Councillors Present

Ken Christy, Graham Roberts, Ian Cherry, Jo Powell, Kevin Moore and Clare Pollak together with thirteen villagers.

1.     Introduction (Ken Christy, Chairman of Sulgrave Parish Council)

The Chair introduced the meeting by noting this was not a normal Parish Council meeting.  It would be an annual report from the County and District Council and various organisations within the village but hosted by the Parish Council. Any questions put forward in the Open Forum session at the end would be carried forward to the next council meeting on 18th May.  The Chair then read out the councillor’s responsibilities for the next year. Cllr Roberts - Highways, Quality Parish Council Status and Planning, Cllr Pollak - Heritage, Communication and Environment, Cllr Cherry - Utilities and Planning, Cllr Osborne - Children/Young People and Environment,  Cllr Powell - Heritage, Highways and Inter-village Co-ordination, Cllr Moore - Communication, Children/Young People and Environment.

The Chair gave special thanks to the Clerk for all her work on the audit recently and he thanked the councillors for their support and hard work.  He wished Susie Blayney a speedy recovery.


Cllr Osborne, Mr and Mrs Tattersall, Peter Pollak, Paul Crowley, Bob Foster, Mrs Oakley, Mrs Roberts and Martin Sirot-Smith.

2.    Confirmation of minutes of last Annual Assembly meeting held on 12th May 2005

       These were agreed and signed as a true record.  Whilst signing the minutes the Chair noted that minutes are always available to see by prior appointment at Wisteria Cottage or via the Parish Clerk.

  1. Report from County Councillor (Ben Smith)

County Councillor Smith noted it had been a busy year.  After twelve years as an opposition councillor, which was fun but time wasting, he had been re-elected as the new administration and his role had changed.  The Council had produced a good manifesto but they are in a poor financial state.                                                         
They are trying to juggle a £10M overspend.  The council were disappointed with the settlement from government, which was an increase of 2.1% (the second worst in the country).  Roads are still a priority for the council but there is a lack of money.  Council tax increase was retained at 3%.  A number of issues have been delayed because of the money situation and 400 people have been issued redundancy notices to save money.  Cllr Smith feels there has been bad planning at the County Council and a lack of financial monitoring.  A £5M overspend was found in November within the Social Services department.  In his opinion the forecasting and finances need to be managed correctly.  After one year into Administration, Cllr Smith hopes for better things.  He will continue to honour the pledge with roads and not go backwards.

Cllr Smith is a member of the West Northants Development Corporation which covers Northampton, Daventry and Towcester.  The boundaries are very tight around these areas and the amount of development will have an impact on the whole of Northants.  He feels the scale and speed of the development are too great.  He felt that to continue to fight it would be burying his head in the sand.  By being on the board, he will try to get the best out of the proposals that are put forward.

Cllr Smith is a member of the Police Authority and it is the Governments intention to get rid of the Northants area and make one police force which will be bigger than Belgium.  The new Administration allocated half a million pounds for Community Support Officers.  The Chief Constable wanted them in urban areas but others felt they should be placed in rural areas.  As there were problems that could not be overcome, the administration took the money back and it will be put into the youth service.

Cllr Smith then asked the floor for questions.

Cllr Pollak asked if any money would be used on Heritage.  Cllr Smith referred to the Regional Park Development at Chester Farm, near Wellingborough and advised that money was coming from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.  Although the County Council work closely with English Heritage there is a lack of money and it depends on the government grant that is given. 

Cllr Pollak also mentioned excavation work in new developments and feels there will be a lack of storage.   
The Chair asked about the consultation exercise with the merging of the police forces.  Cllr Smith replied it has not started yet.  Legislation will be put through parliament and a consultation period will be required.

The Chair then thanked Cllr Smith for all his work and support over the year.

4.    Report from District Councillor (James Garnett)

Council Tax and Budget 2006/7

SNC receives only 11% of the total council tax bill and they have kept this part of the increase to only £6.69 for a band D property.    Cllr Garnett was  pleased to report that the percentage increase in Council Tax was the lowest in the country in this District, and he was very pleased that SNC managed to keep this down to under 4% (3.4%).  This was excellent in comparison to many other Councils around the UK. Most of the this provides for overall improvements, including £100k for concessionary fares for the over 60’s and people with disabilities, a further £100k has been earmarked to expand the door to door recycling scheme and £16k for improvements to emergency planning.

Key Performance Indicators

The Council is required to regularly report on a number of Government-defined Performance Indicators. These measure the quality of all the key services that SNC are required to provide. Some of the areas where the Council  have excelled and some that require further improvement in the forthcoming years are as follows:-

  1. Recycling of Waste is up 2 points from 2004
  2. Domestic buglaries are down to 8.4 per 1000
  3. Vehicle Crime is down 6.1 per 1000


Cllr Garnett is still an advocate of fairness and common sense for all planning matters in his Ward.                                              

Guidelines do have to be applied, but he will continue to assist in all matters over the forthcoming year, as long as people adhere to the standard guidelines.  Cllr Garnett really would like to see the enhancements made to some of the more shabby buildings to bring the overall standard up to scratch.  The villagers live in very pleasant surroundings and he  wants to ensure that they are preserved and enhanced where possible.

Cllr Garnett is looking forward to seeing the newer plans that have been accepted and approved coming to fruition, as he knows that this will make good visible improvements to the village.

SNC were one of only a few District Councils who have been praised by the Government Minister for Housing and Development, Yvette Cooper, for the standard of performance  that was  achieved in 2005. The planning application processing times have reduced during 2004 and 2005 in line with Government targets.  As a result a planning grant of £700k has been awarded to SNC.


Cllr Garnett was pleased to report that the roads in this ward have gone through, at last, some major improvements and credit must go to County Councillor Ben Smith and the County Council after years of neglect.


Recycling has been expanded during 2005. Some facts that were published in the annual review;-

26,000 tonnes of rubbish were sent to landfill, some 18,000 less than 2004.
The district has recycled 33% of all the rubbish collected in 2004, (5000 tonnes).  75% of all households are recycling with the twin bin scheme.  2006 will see a commitment to extend this across the whole District.

Other Items

SNC continues to provide support, financial and advisory, to village communities, which in turn support other village services, and recognising the role and importance of shops, and pubs. 

This Council Community Support Scheme is one of the few schemes operating in the Country and Cllr Garnett was pleased that Sulgrave was able to benefit.  There have been 37 village shops that have benefited and the council awarded more than £125,000 last year in grant aid.

Broadband is now implemented across most of South Northants and Cllr Garnett recommended that if you have access, you have a look at the new SNC web site that now contains information on 98% of the services that are provided.

Finally SNC appointed a new Chief Executive, Jean Morgan, in the middle of last year and Cllr Garnett strongly believes that she has already grasped the issues over the last 6 months and will continue to drive this council forward over the forthcoming year.

Cllr Garnett believes that this report covers all the main points from his review of 2005 and he thanked everyone for their support.  He will endeavour, work permitting, to respond to any queries that anybody  has during the forth coming year and he will try and be a little more proactive.  He then asked the floor for questions.

Mrs Foster asked Cllr Garnett if he would standing for re-election next year.  Cllr Garnett replied that he thinks the District Council will not hold elections next year but keep the existing councillors until 2008.  Cllr Smith advised that a white paper on local government is due out soon.

Mrs Barber asked about the Article 4 (2) Direction.  The Chair replied that there would be more information on this in his report later on.  He has held meetings with various representatives of SNC and they are working together on it.

The Chair referred to the User Satisfaction Survey in the Spring SNC Review paper.  There were several key figures missing from the report. Cllr Garnett agreed to find them out.

  1. Written Report from Community Beat Officer (PC Gez Shillito – Read out by Cllr Cherry)

PC Shillito sent his apologies for not being able to attend the meeting.                                                                               
He is the new Beat Officer and has been in the post since March 6th this year.  He was previously based at Brackley before spending some time working from Towcester.  He can be contacted at Brackley Police Station on 0845 700700, ext 3124 or via email on [email protected] or [email protected],uk.

There have been no recorded crimes within the village during the last year, compared to seven reported the previous year.

The Chair then asked the floor for questions.

Cllr Garnett asked if there could be more visibility from the Police Officer within the village on foot.  The clerk would forward this comment on.
5.    Report from Community Shop Association (Libbie Foster)

       Libbie Foster sent apologies from Neil Johnstone, Chairman of the Sulgrave Village Shop Association Ltd. 

       The accounts are being audited at present but will be available at the AGM in June.  The first years trading has been successfully completed with sales to the end of 2005 at 20% ahead of expectations.  2006 has started satisfactorily with sales ahead of 2005. The shop is a ‘not for profit’ organisation and any surplus funds will pay back the loans of £7K and to fund future trading requirements of the shop.

       Everybody feels this is a fantastic achievement but there is still a need to extend the appeal of the shop both inside and outside of the village.  The business needs to grow to become self-sustaining.  The committee would be happy to receive practical and positive feedback from the villagers.

       David and the team of volunteers have done and continue to do a wonderful job in running the shop.  The list of jobs to be done is long - cleaning, maintenance, sourcing, buying, sorting, shelf stacking, storing, pricing and of course selling.  A big thank you to all involved.

       During the first year of trading, the shop were nominated for the Countryside Alliance’s Best Rural Retailer of the year.       
Sulgrave Shop won the southern region from 600 nominations and they were presented with a Certificate at a ceremony at the House of Lords.  The shop has been further nominated for the Observer Ethical Awards 2006.  Those short listed – announced on 8th May  - will be invited to an awards event in central London on the 15th June.  The shop has also been nominated for the Banbury Guardian Rural Project of the Year, to be announced in early June.

       Shop members have taken part in 3 or 4 radio broadcasts and in February the shop was televised on ‘Tonight with Trevor MacDonald’.  The shop received a visit from Clarissa Dixon-Wright in March and she was most impressed not only by the shop and its stock, but by all the hard work involved and the way in which the shop was run for the whole community.

       Each month, the shop includes a flyer in the village newsletter, giving useful information and  seasonal recipes.

       The committee really feel that  Sulgrave Village Shop is an inspiring example of the local people developing their own community’s economy, regenerating redundant buildings and contributing to an improved quality of rural life. 

Sulgrave can be justifiably proud of this achievement!!!!.

Libbie concluded her report by advising the shop are still looking for stakeholders and volunteers.  The Parish Council  thanked Libbie for being involved in all the shop media coverage as it had raised the profile tremendously.

7aParish Council Report 2005/6
(Graham Roberts, Vice-Chairman of Sulgrave Parish Council)

Once more the Parish Council have had a busy year with a number of activities for which they are able to report progress.

Quality Council Status

One of the objectives the council set themselves for the year was to make progress with the Quality Council status – this has required the council to ensure that they are fully representative of the Community as a Parish Council and operate within guidelines set down.

One major issue that was faced was a shortfall in the numbers of Councillor representatives.  Cllr Roberts was therefore very pleased to advise that during the year the council were able to co-opt a new Councillor to the team, Jo Powell, which has restored the number.

The council have also made efforts to improve the attendance record of Councillors at the Parish meetings, this has been challenging as the Councillors also have to hold down full time employment and the demands that employers make result in the time available for voluntary work being very limited.  However despite this the council have succeeded in achieving a quorum at all meetings.

As part of the Quality Council programme the council have supported the Parish Clerk, Christine, in a training programme  which will lead  to a qualification Certificate in Local Council Administration. Christine has put in many hours of work towards this qualification, including attendance on 8 separate training days, courses in PAYE/NI and preparation of a portfolio of work which has been submitted recently for assessment.

The Parish Council will continue with the Quality Council activity in the forthcoming year.

Planning and Village conservation issues.

Local planning consent management and South Northamptonshire Council initiatives in village conservation have featured strongly this year. The council have restructured their approach to planning consent and Councillor Cherry is now taking a leading role in the management of applications to make their responses to South Northants Council more timely and efficient.

       In addition an extra-ordinary meeting for the South Northant’s Council’s Conservation Officer has been hosted to make a presentation in respect of the Article 4(2) directions affecting property within the village and thereby allowing a forum for opinion to be clearly expressed.

  Village Assets

The Parish Council are continuing to improve the local environment, much work has been done by a number of individuals who have given up their time to help maintain and improve the village and its surroundings.

The Council would like to record special “thank-you’s” to those villagers that help on the Village Litter Pick, a bi-annual event organised by the Chairman to keep the countryside how we would wish it to be kept.   There will be a litter pick on Saturday 22nd April at 10am meeting outside the Church Hall.

Work continues in maintaining the village surrounds, the grass cutting contractor will continue in the coming year to maintain verges and village greens, in addition maintenance has been carried out on the Pocket Park wildlife pond and the allotments  have been improved by cutting back overgrown areas.  More work is still to be done on the allotments in the forthcoming year but already extra interest has been shown by villagers in this amenity. 

Community support

It is appropriate that at this meeting certain people receive a special mention for their commitment to projects which build up the local community:-

  1. Newsletter Editor                    Tom Cockeram
  2. Newsletter Distributors          Ann and Peter Mackness,

                                                     George Metcalfe and Vera Smith

  1. Neighbourhood Watch              Vera Smith
  2. Footpath Warden                      Christina Shillito
  3. Tree Warden                            George Metcalfe
  4. Bus Co-ordinator                       Joan Gascoigne
7b.  The Year Ahead - 2006/2007

     Ken Christy – Chairman of Sulgrave Parish Council)

The council year ahead represents the final year of a four year term for this particular group of elected councillors (excluding Jo Powell).

The aim of the Parish Council will centre around completing the various initiatives that have been set during this period of office.

The Chairs analysis of these tasks falls into three key areas:-

Consultation, Participation and Ownership.

The Chair then went onto explain the areas in greater detail.

Consultation -  The Parish Council needs to re-examine how they get villagers views.  Clearly there is a need to engage more fully.  A recent example is that of South Northants Council trying to introduce an Article 4 (2) Direction.  This has opened up an opportunity to re-examine village boundaries, (the extent of) the Conservation Area and the creation of a Village Design Statement (which will be created by the villagers themselves).  A small group of people will be needed to work on this.

Participation – the Parish Council needs to find the way to encourage greater involvement by the inhabitants of this village.  An example of this is to be more proactive in the protection and conservation of this village’s assets.  They belong to us all and the council need your help to make a difference!!!

Ownership – Living in this lovely village comes with responsibilities. Now is the moment for the next generation to come forward and accept this challenge.  Things don’t just happen, the council need more people to stop up and take up that challenge.  Help make a difference as there is plenty to be done.

  1. Report from Castle Green Committee (Cllr Clare Pollak)

Castle Green is managed by a sub committee of the Parish Council.  The members are as follows:-

Martin Sirot-Smith, Chairman
Paul Crowley – Treasurer
Peter Pollak – Secretary
Councillor Jo Powell
Christina Shillito
Colin Wootton
Councillor Clare Pollak as Project Co-ordinator

The committee are currently looking for a representative from the toddler group.  Cllr Graham Roberts resigned from the committee during last year but has continued to offer support where necessary.

The committee thanked him for all his work over the last few years.

There have been two main projects for this year.  The work to Register the field as a Village Green and working towards obtaining funding for the Restoration and Improvement Project.

Sulgrave residents have been kept informed of progress through regular reports in the newsletter and at Parish Council meetings, and a survey of resident’s views has been conducted.

  1. Village Green registration – this has been managed by Jo Powell with the assistance of Graham Roberts.  An application has been submitted to Northants County Council with the assistance of Lewis Thomas and the council are waiting for a response.

Restoration and Improvement Project – A presentation to South Northants Council has secured an agreement for £10,000 funding ‘in principle’ and an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is being prepared.  Other funding sources are being investigated.  Obtaining tenders for the various project elements is very laborious and time-consuming work but it is progressing steadily.   It is hoped the wall repairs may take place in Summer 2007.

Wildlife management – A meeting has been arranged next week with Northants Wildlife Trust to discuss a survey and obtain advice on improving bio-diversity by providing better habitats for wildlife.  George Metcalfe has begun organising a team of volunteers planting wildflowers.

Events – the usual summer holiday playscheme and sports for children took place last summer and they will take place again this year on 17th and 23rd August.  The field was also used as an overflow car park for the National Garden Scheme.  The now traditional ‘Field Day’ took place in September, and was wet again.  This year the Field Day will be on 11th September.

Website – the website is up and running.  There will be a Castle Green section giving information about the Sulgrave Castle scheduled ancient monument and the plans for the field.

Accounts – Paul Crowley, the treasurer  is unable to attend this evening.  The accounts will be presented at the May council meeting.

The Chair thanked the committee for all their work.

Written Report from Sulgrave Charities (Read by Cllr Christy)

Before reading the report, the Chair noted that Mr Prior would like to give up the role of Chairman of the Trustees and an additional trustee would be needed to replace Ron James who has moved out of the village.

There are two separate charities administered by a panel of trustees:

  1. Sulgrave Relief in Need Charity
  2. Sulgrave Educational Charity

The Relief In Need Charity has capital funds valued at £1234 and generates a small annual income in the region of £42.  No expenses were incurred and no grants were made during the year.  There are  now accumulated funds available  for distribution amounting to £633.    
These funds may be applied to relieving parishioners who are in the conditions of need, hardship or stress by making grants or by paying for items.

These days Social Services meet most of the circumstances for which the charity was originally conceived and the small sums available limit the occasions when the trustees are able to provide any meaningful assistance.  The trustees would like to receive any suggestions for the beneficial use of these funds.

The Educational Charity has funds invested currently at £27684.  During the year income generated amounted to £928.   No expenses were incurred and no grants were made during the year.  There are now accumulated funds available for distribution amounting to £1896. 

These funds may be applied to provide facilities or financial assistance to young persons for educational and recreational purposes. Again these objects are, for the most part, the responsibility of the State.

However the trustees have been considering how these funds may be used for projects that engage young people and that are for the benefit of the community.  Currently under consideration is a project to develop and maintain the village website.

The trustees are always open to receive proposals for their consideration.  Please approach one of them to discuss how a proposal can meet the main objects of the trust.  The trustees can then advise on how the proposal should be presented for their formal consideration.

The  Chair thanked Robin Prior as Chair and Ron James for all their work.

10.   Open Forum

  1. Mr Metcalfe referred to the Parish Council’s plans for the coming year in looking after the village assets.  Pocket Park has been without a warden for over two years and he would like to see the role filled.  He agreed to guide the appropriate person once someone has agreed to do it.
  2. Mrs Barber asked about the stake holders for the shop.  The Chair replied that 1 share was available per household but there were many houses who had not bought shares.
  3. Miss Shillito referred to the redrawing of the village boundaries.  The Chair replied that this would be looked at as part of the Article 4 (2) Direction and Village Design Statement.
  4. Mrs Cherry advised she still gets phone calls to do with Neighbourhood Watch.  The Chair thought this had been passed to Vera Smith, the co-ordinator.  A suggestion was made for the new police officer to come to a meeting and talk about Community Watch.

In conclusion District Cllr Garnett gave a huge vote of thanks to the Chair for all his work.  He sets a fine example to all.

Meeting closed at 8.55pm.