Minutes Annual Parish Meeting 2019

Annual Parish Meeting held on Thursday 9th May 2019 at 7:30PM in Abbots Morton Village Hall


Present: Nick Humphries (Chairman), David Wilkinson (District Councillor), David Hunter-Miller (Parish Clerk), members of the public

1. Introduction and welcome
Nick Humphries opened the meeting and welcomed residents.

2. Apologies for absence
Colin Pemberton and Lynda Payne sent apologies but forwarded a report on the Parochial Church Council.
Audrey Steel (District Councillor) sent apologies.
Anthony Hopkins (County Councillor) has confirmed that he would be late to the meeting.

3. To approve the minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 24th May 2018
It was resolved to approve the minutes and these were duly signed by the Chairman.

4. Matters arising from those minutes (if any)
At the previous Annual Parish Meeting a query was raised regarding the number of stiles in the village that made dog walking very difficult; this had been reviewed at subsequent Parish Council meetings and unfortunately it had proved difficult to obtain the agreement of landowners to provide gates in place of stiles.

At the previous Annual Parish Meeting it was suggested that a notice be put in the parish notice board to direct residents to various District and County Council services; this has been undertaken and it would be updated following the May 2019 elections.

5. To receive a report from the County Councillor
No report available at the time of the meeting.

6. To receive a report from the District Councillors
David Wilkinson provided an update on Wychavon District Council as follows:
• It had been another successful year for Wychavon District Council and they had been able to freeze council tax for 2019/20; they had maintained a healthy budget for the current fiscal year with £11.6 million available to spend on services (up from £10.8 million the previous year).
• The Planning Department had processed 1500 applications and had been successful in meeting national criteria relating to prompt and efficient handling of planning matters.
• There had been an emphasis on encouraging business activities across the district and supporting future investment.
• The Community Legacy Grant Scheme had been launched with £3 million available to apply for. This scheme is targeted towards large projects that will have a long term positive impact on their communities.
• Following the elections Wychavon District Council still held a conservative majority.

7. To receive a report from the Police
The areas of Rous Lench; Church Lench and Abbots Morton have been included in the report. As you can see there have been only two incidents of note since the last meeting.

23/4 – Low Road; Burglary Non Dwelling: Offenders have come from the field knocking down a wooden fence and cut through wire fencing to gain access to the rear garden. Offenders have then approached a shed within the garden and forced the Yale lock gaining entry, and stolen a Red Taiwan Goldenbee Quad bike.

26/4 – Abbots Morton; Criminal Damage: Overnight offender(s) have approached a vehicle left parked secure and unattended on the driveway at the front of the home address. Offenders(s) have approached the vehicle and using an unknown instrument, likely a bladed object, to puncture three of the tyres (both offside and the front nearside).

Droitwich East Safer Neighbourhood Team

8. To receive a report from the Residents’ Association
No report available at the time of the meeting.

9. To receive a report from the Parochial Church Council
I would first like to thank all those people in the parish who diligently and willingly lock and unlock the church on a daily basis. It is important to us that the church is always open for anyone to talk to God, whether in formal services, in private prayer or quiet contemplation. That so many are prepared to be on our unlocking rota is a heartening sign of a community giving to others and our thanks go to Lynda Payne for her work in gathering people together onto the locking rota.

It is a shame that we need to lock the church at all but everyone appreciates the need for security, and during this year there have been instances of metal thefts at churches elsewhere in the Diocese. We consider ourselves fortunate and we thank all those who keep a vigilant eye on any suspicious activity.

People are the church and many have served God diligently in the parish of Abbots Morton. One of them is Terry Brewster. Terry has been the Treasurer of the Parochial Church Council for many years and also given quiet, unheralded service behind the scenes, whether it be putting on the heating ahead of services or sweeping the aisles and footpaths and generally assisting the churchwarden in tasks that needed doing.

Terry had forewarned for several years that he would be giving up the Treasurer’s post. We would like to place on record the PCC’s thanks for his dedication and diligence over the years in making sure that St Peter’s always paid in full its Parish Share and was always in financial health.

Audrey Dunstone indicated at the annual meeting of the PCC last year that she was standing down from the PCC after many years and, in this report, we pay proper tribute to all that she has done. Her wise observations and comments at PCC meetings have been invaluable; she assiduously ran the Flower Fund from which we send flowers to anyone in the parish who has been in hospital for whatever reason. Sadly, Audrey is leaving her home on Goom’s Hill very shortly to live in her brand new apartment at Wood Norton, near Evesham. When she’s there, we hope that she will enjoy the farewell gift from the PCC expressing our gratitude. She will not be able to escape us as we visit her in her new home and we wish her well in the next phase of her long and richly rewarding life.

Roma Jones has completed a year on the PCC and become a valued and active member, not least taking on the running of the Flower Fund.

Floral arrangements continue to be a feature of St Peter’s but they don’t just happen. Peggy Clarke does a tremendous job in organising the Flower Rota, as do the many people on the rota who produce very attractive floral displays. Our thanks to you all.

We are extremely fortunate to have the services of Lynne Pemberton as our church musician. Her skill on the Clavinova is much appreciated by everyone and her reflective pieces at the end of services are an added delight. She has also proved to be an effective and keen Foundation Governor at Church Lench School.

Last, but not least by any means, we are indebted to Kevin Clarke for his service as Churchwarden. On top of his “day job” it can be onerous at times, looking after the maintenance and smooth running of the building and the other responsibilities the position of Churchwarden brings. Kevin does it uncomplainingly and, this year in particular, he has worked closely with the Rector and the church architect, John Middleton, on the current project to replace the drains and the guttering to eliminate the damp which is intruding into the walls.

The drainage project, costing almost £10,000, is vital to the future of the Grade 1 listed church building. The current concrete-lined drains were installed in the 1950’s and are now breaking down. They will be replaced by a “French Drain”, a soakaway system more in keeping with the ancient building and more sustainable in the long term. Plastic guttering will also be replaced with a cast iron system similar to that in place in previous times. Work is expected to be carried out this summer.

Much of the cost will be met from the church’s own Reserve Fund which will be severely depleted as a result. £3000 will come from a bequest in the will of the late Cyril Burton who stipulated that his gift was to be used for the benefit of the fabric of the church. Abbots Morton resident, Gill Barker, is also happy to let it be known that she has donated £1,500 to the project in memory of her late husband, Geoff.

Although there is no formal fundraising scheme, it’s hoped that parishioners may look favourably on the French Drain project and appreciate its vital importance to the future of the church building. The Rector, Rev Richard Thorniley, will be very happy to speak to anyone who may be considering a donation.

After that, we will be able to concentrate on the long-awaited project to realign and improve the steps leading up to the church by the main notice board. A lot of preparatory design work has already been done by our architects and a Faculty application will be made in the near future. This project will cost in the region of £9,000.

So, fundraising for the church is more important than ever and we were pleased that both of our principal events… the Flower Festival Lunch and the Harvest Supper… were very successful. Admission prices for the Harvest Supper rose for the first time in more than a decade but it didn’t affect the attendance and with the second Great Harvest Raffle it made a profit of £1,463.
We pride ourselves on paying, each year, the full amount of our “Parish Share”…the amount we are obliged to send to the Diocese to pay for the salary and pensions of the Clergy. After much debate, we agreed to join “Fairer Shares”, a new scheme aimed at making more equitable the amount each parish pays. Under the new system, our share for 2019 is marginally lower at £8,581 instead of £9,001.

The Remembrance Day service was particularly special this year, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War 1. It was particularly poignant to see young children ringing our bells as part of a worldwide bellringing to mark the occasion. Our thanks go to Terry Brewster for leading the service. A large congregation enabled us to donate £250 to the Royal British Legion.
The lay-led Mothering Sunday service was another well attended service, as was the Carol and Gift Service where turnout was the highest for a decade with many toys and gifts going to Action for Children. Carols on the Green saw some new faces joining in Carol Singing and a collection of £77 went to swell our Flower Fund.

The Christmas Eve communion service was also well attended with 45 in the congregation.

During the year, we welcomed Rev Chris Sheehan as our new, part-time, non-stipendiary Curate. He has actively sought to discover as much as he can about people in the parishes that make up the Diocese and he is a regular leader of our services at St Peter.

And we say thank you to our Rector, Rev Canon Richard Thorniley, for his enthusiasm and never-ending cheerfulness. We wish him well on a three-month sabbatical he is taking in 2019 from mid-September to the end November. He’ll be making a pilgrimage to Santiago He’ll be making a pilgrimage to Santiago di Campostella and will visit Australia and New Zealand, where he’ll visit our former Curate, Rev Steve Jordan.

The North Avon Group (NAG) is now well–established as the umbrella group for the four parishes that make up the ARCH Benefice together with the churches attached to Inkberrow.

The number on the church electoral roll stands at 14 as of December 2018

Other Points to Note
The Europe-wide General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on May 25th 2018 and a good deal of work was put in to ensure we complied with its requirements.

Dog poo problems appeared in the churchyard and elsewhere in the village and the Parish Council has now installed a Poo Bin on the village green next to the phone kiosk.

In a move towards Eco-sustainability we now use disposable compostable cups when we serve teas and coffees after some services. The old ceramic cups, saucers and plates have gone to a worthy home in Alcester… for sale in the Headway charity shop.

And finally, the number of people who been to our church and made complimentary comments about it over the years has been so great that we have needed this year to buy a new Visitors’ Book. A glance through the old book shows just how far people have come from to visit our village and our church.

We look forward to another challenging year ahead and trust that God will encourage and enlighten us in whatever we do.

Colin Pemberton, Secretary, St Peter Abbots Morton PCC

Annual Financial Report:
Expenses: Payments to Clergy and Organist were up hugely from £100 to £927. Normally, this is around £400 but we hadn’t been sent a bill from Harvington for two years, so, effectively, we were paying double this year. Organist payments were two lots to Margaret Ballard.

The other big rise was churchyard maintenance, up from £666 to £1,170. This increase was mainly from a £720 bill for tree felling. The quota (parish share) was up from £7,442 to £9,001…this was under the old system. Next year, under the Fairer Shares system, it will fall to £8581. Professional fees of £2,287 were for work on the French drains and guttering, mainly to Nick Joyce architects and to Mercia Drains.

Income: We had a big tax return of £2,076 which had been reclaimed over the past two years. In a normal year it will be around £600.

In summary, we had £5,300 of exceptional expenditure items, offset by increased returns of tax, leaving a deficit of £4,022, substantially more than the previous year.

It’s predicted that for next year we will have an income around £10,000 and Expenses around £11,500, producing a deficit around £1,500.

Deanery Synod report
Our first meeting took place at Harvington 18th February and the main speaker, the first in series of Chaplains was Andy Green lead Chaplain for Worcestershire Health Care Trust Group.
He told us of the breadth of his work, which covers 15 different sites across the County. He has set up a growing band of volunteers who come from Christian and other major faiths to provide pastoral support for patients and staff. There is a growing appreciation of the importance of Spiritual support to all those involved in the Health Community. Chapels are in the process of being revamped in all the hospitals to provide sanctuary and space for reflection to all. Worcestershire is unusually supportive of the Chaplaincy service.

A meeting of the Evesham Deanery Synod was held on 15th May at Sedgeberrow Church. The main speaker was Alison Maddocks, Stewardship Officer for the Diocese. She explained that stewardship is at the heart of discipleship. Stewardship involves hosting, welcoming and taking care of people and buildings, as part of God’s work. She suggested some features of Christian giving. At this meeting details were agreed of the highly successful Bishops’ Mission Weekend held on 15-17th June 2018.

On 17th October, the Synod was held at Cookhill Parish Church. Robin Lunn gave a verbal report of the General Synod held in July 2018. This involved a wide range of issues, from a possible strengthening of the relationship between the Methodist and Anglican Churches, to the Church’s view on fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The main speaker was our Archdeacon, the Venerable Robert Jones, on the topic Buildings for Mission. He explained that although churches are ‘sacred spaces,’ church buildings might be used in a much wider range of activities to serve local people. He also encouraged PCCs to keep on top of maintenance of church buildings which would reduce the need for some major repairs later on.

David Battin

Safeguarding Report
The Parochial Church Council has complied with the duty under section 5 of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 (duty to have due regard to House of Bishops’ guidance on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults).

There have been no safeguarding concerns reported in the last twelve months.

One person in this Parish submitted a DBS check during 2018 and was returned clear. Currently, there are no renewals required until January 2021.

Twenty-three volunteers from the Benefice as a whole attended a Safeguarding Awareness Course at Harvington Baptist Church on 5th March 2018. Many people commented on how useful and thought provoking it was. Safeguarding Awareness should be refreshed every three years.

Jill Francis, Parish Safeguarding Officer

Annual Churchwarden’s Report
St Peter’s Church seems to have come through the past twelve months fairly well, without any real issues.

Our main fund-raising events, i.e., the Flower Festival and the Harvest Supper, went well. A big thank you to Lynne and the team who all worked so hard to put them on.

We owe a big thank you to the following people:
1. Richard for leading us and putting together the services, etc., plus Janice, Chris and Ruth.
2. All who put together our lay-led services.
3. Lynne for playing the clavinova.
4. Colin for all the work you do as church secretary.
5. Tim and Terry for all the work you do as church treasurers, plus I would like to especially thank Terry as he steps down, for all his work over the years.
6. Margaret for ensuring that the church yard always looks tidy and for organizing the grass mowing contractors.
7. Linda for organizing the Locking Rota.
8. Peggy for organizing the Flower Rota.
9. Viv for the cards.
10. Roma for organizing flowers for people who are ill.

It would be good to get the French drain sorted and a few electrical faults sorted; both are in hand.

Our Parish Share quota is quite alarming and quite concerning for the future.

Finally, on behalf of the P.C.C., I would like to thank all the people of Abbots Morton and Goom’s Hill, and the surrounding areas, for their support throughout the year. We all very much appreciate it.

Kevin Clarke, Churchwarden

10. To receive a report from the Village Hall Committee
Overall news
The year 2018/19 has seen Abbots Morton Village Hall going from strength to strength with another upbeat and successful year.
It’s thanks to the hard work and commitment of a small but effective committee and to “friends” of the hall who help make it such a success. We continue to maintain and develop the hall to a high standard making it a pleasurable and appealing venue for people to hire and to attend events.

Events & Usage
We now have three regular, well-established, evening classes using the hall each week. Pilates on a Monday, Hatha Yoga on Tuesdays and ballet classes for children on Wednesdays.
And I’m delighted to say that further yoga class has come to this hall.

Bev Gough, teaching Hay Yoga, is clases every Tuesday morning. Bev has come to us because her class has outgrown Throckmorton Village Hall…and we are delighted that she has chosen us as her new venue.

The hall continues to be an attractive venue for birthday parties & family celebrations, wakes and wedding receptions. We are also continuing to be used for business meetings & sales presentations, training courses and seminars.

They all bring in valuable income to cover our running costs and help us save up money for future investments and improvements to the hall.

The Village Hall committee itself has put on two events this year, which in line with our policy of sharing the proceeds 50-50 with a chosen charity were very successful:-
• The Tea for Tinnitus brunch raised £260 for the British Tinnitus Association and £260 for our funds;
• Our first Christmas Fayre on 17th November was very successful…raising £213 for the village hall and £213 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. We had 14 tables of merchandise, together with a raffle. Teas, coffee and mince pies sold well, and the village hall committee agreed that we will repeat the event this coming Christmas. The date, for your diary, will be Saturday 16th November

We continue to have two representatives of the Parochial Church Council as Trustees but during the year we have lost the two representatives from the Parish Council.

The PC representatives are very important in helping us maintain good relations with the Parish Council but the Parish Council is finding it very difficult to get people to serve as councillors, to the point where their own meetings are sometimes inquorate. It looks likely that we will continue to be two Trustees short as a result.

We have Trustee vacancies ourselves and we hope that in the near future we can encourage some people to come on board with us and enjoy the very satisfying journey of village hall development that we are on.

The Building
Maintenance & improvements continue on a timely and affordable programme.

We have ended our burglar alarm contract with ADT and the service is now provided by a substantially less expensive service from SSS of Inkberrow.

As you will know, we are aiming to install energy-efficient, LED lighting throughout the VH, to reduce bills and make us more eco-friendly. A bid for financial help from the New Homes Bonus Fund is under way via the Parish Council , the Parish Council itself has agreed to grant us £500, our County Councillor Anthony Hopkins has granted us £300 from his Divisional Fund and we’ll be using more than £500 of our own reserves to fund this sizeable project.

After that, we will be exploring a major upgrade to our heating system… again to make big savings in electricity usage.

We are continuing to explore the installation of Wi-Fi.

Our thanks go to the Farmiloe family for continuing to keep the external hedge to the road maintained and also to those committee members and friends who help maintain the grounds.
We employ a professional cleaner from time to time, supplemented by voluntary effort from Trustees.

Equipment & Furnishings
All equipment in the hall continues to be maintained.

Fire extinguishers have been given their annual check and replacement where necessary.

Having invested in new brass curtain poles in 2017, we had the curtains themselves professionally cleaned during 2018.

We have not made any further significant purchases this year but we can now boast a brand new and sizeable Tombola Drum, made and gifted to us by two residents of the village using their undoubted carpentry skills.

Thank you to Tim Jones for auditing our finances, as at 31st December 2018 the Treasurer’s Account stood at £2181 and the Deposit Account at £666. Total: £2,847

Hire fees will continue to be reviewed to ensure we are covering costs.

EasyFundraising is proving a fruitful source of income for AMVH- we now have 21 contributors and have raised £559.00 so far. More supporters are always welcome. Details of how to join are on laminated cards which you can pick up from the desk in the lobby.

Car Parking
The village hall is a great community asset but, unfortunately, the car park can’t be used as a public car park. We can accommodate occasional parking, as long as you please check in advance with the Bookings Officer (07766 524833) or Secretary to make sure it’s not being used by people hiring the hall.

We now have a substantial and growing number of bookings for the hall and hirers are rightly entitled to expect an empty car park for their users.

On occasions, the car park is used by ramblers groups, but they do always get permission in advance and make a small donation to the hall.

Looking forward
The Trustees will continue to fulfil their aim: To maintain the hall to a good standard to preserve it for the future and to continue to be the community building within the village, a facility for all its residents to use & to meet others in.

To conclude I would like to thank all the members of the committee who have continued to work tirelessly in ensuring the village hall is a successful asset to the village.

We do hope that villagers will continue to use the village hall and if they have any ideas they bring them forward to the committee or come and serve with us!

11. To receive a report from the Neighbourhood Watch
A letter outlining a new Neighbourhood Watch Scheme inviting residents to join was put through the letterboxes of approximately 80 households in Abbots Morton, The Low and Gooms Hill. The main objective being to encourage everyone to register on line; so far only 18 households have done so, many reported a problem trying to register (this has been reported to NW). ‘Neighbourhood Alert’ is the systems side of Neighbourhood Watch, although the webpage seems to be very user friendly, NW are experiencing problems with the systems side which is currently being updated, so unfortunately crime incidents within Abbots Morton and the surrounding areas have not come through so far as ‘Alerts’ via email or text which is a shame, so we rely on the Abbots Morton Village, The Lenches and West Mercia Neighbourhood Watch Facebook pages which are good at reporting incidences, along with ‘word of mouth’ communication within the village and local area.

Cllr Karen Brighton

12. To receive a report from the Footpaths Officer
I was appointed as Path Warden for the parish of Abbots Morton in early 2018. This report details the activities I have undertaken in that role during the year. It should be read in conjunction with the attached table.

Monitoring the footpaths
During the year I have monitored all 58 footpaths on at least two occasions apart from those on land associated with an investigation into a report of an aggressive dog which I was advised to avoid. In total I have carried out 166 visits to individual footpaths on more than 20 different days, representing over 60km travelled.

For the most part the footpaths were well maintained and easily passable. The table shows 10paths where there are ongoing issues that were not resolved on the last occasion I monitored the path (also noted).

During the year I cleared vegetation on 541 and 543 on several occasions as well as around the stiles on 529 and 530. In addition I improved the signage at the north end of 547.

Other Activities
As well as monitoring the footpaths I attended Parish Council meetings on two occasions. Firstly in March to brief the Council on my role and listen to any points they wished to raise. Secondly in July to offer advice over making some of the footpaths more accessible. I also attended training provided by Worcestershire CC regarding the role of the Path Warden and the safe use of strimmers.

Work carried out by Worcestershire CC
During the year the County Council has invested in the footpaths in the Parish by replacing a culvert and bridle-gate towards the west end of 558. They have also supplied two kissing gates for a landowner installation on 554 (south of Slade Wood) and organised a section of summer vegetation clearance following on from a report that I made.

Officers have recently carried out an inspection at New Farm regarding the report of aggressive dogs and found that suggested actions including moving the cages have not been taken. This issue is ongoing.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the task of Path Warden and have already been out in the Parish on several occasions this year.

Noel Fowler, Footpaths Officer

13. To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council by the Chairman
Nick Humphries provided the Annual Report of the Parish Council.

The Parish Council has struggled with membership for the last few years, with some meetings cancelled because they have not been quorate.

Following the May 2019 elections Clive Holt stepped down after serving on the Parish Council for many years. Clive’s knowledge and experience will be missed and I wish to thank him for his contributions to the parish. Will Hill was unable to stand for re-election as he has moved out of the parish. Will’s input will be missed on both the Parish Council and Village Hall Committee and again I thank him for his input.

Since the last Annual Parish Meeting we have been pleased to welcome two new councillors, Karen Brighton and Martin Willingale, however there continues to be a number of vacancies. Anyone interested in filling a vacancy should contact David Hunter-Miller, Parish Clerk.

The general work of the council has continued, including commenting on numerous planning applications, providing a new dog fouling bin, assisting with the individual issues of parishioners and working closely with other community organisations and groups.

On the immediate horizon the Parish Council has been keen to support an eco-lighting initiative for the Village Hall, which will see benefits to both running costs and the environment.

The Parish Council remains on a secure financial footing, with approximately £12,000 in earmarked and general reserves. Following the final payment of the Public Works Loan for the Village Hall build the Parish Council has been able to reduce the precept request to the lowest it has been for many years.

14. To invite the public to raise any matters of interest
It was felt that the Police could offer better support in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, as some of the new technology used for updates was not proving very reliable or easy to use. It was agreed that the matter could be escalated to the Police and Crime Commissioner, if the situation didn’t improve.

The meeting closed at 20:04PM.