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Parish Council Annual & Parish Minutes - Wednesday, 25th May 2022

on Thu, 01/09/2022 - 6:54am


Minutes of the Sparsholt Annual Parish Meeting held on

Wednesday 25th May 2022 in Griffin Memorial Hall starting at 7.00pm

Present: Councillors Comyn (Chairman), Corfield, Jacobs and Jones, DC Barrow, the Clerk and 7 x parishioners.





Apologies:  Cllr Barnes and the RFO.



Sparsholt Parish Council Chairman’s Report:  The report was given by Cllr Comyn, see attached.



District and County Councillors Report:  DCllr Barrow has sent through regular reports throughout the year.  DCllr Barrow summarised his two latest reports, see attached.



Any Other Business:  None.



Meeting closed at 7.30pm.

Minutes taken and prepared by The Clerk



APM 25th May 2022



Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Sparsholt Parish Council held on

Wednesday 25th May 2022 at Griffin Memorial Hall starting at 8.00pm

Present: Councillors Comyn, Corfield, Jacobs and Jones, DC Barrow, the RFO and Clerk and 7 parishioners.





Apologies:  Cllr Barnes and the RFO.



Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman:  Cllr Jacobs proposed that Cllr Comyn should remain as Chairman, seconded by Cllr Corfield and agreed Cllr Jones.   Cllr Comyn proposed that Cllr Jones became Vice-Chairman, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed Cllr Corfield.



Declaration of Acceptance of Office, Declarations of Interest & Reminder of the Code of Conduct:  None.



Minutes of the Meeting held on Wednesday 13th April 2022:  The minutes were proposed as a true record by the Chairman, Cllr Comyn and seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously.



Matters Arising: 

  1. Letter re peppercorn rent for using the cemetery ground for grazing:  Cllr Jones has written up the agreement for £10 per annum with a break clause of one month.  To start 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2024.  Two years was the maximum term permitted.  It is a very small area of the cemetery ground.
  2. Exterior Lighting for the Church:  There are wider plans for the Church so it was decided to remove from the Agenda.
  3. Queen’s Jubilee:  The following sums were discussed and agreed:  £1,152.00 for the band, proposed by Cllr Comyn, seconded by Cllr Corfield, £216.00 for beer, proposed by Cllr Corfield, seconded by Cllr Comyn, £287.64 for prosecco proposed by Cllr Jones, seconded by Cllr Comyn, £150.00 for burgers and sausages proposed by Cllr Corfield, seconded by Cllr Comyn. All items were agreed unanimously.  A further £60 was proposed by Cllr Corfield, seconded by Cllr Comyn for further expenses.
  4. The change of styles to kissing gates:  Cllr Comyn has spoken to Arthur McEwan-James who suggested Cllr Comyn spoke to Simon Jenkins the Chairman of Uffington Parish Council who have recently secured a grant to change theirs. Cllr Comyn said the first thing was to list where the styles are located.  A parishioner was concerned that livestock can get caught in the kissing gates.   OCC are not forcing these changes and will work with landowners.  A parishioner also stated that less able-bodied people do not normally walk the muddy, uneven footpaths.  Cllr Jones suggested speaking to George Chicester and the owners of the Glebe about removing the Sparsholt Common style.
  5. Footpath Markers:  A parishioner offered to add on extra markers to an order she had made with Arthur McEwan-James.  DCllr Barrow has emailed about lost footpaths and this will be discussed further at the next meeting.
  6. Vegetation on Orchard Bend:  Cllr Comyn to speak to Lee Turner at OCC Highways about this. 

Cllr Corfield left the meeting (8.26pm)


Cllrs Comyn and Jones













Cllr Comyn





Cllr Jones






Cllr Comyn


Review of Standing Orders:  It was unanimously agreed that no amendments need to be made.

Data Protection Officer:  To be discussed at the next meeting.



Review of delegation arrangements to committees, sub-committees, employees and other local authorities:  All five Parish Councillors also constitute the planning sub committee.  The Clerk and the RFO are the only employees of the Parish Council.



Review of the terms of reference for Committees:  Terms of Reference for the planning committee are in the Standing Orders.



Receipt of nominations to existing committees/appointment to any new committees, confirmation of the terms of reference, and the number of members:  All Parish Councillors to remain members of the Planning Committee, unanimously agreed.



Review of representatives on or who work with external bodies and arrangements for reporting back:  Planning received via the VOWHDC and the Parish Council will continue to make representations to the VOWHDC and OCC when necessary.  Cllr Comyn to remain Burials Officer proposed by Cllr Jacobs, seconded by Cllr Jones.  Cllr Jones offered to take on Rights of Way and Highways, proposed by Cllr Barnes, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed by Cllr Comyn.



Assets review:  The Asset Register was proposed by Cllr Comyn, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed by Cllr Jones.  The Chairman signed the Assets Register.



Risk Assessment:  The Risk Assessment was reviewed and Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jones and by Cllr Jacobs.



Review of Insurance Cover:  The Insurance cover was reviewed and Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed by Cllr Jones.



Review of the Council’s and/or employees’ membership of other bodies:  The Council is a member of the OALC.



Review of the Council’s complaints procedure.  Review procedures for handling requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998:  It was agreed that no amendments were required.  It was previously agreed under item 6 that Cllr Barnes will be the Data Protection Officer.





Review the Council’s Policy for dealing with the press/media:  Cllr Jacobs agreed to speak to the press on behalf of the Parish Council, after consultation with all the Parish Councillors if possible.  Proposed Cllr Comyn and seconded Cllr Jones.




  1. Approval of the monthly Financial Statement up to 30th April 2022:  Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jones and agreed unanimously.  Cllr Comyn proposed payments for Imperative Training for defibrillator pads £124.80, DK Music for the balance for the band for the Jubilee celebrations £1,152.00, Zurich Municipal for the Insurance renewal £444.19, Tarki Technology Ltd for the Internal audit £100.00, the Clerk’s salary for May £82.39, RFO’s salary for May £49.20, the Clerk’s salary for June £82.39, the RFO’s salary for June £49.40 and HMRC PAYE £98.40, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously. 
  2. Approval of bank signatories for 2022-2023: Cllrs Comyn, Corfield and Jones are already bank signatories.  It was unanimously agreed to remove Cllr Barnes as he is resigning at this meeting.
  3. Approval of the AGAR:  Cllr Comyn proposed and completed the AGAR, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed Cllr Jones.  Cllr Comyn signed the form along with the RFO and Clerk. 
  4. Review the effectiveness of the Internal Audit:  The effectiveness of the Internal Audit was reviewed and agreed unanimously.
  5. Permission to transfer money from the Deposit account into the Current account:  Cllr Comyn proposed a transfer of £5,000 from the Current account to the Deposit account, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed by Cllr Jones. 
  6. Review of draft Cashflow for 2022-23:  Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jacbos and agreed Cllr Jones.
  7. Any other finance matters:  The Clerk and RFO have both opted out of the pension scheme. 

The Internal Auditor has suggested a separate bank account be set up and the amounts from the two Trusts held in it.  Cllr Comyn proposed this, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed Cllr Jones.  The RFO to ask Metro bank if another account can be set up.

The Clerk stated that the RFO had completed extra hours on the audit and a discussion should be held at the next meeting on payment for these.  Cllr Comyn agreed this and thanked the RFO for the extra work involved.


































P22/V0848/AG Broadleaze Farm, Westcot Lane, Sparsholt, OX12 9PZ:  Proposed new portal frame hay store.  Agricultural development – Application not required on 29th April 2022.

  P21/V2824/FUL – SPA Westcot House, OX12 9QA:  Propose

  and change of use of existing ancillary residential accommodation,

  amended by revised application form, amended plans and additional

  information submitted on the 4thApril 2022).  Granted.

  P21/V2825/FUL – SPA Westcot House, OX12 9QA:  Proposed

  alteration, conversion and change of use of existing ancillary

  residential accommodation ‘The Coach House’ to long-term lettable

  accommodation (as amended by revised application form, amended

  plans and additional information submitted on the 16thMarch 2022).


  P22/V0445/FUL The Star, Watery Lane, OX12 9PL:  Extension to

  customer-facing rear entrance to The Star Inn.  Granted.

P21/V3492/HH Sparsholt Manor, OX12 9PT:  Replacement and repositioning of entrance gates.  No decision.

  P21/V3243/FUL Land to the north of 5 West Street, Sparsholt,

  OX12 9PR:  Change of use of land to residential (garden extension).

  No decision.  DCllr Barrow to enquire why the decision is taking so



















DC Barrow


Matters for future discussion:

Cllr Ian Barnes has decided to resign at this meeting, the Clerk to advertise the vacancy.  Cllr Comyn extended thanks on behalf of the Parish Council to Cllr Barnes for his hard work and dedication to the Parish Council.

A Queen’s Jubilee Memorial Bus Shelter was discussed and the Swire family have offered to supply a carpenter for a day and also offered a supply of wood.  The approx. cost to the Parish Council will be £3,500.00 to be discussed further at the next ordinary meeting.

Two Trustees to be appointed to the two Trusts at the next ordinary meeting.

A parishioner stated that cracks have appeared in the slabs that go across Westcot Green.




Set dates, times and place of ordinary meetings of the full Council for the year ahead: Wednesday 24th August 2022 starting at 7.30pm in Griffin Memorial Hall, Sparsholt.

The Parish Council may need to change this date as necessary.


Meeting closed at 9.10pm.

Minutes prepared by Mrs D Lewis-Pryde, Parish Clerk


SPCAM 25th May 2022





25TH MAY 2022




The membership of Sparsholt Parish Council (SPC / the Council) during the year comprised Tim Comyn (Chairman), Ian Barnes (Vice Chairman), Clare Jacobs, Barry Jones and Rupert Corfield.

Debbie Lewis-Pryde and Jane Valentine have continued as the SPC’s Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer respectively.

Meetings of the SPC have been held in the Griffin Memorial Hall in Sparsholt.



The SPC has been consulted on a number of planning applications during the year.  These have included major works to Sparsholt House, the conversion of the Grade II listed barn at Rectory House to additional domestic accommodation and the use of ancillary residential accommodation at Westcot House for letting purposes.

Application P21/V3243, which proposes a change of use an area of woodland to the rear of Nos.5 & 6 West Street to use as a garden extension to No.5, remains undecided.  The application led to the Vale of the White Horse District Council (the Vale) making a tree preservation order (TPO) in respect of the entirety of the woodland immediately to the north of West Street.  The SPC, whilst noting that the application was in conflict with Core Policy 4 of Part 1 of the Local Plan,[1] by a majority, did not object to the application on the grounds that there were ‘material considerations’[2] relating to the small area involved, its proximity to No.5, the continuing protection provided by the TPO and the absence of demonstrable harm caused to the amenities of neighbours, that outweighed the conflict with Policy Core Policy 4.

Having been alerted by our District Councillor, Paul Barrow, to the Vale’s “Call for Sites” the Chairman, as instructed by the Council, made written representations in October 2021 setting out the reasons why the Vale should determine that the three sites in Westcot, V217 and V226 x 2, were wholly unsustainable for housing development.


Following the acquisition of Golden Acre (GA) by the Swire family, major flood relief works were carried out to the ditch alongside and the culvert crossing the B4507 in the vicinity of GA.  The works have resulted in the alleviation of the flooding of the road and will be completed in due course including the reinstatement of the roadside barrier.

The Chairman emailed Lee Turner of OCC regarding the maintenance of the trees in the verge on the west side of Days Lane.  So far he has not received a substantive response.  Councillor Jones informed the Council that, to his knowledge, the trees in question are not in the highway but within in the ownership of Kingston Lisle Park.  The matter remains under consideration.

The Council’s attention was drawn to the experience of leading horses on the road in Westcot and the threat presented by vehicles travelling at speed and was asked whether a 20mph speed limit might be imposed.  Also, the Council noted that the redevelopment of redundant farm buildings at Westcot Farm for new `dwellings would be likely to give rise to additional traffic in the village.  For these reasons the Council, through County Councillor Yvonne Constance, registered its interest with OCC in having a 20 mph speed limit.


There have been no burials in the year. As has been the case for a number of years the cemetery grass, including around the graves, has been maintained for no charge by Sparsholt Manor Farms; a service for which the SPC is ever grateful. As regards headstones, the Chairman’s recent visit to the cemetery did not reveal any that were at risk of collapse.


Generally speaking, the rights of way network in the parish has been kept in good repair by OCC and landowners.  Councillor Barry Jones personally repaired the handrail on the footbridge by Sparsholt Common.

The Chairman has been in contact with Arthur McEwan-James at OCC regarding the possibility of converting styles to kissing gates where they are found on the public rights of way network in the parish. It is understood that Uffington Parish Council have obtained a grant for such a scheme. The matter remains under consideration.


At the June 2021 SPC meeting Cllr Corfield reported that his researches had revealed two trusts concerning the parish and its inhabitants – the Sparsholt Educational and Recreational Trust, which is a registered charity, and the Sparsholt Consolidated Trust 1908 which is not. 

Funds amounting to £2357.52 have been repaid to the Council by Barclays for the Sparsholt Educational and Recreational Trust and are currently kept in the Parish Council bank account.  The Council needs to appoint two new trustees and then liaise with the Charity Commission as to what charitable purposes the funds may be put.

The Sparsholt Consolidated Charity 1908 is no longer a registered charity but holds funds in two bank accounts (£3000) and has a holding in a charity fund (£4000).  The Council requires the practical support of the church to move this forward which has proved difficult following the recent retirement of the vicar. The matter remains under consideration as to how this may be achieved.  It is hoped that the funds might be put to use to assist members of the community in need or seeking to pursue worthwhile educational / sporting projects.

The internal auditor has advised that the charity funds should be kept in a separate bank account from the SPC’s accounts.

On behalf of the SPC and the parish community, I express my gratitude to Cllr Corfield for his painstaking and time-consuming efforts in tracking down these funds and potentially making them available for the support of the civil parish.


Cllr Clare Jacobs along with assistance from Ruth Corfield has taken on the planning for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee lunch which will be held on the 3rd June 2022 in Sparsholt.  The Corfields have kindly offered the use of their barn should the weather require it.  The Council are grateful to both Clare and Ruth for their organisation of this important event and will be making a financial contribution in support.

Mention has been made in SPC discussions regarding the Council funding a permanent memorial to the Queen in the parish in recognition of her long reign.  Further thought to this can be given in the coming year.


Compliant monthly financial reports were produced by the SPC’s Responsible Financial Officer, Jane Valentine throughout the year including the Annual return. The Internal Audit of the Council was completed with no issues arising.

The Council resolved to set its precept at £3942 to meet the coming year’s expenditure.

As was the case last year, the principal outstanding issue as regards finance remains the need to spend the £12,000 + funds held by the Council on projects of benefit to the inhabitants of the parish.  It is expected, however, that in the coming year, opportunities will present themselves for expenditure on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party and the renewal of the bus shelter in Sparsholt.


At the January 2022 SPC meeting, Cllr Barry Jones informed the Council of discussions between Sparsholt Manor Farms Ltd and the Forestry Commission regarding a project to plant 90,000 trees on 73.33 ha of farmland at Sparsholt Common, Brookfield and Hilly Ground.  The trees would be deer fenced (6ft)[3] but all public rights of way would be maintained.  The trees would be a mixture of native broadleaf deciduous trees and conifers.

At the February meeting Cllr Jones presented the project in greater detail and produce a number of plans and other materials for the consideration of those in attendance.  He explained that the rationale for the scheme was twofold: planting of trees was good for the environment and encouraged by government and the land was grade 3 poor quality low yielding farmland adversely affected by black grass.  He indicated that there would be a landscape character assessment of the scheme in due course.

Although the SPC did not formally pass a resolution in respect of this project, which remains to be confirmed, the Chairman and other members of the Council and members of the public attending the meeting, indicated their general support for the tree planting scheme.


I take this opportunity on behalf of SPC to thank members of the community who have given their time over the year to help out.  In addition to those I have mentioned above in this report, I thank Nick Price for running the Sparsholt and Westcot website and also maintaining Days Lane with the strimmer; and also Laurence Williams for painting the village green railings and no through road signs. Ian Lamborn, similarly, deserves our thanks for organising the maintenance of the cemetery and the village greens including putting up the Christmas lights.

Our District Councillor Paul Barrow has been assiduous in providing us with informative reports on District Council matters ranging from Wantage Hospital to speeding on the A417; and has attended our meetings where that has been possible in his busy schedule.  We thank him for the support he has given to the Council over the year.

We are also grateful to Debbie Lewis-Pryde our Clerk and Jane Valentine our Responsible Financial Officer for keeping us on the straight and narrow in respect of administrative and financial matters.

Lastly but no less importantly, we acknowledge the depth of gratitude we owe to Cllr Ian Barnes who is retiring this year after 5 years as a member of the SPC.  Ian’s contributions to our discussions on matters as wide ranging as officers’ contracts to assets of community value have been informed and insightful.  In addition, he has overseen the operation and maintenance of the defibrillator and organised training in respect of its use.  Apart from these contributions to parish life, he has also taken time out with the strimmer to maintain ways in the village.  Thank you Ian for all your efforts on our behalf over the last 5 years.

Tim Comyn

Chairman, Sparsholt Parish Council

25th May 2022


[1] For the purposes of Part 1 of the Local Plan (p.42), Sparsholt is in ‘open countryside.’  Core Policy 4 says: ’Open Countryside – Development in open countryside will not be appropriate unless specifically supported by other relevant policies as set out in the Development Plan or national policy.’

[2] Section 38(6) Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

[3] The deer fence would be removed after 10/15 years.


Sparsholt Parish Annual Meeting DC Barrow Report 2022

Sparsholt Parish Annual Meeting

This is a brief summary of some of the major issues that have arisen during the last year. It has been a very “interesting” year, to paraphrase the Chinese, with Covid continuing in all its variants, but with the number of cases now falling off for the summer, the Ukrainian crisis, and increases in the costs of fuel and animal feed. The rest of the year could continue difficult.

Building control coming changes

Profound changes are coming to new housing development under new Building Control Regulations. These will require all new housing from June 2022 to be fitted with PV panels and air-source heat exchange systems. Well, we should have at least started this with solar 10 years ago but better late than never.

Housing development

This continues to be a major concern for Oxfordshire. In the current Local Plan no further large developments are allocated for our villages. East Challow suffers from two larger developments which have caused several niggling problems, including late completion of footpaths which has required constant nagging to get worked completed on time.

The new Joint Local Plan is being developed and it will be important to continue the same restriction on housing in our villages and to ensure separation of settlements. In a recent meeting our MP David Johnston also expressed his concern at the level of local housing development, especially where infrastructure is not provided and where developers scale their development back to a level where it is not required!

Houses on some of these developments are not selling as fast as they were and the adoption by central government of a new algorithm for calculating housing requirements gives a considerably lower value with current figures indicating over delivery west of Wantage in the last 10 years of more than 1,300 dwellings!.

This continuing fluid picture is compounded by the developing Oxford Plan 2050 ( where there is also considerable argument over likely housing requirements ( hire%20Growth%20Needs%20Assessment%20Phase%201%20Report%2024.06.21.pdf).

Where is levelling up when you need it?

Local health services

Changes in the health service both nationally and locally continue to give us cause for concern. The Health and Social Care Bill seeks to increase competition within the NHS and empower GP surgeries in terms of commissioning services. The proposed link between health and social care remains tenuous.

Covid cases are again falling away as spring progresses but may return next winter.

Issues which we are dealing with on JHOSC (county health scrutiny committee – see include: The BOB

ICS. More and health provision will be delivered across county boundaries with the ICS (Integrated Care System), known as BOB (Bucks, Berks and Oxon). There are concerns (i) that the money saved by the economy of scale will be absorbed by the necessary additional bureaucracy, and (ii) over the level of scrutiny. A BOB scrutiny committee has been set up and all three separate scrutiny committees are also now talking to each other to, where necessary, determine common positions.

We are also watching very carefully the county-wide review of community health service provision. This was originally done as a pilot at OX12 but it was done very badly and the sub- committee which scrutinised it, which I chaired, was highly critical, so much so that the method used was dispensed with completely. The county-wide review remains highly important not least because it includes community hospitals such as Wantage. We are currently waiting for a plan to be presented covering the county so that we can judge how Wantage Hospital will fit into the overall scheme, something which we pressed for.

Maternity services are currently suspended because of staff shortages and, should it be considered that the in-patient beds may not be needed, a full public consultation will be needed. Out-patient services are currently run from the site and we are told that the future of the hospital is assured but we know about testing the proof of the pudding!

Staff shortages are a huge issue – and not just in medicine. The high cost of living in this area for junior staff can be a major deciding factor. Recruitment from oversees is seen a solution.

Environment and North Wessex Downs AONB

Catherine Webber (Cabinet member for environment) and I sit on the Council of Partners and give regular updates on what is happening in our area. One issue has been that the AONB is not necessarily notified for planning proposals that may be in the AONB area unless the Vale regards them as substantial. This is a concern as it relies on the local councillors to do so. Certainly, the AONB officer dealing with these can become overwhelmed.

I am keen that some of the activities of the AONB spread north into the Vale, particularly involving farmer groups (clusters) in individual projects. We are starting this by stimulating local parish councils that do not yet have Nature Recovery activity/projects in their parishes. We ran an online Forum on May 10th with fascinating presentations by local experts and which was attended by representatives from more than 20 parish councils.

Other (miscellaneous)

We have a number of small industrial/ business parks in the ward. I am keen that David Johnston, our MP, understands the breadth of commercial activity in our parishes. Two weeks ago I took him around Grove Business park and the smaller W&G Estate on the A417.

Other issues include speeding, the Wilts and Berks Canal, Broadband roll-out, the tail end of

the “big vaccination” and restart grants for businesses.

Road drainage

Continuous pressure on the Vale and OCC has resulted in a great improvement in the drainage on the roads down from the Ridgeway and in West Challow. I have been in discussion with OCC officers about how best to ensure regular maintenance of these systems to prevent flooding and discharge of silt into Letcombe Brook. It may be worthwhile exploring with the relevant parishes whether they might wish to take on that responsibility. This would be worth discussing. I am in contact with the East Hanney Flood Team to ascertain how they manage their activities. More in due course.

Council tax bands

I am concerned that the current council tax banding is totally inappropriate for today’s house

pricing since it was set up in 1991. The lowest bands A-D are assigned for properties under

£88K in value. The uppermost band contains properties above £320K. It seems bizarre to me that properties of £321K are in the same band and pay the same council tax as a property valued at £4 million. I have contacted David Johnston about this since revaluing the banding is 30 years overdue.

Cllr Dr Paul Barrow Ridgeway Ward

Vale of White Horse District Council