Parish Council – 2018/19 NCC Adam Brown’s Report for Bugbrooke Division

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

2018/19 County Councillor Adam Brown’s Report for Bugbrooke Division

It is my pleasure to provide the following report which covers my 2nd year as the County Councillor for Bugbrooke Division. Over the past 12 months I have attended events across the division and met dozens of residents during the course of my work. Whilst the County Council clearly has a long way to go, this has been a year when we have confronted the challenges before us and started to turn things around.

Finances
2018/19 at Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) has been defined by the fallout
from the tumultuous events of last year. After the “Best Value” report by Government inspector Max Caller and the departure of Cllr Heather Smith as leader of NCC, Cllr Matt Golby was elected as the new leader of the Conservative group and the Council. In May the Secretary of State announced the appointment of two Commissioners to oversee the finances and governance of NCC, and shortly
afterwards a new Chief Executive, Theresa Grant, arrived at County Hall.
The initial objective of the new team in charge at NCC was to establish the true
extent of financial pressure on the organisation. Consequently a second Section 114 notice was issued by the Chief Finance Officer in July of 2018, warning of a budgetshortfall of approximately £80m. A letter sent to members of the county council by the CFO said that the financial situation the council found itself in was because of “poor or ill-advised decisions taken” between 2014 and 2017. The Section 114 notice prohibited any new spending and the legally imposed restrictions on NCC’s finances were only lifted in March of 2019.
Following the dire warnings in the summer drastic measures were imposed.
Contracts and procurement processes have been reviewed in every department,
automatic replacement of vacant roles has ceased and employment practices
revised to move away from agency staff. Overall a significant package of savings
has been achieved, amounting to around £40m. The vast majority are not cuts, the
process has been about getting maximum value for Northamptonshire’s pounds and
pence. This drive for maximum value means that as we approach the end of the
financial year we are increasingly confident of delivering a truly balanced budget.
It is an inescapable fact that the budget has only been balanced because the
Commissioners have secured an agreement from Government to allow NCC to use
capital receipts to eliminate the historical deficit and replenish reserves.
Approximately £40m from the sale of One Angel Square (the County Council’s HQ)
has been used for these purposes.
While the sentiment that “the County Council has no money” abounds, we are in fact planning to spend a gross budget of £618m in the coming year. This includes a Council Tax rise of 4.99%. Even after this rise the county still has the second lowest county tax rate in the country. The additional funds will provide greater financialstability and provide an opportunity to invest in areas people have said are most important to them. The increase amounts to an additional 75p to £1 a week for the 70% of county residents which live in Bands A-C properties. This raises an additional £5.78m for council. This additional income will be used to:
– Provide greater financial resilience
– Provide a more sustainable financial foundation for any future Unitary Councils.
– Provide extra £475,000 to permanently reinstate the previous winter gritting and winter maintenance of roads.
– Allow us to stop plans to charge for community use of schools by uniformed and
community groups.
– Provide an additional £1.2m for Children’s Services.
– Reverse plans to charge for higher specification community equipment.
– Provide an extra £673,000 towards independent adult social care placements.
As a Conservative I do not take any proposal to increase taxes lightly, especially in the current climate. However given that will remain a low-taxing county and it will enable us to invest or reinvest in areas people have told us are important, I firmly believe this is the right thing to do.

Local Government Reform
Following the Caller report, Government determined that Northamptonshire should
put forward proposals to form two new unitary authorities: one comprising of
Northampton, Daventry District and South Northants, to be known as “West
Northamptonshire; and another covering Wellingborough Borough, Corby Borough
and East Northants, to be known as “North Northamptonshire”. At the end of August councils in Northamptonshire voted in favour of a move to unitary authorities. Of the 8 councils (7 districts + NCC) only Corby voted against the joint bid to split the county into North and West.
It is fair to say that I believe unitary authorities are a better way to run local government than the two tier system we have at present. The success or otherwise of any council depends upon the ability of those running the organisation and the prevailing conditions in which it has to work. In the context of the County Council’s continuing financial difficulties it was therefore not a simple decision for me to support the proposals put before us. The deficit faced by NCC at the time of submitting our bid to Government was £64m with the potential for this figure to rise significantly as auditors continued to clarify the final outturn from the previous year’s budget. Clearly any new authority would be working with one hand tied behind its back were it to inherit that deficit, and therefore I believed that it was an inescapable
fact that Northamptonshire would need special dispensation from MHCLG to use
capital receipts to clear that deficit (a dispensation allowed later in the year as I set out above) if we are to start life as West Northamptonshire with a clean slate.
Debt repayments are also a significant burden on the County Council’s annual
budget but it is the deficit issue that is most pressing. The bid document that was presented to the Secretary of State therefore laid out a number of challenges, and it is these challenges that form the most important element of the bid. They effectively make the local councils’ support for change contingent upon government recognising and rising to these challenges, namely; the aforementioned clean sheet; the provision of additional tools to fund transition costs such as a business rates pilot; recognition of the need for public service reform e.g. in the form of an integrated care system pilot to alleviate the strain place upon councils by adult social care; additional investment in Northant’s infrastructure to compensate for the cut backs on investment in recent years and allow for forthcoming growth. With the bid now with the Secretary of State, the challenges laid out form criteria against which we will be able to judge government’s willingness to support Northamptonshire through our difficulties. Without these challenges and the clear demands for reasonable assistance, I would have been unable to support the proposals, but I have on the record assurances from council leaders that they will be fearless in holding government to account and I will assist them wherever possible. The government has given us one option for a solution to the current difficulties and asked us to submit a bid within that very tight criteria in order to provide local input to the process. It is therefore incumbent upon ministers and our members of
parliament to ensure that their solution is indeed a solution and not greater failure in a different name. At times I was highly tempted to vote against the proposals, and I weighed up very carefully what would be best for residents in the long term. Ultimately my mind was made up by my belief that this is our most realistic chance of resolving the delivery issues being suffered by services that the most vulnerable members of the community rely upon. Voting against these proposals ultimately would have been a futile gesture of protest when having all 8 Northamptonshire Councils around the table arguing the case with government allows us to at least exert some influence over what comes next. We now await confirmation from the Secretary of State that he will be placing the order for the new authorities to be formed. In the meantime there is no time to lose and the West Northamptonshire Joint Committee met for the first time at the end of March. This Committee on which I am serving, will start to decide on the structures of the new authority; how the first Chief Executive and senior officers will be appointed; and how the provisional authority can move
towards permanence without excessively impinging upon the work of current
Councils.

Conclusion
Despite the well-publicised difficulties that the County Council faces I continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of residents in our Division are heard by the Council’s leadership team. Through my work on the Overview & Scrutiny committee I have been vocal in my support of the “Early Years” providers who have been severely let down by the systems in place at NCC, and I have passed a motion formally positioning the Council against the two proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges near Blisworth and Milton Malsor. I have also highlighted concerns over winter gritting brought to me by residents in several villages, and successfully lobbied out leadership for a reversal of the proposed cuts to Scouting and Guides groups. During that time I visited the Brownies in Pattishall to observe one of their meetings and I was hugely impressed by the hard work of the Volunteers and how much enjoyment the girls got from being part of the group.
If these are to be the last 12 months of Northamptonshire County Council then my
objective is to continue the steady improvement of the past few months and leave
the best legacy possible for “West Northamptonshire”. There is no doubt that we will continue to face challenges as an authority but we must face them with honesty and resoluteness in order to drive the changes that the public wants. I will end simply by inviting all residents to contact me if they have any concerns or opinions, I am always happy to discuss in person, by phone or via email and I wish everyone the best for the year ahead.

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.

Nether Heyford Annual Meeting 2019 – SNC Report

Nether Heyford Annual Meeting 2019 – Phil Bignell SNC

A Great Place to Live
South Northants District continues to be ranked as one of the better places to live in the country. Unemployment is one of the lowest in the country although SNC runs a job club to help anyone get back into work. The waste and recycling record is one of which we remain proud and is the best in the County. We had a successful year as SNC, the Brackley Pool was opened, we had visit from HRH Prince Harry to Silverstone, we had a successful commemoration lunch to mark the 100th anniversary of the ending of WW1. We also held dinners to celebrate the sporting achievements of Mercedes Formula 1 team who won for the 5th successive year, and we celebrated the success of Brackley Town FC who won a fairy tale final at Wembley to bring on the FA Trophy. As we move forward with LGR we are holding regular Parish & Town Clerks Forums, with alternate Forums including PC Chairmen.

Local Government Reform (LGR)
The past year has been dominated by the events at NCC dealing with the fallout from it. As we began the new municipal year in 2018 NCC had just issued a Section 114 Notice, the local government equivalent of a bankruptcy notice. Max Caller had reported in his opinion Best Value was not being satisfied and that such was the mess at NCC it was not possible to recover this in a sensible time period and concluded that the best thing to do was to have two new unitary councils.
The unitary councils would abolish NCC and all the 7 districts and boroughs. He proposed that there should be one in the North encompassing Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants and one in the West taking in Daventry, South Northants and Northampton Borough.

SNC Financial Highlights
Funding from Central Government is now limited to the Rural Services Delivery Grant. However, our growth in terms of homes and businesses allows us to continue to balance the books. SNC continue to be one of the best at collecting council tax with 99% of all tax collected. The national average is 98% and SNC remains the 16th best in the whole of England on collection rates. We are considerably higher than the other Authorities in Northamptonshire. The SNC part of the Council Tax bill was raised by 2.99% which is £5.55 a year for a Band D property, making total now £191.33 per year. The increase is in line with inflation. SNC only get to keep 11% of the total bill. Northants County take the biggest share at 71%, PCC 14% and the Fire Service 4%.

New Homes Bonus
Unlike many Councils SNC uses some of the New Homes Bonus it receives from new developments to invest in the local community. Local organisations can bid for grants to help them achieve their objectives. In 2018-19, almost £1.507m of grant funding was awarded to communities within South Northamptonshire across 167 projects to improve their environment and lifestyle. Over the lifetime of the New Homes Bonus Scheme over £3.3m has been re-invested in the Community.

Nether Heyford Bowls Club – relaying of concrete slabs – £4,000
Nether Heyford Parish Council – allotment equipment and shed – £2,586
Nether Heyford Tennis Club – court resurfacing £14,457

Planning
Local Plan part 2
After five lengthy years, South Northants completed the LPP2 and submitted it to
the Inspectorate ahead of schedule on the 22nd January 2019. Should issues be
raised by the Inspector requiring attention, they will once again be presented for public consultation and should this be the case, it is likely that the Plan will become ‘statute’ during the winter of 2019.
South Northamptonshire Land Supply
This Council has built up a good reserve of planning land in-hand. We have been
fortunate with growth for both dwellings and employment land in Brackley,
Silverstone, Deanshanger and Towcester. This has enabled us to build to 11.2
years of land supply. (The Governments guide is 5 years plus 20%).

Communities
Good Neighbour schemes are established by communities and run by local people to provide day to day support for other residents in their village and community, particularly those more isolated or older residents, who may need help on an occasional or regular basis.
South Northants Council Wellbeing Activity Map, developed by SNCs Community Services Team is now live on our website. You can search for activities near where you live by entering your postcode on the website. Lots of the activities are free of charge and none cost more than £5 per session. They include opportunities for sports, arts, learning and socialising.

Environmental Services Report
Waste & Recycling
We were the 7th best authority in England for recycling out of 345 areas and one
place higher than before. Of the waste we collect, 60.5% is recycled thanks to our residents taking care to make sure the right things go in the right bins – this is good for the environment and keeps costs down.
Our booking system for collecting bulky waste – such as kitchen appliances and
furniture – is now on line. This has seen an increase in the number of collections
made and has proved a great success with 97% of those who have used us happy
with the service. For £34 we will collect up to six items.

Supporting Local Business
This year, South Northamptonshire features in a national league table of local
authority areas as being in the top 40% places in the country. The ranking is a
measure of growth, innovation, social equality, health and happiness. Despite it
being a time of uncertainty, the District continues to be a good place to live, work, invest and grow.
Eighty-three per cent of the working age population is employed, and the District‘s workforce also has an above average level of education, with over ninety per cent qualified to NVQ1 and above. The District has historically experienced high levels of out commuting and low job density, which has impacted on the sustainability of urban and rural settlements. Despite low levels of official unemployment, demand is still high for the Job Club and Job Match Service, which has been running since 2009 and supported 477 people into work.

Conclusion
It has been a year of change and uncertainty and still a lot has to be resolved. I have enjoyed as always representing the village at District level and helping resolve any local issues that I could. Next year may well be the last for SNC but rest assured whatever follows will seek to serve the residents as well or better in the future.

Phil Bignell
Deputy Leader SNC

 

Nether Heyford Annual Meeting 2019 – Parish Council Chairman’s Report

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

Chairman’s Report 2019

At the time of writing, Nether Heyford is awaiting the first signs of spring, and with
luck, a summer. We all look forward to warm evenings and cold drinks.
Unfortunately there are tasks to perform, and obligations to be met, in order for our
lives to be orderly and comfortable. No less so for Nether Heyford Parish Council,
and the conscientious and forward thinking Parish Councillors, with tasks to
perform, and a responsibility to the residents of Nether Heyford.

As in previous years, village organisations have responded brilliantly in a clean up
effort, with volunteers litter picking, up, through, and round Nether Heyford, and the
immediate area. The Neighbourhood Planning Group have got into their stride,
having worked hard to create a Neighbourhood Plan that represents the
development Villagers have asked for, and accommodation that Nether Heyford
actually needs, and which will be suitable for all, rather than the few.

Some amazing things have been occurring in the allotments, and Parish Councillors
with responsibility for this aspect of Village life, have taken the existing system of
allotment management and shaken it up into a sensible, practicable and user
friendly success. A very pleasant leisure area has been created, utilising disused
allotments, and the planting of sponsored fruit trees. Mr Bill Corner has voluntarily
been keeping grass areas between allotments tidy, strimming, and mowing, and
keeping things tidy. The siting of sheds on allotments is also designed to make life
easier for allotment holders. This has been accomplished by communication and
cooperation from all concerned.

The maintenance of our footpaths, and highways is the responsibility of the Local
Authority, and as we know they are in serious financial difficulties. Any and all pot
holes, and subsidence noted should continue to be reported to Street Doctor,
available on line, or by contacting South Northants Council. Although the road
surfaces remain in an appalling condition, generally, I was amazed to note that the
give way signs at all junctions, within the centre of the village are repaired, and lit at
night. That only took two years.

Grass cutting, and tree maintenance continues as always, and the contractors are
aware of their responsibilities, and are responsive to the desire of the Parish Council
to ensure Nether Heyford remains well looked after.

The cemetery is also being serviced regularly, and this will continue. This service is
intended to enhance the maintenance that family members perform to individual
plots.

Over the years, it seems, we see less and less of Police Officers patrolling our
Parish, let alone our village. We have seemingly learned to accept, and tolerate this
situation. Nether Heyford, as of April 2019, will share a PCSO, with Bugbrooke. This
is intended to reassure villagers, and provide a precepted community spirited
service for our village. I would encourage residents to get to know him, and
welcome him to Nether Heyford.

The siting of two defibrillators within Nether Heyford, one at One Stop, and the other
near the Bowls Club in the Playing Field area, continue to provide a public service
that will save lives. They are accessed, on need, with a code provided by the
Ambulance Service. Both machines are inspected on a monthly basis, and kept to a
high standard.

Street lights in Nether Heyford, have over the years had problems. The existing
lights are dated, and of mixed types. As a result they are expensive to maintain, and
are limited in the light they provide. The Parish Council are considering replacing
existing lights, and adding some in new areas. In effect redesigning the lighting
system replacing them with a more modern, and efficient system. New LED lighting
will be more environmentally friendly, provide more effective lighting, and be
cheaper to run. Consultation within Nether Heyford as to type, style, and placement
of new lighting will be announced, hopefully via the new website.

Nether Heyford Parish Council have a somewhat neglected website, and it has
become normal to communicate and allow communication, in the 21st century, so
that everyone knows what is going on. With this in mind, the Parish Council will be
working with Mr Jez Wilson, to ensure the creation of a new website, that will be fit
for purpose, and accessible to all.

I would like to thank, Mr Guy Ravine, Parish Clerk, for his excellent services, and
patience. Also the enthusiastic, forward thinking and progressive members of
Nether Heyford Parish Council.

There are still vacancies on the Parish Council, please give serious thought to
volunteering.

Charles Kiloh
Chairman – Nether Heyford Parish Council

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.

Nether Heyford Parish Council – About Us

Nether Heyford has a Parish Council of 9 members and a Parish Clerk. The Council meets in the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom (situated between the Village Hall and the Baptist Chapel overlooking the green) on the first Monday of each month at 7.30 pm (unless stated otherwise and notified via The Prattler and village noticeboards)

Agendae for full Parish Council and for Committee Meetings are posted on the Notice board next to the Post Box and The Village Hall three days prior to the meeting.

Members of the public and the press are welcome to attend and can take the opportunity to raise issues with the Council at the beginning of the meeting. The District Councillors and the County Councillor generally attend, and the local PCSO sometimes attends.

The responsibilities of the Council are varied and include the provision of the following services:
– Churchyard
– Cemetery
– The Green
– The War Memorial
– Seating & litter bins
– Street lighting
– Grass cutting – via Agency agreement with Northants County Council
– Litter picking and provision and maintenance of dog bins
– Making environmental improvements as and when thought appropriate
– Liaising with the county council on highway safety and repair
– Liaising with the county council on public transport matters affecting the parish
– Liaising with the county council on the state of footpaths and other rights of way
– Liaising with the police on matters of concern within the parish
– Considering and commenting on planning applications within the parish and on major planning applications in neighbouring parishes
– Making grants to village organisations from council funds

Annual Parish Meeting
All Parish Councils in England are required by law to hold an Annual Parish Meeting between 1st March and 30th June each year. The meeting allows the Council and local community organisations to explain what they have been doing over the last year and electors can have their say on anything which they consider is important to the people of the parish.

Who may Attend?
Anyone may attend but only registered electors may ask questions. An elector may also make suggestions and comment on anything pertinent to the people of Nether Heyford – this will be welcomed and it is the whole purpose of the meeting.

Who will chair the meeting?
Normally the Chairperson of the Parish Council will chair the meeting otherwise the meeting will elect a Chairperson from amongst those electors present.

Will Parish Councillors be there?
Usually they do attend and will speak as necessary but the purpose of the meeting is to enable the electors to have their say. Councillors will listen and as electors themselves, also have the opportunity to raise questions and make comments if they wish.

Can I suggest Agenda items?
Yes, just get them to the Clerk to the Parish Council or come along to the meeting and raise the item then.

Are Minutes taken?
Yes – they are published in the monthly village newspaper The Prattler and displayed on the village notice boards.

Parish Council – Main Contact:

Guy Ravine
Clerk to the Parish Council
Address: c/o Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH
Telephone: 01327 340410
Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com

Parish Council – Councillors:

Charles Kiloh
Address: 19 The Green
Responsibilities: Chairman, Planning, Finance.
Telephone: 07779 900860

Mike Brasset
Address: The Foresters Arms, The Green
Responsibilities: Canal Matters, Planning
Email: mikethepub@hotmail.co.uk

L. Dilkes
Address: 1A Roberts Field
Responsibilities: Village Hall Rep, Youth Club, Vice Chair, Finance
Telephone: 07967 753216
Email: thedilkesfamily@outlook.com

Lynda Eales
Address: 3 Church Lane
Responsibilities: Allotments, Playing Field
Telephone: 01327 341707
Email: lyndaeales@aol.com

P. Green
Address: 8 South View
Responsibilities: Joint Burial Board
Telephone: 01327 349072
Mobile: 07763 244065

Neil Haynes
Address: 30 Weedon Road
Responsibilities: Tree Warden, Planning, Joint Burial Board
Telephone: 01327 340167

A-M Collins
Address: 25 Wakefield Way
Responsibilities: Arnold Trust, School Governors
Telephone: 01327 341180
Email: anna-twenty5@sky.com

Sue Corner
Address: 7 Close Road
Responsibilities: Allotments, Planning
Email: sue.corner@sky.com

A.Williams
Address: 26 Church Street
Responsibilities: Planning and Finance
Email: anthony.k.williams@talk21.com

Dave Musson 
Address:
Responsibilities:
Email: davemusson073@gmail.com

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Pot Holes / Road Markings / Street Lighting / Broken Pavements / Grit Bins / Road Gritting

The County Council’s Highways Department will only deal with problems that have been reported on Northamptonshire County Council The Street Doctor website. Alternatively, phone 0300 126 1000 and ask for Streetdoctor.

Streetlights

All the streetlights in the village belong to the Parish Council so if any are faulty please phone the Clerk, Mr Guy Ravine on 01327 340410.

Refuse collection

South Northants County Council, Towcester, Northamptonshire

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Parish Council – March 2019 Meeting

ParishCouncilNotes

The March 2019 meeting of Nether Heyford Parish Council was held on the 4th, at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom

PCSO agreement
All being well the village should have a part time PCSO in place shortly. Police methods are very different now, and police personnel generally less visible so it will be good to have a regular police presence in the village again. The officer is already at work in Bugbrooke and will share duties between the two villages.

The Annual Parish Meeting
Will take place before the normal Parish Council meeting on April 1st . This is an opportunity for village organisations to give annual reports and for general discussion. Please send any reports to the Clerk by e-mail.

Public Participation
A Parishioner complained of the dumping of trade waste and burning of apparently toxic waste in the field behind Denbrook, as had other Parishioners. The Clerk had reported this to environmental health at SNC who had acknowledged, and had already been made aware by Parishioners. Fire men were apparently putting in a report and there were Police incident numbers. Neighbours were concerned that hazardous materials and trade waste were involved.

There were comments about the parking situation around the school. It was acknowledged that parking around schools was an issue in most villages.

It was reported that SNC were waiting to hear from parliament about confirmation of 2 unitaries. There was a proposal that there be 18 councillors chosen as members of an unelected shadow council.

Lights
The Chair and Clerk had attended a seminar on lighting. The cost of the streetlights has increased by 100% over the past 3 years, but it seems that by switching to LED lighting that anything up to 75% could be saved on electricity costs. It was felt that a working party could look at all existing lights and work on proposals for the village as a whole. The project would be a costly one, but there is a Government supported agency able to give interest free loans.

Allotments
All but 1 of the rents have now been collected, and some new allotment
holders have come forward. Volunteer Saturdays were being held in March, and an
Open day for the Orchard on April 6th. Small strips of land would be offered for rent.

Dog Mess
As ever an ongoing problem, with complaints that irresponsible dog
owners continue to let their dogs foul the Green and elsewhere and do not clean up,
Some who do, proceed to throw the bags into hedges or trees. There are surely
enough dog bins available to avoid this.

Roads and Pavements
Parishioners are reminded that anyone can report a pothole or other highways problem online to the Streetdoctor service, and this can refer to problems outside the village too. Alternatively, phone 0300 126 1000 and ask for Streetdoctor

Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be on Monday April 1st at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom at 8 pm and is, like all Parish Council meetings, open to all Parishioners. It is preceded by the Annual Parish Meeting

Parish Council Notes by the Clerk; Guy Ravine c/o The Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH. Telephone 01327 340410 Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com – March 2019

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.

Parish Council – February 2019 Meeting

ParishCouncilNotes

The February 2019 meeting of Nether Heyford Parish Council was held on the 4th, at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom

Public Participation – Cllr Adam Brown sent the following report.

NCC will meet twice this month: on 14th February to discuss the next phase of plans to establish two new unitary authorities in the county, and on 21st February to discuss the 2019/20 budget. On the 14th February Council will also debate a motion put forward by me which seeks to formalise NCC’s opposition to the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges near Blisworth and Milton Malsor. In that motion I highlight the severe impact on nearby villages and the brilliant work by local activists in opposing the scheme. Having discussed the matter with colleagues within the Conservative group I am optimistic that the motion will be passed and a strong message will be sent to the planning inspectorate and the Secretary of State for Transport.

In terms of budgetary matters, our leadership team is increasingly optimistic that we will end this financial year on budget or with a moderate underspend. As a member of the Scrutiny & Overview Committee I have been part of the team analysing next year’s budget and we have highlighted a number of areas of concern, most notably: the desire for continued subsidy of youth groups which allows them to use school premises in Northamptonshire; an instruction to Cabinet for NCC to be more aggressive in its approach to procurement in order to realise over £1m of savings; the importance that additional spending on social care services be sufficient to meet the anticipated demand.

Next year’s budget currently does not account for the recent government decision to allow NCC to increase Council tax by 2% in addition to the 2.99% permitted by the Secretary of State. I have argued that should we accept that additional 2% rise then the money must be used to reinstate services that the public have clearly told us they wish to retain such as enhanced winter gritting. Whilst the 2% would raise approximately £6m, much of that money would need to be put into reserves to allow for potential pressures on statutory services. Of course NCC has previously been criticised for failing to raise council tax, and whilst we remain one of the lowest areas for council tax in the whole of England in the midst of ongoing financial pressure it would be irresponsible to pass up the opportunity to strengthen the County Council’s revenue raising ability.

Village Hall
Alwyne Wilson introduced herself as the new chair of the Village Hall.

Bliss Close maintenance issues
Tom Dodd spoke about problems experienced by residents of Bliss Close with the maintenance of the public spaces, or buffer zones. Residents ware paying a considerable amount for maintenance which they do not feel is being carried properly or with any reference to the costs they are incurring. Any requests to see the contracts are rebuffed, and it seemed that the agreements were in perpetuity with no right to appeal or withdraw. He was concerned to know what had passed between Council and the developers on this issue. It was felt that safety issues were a concern of the Parish Council, even if other issues were not. Cllr PG reported that there were similar maintenance contracts in place in Bugbrooke, but that they were being properly handled. It was suggested that there might be breach of contract. It was felt that at this stage the issue did not involve the Parish Council, as the Council referred to in the House deeds was almost certainly South Northants Council. Such maintenance contracts were becoming common and similar conflicts were arising all over the country, and causing concern in Government. SC felt this was not an issue for Council, and AW felt the residents would have to take legal advice. The Clerk was instructed to write express concerns on safety issues, and the Chair expressed sympathy and support on behalf of Council.

Allotments
Rent night took place on Jan 24th. All but 8 rents collected. SC suggested a reminder letter at the end of the month. AW suggested setting up online payments with monthly instalments.

Neighbourhood Plan
It was reported that information was still being received in the form of postal votes for preferred future building sites. SNC were looking for 25 – 59 new houses. It was felt the village would be more comfortable with 25 – 29,
and felt that that community led housing and self-build should be explored.

Dog Mess
This is a perennial problem and Councillors felt there was more on the Green than was usual and were disappointed. A new Dog Bin has been installed on Church Lane and it is hoped that this might help with the river area. This problem has been further highlighted by contact with David Banner who farms the field on the other side of the pedestrian bridge. This maintained as a traditional style water meadow and as such it represents a valuable amenity and environment. Mr Banner is disappointed that many dog owners let their dogs run free and foul freely. He would ask that dog walkers keep to the paths and that they keep their dogs on their leads at least until they have “done their business” and that this be bagged and removed. While there are often not sheep in the meadow, the grazing of sheep is an integral part of the meadow’s management. Dog faeces can contain a parasite that causes sheep to abort and can also kill them. He would be most grateful if dog walkers could remember this.

Election Dates
It has now been established that there will be no District or Parish elections in 2019 with the onset of the unitary council imminent.

Roads and Pavements
The installation of a 20mph speed limit was raised. This was felt to be an aspiration for next year, although it could be applied for under NHB.

Parishioners are reminded that anyone can report a pothole or other highways problem online to the Streetdoctor service, and this can refer to problems outside the village too. Alternatively, phone 0300 126 1000 and ask for Streetdoctor

Spring Clean
The annual “Spring Clean” would be taking place on March 30th/31st.

Signs
The Clerk had contacted Matthew Clarke at Keir/Highways who was still searching for a quote for a finger post for the church. He had also advised that renovation of the direction sign on the green would probably cost £1500.

Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be on Monday March 4th at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom at 7.30 pm and is, like all Parish Council meetings, open to all Parishioners.

Parish Council Notes by the Clerk; Guy Ravine February 2019

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.