Minutes of the Gotham Annual Parish Meeting (29/04/14)

Present:               Twenty seven Parishioners, including Gotham Parish Council members: M.Sheppard (Chairman), J.M.F.Royce,                                                 J.P.Anderson, E.Padden, G.Hutter, K.Steed.

1.             Welcome by Chairman of Gotham Parish Council:  To all Parishioners and Councillors.

2.             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.

3.             Apologies:  D.Power and Councillors E.Rodgers, G.Clark,  B.J.Walker, A.Clayworth.

4.             Report/Questions/ on the Parish Meeting held on the 30th April, 2013.

The Minutes of the Gotham Annual Parish Meeting held 30th April, 2013, were authorised for approval.

PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce SECONDED: K.Steed  Vote: All in favour

5.                   Chairman’s Report: (M.J.Sheppard)

Another busy year for the Parish Council. I have been in the Chair for six months following the retirement of Councillor Rebecca Muir.

Resurfacing of the Memorial Hall Car Park: This expensive project was undertaken jointly with the Trustees of the Memorial Hall/Recreation Ground and the Parish Council. Initially, permission was granted by the Planning Authorities following a  drain scan and professional advice from Jeff Jones, Chartered Architectural Technologist. There was some inconvenience to hall and recreation ground users during the work but the result has been pleasing and the car park has enhanced the hall and the new white lines make for easier and more efficient parking.

Village Sculpture: The sculpture was unveiled by Earl Howe on September 29th which turned out to be a sunny day. The afternoon was well attended. A superb letter of thanks was received from the Earl and Countess who had re-organised their trip to Cairo on ministerial business to allow for the visit to Gotham.

Christmas 2013: A magic pantomime put together and performed by Gotham Scouts. A professional performance . The W.I. Party for the Over 70’s which is always enjoyable. The Christmas Tree Carols had improved from last year when it was postponed a day due to rain. This year thanks go to the PCC for their generous offer of mulled wine and mince pies prior to the Carol singing around the Christmas Tree. The event will be repeated this year on the 16th December with the band already booked and the Gotham Primary School Children set to sing more carols. The Parish Council are open to suggestions as to how to add further embellishments to the occasion so please make your comments on the band, etc.

World War 1 Commemorations: The anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1 is on the 4th August, 2014. Suggestions are most welcome as to how we as a parish can commemorate the War. A renewal of the Cemetery Arch as the original or in some other form, such as wrought iron, or an external War Memorial or both. Please let us know your preference.

E.Perrell read from a statement arising from a discussion by the Trustees of the Memorial Hall whereby they were in favour of an external War Memorial within the Memorial Hall grounds.

K.Thorpe spoke in favour of an external Memorial for people to place small wooden crosses in memory of the fallen. This is the year when it might be possible to fund such a project.

Item 10 of the Agenda brought forward:

10. T.Coles, Chairman of The Royal British Legion Gotham and District Branch:

T.Coles spoke of the role of The Royal British Legion during the four year period of commemoration on the Great War which began on the 4th August, 1914. The Centenary of the War will be commemorated at National and Regional level. It is the role of Gotham Branch of the Royal British Legion to advise local groups, especially the young, on how to get involved in various acts of remembrance to understand the sacrifices made by those who served in the forces and other wartime roles during that period. There are Government grants available to fund activities. A ‘Plant the Poppies’ initiative is being introduced by RBL and B & Q whereby every packet of seeds purchased via the Customer Service counter, earns the Royal British Legion a £1 donation. Seeds can be scattered anywhere of choice but not advisable near to farmland.  Some seeds have already been scattered along the front border of the Gotham Royal British Legion building. Church Services will be held on the anniversaries of significant battles. The Royal British Legion Gotham Branch intend to post a diary of major battles on the Welfare noticeboard, adjacent to the Nottingham Road entrance, commencing in June, 2014. The Trustees of the Memorial Hall could display the names of Gotham war dead on the anniversary of a Battle or the time of the individual’s death. Wreaths can be made available from the Gotham Branch of the Royal British Legion on application to M. Green, T.Coles, or P. Riley. Other ideas for commemoration were considered to include village walks, poetry sessions, wartime music/songs, musical evening.

The Chairman thanked T. Coles for his report and called on those present to form a working group committee to discuss the possibility of commemorating the Great War. This should be a Community exercise and not just a Parish Council one.

Volunteers to form a Discussion Group to plan a village Commemoration of WW1: G.Hutter, Rev. R.Coleman, T.Coles, B.Dabell and K.Thorpe.

T.Coles added funding from the Heritage Lottery will not be available throughout the whole four years of the commemoration period. Funds are running down as only £6 million left.

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

Gotham Parish Council Financial Report:  Year Ending 31st March 2014

Full income and expenditure accounts for the year ending 31st March, 2014 will be available for inspection from the 14th July, 2014.

Capital Projects:

Memorial Hall Car Park: The Parish Council, in conjunction with the Trustees of the Memorial Hall, with costs shared to re-surface most of the car park and renew drains was £36,000.

Village Sculpture: The Village Sculpture was eventually unveiled with great fanfare on the 29th September, 2013 at a cost this year of £12,355.94. The accompanying unveiling ceremony costs amounted to  £1,820.84.

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 (commenced mid year) Spring bulbs have been planted. The front railings were de-rusted and painted by G.Neill who also cleared ground shrubbery and ivy at a cost of £650.

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 is £845. The Parish Council voted to continue the fight with resort to Judicial Review, if necessary. The sum of £10,000 has been set aside for Gotham’s share of appointing legal help.

Pump Maintenance Reserve: An electrical transformer was affixed to the Pump stanchions to allow electricity to run safely to the Christmas Tree lights at a cost of £180. The Capital set aside for eventual renewal of the roof tiling and stanchions stands at £5,000.

Railway Walk Maintenance: Renewed picnic benches have been supplied and other shrubbery maintenance costs on the Railway Walk £959.

The Recreation Playground Reserve:  A new sputnik in the toddler playground was supplied at a cost of £3,210.90.

Church Clock annual service £179  plus extra funds of £230 were donated towards other maintenance costs.

Good causes supported:

Royal British Legion civic wreath:  £250.00.

Ruddington Cadets – support for their pilgrimage to the War Graves – £200

C.P.R.E. Subscription – £29.

Notts Wildlife Trust – £33.

DARE T Shirts – £135.00

Society of Local Council Clerks-  membership: £101

7. Report from County Councilor Andrew Brown:

I am approaching the end of my first year in office as a County Councillor and a very busy year it has been. First of all, I kept to my election pledge which was to give up my full time occupation as an international service engineer and concentrate on council work. I thought that having a rural division my workload would be far less than my colleagues serving large towns. How wrong I was, I have eleven villages and they keep me very busy. My first few months saw me fighting with the Highways Agency for a crossing by the school. With the help of your Parish Council, we succeeded. However, I can see that once the A453 widening is completed we could still have a problem with rat runners. I have had discussions with Highways on this matter and will continue to monitor the situation at County Hall.

I sit on the Highways and Transport Committee as well as Planning and Licensing. Two very busy and interesting committees. I am also the NCC representative on the East Midland Airport ICC Committee.

From my Councillor’s Divisional Fund, I have provided funds for various organisations and have been able to contribute to the purchase of items required by individual villages. I was delighted to provide funds towards your Tales of Gotham and also help pay for the repair of the church clock and latterly the defibrillator. Unfortunately, the Divisional Fund has been cut by 50% by the ruling Labour administration. My side in our alternative budget would have kept it as it was by reducing extra responsibility allowances paid to committee chairpersons and their deputies. Labour rejected this idea. There are Council funds available for the commemoration of WW1.

The very popular Local Improvement Scheme has also been cut from £3m to £500k. Not a lot to go all around the County on community projects. The County budget was debated in February and the Conservatives offered an alternative budget. At the Nottinghamshire County Council Budget meeting on Thursday, 27th February, 2014, I joined my Conservative colleagues in voting against the budget recommended by the Council’s Labour administration which also proposed a 1.99% Council Tax increase. I voted for a Conservative Amendment which proposed to freeze Council Tax and save children’s centres, youth centres, day centres, respite care accommodation, waste recycling centres and bus services from closure and cuts.

Following a five hour debate, the Conservative amendment was defeated and the budget proposal for the Labour group was carried with 34 votes in favour and 30 against.

As always, I am available at any time and my contact details can be found on either the NCC or RBC website. I shall also continue to hold my quarterly surgeries at East Leake library, dates of which are published in the local press and the website.

8. Report from Rushcliffe Borough Councillor, Trevor Vennett-Smith:

T.Vennett-Smith reported a year of change having retired from his business. His time as a Borough Councillor was now thirty two years. He thanked everyone for their loyal support over that time. He did not intend to stand in the Borough Elections next May.  I would like to thank County Councillor Andrew Brown who has done a very good job and worked hard for this area. Thanks also to Gotham Parish Council Chairman, Michael Sheppard who has brought the Council into a new era of light. I resigned from the Parish Council earlier this year.

We are moving forward with the RBC Plan. I attended the Council meeting on the 12th December, 2013 which could be viewed via podcast. Everyone voted for adoption of the Core Strategy and it went on to a Public Inquiry. John Anderson has led the Fight to Save the Green Belt along with Julian Coles of Barton, assisted by Ken Mafham who has offered invaluable advice on the correct procedures. There are people willing to fight and it is  a ‘War of Attrition’ and some people are saying development is a ‘fait accomplish’.

The A453 widening continues and will for a long time yet. Rat running through Gotham will be a problem both now and in the future. We must get the builders and the A453 contractors to come up with some conclusion. The traffic was held up as far back as Hardstaffs at New Kingston to the Crusader Roundabout at Clifton the other day. I asked the tram workers for help with an alteration to the traffic lights at Farnborough Road.

Well, 32 years, time for a younger person with vigour and fire to fight for this area. Ratcliffe and Kingston are coming into the Ward. There is plenty of time to get a new candidate. I am now on the road a great deal and have a new consultancy job based in Reading and still plenty of trips to Wales. Thanks to Fraser Royce who keeps a very tight reign on the Parish Council finances.

9. Planning Developments in Gotham (Councillor J.P.Anderson):

J.P.Anderson reported that he had attended the public consultation by Oxalis Developers held in the Memorial Hall on the 24th April, 2014.The Aligned Core Strategy – the local plan for the City, Broxtowe and Gedling consultation period on amendments runs until tomorrow, the 30th April, 2014. Ken Mafham has submitted a response for us and makes a strong case that it should be abandoned. He sites points of reference to more building on available brown field sites, which he has identified in and around the city. He has listed down, the fact that there has been no green belt review which is a huge omission on the part of the Inspector. Ken has taken legal advice from the Landmark Chambers in London re calling a Judicial Review. After tomorrow, we await the publication of the Inspector’s Report, unless someone goes to court for a Judicial Review. The Home Builders’ Federation might go to Judicial Review as they want more housing. If we lose the Judicial Review, houses will be developed.

Regarding the RBC consultation, its work has been very shoddy and we will try to battle on and fight for less intrusive building, especially warehousing. RBC have washed its hands on the traffic problems and say ‘it’s up to Oxalis to carry out traffic modelling’. We are lucky to have David Prior to help us. We will have to provide traffic numbers to back up our concerns. Computer modelling can be skewed by developers. A large housing development at Clifton will mean extra people using our excellent sports facilities. The question is will the village support a by-pass which would probably run through the Recreation Ground and the SSSI?

Our aim is to derail the Nottingham City plans, remove the plan to build large warehouses along the A453 and work on traffic issues through Gotham.

The Chairman thanked  J.P.Anderson, B.J.Walker and D.Prior for their tremendous work on Planning issues.

10.   T.Coles, see above.

11.    PCSO T.Davies (demonstration of new-style burglar alarms):

PCSO T.Davies demonstrated the latest in padlocks for use on garden sheds and outbuildings. The device lets off a loud alarm when tampered with. A list of crime prevention items is available on request. ‘Nottinghamshire Alert’ provides a list of recent crimes and allows the public to email their ideas and concerns to the Police.

12.   Village Organisations – an opportunity to report on recent events:

The Chairman reminded attendees that the most advantageous method of publicising local organisations was in the Gotham News or via the Gotham Website.

Royal British Legion: (T.Coles) (continued).

T. Coles agreed with the idea by Gotham Parish Council to provide an external war memorial in the village if it was with the will of the citizens of Gotham. If the memorial was within the Cemetery grounds, road closure might be a consideration during the wreath laying ceremony. The RBL would reserve its views on the venue for an external war memorial until any serious intention has been agreed and supported by the citizens of Gotham. Some site suggestions could be within the Memorial Hall grounds, in the border next to the flagpole, the cemetery or church hall.

Gotham Nature Reserve (R.Stentiford)

R.Stentiford outlined the progress of the Gotham Nature Reserve, as follows:

2012 – Eleven Gotham residents formed Gotham Nature Reserve. A 99 year lease was signed in December 2012 with British Gypsum. To date there have been 41 work parties with 636 man hours worked on site. To date, there are 73 members. Tremendous progress has been achieved transforming the site. There are 76 species of flowers on site which has been nominated by Gordon Dyne for a Rushcliffe Community Organisation Achievement prize but Sharphill won. GNR are working in conjunction with Natural England. The site is split into a grassland  and woodland and is surrounded by 400 metres of fencing, 4 field gates and 2 kissing gates together with information board and signage. Money has been granted from Natural England for equipment such as fencing and kissing gates. Fundraising has taken place with quiz nights, bird walks, open gardens and strawberry teas to pay for items such as insurance and equipment. We are building links with local schools with children visiting the Nature Reserve. The site has now gained Charitable Status and I would like to thank Gotham Parish Council for their ongoing support. Thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work. The next stage is to control grass growth with sheep grazing. We still need 140 metres of fencing between the site and the farmer’s field and a water trough. If anyone spots vandalism to the site please contact Gill May.

This is a Local Project for Local People.

Gotham Countryside Trust: (K.Thorpe)

K.Thorpe reported the Trust is now 18 months’ old. A new trail has been added to extend the Railway Walk.

Tennis Club: (K.Thorpe)

K.Thorpe reported the Tennis Club holds five playing sessions a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday morning. There are 30 playing members.

Parish Paths Partnership: (K.Thorpe)

K.Thorpe has been a Warden since 1996. I still oversee the footpaths. We are now connected up to Ruddington Moor.

History Society: (B.Dabell)

B.Dabell reported the History Society has been running since 1972 and holds meetings on the 3rd Thursday of the month.  Meetings are well attended partly due to the residents of Larkhill expressing interest. We held the AGM last week. Average numbers at meetings are 41. Many people in Gotham and East Leake are descended from Lord Admiral Nelson due to him fathering many children in this area. We have some very interesting and varied talks. C.Essex looks after the History website. We have received an offer from a University Lecturer to help with the historical archeology of Gotham and surrounding area. A visit to Bromley House library is planned in July.

Cricket Club (A.Pearson)

A.Pearson reported 20 – 30 youngsters attended Quick Cricket in East Leake and in Gotham. During the summer League Cricket has two teams on Saturday and one on Sunday. We are playing in the Loughborough League Cricket competing now in C Section. Recent vandalism caught on CCTV showed youths jumping on the Cricket Square.

13. Other Parish Issues:

De-Fibrillator.(Councillor E.Padden)

E.Padden reported good progress on the installation of the village de-fibrillator on Frydays, Nottingham Road. The project was estimated to cost up to £2,500. This is an important piece of equipment that many surrounding villages have also supplied. I am in the process of contacting local electricians for an installation quote to include lighting for easy viewing of the code number dial. Thanks to Borough Council T.Vennett Smith for his donation of £325 and to County Councillor A.Brown for £500. Gotham Parish Council will contribute £250. This means that, as a village, we need to raise another £1,479 through fundraising projects. A recipe book of heart friendly meals might be an idea.

There being no more business, the Chairman thanked the attendees and speakers and the meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.