Lambourn Parish Council meeting, 7 October 2020

This report has been written by Penny Post as a result of attending (by Zoom) the most recent meeting of Lambourn Parish Council (LPC) on 7 October. It does not pretend to be an official version of the meeting and by no means covers all the items discussed: it has merely picked out aspects which are likely to be of immediate local interest and  offered some background, which council meeting generally do not.

Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which might not accord with LPC’s official view on the matter. It may also refer to what Penny Post believes to be relevant matters which were not discussed at the meeting.

Because of the current lack of an LPC website (see last section below), it’s not possible to provide any links to the agenda, nor to where the minutes will eventually be displayed, nor to any other relevant official LPC documents.

The links that have been provided have been added by Penny Post. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that LPC necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

LPC = Lambourn Parish Council. WBC = West Berkshire Council. LNDP = The Lambourn Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Summary

Various matters were discussed including the usual formal business, three planning applications (on which the PC, as a consultative body, is entitled to express an opinion although WBC has the final say), the LNDP, the proposed development at Lynch Lane, the recent meeting of the Flood Forum, the co-option of a new councillor (Jerry Winfield being invited to join), the archives in the Alms Houses, the PC’s response to various government and WBC consultations and the problems of blocked pipes in the Memorial Hall.

As well as members of LPC, local ward member Howard Woollaston was also in attendance throughout the meeting. You can see his ward report for September/October 2020 by clicking here.

Several of these are considered in slightly more detail below.

Lynch Lane

The Lynch Lane proposal is still at pre-application discussion stage. The Chairman reported that, at the developer’s request, he and others had recently had a meeting with the developers to listen to the proposals.  Discussions are expected to take place soon between the developers and WBC’s planning officers. Their positions seem to be a fair way apart at present. WBC’s site allocation provides for 60 homes, 40% of which are to be ‘affordable’ as it’s a green-field site; the developers have indicated they have a figure of 105 in mind. Only when the application is put in, if it is, will there be more clarity. At that point, the public will have the chance to make comment, as will LPC: however, to repeat the point made in the Summary, LPC is only a consultee in the process: WBC, as the planning authority, will note and consider the views of LPC and others but is entitled to come to a different conclusion.

Lambourn’s neighbourhood development plan

Sue Cocker, the Chair of the LNDP Steering Group, explained that work on the neighbourhood development plan had reached the point where the consultants had largely completed its landscape character assessment and she showed the meeting a map with the seven separate areas marked. This is an important stage in the project as it will enable policies to be proposed which will govern or influence development in all of these (very different) areas. The parish includes the industrial area at Membury, the corridor of the River Lambourn, the Downs and the village itself.

See here for more on neighbourhood development plans.

Flooding and sewage

At a recent meeting of the Lambourn Valley Flood Forum, it was announced that a new manager has been appointed by Thames Water to oversee works in this stretch of the valley. Funding has already been secured to line 45 metres of troublesome pipes although he warned that it was possible that similar problems to those experienced recently could be encountered in 2020-21.

Ward member Howard Woollaston commented after the meeting that ‘for the first time since I took on the role I came away feeling that there was a real determination to resolve our issues.’

This article provides some background to the problem.

Consultations

There are currently various consultations open, on all of which LPC will be providing a response. The ones discussed were the government’s white paper on planning; and two from WBC covering the Housing Strategy and the Cultural Heritage Strategy (see here for a lit of all WBC consultations).

Expenditure

Of the several items summarised on the minutes, one was picked out for discussion, a payment to Dyno Rod. This was briefly discussed. It’s hard to imagine what pleasure or profit someone would derive from taking three new toilet rolls, removing the cardboard tubes and then putting rolls and tubes into the toilet and pulling the chain: but this is what someone did in the public toilets at the Memorial Hall, with predictable results. The meeting reported that £540 had been spent on clearing out the blockage (in which limescale also played a part). Arrangements are being put in place to reduce the chances of this peculiar crime being repeated.

Lambourn Parish Council’s website and public information

(Not discussed at the meeting.)

Normally, such a report would end with the remark that ‘the minutes will soon be available on the Parish Council website’ with a weblink but that is not possible: there is no Parish Council website and never has been, although one is now planned. Previously the LPC was parked, none too elegantly, on the Lambourn.org website but, for whatever reason, all the information was recently removed apart from one generic page. It is not certain when the new site will be operational as, rather surprisingly, it wasn’t on the agenda for the above-mentioned LPC meeting.

Aside from it being a legal requirement for parish councils to display all relevant information clearly and promptly, the demands of the pandemic response and the need to be compliant with the new website accessibility code of conduct make this all the more urgent. The LPC is also in the middle of conducting its LNDP.

At present, if you want to see minutes, agendas or any other documents which would normally be immediately available on a parish council’s website, you will need to email the LPC Clerk at lambournpc@btconnect.com.

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Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale