AT their September meeting, Abbotts Ann Parish Council discussed the following:

Actions brought forward: The clerk advised that Abbotts Ann was not, after all, part of the ‘Penton’ cluster of parishes that would share a lengthsman.

Reports had been received of fallen branches on Old Coach Road. The landowner should be responsible, but the road’s ownership was uncertain.

Cllr Lorna Haigh said three volunteers had come forward to renovate the council noticeboards. The one by the War Memorial Hall might be moved forward as it was particularly difficult to read.

Review of handbell ownership: The council had given £600 to the handbell ringers to buy additional bells, on condition these were owned by ‘the community’, not ‘the church’. Cllr Andrew Hayter, chairman, was concerned about insurance. Only an owner could insure an asset, and the owner must then retain control. If the new handbells were stored securely by the council as owner, they would be separate from those owned and kept by the church, and the handbell ringers might not have ready access to them.

Cllr Tim Abram wondered if insurance were necessary, as £600 was a small amount. Cllr Susie Bleeker said the bells were a valuable commodity and ought to be insured. Cllr Mike Doherty felt it was impractical. Councillors voted, by a majority, not to insure the bells, so the council would not need to store them. The ringers could look after them. Lorna Haigh asked that the council’s donation should be publicly acknowledged when the bells were used.

Andover Business Park: Responses to the Freedom of Information request had been received. It also seemed Goodmans were appealing against the refusal to lift the traffic restrictions of the original planning agreement. These had included limiting the number of vehicles and barring certain routes. The automatic number plate recognition monitoring system had operated for the first year, and Goodmans had incurred fines of around £1 million for traffic transgressions, payable to the local authority.

The software had then apparently failed, and the system had not worked for three years. The chairman felt Hampshire County Council should have pursued the software supplier, whose maintenance agreement specified repairs within four hours! He considered the project to have been badly managed. County Cllr Andrew Gibson said the county council’s system had now been working for nine months, with data being passed to Goodmans, but Goodmans co-operation was needed. Goodmans document on the website seemed to imply the continuing system problems were, in part, the county council’s fault. The chairman suggested this might be libellous. Susie Bleeker felt the agreement should be enforced, but Tim Abram said it was vague and had more holes than a Swiss cheese.

Councillors selected Andrew Hayter to join a steering group of representatives from other parish councils to consider action.

Correspondence: Complaints had been received about the new double yellow lines at Bulbery. Councillors could not recall seeing any consultation document nor had they ever discussed it. The colour was fluorescent, and the spacing odd. Andrew Gibson had not been aware of it.

Section 106 funds: Susie Bleeker suggested some of the money available could be used to progress plans for The Green, which included a maypole. Cllr Colin Teasdale would bring suggestions for Burghclere Down Community Centre to the next meeting.

Houghton Parish Council: The clerk had recently been appointed clerk to Houghton Parish Council. Some of the administrative costs could be shared.

Internal auditor: Councillors wanted to change their auditor to obtain a fresh viewpoint. After enquiry of other parish councils, and receipt of quotes, it was decided to appoint Eleanor Green.

Finance: Quotations had been received for fencing and vegetation clearance on The Green. Cllr Dale Wells, not present, would be asked to make the recommendation as portfolio holder. He also looked out over The Green.

Burial ground: An application to reserve a plot had been received from a former resident whose close relatives were buried in Abbotts Ann. The situation did not comply with the burial ground regulations for residency, and, reluctantly, councillors refused. It might, however, be possible for the applicant to use an existing family-owned grave.

Next meeting: 5 October, at the War Memorial Hall.

Rosemary Groves