Annual General Meeting of the Farringdon Improvement Group
held 5th October 2005 in the Village Hall

  Nadya Wagland (Chair) reported on a positive first year in existence. She reminded the meeting that the Group, funded by EHDC's Rural Safety Initiative, was one of only two in the District, and that following a questionnaire delivered to ALL houses in the village, analysis indicated that fear of crime was minimal, but that other factors had clearly come to light which could be summarised as:

All of which could be addressed by FIG. Other perceived deficiencies could not, reasonably, be addressed by the Group (at least in the short term), such as inadequate bus services and lack of shop and post office.

However, she was pleased to report that several grievances of residents of Parsonage Close seemed to have been resolved, and thanks were due to EHDC, Drum Housing and the Dog Warden service, together with cooperation from residents.
In case of further problems, neighbours and other residents of the village were begged to continue to keep detailed diaries of nuisances, as before, for future action - should it be needed.

Mike Findlay (Secretary) reported that the year had seen the acceptance of the Group working within the community. He stressed that FIG wished to work closely with the village Neighbourhood Watch - not to replace it; a free exchange of information between FIG and NW was assured through Iain Ross (Treasurer of FIG), and Coordinator of Farringdon Neighbourhood Watch.

Regarding item 8c on the agenda (lack of village amenities), he informed the meeting that moves were afoot from a village group to purchase the other half of the Village Hall with a view to developing it to accommodate diverse activities of interest to the village and others; no outcome could be reported at this stage.

In the absence of Treasurer Iain Ross, he reported that of the original grant of £300.00 from EHDC, the only outgoings were for secretarial costs and Village Hall hire amounting to a total of £57.48 leaving a balance of £242.52.

Ms Sharon Bendry (successor to Sandra Tuddenham as Safety Co-ordinator of EHDC) was introduced to the meeting as was Laura Brown (ASBO Officer, EHDC, and successor to Sally-Ann Edson). Sharon stated that she was encouraged by the progress of the Group and assured it of her support and (through her) access to the other diverse partners available to help it attain its objectives.

Ms Sam Adams (Drum Housing) was thanked for her efforts, which, in no small way were responsible for resolving Parsonage Close problems.

PC Simon Dear (Farringdon Beat Officer) who has been with the Group since its inception, was delighted that the unrest in Parsonage Close seemed to have been largely resolved. He stated that Farringdon enjoyed a very low crime-rate, and that we were all working to keep it that way. He was always available for advice or action on matters of concern to Farringdon residents, and advised how to proceed on the intransigence of Hampshire County Council Highways regarding our pressure to act on the excessive speeds on A32 and some lanes.

The meeting was encouraged to hear that the A32 had attracted police speed camera surveillance, perhaps more than other locations, especially on Sundays and Wednesdays, with a view to discouraging irresponsible drivers - especially motorcyclists.

Mike Findlay stated that action was needed to discourage speeding and irresponsible driving by school-run and rat-run drivers on Shirnall Hill - an everyday event. This is especially hazardous, since there is no footpath, and it is a route regularly used by cyclists, horse riders, dog walkers and pedestrians (often with push-chairs containing infants). Simon stated that this should be brought to the attention of Traffic Division of the Hampshire Constabulary, and Mike Findlay would pursue this vigorously. The A32 was still regarded as a more dangerous route than the A339 - Alton to Basingstoke road.

Dave Griffiths (EHDC Dog Warden Service) commented about fouling by dogs and concerns about "dogs out of control". He emphasised that he could only penalise those cases of fouling where he had photographic evidence and a statement from
the complainant. He disapproved of dogs being exercised by horse-riders on the grounds of safety of the dogs and other road users, but doubted if such dogs seriously contributed to a fouling problem. He alerted the Group that in Hampshire the Police were no longer accepting stray dogs; during office hours, EHDC must be contacted on 01.730.234319, and between the hours of 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., "Lost Paws" will respond on 0870.6091449 - but only for 'captive' dogs.
He defined "straying" (as opposed to "abandonment") as follows - a 'stray dog' is a loose dog with no owner in sight. Such owners can be fined for repeated offences.
MOST IMPORTANT, HOWEVER was that Dave drew attention to the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act - which, although now law, awaited guidelines regarding implementation. This would empower local (parish) councils to levy fines for dog owners' misdemeanours and to ban dogs from specified areas, such as children's playgrounds. Further advice on this is awaited in April 2006.
In the meantime, Dave advised that dogs "out of control" which had bitten a person should be reported to the police immediately together with evidence, such as photographs and a hospital/doctor's report.

There was considerable discussion about lack of facilities for the youth of the village - also raised in the questionnaire. Simon Dear had acquired through Hampshire Constabulary funds, table tennis equipment and a table-top football game, which he had earmarked for Farringdon, but was now being pressed about its destination. While there was no immediate problem about its storage within the Village Hall, its utilisation caused concern. While it was acknowledged that there was a great need for a youth club in Farringdon, concern was expressed that the now compulsory screening of volunteer supervisors could be a deterrent, and certainly would take time.

As a "pro tem" move, it was suggested that a mini-bus weekly service be explored to Selborne, which had a thriving weekly youth club, while Nadia Wagland liaised with Nicky Povey-Howell, and EHDC (through Sharon Bendry) regarding organisation of a Farringdon Youth Club and respond to Simon Dear, without delay.

Various other minor points were raised for the attention of Mike Findlay.

The next meeting of the Farringdon Improvement Group was scheduled for Wednesday 7 December 2005.

Mike Findlay
Group Secretary

Forthcoming Meetings 2006

1 February 2006
5 April 2006
7 June 2006