Parish Council meeting, held on 8 January

Dear Parishioners

Our Parish Council meeting, held on 8 January, covered a wide range of topics including an update on repairs to the highway and footpaths. A large amount of work has already been undertaken to the main road through Down Ampney. Next will be repairs to a long section of footpath between Acacia Cottage and the school, together with a section on the access road footpath into Broadleaze before April this year. The Highways Manager is also looking into the flooding that occurs in Broadleaze which is believed to be caused by a blocked culvert. Meetings are to be held with the Housing Association responsible for that area to ascertain liability.

Hopefully you have seen the new noticeboards and we trust that you approve of their design and makeup.

Work is underway to update the ‘Village Emergency Plan’ which will take into account the reopening of RAF Fairford to military use on a permanent basis.

It has been necessary to commission a routine update of the village website and a fee of £32 per month was agreed to fund this.

It has been agreed to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. Much time and effort, together with an allocation of funds, will be required to achieve this. Discussion was held about the amount with an indication of some £3500 being the ‘seed money’ prior to our receiving any grants. This sum is to be included in the 2019/20 budget which was then discussed.

Over the course of the last few months, your Council has spent nearly £10,000 on the play and MUGA pitch bringing these up to standard. However, a decision had to be taken to defer further work to the soft play base due to lack of funds. Some £5000 has been spent on upgrading the notice boards, provision of information boards (these will go on display later) and ‘finger posts’ to identify and waymark our major tourist sites. Other ideas are in the pipeline to enhance the village but we would still welcome residents’ views on what and where money could be spent to raise our profile generally.

The major discussion of the evening concentrated on approval of both the budget and precept for the coming fiscal year. It included a vote to increase the precept by 13.8%. This was approved.

We feel it necessary to explain the need for this increase in the precept that exceeds current CPI inflation and trust you will see the benefit it will provide for our community.

We are required to maintain reserves, under the rules governing Parish Councils, commensurate with the assets and liabilities held by them. We have now drawn, significantly, on these for the special projects in 2018-19. This is in addition to the numerous costs incurred on an annual basis. Consequently, our reserves are now below the recommended level.

An increase of 13.8% (£2500) in the precept will allow us to offset some of the anticipated demand on our reserves although, clearly, it will not protect them entirely. Nevertheless, it will give us opportunity to progress the Neighbourhood Plan and further enhance the village. Without it we would be obliged to forgo new initiatives. The proposed increase amounts to approximately £6-£13 per annum per household. The actual figure dependant on Council Tax banding. We trust it will be seen as worthwhile in both maintaining and improving our community life and village facilities.

Looking ahead, we foresee a large sum being needed to carry out further work on the playground surface, probably close to £30,000, and although it is hoped to get major contributions from grant sources, DAPC will still be liable to pay a significant sum when the work proceeds; further resource will be needed to support the valuable Neighbourhood Plan that is now underway.

Finally, please note that the DAPC surgery will again take place in the village shop on March 2nd. Should you have any concerns or issues you may wish to discuss do please come along.

Down Ampney Parish Council

January 2019.

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