hoped that the majority of the work will be carried out by email.
The PC will apply for a grant.  The maximum grant is £9000 but, as a small parish, it is hoped Sidlesham will be awarded £5,000 to cover consultation, the referendum, consultancy advice, hire of the hall.  The NP is about the parish’s ideas and how these can be translated into usable policies.
Mr Ryder has volunteered, subject to ratification at the May PC Meeting, to lead the project, with Mr Bedford’s support.

6.    Any other Business
6.1  Mr Field asked how much longer Operation Watershed will continue to fund drainage projects.  Cllr Montyn replied that £300,000 has been ring fenced for next year and it could possibly run for another 2 years.
6.2   Mr Harland raised an article in the Daily Telegraph concerning the lack of new councillors coming forward.  Mr Mellodey reiterated his statement that Sidlesham needs new Parish Councillors and urged parishioners to volunteer.

Meeting closed at 9.00