Minutes 17.10.23

Minutes Uploaded on November 8, 2023


Of Witham Friary Parish Council

Held on Tuesday 17th October at Witham Friary Village Hall  7.30pm


Present:                                Chair W Sheppard, Cllrs J Knowles, L Sewell, S Coate and F Nicholls


Also Present:                       J Gregory Proper Officer


Public Participation



10.23/24.01         Apologies for absence

Cllr Ferrari had an urgent family matter to attend to

Resolved: Given the circumstances dispensation was granted.


10.23/24.02         Declarations of interest

Councillors were asked to declare any interests pecuniary or in the meeting this evening.

                                Resolved: No Declarations received.


10.23/24.03         Minutes of the previous meeting held

To agree minutes from the previous meeting held on 18th September.

Resolved: Agreed.  Copies of minutes were signed in the presence of the meeting.


10.23/24.04         Planning Applications for consideration

Cllr Ferrari had made a detailed response to the Bindon Lane inquiry on behalf of Council


Postlebury House planning application had been dealt with via email circulation in view of the date and response made that Council supported the application.                              


10.23/24.05         Finance

  1. To receive financial statement

Cashbook figure at the end of July was £33866.14 which include a Distgen payment and donation from the history society and WI for the screen.


  1. To agree schedule of payments as indicated below

J Gregory Clerk                             Salary                                     £  279.96

SALC                                               Subscription                          £  113.12

SSE                                                  Car Park Lighting                  £  172.21

                   Resolved:  The above payment schedule was agreed


  1. Budgets

Budgets were considered in detail looking at an initial draft.   Quotes had been obtained for initial works to the Dovecote with the installation of an alarm system – the cheapest being £3325.48.  It was also noted the keystone had dropped, this would require temporary propping then remedial works using an estimated figure of £500-£600 to complete.


Other discussions centred around releasing some earmarked reserves as there appeared to be projects in need and ahead of any future facility on the recreation field.   Consideration was also given to the cricket mower, possible use of a robotic mower and this would need to be weighed up very carefully in terms of cost savings against what we had already.  Income relied on Distgen however it was suggested that the proposed tenants of the Dovecote provide a financial proposal for the next meeting as to how they see costs being apportioned and what they feel is a fair rental price given the condition of the building.  This would allow council to ascertain its income stream.


The Lengthsman is to provide an estimate of hours for smaller maintenance works that he can complete together with a list of works.  This would be paid at his hourly rate.           Reports

  1. To receive County Councillor B Clarke’s report

Not in attendance as we clashed with other County commitments however his report centred on the dire financial position at Somerset.


  1. Chairman’s Report

Nothing additional to reports below.


  1. Cllr Nicholls report on Highways

Grit bins had been filled and snow ploughs inspected.  It was felt as grit had been supplied to bins there was no further need to purchase and residents would be reliant on using the bins.


  1. To receive report on Communications

Cllr Ferrari not in attendance no report given.


  1. To receive Cllr Sheppard/Knowles report on the Recreation Ground

Fencing (Emery property) remains outstanding.


The perimeter track was discussed and whilst a volunteer group would be useful going forward the track needed some sort of initial upgrade from which volunteers could maintain.

Resolved:  It was agreed to instruct Grass Valet to carry out the initial maintenance.


Nothing further had been received from Bruton U13s


Nothing further had been received in relation to the Basketball hoop.


  1. To receive Cllr Knowles report on the Play Patch

Issues with the nest swing had been resolved.


The posts of the  major climber and slide were in poor condition and would need replacing.   The budget figure seemed to be sufficient for this purpose however.


  1. To receive Cllr Sewell report on Footpaths

The following had been addressed: Long Ham towards the fishing lake and the 42 acres.  However what was outstanding was the Hicks Wood tree which made the footpath impassible.

Action:  Clerk to email the Estate as landowner.


  1. Network Rail

A long email had been circulated which advised that they would be contacting Highways to clear gullies.


  1. Biodiversity

Heel Rewilding would be holding a drop in meeting on Monday 23rd October from 4pm to 7pm in the village hall to allow residents to provide feedback, suggestions and meet the Community Engagement Manager.  A poster advertising the event has been placed around the village.


An email had been received from the Forest of Selwood regarding their nature recovery areas – it was suggested if there was interest to perhaps have Giles Fatterini do a presentation.


There was a volunteer day at Long Ham on the 28th October.


10.23/24.08         Witham Water

Nothing of note reported.


10.23/24.09         Dovecote

Quotations had been received regarding a fire alarm system.  There was a wired and wireless option.  Aesthetically the wireless system would be better and was more cost effective]

Resolved: To instruct the installation by MFS Electrical Fire and Security of the wireless system at £3325.48 including VAT.


As previously mentioned the keystone had dropped.  This was an emergency situation where propping would be needed.

Resolved:  As part of risk management this was to be propped as a matter of urgency.  Cost around £350 and possibly £250 as a rough estimate to repair.


10.23/24.10         Matters referred to the meeting / Clerk  

Nothing to report.


08.23/24.11         Dates of Further Meetings

Next Meeting 14th November 2023




Meeting closed at 8.55pm




A signed copy of the minutes can be viewed by arrangement via the Parish Clerk.