SEVEN members attended the September meeting of St Mary Bourne Parish Council plus the clerk, Jo Exelby, and the retiring clerk, Derek Kane. Hampshire County Cllr Tom Thacker attended for part of the meeting.

The following topics were discussed:

Village Agent and community support — discussion with Anne Harrison (AH) of Age Concern Hampshire and Gib Hancock (GH), a parishioner: AH gave a presentation about the county council’s Village Agent scheme and GH gave a thorough outline of a proposed scheme to support the elderly in the parish by co-ordinating medical, pastoral, social, financial and general matters into a community support service which could include the Village Agent scheme. GH outlined some of the activities, services and assistance which might be on offer.

The council felt that the idea would be of benefit to the community and it would support the Village Agent scheme when it was ready to be launched.

Flood and Emergency Group (FEG) — update:

The chairman, Cllr David Peart, was waiting for the flood risk permit before work on The Bourne could begin. Defra grant-funding would be ring-fenced for this project. Riparian owners would be updated and Sarah Cooney would be asked to send a status report to them.

Well measurements and river flow statistics / data comparisons were provided by Clem Jones (for St Mary Bourne) and Sarah Cooney (for Stoke).

Electronic Speed Reminder Signs – update: Cllr Hugo Wurzer had been communicating with the county council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council concerning costs and management. Cllr Katie Dixon suggested that as the cost of installing signs would be approximately £5,000 per sign, some S106 monies might be used for this and the council should consider an application proposal for all highways improvements in the parish. The chairman would check with the borough council about this.

The clerk was dealing with the calibration of the speed indication device already owned by the council and would establish its battery life, range and other issues.

External audit report, annual return and ‘Notice of Conclusion of Audit for 2016/17’: The external auditor had advised that the information in the annual return was in accordance with proper practices and no other matters had come to their attention.

Recreation ground and lake: The weekly electronic inspection system for the children’s play area was now in operation.

Enquiry from Stoke Village Fund (SVF) regarding various planned improvements: In response to an enquiry concerning installation / replacement of benches by the ex-BT phone box and bus stop / noticeboard area, together with weed growth by the bridge and phone box library, the clerk would inform SVF of possible sources of funding for benches and arrange for the parish council contractor to clear weed growth when he next attends to the playground.

Footpaths: Matters discussed included the pending decision on Rope Yarn Lane; hedges encroaching on footpaths behind Bell’s Meadow and behind the school; blockage of footpath between Wadwick and Binley by fallen tree and the maintenance of metal gates on the Test Way between the recreation ground and the school.

Highways: Matters discussed included advertising boards encroaching on the highway and matters outside the parish including safety issues at Chapmansford crossroads.

Ruth Widén