MGH Jottings

Dr Martin Hoffman’s Jottings

from the Ashwell Parish Council Meeting held on Wednesday 7th February 2018

(full minutes on

Most of you will be aware of the request by the Parish Council (PC) that Herts Highways installs parking restrictions in the form of yellow lines at dangerous corners, (including where the refuse collection has often had to be abandoned due to lack of access!) and restricted time parking spaces outside retail outlets in the High Street. £2000 has been set aside for the restricted parking from our reserved fund for the investigation/consultation/advertising and build cost. This is the only way anything will actually happen, but if there are too many objections then the scheme will be refused. The amount for the yellow lines will be provided by Councillor Steve Jarvis from his Highways budget.

If we don’t commit ourselves to this, nothing will ever happen as has been seen to date!

The replacement of the second speed monitor will hopefully take place before the end of this year’s Highways budget, which ends March 31st, 2018.

The training course for using the defibrillator, located in the telephone box opposite the village shop, took place on February 9th.

There have been leaks in the Pavilion which necessitated turning off the water until the plumber has fixed it. An invoice from Affinity Water showed an amount significantly greater than usual and investigations are taking place to see whether there is an unknown leak elsewhere.

The PC await the result of our claim to NHDC for funds from Section 106 to enable complete refurbishment of the toilets including disabled access from the road.

An application from the Village Hall Management Committee had been received for the PC to take over as Trustees and I think this is such an important issue I include a direct extract from the minutes:-

February Council (draft), 98.1: Village Hall/letter from the Chairman of the trustees requesting that the Parish Council take over the role of trustee (October Council 2017, 61.9)

[Cllr Martin Hoffman declared an interest as a trustee of the Village Hall. He participated in the discussion during the open session but not in the proposal or the vote.]

The Chairman reported that he and the Vice-chairman had attended a joint meeting of the Village Hall users/management committee and the trustees. The meeting had voted in favour of the proposal that the Parish Council take over the role of trustee. The Chairman reported that the trust deed would need to be changed to clarify the roles of the user/management committee and the trustees. The committee would continue to be responsible for the day-to-day management of the hall; the trustees would continue to be responsible for overall governance and financial control. The name of the committee on the deed, currently the ‘social committee’ would also be changed. A solicitor would need to be employed for the changes to the deed.

During a lengthy discussion, involving parish councillors and parishioners present, the following views were expressed,

Concerns that the Parish Council was, at the moment, already overloaded with tasks. The current workload was too much for the seven parish councillors and the Clerk with some matters not being progressed as they would wish. Although plans were in hand for additional resources, it could not currently take on any further responsibilities. The recent review of trustee responsibilities in relation to Moss Cottages had emphasized the amount of work involved to fulfil the role.

The advantage to the village of democratically elected trustees.

Most village halls were run and/or overseen by parish councils. In the event of financial support being needed, this could be raised through the parish precept. Employees could be recruited to fulfil tasks if volunteers were lacking.

The Village Hall was currently well managed by competent individuals and in a good financial position; this was a good time to consider how it could run in the future.

Standing Orders were reinstated. A proposal was made that the Parish Council had, in principle, no objections to taking on the trusteeship of the Village Hall but serious concerns existed about the workload in the short-term. It had no objections to the proposed changes to the trust deed being progressed to the draft stage and would lend its support for this as and when it was able. This was likely to take some months and, when an agreed draft was available, the Parish Council could then consider whether it was in a position to progress the matter further.

It was resolvedthat the proposal be accepted.

The issues surrounding the replacement litter bin in the High Street continue. This bin is frequently checked to ascertain whether there are any problems of smell or overfill, (which have not occurred). The complainant had written another detailed letter to the PC and had requested a reply by telephone rather than in writing, but because of her stated intention to make a formal complaint this method was unanimously refused.

Although a new trustee had been appointed for Moss Cottage Homes, there is still a vacancy for a further appointment. Exploratory meetings are taking place with the Ashwell Housing Association to see if cooperation between the two may be of mutual financial benefit.

Work on the trees in St Mary’s Churchyard had been completed, which is a PC responsibility, but nothing has been done regarding potholes and the continuing issue with overhanging vegetation spreading onto the roads, which are Highways responsibilities.

In the part of the meeting for public contributions the issues surrounding inconsiderate parking at the school (a recurring problem) and the obstruction of the school buses were raised. (It is always useful when problems are raised in this part of the meeting if suggestions to resolve these issues are made).

Space for this month’s Jottings is now limited because of the long article on the Village Hall, but I thought it important everybody could read about this. I will end with brief topics! Full details are in the minutes which are on the website or available from the Clerk.

Please see the detailed results of planning issues, particularly in relation to the land adjacent to Townsend house opposite the Recreation Ground.Rather interesting for a number of reasons!

It seems like for ever that the PC have been badgering Highways for a safer method of access onto the A505. Let’s hope the initiative of the petition organised by the Royston Crow has some influence. Please sign their petition if you can (www.change.organd search ‘Royston A505’).

The Ashwell “Great British Spring Clean” will take place on Saturday, March 10th starting at 2pm at the Pavilion. Please come and help tidy up our village.

The outreach post office has been shut recently on a number of occasions as a result of staff illness. No cover is available during section episodes.

County Councillor Steve Jarvis gave a comprehensive report on Highways matters. Please note our long attempts for a 20 mph in the village “is being progressed.

With best wishes.

Dr Martin G Hoffman


Next monthly Council meeting Wednesday 7th March, 8pm in the Parish Room.

Annual Parish Meeting Wednesday 28th March 2018, 8pm at the school.


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