EDITOR: I spent much of the last week watching and reading about the US Presidential
Reading last Monday’s parish council meeting notes, everything looked so inconsequential, petty, banal and even (in some cases) comical. However, what our parish council does (or perhaps more accurately does NOT do) affects this small community and so I still think it worthwhile me spending time reporting on their meetings.
Q1: A number of trees have been felled in High Wood (near the bottom of Green Lane).
Are these within the parish council’s “Lower Allotments” and, if so, does the council
know anything about it?
Answer to Q1: We don’t know but will look into it.
Q2: Has the parish council had a look at the Burial Ground as promised at the last
meeting, following the comment by Ellisfield resident Mr Ray Reed of Green Lane that,
in his opinion, the Burial Ground was “a mess” and was very difficult to maintain?
Answer to Q2: No. Cllr Cazenove agreed to look at the Burial Ground with Mr Ray Reed and to report back to the council.
EDITOR: Mr Ray Reed admitted that he had not mowed the Burial Ground this year, so it’s not too clear how he can help in this matter. Surely it would be better for the council to liaise with Paul Brown, the Volunteer Group’s coordinator for the Burial Ground?
Q3: Why are the Parish Council Meeting Agendas now not being displayed on the village’s
Answer to Q3: The new parish clerk, Mick Walker, stated that he understood that putting up just a “Notice of Meeting” on the Lower Common notice board, plus the actual agenda on the parish council website, was perfectly acceptable and fulfilled the council’s legal obligations.
It was pointed out that Agendas had been put up on ALL village notice boards for at least the last 25 years and that that practice should continue. Mr Walker agreed to put up the Agenda on the Lower Common notice board only.
EDITOR: I informed the council that I would, from now on, print out Agendas (obtained from the parish council website) and put them up on the three other village notice boards.
Highlights of the actual meeting
£250 grant to Preston Candover’s new Community Store:
The parish clerk, as requested by Paul Turner, had asked HALC (Hampshire Association of Local Council) for their advice and that they had responded that:
“They consider that making a donation to an appeal for a project that may not reach fruition is not an acceptable use of public funds.”
EDITOR: Luckily, the £250 had not actually been paid out, otherwise it would have been a real embarrassment …
Lower Common Swings:
Basingstoke & Deane’s weekly inspection has declared that the known faults with the baby seat and with the chains are still regarded as “High Risk”. The parish council agreed to make the necessary repairs.
EDITOR: Good. An accident would be bad for those concerned. There would also then be the risk of litigation if the parish council was seen to have been negligent..
Despite this matter having been raised a number of times, the council has not organised ordering sandbags. At this meeting, it was agreed that this should be done and that the sandbags will be stored in the parish council’s lockup.
EDITOR: Would it not be more logical to ensure that the actual households known to be at risk be provided with enough sandbags for their own needs, with perhaps only an emergency supply being held by the council?
Flood Plans and “Lengthsman” recruitment:
The chairman expressed concern about the flood pit behind Lower Common which has “not been cleared in his memory”.
EDITOR: I was permitted to explain that this had been cleared by Steve Brabbin with his digger whilst village volunteers worked on the Green Lane drainage channel back in March 2016. I also mentioned that the flood pit was in a natural dip.
However, I did stress that the two flood pits on the other side of Furzen Lane did quickly fill up and overflow and they should definitely be cleared out (but then the council already has known this since the January and February 2016 flash floods).
EDITOR: After yesterday’s rain, the bend at the Green Lane / Church Lane bus stop was again flooded. I formally warned the parish council at their April 2016 meeting that “… this was dangerous and could lead to an accident.when cars coming from the north move out -
The external auditor repeated an earlier warning that the parish council had failed to have a Risk Assessment.
EDITOR: Pathetic …
New Lower Common Notice Board:
The months go by and there’s still no action. The parish council, despite Cllr Park Weir’s recommendation, are now talking about a two-
Speed Monitoring on the Axford Road:
EDITOR: Whilst our council has been prevaricating, other nearby parish councils have purchased monitoring and/or electronic speed signs.
The meeting lasted two hours with the Open Forum taking up 45 minutes of that time
(it did, however, include PC Reid’s 5 minute statement to the council).
This is despite the rule, brought in by the Chairman some time ago and stated clearly on the formal Agenda, that:
“An Open Forum of 15 minutes will be held immediately before the meeting at which residents may ask questions. The Council will go into session at 8.15 or when the Open Forum finishes whichever is the earlier”.
Items raised by the public in the Open Forum included:
A statement by Julian Wright of Bell Lane about broadband at Lasham, about BT’s timescale for installing fibre to the top of the village and about what will possibly happen regarding the lower half of the village.
Mr Wright also brought up for the council’s consideration that a local landowner and, on a separate occasion, the landowner’s gamekeeper had both stopped him when walking on a village Right of Way and had insisted that his dog be put on a lead. Mr Wright wanted the council to note that the law states that a dog has to be “under control” and that the law does not say that the dog has to be on a lead.
Ray Reed of Green Lane informed the council that, in his opinion, the Burial Ground was “a mess” and was very difficult to maintain. He asked the council to inspect the Burial Ground. When asked by another resident, who had mowed the Burial Ground just a week ago and saw nothing wrong, what he meant by “a mess”, Mr Reed replied that he’d already made himself clear and refrained from providing further details!
EDITOR: <joke> I don't see why we cannot just get rid of all the graves and headstones, it would be sooooo much easier to mow. </joke>
There was also some general discussion with PC Reid about asking Hampshire County Council to install some “speed pipes” on the Axford Road to monitor traffic for a week or two. If it is found that the 30 mile per hour limit is being regularly exceeded, the Chairman suggested that ”traffic calming” measures could be considered.
Then, at 8.45pm, the meeting finally started. Points of interest were:
Replacement notice board at Lower Common
Two quotes had been received for a 3-
Cllr Reed informed the council that she was in discussions with Hampshire County Council to erect some kind of barrier.
Council Bank Accounts
Mick Walker, the parish clerk, reported that he still did not have direct access to the bank accounts and, indeed, did not have a cheque book.
The clerk confirmed that he did not put up this Meeting’s Agenda on the Parish Council notice board, because he considered that it was sufficient to post it onto the Parish Council website. He promised to check with HALC (Hampshire Association of Local Councils) that that was satisfactory.
£250 Grant to Preston Candover
The clerk agreed to check with HALC that having, at the last parish council meeting, just two councillors voting for this grant and the other three councillors present abstaining was acceptable and legal for this (somewhat controversial?) grant to be agreed.
EDITOR: Ellisfield residents may (should?) feel that it is perhaps “questionable” for a grant to be made from our parish council funds to another village’s project (especially with the money apparently going towards a planning application that might be rejected), no matter how laudable.
Also, although the Ellisfield Parish Council 2016/17 Budget has a “Grant for community needs” section (presumably intended for our needs?), the amount allocated to that budget heading was, it is believed, ZERO.
Lower Common Swing
The “baby seat” has failed a safety check carried out by Basingstoke & Deane.
It was declared that getting these gates installed, after it having been discussed for so many years, was a “triumph” for the parish council and Cllr Vicky Reed was congratulated for her efforts.
New notice board for Lower Common
Cllr Park Weir has been unable to obtain a quote, although he did estimate that it would cost circa £2,000. The meeting chairman insisted that this matter be dealt with at the next meeting (which Cllr Weir and two other councillors will be unable to attend).
New notice boards for Bus Shelters
Not discussed (despite these being internally in a bad state of repair, especially the one at the top of Green Lane).
Flood Plans -
Cllr Park Weir told the council that he had been unable to contact the person responsible at Basingstoke Council to arrange for these to be delivered.
Cllr Park Weir had no new information from Hampshire Council Council regarding fibre installation in the village.
He also said that, although fibre was due to be installed at Farleigh Wallop on June 27, he had no news about the possibility of some in Ellisfield being able to “piggy back” off the proposed Farleigh to Wield broadband link by RedRaw Internet.
Ray Reed, the chairman of the Memorial Hall committee, told the council that the committee was considering the purchase of a defibrillator to be mounted on the outside of the Hall and would possibly be putting a funding proposal to the council in due course.
Home Farm Pond
This pond (which was renovated with a £10,000 lottery grant) is now invisible from the road due to high nettles. The council agreed to look into this.
The Draft Minutes of the July 18 meeting can be viewed HERE.
At this evening’s parish council meeting, it was decided that the council would donate £250 to the appeal for the new Candover Valley Community Store in Preston Candover.
There were five councillors present, two voted for the £250 donation and the other three abstained.
The donation request and amount were not on the meeting’s Agenda and nor was the £250 budgeted for in the 2016/17 financial year.
EDITOR: Deciding to spend unbudgeted parish council funds on another village’s project,
without Ellisfield residents being given advance notice and with the majority of
councillor’s present abstaining, is a very unusual occurrence and may even be ultra
vires (ie, beyond the council’s legal power or authority).
UPDATE (Monday, July 25): Apparently, our £250 has gone towards offsetting the costs of their planning application.
EDITOR: Nothing of interest to report (oh, except that Cliddesden have set up a Speed
Watch group with new equipment costing £1,800 -
EDITOR: Sorry, I was unable to attend this meeting.
This meeting was held in the Church due to a mix up (not the fault of the council) with Memorial Hall bookings.
PC Andrew Reid reported on the thefts at Cannon Close garages.
Paul Turner requested that the council carefully analyse the efficacy of each and every one of Green Lane’s road verge drainage channels. Then, to arrange the filling in of those that either serve no purpose or (worse) actually exacerbate the situation by allowing mud and stones to be carried away down Green Lane by flood water.
Once again, the Minutes of the previous meeting were gone through, with each original action point being discussed.
EDITOR: For the last fifteen years or so, this agenda item was actually “Matters arising from the Minutes (for which no relevant Agenda Item is listed below)”. This was so that the actual meeting could get quickly underway and any “matters arising” could be properly discussed within the appropriate Agenda Item.
This new process (which last night went on for half an hour!) was started by the Chairman four or five meetings ago and is especially frustrating for members of the public to have to sit through, especially if they’ve come to listen to a particular agenda item which is high up on the itinerary.
New Parish Clerk? Mr Mick Walker was introduced as Ellisfield’s prospective new Clerk. Mr Walker moved from Sherfield Park into The Acorns on the Axford Road (the Hopwood’s house) last August. He originates from Reading and served in the Navy up until 1996. After spells at Harwell and AWE, since 2004 he has been an independent Nuclear Radiation Detection Advisor, working from home. It is unknown whether or not he has any experience of the workings of a Parish Council.
Implications of Recent Flooding. The parish council will be attending a meeting at the offices of the Highways Department in Hook on Thursday morning.
EDITOR: It was now after 9.00pm and I left them to continue their meeting. However,
before I left I urged them to address the issue of the flooding that regularly occurs
at the Bus Shelter at the top of Green Lane. I emphasised that I found it astonishing
that a serious accident had not happened there, when cars coming from the north move
The next parish council meeting is at the Memorial Hall on Monday, April 11 at 8.00pm. The meeting’s agenda is HERE.
EDITOR: The agenda has two items of special interest, namely:
To introduce prospective new Clerk
To discuss implications of recent flooding
Last Monday’s Parish Council meeting’s Draft Minutes have been released.
EDITOR: In the Any Other Business section of the Minutes, it states that the “Councillors signed off the news letter” (see News Item below).
The March 2016 Newsletter was delivered to all residents over the weekend.
EDITOR: Warning. Warning. Warning.
The blood pressure of the village’s pedants will be dangerously raised if they read this newsletter.
The next parish council meeting is at the Memorial Hall on Monday, April 11 at 8.00pm.
It has been confirmed today by the parish council chairman, Cllr Tim Guinness, that the Parish Council precept (the total amount of money required for the running of the council) for the April 2016 to March 2017 financial year will be £5,521, this being the same as the previous four years.
Although the actual amount charged per property will depend upon its rateable value, it means that the average cost per Ellisfield household will be £46.40.
The open forum commenced with the Chairman, Cllr Tim Guinness, providing a highly detailed explanation of last Sunday’s flash flood, what has been done since and also what is being planned to do in the future.
The main action has been that many of the grips and drainage channels were cleared out today using a digger operated by a contractor paid for out of parish funds and another couple of hours of this work is planned for tomorrow.
Hampshire County Council’s Highways Department have been requested to clear the debris still remaining on the Axford Road and to repair the damage to the tarmac. They did not provide a timescale for this work (but they did state that it would be within the next two months!). In the Open Forum, a resident asked PC Andrew Reid if he would alert the Highways Department to the dangers of the debris and he agreed to do so tomorrow morning. It was pointed out that the area in question is on an official Cycle Route and another resident made it known that he had witnessed a cyclist falling off his bike because of this debris.
All this and the formal discussion on the flash flood when the council went back into session took just under an hour.
Editor: As has happened in the last few meetings, the chairman then proceeded to
review the previous meeting’s minutes in detail rather than wait until the relevant
Agenda Items came up later in the meeting. Being in great danger of falling asleep,
I decided to leave the meeting rather than embarrass myself …
UPDATE (Jan 31): A second version of the meeting’s Draft Minutes has been released.
EDITOR: Sorry, I’ve been too busy to write up my notes on this meeting (but there wasn’t much of interest anyway !!!).
True to her word, Wendy Simson, the new Interim Parish Clerk, has posted Draft Minutes of the council's meeting on October 20.
EDITOR: This is really EXCELLENT. No longer do residents have to wait until after the next meeting (normally at least six weeks) before they can find out what was discussed.
Changes, changes ...
The meeting, on a Tuesday because of the hall being pre-
What didn't change was that there was (again) much discussion about retrieving parish council property from the previous Clerk who resigned, with immediate effect, over three months ago. Hope was expressed that the previous Clerk had actually completed the Minutes of the May 18 parish council meeting and the May 29 Annual Parish Meeting.
The chairman explained what was happening about finding a tenant for the recently vacated Housing Association house in Farrier's Field and the Clerk presented a Financial Report which, because all the accounting records (and cheque book!) are still with the previous Clerk, understandably had a number of gaps in it.
Finally, the previously proposed next meeting date of Tuesday, December 1 was changed to Wednesday, December 2 because the chairman would be celebrating his 25,000th day on earth on the Tuesday ... The meeting ended at 9.30pm.
Monday evening's meeting of the Ellisfield Parish Council started at 8.00pm (this
change from the traditional 7.30pm time is now permanent) and lasted for two hours.
The new Interim Parish Clerk, Wendy Simson (see September 3 news item below), and
the new co-
Quite a lot of time was spent discussing the council's progress (or non-
The rest of the council meeting was a lot less interesting and there was nothing memorable to report. The dates of the next two meetings were agreed and (in another break with tradition) they are both going to be held on a Tuesday (October 20 and December 1).
Wendy Simson (see right), Clerk to Preston Candover & Nutley parish council and Candovers parish council, will start work as Ellisfield's Parish Clerk as from next Monday evening's meeting.
Wendy will remain in post until a permanent Clerk has been recruited and, if necessary, trained. (Click picture for larger image display.)
The minutes of the parish council's May 18 meeting have still not been published. These minutes were to have been produced by Christina Veasey who resigned just before the next scheduled meeting.
Then, as the July 13 meeting's Agenda was published too late for the meeting to be legal, the record of that meeting were deemed to be "Notes" and not "Minutes". These "Notes" were approved at the July 27 meeting BUT they also have not (at the time of this News Item) been published on the council's Official Website.
This meeting took place on Monday evening. Unusually, it is just two weeks since
the Parish Council last met, on July 13.
Despite the Agenda stating that the Open Forum would take place before the meeting started, it was actually held within the meeting ...
Wendy Simson (Clerk to both Preston Candover & Nutley and Candovers parish councils,
was introduced to councillors. Wendy has offered to become a locum Clerk to Ellisfield
until a suitable replacement for Mrs Veasey can be found.
After Wendy had left, the Council agreed to ask her to start her temporary role as from the September meeting. They then discussed what to do about getting back all the Council property (including the cheque book!) from Mrs Veasey.
A replacement for Cllr Wright was then discussed and it was agreed to co-
EDITOR: I then left so cannot comment on the rest of the meeting. There were no other residents present.
At the parish council meeting on July 13, it was decided to have another meeting
two weeks later. THIS is that meeting!
Please note that the meeting is again in St. Martin's Church, the Memorial Hall presumably having being pre-
Also please note that it is scheduled to start at 8.00pm, not the usual 7.30pm.
Meeting Notice & Agenda: Published July 21.
UPDATE: The parish council have decided to alter the format of the Open Forum.
It is now going to be held before the meeting starts and is going to be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes, irrespective of how many residents wish to speak, irrespective of the urgency of the matter that they wish discussed and irrespective of the time it takes for an answer to be provided by the council.
(The second Residents' Open Forum was cancelled by a decision of all councillors on 12th May 2014, so there is also now no opportunity to make comments or to question the council at the end of the meeting.)
There was a parish council meeting on Monday evening. Because Christina Veasey had resigned (see News Item dated July 11 below), Edna Chilton (who retired as Parish Clerk in 2003) attended the meeting and took the notes. The minutes of the previous meeting on May 19 were not in the parish council's possession and so (obviously!) they could not be signed or discussed.
It was agreed that another meeting will be held in two weeks time (Monday, July 27 at 8.00pm, not 7.30pm as is usual).
EDITOR: Based on my experiences of being a parish clerk, councillor and chairman, in the Open Forum I asked questions and offered my advice on a number of matters, some of which I felt were serious and needed addressing. My warnings were ignored.
As for the meeting itself, I'm going to refrain from reporting what happened.
The meeting was held in the church and I could not stop images of parish meetings in episodes of The Vicar of Dibley from going through my mind. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry ...
Mrs Christina Veasey, who was appointed Parish Clerk just six months ago (on January 26), has tendered her resignation.
Monday meeting's Agenda went up today on the Parish Council's village notice board and on the Parish Council website.
Editor: I don't know who created the Agenda, it certainly was not Mrs Veasey. Anyway, item 4 is "Actions required following resignation of Clerk" and item 13 is "Closed Session to agree outstanding issues, if any, arising from resignation of Clerk".
UPDATE: The following has appeared on the Parish Council website today:
“Sadly Christina Veasey resigned as Clerk on Monday. We are now urgently considering how best to replace her.
"IF THERE IS ANYONE IN THE VILLAGE INTERESTED IN STEPPING FORWARD PLEASE CONTACT ANY OF THE COUNCILLORS”
Tim Guinness, Ellisfield Parish Council
At the beginning of this week, all the various accounts documents for the 2014/15 year were uploaded to a new Audit and Accounts page on the Parish Council website.
EDITOR: Congratulations go to Christina Veasey, the new Parish Clerk, for all the hard work getting all the documentation ready for auditing and then uploading everything onto the council website.
Ellisfield residents should especially read the Auditors' Report which contains a list of matters arising from the audit. For example, I'm certain that the comment that:
"The reserves of the council are significantly higher than best practice. Parish
Councils do not have the power to hold savings."
"Projects that will benefit all of the residents of the parish should be brought forward to bring the reserves to a more appropriate level."
will invoke some interesting discussion between councillors and amongst Ellisfield residents.
Ellisfield Parish Council has decided to formally endorse The Fox public house and its new landlord. The official council website says:
"Be assured of a warm welcome, often with a crackling open fire, at The Fox by its
new landlord; Lucy Tuffs ..."
"With over 15 years experience in the ‘pub and catering’ world, Lucy has extended the opening hours creating great freshly cooked menus."
"All are assured of a well-
The following notice has been posted on the Ellisfield Parish Council website:
The Council has just been notified by Julian Wright that he has decided to step down.
This leaves a casual vacancy and if, 10 members of the electorate call for an election,
one will be held. Otherwise the vacancy will be filled by co-
Any resident who would like to be considered for co-
Julian was on the Council for three years and the Chairman, Councillor Tim Guinness, comments; “Julian’s decision will leave a big hole. He worked tirelessly on your Council’s behalf on several important issues; most recently on trying to get BT to bring superfast broadband to Ellisfield.”
UPDATE: The official notification, dated June 4, has just been released.
EDITOR: Of course, it's always best for a parish councillor to be elected by the
residents of the village, rather than be co-
So, if you want to put yourself forward to be a parish councillor, you've two choices:
The parish council contracted Timberwise Fencing to move the new notice board in College Lane (near the Bell Lane junction) to a new position.
The parish council met yesterday evening. If they followed their Meeting Agenda, a Parish Council Chairman has not been elected.
If you are interested in taking one or more allotment plots, contact the Parish Clerk, Christina Veasey, on 01256 397125 or email her.
Here are the number of votes cast on Thursday, May 7, for each of the seven Ellisfield residents who were nominated to stand for election to Ellisfield Parish Council:
Caroline J. CAZENOVE ......... 166 (elected)
Timothy W. N. GUINNESS .... 148 (elected)
Gavin J. PARK WEIR ............ 148 (elected)
David G. RICHARDS ............. 129 (elected)
Rosemary A. TAPLIN ........... 156 (elected)
Paul T. M. TURNER .............. 71
Julian P. WRIGHT ................ 113 (elected)
"I would like to thank all the 71 residents who voted for me."
(Thursday, May 14: "Having got something off my chest, I've removed the remainder of my statement ...")
Thursday, May 14: "For the same reason as above, this has also been removed ..."
The following Ellisfield residents have been nominated to stand for election to the Parish Council on May 7.
Caroline J. CAZENOVE
Timothy W. N. GUINNESS
Gavin J. PARK WEIR
David G. RICHARDS
Rosemary A. TAPLIN
Paul T. M. TURNER
Julian P. WRIGHT
(Full details are on the Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll document, issued by Basingstoke & Deane's Returning Officer.)
An election is taking place in Ellisfield because there are 7 nominations for the
6 places on the Council.
Of the 36 parish councils in the Basingstoke & Deane area, 30 had the same number of nominations as there were places to fill and so an election will not be taking place.
Surprisingly, 2 parishes (Newfound and Nutley) had no nominations for the two places each had to fill.
As well as Ellisfield, 3 other parishes (Chineham, Steventon and Upton Grey) will be having elections.
In the Open Forum, a resident's request for parish councillors to state whether or
not they intended to stand for re-
The contents (text, images, Minutes, Newsletters, etc.) of the original Parish Council
website, created by Paul Turner, have been ported to a new "skin". The layout and
look of the new Parish Council website (see below) is so different from the original
that there will now no longer be confusion between it and THIS Community Website.
EDITOR: The theme of this WordPress site has a very clean, bright and uncluttered design. I like that it's variable width and "responsive". It will allow the Parish Clerk to amend and update content without having to deal with the complexities of the coding. Well done Charlie Hellewell, a great job.
At the January 26, 2015 parish council meeting, Mrs Christina Veasey (the "s" is
pronounced as a "z") was appointed as the new Ellisfield Parish Council Clerk. Mrs
Veasey (pictured left) was an RAF Squadron Leader and is from Dummer. She has never
been a Parish Clerk or Councillor but was heavily involved with Dummer's Village
Design Statement (which was adopted by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as supplementary
planning guidance for the parish in February 2004).
Jacqui Matthews (pictured right), retiring Parish Clerk, was thanked for her ten and a half years service and presented with a shrub for her garden.
(Click on pictures to display larger versions.)