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Hand-drawn Sidlesham signpost with lapwing bird.

Minutes of Annual Parish Meeting 25th May 2016

Sidlesham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
Held in the Church Hall, Sidlesham on Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Councillors present: Mr Martin Mellodey (Chairman), Mrs Carol Ranjbar, Mr Adrian Harland, Dr Fiona Lewis, Mr Paul Bedford, Mrs C Hall, Mrs Diana Pound and Mrs Una Pearce.
Also present: 36 Sidlesham electors, Cllr Tricia Tull (CDC), Cllr Margaret Evans (WSCC) and Mrs Tessa MacIntyre (Parish Clerk)
Apologies: Mrs Mary Monnington

Parishioners were informed that a digital recording would be taken of the meeting.

1.   Approve minutes of Annual Parish Meeting.    The minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting on 22nd April 2016 had been available for all to read on the website for one year.  Mr Harland proposed and Mrs Pound seconded that the minutes be approved.  No objection was raised and the minutes were signed by the Chairman.

2.   CHAIRMAN’S PARISH COUNCIL ANNUAL REPORT 2015/2016

Mr Mellodey, the newly elected Chairman of Sidlesham Parish Council, together with the newly-elected Vice Chair, Carole Ranjbar bid all present a warm welcome to the Sidlesham Annual Parish Meeting for 2016.

Mr Mellodey stated that this report hopes to inform parishioners of enterprises the council has undertaken on behalf of the village and their current positions.  In addition, it will outline projects the PC hopes to undertake in the future and how those will be tackled.  He reminded parishioners that the PC publishes information on council business on the web-site and on notice boards and, where appropriate, publishes information in the local journals. Parishioners are, of course, welcome to attend council meetings. The PC aims to foster a community spirit at all times and welcomes parishioners’ contributions.

Mr Mellodey thanked all councillors: parish, district, and county for their hard work over the past year and the Clerk, Tessa, without whose support the council would be in serious difficulty.

Mr Mellodey wished to set the scene at the beginning of his report. It is not easy to be a councillor at whatever level at this particular time. Councillors wish to try and improve things, while the government is bent on cost-saving to balance the books by 2020, we are told. This policy has therefore meant drastic cuts to local authority support already and the policy continues unabated with consequences for us all. Spare money and grants for development are increasingly difficult to find.  On the other hand, the government is keen to promote house building to catch up the housing deficit from previous years and to accommodate newcomers, particularly to southern England. Planning legislation has been relaxed and this causes us difficulties as we aim to preserve the character of the village against a background of reduced infrastructure support spending.

Planning
This is one of the major jobs of the council.  Thanks go to our Chairman of Planning Paul Bedford for his work. The PC tries to preserve the rural aspect of the village whilst allowing appropriate development to go forward. It handled 61 planning applications with, in addition, comments to CDC on applications relating to development, land use etc.  However, the main concern, expressed to CDC and subsequently to the Housing Minister, is about the inappropriateness of the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use. We believe that this policy has not been thought through regarding the suitability of the buildings being converted, their location and the impact on services like roads and foul drainage.

The latter point leads nicely on to one of the high, or is it low points, of last year and probably this year as well Thanks to Operation Watershed with Paul Bedford at the helm again, a major programme of ditch clearing, culvert replacing or mending has been carried out under a Manhood programme of improving drainage. The visible effects can been seen with the reduced level of water on our roads at critical points as well as the improved habitat at Florence and Church Farm ponds. .

Roads
The B1245 is a case in point where housing development is not matched by infrastructure spend.
Sidlesham finally achieved the implementation of the 30mph limit uninterrupted through the village, thanks to the collaboration between Sidlesham Traffic Action Group (STAG), the PC and Cllr Margaret Evans, our vital link to WSCC. However, enforcement is proving problematic as reductions in police manpower and their operational reorganisation means lower priority to traffic duties. All have noticed that speed levels are still too high despite the council’s efforts with roundels and the school’s efforts with posters. So, back to self-reliance again with STAG using speed cameras to try and deter speeding.  STAG has asked for more volunteers to man cameras.
The council is very concerned about the impact of the B2145 on Sidlesham. In addition to the problems of speed, the road is having to carry an increased volume of heavy goods traffic due to Selsey’s construction programme, in addition to the horticultural traffic. The result is that many of our older citizens and some younger ones are having trouble crossing the road. Councillor Pound had a meeting with WSCC Highways about crossings, particularly at the Anchor Bend and at Manhood Lane with negative results – no safe place to cross at The Anchor and no money available anyway. The PC will be pursuing this problem vigorously in 2016 and no doubt beyond.
However, the PC is initiating, in the coming months, what I would call a Village Respect scheme to induce traffic to slow down We hope to put roadside gates at the entrances to the village and put wild flowers on verges to try and influence driver behaviour as they pass through floral  Sidlesham. This action comes from a suggestion by Gill Mason, now taken on by her and others like Gloria Jupp – back to self-reliance again. Further ideas always welcome. Many Sussex villages have similar problems and we are always on the look-out for ideas.

From the road safety point of view, we are collaborating with Selsey representatives to plan and build a commuter cycle path, not only for business, but also for tourism. Again, funding will be an issue.

Finally, Mr Mellodey mentioned the A27. Delayed consultations, clandestine decisions like the cancellation of the Northern route with no public explanation by Highways England, all go to make this a key issue area in the months to come. For all the users of the B2145 we need to see a successful resolution to the A27 problem as this road is a vital distributor of local business and tourist traffic as well as a national through route. We shall be collaborating with Manhood parishes to ensure that the final scheme works for us all.

Electoral Matters
The government has insisted that councils reduce elected representatives by 25% as a cost saving measure.  For the county elections in 2017/8 we are now twinned with the Witterings as a division; not a problem.  However, for the district elections of 2019, a CDC panel, following boundary commission dictates on number of electors per ward with a max variance of 10%, could only resolve to combine us as part of a  4 member ward in Selsey of which one ward will be called Sidlesham and Selsey North. The panel appeared to ignore completely the obvious difference between rural Sidlesham and urban Selsey. It is a numbers game they say, but under this scheme Sidlesham appears to be virtually disenfranchised   Both Sidlesham and Selsey have protested to CDC and were rejected. Both have now written separately to the Boundary Commission in protest with Selsey putting forward a viable variation. We await the outcome later in the year. . Our thanks to Councillor Tull for her efforts.

Facilities
In addition to regulating the built environment under planning perhaps the second most important job of a council is to try to improve facilities for parishioners where needed.  To that end Mr Mellodey reported that the levelling and reseeding of the western area of the Memorial Playing Field has been completed and that this area is now ready to be put into use by local junior teams, the first occasion being for HM the Queen’s birthday celebration in June. We hope that the remaining area will also come into use as we encourage more sport. This will be discussed in more detail under the Memorial Playing Field in Part Two. The Birthday Celebrations will be on 11th and 12th June.   Thanks to Corina Hall and her team for putting this together and we hope it is a great success.

The levelling and reseeding was funded by the New Homes Bonus, as was the new bus shelter at Sidlesham Common, and a contribution to the adult gym equipment. However, this money pool is drying up. In the approved local plan Sidlesham is a designated a No Development Area. This might be good news in some respects but the Parish will be restricted for funds to invest in facilities as very little New Homes Bonus will be coming Sidlesham’s way.

A situation report on the Memorial Playing Field, which has been endorsed by the Council at its May meeting as a policy document for the way forward will be delivered after the break. The council needs to know what parishioners want. The MF project is potentially big so before the PC spend any more effort on it, it needs to have firm commitment to it. If the PC goes out to public funding bodies for the project they will be asking if the village supports the project so we need your input now and again later when more detail will have been developed.

Finally, Mr Martin thanked all who have contributed to the village over the year. A list of those who deserve our thanks became too long and the possibility of leaving someone out too dangerous.  However, the council sends its grateful thanks, on behalf of the community, for all the hard work by members of the community.  However, Mr Bill Martin deserved a special mention.  This and last year, Mr Martin’s research and presentations of the LSA have greatly enhanced Sidlesham’s identity and image in the wider community.  Mr Mellodey advised those who have not yet seen the presentation at the Novium in Chichester.to go. On behalf of the parish, Mr Mellodey thanked Mr Martin for a job well done.

INTERVAL with tea and biscuits provided by the WI

3.   ADULT GYM ON MEMORIAL PLAYING FIELD

Mrs Corina Hall gave a short presentation on progress towards installing outdoor adult gym equipment on the Memorial Playing Field adjacent to the children’s playground.  The project was first proposed by Mrs Hall four years ago but not approved by the PC until May 2015.  The PC applied for £4,100 from the New Homes Bonus fund to go towards the £14,000 cost of the equipment and its installation.  This application was successful.   The PC organised a supper evening which raised a further £500, leaving a balance of £9,400.  The PC asked the Sidlesham Community Association, in its capacity as a charity in the community, to apply for a grant from West Sussex County Council.  The application was made and, although it met the criteria, the fund was oversubscribed and the bid unsuccessful.  However, the SCA has reapplied to CDC.  In addition, the SCA has applied to the Veolia Environmental Trust for a grant.  Both these applications come up for consideration in June and it is hoped that one will be successful and enable the PC to proceed.  If not, the PC will look further afield for funds and perhaps further fund raising in the village.  Mrs Hall reassured parishioners that she is doing her utmost to have the equipment on the Memorial Playing Field.

4.   MEMORIAL PLAYING FIELD REPORT

Mr Martin Mellodey reported on progress regarding the Memorial Playing Field.  At the beginning of this new council, in May 2015, a work group (WG) was formed to develop a strategy for the Memorial Field (MF).  The group comprises Martin Mellodey, Mary Monnington and Paul Bedford.  Its aim is to assess the potential options for the future of the Memorial Playing Field. The guiding principle was to ensure the ground provided full benefit to as wide a spread of the whole community as possible within the constraints of the restrictive covenant and the physical limitations of the site.

In order to fulfil this brief the WG has to be able to operate in a completely unbiased manner, holding as its guiding principle the option that would bring best benefit to the community, would not contravene the covenant and not encumber the council and the community with an unacceptable financial debt.

The Memorial Field is:
•    the most significant asset of the village
•    owned by the Council and managed for the Community. The council is effectively the landlord.
•    under the strictures of a covenant that the field is used for sport and recreation.
•    the field has its roots in the LSA.
•    the field is centrally located within the scattered hamlets of Sidlesham but also has good connections to other villages on the Manhood.
•    for such a large flat area the field is significantly under-utilised.

The first recommendation of the WG in September 2015, and which was adopted by the Parish Council (PC) was to suggest that the PC develops the field as a general sport and recreational facility and encourage a wider range of sports, both male and female, to use the facility.  It noted that the field was used almost exclusively by the Sidlesham Football Club and therefore only two thirds of the year and on alternate Saturdays.  It was felt that the creation of a centre for sport and recreation would bring the community together. Particular emphasis was placed on the young.
The WG noted the success of the playground in that respect and hoped that the project of renovation of the top section of the field as a junior football pitch and a general sport and recreation area would similarly encourage youth involvement.

As those of you who attended last year’s meeting will have observed, the previous council reached an impasse over the question of supporting the SFC in their desire for new facilities due to the legal strictures of the covenant. Therefore, it was incumbent on the new PC to find a solution and this problem was addressed by the Work Group.

In a series of meetings with the WG an outline agreement with SFC was reached whereby:
•    The PC would act as lead partner and guarantor in a funding bid to allow the refurbishment / rebuild of the changing rooms.
•    The PC would grant security of tenure to SFC subject to normal conditions
•    A tenancy agreement would replace the current Heads of Agreement and be the basis for a normal charging mechanism which would also apply to other users of the field
In return, SFC would:
•    allow the modernised and extended changing facilities to be modified for multi-sport, male and female changing on a non-exclusive basis
•    change its legal status to a company limited by guarantee as had been previously suggested so as to enter into legal agreements with the PC and potential  funding bodies
•    prove financial viability to the PC (the landlord) and funding bodies
•    modify its membership criteria so that other users of the facility could use the bar and social areas under the new Community Use Agreement covering this project (SFC would have control of the bar and the PC would take care to ensure that the SFC’s license status and rating remained in place).

Taking care of the SFC needs and putting everything on a sound basis would be called Objective 1.

Subsequently, and significantly, the SFC also agreed to cede control of the SFC buildings to the PC so that refurbishment of the current clubhouse/social area could be undertaken on a similar basis to the above. SFC recommended using the current footprint of the buildings where suitable but options on this are open.  This aspect became the basis of Objective 2 which is to provide a modern bar / social area and Community Sport and Recreation Hall to reinforce the use of the field on an all-season basis and to provide a modern recreational facility at the heart of the village.  Again, this new facility would also come under the umbrella of a Community Use Agreement.

It is essential that the concept of a Community Sport and Recreation Hall complies with the covenant and to that effect the PC has written to DEFRA, successor to MAFF, for clearance and guidance, before further work is undertaken.

At the same time, the Sidlesham Community Association has put forward a significant proposal for improved facilities. Their proposal, Objective 3, has been evaluated by the WG based on the same constraints as announced earlier in this document.

The SCA ’s suggestions are:

•    the changing rooms would be refurbished on a free-standing basis , the remaining buildings demolished and a new complex built away from the existing site, further away from the pitch than at present.
•    the complex would include a social area and bar for the football club and a community hall for multisport and recreation
•    The SCA is confident of getting funding via grants and/or a Public works loan board. A business plan is being produced
•    As well as covenant questions there would possibly be questions on planning, and drainage for this scheme.

The PC, as landlord and custodian of the covenant, needs to take a view on these schemes. We await the reply to our letter to DEFRA.
For both schemes 2 and 3 we await indicative costings and site drawings, funding plan, as well as proof of viability.  The WG strongly recommends that a cautious approach be adopted, both in compliance with the covenant and also in terms of financial risk and business viability of the schemes.  The PC does not have the means to spend on seeking to clarify or extend the scope of the covenant, nor does it believe that the parish can afford the problems of a further burden on the precept. It wishes to see full use of the new facilities.

Whilst it has sought to be open to representations from all sides that have an interest in the ground, ultimately it must form a view that offers the greatest beneficial result for the most people and equally does not detrimentally affect others to an extent that they are in any way permanently disadvantaged.

There is a consensus finally emerging on the concept of Sidlesham having a Community Sport and Recreation Hall.  However, what is fundamental to this project is that the PC has serious solid community backing. This is always a requisite for obtaining funding from sports or other funding bodies.  So we need your ideas and more importantly your promises of active participation, age not an issue.  Funding money is very difficult to come by these days; we need to make a good case.

The WG believes that it has cleared a pathway for improving community facilities. There remains much to be done, but there is a will to find solutions.

Lastly, Mr Mellodey reminded parishioners that the parish has the use of the school sports hall after school hours, under a Community Use Agreement. The hall is suitable for badminton, short mat bowls, probably netball training, or maybe something else.  He suggested members of the public investigate this facility.

Mrs Pound requested a vote, by show of hands, to show general agreement, or not, of the report.

Mr Clarke-Adams requested to speak to give his view of the best way forward on the playing field for the people of Sidlesham.  Mr Clarke-Adams has been involved in construction on both private and public land during his professional life.  Mr Clarke-Adams, having played football, wished to reassure the public that he regards a local football club to be an asset.  Mr Clarke-Adams stated that he, and probably others, felt that no progress had been made over the past year.  He regarded the proposals put forward by the PC this evening to be ill-conceived, second rate and totally at odds with what is required by the community.  He considered that the Football Club’s demands were being treated as a matter of priority.  Mr Clarke-Adams believed that the community’s needs should come before the FC and that the proposals put forward have come about as a result of the intransigence of the FC.  He considered that it is the demand of the FC that the shower block be retained but he did not considered that this made viable or economic sense.  Furthermore, it would adversely affect the layout of the new building.  The changing rooms are the first thing visitors to the sport and recreation hall will see on entering the ground.  These will create an unfavourable impression which would be exacerbated on a day when football is being played and footballers were using the changing facilities.  This would put off potential commercial users of the hall, thus reducing its viability.  Mr Clarke-Adams’ recommendation would site the Football Club building to the rear of the community hall, leaving the front area clean and tidy with sympathetic design.  He felt that councillors were not fighting for what is, in his opinion, right for the community.  He reminded members of the public that the SCA showed an outline architectural drawing of a village hall at its first AGM.  These proposals recommended the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a new, low maintenance building to satisfy the community’s needs.  These included facilities for the FC.  At the meeting, 90% of those present at that meeting said that they would like that proposal to go ahead.  The FC was asked to become involved at the planning stage of this building but did not take up the offer.  Mr Clarke-Adams believes that the PC is misguided and failing to represent the community by agreeing to retain part of the existing building and that this may enhance the FC’s legal rights.  Mr Clarke-Adams stated that the SCA is the best organisation to take a lead role in finding the right solution for the Memorial Playing Field and that the architectural drawing for a building is the best proposal.  He asked for a show of hands vote on whether members would like a completely new building, as recommended by him.  The vote was inconclusive.

Mr Bedford replied that this facility is for sport and recreation, rather than other commercial priorities.  As such, sports players will need changing rooms.  All would, of course, like a new building.  The PC is looking at a facility to sustain the use of the FC on the ground and are looking at an incremental approach to this.  The PC does not have the resources to pursue other larger proposals.  These proposals would, however, change the look of the building and provide a multi sports facility to attract other users.  This would be within the constraints of the covenant.  Therefore, the building should start with a sports base and move on to other facilities for the community.  The PC is not providing a wedding venue or building for other commercial use; it is providing, primarily, a sports facility with a community hall.    Mr Bedford stated that the incremental approach gave the best possibility of real development of the site and a start needs to be made.  To that end, the PC must establish a track record with funding bodies and build from that point.

Mr Mellodey reminded members of the public that the Work Group comprises two members of the SCA and two members of the FC and that the Football Club has come a long way to work with the community to resolve the problems on a community basis.

Mrs Pound stated that the PC is not in a position to apply to the Lottery or other funding bodies.  It can only apply to sport funding bodies.  The SCA is, in her opinion the best organisation to apply for funding to provide a community hall.  She had been advised that, because Sidlesham is in a deprived area, the SCA would qualify for a full £500,000 Lottery grant.  Lastly, the village hall, as proposed by the SCA would cost less than £1m and, without a sports facility it would cost about £700,000-800,000.

Mr Norman Robson thanked all councillors for the work they had done over the last 12 months.  Mr Robson, who has considerable experience of funding for public, charity and private projects has a clear idea, based on experience, of what will make a viable proposal.  Therefore, a business plan is essential before the project can make progress.  He is beginning to put one together.  The one major concern, in his view, is that Sidlesham does not have an ‘anchor tenant’ which would provide an immediate income stream.  The FC has not demonstrated commercial viability as a rent paying tenant.  In addition, there are no subsidiary tenants in place so, in putting together a financial package, the costs are known but no there is no guarantee of income.  Purely from the initial cost of the building, a Public Works Loan would mean an increase in the precept to meet the repayments which would be passed on to parishioners through their council tax.  In addition there will be ongoing maintenance costs for the building.  Therefore, until income begins to flow, the costs will be borne by the rate payer.  Lastly, Mr Robson felt that the people of Sidlesham must ensure that the project is what is wanted and that it will operate within the constraints of the covenant and other considerations.  Therefore, in his opinion, unless the project has an identifiable income stream, the project must have overwhelming support from the village before it can go ahead.

Mr Mellodey reiterated that the report is a statement of the present position but that proposals need to move on before any decisions can be taken.  This could take some time.

Mr Bedford stated that Sidlesham has constraints on finding an ‘anchor tenant’.  It could be severely limited by the terms of the covenant.  Sports clubs tend to operate on a shoe string and therefore are not in a position to provide a guaranteed, adequate income stream.  Before the covenant has been clarified, the only tenant open to the PC is a sports club.

Mr Blackford, in response to Mr Mellodey’s earlier statement that commitment from the community was essential, asked Mr Mellodey if he did not consider the support demonstrated at the SCA’s meeting in 2015 sufficient support.  Mr Mellodey replied that there is a general desire for a new hall but, concrete proposals with detailed costs need to be put to the community to establish very strong support.

Mr Devonshire asked if the covenant restricted use of the sport facilities to the residents of Sidlesham.  Mr Mellodey replied that the covenant did not and that if that was the case, there would not be sufficient players in the village to make it viable.

Mr Mellodey moved to close the debate; when more concrete proposals are available, the PC will arrange another Parish Meeting to seek approval.

4.   ANY OTHER BUSINESS – questions from the public.

4.1   Mrs Aylwin informed the council that the sign at the entrance to Sidlesham at Ferry Bend is in need of repair.  The Clerk replied that she had reported it to WSCC Highways and they will replace it.
4.2   Mr Harland commented on Mr Clarke-Adams’ statement that the present PC had ‘done nothing’.  Mr Harland pointed out that at the last election 4 councillors were elected who are closely involved with the SCA and the council has been working to try to improve facilities for the community.

Mr Mellodey closed the Sidlesham Annual Parish Meeting, 2015 at 9.05 pm.