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Annual Town Meeting 2011 Featured

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Annual Town Meeting - 12th April 2011

Notes made by Ruth Jeffrey (Malmesbury.com Administrator)

(Please note that the elements relating specifically to large scale housing development are shown in red)

Patrick Goldstone (mayor) opened the meeting with a welcome and reminded everyone present that it was a meeting for the residents of the town itself and not for other parishes, such as Malmesbury St Paul Without.

Apologies were received from:
Simon Killane (Wiltshire Councillor for Malmesbury)
James York Moore (Jackdaw)
One other resident? (didn't catch name)

Minutes of last year's meeting were signed off with the amendment to include the salaries of officers. PG confirmed this figure was in excess of £200k.

Town Hall – John Lawton
Louise Arkley is new on board to promote the Town Hall. A music event is planned for May. Pricing policy has been streamlined and is discounted further for town residents. Many more enquiries are now being received. Wedding licence is due soon. Kitchen refurbishment is due soon. The gallery is free to hire with 20% commission on sales. New seats have been purchased. 2200 cinema tickets have been sold to date. Credit card bookings will hopefully be introduced. Old School Room is to be let out to a business – currently in negotiation.

Planning and Environmental – Ray Sanderson
91 applications have been considered, which is a significant drop from previous year. The committee meets every 3 weeks. Speedwatch is to be implemented soon on 3 roads. A Flood Plan is to be developed and the committee has had a meeting with the Environment Agency. CCTV – all 3 cameras are in operation. Hoping cameras will be monitored on Friday and Saturday nights, when the Town Hall is open. Street furniture is being refurbished, e.g. bins etc. Bollards in the lower High Street are to be reinstated. The committee objected to WC's increases in parking charges at Station Yard. 28 letters of complaint were received, which is far more than average across other towns. WC still approved the charges with only very minor amendments. Looking at sites for parking but the only one which is currently looking promising is the Hudson Road site. This will involve removal of a green area there, although only a possibility currently. Parking attendents are to cover evenings and early mornings so residents are encouraged to use the Station Yard car park. The committee will investigate any additional sites for car parks put forward, e.g. for 6-8 cars. Environmental issues and Transport Plan are on the agenda. Plans to reduce street lights by 50% at night, mainly in the west of the town are on hold due to lack of funding. Disappointment was expressed at the rejection of the Eilmer Bridge and thanks were offered to the designer and residents involved.
A working group was set up by the committee to invite developers at Park Road and Filands to have meetings with the group (Note: TC working group only, not MDF). Roads, sewers and schools infrastructure development is to come first. Ray Sanderson objected to claims of lack of transparency over the meetings. Stated that WC have meetings without the public and that the public would not have cared if it were any other issue. Apology was made (confirmed as the only apology) to parish council of St. Paul Without for not involving them in the meeting with Andy Nurden.

Joint Burial Committee – Bill Blake
BB explained that it was a joint committee as run in jointly with St Paul Without. Committee is empowered to raise its own precept, which remains unchanged. Grass cutting and hedge trimming work has been undertaken. A wild flowers and wildlife area has been put aside for environmental benefit. Burial numbers are reducing year on year so everyone should make their wishes known to family if they wish to be buried here. We were reminded that burials are more environmentally friendly. The cemetery chapel is rarely used and alternative uses will be considered. The chapel is part of our heritage and the committee is looking for ideas for its future use.

Town Promotions and Tourism – Catherine Doody
Committee met 7 times during the year and CD cited many events of the previous year including Malmesbury in Bloom, Malmesbury town guide publication (still in the making), walkers' guide (still in the making), business boards (?) currently used for the cinema but wants to promote businesses. Lots of helpers have been involved too, including with St. Aldhelm's fair run with French and Italian markets, Farmers' Markets twice a month promoting local produce, Eilmer events – worked with school, library etc. as partners. Poetry books – 100 were produced and 10 are left. Also listed hot air balloon workshop, kite festival, Eilmer flags in the High Street, Eilmer merchandise, Eilmer dinner where profits were given to offset the cost of the kite festival, Embroiderers' Guild, Malmesbury Singers – Eilmer event in May.
The TIC has received 21345 enquiries and visitors (combined) and numbers are up so far this year. Staff at the TIC produce a weekly events guide and posters are displayed in the Town Centre.

Leisure and Youth Committee – Steve Cox
Ground maintenance, play equipment, parks are within remit. New park at Filands due to open in the autumn. Reeds Farm football pitch is very rutted and worn. Funding for synthetic surface is being applied for. Newnton Grove Park administered by WC. 106 agreement to provide extra funding for new equipment at Newnton Grove Park. St Aldhelm's Mead – aerial runway, climbing frame, smaller football goals to be installed. Path is rutted and the surface is to be renewed. Cycle path from Malmesbury to Cowbridge has developed a little bit but the £100k cost quoted is prohibitive. However, this includes a new bridge which may not be required. A working group is to be formed. Bridges trail – to link all bridges over the river Avon to create a 5 mile route is due to be opened in the summer. There is also the Sherston group, which is very proactive in joining up Malmesbury. SC is a fan of walking an keen to introduce info boards, signs etc. Previously, the YMCA building was sold off and the cash is still due. This will be put into a new youth facility. Kim Power has been researching what the youth really want. The cinema was high on their list and a great start. A youth café is also high on the list and premises are being looked into. A skate park is planned with an extension planned for the back of the building to accommodate it. This is hopefully to come on stream soon.

Policy and Resources – Charles Vernon
Finance figures confirmed – written clarification to follow
Costs are increasing for utilities etc. Some facilities such as public toilet, TIC and council information centre were previously run by or paid for by WC but TC will continue to provide these in the future.

Written question received from Bryn Rowlands: What part of the £16m Section 106 funds should have been spent in the town and how much is from development in the town? (I did not catch a specific response to this question).
Answer: CV gave example that 1k houses would pay for a new primary school. WC are trying to direct ways in which funds are spent and making it difficult for the TC to spend as they wish. Newnton Grove Section 106 funds from Westlea are to pay for park equipment previously discussed.

Question: Multi-Warding – how can this be achieved?
Answer: (CV) North Wilts Council reviewed in 2008 / 9 and will not carry out another review for some years. Application will go in then because more new houses will make it even more relevant.
Question cont (Bryn Rowlands): People can trigger review of electoral arrangements.
Answer (CV): 250 votes or 10% can ask for a parish council review but not relevant here.

Policing - Martin Alvis
Crime is down, as is anti-social behaviour even though this is a diverse community. Calls have considerably reduced to the Station Yard area. Issued a plea to use the Station Yard car park because he sees many illegally and unsafely parked cars, which in some cases could prevent access to the fire service. There is a marked improvement in alcohol related violent crime. Local police are working really well with Westlea housing. Residents of two Westlea properties were causing significant disturbances but have now been moved on, which was considered a good result. There has been an increase in the use of Ketamin and NCAT in the town. Hoping to execute warrants and looking for the dealers. Attendees of the meeting were urged to call Wiltshire Police or Crimestoppers if they knew anything.

Question (Bryn Rowlands): What is Sgt Alvis' view on the 20% funding reduction?
Answer (Sgt Alvis): Very confident that front line services will not be affected. Working smarter, e.g. considering reviewing back office support levels.

Question: Street lighting – how and where is it being reduced?
Answer (Sgt Alvis): There are pros and cons of reductions and it will need discussion.

Question (Ed Dias): Have you (Sgt Alvis) been asked to look into a leak of information from the Town Council?
Answer (Sgt Alvis): No

Question (Andrew Carnegie): Concerned over town centre parking.
Answer: (not noted)

Patrick Goldstone raised matter of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Looking for ideas as to what the town wants to do to mark the occasion.

Emailed question (Dave?): Wants to see minutes of Park Road meeting and potential Waitrose / Nurdens site development.
Patrick Goldstone confirmed that all notes are on the TC web site /secretmeetings

Ray Sanderson confirmed that they (TC) were surprised to hear that an outline planning application has been submitted for Park Road, although the TC has asked them to withdraw it. Developer is White Lion Development. To include 77 houses, a community building and 2.2hectares of public space. This will be in the public domain as soon as possible and TC will fight it hammer and tongs but can't do anything until they receive it.
Allotments – developer looking at 20 homes with access through Park Road. TC are strongly against this. Waitrose has not been mentioned at all within Andy Nurden's garden centre scheme.

Kim Power – surprised that the TC is surprised as it was known they were going ahead with the application. Stated that TC shouldn't have had private meetings and knows that more was discussed than was released. Info previously presented was incorrect from Environment Agency. She has requested info from TC but this has not been forthcoming. The single track road was not mentioned at all during the Hunter Page meeting and neither were 106 agreements in the notes at all.

Ray Sanderson confirmed he had not seen any plans; only a flood plain document which was wrong.
CV stated Councillor Sanderson was not telling the truth and that an Environment Agency map was put forward, showing two floods. Latest was in 2000 but this does not agree with what CV knows. The plan suggested that various sites don't flood, when they do. The Env. Agency info is therefore very poor. CV has sent photos but their data has still not been updated. He also stated that the developers are in it to make money and reminded attendees that outline planning permission does not show what will be built (as outline only). Stated Cala Homes example where Eric Pickles won the day, a day before the TC meeting. CV stated that he insisted to the developer that there is no planning policy vacuum. He has also spoken to Gleeson re West Filands and other developer of Park Road. They state it's not their intention to submit applications but are intending to move forward with core strategy and submit their sites to WC to get them chosen as preferred sites for Malmesbury.

CV stated he would like permission to contact developers and email them stating TC's position. The next TC meeting is end of May, when other business would probably mean the matter couldn't be covered then anyway.

Kim Power: Whilst not criticising TC, stated we all need to get together.
Bill Blake asked Kim whom she was representing and KP replied that she was representing herself (as a resident). BB went on to say that the TC were going to be very transparent; that they will not go off and do things townspeople wouldn't be happy with. MDF is to focus on addressing things.

Question to Ray Sanderson: Where is the right place for development?
Answer (Ray Sanderson): At Filands. (PG, er, I don't think Cllr Sanderson meant that). RS cont'd to state concerns over infrastructure. Suggested best left until end of 2026, not 2012/13.

Ed Dias voiced concern over CV sending email and suggested it should be left unsent. Also, that the working party (sub-committee) meeting with developers only received retrospective endorsement of the TC. ED strongly feels the sub-committee shouldn't take their own notes but an officer of the council should be appointed to minute it. Otherwise, they can write (and omit) whatever they like.

PG stated developers can lobby all they like but must adhere to the 2011 North Wiltshire Plan. Also, 80% of the town aren't taking an interest. It's the TC's job to ensure those who are interested are represented (TC to put together grouping). He has contacted Sid Jevons regarding getting together parish councils to work out sensible areas (previously agreed at MDF). Stated TC made a cock-up but it was done for the best possible reason. You cannot have a meeting with everyone present every month. The NP will be formulated and presented to those it will affect. Residents are to have the final decision. Advice and consideration will be sought – got to be evidence based. For example, in the Filands estate at certain times of day, the water pressure is lousy.

Vote taken on whether to send CV's email to developers. Decision: unanimously against.

Andrew Carnegie suggested the audience should hear the pros of CV sending an email to developers so they could make a more considered decision. However, this was not considered necessary.

Question: Why does TC get so uptight about a potential mole within the council?
Answer (PG): A document with meeting notes was released, which had been intended to be kept private for 2-3 weeks to allow the employer (Andy Nurden) to speak with his staff. The subsequent TC meeting was to ask 'who did it' but no one owned up. PG felt it should have been private as it was sensible to do so for reasons of trust.

Question: Malmesbury has become a dormitory town but nothing has been mentioned about employment.
Answer (PG): Problem. We are a net importer officially due to Dyson. NP issue is employment - this means employment land. Stated we need to persuade planners of this.

PG drew meeting to a close.

To download these notes in PDF format click here

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