News from BATCOMBE
September Parish Council Meeting
The September Parish Council meeting will take place on Wednesday September 1st 2021 in the Jubilee Hall at 8.00pm. The Agenda and Minutes can be downloaded from the Minutes and Agendas page. Members of the public are welcome to attend but should be aware that some coronavirus restrictions remain in place.
Temporary Road Closure - Kale Street
The County Council have informed us that Kale Street will be closed for six hours on Tuesday August 31st to allow BT Openreach to carry out cabling works. The road should be closed from 9.30am to 3.30pm.
New Play Equipment - Playing Field Re-Opened
Thanks to the grant of £58,976 from the Viridor Credits Environmental Company (from the Landfill Communities Fund), the Parish Council was able to place an order with Sutcliffe Play South West for new play equipment and installation of the new equipment is now complete and open for use.
New Play Equipment Official Opening
The official opening and celebration of the new equipment took place on Sunday August 1st. Thanks are due to the Village Hall Trust for allowing the picnic and live music to take place in the Jubilee Hall after some very wet weather, but the official opening and unveiling of the plaques designed by the children was able to take place in the Playing Field.
The Parish Council would like to thank those children who entered the competition to design two plaques to go in the Playing Field, one asking people to "Please look after our Playing Field" and the other reminding people that no dogs are allowed in the Playing Field. The winning designs for each sign will be installed in the Playing Field.
Audit Requirements 2021
Under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 the Parish Council is required to publish the Annual Governance Statement 2020/2021; the Accounting Statements 2020/21 and the Certificate of Exemption. The Parish Council is also required to publish a notice of the period for the exercise of public rights to inspect the accounts and make an objection to the appointed auditor. All these documents can be found on the Audit and Transparence Code page.
While everyone is delighted that restrictions are now easing, please remember that Covid is still with us and among us and exercise caution. More advice can be found on the gov.uk website www.gov.uk/coronavirus
If you need help, or know someone who does, please call the Somerset Coronavirus helpline 0300 790 6275. It’s available 8.00am to 6.00pm, including weekends.
Annual Parish Council Meeting
At the Annual Parish Council meeting on Wednesday May 5th 2021 David Stevens was elected as Parish Council Chairman for the coming year and Mary Comley was thanked for her work as Parish Council Chairman over the last two years. Janet Jones was re-elected as Parish Council Vice-Chairman and Jayne Cox was appointed as the Parish Council's representative on the Village Hall Trust.
Para 79 House at Valley View Farm
An application for the erection of a house under paragraph 79 of the National Planning Policy Framework at Valley View Farm was considered by the Parish Council at its meeting on Wednesday March 3rd, when the Parish Council decided to recommend refusal. Paragraph 79 of the NPPF allows a house to be built in the open countryside if it is ‘of exceptional quality, in that it is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture’. It must also ‘significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area’. The Parish Council felt this proposal meet neither of these criteria.
Details of the proposed house can be found in the Design and Access Statement that can be downloaded by clicking on the icon below. Further details of the application can be found on the District Council's planning website by entering the application number 2021/0222/FUL into the search engine at Simple Search (mendip.gov.uk)
Valley View Farm Batcombe Design and Acc[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [14.6 MB]
At its January meeting the Parish Council agreed to reduce its precept by £25 to £9,925. This small reduction in the precept means that element of Council Tax resulting from the precept will not increase this year, while ensuring that the Parish Council has sufficient reserves to meet any contingencies, such as paying for additional road salt in a bad winter.
Church Tower Broadband Transmitting Mast
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) have agreed to the installation of a temporary wireless transmitting mast on the church tower to redirect the wifi broadband signal provided by Voneus more widely around the village. The PCC note that this is a very low powered signal - weaker than a normal mobile phone signal. A full statement from the PCC can be downloaded by clicking on the icon below.
Batcombe PCC - Voneus Broadband WiFi Not[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [92.5 KB]
Parish Council Accounts for the Year Ended 31st March 2020
The notice of the period for the exercise of public rights to inspect the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) can be found on the Audit and Transparency Code page. The various sections of the AGAR: the Certificate of Exemption; the Internal Audit Report; the Annual Governance Statement and the Accounting Statements for 2019/20 can also be found on the same page. Because of the coronavirus restrictions the usual deadline for the publication of the AGAR was extended by two months to September 1st.
Coronavirus Advice for Allotment Holders
Current advice (March 26th) from the National Allotment Society is that allotment holders can visit and work on their allotments, but should do alone or only with members of the household. They should keep away from other allotment holders and avoid sharing tools. Further advice can be found on the National Allotment Society website.
Beware of Covid-19 Scams
Trading Standards have issued a warning to be aware of fraudsters who are trying to exploit fear and uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. The outbreak of coronavirus has seen an increase in scams that include counterfeit medical kits that claim to prevent or cure the disease and fake online coronavirus resources which can contain damaging software. Counterfeit goods such as hand sanitiser, face masks and swabbing kits are also being widely advertised online.
Financial scams, both online and by telephone, have also increased as criminals seek to take advantage of the financial uncertainty many people and businesses face due to the coronavirus. These include calls pretending to be from your bank or mortgage provider and an increase in loan shark activity.
Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards are urging people to remain vigilant and to watch out for scams in their neighbourhood, which often target elderly and vulnerable people within the community. Communities are also being urged to look out for doorstep traders. Whilst there are many genuine community groups and charities that are helping those who are most isolated, it is important to be aware of those who may be taking money under the false pretence of helping with day-to-day tasks.
A full list of identified scams can be viewed on the National Trading Standards website.
Details of the winter salting routes for 2019/20 have now been published. The County Council has reversed many of last year’s cuts to the salting routes and the Bruton-Evercreech road will be salted this winter. However, the road through Batcombe and the Evercreech-Westcombe road will again not be salted, so great care will be needed in on the roads in the parish during icy weather. The Parish Council has arranged for large dumpy bags of road salt to be placed at the top of Hincombe Hill and Mill Lane; and at the top of Spargrove Lane and by the War Memorial in Westcombe. Please note that any volunteers applying the salt do so at their own risk.
Bingo Evening and Bonfire Night
Many thanks to all who supported the Bingo Evening on December 7th and especially to Clare Kingston who organised the evening to raise money for new play equipment in the Playing Field. The evening raised a total of £502 for the new play equipment.
The Parish Council would also like to express its grateful thanks to those who helped with and supported the Bonfire Party despite the wet weather. After expenses, the event raised £617.30 for the new play equipment. Cllr Jayne Cox writes on behalf of the Parish Council:
I feel I have to write this letter to express how proud I am to be a resident of this parish and to thank all of the people (adults and children) who contributed in many different and important ways: from the planning stage; the use of the venue; the donations of wood and building the bonfire; donating fireworks; catering; selling tickets; providing and manning the bar; and the all-important clearing up afterwards! And also all the people who turned out in the cold and rain to support this event.
We not only raised money for the new play equipment, but proved what an amazing community team effort we can achieve. Credit where credit is due - to everyone who has helped in anyway and everyone who has donated to the Playing Field fund. Thank you. You are all brilliant!
Removal of the Multi-play Equipment from the Playing Field
Following a recent act of minor vandalism, the Parish Council decided that the multi-play equipment in the Playing Field was no longer safe for children to use and so have removed this piece of equipment. Removal of the equipment revealed that all the main supports, apart from the one under the central bridge, were rotting badly.
The Parish Council is aware that some questions have been raised as to how the multi-play equipment, which was installed in 2013, has deteriorated so quickly. The money for the equipment – the multi-play and the zip wire – was raised by a group of young mothers who called themselves “Keep on the Grass”. This group wished to use a local company to design and install the multi-play equipment rather than one of the large play equipment manufacturers and the Parish Council agreed to this.
The company produced an innovative design for the multi-play equipment that incorporated some locally-donated tree trunks as the main supports (as well as a small bridge designed by Richard La Trobe Bateman). Unfortunately, within a couple of years it became clear that the wood for the main supports had not been properly treated before being installed and the supports began to show evidence of rotting where they entered the ground.
Attempts were made to correct this, including painting the supports with rubberised paint, but there is only a limited amount that can be done if the wood is not properly treated before installation. It should be noted that the support for the central bridge was made of treated wood and showed no sign of any rot on removal.
The Parish Council is planning to replace the multi-play with a new piece of equipment. To avoid the problems with the equipment just removed, the Parish Council will purchase the new equipment from a recognised play equipment manufacturer and will install metal equipment so that there is no danger of it rotting. It is worth noting that the metal swings were installed in the 1950s and show no signs of deteriorating.
All ten allotments are now taken. If anyone would like to join a waiting list for when an allotment next comes vacant, please contact the Clerk.
Batcombe Telephone Kiosk
BT have now removed the telephone kiosk in Batcombe, which had not been used for a year. The Parish Council adopted the telephone kiosk in Westcombe, which is now a listed building - but decided not to adopt the Batcombe kiosk, as this was a modern replacement.
Somerset County Council - New Telephone Number
0300 123 2224 is now the single telephone number for all enquiries to Somerset County Council. This number replaces the previous 0845 numbers including the number for reporting safety defects on the roads.
Priority Services Register
Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution have a Priority Services Register for anyone who needs electricity for home medical equipment, or who is disabled, has a young baby or receives a state pension. Those on the Register are promised support during a power cut. To register call 0800 294 3259 from a landline or 0345 072 1900 from a mobile or see the webpage for more details of the Register: www.ssepd.co.uk/PriorityServices/
Details of all applications the Council considers can be found by following the link to the District Council's planning search page from the Planning Applications page.
Guide to Information Available from the Parish Council
The Freedom of Information Act requires the Parish Council to publish "A Guide to the Information Available from the Parish Council." Now that the Council has a website, this guide is available to download from the Parish Council Documents page along with the Parish Council's Standing Orders and other policies and papers that the Parish Council is required to publish.