AT the July meeting of Abbotts Ann Parish Council four of the council were present to discuss the following:

Test Valley Borough Council: Cllr Susie Bleeker asked borough councillor Maureen Flood about progress on the leisure centre. As a member she was not happy. She had heard that memberships had fallen by several hundred and had herself seen staff very upset and feeling badly treated. Maureen said she would look into it.

Village shop: A representative of the shop association presented an update. Many of the debts had been paid off, including the mortgage, but the shop was making an annual loss. There were between 40 and 50 volunteers, and two paid staff. The shop also paid the three post office staff and although the Post Office reimbursed some of that cost, an annual discrepancy of around £4,000 remained.

The post office was integral to the shop, and promoted ‘footfall’, which probably compensated for the costs. The post mistress, Maureen Flood, said that if the post office service were reduced the shop would be worse off as overheads would still have to be paid.

The shop representative asked if the council would be prepared to pay the £4,000 shortfall. Cllr Tim Abram, vice-chairman, said the parish council could not fund a commercial enterprise without a ‘general power of competence’. Maureen Flood advised that another parish council had offered its parishioners the opportunity to help their shop through an increased precept. Cllr Colin Teasdale asked about the range of products the shop sold. The representative said their USP (unique selling point) was supporting local producers. Colin suggested a pop-up shop at Burghclere Down.

Parochial Church Council: Councillors considered it unnecessary for them to approve the interment of cremated remains in existing graves in the closed churchyard. The matter was delegated to the burial ground committee.

Burial ground: Councillors approved the burial ground committee’s amendments to the burial ground regulations. Susie Bleeker explained that they were mostly about safety issues. Apparently, seven people had been killed by falling headstones in the last year, nationally.

Local Government Boundary Commission: A response was needed to the draft recommendations for the electoral review. Although time was now short, it was important that parishioners be informed, as the new boundary proposals separated Burghclere Down from the rest of the parish of Abbotts Ann. Colin Teasdale felt people needed to know the ‘direction of travel’ as it could lead to future changes for Abbotts Ann and the parish council. Details would be posted on the website and a notice placed in the shop.

Sports Field Committee (SFC): The chairman of the SFC said the goal was to build a new pavilion, but that would take time. The present building was not about to fall down, but remedial works were needed to improve its attraction for hiring. This would increase the income. The external repairs could cost £5,000 and the internal work £14,000. The committee had raised £24,000 towards a new building, but wanted to keep that protected as a fund-raising marker. A new building might cost around £250,000.

Susie Bleeker asked if the committee had a financial plan. The repair costs represented a large sum to ask the council to provide for Abbotts Ann village use, considering half the parish precept came from Burghclere Down. Tim Abram said the council would need to see specific proposals.

Councillors approved immediate electrical works to be carried out at the pavilion.

RoSPA inspection: A ‘no dogs’ sign should be placed at the War Memorial Hall playground. The contractor would clean bird fouling every quarter.

Next Meeting (short): 27 July, Pavilion, Bulbery Sportsfield.

Rosemary Groves