AT their December meeting Abbotts Ann Parish Council discussed the following:

Manor Farm: Chairman Cllr Andrew Hayter reported that a meeting had been arranged with Test Valley Borough Council’s Head of Planning, Paul Jackson, to discuss the steel fabrication site on Monxton Hill and associated vehicle movements.

Borough council: Borough Cllr Maureen Flood said an officer had visited the location of the new yellow road lines near Abbotts Ann school. She confirmed they were in accordance with regulations.

Planning.: Cllr Colin Teasdale wondered if the metal fencing proposed for the Poplar Farm Inn could be mitigated by plants, but councillors did not feel strongly enough on this issue to object to the full submission.

Community Governance Review: Cllr Len Gates, from Andover Town Council, came to hear the parish council’s views on whether Burghclere Down should move from the aegis of Abbotts Ann to that of the town council. Colin felt the community had an affinity with the Andover side of the A303, but was concerned about the potential size of the area covered by the town council. There could be 38,000 residents — one third of Test Valley borough’s population. He feared the town council might be too big to focus, and without adequate powers.

The chairman wondered if the parish council would ‘bang the drum’ more readily for the residents than would the town council. Burghclere Down was a large part of the parish but would be a small part of the town. Nevertheless, in character it more resembled Andover than Abbotts Ann village.

Maureen said that the review was about community cohesion. If the parish council produced evidence that Burghclere Down wished to stay or leave, the full borough council would respond. Cllr Susie Bleeker said residents did not have adequate information to make a decision. Maureen disagreed.

The chairman suggested issuing a questionnaire to Burghclere Down residents. Susie thought it should go to Abbotts Ann residents as well, as the whole parish would be affected. An open meeting would be held in January for residents to express their views.

Andover Business Park planning appeal: The council agreed to send a letter of support to the borough council in respect of the barred routes scheme. The chairman advised that planning ‘obligations’ were enforceable in perpetuity.

Sports Field Committee (SFC): The SFC chairman was not present, but had advised council’s chairman that the committee wanted to operate as a charity. Susie said the SFC had already had two years to form into a suitable body, with a lot of help from the council, and the situation had continued for too long. SFC assurances had not been fulfilled. Cllr Tim Abram said the SFC was focussed on running events and raising money, and could not see the ‘big picture’.

The chairman suggested they might become event organisers, using the facilities but not managing them. Susie insisted the community needed to know about the money raised by the SFC — at present there was no scrutiny or governance. The facilities were parish council property, and the council’s liability. Safety was a concern. She did not want the parish council to take over, but could not support the present situation.

Tim argued the pavilion was a community asset and should be maintained; perhaps the council should spend money repairing it, rather than close it down. He said the SFC funds were ring-fenced for a particular purpose, ie a new pavilion.

Susie thought the council should now establish an official parish council sports field sub-committee at the January meeting.

Traffic: The chairman suggested forming a partnership with Hampshire Constabulary to help control HGVs on Monxton Road, using the automatic number plate recognition system. The warning signs at the bottom of West Hill were being ignored.

Hedge cutting: The chairman said the hedge at the back of The Green needed grubbing out.

If the fence were damaged by this, the parish council would replace it.

Next meeting: 7pm, 11 January, War Memorial Hall.

Rosemary Groves