Abbotts Ann Parish Council

Rosemary Groves

AT the annual meeting of Abbotts Ann Parish Council held in May, Cllr Bernard Griffiths was re-elected chairman. It was the 35th anniversary of his joining the council in May 1979. Cllr Graham Whyte was re-elected vice-chairman. Philip Wood was appointed footpaths officer. All other officers were re-appointed. Following recent critical correspondence from a resident, Graham Whyte proposed a vote of confidence in the clerk, Adrian Stokes. This was passed unanimously.

The following matters were then discussed:

Manor Close Playing Field: The 99-year lease of the field from Hampshire County Council to the parish council was signed and sealed by the chairman. He said ratepayers would benefit as the county council was retaining ownership and control of their asset yet saving maintenance costs. The secured open space would be greatly appreciated. Completion of transfer was expected shortly.

Maintenance: Some individuals were interested in grass-cutting and maintenance work for the parish council but a deterrent was the continual dog mess in Church Path.

Road name: Following representation from the parish council, Test Valley Borough Council had contacted the Ordnance Survey. They would amend the name Old Church Road back to Old Coach Road at their next revision.

Clerk’s report: Cllr Rebecca Bone asked whether criticisms of the council were a general or minority view. The chairman said some of the comments were valid. If people did not understand how the council operated, it must be more informative. Much happened behind the scenes, with experience and personal contact achieving the village’s needs. The village shop would once again keep draft minutes and accounts for public view.

Organisations: There were no official reports from organisations, but Hampshire County Cllr Andrew Gibson answered questions. The chairman noted that two roadside posts had appeared by the Jubilee Oak, but without the requested ‘keep left’ signs. Andrew Gibson said the weather had delayed work.

Cllr Brian Sims said flooding between the Poplar Farm Inn and Anna Valley remained a highway hazard. Cllr Gibson blamed high ground-water level. He wanted the county council to allocate money directly to parishes for such local works. A complaint had been received about delayed improvements to the pavement opposite the shop. The chairman had offered to paint a white line but had since been advised he could be personally liable if an accident occurred. Andrew Gibson said he believed the county council was dealing with it.

Finance: Audited accounts for the year were approved.

Correspondence: Old Coach Road: Correspondence between a local landowner and the county council had been received. The Church Commissioners apparently claimed Old Coach Road was church property and refuted public access. The landowner sought to prove an historical right of way. The chairman said the road was part of the mediaeval highway from Andover to Salisbury.

‘Sparkle Day’: Responding to a letter from Borough Cllr Graham Stallard, councillors thanked the borough council for choosing Abbotts Ann to participate in the successful enterprise.

General business:

Burial Ground: Cllr Penny Wilkins had noticed red cowslips in the wild-flower meadow. The chairman had purchased more mole-traps to replace his others, which had ‘vanished’.

Recreation ground for children: Rebecca Bone said a former resident’s family wished to erect a memorial seat. Farm Road: Penny Wilkins said there appeared to be a planning inconsistency, with one resident apparently being unable to obtain permission for house repairs while another effected seemingly unauthorised works with impunity.

Telegraph posts: Penny Wilkins suggested BT be urged to set a date for removing their unsightly doubled posts. Council membership: Councillors offered to allow Rebecca Bone to arrive late to accommodate her increased personal and professional responsibilities.

War Memorial Hall: Andover Groundworks were being asked to look at the sunken drain. The chairman’s warning cones had been moved.

Old people’s bungalows: Aster should remove weeds. Reinstating seats should be discussed.

Next meeting: The next meeting of the council is on 5 June at 6.30pm. All are encouraged to attend to learn about council activities and raise questions.