Held on the 2nd November 2005

The preliminary part of the meeting was a presentation by Mrs Claire Wallace and Headmistress Linda Osborne seeking financial support for the Chawton School Support Group from the PC. While sympathetic, the PC had to check that the Clause S142 covering permitted donations to outside bodies would allow such a grant and a decision on this was deferred till the next meeting (4 January 2006).

There were then representations from the Village Hall Management Committee and the Massey's Folly Society and four proposed motions, regarding the current position of the PC and the proposed conversion of the other half of the Folly into residential accommodation.

While the Chairman and Cllr Williams were able to clarify several points, others required legal advice in order to give a comprehensive answer. This would be sought, and the Massey's Folly Society duly informed. It was pointed out that the PC was sympathetic to the aims of the Society and that its agreement to support the conversion of the Trust's half into dwellings had been reluctant, there being no alternative options open at that time. However, the PC awaits with interest seeing a viable business plan for the purchase, refurbishment and running of the other half of the Folly; this was promised for December.

The PC was assured that funding of the Society's proposals was not an issue affecting the PC, but that their support would be sought as avenues for grants were explored.

It was also accepted that the viability of the Hall would be in question should the current main income from the pre-school nursery cease. Because the nursery needed a functioning kitchen at all times, the VHMC felt that they would not have approved the division of the Folly and the conversion of the Trust's half to dwellings in current circumstances.

There were also concerns about complaints by new residents regarding lettings of the Hall on grounds of noise or other disturbance. The loss of the existing kitchen facilities (and fire escape route) with the division would, it was noted, represent a further erosion of floor space within the Hall, as the new kitchen would have to be re-located within the existing floor area. Balanced against this was the gain of parking spaces behind the Folly and resolution of the "flying freeholds".

However, it was understood that no physical works were likely within the next 6 months, which would, hopefully, allow the MFS time to progress its discussions with the Trust. Clarification was also needed whether the members of the Parish Council or the Village Hall Management Committee were Trustees of the Village Hall Trust charity.

The MFS asked that the PC take no further action regarding signing of the contract with the Trust until outstanding matters were resolved, and it was decided that a small working party drawn from the VHMC, MFS and the PC be appointed to progress matters.

This matter was further discussed when the Parish Council went into session. The PC were concerned that if the MFS plans were to prove non-viable during, say the next five years, the position of the Parish Council and, indeed, Massey's Folly remained unprotected. There were also serious financial implications. The matter would be fully researched, taking legal advice, and would be discussed at the next (January) meeting of the PC. It was agreed that Cllrs Haskell, Williams and Taylor would sit on the working party with the MFS.

It was understood that many objections to the proposed development of the Mill Site had been received by EHDC, and it was believed that the developer, Charles Church, had withdrawn the latest application.

It was reported that the Farringdon Improvement Group had held its first AGM and that most goals in its first year had been satisfactorily accomplished. Speeding and traffic problems within and through the village still awaited some form of positive action from HCC.

Several routine Parish matters were raised for action by the Parish Clerk.

Mike Findlay, Clerk to Farringdon Parish Council