Notes from Potterne Annual Parish meeting held on Wednesday, 23rd April 2003 in Potterne Village Hall at 7.30pm

Mr Hoddinott, Chairman of the Parish Council welcomed those present

Presentation of the Jubilee Cup: The Jubilee Cup was presented to Mr George Day in recognition of his service to the community. Mr Hoddinott expressed his sincere thanks for all of the hard work that Mr Day has done for the Parish Council and the village over many years.

Chairman of Parish Council reported that it had been a difficult year for the Council with the untimely death of Barry Duncan and the resignation of Dawn Vernon and Trevor Bunce. The Parish Council welcomed Mrs Sandra Cutler, and is delighted to have encouraged a new generation onto the Council.
The Governments introduction of the Model Code of Conduct for Councils and the need to sign a new declaration of interest for Councillors has caused a few problems for many Parish Councils. Councillors and the Clerk are encouraged to give their time to go on any training that is available and just recently the Chairman and Clerk had attended an Accounts and Audit training day held in Devizes.

The main concern over the last year had been the state of the village and the Parish Council had purchased extra community skips.

One of the most problematical areas have been between Highlands Wall and the Bell public house. Hopefully the redevelopment of the old pub will tidy up part of this and the Council is still trying to pin down ownership of the wall area. Most people appreciate the recycling banks will soon have to be relocated or lost, and suggestions from the public would be welcomed about re-siting.

A major effort will have to be made in the near future to tidy up the area between Silver Street and Coxhill Lane and the play area at Blounts Court field will be refurbished to repair the vandalism.

The Parish Council were saddened at the closure of the Youth Club and await with interest the future of the building.

Efforts to improve the state of the cemetery are beginning to bear fruit and the new contractor and contract seems to be working well.

In the future the Council will work with residents to draw up a Village Design Statement. This will eventually be included as supplementary planning guidance for the District Council.

There is also considerable concern over the availability of affordable housing in the village and the Parish Council will soon update its housing survey to find out the present and future housing needs. Residents' opinions on shared equity housing will be sought.

Mr Day, Chairman of the Finance sub committee gave a report of the years activities. The Parish Council had made donations amongst others to Devizes & District Link Scheme, Splash Wiltshire, WRVS and Potterne Twinkling Starlettes.

The Parish Council had held their precept for the year 2003/2004. This resulting in no Parish rate increase.

Seven extra amenity skips had been purchased by the Parish Council to complement those supplied by Kennet District Council. It was unlikely to be able to have as many allocated during this new financial year. The Parish Council also had to pay 447 to repair damaged play equipment at Blounts Court Play Area

WPC Anne Loveys, is the new police person who has been assigned to Potterne

Vandalism and groups of young children causing criminal damage is common in most parishes, including Potterne. It was pointed out that there was a particular problem with children throwing stones at passing cars. WPC Loveys said that the Police would patrol areas after schooltime on a more regular basis. If parishioners see any problems they must telephone the police so that we are working together to solve our problems.

Traffic driving too fast through the village was causing a problem and WPC Loveys will try and arrange for some speed guns to catch people and arrange for the installation of a 'golden river', which counts the speed and volume of traffic going through the village.

Abandoned vehicles are becoming more of a problem to the police, since the introduction of a collection charge by waste collectors and there have been several in Potterne just recently.

Reports were received from several village organisations and the local primary school.

Royal British Legion, Potterne Branch: Mr Boyack gave a report on behalf of the organisation. The Potterne branch is down to a strength of 50, with a few members having moved to Devizes branch and a few more unable to take part because of reduced mobility. A system is now in place for picking up members from their homes for meetings an returning them afterwards, so it hoped that the better weather will encourage a higher attendance. After the meetings, which are held in the Social Club, they sometimes have a talk by a guest speaker or play skittle or just a chat.

The branch has been represented at County and National conferences, at the County Forum on the future of the Royal British legion and at the County re-dedication parade and service. The Poppy appeal in the village raised almost 900 through house-to-house collections. The branch has sponsored staff of Somerset Legion House who are walking from Weston-Super-Mare to Torquay to raise funds for improvements to the care facilities and a the County Field Officer who is cycling from London to Lausanne in support of the Poppy Appeal. The Remembrance Day Service in St Mary's Church was well supported and on the following Monday a number of members gathered at the war Memorials with the Vicar and a large group of children from Potterne School. The meaning of Remembrance Day and the poppy appeals was made really clear.

Two social events were held last year for members and friends and three are planned for this year. At the Annual Dinner last year the guests of honour were Lady Wheeler (past president of the Royal Naval Association) and the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Lieutenant General Sir Maurice Johnston.

Meetings are held on the second Monday of each month and they hope to see new faces.

Potterne Charities: Mr Day gave the report on behalf of the Charities as the Clerk; Mr Joe Brewer was unable to attend. These Charities have supported several village organisations during the year as well as the annual Christmas distribution. They had also been able to help individuals on a one off basis during the year. The monies available to the charities come from rental income of land and investment interest.

Potterne School: Clare Brookes, head teacher gave a report on behalf of the school. During the last twelve months the school has seen a time of change. The school downsized to three classes in September as a result of not being eligible for the infant class size grant, due to decreasing numbers of infants within the school. The teachers, funded by the grant, who had been employed to teach the fourth class, were made redundant at the end of the summer term. Mrs Townsend, the deputy head Teacher was Acting Head during the summer term, prior to the appointment of the new head, Miss Brookes.

The change in demographics and the opening of a new primary school in Devizes have affected many local primary schools. Many of the schools having falling rolls and are, quite simply, trying to attract fewer children. Potterne are fortunate in having small classes with excellent teaching assistant support, giving a beneficial adult: pupil ratio.

The school has enjoyed some notable academic and sporting successes. The year 6 children at the end of the summer term scored 100% in achieving level 4 or above in their SATs for science and improved results in maths and English at 73% and 67% respectively. The children's total points score was higher than achieved in the past and their results were better than other local schools. Miss Brookes is encouraging the sense of ambassadorship amongst pupils, so that their behaviour is good both within and outside the school.

The school endeavours to report all successes including the support for charities, and some of the more unusual work that takes place. Some may remember the children's PowerPoint presentation on CD Rom is now being shown at the Mary Rose Trust. Other examples include the Circus day and the Invaders and Settlers Day held towards the end of the Spring term.

The school is fortunate to receive support from Potterne Cricket Club for cricket coaching. The school also looks forward to increased liaison with Devizes School to share their P E facilities. The children have enjoyed taking part in a number of tournaments and have gained experience in a number of sports, including tennis, tag rugby and so on.

The Governing body was sorry to hear of the death of Barry Duncan, a co-opted governor. Barry had made a considerable contribution to the Buildings sub-committee and the Governors miss his quiet, unassuming manner.

The school does need new blood on the Governing body and would urge any member of the public to contact either Mrs Sawyer or Miss Brookes if they have an interest in becoming involved with the life of the school. They can be assured that there is never a dull moment.

Potterne Cemetery: Mrs Goddard gave a report on the state of the cemetery at Brownleaze Lane, Potterne. The Parish Councils new contractor had started work at the beginning of April. Prior to the contractor starting a working party got together one Saturday in March. Several people turned up although not as many as hoped for. The work achieved was certainly noticeable. The idea behind this was that if you go into the garden that neat and tidy it hopefully will be kept that way. An Easter card had been received from someone in neighbouring village saying thank-you for all the hard work and what a difference it had made at the cemetery.

The Parish Council are having another working party, this time in an evening and it is hoped that more people will be able to attend.

Potterne Pantomime Committee: Mrs Jackie Sawyer gave the report for this organisation. During the last 12 months the Pantomime Group has staged two productions: a show to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, entitled "Jubilee Japes" last June and this year's pantomime in February, "King Arthur & the Magical Quest". We were fortunate to play to full houses during the pantomime run, but the Friday performance of the jubilee show was disappointingly only half full.

The proceeds from last year's pantomime "Alice in Wonderland", a total of 1,500 were shared amongst 12 Potterne organisations during May last year. In addition, we donated 200 to Devizes Link, which is a service used by many Potterne residents. We will shortly be deciding about how to distribute the proceeds of this year's pantomime and would like to hear from any village organisation that would benefit from a donation.

The proceeds from the Jubilee Show, 350, were donated to Wiltshire Air Ambulance. A number of the group, dressed in stage costumes, presented a large cheque to one of the paramedics at Police Headquarters during September. It was a memorable occasion, captured on video by George Day, particularly as the crew had to scramble for a flight to an emergency. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

The pantomime group continues to thrive with a large cast and very capable and experienced backstage crew. Our one regret is that we cannot accommodate larger numbers for the cast, but the size of the stage and limited backstage facilities prohibit this.

The AGM will be held in May and the new committee will shortly be organising a summer fund-raising event. Soon after we will begin the deliberations about what to present for a pantomime next year. It's surprising how quickly the year comes round and the rehearsals start again!

The pantomimes are reported through the Parish Magazine and the Gazette & Herald, but for those who do not take these publications, the Group expressed their thanks to those in the village who support our productions and who enjoy the entertainment that we provide.

Any questions:
Zebra Crossing and round-a-bout safety:
A resident from The Butts questioned the safety of the newly installed zebra crossing and round-a-bout. There was still concern that the zebra crossing and round-a-bout were too close together and not necessarily in the right place. The Clerk has already written to Wiltshire County Council asking them to re-instate the flashing school crossing signs but as yet no response has been received. Miss Brookes, head teacher will also write requesting these lights to be switched back on.

Parish Pump, Whistley Road: Mr Day was thanked for cutting the grass around this area and keeping it in a tidy state.

Previous Meetings:
9 April 2003 12 March 2003 14 February 2003 8 January 2003
11 December 2002 13 November 2002 9 October 2002 11 September 2002 14 August 2002 10 July 2002 12 June 2002 8 May 2002 10 April 2002 13 March 2002