Our chairman writes:
Somehow I managed to miss the deadline for the October edition of the Bridge, so this months’ notes are something of a “bumper” edition as I endeavour to report on two months worth of Parish council business.
It was pleasing to see several members of the public at our September meeting.
The agenda was certainly an interesting one as we were fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Rebecca Lockwood Norris and Vicky Bodman from Wiltshire Council who gave a short presentation on Community Led Housing and answered subsequent questions from those present. It seemed clear that this project could well be relevant to our village and we shall be following up on some of the possibilities that were explained to us. In simple terms, the scheme can give control of the supply and management of affordable housing to the local community. As well as being fairer than some other forms of development, there seemed to be a good chance that the planning and management could be cost effective for a relatively small community such as ours. Subsequently Cllr Powell and attended a Community Led housing networking event at which it became clear that this approach to meeting future housing needs is becoming increasingly popular with the powers that be. We will certainly be looking very seriously at the ideas raised and taking further opportunities to find out more in due course.
In a related area, Cllrs Stokes and Parsons attended a consultation meeting with reference to the Wiltshire local Plan. We are now designated as being within the Eastern district along with a number of settlements of varying size. An important purpose of the plan is to assess the housing needs of each district and thus the number of new builds that might be required and where they would be located. More information with regard to this will emerge over future years and it is too early to meaningfully anticipate. However, one interesting fact emerged from discussions and that is that Worton is, apparently, the “smallest large village” in Wiltshire! Whilst unsure whether this should be a cause of celebration or not, there is a serious side to this sort of classification as it can determine what is, or what is not, expected of each settlement. We have decided to seriously look at this classification to consider whether we should seek to be re-classified – we believe our “large village” status was strongly linked to our late lamented village shop! Sadly, there are already several small villages in Wiltshire larger than Worton, so the title of “Largest small village” is beyond our aspirations!
Another topic which continues to cause issues for several villagers is Back Lane. A very healthy and open discussion took place at our September meeting. Unfortunately, landowners who had been invited to our meeting were unable to attend, so could not respond to concerns or give clarification directly. However, other lines of communication remain open, so watch this space!
It is important to understand that access of footpaths and bridleways, can be a very emotive and complex issue, where accepted practice and legality can become blurred. Usually disagreements can be solved by good communication and compromise, especially where the point of contention is so localised. Having realised that we need to be absolutely clear where the correct route of footpath 13 runs, an on site meeting took place with Paul Millard, the Countryside Access Officer for Central Wiltshire, and Cllrs Johnson, Powell and myself. This proved very useful as we examined the relevant maps, in this case going back to the nineteenth century. As a result, we are confident that we better “ know our ground “ with reference to this issue. We very much hope an amicable solution can be found to what is becoming a significant problem, not only for the residents directly involved, but also for the large numbers who enjoy the use of the path.
I think it is a useful time to refer again to the work of the Bobby Van team. We are very lucky to have this organisation available to provide support to our vulnerable villagers, which, in all honesty, means virtually all of us! We have been made aware of a recent spate of burglaries in the local area, particularly from outbuildings, so it seems an appropriate time to organise a visit from the Bobby Van team – as long as a member of the household is over 60 their advice is free. More details can be found on their website https://wiltshirebobbyvan.org.uk/ or by contacting them on 01380 861155.
You may recall that we planted a large number of trees on Sandleaze bank as part of an initiative to honour those who gave their lives for us all in the WWI conflict. Sadly it appears that most have been destroyed, due to the removal of the protective sheaths that were used when the planting took place. Why and how this should have happened is a mystery that has left us bemused, sad and frustrated as a good deal of endeavour went into what was, to us, an important reminder to future generations.
However, we have been made aware (thanks to Giles Collins!) of an initiative from the Woodland Trust, which hopefully will allow us to access some new trees to replace those that have been lost. We are unsure exactly how many and of what type we can get, but are very much “on the case”.
Incidentally, the ones that we planted at Whatley’s Leaze, seem to remain unscathed. The annual play area inspection found some important issues that we need to deal with, particularly at Whatley’s. Hopefully these will have been dealt with by the time you read these notes.
I’m sure we all share concerns about road safety. One local junction that we all regard as potentially dangerous is the one colloquially referred to as the “Black Dog” junction. We have become aware that a Great Cheverell resident has made a very detailed and well argued submission to Cllr Weyman of Wiltshire council. There is evidence to suggest that the greatest hazard is for drivers approaching the junction from Worton. Thus, even though the junction is not within our Parish boundary, any opportunity to improve safety there is very much our concern. We have decided to add our support to what seems to be a very sensible attempt to resolve a dangerous situation as soon as practicable.
As you read this, many will be planning their celebration of one of our national traditions in the form of Guy Fawkes night. Please remember that your enjoyment of the event should keep in mind the impact that bonfires and fireworks have on your neighbours, their pets and livestock. There have also been some issues recently involving bonfires. This is technically a matter for Environmental Health and a log sheet can be accessed via http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/env-health-protection-contact-us.