Lambourn’s Annual Parish Assembly 31 May 2023

Lambourn Parish Council’s 2023 Annual Assembly took place on 31 May. This is not intended to be a report of the event (which Penny Post was unable to attend) but merely reproduces four addresses that were made: from the Chair of the PC, from the Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group, from Lambourn Junction CIC and from the Friends of Lambourn Library.

A number of other organisations, including the Youth Club and Lambourn Junction CIC, also addressed the meeting. If any wish to send us the text of their remarks we’ll be happy to add them to this post.

Lambourn Parish Council

It has to be said that the 2022/23 civic year has been one of mixed emotions. We had the joy of celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June last year, followed of course by the sadness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September and then the accession to the throne of His Majesty King Charles III.

We’ve also seen some significant changes within the Parish Council we’ve said goodbye to a number of long serving councillors and Clerk. However, we’ve welcolmed a number of new councillors and our Clerk Gary Wyatt-Hawkins who joined us on the first of March.

I’ll start with an overview of the financial year April 2022 to 31 March 2023 our income was £192,022. (This was made up of:

  • £155,150 – from the precept
  • £8,497 – from Community Infrastructure Levy (monies collected from building in the parish)
  • £28,375 – from trading activities such as hiring the Memorial Hall, market rent and burials.)

Our expenditure was made up of:

  • Staff costs: £60,051
  • Supply and maintenance of services £107,253

We completed the year on budget and have placed funds into earmarked reserves to allow us to plan for improvements to our open spaces, streetlighting and the village itself.

We have posted a more detailed income and expenditure report for the year on our website.  As well as all our annual governance statement and audit reports from financial year 2017-2018 to date.

I’d also like to report the successful conclusion of the audit. The auditor noted that in their opinion, Lambourn Parish Council demonstrates ‘substantial assurance’.  This means that we have a sound system of governance, risk management and control, with our internal controls operating effectively and being consistently applied.  Where weaknesses had been identified at the interim audit earlier in the year, the detailed recommendations for improvement have all been implemented in full.

Moving on to Community Engagement, The Parish Council is committed to encouraging effective local community engagement and to developing relationships between the Council, individuals and voluntary and community groups.

An important form of engagement with the community is that Parish Councillors serve as Trustees and representatives on a variety of local bodies, for example, the Flood Forum, Lambourn Library, Patient Participation Group, Community Conversation, The Theo Harris Memorial Trust and Lambourn Church of England School House Trust.

Each year we also give funding support to a variety of local initiatives and we would encourage local organisations to submit grant applications to us. Please contact the Parish Office for more information.

Facilities and Open Spaces, The Memorial Hall continues to be well used both by community groups and private bookings for parties and events. We’d like to thank Carol and Mark the caretakers, for all of their hard work in preparing for bookings and keeping everything clean and tidy.

We’ve undertaken some work at the Skatepark at the Old Cricket Field, it had long term drainage issues addressed and the shelter has been refurbished and is looking much smarter. Our litter picker Patrick continues to do a fantastic job of keeping down the litter in our open spaces.

I’ll be handing over to Mike later to give us an update on the allotments which are a popular and an integral part of the community.

Roads and Traffic, Traffic through the village is an ongoing concern for residents and the Parish Council has tried to look at measures to address concerns.  One small step we have made is to obtain matched funding from West Berks for equipment for the Eastbury and Lambourn Community Speedwatch Groups.  Volunteers are always welcome with full training given.

Finally, running the Council. The smooth running of the Parish Council is dependent on our Parish Clerk, Gary Wyatt-Hawkins and Deputy Clerk, Rachael Burns with the support team of Carol, Mark and Patrick.  All have worked extra hours to keep the Council going and to support initiatives to improve our services and I would like to express my sincere thanks to them for their commitment and enthusiasm.  I feel very fortunate as Chair to have such an excellent team of councillors, officers and support staff. I would like to end by thanking every one of them for their hard work and dedication.

Vicky Rieunier

Lambourn Neighbourhood Development Plan

I would like to begin by thanking the members of the LNDP Steering Group  –Parish Councillors Bridget Jones and Helen Noll; District Councillor Howard Woollaston; Mike Billinge-Jones; Bruce Laurie; Peter Penfold and Will Riggall – for all they have done, and continue to do, on this project.  Even with the professional support of our consultants, there is still a huge amount of work which has to be done, voluntarily, by the SG members. Recently we have been involved in writing sections on community assets, the development of the Membury industrial complex, community aspirations and Key Issues. Public transport, traffic concerns and the availability of housing are of interest parish-wide, but each settlement has its particular concerns, as does the horse racing industry.

Since the last Annual Assembly there have been major developments in the preparation of the LNDP. During public consultations, it became clear that parishioners would prefer the Parish Council to allocate housing sites for development, rather than West Berkshire Council, as they have done in the past. Local planning authorities (in our case, West Berkshire Council) have to set aside land – “Allocated Sites” – for a certain number of homes. Only houses built on “allocated sites” count towards the total, so (for example) the new almshouses will not count. They are considered “windfall”.

The SG therefore issued a “call for sites”, asking landowners to put forward land for housing. The sites proposed were made public in a series of exhibitions around the Parish in January. National and local government criteria, necessary assessments and environmental factors (including issues raised by nutrient neutrality) have to be taken into account, as well as public comments. Whilst there is a need for additional housing to meet local requirements, parishioners also wish to preserve the rural character of the Parish and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, of which the Parish is a part, and the SG is working with our Consultants to prepare policies which balance these factors.

Public consultations (such as the business, residents’ and landowners’ surveys, and local exhibitions) have provided evidence, the analysis of which is helping to inform the Plan. We are now preparing a draft of the Plan, which will include (amongst other things) policies on housing development, green spaces and important views, as well as infrastructure, biodiversity and the local economy. The Draft will be made available for public feedback, before being refined for submission. Once the Plan has been submitted to West Berkshire Council there will be a further period of consultation before it goes before an Independent Examiner, who may suggest amendments. These are then incorporated into a final version which will then go forward to a local Referendum, in which parishioners will vote on whether to adopt the Plan. Provided more than 50% of those voting say yes, then the Plan is “made” and will form part of the local Statutory Development Plan.

Sue Cocker

Lambourn Junction CIC

The Lambourn Junction Community Interest Company was formed in March 2021 to act as an enabler and operator of activities serving the community for the benefit of the residents of Lambourn and the surrounding area.

There are a number of worthwhile initiatives in Lambourn which are often frustrated and overwhelmed by the administration, risks, management and legal requirements such as insurance and health and safety. The company provides a supporting infrastructure for such ventures by operating the activities through the company. It also enables the securing of grant funding that would ordinarily only be available to registered charitable organisations.

The company is a Community Interest Company which means that it is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee. It is not a charity. The company has no paid employees and the five directors are not remunerated.

Under the auspices of the company a number of community initiatives have been launched and are operating to serve the community:

  • The Lambourn Youth Junction
  • The Lambourn Food Bank
  • The Lambourn Lunch Club
  • The Lambourn Litter-picking Project
  • The Lambourn Community Website
  • The Lambourn Environmental Group
  • The Lambourn Parish Council Website

More information on all these can be found on this separate post on Lambourn.org.

Christian Noll

Friends of Lambourn Library

Lambourn Library is a volunteer-supported library and the smallest in West Berkshire. Like all nine of West Berkshire’s libraries (that’s including the Mobile Library), it is judged on its statistics for membership, visits and borrowing.

Friends of Lambourn Library is delighted therefore to report Lambourn’s figures from the Library Service for the year ending March 2023:

  • New memberships increased by 21.3%, compared to the previous year.
  • Loans and renewals were up by 34% and reservations by 49.3%.
  • There were 9,372 visitors to the library, an increase of 44.6%.

On these criteria, Lambourn is one of the best-performing libraries in West Berkshire and is cited by the Library Service as an example of what can be done when the Service and the community work together.  Thanks are due to the library staff, volunteers and members of the Friends of Lambourn Library, who have all worked hard to promote the library and the services it offers. In addition, Lambourn Parish Council has continued to provide much-appreciated funding and the community has clearly responded.

This year, Library staff initiated “Golden Time” activity sessions for children on Friday afternoons. These are well attended, providing games and activities for children (and parents) to enjoy.

The children’s craft events and weekly Rhymetime, both run by volunteers, have proved popular, as was the Summer Reading Challenge. Like the weekly Knit and Natter and Art Groups, and the monthly Book Group, all these activities are free. FoLL would like to thank the Carnival Committee and the School House Trust for their grants towards supplies for children’s activities.

The FoLL committee once again organised talks in the library during the winter months. It was good to be able to meet in person again and we enjoyed a variety of speakers.

At the instigation of the Friends, Lambourn Library now has a dedicated Racing Section, where non-fiction books relating to horse racing can be found in one place.

WBC’s ongoing Library Review, and the change of political party following the local elections, may lead to changes in the way the libraries are funded. Maintaining and expanding community use of the library is vitally important, so please continue to support your local library – membership is free!

Sue Cocker

The ward member 

Howard Woollaston also addressed the meeting. See his latest ward update here which includes coverage of some of the points he made at the meeting.

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