LITTON CHENEY PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Village
held on Tuesday 11 May 2022 at Litton and Thorner's Community Hall
Present: Bill Orchard (Chairman); Quentin Blacke; John Firrell; Andrew Price; Bella Spurrier; Maggie Walsh (Clerk). Also in attendance: Cllr Mark Roberts and 41 local residents
2. Chairman’s review of the year
Councillor Bill Orchard, Chairman, welcomed everyone to the meeting and provided a review of Parish Councillors’ work throughout the year.
Cllr John Firrell attended groups with 14 PCs and Bridport Town Council working together on issues of common interest when dealing with DC. He was also responsible for administration and probity and, on his day off, coordinated the activities of the Premier Crew.
Cllr Andrew Price liaised with Dorset Council Highways and Planning services, as well as National Highways and Parks Farm. He had worked closely with Dorset Highways to effect the 30mph speed limit: there had recently been some reports of vehicles speeding between School Lane and the White Horse PH. More recently, Cllr Price had been responsible for contractors working together to minimise disruption during the closure of Whiteway; as well as ensuring the avenue of trees bordering Whiteway were protected. Cllr Price continued to work with Highways and the local Member of Parliament to resolve the issue of large HGVs using Whiteway and his regular meetings at Parks Farm to manage traffic issues seemed to have achieved some improvement.
Cllr Andy King kept a close eye on the playground and allotments. The playground was well used, and maintenance was due to be carried out in May. The cost of maintaining the playground was significant and the PC transferred some of its reserves into the playground fund at the end of the year 21-22 to help with this, but any major replacement or refurbishment would still likely require significant additional fund raising. The PC would welcome suggestions from younger residents regarding any additional playground equipment they would like to see. All allotment plots were let.
Cllr Bella Spurrier kept a close eye on public footpaths and had some success progressing issues with Dorset Council. Cllr Quentin Blacke assisted Cllr Spurrier and was responsible for creating the Community Bench Fund.
Prior to her recent resignation, Cllr Diana Maston had made a considerable contribution to the village in terms of Climate Emergency and Environmental issues. The PC thanked her for her contribution and were sorry to lose her valued input.
The PC also continued to represent the views of villagers on Planning Applications. The current years precept was £9,900, or less than £48 per year for a band D house: representing a reduction from the previous year.
Finally, Cllr Orchard thanked the Premier Crew for their outstanding voluntary work around the village, including removing debris from the bottom of Whiteway after heavy rain, the annual litter pick and clearing up after the winter flood – the PC was currently working with Puncknowle, Swyre & West Bexington and Burton Bradstock PCs to draft a Bride Valley Flood Action Plan.
Cllr Firrell outlined plans for the forthcoming HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. These would start with Royal Scarecrows and History Trails through the village in late May. There would be an exhibition showcasing 7 decades of HM’s reign in the Community Hall and a parade of vintage vehicles on 26 May; a walk and live music at the White Horse PH on Saturday 4 June and a village picnic, cake baking competition and a grand draw on Sunday 5 June. Cllr Firrell encouraged everyone to buy Grand Draw raffle tickets. Like many other Dorset villages, the Jubilee celebrations had been organised by the village, rather than the PC. He thanked the Jubilee Organisation Group for their continuing efforts.
Cllr Quentin Blacke provided an update on the Community Bench Fund, starting by thanking all who had donated. A simple bench had been purchased for installation on Chalk Pit Lane and benches were planned for Pins Knoll, the top of the Vineyard and a Jubilee bench for beside the bus stop. The existing bench at the bus stop would move to Magna Green.
3. Litton Cheney – future aspirations and plans
Cllr Orchard summarised the current and emerging planning situation with regard to development in villages like Litton Cheney. He also highlighted difficulties faced by young families priced out of living locally and difficulties finding rental accommodation meaning there could be insufficient support for existing villagers as they aged.
There was an open discussion about villagers’ aspirations with regard to any new housing within the village. Consensus from those present was that affordable housing was needed for younger families and that people should be able to remain in the location they grew up. However, the village should be kept small and its character respected – no housing estates but not no housing at all. However, there was concern that “affordable” housing may not be affordable. Villagers had voted against a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) several years ago: whilst a NP could give some control over where new houses might go, there was nervousness about the commitment required to create one. There may be a role for Housing Association involvement or a Community Land Trust but it could be difficult to find land.
Cllr Mark Roberts explained that the current situation was complicated by DC not currently having a five year housing land supply. This increased the likelihood of developers receiving planning permission for housing contrary to local planning policy. The DC leader was in discussion with Michael Gove, seeking flexibility whilst the new local plan was developed.
The PC would like to create a steering group to identify what most villagers want and what might be possible. If you would be like to be involved, please contact the Parish Clerk at email@example.com
4. Community Infrastructure Levy
Developers constructing new houses must pay a levy towards infrastructure: this is called Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The PC received 15% of this payment, which could only be spent on new infrastructure such as new playground equipment (all ages) or benches. Improvements to a footpath linking the school to the church was suggested. Please contact the Parish Clerk or speak to any Parish Councillor with any suggestions.
5. Open floor: this was an opportunity for local residents to raise matters they wished to bring to the attention of the Parish Council and/or other residents:
· It would be helpful if contact details for farmers were published to help report loose animals quickly – this would require farmers’ consent
· Some verges must be cut to maintain highways visibility. Should the remainder be cut early and kept tidy or cut as late as possible to encourage biodiversity? A straw poll showed a significant majority in favour of late flailing. Cllr Roberts reported that DC was gradually stripping top soil from verges and reseeding with wild flowers. This reduced the need for cutting and helped biodiversity.
· The prospect of a village shop was raised. This had been explored around 15 years previously. A significant number of volunteers would be needed to staff it and a suitable location found. Modbury, Burton Bradstock PO and Abbotsbury Farm shop meant there was now likely too much competition for a community shop to succeed.
· Those present thanked the PC for its work on behalf of the village.