20 residents joined members of the Parish Council at this meeting.

Cllr Sir James Scott (Hampshire County Council) welcomed a financial boost for road repairs, partially due to a special Government grant. He stated that painting and repainting of road markings was an important safety measure and hoped that the Cango bus scheme would be shortly up and running.

He stated that Hampshire Council Tax was increasing by 4.7% and pointed out that this was the lowest rise for the past 20 years. However, the major cost items of education and social services were being aggravated by implementation of endless Government initiatives.

Sir James reported that Hampshire CC had been a leading authority to build new care homes on publicly-owned land, providing an extra 500 beds to ease the chronic bed-blocking situation in hospitals. Hampshire CC policy on housing development is to emphasise the use of brownfield (rather than Greenfield) sites to encourage urban regeneration.

Cllr Keith Haskell (Chairman) recapped the situations applying to the Village Hall/Massey’s Folly (little progress to report), Chase Field redevelopment (which had been the subject of a recent public enquiry) and the South Downs National Park proposal. The latter faced an imminent Public Enquiry due to objections by local authorities, especially with regard to planning applications. The entire village was to be included in the South Downs National Park plans.

He reported a negative response by the Post Office regarding a proposed sub-post office opening in the village, but hope that the case would be re-examined in light of the closure of both Four Marks and Anstey Lane offices.

The Village Design Statement had undergone EHDC approval and had been printed and distributed (3 copies had been submitted to the Inspector at the Chase Field/Maplecombe planning enquiry) and Mr Haskell accorded a huge vote of thanks to Ia Dussek and his team for the great work they had produced.

Farringdon had been selected as one of the first villages in the EHDC area to pilot the Rural Safety Initiative; this was, in effect, a self-help group to tackle problem-solving in the Parish with input from the police service, EHDC, Drum Housing (among other agencies) and the Farringdon group comprised elements of Neighbourhood Watch, Parish Council and interested residents. It would be funded initially by an EHDC grant who would also act as facilitators.

The annual litter-pick this year had produced a much better turnout of volunteers – especially in the upper village.

Mr Haskell had hoped that the meeting would be addressed by a member of East Hants Volunteer Board, but this had not been possible; he hoped that as many as possible would become involved with voluntary work and that they would find this rewarding.

He closed by thanking Sir James Scott, Cllr Patrick Burridge, members of the Parish Council and the Parish Clerk for their sterling work over the year.

Financial Matters. Cllr Time Charrington had pre-circulated the balance sheet and pointed out only two significant large expenditures – legal fees for transfer of land to the Parish Council (in connection with the proposed separation of Massey’s Folly [£790] and a valuation of the Village Hall [£566}. There were no questions from the floor. Cllr Haskell stated that the precept had not been increased this year (again) and that reserves were held for the expenditure on the new kitchen facilities following redivision of the Folly.

Village Hall Cllr Williams reported that after delays, the nursery School “First Friends” would open on a trial basis for last two weeks of May with a view to opening on a regular basis as advertised on 1 June. Without the income from the nursery school, it was assessed that the reserves would support the running of the Hall for 10 years.

Village Magazine. Mr John Prynne, recently appointed Treasurer, reported that he had caught up with outstanding advertising revenue and donations due, and that, from the pre-circulated balance sheet, the meeting would note modest funds in hand. This had been increased by sales of the Millennium Book. The meeting recorded its thanks to the Editor and his team and to the contributors and advertisers for their support.

Planning Applications . Cllr Williams reported on various recent applications, including Chase Field and North Jordans. There was nothing to report on development of the Mill Site; the developers were in discussion with HCC about alternative access and a Design Brief was awaited from EHDC.

Village Affairs. Cllr Wagland stated that the recently created RSI Group would be asking all residents to complete a questionnaire in due course so that concerns of the village could be addressed by the group. All residents were welcome to join the group – either short- or long-term. The real challenge facing the group were the changes to the village culture as proposed developments were realised.

Cllr Haskell reassured one questioner that any development at Maplecombe to replace Chase Fields would not constitute a risk of increased flooding to existing houses in Lower Farringdon.