2019 Annual Assembly

The Parish Annual Assembly is a unique event at which residents of the Parish are able to voice their opinions on the past and future efforts of the Parish Council. Althought the Assembly is convened under the ausoicie of the Parish Council, it is very much a people’s event at which the residents determine what is done and said.

The following is a verbatim account of the proceedings (lasting over 70 minutes) exactly as things occured. – Enjoy!

The Proceedings of
Whittington Annual Parish Assembly
Monday 15 April 2019

Agenda
  1. Introduction and Welcome – The Chairman will open the meeting
  2. Chairman’s Report 2018/2019
  3. Open Forum – Opportunity for individuals to speak on any subject relating to the Parish.

Following the conclusion of the Annual Parish Assembly refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

Attendees:

Parish Councillors: Stuart Close (SC), Colin Hall, Chairman (CH), Ian Sutherland (IS)

17 Members of the parish community. Those speaking are identified (where their identity is known) as follows:
BA      Barbara Atkinson
CR      Caroline Raistrick
DF      Duncan Foster
ED      Editor (John Keegan)
EP      Eric Pelter
GH      Gerald Hodgson
IA        Ian Atkinson
JK       John Keegan
MB      Mike Barr
MK      Mike Kormanic
R        Rachel (Crosslands)
SR      Simon Raistrick

Introduction and Welcome – Mr Colin Hall (CH), Chairman Whittington Parish Council.

CH: “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming. It never ceases to surprise me how many people do turn up and, as poor old Eric used to suffer from one or two attendees, over the years, and I have been witness to that. Tonight we have 14 plus, and there will probably be some late stragglers (ED: 3 more attendees arrived after this start to the meeting, making 17 parishioners in total).

Before I come to these meetings I always look on the Internet to see what a Parish Assembly is because usually Graham is here and he pulls me up on it and is quite pedantic. But, looking through the notes and minutes of others, the average attendance at some of these Parish Assemblies, of sizable communities, is in single figures, and I was quite relieved to see that Ilkley, and I’m sure you know that’s in Yorkshire, had the grand total of six at past meetings, so I think we should commend ourselves for our turnout (ED Late stragglers arrived at this point) I told you there would be late stragglers, we’re now up to 16.

The Annual Parish Meeting is an open forum, it’s not a Parish Council Meeting. Last year it was heated, very successful, and very interesting.  What we do now is open the meeting. I then give a Chairman’s report, which is not going to take very long at all,  because I think that the main idea of this meeting is for the residents to put over to Parish Council what they want and what they don’t like, and what could be improved. So my Chairman’s report is very brief and if you think there is anything that has been missed you have the opportunity, following that. After that, the bar will be open for refreshments and hopefully, we can be away by 7:30. (ED: Laughter ensued)

However. I’ll read this out a copy will go on the Village website, via Jim, who I think is still incapacitated, and it will also go on the Village Blog as well. I won’t put it in Wagtail because it would probably take up too much space. It will go on the Blog and it will probably be available at the next Parish Council Meeting.”

Chairman’s Report on 2018/2019

CH: “I will now report on the activities of the Parish Council over 2018/2019 and first of all, the good news, but before I go any further I had forgotten to say that Gillian, our Parish Clerk, is poorly, unable to take minutes, and John Keegan, otherwise known as Agitator 1, has kindly agreed again to, legally, take a transcript of everything that is said and then he will write it up and eventually give it to me, I hope a bit earlier than a year to the day from the last time.

First of all the good news. Following the retirement of our past Chairman, Eric Pelter, and Barbara Atkinson, I am pleased to announce that new members of the Parish Council have been elected. They are Malcolm Fell, from Newton, Louise Morgan, who is also from Newton and Ian Sutherland from Whittington, who’s joining us tonight for the first time.

Can I take this opportunity to thank both Eric and Barbara for the years of service, and confirm that Parish Council will continue to draw upon their past experience and knowledge when needed. In other words, they may have left their official capacity but I still want Barbara to look after the notice board and give leaflets out. I still want to use Eric as the fount of information, going back to the ’20s (ED: Laughter).

I see it as a positive thing that we have new members of the Parish Council but we’ve retained Eric and Barbara, unofficially, and I hope that it will apply to Stuart and I when we have got our replacements.

So, the defibrillator and John is sat very much close to it, is now installed and training is being given the courtesy of our local first responder coordinator. A training session was organised in the Village Hall and was attended by well in excess of 40 residents. By the way, should anyone be interested in becoming a first responder for Whittington, just let us know. We’ve got a couple of people interested, but nobody has actually signed up yet.

The village railings continue to be painted, and special thanks must go to Mike Barr (MB) for volunteering to carry out this mammoth task.” MB “It’s not finished yet.” CH “But it’s interesting to go round and see all the other railings in other villages and they are just absolutely dreadful, but we are really coming on, and I think that by the time Brexit is agreed (ED Laughter)……

The annual litter pick, not incedentaly organised by the Parish Council, we do take credit for it if anybody asks, but it’s not organised by the Parish Council, but by local volunteers who deserve a special mention, and Parish Council continue to lend its support to such activities.

I would also at this stage like to thank Simon Raistrick for his diligence in emptying the dog bin situated at South Lodge, and also for taking responsibility for the admin associated with the defibrillator.

The village gardening competition was hotly contested and thanks must go to Peter Crane for his time in judging the competition.

A particular bugbear for many residents has been potholes, in and around the village, and the lack of commitment from the appropriate authorities to deal with this problem, I am encouraged that this week we have received formal correspondence from the Highways Department  District Lead Officer apologising for the lack of response and promising improved communication in the future. In other words, we complain all the time, we do what we can as a Parish Council and they ignore us, as they do on many occasions, on many subjects, but we have at least got some response from the  District Lead Officer, which is very promising. You will have noticed that Church St has recently been resurfaced. Parish Council takes total credit for that (ED Laughter) but in fact, they suddenly turned up and did it.

Our financial state is quite healthy, and it enabled the Parish Council, this year, to cap the Whittington Precept and keep it at last years level. I was against this. I would have preferred to put it up again I think it’s about £1 per person per month, or whatever, but I was outvoted and we’ve kept it as it is. We have two or three thousand pounds in the kitty, it’s not a lot but I would have preferred to put it up a little bit and keep accumulating and accumulating so that if something does happen, probably like a grand planting scheme within the village, or whatever, we would have funds to say, yes we’ll help you, however having said that there is no increase whatsoever and I think we are one of the few Parishes in Lancashire to keep it at zero despite the fact that according to Lancashire County Council its gone up by 4%, which I think is wrong, so anyway…” John Keegan (JK): “Actually as the number of houses the County Council can tax, goes down you pay more because the same precept is divided between fewer houses.”

CH “The Beacon, held in November of last year and organised jointly by the Parish Council, the Village Hall and the Church, was an outstanding success. Over £1,000 raised. Thanks, I think quite a few of you went to it and it was again proved that when people do muck in the events they do put on can be quite a success.

Now, the not so good news.

Parish Council continues to receive residents complaints about traffic management and speed through the village. And, to this day, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to engage satisfactorily with the proper agencies. We write to the appropriate people in the County Council, the City Council. We try and get John, and Graham, who sadly isn’t here today, who are quite articulate, to use their powers to write individually to the powers that be in Lancaster, and we still don’t get any reply, we are totally and utterly ignored. It is very frustrating. But as in everything we come to a stage where we tend to let it just dry up and probably six months down the line nothing’s happened. But, recently there was an incident on the road which everyone has said was particularly dangerous, and we are going to use that to try and shame somebody to come here, be it the Police, the Highways, other than that I don’t really know but to try to shame somebody to try and do something about it. There’s no answer. A SPID is no answer because nobody speeds or very few people speed through the village, but it’s managing the traffic. We won’t get a bye-pass, we won’t get a 20mph limit, but we need something before somebody gets seriously injured. Can I assure everyone that Parish Council will continue to treat this as a priority and we do recognise that there is no easy solution to this problem.

As an aside, Peter Williamson, our City Councillor, who you may have seen here, a very dapper gentleman, who looks like a politician, he is, He has been a great help to us over the years while he has been responsible for this ward, he comes from Arkholme (ED He has been Leader of the Conservative Group on the City Council since 2011) has been deselected, he’s been sacked, along with about two other Conservatives (ED Roger Mace [Arkholme, the Kellett’s, Borwick & Priest Hutton], Nigel Goodrich [Silverdale]). I think the reason is that he probably didn’t agree with the Conservative Party ideas for Lancaster and has been replaced. We haven’t been told who will replace him, we will be having someone else, (ED Stewart George Scothern from Slyne) but he was a great help to us when we needed that connection between us, we are the furthest from Lancaster and the City Council. So, that’s bad news.

The next one which I know I am going to have to do something about, and I’m doing my best… We promised last year that we would make progress, and we have made little progress, and it’s embarrassing, is with formulating a Parish Plan. Despite at least two residents, who are here tonight, offering to assist the Parish Council. And for that, I apologise. Malcolm Fell, who’s not here tonight agreed to meetings ago to champion this exercise, and is in the process of producing a short for plan to kick start this project before we ent the proper questionnaire out, it has already been produced, to all householders and hopefully we will create a small working party, answerable to a member of the Parish Council, hopefully Malcolm Fell, in order to produce this plan. Whether the plan will come up with anything I don’t know, suggestions will no doubt include a playground, leisure centre but it’s important that we do it. I must confess, that it’s my Parish Councils fault that we haven’t pushed this harder.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the Parish Council and residents of Whittington for devoting much time and hard work to ensure that the village continues to function to its utmost potential.

That’s all I’m going to say tonight. I could go through the expenditure but that is easier to view on the website, or if you ask us I could go into minute detail but I’d prefer it if we had the open forum as soon as possible so people here can (ED Turning to Stewart Close), well they can’t sack us, but they can make suggestions (ED Laughter). So on that note Please begin.”

Open Forum
Speeding Part 1

IA “Regarding this accident. I had to mount the curb to get out of the way of a vehicle coming the other way. I can’t understand why they can’t have an advisory speed limit.” CH “There are all sorts of things we could do it’s just getting the authorities to come and tell us what we can have, and what we can’t have.”

IA “Yes I know we can’t get the 30 mph speed limit altered, but an advisory thing,as they have on bends. And also they can have sign’s as they have on narrow bridges or windy roads saying ‘Large Vehicles in middle of road’ that would slow people down anyway, I’d have thought”. CH “As I say I’m taking this as priority and I’m putting ot on the agenda for the next meeting, I’ll not let it drop.”

GH “When you see the heavy vehicles coming through you must understand that this road is the ‘High Load’ route from Southampton to Glasgow, and not that many years ago we used to get enormous loads coming through, and there are still marks on School Terrace and Park House where they had to jack the vehicles around to actually get them through the street, they were so wide, and this is the designated wide load route, unfortunately.”

IA “Then you’d think they would have a sign saying….” GH “There were Police escorts almost every week, with these wide loads coming through.”

JK “Mr Chairman can I just ask, for the sake of this elderly bloke at the front taking the minutes, would people mind shouting their names out so I don’t have to turn round to see who is speaking.”

CH “We could go on for hours about traffic, and I agree, I’m sure everybody agrees that something needs to be done and it’s our responsibility to get somebody here to get some response, and make it sufficiently important. But, to be fair, I don’t know how many people look on the village websites. I have put it on, on two or three occasions, asking would people write to the authorities and the more correspondence they get, the more progress we might make and I don’t know if anybody has done that. So it’s all very well to ask Parish Council to do it but if everybody in this room was to send an email, to whoever, then it might prompt a response”.

MB “If you can give us an email address then we can write” CH “OK, I’ll do that” MB “So to find out what the right speed is they need to come and have a look to see what they can do to possibly slow the traffic down. We’re not experts on that, are we? So we don’t know, just because it says 20 on it, how many people keep to that, because it says 30 on it whether that 10 mph is fast enough, I must say that some of the tractors seem to belt through and I think it’s the tractors and the buses that one day they will meet on a corner and that is a big concern. At half past eight in a morning or probably quarter to four in an afternoon that’s the peak periods of the bigger vehicles going through, and it is a concern because, whilst there hasn’t been an accident yet if you’ve seen the number of motorbikes that have driven into school house, or a car ran into the corner at church street and it there had been a car coming the other way there would have been a fatality, because they just don’t slow down. So it needs someone to come out and have a look at it.

I’m sure we can all write an email if you just give us an email address, we’ll start pestering them so they’ve got to come out and see it. They can have a 30 mph speed limit but actually you can put traffic calming in to slow people down to 10 mph if necessary, its just got to be done, as I’ve suggested. I had a car outside my house and suddenly everything slows down, because they can’t see. Because there’s a car there you can’t see anyway they actually slow down and, if that’s what it takes I’ll park up the cars.”

EP “If there are cars parked in the village then they definitely slow the traffic down. There’s one parks down their all night long and that just slows them down and they are waiting by my house just to go by, it definitely slows them down.” CH “Is there not a danger if everyone parks on the streets, is ther not a danger that, that would suggest that double yellow lines are needed?” EP “You’ve certainly a right to park on the street. CH “Yes I know. But if the authorities saw that…” IA “They’d be along painting double yellow lines”.

MB “And another thing are the people parking on the pavement outside the terrace, the Victorian terrace, actually stops people walking on the pavement and, ideally if they could park on the road.. I’ve seen pedestrians having to walk round” CH “Having to go on the road rather than the pavement?” MB “Yes”

Parking in Church Street

GH “I would like to complain about the cars parked outside The Old Rectory, on the footpath. I’ve had two very near does there, they constantly park, they were parked there again today. I had one where I I almost stepped off the footpath to go round a car, and there was a car coming up behind me which I hadn’t heard because there was another one coming down, and I was driving up about a fortnight ago and there was a car attempting to come out of the drive and they were absolutely blind because they couldn’t see past the two cars. Now I’ve complained about it once to you Colin” CH “Yes I know” GH “But nothing’s been done and it’s an accident waiting to happen. My neighbour had the same experience, they nearly ran into a car coming out of the entrance because there were two cars parked. It’s very, very dangerous.”

CH “I know it is and when you complained to me originally I thought ‘Just what we need, another problem’. It’s an understandable problem and I recognise it so immediately spoke to several people on Church Street, before I approached Mike Asher, to see if they were experiencing any problems, like you, and they all said yes, we think that Mikes moved his business back into the Old Rectory, and have relocated there.”

GH I don’t know why the people who work there don’t complain to one another that they have to park outside when they try to get out onto the road.” CH “Hence the traffic problem. I was about to approach Mike then he went on holiday. People have said ‘Yes it is noticeable that there are more cars there’ but they have been able to get past. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem. What’s the solution Gerald?”

GH “There’s plenty of room inside for them to park their cars, there just unwilling to park inside.”

IS “I’ve had to walk on the street on a number of occasions, to get past two cars, there’s always two cars parked outside the gate, but there seems to be bags of room inside. There parking on both sides of the street.” CH “On your side as well?” IS “Yes.”

CH “Right, I’ll speak to Mike Asher when he’s back off holiday.”

Speeding Part 2

MB “Colin, coming back to speeding, I’ve read the minutes from Gressingham and Arkholme, in Wagtail and they’ve got real concerns as well about the speed of the traffic. Would it not make sense to do a coordinated effort, because if three parishes complained it would have more power than just one and if you could get hold of the Chairman of Arkholme and Gressingham and do a concerted effort, and we all commit to writing and if the others two Parishes say ‘Actually things need to slow down’. I got a bit concerned because they’re going to put speed traps on the other side. I spoke to one or two of the bikers whi now are going to use this road because they can go 120 on our roads, not through the village obviously, and that’s what they will do. The more bikes that belt along the more chance iof them running into something.”

CH “I’ll speak to Gressingham and Arkholme from past experience, and I don’t want to be the devils advocate in the past, when we have engaged with both of those Parish Councils about looking into having a SPID, as soon as Arkholme were told they weren’t eligible for one because of their school 20 mph limit they weren’t interested cooperating with Whittington. Then, shortly afterwards we discovered that Gressingham had, despite agreeing with us to buy one jointly, or look into it jointly, gone to Lancaster and borrowed one, and I think it’s in use now. I’d like to think that the three Parishes would get together and do something, and I shall speak to them.

MB “I’m not sure how effective a sign flashing when they struggle to do 30mph through the village.” IA “I think they do work, nobody speeds through Endmoor.” CH “But that’s a straight road isn’t it.” IA “Yes, there’s no blind spots in Endmoor and they’ve also got the 30 mph sign further south.” Caroline Raistrickt (CR) “There’s a community speed project there so the actual members of the community in Endmoor wear Hi-Viz jackets and they go out and that’s why people don’t speed, because you don’t know which member of the community is on the speed observation.” MB “Mr Keegan did offer to stand with a hair dryer pretending it was speed radar, like that woman did, and all the traffic slowed down” JK “The fact of life is that all the speed checks that have been carried out in this village in the last 11 years there have only been two recorded cases of speeding. The problem isn’t people exceeding the speed limit, which is what the SPID is there to overcome, it’s the fact that they are driving too fast for the nature of our roads, 30 is too fast. CR “20 is too fast.” JK “If we can’t have 20 the only thing that’s left is traffic calming.”

R If you are walking past the houses that have a very narrow pavement there isn’t much on the pavement because the path is very narrow I always tell my children to walk with their backs against the wall. It needs something to make people go single file, 30 is too fast.”

CH “I’ll let everyone know by whatever means I can the contact for the Parish Council and a concerted effort, it will be right up your street, literally. MB “It would make sense if we wrote and copied you in then you would see how many letters are actually going then you can go to them as well and say I’ve got 20 letters here complaining about speed we need to support you and put some pressure on them, it’s a shame that the elections are soon and we don’t know who’s standing.

The School Bell

GH “There has been some correspondence about the school bell, recently, I’m probably the last survivor of the last Managers Meeting when the Rev. Cairns was the Chairman of that meeting and at that meeting it was decided that the bell should be taken down and given in safe keeping to the church. That was agreed and Cecil Hall was at that meeting and he arranged to take the bell down. It was taken down and left in the school. It was never delivered to the church and, after Halls bought the school it was eventually replaced in the belfry. It actually belongs to the village and the church it doesn’t belong to the school. There’s been some correspondence recently hasn’t there John?” JK “I haven’t seen any Gerald” GH “About replacing or sounding the bells, I am the last survivor of that meeting, in 1974,” CH “I say this with tongue in cheek, it’s probably a matter for the Police and not the Parish Council.” (ED Laughter(

SR “Mr Chairman, the new owners have renovated the Belfry, they’ve purchased a new rope and they have been rung, I think, and a few people have heard them.” GH “Well they should be informed that it actually belongs to the village.” SR “Well it was sold as part of the property so…… GH “I would just like it to go on record that was all.” CH “OK. I’m pleased that the buildings being renovated and I’m trying to persuade them to invest in the pub. They’ve got to sell this project first and one of the unique selling points was the bell so I think that we put it on record that let sleeping dogs lie there. But thanks very much for that Gerald, I didn’t realise that at all.” EP “I think it’s been on the school ever since the school was built and they used to ring it every morning because I lived just across the road and used to wait for the bell ringing then shot across. It was ringing for years and years and years.”

CH “So really we should be commending the people who have renovated the school, shouldn’t we? Which we will do at the next Parish Council Meeting, to put it on record in the nicest possible way. Thank you Gerald.”

Recycle Boxes

IA “Recycle boxes, they get right up my nose. I was out in the early hours of the morning picking lids up. Ours turn over in the wind. It’s ridiculous. Whoever thought up those boxes must be a brick short of a landing, they really must. Yorkshire’s got small wheelie bins for the recycle stuff, why can’t we have those? People have to put bricks on top and then, when they’re emptied they’re scooting up the road in the wind I was out at 2 o’clock in the morning, in my pyjamas (ED Laughter).” CH “So what do you suggest?”

IA “I suggest we should have small wheelie bins like they do in Yorkshire, and Yorkshire people are supposed to be mean, and they’ve got wheelie bins.” CH ”That would mean the existing bins having to be returned and the Lancashire County Council replacing them with a smaller bin. Would there be a cost involved?” IA “Yes but it would have been far cheaper if they had got the things in the first place.” CH “I must apologise because I didn’t realise it was such an issue. That is going on the next Parish Council Agenda.” MB “They must be due to be replaced because they’re all battered and it would be opportune to replace them…… It’s like the rubbish bins, they’re that sort of size?” IA “There a bit smaller. They put these little covers on the newer ones because they have had to replace some of them, they all let water in. When you pick them up you get water all down the front of your pyjamas.” JK “We have a garden gnome on the top of hours, that keeps the lid on and it’s quite attractive.” (ED Laughter).

New Bus Service

CH “I’d like to move on to the next subject, but before I do I notice that there are some newcomers here and first of all I’d like to apologise to them for the quality of some of the discussions that are going on. At Parish Council Meetings we are much more serious, I see you at the back Mike. Do you have anything?” MK “No, I’m observing.”

CH “Duncan?” DF “I’d just like to mention one thing about local transport, as from this coming Sunday we are going to have a Sunday bus service, and every Bank Holiday Monday, until the end of October. Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire are running this service without any subsidy from the Council.” CH “Are they making a profit on what they are doing at the moment?” DF “I think they are doing reasonably well, it seems to be picking up now the light nights have come.” CH “Can you let John know then he can put it on the Blog?” JK “We’ve got it organised. We had a meeting last Friday in Plato’s. I lost the minutes on the way home (ED LaughterI).

River Footpath

CH “Has anyone else got anything?” R “The path from Arkholme to Whittington and on to Kirkby Lonsdale, by the river, is that the remit of the County Council? It’s breaking away and there’s not going to be any access. There is one strip which is very difficult to get through.” CH “I think we can answer that question, Can’t we Stewart? Who’s responsibility is it, the farmers, where the river bank passes through their land? I presume you are talking about the erosion of the river bank.” SC “Not if it vanishes into the river, I don’t think. I think it’s not a public footpath the estates, Newton Estate, Whittington Estate granted a licence for people to walk the route.”

R “There are a lot of people concerned people have walked from Kirkby Lonsdale to Arkholme for years.” SC “Newton and Whittington estates granted a licence, it isn’t a public footpath as such.” R “All the way to Kirkby Lonsdale?” SC “I’m not sure about the stretch to Kirby Lonsdale.” R “It’s the stretch from Whittington to Kirkby Lonsdale that’s very tricky.” SC “Some of that is Underley Estate.”

CH “Is it a long stretch, or a short stretch?” R “It’s accessible across the fields. You drop down through Mackereth’s and down until you get to the river.” CH “It’s likely to be Mackereth’s. I’ll speak to him.” R “I think the soil has just eroded anyway. At one point I think Arkholme planted willow and I saw some old documents recently, they used to grow the willow, and actually weave it to hold the bank in.” CH “I’ll tell you what I will do, apropos the development across the road, which I’ve not mentioned in the report because no one knows what’s going on, but I was going to speak to Edward and ask him what the new planning application entailed, that he’s put in recently under his name, and I’ll ask him at the same time whether he owns that part of the river and ask also who is responsible in a situation like that.”

EP “The trouble is with the river flooding, there’s not a lot they can do about it.” CH “OK, I’ll let you know about that one.”

Whittington In Bloom

CH “Is there anything else?

Caroline, I know you are itching to tell us about this project, that I have deliberately not mentioned. It’s an ideal opportunity to get some more volunteers.”  CR “I have a couple of volunteers. Ultimately, now we’ve lost the pub, and with everything that goes on at the village hall and at the church, so I thought about getting the community together, as many people as we can, particularly children as well, to get them involved, to do a planting scheme, I’m trying to get some funding for that scheme. I’ve tasked someone, because that’s what I do, to do some research for me and that was John. John came up with some information to raise some money to buy some plants and bulbs to put around the village. I wanted to mark it on the map, but the map is too big. I need to have a registered charity, obviously I don’t want to start setting up a registered charity, so I went to the Parish Council, however I think we may use the village hall because we have a registered charity there that we can out down for this funding. If we get the funding raised, if we don’t get funding then we’ll have to think again.

I would want to start this September, this year 2019, to try and plant the bulbs for next spring in the common areas around the village, but it’s not just Whittington but around the Parish and also Docker and Newton. Now whether we do have some quite big verges and we’re talking, potentially, about a few thousand bulbs. Now there are four spring ones, tulips, crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils that we can plant at one point, then more the following year. It’s part of, I know I’m a bit obsessed with flowers, I’m not a horticulturist by any means, but I do believe that eventually we can make it quite nice, but it’s an attempt to make things look attractive because the same people win the window boxes and front garden conpetitions for baskets and tubs because they can because they’ve got the space. But his is about the whole community taking part, making the whole village attractive. So, thanks John for doing the funding. I have had some volunteers and I’m hoping to get some more of them and I’ll be setting up an email address for people to get involved .

In addition to that I’m hoping that if we can get a good group together we have got a couple of good trained gardeners in the village and can use their expertise. I’ve been in touch with the Council who run the planting scheme for the whole of Lancaster, down at White Lund, to potentially get them on side. I’then tasked someone else to make some hanging basket brackets, as a prototype, for me and the gentleman in question has come up with these (ED At this point Caroline passed around the meeting samples of hanging basket brackets that had been made for her). He can knock out one of those at cost for £4.50. And that will include installation at the same address. Because not everybody has a drill, so, £4.50 and there is no profit being made on those.

They are substantial, they are cheap but they’re better than you can get at a garden centre.  So if anybody wants any of those for next year, or even this year, if you let me know can get them for you. And next year, and for the longer term I think that a lot of people have beautiful gardens and I think that we sould open our gardens to help with future planting in and around the village. So, mayne every other year, we can open our gardens, and the village hall for everyone together as a community so people can come to the village and someone can tidy the front of the pub, which is an eyesore.”

MB “How much do we need to raise?” CR “Well, I don’t know the cost of bulbs, and I don’t know how they come.” MB “Can the Council supply them?” CH “When Caroline approached the Parish Council I said it was a good idea and the Parish Council would fund the purchase of all these bulbs, until she spoke about wildflower seeds, which I know are expensive, we said that the Parish Council would fund it in conjunction with the village hall. We are flush with money, but we keep very quite about it, but the next step was to see if there were any grants available, it would be great if there are, and if there uis any shortfall or if any of these grants gave to be matched then Parish Council and the Village Hall, I’m sure, would be happy to do that, wouldn’t we Eric?. But then we wnt to the Council at White Lund and spoke to the lady there and we just asked, of the top of her head, how much a bag of bulbs were, and she said that something like 500 are £10, and I thought that this is ridiculous, I’ll fund that easily. So I think for a thousand pounds we could have “Whittington in Bloom”.

EP “The Council have come and done it before. They’ve planted bulbs.” BA “They planted on the corner and at the church.” CR “You pass through Kellett, it’s full colour, you come to Arkholme, it’s full colour, then you get to Whittington and it does need boosting, we’ve got nothing under our signs as you enter the village we should concentrate on the villages before we go on to other areas. I don’t want something temporary. Temporary isn’t enough, we’re planting for twelve months.”

Village Christmas Tree

JK “Is it too soon Mr Chairman to remind the Parish Council about the Parish Council discussion, last year, which was too late, about a village Christmas tree?” CH “When we started talking about a village Christmas tree last year it was already November. But that’s a good question. The old one was outside the Dragons Head and we could plug it into a 13 amp socket in Grahams’ (ED Laughter).”

CR “I have to say, on Christmas trees as well, the gentleman that made those (ED Points to hanging basket brackets) for me also made me brackets where we can have Christmas trees on your building on a bracket and again there are people who are prepared to put it up. I had them on my house last year. Whether that the answer on the village hall, I don’t know, but it’s an option.

MB “It would be nice having them all down the road. IA “It’s a bit narrower where we are.” GH “We always had an agreement with Whittington Hall Estates where they give one to the church and one to the Village Hall, and that’s gone on for years. I don’t know whether it’s stopped now.” BA “For the last two years they wouldn’t.” EP “They wouldn’t do it, no. It’s under new management now.”

CH “I’m going to finish the meeting shortly but I’m totally and utterly in agreement with what you say about the Christmas tree, because last Christmas there were no Christmas lights or virtually any Christmas lights in Whittington compared with other villages that I’ve seen. The year before Marjorie and I Simon, we actually bought some lights and strung them outside the Dragons Head. Behind the smokers hut. I think they cost about 50 quid, and the landlord agreed that we could plug them in free of charge and use his electricity, which we did. I don’t think they lasted very long, whether they blew down, or blew away, or whatever.  This all stems from when Dave left us, were he used to decorate outside the pub and that acted as a village Christmas tree. Since then there hasn’t been a proper one. I’m quite happy to chop one of mine down, or go and nick one, and put a substantial one and have it lit up for Christmas, because I’m oftet ashamed of coming through in the winter when there’s nothing up. But I wouldn’t know where to put it.

Having said that, Caroline, this man of yours with a substantial anvil by the sound of it, and your knowledge of the common land and verges in the village. You’d make a marvellous Christmas tree Champion, which would marry rather nicely with your spring bulbs, you need something in the winter to keep you occupied” (ED General hilarity at this point)

“It is allowed, at Parish Assembly Meetings to put everyone’s suggestions to the vote (ED Further hilarity) It is, honestly, think about it, seriously, I’m more than happy to supply the Christmas tree, a big one, because the church doesn’t even have one outside now. The inside one is quite nice but the church has to provided it themselves, Lord Reay doesn’t get involved whatsoever now.”

CR “But bigger isn’t always better, is it?” CH “Oh, I don’t know!!” CR “The ones in Kirkby Lonsdale and Arkholme are lovely. The one place it could go, centrally, would be the sharp right hand bend (ED Left hand bend if you are not coming from The Old School House) where the black hut is, but it probably can’t go there because of the sighe lines. Or a couple of brackets on the front of the village hall, with small trees and lights.” EP “Yes, that would be alright.”

JK “It would seem that Flora Raistrick has it in hand already.” CH “Yes. (ED To CR) That’s very kind of you, thank you.”

Return to Whittington in Bloom

CR “I’ll just wait for a reply from the council and people growing poppies and all sorts of flowers in your garden, if you just collect your seeds in an envelope and mix them with old compost we can just scatter them. And see what come up.”

CH “OK. Has anybody else got anything?”

Dragons Head

DF “When you were talking about the new development at the school and Whittington Farm, Colin, you mentioned something about the pub.” CH “I did?” DF “Yes.” CH “I’m sorry Duncan I was only jokimg. Having said that, on a serious note, the Parish Council were approached, a few months ago, by a gentleman who lives in the village, suggesting that we did a community purchase. I said that’s great and we’ll help you. It was just a thought.” JK “Correct me if I’m wrong but the Parish Council did put in a Community Interest Order; that was now three to four years ago and it only lasts for two years, and you can’t do it twice.” CH “Can you not?” EP “The point is, what’s going to happen to the pub? At the end of the day it’s a Grade 2 listed building. Are they going to keep it like this for so many years ‘till they can have it taken off? It’s disgraceful. It’s in the middle of the village. Your talking about your Christmas trees, and all this, but that is an absolute eyesore, inside, outside, down on the land and everywhere.”

CH “does he ever visit it Eric?” EP “No. We never see him. He’s just lost all interest in it. It’s a terrible state down the path. At the end of the day I think something must be done.”

(ED Various people speaking over each other. References to Arkholme and Grade II listed buildings but no common thread that I could follow)

CH “We all understand your frustration, and Parish Council will discuss it, but we can’t afford to do anything to it, so we’ll just have to sit and wait until it does become dangerous then we can get people like Graham who lives adjacent to it, to kick up a fuss, and use Graham and his knowledge, and John’s role as Agitator 1, to kick up a stink. But I don’t think Parish Council……” EP “No. I don’t think so myself. At the end of the day it’s very sad for the village.” CH “It is very sad, and talking of pubs, probably when we finish this meeting in a minute, Simon going to open the bar briefly, (ED Looking at Simon) yes? All proceeds to the village hall Eric! (ED General mirth).

CH “Thank you very much. End of meeting.”

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