The meeting was addressed by Mr John Lancaster from Community Action Hampshire on affordable rural housing outlining what could be done to encourage the building of starter homes and other activities undertaken by CAH.

He replied to several points raised by those attending the meeting and has been invited to address a wider audience at the Village Meeting on 30 April 2003.

The meeting was then thrown open to many Parishioners attending.

Concerns were expressed about the deteriorating state of Church Road due to the many HGVs delivering to a building site near the Church. It was agreed that these could be re-routed along New Road.

Various concerns were raised about the future of the Village Hall; the Chairman went to pains to point out that, currently, only various options were being investigated and discussed, that the Council would go on to discuss the matter again, and that the village would be kept fully informed of the progress on the various fronts. Emphatically, no decision would be made on the future of the Hall without full consultation with the residents of the village.

When the Council Meeting started, the Councillors were informed that the Village Hall's contribution to the insurance premium was a vastly increased 2,300.00, but it was hoped that negotiations might reduce this substantially.

The nursery school had closed at Christmas due to insufficient numbers, but it was hoped that this might re-open, and there might be an opportunity to re-let the nursery facility.

The Treasurer of the Village Hall Committee provided projected balance sheets, but without an increase in future lettings, the funds could only support the Hall (without the roof maintenance) for a further 3-5 years. The Village Hall Committee was aware of the small income from private lettings and were active in trying to recruit more in the future.

Regarding Chase Fields, the meeting was told that EHDC were prepared to release Downlands from their 106 agreement and that, since the site had been put on the market, some serious offers had been received. EHDC have deemed the houses habitable, but any purchaser would have to refurbish and insure the dwellings for commercial let against risks; this would not include flood. However, it was strongly felt that this solution would not be in the best interests of the village.

It was hinted that another proposal might be on the table in February, which might be more acceptable, though, at this stage, further information was confidential.

It was proposed that a Village Meeting in late February should be called to hear all options open and that any decision would be deferred until at least after that event.

The meeting was assured that, should a decision be made to relocate the Hall, the current one would be retained until a replacement was ready for occupation. It was pointed out that grants were still available for new buildings and restoration, but not for other costs. Although the Folly was accepted as part of the village heritage, the Council's only option might be to apply for a steep increase in our annual precept from EHDC to cover costs.

Regarding development of the Mill Site, there was little to report. EHDC is in the process of drawing up a development brief for this site and this should be available shortly.

The Village Design Statement was reported to be well underway. The proposal for a village shop attached to the Royal Oak was progressing satisfactorily, but there was concern that Post Office Counters was not looking favourably on establishing new sub-post offices. The Council would support all approaches made to them, but it was feared that the Post Office was intent in providing "mobile" post offices in rural districts.

The Flood Plan for the village was entering its final consultation period; concern was expressed that some properties in Upper Farringdon had suffered from water from the flood meadows and Gaston Lane, and concern had been expressed by residents about those responsible for keeping ditches on the A32 clear-running.

The Designation Order for the South Downs National Park had been signed without change, it is believed. However, objections regarding planning applications are likely to be made by EHDC and other authorities.

The Council agreed that there was no need for further representation following one minor change to the EHDC Local Plan - Second Review.

The Council was told that the audit had been completed and the various bank balances given. Council decided that there was no need, for the forthcoming year, to increase the annual precept, currently 5,500.

The village magazine had not requested any financial subsidy.

Grass cutting for the forthcoming year was being put out to tender.

On planning matters, the meeting was told that proposals to alter the Trust's half of the Folly had been received. EHDC was only interested in the internal changes and the Council feared for the shared wall with Cruck Cottage, when the outside toilets were demolished.

Building works at Street House Farm, Cothele, West Cross House and West Cross Cottage had been started; plans were awaited from Little Jordans, and the Tree Warden was asked to check that trees felled around the three cottages in Kitcombe Lane were as agreed.

Concern was again expressed about the unreliability of the coach serving the village; a response was awaited.

The Tree Warden reported on a TPO on a Horse Chestnut in Marelands, satisfactory management of felling of unsafe trees at Farringdon Kennels and that the Commorative Jubilee Oak was soon to be planted in the Farringdon Churchyard.

The Clerk reported that we had (compulsorily) signed up to the Freedom of Information Act which ensured that all electors of the Parish had full information, though varying prices would be levelled for these services if requested.

The Council still awaited proposals from HCC (discussed as long ago as May 2002) for traffic-calming measures on the A32; they were not forthcoming despite a letter from Michael Mates MP.

The Chairman drew attention of the meeting to the Parish and Local Authority elections to be held on 1 May 2003. All information inviting nominations would be posted on village boards directly they were received.

Mike Findlay. - Clerk of the Council - Tel/Fax 01420 587378