LEA PARISH COUNCIL
Notes of Annual Parish Meeting 22nd May 2023, 7pm in Lea Village Hall
Present: Helen Leone(LPC Chair), Barry Rooks(Parish Clerk) and 27 members of the public.
7:00 Chair’s welcome and introduction. Chair Cllr H Leone welcomed members of the public to the annual parish meeting. See Chair’s report below.
Ratification of minutes of last meeting. Minutes of the annual parish meeting held on the 19th May 2022. Accepted as a true record by Lea residents present.
7:10 Jill Martin, Lea Parish Council Festival Coordinator, will present a summary of the Lea Park Festival 50th Anniversary. It’s your chance to hear about what is being planned and how you can get involved. Raffle tickets at 50 pence a go will be on sale. Please support this fun day for all the family. Cllr Martin provided an update on progress and appealed for volunteers.
7:20 Review of current situation with Council and future plans, including financial situation. Remember it is money from the council tax you pay that finances the village. As a result of the new development on Willingham Road the village also has two additional funds to spend. It is important that the residents of Lea have a say in how funding is spent. See Chair’s report below.
7:40 Questions and comments from the floor. This is your opportunity to raise any issues relating to the village.
Summary of comments and questions:
(i) Discussion around better publicity for Lea and what’s happening. Council to discuss improving.
(ii) Resident to organise labelling the rare trees in the orchard at Lea Park.
(iii) Request to put a low speed limit on Rectory Lane. Green Lane residents to assist. Put in Lea Life.
(iv) Upgrades to Butlers Pantry discussed. Required work would cost £100-£150k. suggestion it would be better to knock it down and rebuild.
(v) Contact school regarding bicycles speeding down Rectory Lane. Put in Lea Life.
(vi) Neighbourhood watch scheme and increased crime in the area discussed.
Please contact Lea Parish Council or attend a Council meeting if you wish to contribute your opinion on any of these issues.
7:50 Residents are invited to stay and have a look at displays, ask questions and leave comments.
CHAIR’S REPORT: Annual Village Meeting presentation, May 2023
Good evening and thank you for attending the 2023 Lea Annual Village meeting. My name is Helen Leone and earlier this month I was re-elected as Chair of Lea Parish Council. This is my 2nd year in this role. I have lived in the village since 1996, served on the Neighbourhood planning steering group and have been a Parish Councillor since 2018. I have even taught at the village school for 3 years, so I know the village well.
I would like to just explain the legal bit about this meeting – it is not a Parish Council meeting, it is a meeting for residents of Lea that is organised by the Parish Council. I am the only person present in the role of a Parish Councillor, supported by the Parish Clerk, Barry Rooks. It’s purpose is to give the electorate of Lea the opportunity to meet, discuss issues that affect our village and have a say in whatever you feel is important to our village. It helps the Parish Council with it’s future planning and deciding how money you pay as part of the Council Tax, is spent.
At this time last year we were just about to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a festival in Lea Park. I mentioned then in my talk that, if everything went well, we might be able to organise a 50th birthday party for Lea Park in 2023. Well, it poured with rain, providers cancelled at the last minute, a large marquee we were expecting didn’t materialise but the decision was taken to keep calm and carry on! What a great event it turned out to be! Dancing in the rain, squeezing into Butler’s Pantry for shelter and a hot drink, singing along with the choirs and the band, riding a soggy donkey! We did it all and smiled all the way (well, most of the time!) So on the back of that great event I would like to introduce you to Jill Martin. Jill is a recently co-opted Parish Councillor but tonight she is here in her role as co-ordinator for the forthcoming Lea Park 50th Anniversary Festival. She will be telling you about what to expect and how you can help make this the best event we’ve ever had!
Thank you for that Jill. I sincerely hope that some of you will sign up to be a volunteer to help us make this event run smoothly. It would be good to have you as part of the team.
This is my bit – a summary and explanation of some of the activities the council has been engaged in this year.
I want to start by giving you a brief introduction to your Parish Council. The size of the village means that we should have 9 Parish Councillors plus a Parish Clerk. The Council currently has just 6 councillors, myself, the vice chair Fiona Anderson, Paul Warner, Emma Bailey, Jill Martin and Mark Stephenson. Within the Council we have a mixture of new and more experienced Councillors, but with 3 experienced Councillors recently stepping down, we definitely need new members to come on board. Training is provided (just 1 evening) and you will be supported and guided by the existing Council. It really does feel good to be working for your own community! I would like to mention Graham Barber, Joyce Austin and Keith Austin who are the ex-councillors I mentioned earlier. They are all being missed already, both for being themselves and their many combined years of experience and support to Lea. Graham was previously Clerk to the Council and Keith was Chair, more about Joyce later. All of Council would like to express our grateful thanks to these 3 for all their hard work and commitment over the years. We have recruited Mark Stephenson as a new Councillor and we welcome him to the team. Cllr Emma Bailey has recently been elected to also serve as our District Councillor at West Lindsey District Council. If you would like to know any more about becoming a councillor please feel free to speak to me or Barry at the end of the meeting or see the information at the back of the room.
As a small but committed team the Parish Council strives to ensure that the residents of Lea get the best value for the money they pay to the village by way of Council Tax.
At the back of the hall there is a display to show the financial situation of the Parish Council. It shows the income the Council has received over recent years, and where that money comes from. It also shows the areas the money has been spent, both in amounts and percentages. Tables also indicate how it is anticipated that money will be spent this financial year.
By far the highest percentage of income, about 75% comes from the precept – the money paid by all Lea households as part of the council tax paid to WLDC. This year the precept to Lea Parish Council amounted to £22,000. Income also comes from such sources VAT that is claimed back -10% of our income, the Pop Up Pantry is 6% and rental from the tennis and cricket clubs 1.2%.
In terms of spending, by far the biggest budget allocation is the upkeep and maintenance of Lea Park, the green spaces and the verges, last year 51% of the budget was spent in this area and this year 54% has been allocated. This has increased as we are aware of tree work that needs completing, following a tree survey Council commissioned. 30% of the budget goes on the Clerk’s salary, insurance and administration. The Clerk is paid for 10 hrs per week but we are sure he often does more.
The Parish Council has also been in receipt of a sum of money called the community infrastructure levy, due to the construction of the new homes at Rose Gardens. Council will continue to liaise with residents as to how that money can be spent for the benefit of village residents. Council is awaiting payment of outstanding monies from Rippon Homes known as the S106 which will be spent on the U12’s play park.
Thanks go to Keith and Joyce’s son for his computer wizardry! If you wish to know more about this please ask. Your views on how this money should be best spent for the benefit of the residents of Lea is very welcome. You will have your opportunity to ask questions or make suggestions when I finally finish talking!
Lea is very unusual in that the Parish Council owns Lea Park outright and as you have heard, has done so for 50 years. I’m sure that you will agree that we are so lucky to have this beautiful park within our village, but with that comes a great responsibility, and cost. The grass has to be cut, including the cricket pitch, even though that land is leased to what was Lea and Roses Cricket Club, the trees kept safe, the paths cleared and, later this year, the fruit trees pruned plus many other jobs. Following advice from an environmental expert, from this year we have deliberately left a wider margin alongside the road to naturally develop as a wild flower meadow and provide a better barrier between the park and the road. Where possible, within the park and the green spaces around the village tasks are undertaken by members of the parish council and a few willing volunteers, to whom we are very grateful. As the Councillors get older our ability to undertake many of the necessary tasks decreases and before long we will need to pay for companies to complete the maintenance work, and this will be expensive. That means that, unless we get more volunteers to help and lighten the load, the cost of maintaining our park will rise significantly. This of course means that Council will have to reduce what it does for the village or increase the precept – the amount of money the residents of Lea have to pay. So many people enjoy Lea Park and it has looked particularly lovely this spring with the snowdrops and then the bluebells, it would be a shame to see it’s condition deteriorate, so if you could spare 3 to 4 hours on 1 morning a month to help Lea Park then please, please sign up as a volunteer on one of the sheets at the back. It was disappointing when, earlier this year, an invite was put out in Lea Life for residents to help tidy up the green area at the entrance to the Cavendish estate. It might have been a chilly morning when we had all lost an hour in bed due to the clocks changing, but only Councillors and their long suffering spouses plus 1 resident out of the whole village turned up to help.
A successful event that has brought both money and joy to the park has been the regular Pop Up Pantry. 3 Parish Councillors do all the baking whilst others and willing family members help with setting up the Pantry and taking the money. It is so rewarding to see people coming to the park for a cake and a drink, having a chat with each other and hearing them praise the delicious cakes, bakes and sausage rolls! Profit is being made and it is hoped that before long we can have a water heater installed in the kitchen, better toileting installed and external drainage improved so that the building isn’t surrounded by a moat every time it rains! If anyone knows of a plumber or a builder that might be able to help then let us know! – at mates rates of course!
It has been great to see Lea Park Tennis Club going from strength to strength. Following the resurfacing of the courts and a major membership drive the club is now a thriving hub in the village. It is so good to see so many people out there enjoying a game of tennis. If you want any more information about tennis you can find links on the Lea Parish Council website.
We expect that you are aware that the Parish Council was hoping that a whole new play park for the U12’s would have been installed by now. The parish council had considered many designs for the play area, had completed the tender process and appointed Play Quest as the provider as well as appointing companies to complete the ground works and install all new fencing. Unfortunately Rippon Homes, who are building the new estate on Willingham Road, have defaulted in the payment that they owe the village, known as the S106 contribution. This means that all orders have had to be cancelled until the money is forthcoming. I cannot stress how disappointed the Council is about this situation but we can reassure you that it is now in the capable hands of the legal team at WLDC and Lincolnshire Legal Services, both of whom are working together to ensure that monies owed are paid in full and as soon as possible. We are currently hoping for payment by the end of this week before more legal enforcement steps are taken. Please be assured that Barry checks the bank account every day and as soon as the money arrives we will be re- engaging with our preferred providers.
Throughout this year the Council has continued to press for Severn Trent Water Company to upgrade the small pumping station in Lea Park in order to cope better with the increased demand following the development of Rose Gardens. Some work has been completed to improve the efficiency of the pumps. Council registered its thanks to Sir Edward Leigh, our MP, for his support in eliciting a response from the chief executive of Severn Trent. We are now awaiting the outcome of a study into the sewage capacity for the whole of the Gainsborough area, particularly necessary with such rapid housing growth, and to find out where a Lea upgrade fits within any future plans.
At this meeting last year I was pleased to announce that we had just received confirmation that the speed limit through our village was to be reduced to 30mph, something that many residents had requested. Little did I realise how long the process would take – and we are still waiting! I understand the list of roads waiting for a change is very long. Lea Parish Council is evaluating the purchase of speed display cameras for the main roads through the village. We have liaised with a community group in Lincoln who have installed these devices to ascertain their effectiveness as we feel that exceeding the speed limit through our village will become a bigger problem once the speed limit is reduced. Cllr Bailey has established a Community Speed Watch group who have been out monitoring the speed of vehicles through the village. This is another group that could use more support. If you feel strongly about this issue then perhaps you could join the group as a volunteer. Again training is given and you would be made very welcome. We were disappointed that Lincolnshire Highways were not able to support our application for a pedestrian crossing in the village. They did complete a survey but there were not enough people crossing at the same point in order to warrant a crossing being installed.
You are no doubt aware of the plans to install large areas of solar farms within the vicinity, but not within the boundary of Lea. In August of 2022 this issue was thoroughly discussed and the council listened to representatives of Knaith Parish Council on this subject. Lea was not requested to submit any comment about these proposals as the possible developments lie beyond our boundary and therefore outside our remit. The role of a Parish Council is to represent the opinions of the residents and not just the opinions of the Council. For this reason Council agreed that it could not make any comment that represented the opinion of the residents as that opinion was unknown. Council noted that all residents had the option to lodge their own views with the necessary authorities.
In 2017 the residents of Lea voted in favour of adopting the Lea Neighbourhood Plan. Since it came into law it has been used to guide all the responses made by council to planning applications. Lea Parish Councillors do not approve, disapprove or comment on planning applications based on personal preferences, it considers all applications against the policies within the Neighbourhood Plan. Our expert on this has been Joyce Austin and Council has been grateful for her commitment to ensuring that all aspects have been considered for every planning application received. We will greatly miss her input and guidance. Earlier this year the Council was contacted by Professor Chris Moss from Manchester University who was conducting research for his PhD. After devising an algorithm to find examples of good ‘green’ practice within a neighbourhood plan, Lea was selected as the best national example for a village. Members of council were pleased to support him with his research. He has agreed to share his work with us on completion.