Swanage Residents Association
Minutes of the October Open Meeting
Meeting held at 7.30pm on Monday 17 October in Mowlem Committee Room
1.The SRA Chairman, John Leach, chaired meeting. Committee members present were: Stewart Borrett, Robert Owen, Rowland Hughes, David Price-Hughes and Mike Hadley
Apologies: Councilor Cherry Bartlett, Councilor Colin Bright and Ann Faulkner who had hoped to attend to discuss the Community Plan.
2. Hilary O'Donovan
John Leach asked Mike Hadley to say a few words concerning the recent sad loss of Hilary. Mike noted that he was sure those who knew Hilary were sad at the loss of such a fine lady, and suggested that even those who hadn't known her owed thanks to the work she put in for the best interest of everyone in Swanage. He noted that although she was one of his Lib Dem colleagues she took no account of Political allegiances in her work for the community.
3. Previous meeting.
Minutes were published on: www.swanageresidents.org.uk and www.swanageview,co.uk and available in the meeting room.
a) David Price-Hughes noted that he had in fact been present at the last meeting.
b) Plastic bottles/recycling: as asked at the last meeting, John Leach had written to Purbeck District Council to suggest that convenient venues be provided for people to deposit their plastic containers for recycling. A response is still awaited.
c) Emergency Ambulance cover for Swanage area. John Leach visited the Swanage Ambulance station, and was told they needed an ‘emergency care practitioner'. He also wrote to the Dorset Ambulance NHS Trust HQ and awaits a response.
4. Swanage & District Community Partnership/ Community Plan
John Leach explained that Ann Faulkner (Chairman) had hoped to attend this meeting but was unable to do so; he had also tried to get Emma Fernandez (the town's newly appointed Community agent) but she was unavailable at such short notice. He called upon Mike Hadley to provide an update, as he had been on the original committee.
Mike admitted that he couldn't provide much information, that he was confused by developments and asked if anyone present could explain the current position. No one was able to. Mike read a brief extract from a note sent to John by Ann Faulkner, explaining how there had been a ‘Bringing it All Together Day. On this, the different research projects, including the Parish Plan, Beacon Vision, Rural Renaissance, Regeneration Research etc which have been carried out in Swanage, were brought together.’ No one seemed to know much about these different bodies. Mike noted that in his opinion, before any projects were initiated, the people of Swanage should surely see a report summarising the findings and outcome of the consultative process. A resident noted that " it's not right to involve the community and not report back to it; and that no similar projects could properly be undertaken in the future if there was no record of earlier work." Another resident noted that a recent meeting Ann Faulkner had said that a report would be published shortly.
John Leach summarised that there did appear to be considerable confusion, with names being changed (or new groups/projects introduced). It was suggested that John Leach should ask Ann Faulkner for clarification on the current position and when or if a report may be expected that will describe findings of the consultative stage of the Community Plan and actions arising.
5. Multi-function Centre
There appeared to be further confusion about the status of this project. But it was noted that there is to be a weeklong exhibition about this at the Tourist Information Centre, from 11 December. A resident noted that he hoped something would come of this, but regretted that similar projects had been enthusiastically developed before and then been scrapped for one reason or another.
6. Reconvened Parish Assembly
Mike Hadley reported how at the original Parish Assembly Meeting John Wootton made a proposal "that all meetings of the Swanage Town Council, committees and sub-committees, should be held in the evenings.... (to) enable a wider range of townspeople to consider standing for election and more to attend as observers." At the first meeting, the Mayor and Town Clerk did not allow the matter to be debated; they later agreed that this action had been wrong, so the meeting was reconvened. At this meeting, 31 people voted in favour of the proposal, with one voting against. The conservative council members did not vote. The matter is therefore to be discussed at an early Policy meeting of the Council.
7. Swanage Residents Association
There was some debate about the influence/effectiveness of the Association, with some suggestions from the audience that the committee should be more aggressive.
Mike Hadley noted the committee had no authority and could only act as conduits to present information and suggestions. But that committee members would (and do) raise issues with the council either in writing or at public participation time at the regular monthly meetings - which anyone may do.
Rowland Hughes emphasised the value of the Association as a means of exchanging information. He related his past experiences of the difficulty in getting any suggestions adopted or considered by the Council, even though some time later the same suggestions may be re-presented as the Council's initiatives. Examples included keeping the youth club, ignoring opposition to coach parking in Gilbert Road, the suggestion to reverse traffic flow on Church Hill etc.
A resident suggested that perhaps individual council members should be 'named and shamed' where appropriate.
8 CCTV Cameras. Lower High Street
Robert Owen (who attends the Purbeck Task Group which comprises a number of bodies involved in law and order) noted that funds previously thought certain would now not be available to provide CCTV coverage of Lower High Street (which he noted can be particularly violent at times).
A resident suggested that footage from existing cameras could perhaps be used (White Horse, Club, Quay Hole). RO said he believes there are legal difficulties in using private footage, as well as practical advantages with remotely operated cameras linked to in-car screens.
9 Residents parking
Robert Owen noted the suggestion that had been passed to him by residents unable to park, that space should be allocated to them in the Broad Road car park (a principle that could extend to other residents and other car parks). Mike Hadley suggested that perhaps this should be raised if the promised consultation materialises regarding the review of residents parking throughout Purbeck.
Rowland Hughes explained about the indispensable work of this organization in supporting people with mental health problems, and his belief (and fear) that the centre at Hahnemann House, Bournemouth was in danger of closing when there was no need for it to do so, and when it did such essential work. He asked anyone who wished to find out more and/or to express their support, to visit the special website: www.freewebs.com/savetorch/index.htm A resident further endorsed these views and asked for the support of residents.
Robert Owen suggested that Rowland consider setting up an all-party parliamentary group to review the matter, and will discuss this further with him.
Another resident suggested that the Association also write, as a group, expressing its support. This was agreed.
11 Next meetings
Committee meeting: TBA
Quarterly meeting: TBA
John Leach thanked residents for coming and closed the meeting. The committee would also like to thank Phyllis Denton and her daughter for preparing the refreshments.
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