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Notes and Report of the Farringdon Annual Village Meeting - 4th April 2012

The AVM is an opportunity for the residents of the village to meet with its elected Councillors (Parish, District and County) to hear what they have to say, but more importantly to ask questions, which, as electors, they have the right to know, on any relevant aspect affecting them.

  1. Cllr Mark Kemp-Gee talked mostly about the budgetary constraints on the County and how despite the austerity, ’front-line’ services to the vulnerable would be protected.   HCC aimed to be financially self-supporting.     He hoped that improved broadband (£5m for rural Hampshire) connections throughout the County could be speeded up due to these grants.    He also mentioned the distribution of free grit/salt bins for self-help in adverse weather conditions.    He also replied to questions about pot-hole mending and road resurfacing.

    There were several questions about currently available broadband speeds, which were considered disappointing.
    While he acknowledged that such budgets were greatly stretched, maintenance of footpaths, bridleways, etc., MUST continue to be reported and pursued.
    Mrs Oakley raised concerns about “personalised” budgets for care of vulnerable adults.

  2. Cllr Burridge apologised for the initial confusion over the transfer of waste collection in the village; hopefully all was now resolved; the new partnership with Winchester City had saved an enormous amount.  EHDC had frozen, despite a dramatic decrease in monies available from central government, Council Tax for a period of 5 years, however,  this year, there will be a 2.5% increase in the Council Tax in order to maintain services.

    Traffic wardens will be re-introduced in Alton from 16 April to control illicit parking (funded by EHDC rather than the police).
    Planning applications still handled in the main by EHDC under the delegated authority of the South Downs National Park Authority.
    FPC must look closely at development boundaries and suggest changes where they are felt necessary; a forthcoming document Housing Allocation will show sites for future development.

    Patrick will be meeting imminently with Sally Oakley and others to explore the best way forward for the future of the Village Hall and the whole of Massey's Folly.

    Cllr Elderton recorded his grateful thanks for all the help he had received from the staff at EHDC; there were major problems to be overcome in resolving the illogical and arbitrary boundaries imposed by the NPA affecting Farringdon which must be resolved; it was understood that the Boundaries Commission would undertake this.

    The meeting accorded its wholehearted sympathy when acknowledging Patrick’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease, which is why he resigned as Leader of EHDC, but he is resolved to continue as our Farringdon District Councillor.
    ( Patrick has been an unstinting supporter of Farringdon, a very timely advisor and a very much appreciated friend to the village in many aspects. He was wished well by all attending)

  3. Chris Taylor, Chairman, reported that this was his third term in office as a Parish Councillor and that the current position oversees a very busy and exciting period of challenge and change for the PC. He highlighted his proactive and driven  team of Councillors who were there to serve the village and enhance it, but must prepare it for future change.

    While we fought successfully against the proposed Bargate development, we must be defensive against future similar “developer-led” applications.    The Village must decide, and hence the Village Plan, led by Cllr Elderton, is now being developed to decide what Farringdon WANTS  for the future.  This is all in hand, and a final plan is scheduled for delivery by January 2013.  
    Further , Cllr Cowan is to examine the workings of the PC in depth and to make recommendations as to the future in all respects of the functioning of the body.

    As a result of pressure from some younger members of the village, he was pleased to report that the Parsonage Close recreation area is being up-dated to conform with required standards and would be fenced and given a picnic table, as requested by residents.   He was pleased to think that, in this instance, the PC had listened to, and was able to respond appropriately.

    Chris stated the wholehearted support of the PC for the Diamond Jubilee; Council had already voted to supply Jubilee mugs as a contribution to the “Big Lunch” on 3 June, but is receptive to any other initiatives.

    “Village Gates” – Cllr Taylor admitted they had failed to realise their full potential – largely due to a minimal budget; he hoped funds could be found to rectify the situation.

    Village Hall.  Everyone knew the situation; in effect, at the AGM of the Farringdon Village Hall Management Committee (FVHMC) in April, all Trustees would stand down and the PC would offer itself as sole trustee of the FVHMC and assume full responsibility for the Village Hall – its running, management and up-keep. 

    This requires changes to the Constitution of the FVHMC that would need approval by the Charity Commission. Ultimately, this has to be voted on and approved by the villagers.  The PC – already “responsible” for major expenditure on the fabric –was greatly indebted to the Trustees who had worked long and hard over years to try to keep the Hall viable. A thorough review of the VH situation is now required to ensure that it continued to function for the needs of the Village, including the income/expenditure accounts and the future in the short, medium and long-term.   

    Cllr Taylor guaranteed that the village would be kept informed at every stage, when relevant information was available, and of proposed actions.
    The long-term future of the Hall will take much longer.  The PC is engaged and committed but MUST have input, involvement and feedback fromthe village in order to build a solid legacy for the future.

  4. Cllr Oakley spoke to a pre-circulated set of accounts of the Parish Council. He said that the expenditure of more than £14,000 was exceptional; this included a sum of £5,000.00 to cover legal fees for advice about the transfer of legal rights from the existing VHMC to the PC, and the production of 1,000 Jubilee mugs – the donation of the PC to the village effort.   Also, grass cutting/maintenance amounted to £3,900.00 which the Council was constantly reviewing in an effort to reduce.

    As ever, he had strived to get the best form of investments for PC deposit monies and Council had agreed the best solution (pro tem) was to invest 50% in a one year bond and 50% in a (higher-yielding) two year bond.

    Parish Accounts (as circulated) were still subject to audit.   His major concerns still related to the possible drain on PC accounts from Village Hall essential maintenance.  The up-grading of the Parsonage Close Playground would feature in next year’s budget.
    Cllr Oakley concluded by extending, on behalf of Council, his most grateful thanks to David Hartley as our Auditor.

  5. On behalf of the Farringdon Village Hall Management Committee, Sally Oakley recorded her grateful thanks to all her Trustees, especially David and Cally Horton (Treasurer and Secretary).   It had been a particularly difficult year with poor fund-raising.   Travels with Grandad – an excellent production -  had not been supported and sustained a financial loss.  

    The VHMC was greatly disappointed at the uptake of the 100 Club, which had been so successful in Selborne and other rural communities.
    The future of the Village Hall was now entrusted to the Parish Council, unless, in the very unlikely event new Trustees were identified at the AGM on April 25th.

    She felt this was the only sensible solution to this interminable problem but thanked, in particular, Patrick Burridge for all his help and support. The accounts of the VHMC were pre-circulated.

    In response to questions, Sally stated that, currently, the Andreae Trust had expressed little interest in selling jointly with the VH since they had income from letting to the pre-school group.

    The question of de-listing is to be pursued.

  6. Cllr Elderton spoke of Vision 2030.   Only launched in February, this is the FUTURE OF FARRINGDON – where do we want to be in 2030? And how do we get there?

    Clive has been working closely with EHDC and South Downs National Park Authority.   A village questionnaire will be distributed soon to all households in Farringdon; it is VITALLY important that these are replied to, because this will indicate the engagement of the village, the residents views, including their children, as to how we, as residents, see the village in the coming years; what is lacking, what is good; what issues need addressing, etc.
    All information is ESSENTIAL so that we can plan for the future – and this PLAN (The Village Plan) will influence future planning, finance, etc.

  7. No reports were received from the Playground Trust or the Educational Trust; these matters would be pursued.

  8. All residents were reminded that they should place orders for Diamond Jubilee Celebration Mugs and attendance at the Big Luncheon (3 June 2012) with Kate Causton (5884490)

Mike Findlay. Parish Clerk

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