Myrtle Cottage, Wellow, BA2 8QS
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Minutes of a extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council held on Thursday, February 7th 2013 at 8pm in the Village Hall.
Present: CllrsAndrews, Betts, Caudle, Clarkson, Doman, Karthauser, Prentice, Wheeler and White along with some twentyfivemembers of the public. District Cllr Neil Butters and Peter Duppa-Miller were present as observers.
13.EM1 To accept apologies for absence
13.EM2 Declarations of interest in any matters on theagenda
13.EM3 Wellow Sports Proposal
The Chair presented a brief history of the proposal to build tennis courts and other sports facilities on Wellow Playing Field.
The idea originated in December 2011, with extensive consultation during the latter part of 2012 which included an open day and a public meeting.
A proposal was brought to the Parish Council by the Wellow Sports Group (WSG)in December 2012.
Councillors worked over the Christmas period to inform themselves about the merits of the proposals, and about resident’s concerns – drainage, Magic Box, lighting, funding, long term sustainability etc .
Some Councillors visited Freshford at night to look at the lighting installed there.
Councillors discussed the issues that concerned residents, and defined 7 conditions that the Parish Council would impose – these conditions will mitigate residents’ concerns.
The Parish Council received letters supporting the proposals and a petition signed by 98 residents who were opposed to the idea.
At the December meeting, the intention was that the Parish Council would make a decision at the January meeting. By the January meeting, Councillors had established for themselves their views on the matter, and recognised that there was a significant number of residents who opposed the proposals as well as a significant number supporting it.
At the January meeting, the Council ratified the 7 conditions that the Parish Council will impose. Because of the depth of feeling that this issue has caused, at that meeting Councillors took the decision to put the proposal to a referendum – formally a “village survey”. The Parish Council chose to include residents aged 16 and over, instead of just those 18 and over. The Parish Council put in place a mechanism so that all residents could vote, even if they could not actually get to the village hall on the Saturday. The referendum was not allowed to be binding on the Parish Council, but the Councillors would place “great weight” on the result.
The referendum was held on January 26th 2013. The Chair expressed his thanks to Alex Martin, who dealt with votes cast by those unable to attend on the day, to everyone who voted, and to the Clerk and Peter Duppa-Miller who ran the referendum on the day.
323 residents voted – about 77% of those eligible to vote. This is an exceptionally high turnout, which gives a strong mandate to the Council. The result was 198 votes in favour, 118 against and 7 from voters who were still unsure. About 100 residents did not vote.
While there is a significant majority in support of the proposal, it concerns Councillors that there are residents who are opposed to it, and in taking this forward, the Parish Council must ensure that the project is for the whole community.
The Chair asked Councillors if they had any comments to make before taking a vote – none did.
The Clerk put the proposal to the Council, “Does the Parish Council support the proposal, subject to the 7 conditions?”
The result was 6 votes in favour and 3 against. There were no abstentions. The proposal was carried.
The Chair said that, having voted to support the Sports proposals, the Council now had to decide how they wanted to manage the process to ensure the project was a success for the whole community.
He suggested that there were three options:
Option 1: Do Councillors just want to monitor progress, asking WSG to proceed but reporting back to the Council?
Option 2: Do Councillors want to join the WSG to create a project management group?
Option 3: Do Councillors want to take the lead in driving this project to a successful conclusion?
Cllr Wheeler said he favoured the second option, as did Cllr Clarkson who suggested that young people should also join the project management group.
Cllrs Karthauser and Andrews said that there should be representatives from The Parish Council representing both sides, ie those in favour and those against. Cllr Caudle said that she could not see how a Councillor could be on the project management group if they opposed it.
Cllr White said that, having voted in favour of the proposal, the Council must ensure the success of the project.
Cllr Doman asked for an assurance that the whole Parish Council would retain oversight of the progress to meet the conditions. The Chair confirmed that this would be the case, but said that we were not prescribing how the project management group would work, so we would not necessarily expect an update at every Council meeting. The process of sourcing funding, going through planning etc may take many months.
Cllr Betts wanted to know why an extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council had been called rather than addressing this Sports issue at the next scheduled meeting. The Chair said that he had received apologies from two Councillors for the February 11th meeting. Given the significance of the Sports issue, he felt that all Councillors should be present, and had called this meeting.
The Chair proposed that the Parish Council adopt Option 2. The voting was 6 in favour, none against but 3 abstentions. Thus, it was agreed to accept Option 2.
Cllr Doman said that, as a first step, we should ask WSG for a business plan. Cllr Betts agreed. Cllr Betts said that she was against the proposal to build two tennis courts with flood lighting. Cllr Caudle wanted to be sure that the Lawn Tennis Association would not fund a single court. She had written to the LTA, and received a reply, as follows: “… if the club decides to only construct one court without floodlights they are likely to be able to fund this without requiring LTA funding.”
Cllr Clarkson stressed that the proposal had been for two courts, and the majority were in favour. Cllr Karthauser said that we don’t know at this stage whether two courts are achievable, as there are many hurdles to get over, not least finding the funding.
Cllr Andrews suggested that a group be set up to oversee the whole field – including the Village hall and children’s play area, as well as the sports, to ensure the best collective approach.
Cllr Caudle said that she would like to see a blank sheet at this stage. Cllr White pointed out that anyone could have come forward with an alternative plan during the consultation period, but that nobody had done so.
The Chair said that the proposal put to the referendum was for two courts, and other sports. There was a significant majority in support of the proposals, and that is what residents expect to be delivered.
The Chair asked each Councillor whether they would like to support the WSG in taking the proposal forward, and in making this a successful project for the whole community. Cllrs Andrews, Clarkson and Wheeler said that they would like to. Cllr Karthauser said that he was interested but unsure as to whether he could commit much time. Cllrs Caudle, Betts and Doman said they did not have the time. Cllr White regretfully declined because of family commitments.
The Chair proposed that Cllrs Andrews, Clarkson and Wheeler would join the WSG and that Cllr Karthauser could act in support as and when he could. The voting was 6 in favour, none against but 3 abstentions. The Chair asked Councillors for an alternative way forward that was better, and that would get unanimous support. None was put forward, and the three Councillors who had abstained agreed the proposal for Cllrs Andrews, Clarkson and Wheeler to join the WSG, with Cllr Karthauser supporting when he could, was the best way forward.
13.EM4 Date of next meeting
It was confirmed that the next meeting would be on Monday, February 11th at 8pm in the Village Hall.
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 8.45pm.
February 10th 2013