Some brief notes for those who might be interested (bearing in mind the minutes of the meeting won't be available for 12 months!). Do please post any errors or omissions and they will be corrected. Meeting was attended by all Councillors and about 40 members of the public (a significan timprovement on the previous year, when about 10 attended). The press were represented by The Purbeck Gazette.
1. Timing of Council meetings
John Wootton proposed (Mike Hadley seconded) a resolution that residents wished for all Council meetings to be held in the evenings, so that a/more people would be able to stand as councillors and b/more people could attend meetings.
The Town Clerk was unable to confirm the legitimacy of debating this resolution, so after some debate (during which the Mayor, Tony Miller, proposed revisiting the matter at the next parish Assembly in 12 months time). He also said that there was no point reviewing the matter so that other councillors could stand, until the next elections. Mike Hadley noted again the reference to making it easier for more members of the public to attend.
Michael Pipe said that if the matter of evening meeting times had been properly raised on the agenda, then perhaps it could have been considered. John Wootton agreed that this was perhaps one of the problems: there was no agenda given on the noticeboard outside the Town Hall. Mike Hadley said he had tried to find an agenda on the Council's website, and the last one posted was for 25th May 2004. Town Clerk said Agendas are no longer posted on website. (Why not? Was not asked)
After much acrimonious discussion, Councillor Suttle suggested the matter be debated at the next Council meeting.
Pier Head, Emmanuel Baptist Church, British Legion
Citing the refusal of planning applications on the above sites, someone (?) suggested that certain Swanage representatives on the Purbeck District Council planning board seemed set on stopping all development that might improve the town. Councillor Colin Bright noted that he and other officers have to follow many detailed rules on what is/is not allowed and do not always agree with PDC. Mayor said if Pier Head put forward a plan that was not 'gross over development' it would get approval.
John Wootton noted that the whole planning procedure was confusing, and not helped by the use of ambiguous terminology, such as the Town Council referring to 'recommendations' when it only has authority to make 'observations'.
3. Violence/unruly behaviour (Lower High Street)
Paul Brown (Chairman, Chamber of Trade) reported that there continued to be many instances of violent behaviour in Lower High Street in the early hours, and asked what was being done to stop this, for the police seemed notably absent. Mayor cited lack of police resources combined with the police use of statistical evidence that Swanage had no need of extra policing.
Mike Hadley suggested that perhaps the Council should take more control rather than always deferring to the Police: for example if the Council say a camera is needed, perhaps it should fund it rather than waiting for police funds to possibly be made available. The question was asked whether the Community Support Officers could do more. Apparently these no longer exist, now called something else...answer not pursued.
Councillor Tyrer (and the Mayor) emphasised that all crimes, however 'small' shoudl be reported to Crimestoppers (if not the Swanage police) and a crime number obtained to ensure the incident is logged, and so contributes to the statistics.
Andy Burnet referred to recent studies that giving chocolate to late night revellers can be useful in reducing aggressive behaviour, and suggested that perhaps his business (Chococo) could help in this regard.
4. Council communication
Pat Bizley said it seems there was a failure of communication between the townspeople and the Council, and (noting the workload) asked if the newsletter 'Swanage Matters' could be published again. Mayor said the Council had been told by the Chief Executive of Purbeck District Council not to publish at the time of the recent elections 'because of a letter from the Liberal democrats that this might be unfair". Mike Hadley said it didn't mean they couldn't publish after the election. But no commitment was made to another issue, so presumably there wasn't one waiting to be printed anyway.
5. Safety in Swanage Bay
Mike Hadley asked if it was time to consider new ways to ensure safety on the water Swanage Bay, mentioning that he had been nearly run down on two occasions (not necessarily by blue boats), and that the marine police had taken 3 hours to respond.
Mayor cited lack of resources, Mike Hadley said if the Council was happy to attract people to Swanage, it should do everything it can to ensure their safety, if the Council can spend £500,000 on the caravan park, perhaps they need to spend something on the holiday ark called Swanage.
Mayor noted that action was in hand to stop jet-skis launching at Ocean Bay, and others launching in the Bay would have to be licensed. Councillors Hilary O'Donovan and Cherry Bartlett recalled that the marine police had promised to be more active, and should be brought to task. Town Clerk also noted that new leaflets were being produced on water safety/zones in the bay, and that there is now a Hotline to phone if any incidents are observed. Also, the beach wardens have the authority to instruct cctv cameras to be trained on any incidents, to obtain footage which can be used as prosecution evidence.
6. Jurassic Coast bus
David Price-Hughes asked if anything had happened regarding getting the Jurassic bus to visit Swanage, a subject he had raised previously. Mayor said Council was pursuing this, agreed it was unsatisfactory the operators could find resources to run to Poole and Bournemouth (not even on the Jurassic route) yet won't come to Swanage. Mr Martin Cooke (of Durlston) said this was also being approached from their end.
7. Dangerous pavements
David Price-Hughes referred to dangerous pavements mentioned at previous public meetings: one outside Amusements, opposite Victoria Club, which ahs no room for a wheelchair or a pram; also there's often a car parked on pavement opposite East Bar, and no action ever seems to be taken against this. Mayor said these would be raises at a meeting taking place with DCC (Highways) tomorrow.
8. Skate park (Y-Axis)
Lorna Haines noted the success of the Skate Park and thanked the Council for its support, pointing out that there plenty of 'good' kids who are involved with things like this, and that all kids in the town should not be tarred with the same brush.
9. Sandpit Fields
Reg Noquet asked if a hand rail could be placed alongside the footpath here. Town Clerk said he would look into this.
10. Caravan Park
Ian Saunders asked what promotion was being undertaken to ensure the success of the caravan park restaurant. Councillor Suttle assured the meeting that there would be adequate promotion, and extolled the virtues of the park, and the money-generating opportunity it provided, both in increased rents (associated with improvements) and in the sale of caravans.
Mr Moles complained about the littered state of the town centre and criticised SITA. This was scoffed at from the Chair who said that Wareham councillors thought that Swanage was much cleaner than their town . Mr Moles confirmed his view and had some support from the floor.
Mike Hadley asked if more could be done to keep the Council website up-to-date? Currently the last minutes of Public Participation time relate to 29 November 2004; last Public Meeting minutes are for 31 January 2005 (no Public Participation minutes listed for that date); last Best Value minutes were for 16 April 2004. Town Clerk said that WAS the last Best Value meeting: these now called something else. No answer given to the wider point.Parish Assembly, meeting at Town Hall on 16 May 2005Summary
John Wootton expressed disappointment in the way the meeting had been handled: saying that the procedure was improper, there should have been a proper agenda, and that the Council should have acted on his proposed resolution.
14. Anything else
If anything missed or incorrect, please post a comment and it will be addressed.