View of the Well House with Saint Lawrence Church behind

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting (28/04/15)

Present:           Eighty one Parishioners, including Gotham Parish Council members: M.Sheppard (Chairman), J.M.F.Royce, J.P.Anderson, E.Padden, G.Hutter, K.Steed, C.Dabell, D.Bexon, M.Wilkins, B.J.Walker, G.Holbrook.

1.  One Minute’s Silence:

The Chairman requested that the meeting stand for one minute’s silence in memory of those who had fallen in the Two World Wars and for whom this Recreation Ground and Memorial Hall had been donated, in their memory after the 1914-18 war.

2.  Presentation to Retiring Borough Councillor Trevor Vennett-Smith:

By Allan Kerr, Vice Chairman –Barton Parish Council

By Peter Inskeep, Past Chairman -Gotham Parish Council

By David Greenwood, Chairman –Thrumpton Village Meeting

Toast:- ‘to your Happy Retirement’ – Michael Sheppard

Three framed maps of Gotham, Barton and Thurmpton were presented to T.Vennett-Smith in turn by Alan Kerr, Vice-Chairman of Barton Parish Council, was assisted by Tomas Barcikowski and Mathew Harrison. Peter Inskeep, Past Chairman of Gotham Parish Council was assisted by Sam Towers, Joseph Higgins. David Greenwood, Chairman of Thrumpton Village Meeting, was assisted by Lily Taylor Francesca Greenhalgh-Jones.

Trevor was thanked and congratulated by the three speakers for his hard work and loyal service to the Borough over the past thirty two years. He responded and thanked everyone for his gifts of the  three framed photographs which he said would take pride of position inside his new hallway.

Response:- Trevor Vennett-Smith:

Many of you will be aware that I have moved out of the village to go down to Wales. This means I am no longer eligible to stand for re-election. So, this is a public good bye to you all and a huge thank you for your support and help over those 32 years. I have enjoyed representing the villages, it became a way of life. I still firmly believe that those who are elected to public office do so by the grace of the people who voted for them and not the political party. They are there because they want to serve and you have put them there. A politician is therefore responsible to the people not the party.

I would like to thank a few people who have helped me so much over the years. My friend and father of the Parish Council, Fraser Royce. I could not have coped without his sane advice when times were tough. Arthur Howick who was the best and fairest Chairman of the Parish that I served under. Pat Dines, former Parish Clerk, Mary Carswell, Mary Stephens and John Collins at Thrumpton. Julian Coles, Alan Kerr, John Hawkins, Daphne Towers, Rev. Alistair Sutherland at Barton.

3.  Ken Mafham – with John Anderson & Julian Coles ACS Judicial Review verdict by the High Court

questions & answers:

J.P.Anderson said he was disappointed at losing the ruling on the Nottingham City Council Core Strategy.  Before representatives from the Parish Councils’ knew the Judge’s decision, they thought they had a very good case, represented by Barrister, R. Turney, with the respondent (Nottingham City Council) giving a very poor case. There was enough evidence for the Judge to give a verdict to dismiss the case. J.P.Anderson thanked all the attendees for all their help with letters of response, when and where necessary. GPC need to work out what to do next, with the support of the village.

The two Local Plans are the Aligned Core Strategy and the Rushcliffe Borough Council Core Strategy. The second Judicial Review is against the RBC Core Strategy, who have decided to build on Clifton Pastures. GPC has to decide to go to Judicial Review again against the RBC decision. Are we throwing good money after bad?  What is the best way forward? Do we need to press for a village bypass to take the extra traffic associated with the Clifton development? If so, do we take the SSSI land or the top of the Recreation Ground for a bypass? These are difficult decisions. We need Ken Mafham’s advice on the new challenge ahead, i.e. getting the best outcome from the development.

Ken Mafham said he hadn’t delivered what he had hoped to in order to geth the Aligned Core Strategy thrown out. The Judge had stated, ‘our Barrister had put a good case and he fount that what Nottingham City Council had done was not illegal. The Planning Authorities are official, elected people who know what they are doing. The job of the Court is to say ‘no this is wrong’ but he decided to give them the benefit of the doubt’. We haven’t been let down by the Judge, but the standard of local Government in Nottingham who are ‘not up to the job’. The media have also let us down. We should have a good, well informed local media. As the Council are the media’s biggest advertiser, it is not in their best interest to give an unbiased report. R.Turney was unhappy at the outcome of the Judicial Review. He had worked extremely hard to press our case.

What to do now? There are differences between the two Core Strategies. Building might not even happen e.g. Sharphill.

What RBC might do, is dig a hole and state ‘they have started the development’.  What can be done is to ask the Secretary of State to ‘call it in’. I consider the best plan is to draw up a dossier of what the village wants from the development at Clifton, i.e. parks, cycleways, etc.

Questions and Answers:

Ex Borough Councillor T. Venett-Smith, congratulated Ken Mafham who he said had been ‘superb’. The RBC meeting a few days’ before Christmas had never been held that close to Christmas before. The standard at RBC had been appalling as he had told the Chief Executive, Allen Graham. T.Vennett-Smith had written articles to the Nottingham Evening Post over many issues which had not been put to print. He had finished at the Borough with a ‘poor taste in his mouth’. He had not been invited to Council meetings that involved the loss of the green belt land.

The Parish Council have done a marvellous job.

Question from S. Hudson:

What about the proposed Travellers’ Site?

K.Mafham replied: This is still on the planning application. He had not heard it had been dropped. A few spaces for travellers’ had been allocated as an obligation in a large development.

Question from Councillor, A.Kerr (Barton).

What is the process from now on? What can we object to?

K.Mafham replied: The Planning Application is an indicative one and might not be the one to happen. Clifton is being pushed by the landowners and apportioned to different builders and what is to be built. We will have opportunities to ask for what we want, i.e. the strategic landscaping, the design of the houses, etc, the local community can get involved in these issues. K.Mafham will help via the internet, looking at the six best designs. But, will they listen? The local elected councillors should listen to local wishes. Do developers want to build at Clifton? There is a big price tag on this development. The Inspector expects the developer to pay for the widening of the A52 ringroad. It might take 2/3 years before anything happens.

The RBC Local Plan Part 2 suggests a green belt envelope around the village showing where development can infill.

Question from A.Kerr:

Industrial Units, could these be developed without the housing?

K.Mafham replied: The warehousing is an unattractive prospect when there opportunities along the M1 from Bedford to Wakefield. There is not much demand for offices or factories in this area. Many offices standing empty within Nottingham. It might take a long time to push warehousing. There are restrictive height limits on the higher ground. Details must be insisted upon when plans are submitted.

Question from P. Inskeep:

What is the legal challenge we have lost and why would it influence the one against the RBC Core Strategy? What would it cost?

K. Mafham replied: There are lots of similarities between the two cases and it is obvious to think that if we lost one, we could lose the other. In 2012, the Inspector said to RBC that the proposed development of 9000 houses should, in fact, have been 13,500. Was the Inspector legally allowed to put such a suggestion to RBC? The Law changed when Eric Pickles revoked the Regional Plan and said that it is now up to Local Authorities how many houses to build. K.Mafham said he would ask the Barrister whether it would be wise to continue a legal challenge against RBC Core Strategy.

J.Potter of Clifton, thanked the three parishes for all their hard work. He had sat through both Core strategies and they are different. He has been interested in Sharphill and doubts RBC is listening to the details. He is worried we will regret not challenging RBC.

M.J.Sheppard, J.P.Anderson and J. Coles (Barton) had met the Chief Executive of RBC (A.Graham). He would not listen to any negotiations and appeared to have no interest.

K.Mafham left the meeting at 8.10 p.m.

4. Apologies: Mrs. Lymn Brewin.

5. Report/Questions/ on the Parish Meeting held on the 29th April, 2014.

The Minutes of the Gotham Annual Parish Meeting held 29th April, 2014, were authorised for approval.

PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce SECONDED: B.J. Walker  Vote: All in favour.

6. GPC Chairman’s Report (M.J.Sheppard).

There’s much to report. It’s been a busy year for the village on many fronts.

Football: Last April, our team won the under 10’s Sunday League cup. A marvellous achievement, which featured in Gotham News.

Cricket Club: The Club had a good season The Festival was particularly successful and well supported by interested spectators. It will feature again in this year’s fixtures.

Gill Hutter, Andrew Clayworth and Graham Holbrook joined the Parish Council. Then, in August, sadly another of our retail shops closed. Adcock’s the butchers, a family business closed after 89 years.

The Gotham Playgroup: celebrated 50 years. Gotham Primary School increased its capacity to 191 pupils. This popular school is very successfully run by Mrs. Sue Lymn-Brewin and her team.

Gotham Nature Reserve Trust have had a huge impact restoring the SSSI. Much of the rare species of flora and fauna which, over the years, has been out of sight and overgrown, has started to reappear again. The Trust, with its team of volunteers, were rewarded for their hard work when they won the  award for ‘Protecting and Enhancing the Environment’ category at this year’s Rushcliffe Community Awards event.

Gotham Countryside Trust have also worked hard to clear the brush and created the path opening up the first part of the ‘Logan Trail’. This extends from Leake Road roundabout down nearly to the main line. Some work has been carried out by British Gypsum – St. Gobain on the other side of Leake Road back to Hill Road.

With volunteers from the last year’s Annual Parish Meeting, I formed a discussion group to plan a fitting commemoration of the start of World War 1. Reverend Richard Coleman, Eric Perrell, Ted Coles, Gill Hutter and Judy Raven joined the team. After two meetings, the decision to march from the Square to the Memorial Hall for an Act of Remembrance was made. An external War Memorial was constructed. It is a great credit to Eric Perrell and the Memorial Hall Trustees that the job was completed in record time with an inscription suggested by Gill Hutter. The march was well organised by Ted Coles. The Service of Remembrance was conducted by Rev. Richard Coleman.

It was decided to produce a four page biographical feature entitled ‘Gotham Remembers Its Fallen in the Great War.’ This will be achieved by including a  feature, on each of the 31 Gotham men and women who lost their lives, in each edition of Gotham News, for the next four years, The team – Peter Inskeep, Pat Dines, Fraser Royce and myself, work to produce this information and would appreciate any photos, letters or any other useful statistics you might know about.

A further Traffic discussion group has been considering road safety outside the school and rat running through our village. Parish Councillors from Kegworth and Kingston have attended these meetings. Now adjourned until the A453 is open.

With the help of County Councillor Andrew Brown, we held on to the pedestrian traffic lights outside the school.

The Memorial Hall staged its Annual Cabaret Night which is very popular and enjoyed by everyone. It’s thanks to Mary Howick’s hard work and expertise who, with her team, produce the fabulous dinner each year.

The Carol sing-song was even more popular this year and very well attended. The Christmas tree was generously donated by an anonymous donor. Once again, St. Lawrence Church served mulled wine and mince pies to get the evening off to a start. This year, Santa Claus arrived to distribute gifts to the children.

The 1st Gotham Scouts pantomime this year was Snow White. As usual it was well received by all the children, parents and grandparents alike.

It is sad that the Gotham Branch Royal British Legion Club has closed. Like many licensed premises, changing lifestyle has caused a fall in sales. It is not known what will happen to the building and the site which will as some point be advertised. The Royal British Legion in London, (the owners), are in consultation with Gotham Branch and will decide to either lease the building or sell it.

7. Finance Officer’s Report: (J.Raven).

Full income and expenditure accounts for the year ending 31st March, 2015 will be available for inspection from the 14th July, 2015.

Memorial Hall Car Park: The Parish Council, in conjunction with the Trustees of the Memorial Hall, shared costs to re-surface most of the car park and renew drains. The final payment, due to the Contractors in July, 201:  £902.00.

Cemetery Development: Ongoing improvements to the Cemetery have included regular gardening tidying of the front border by Mr and Mrs Hand at an annual cost of £400. Cemetery maintenance to the walls and cutting out brush: £1,060.

Green Belt Campaign: Our ongoing fight to save Clifton Pastures has continued in conjunction with Barton, Clifton and Thrumpton with costs shared. Gotham’s share last year: £3,377.30.

Railway Walk Maintenance: Due to a spate of vandalism, a new picnic table has been necessary costing £360. Pruning carried out to open up the area around the picnic table and to be able to enjoy the view: £230.

Recreation Ground: Refurbished pavilions cost £2,719. A new bin to hold grit for icy weather, for use at the Memorial Hall: £150. Playground Safety Inspection: £86.

Village Defibrillator: After much discussion on the siting of a village defibrillator, the Memorial Hall Trustees kindly allowed it to be placed outside the main entrance. The cost to include cabinet, installation and user cards: £2,220.

Village Sculpture Heritage Board: The Gotham Heritage Committee recently closed and the remaining funds of £5,183 passed to the Parish Council. Out of these funds, a new heritage board under the village sculpture was installed at a cost of £1,809.

Gotham Remembers: To commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, a fund of £500 was set aside. Articles about the Gotham War Dead will appear in Gotham News. To date, £481 has been spent of this budget.

Environmental Improvements: The Parish Council carried out extensive bulb planting around the Village Sculpture, and on Kegworth and Leake Roads at a cost of £248.

Church Clock: annual service: £221.

Carol Singing for Christmas: £400. (Sponsorship raised: £226.50)

Good causes supported in 2014/15:

Royal British Legion civic wreath:  £250.00.

DARE T Shirts. (Drugs Awareness Course at Gotham School). – £104

Gotham Junior Netball Club – £150

Gotham Senior Netball Club – £120

Gotham Scouts for Hall purchase – £700

Gotham W.I. for Over 70’s party – £150

Grant towards publication of Gotham News: £600.

Subscriptions paid in 2014/15:

Notts Footpath Association – £5

Notts Wildlife Trust – £33.

Information Commissioner’s Office: £35

C.P.R.E. Subscription – £36

Society of Local Council Clerks-  membership: £103

National Association of Local Councils: £248

8. Report from County Councillor A.Brown:

‘The temporary traffic lights outside Gotham Primary School to be removed by NCC when the A453 widening work has been completed. He is in talks with NCC re them carrying out a traffic survey following the works when, they are convinced the rat running down Kegworth Road will diminish. There have been no accidents while the traffic lights have been in place. Heavy lorries are travelling through the village due to the removal of the weight restriction sign at Clifton. The lorry drivers are not acting illegally if the weight restriction sign is not there. Heavy lorries can be reported to Lorry Watch if they break the law.

Councillor Brown is pushing for the medilink bus route to be extended out to Clifton Park and Ride. (Larkhill). When the tram starts, the No. 53 service will travel to QMC and the City Hospital.

The Councillor Community Funding has contributed towards the defibrillator, playgroup pond, scout hut. The Development Fund is to provide Gotham School with a glockenspiel.

The Labour Council have got no overall control but successfully won the Council Tax vote.

Councillor K. Cutts negotiated more say on Committees allowing three minutes time for Councillors to speak on matters concerning their patch.

Thanks to Trevor Vennett-Smith for his support over the last two years.’

8. Report from County Councillor, A. Brown:

County Councillor A.Brown reported the following items:   .

Local Bridge Repairs: County Councillor A.Brown reported the Highways Agency is in talks with Sutton Bonington Parish Council re essential bridge works, adjacent to the Parish.

Notts County Council Meeting: A twelve hour County Council budget meeting took place on the 26th February with a motion in favour of the Labour Councillor’s 1.99% increase in Council Tax. The vote was 33% in favour and 33% against so the Chairman cast the deciding vote. (Conservative Council put forward a motion for a nil increase in Council Tax).

A453 Traffic Lights at Clifton: Lainge O’Rourke had switched the traffic lights at the Crusader roundabout to a timed sequence. Gotham traffic held up to allow more traffic to flow from the A453 (from the M.1. junction 24 direction).

Nott’s County Council, RBC and North West Leicestershire District Council wish to rename the A453 ‘Remembrance Way’. Poppy seeds to be planted for one hundred metres by Laing O’Rourke.

Closure of Green Lane: The Clerk had received email advice, re closure of Green Lane, Clifton from the 12th February for the following two months. This closure had not occurred due to pressure from Lillian Greenwood M.P. and members of the Nottingham City Council.

Sutton Bonington University Litter Pick: The students of S.B. University had recently carried out a Litter Pick around the campus area.

Litter: The litter nuisance in Rushcliffe had worsened since the privatisation of Streetwise. A Gotham Litter Pick will take place on Saturday, 21st March, 2015.The Clerk had invited Gotham Scouts to take part.

Weight Restriction Sign: NCC to reinstate the missing weight restriction sign on Nottingham Road. This has caused an increase in heavy lorries travelling through Gotham village. Parishioners are urged to report sightings of heavy lorries and obtain the registration number, company name and time of offence to report to Truck Watch who can then prosecute the offending driver.

County Councillor A.Brown left the meeting at 9.00 p.m.

9. Report from Rushcliffe Borough Councillor, T. Vennett-Smith:

‘I have served with four County Councillors in my time as Borough Councillor. Councillor Andrew Brown has served Notts County Council immeasurably well.

The closure of the Royal British Legion is a sadness as it has played a big part in Gotham. I am pleased the members are continuing their meetings in the Memorial Hall.

The W.I. Christmas party is finishing. I remember attending the first Christmas Party when the guests appeared very old. Nowadays, people don’t look so old anymore. Thanks to the ladies of the W.I. for all their work over the years.

We are remembering the Gotham Fallen during the Wars. I have promised Andrew Vickers I will visit the grave of the Gotham boy buried in Rangoon one day.

Thanks to Gotham Parish Council who serve the village very well. They only have twelve nominations for the election and it should be thirteen. They should nag Fraser Royce more to get things done!

There will be a big difference if Gotham is designated a Green Belt envelope and more housing is built in the village.

Thanks to Chairman of the Parish Council, Michael Sheppard and the Clerk, Judy Raven.

A.Brown left the meeting at 9.10 p.m.

10. Possible Spar Shop/Post Office move to British Legion Building: (A.Towle).

Mr. and Mrs. A. Towle presented their plan to purchase the Royal British Legion building currently for sale with agents Innes England. They had successfully run the current Spar shop for ten years’ but are finding the premises too small. The RBL site is the only one available to set up a larger store and provide a car park. A full range of local fresh vegetables, a butcher’s counter, cheese, flowers can all be incorporated. This is an exciting opportunity.

J.P.Anderson thanked Mr. and Mrs. Towle for their presentation. He said he felt cheerful about the prospect of the former Royal British Legion site continuing to benefit the village. It would help if GPC registered the site as an Asset of Community Value (under the Localism Act). This entitles GPC to get the site preserved for a local amenity making it more difficult for a developer to acquire the site for inappropriate development. A six month moratorium will be held on the site to allow the community time to secure it with funding from grants, donations, etc.

T. Coles reported, the property was acquired by RBL in 1948 from the former Earl Howe. A caveat exists in the deed of sale that the site is ‘for the community branch’ which was very large in those days. Now, very few families have members of the Armed Services. The official view of the RBL is that their preference is that the site should remain for the good of the local community. The members of RBL have to remain independent of any plans. Decisions are dealt with at national level but our views are known and will be taken on board when the decision is made of how to dispose of the building.

M.J.Sheppard reported, he had written to RBL on behalf of GPC that the property should remain within the remit of the community. He had also written to the Earl Howe who had replied with interest. He has asked for the original copy of the Deed of Sale, together with photographs and, hopefully, we can appeal to him for his support. The original sale price was very cheap enabling him to add a caveat in for the future of the property. John Anderson has sought excellent advice for us to take action on what the village wishes to achieve from the site.

D. Brown sought support for Alan and Jane Towle. It is important to find a way and agree formally to support their plans.

P. Inskeep thought it important to pass a resolution to safeguard the site.

It was therefore, PROPOSED by P.Inskeep and SECONDED by J.P.Anderson that ‘this meeting believes that the British Legion site should be developed in such a way that will prove a benefit to our village and recognise that an enlarged village shop and post office is a vital village amenity.’ Vote: All in favour.

D.Smith thanked Alan and Jane for running the ‘tardis’. They have done a cracking job and provide an enormous service to the village.

11. Other Parish Issues: Nil.

There being no more business, the Chairman thanked the attendees and speakers and the meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.