FOUR of the seven councillors of Abbotts Ann Parish Council attended a second meeting in July to discuss essential matters before the August break.

Bank account: The clerk reported that the old Bank of Ireland account was now closed, with the council’s funds transferred to Lloyds Bank. Lloyds had set up the new account on the wrong tariff, but after the clerk’s complaint, the bank had corrected it, paying £75 compensation and £30 expenses.

Sports field: Cllr Tim Abram reported that the committee had not yet decided whether to be a charity or a charitable trust.

Business park traffic: Progress was being made on the Freedom of Information request about the failures of the automatic number plate recognition system at the Goodman’s business park. Hampshire County Cllr Andrew Gibson said the county council considered Goodman’s were genuinely trying to fix a software problem, although residents might have difficulty believing this. Tim Abram commented that a number of site vehicles were going through villages. Andrew agreed the object was to control traffic, not to make money from fines.

Test Valley Borough Cllr Graham Stallard stated the business park traffic was a highways issue, so responsibility lay with the county council. Cllr Andrew Hayter, the parish council chairman, disagreed; the failure of the system was a breach of planning conditions and enforcement of planning was the borough council’s duty. Tim Abram volunteered that under ‘Section 106’ (Town and Country Planning Act 1990) the borough and the county councils were both responsible, jointly and severally. Graham argued that, legally, the county council should enforce the contract. Andrew Gibson countered that the county council would not enforce anything; the borough council should enforce the planning conditions and the county council should provide them with the information. Graham said he had heard the phrase ‘jointly and severally’ several times. He would investigate.

County councillor’s report: Andrew Gibson reported that Abbotts Ann would be part of a newly-formed cluster of parishes each receiving £1,000 towards a lengthsman. He commented that Cattle Lane verges were overgrown. The county council would not normally cut hedges until September, but as visibility was becoming dangerous, he might pursue the matter.

Local Government Boundary Commission: Neither the clerk nor councillors had received comments from residents about the electoral boundary review. Graham Stallard confirmed that under the proposed changes, Burghclere Down would move to an Andover electoral ward but remain within Abbotts Ann parish. He suggested if Burghclere Down residents wanted to leave the parish, they should petition for a Community Governance Review. Cllr Colin Teasdale thought many would not be interested. Graham said if Burghclere Down left the parish, Abbotts Ann’s precept would reduce. He reminded councillors that, according to their agenda, they needed to propose a response to the review. Since they had no opinion to send, they voted not to respond at all.

Finance: Abbotts Ann Community Land Trust had asked the parish council for £500 to register as a CLT and £1,000 for ongoing costs. The chairman invited their representative, Ray Lucas, to talk about the CLT; Ray suggested he would answer questions, instead. Councillors had no questions, however, and resolved to grant the £1,500, without further ado.

Pension payments: Councillors voted to sign the direct debit mandate for their employee pension payments. The chairman said they were 85 per cent through the pension scheme set-up procedure.

Victim support: A request for funds had been received from Victim Support. The appeal letter claimed the group had supported 32 Abbotts Ann residents in the last year. Councillors expressed surprise. Neither the charitable status of the group nor the nature of the support was clear. Cllr Mike Doherty said it wasn’t the amount of money that was an issue, but whether it was right for the council to pay at all. Councillors agreed, and declined to contribute.

Next meeting: 7 September, 7.00 pm, Burghclere Down Community Centre.

Rosemary Groves