Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on

 Tuesday 24th May 2005 at the Church Hall at 7:30 pm



Chairman:                        Cllr R Smiley

Vice Chairman:                Cllr M Cullen

Councillors:                      Cllrs A Alderson, M Clarke, E Daniels, B Felstead, C Jones, S Madahar

                        and B Swann-Auger

Parish Clerk:                     S Scrivener

District Councillor:            District Councillor R Turner


Also present were twenty-one members of the public.


1.                  Apologies


Apologies were received from Revd Michael Bowers and Mrs B Matthews.


2.            Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting 19th April 2004


Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting 19th April 2004 were agreed and ratified.


3.            Matters Arising


No matters arising to report.


4.            Chairman’s Report


The Chairman thanked a number of Fen Ditton residents for their voluntary services within the village. 


Cllr R Smiley confirmed that the Land by the Barn matter had been settled and that the land was now officially registered in the name of the Parish Council at H M Land Registry.  The only matter outstanding being the positioning of the notice board. 


Cllr R Smiley thanked the Ditton Day Committee for their efforts in raising money especially as the Ditton Day contributions also assist in keeping the village precept down.  Cllr R Smiley announced that volunteers are needed.


Cllr R Smiley mentioned that there were plans to ‘enhance and protect’ the Recreation Ground and that all parishioners would have the opportunity to view and comment on draft plans on Ditton Day.  The tarmac square will also be marked out.


Cllr R Smiley also reported that initial enquiries had been made regarding the expansion of the cemetery.


5.            Financial Report


The Parish Clerk, as Financial Officer presented the following report:


The Parish Council accounts are healthy.  Currently with a balance of £15,778. 


This includes a £5,000 contribution from SCDC for legal fees in respect of the dispute over the ‘land by the barn’ – which has been received recently.


The Parish Council is seeking to recover further funds from South Cambs in respect of these legal fees.


There has, however, been necessary expenditure on tree works at Osier Holt.  The Townlands Charity very kindly contributed 50% towards this expenditure.


It has also been necessary to purchase a new Recreation Ground gate.


The Parish Council has applied for the same precept as the past two years (£11,920) in an attempt to make a small contribution towards keeping the Council Tax rates down.


5a.            Cambridge United Football Club


The Chairman very kindly allowed Colin Proctor to speak regarding helping Cambridge United.  Should anybody wish to assist, please contact Cambridge United on 01223 566500 or Cambridge Fans United:


Phone:            07957 344005

E-mail:            info@cambridgefansunited.org

Letter:            PO Box 447, Cambridge  CB3 8SZ


6.         County & District Councillor’s Report


            District Councillor Robert Turner then presented the following report:


I would like to thank the Chairman for inviting me to Fen Ditton APM.  I would also like to express my gratitude to the electorate of Fen Ditton for electing me as their District Councillor last spring.  Having any position in public life is an honour and I will try to help as best I can.


I would like to thank the Parish Council for its continued support and encouragement and Sara, our Parish Clerk for her record keeping, the minutes and for keeping me informed with agenda items.


Refuse Collection and Wheelie Bins


The wheelie bin system for collecting household waste, introduced by Cllr Barker and the Waste Management Committee, has been a great success although there was anxiety at the time.  Parish Councils are now benefiting from recycling receipts.  Plastic recycling has been introduced at designated sites, two sites close by are at the Tesco stores at Fulbourn and Milton.


Council Tax


As we all know, the council tax for a band D property has increased by £70.00 to £140.00.  An increase of 100%.  I voted against the increase because I think it is too great and is due to bad planning over the years.  We are told that the increases were implemented because:


1.                  Government funding for SCDC services is low compared with the grants received by other councils and;

2.                  The government takes ¾ of the proceeds from the sale of council houses.


The £140 portion of the council tax for SCDC works out to be £2.70/week for the whole range of services that SCDC will deliver in 2005/06.  As we all know, the rise that SCDC has asked for, is in excess of government guidelines and it has had the rise capped.  We are still waiting what increase SCDC will be allowed to charge.




I am currently the Chairman of Marshall’s Consultative Committee.  This Committee meets two to three times a year to discuss topics including public safety zones and complaints about aircraft noise, pollution, movements and servicing.


At the moment, there is a long of interest in proposals for relocating Marshall’s allowing the brown field site to be developed into a 10,000 house estate.


8.            Conservation Report


The following report was presented by Cllr A Alderson:


This last year really began with the pollarding of the limes in the High Street.  They had already been left too long and two of them were described as being in a hazardous condition.  They are not looking very nice at the moment but with a bit more tidying up, hopefully they should be there for us to enjoy for years to come.


The next noticeable change to the village was the planting of daffodils at the crossroads which were donated by Notcutts Ansells Garden Centre.  This suggestion came from last year’s APM and I think we can all agree it improved the appearance of the village.


It is hoped that during the coming year, other areas can be improved.


9.            Highways Report


The following report was presented by Cllr E Daniel:


The progress of the much needed Road Calming Scheme in High Ditch Road has been checked on regularly and for the past three or four months, SCDC have said that the start is “imminent”.  (Even they laugh when they say the word again and again) but now say the contractor is genuinely close to starting!  We will continue to press them until we see the actual work taking place.


That, however, is not the only problem encountered in High Ditch Road.  Finally, after a lot of persistence from our Parish Clerk, the repairs were carried out to the stonework on High Ditch Road bridge and after even more persistence, a substantial fence has been erected either side of the parapet.  Sara is still having to be persistent to get the bushes cut back either side of the bridge which narrow the road even more and complaints have been made of cars being scratched by these bushes.


Another real cause for concern, particularly in High Ditch Road, is the parking of cars on our lovely green verges and pavements.  We are proud of our lovely green verges and pavements.  We are proud of our verges and we think they will help to give a real ‘village feel’ to the village so we really don’t want them broken down – nor the pavements!  Also, it is unfair on pedestrians who cannot walk in safety because of the restriction in width when cars are parked inconsiderately on the pavement – and it is not safe to step out into the road because of the fast moving cars!  Offending vehicles have been leafleted and the Police are aware of the problem.


Litter is always a problem along our roads and the Parish Council has agreed to put litter bins along Ditton Lane, Horningsea Road and also either end of the Millenium Cyclepath from Wadloes footpath to Ditton Lane.  We hope this encourages less dropping of litter in our village.


Finally, to return to Road Calming Schemes, an application was made for road calming in High Street and Church Street but this was not successful.  However, this is something dear to the heart of Malcolm (Clarke) and you can be sure that anything that can be done to help deter speeding in those roads will be done!


10.              Planning Report


Cllr B Felstead presented the following report:


It has been a busy year and both Robert and myself have looked at many plans for development both residential and business.  Although I cannot comment on individual cases, the two proposed developments that attracted the most controversy were the planned erection of 15 houses at Home Farm on High Ditch Road and the development of two bungalows on Meadow View behind the row of cottages on the High Street.  I have to inform the meeting that a fresh set of development plans for Home Farm – a proposal for the erection of 11 dwellings – has been received and these plans will be made available at a special planning meeting on Saturday 5th June from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon.  I shall arrange to place signs in the Post Office window.


The matter of the closure of the Post Office was raised.  The Parish Council informed the meeting that another opportunity would be given to discuss the matter before a decision by the Parish Council had to be made.


11.              Crime Report


Cllr E Daniel presented the following report:


Initially, I would like to say a sincere thank you to PC Shulver who was our Community Policeman for a number of years.  Sandra and I saw him regularly both formally and informally and he was always friendly and helpful.  He updated us on a regular basis about what he knew had happened in the village and was pleased to hear anything we could tell him that perhaps had not been reported formally to the Police and yet could be part of a trend in crime.  This is certainly where we will miss our Fen Ditton Post Office when it closes as lots of information was disseminated there!


PC Shulver has now moved on but we welcome PC James Bannister who will take care of Fen Ditton and its needs.  PC Bannister is based at Sawston Police Station.  We have already established contact with PC Bannister and look forward to forging the same close relationship that we enjoyed with PC Shulver.


May I now introduce PC Bannister who will tell us all about his work and how we can help him and contact him.


PC James Bannister introduced himself to the community.  He reported that regrettably he would not be spending as much time in Fen Ditton as he would like – due to work constraints.  PC Bannister requested that any communal issues be routed via the Parish Clerk. 


12.              Cemetery Report


Cllr E Daniel presented the following report:


I check the Cemetery on a regular basis to try to ensure the standard is maintained and that it is a pleasant place for any visitor.  The present contractors, Herald Contracting service are efficient within the budget the Parish Council is able to allow and are always helpful.


A replacement seat has been installed as the previous seat was beyond repair.  The new seat now faces the Recreation Ground to give a more pleasant view.


Regular safety checks are also carried out to try to ensure that memorials present no danger to the public and any suspect will always be laid flat facing upwards so the personal information on them is always still apparent.


As mentioned by our Chairman, the Parish Council is aware of what may well be a major problem – that of limited space remaining in the cemetery and efforts are being made to obtain adjoining land to extend it.  These efforts will continue and meanwhile it is planned to find out more exactly how many grave spaces are remaining.  For example – a small number of graves appear to have been earmarked by the War Graves Commission at some point and enquiries will be made to see if these are still required – also graves reserved at the beginning of the last century and not used will be possibly brought back into possible use as the purchase is not longer than 99 years.


Quotations were obtained to repaint the lettering on the War Memorial, but the Parish Council decided that while this work was being done it would be beneficial for the stonework of the War Memorial to be cleaned.  New quotations are now being obtained and a grant will be applied for to help with the cost of the work.  I add my thanks to the those of the Chairman, to Dan and Brenda Jackson for looking after the grass and the garden around the War Memorial and keeping the whole area so tidy, attractive and colourful.


13.              Recreation Ground Trust


Cllr M Cullen presented the following report:


Football & Cricket


The Fen Ditton football and cricket clubs play their home games on the Recreation Ground. Both teams enjoyed very successful seasons last year achieving promotion in their respective leagues.  We wish both teams every success for the forthcoming season.


Play Equipment


We have recently received our annual safety report on the children’s play equipment.  There are a few minor improvements to be made on some of the equipment but generally the equipment is in good order.  The report does however indicate that the rocking horses are a cause for concern.  Some public spirited villages have repaired these rocking horses on a number of occasions in the past but they are now coming to the end of their lives.  We are currently looking to replace these with two spring-based rockers, the cost of which we estimate to be around £500 each.




The showers have been repaired by replacing the worn out water tank and immersion heater, and will greatly improve the facilities at the Pavilion.




As many of you will have noticed the two damaged benches by the Pavilion have been replaced.  The new benches have been placed on solid plinths, which will make them more secure and easier to replace should this become necessary in the future.  We hope that everyone will enjoy these new benches.




I have received a letter from the Coffee Pot complementing Mr Hancock our caretaker on the high standards he maintains in and around the Pavilion.  The Recreation Ground Committee also like to add their thanks for the hard work that Mr Hancock has put in.


Moving Forward


There are a couple of improvements planned for the Recreation Ground in the near future:  the gutters along the front of the Pavilion are in need of replacement and the size of the small fenced area to the side of the Pavilion is to be increased.


Longer Term


We are currently preparing a longer-term plan for the Recreation Ground.  This will cover a number of issues including the wild area in the corner of the Recreation Ground near Green End where we hope to control the brambles and encourage other plants and wildlife, access to the Recreation Ground from Green End where we are considering replacing the steps with a path and a hard surface adjacent to the play equipment probably between the existing wooden goal posts to provide facilities for older children.  We also hope to be able to mark out a five-a-side grass football pitch along side the regular pitch.  We are currently talking to a number of groups within SCDC who can help with hands on advice as well as financing for the plans.


Cllr R Smiley answered questions regarding the management of the Recreation Ground.  Cllr R Smiley asked whether anybody would be interested in becoming a member of the Recreation Ground Trust.  Mr Ian Winchester of Church Street volunteered.


14.              Ditton Day Report


Cllr M Cullen presented the following report on behalf of Mrs Jane Felstead:


My apologies at not being here personally but Ditton Day is fast approaching and there is much still to organise.


Ditton Day was a great success last year in spite of the weather being against us and we managed to raise £666.52 in total on the day.


Spurred on by this it was decided to hold a Caribbean night later in the year and this raised a sum of £833.94 making our total for the year a grand sum of £1627.19.


Since 2002, the monies raised by Ditton Day, which was set up to provide the village with a fun day for all, have been able to make donations to and support other groups in the village.


These being:


1.                  Fen Ditton School – repairs to the swimming pool £1,500.00.

2.                  Fen Ditton Cricket Club – club junior cricket equipment £338.66.

3.                  Fen Ditton Football – club line marking equipment and goal posts £327.95.

4.                  Fen Ditton Cricket Club – contribution to new scoreboard and equipment £236.00.

5.                  Fen Ditton School – contribution to their French lessons After School Club £350.00.


Total sum of £2402.61 and we look forward to helping to support village activities in the future.


Ditton Day will be on the 25th June this year and hope the predicted heat wave will have started by then.  There will also be an evening event in the form of dancing in the marquee on the 25th and another Caribbean night on the 23rd July.  We hope that you will all join us.


Anyone with any queries about Ditton Day or the activities we are running, please do not hesitate to contact me. 


Thank you Jane Felstead, Chairperson.


Cllr M Cullen asked questions regarding the accounts of the Ditton Day fund.  The meeting was informed that the accounts are available for inspection at the Post Office.


15.              Fen Ditton School Report


Mrs Julie Deane, Vice Chair of Governors


Our local school has enjoyed a very successful year. As villagers will know, the school is small – with classes from Reception to Year 6. The annual intake is 17 pupils. As a small village school it will come as a surprise that Fen Ditton Community Primary has been awarded many national accolades, winning bids on national projects ranging from Information Technology to sport. The blackboards of old have been replaced with interactive whiteboards - boards that can do everything a blackboard can, but with the added benefit of being able to act as a screen to view video or the output from a computer. The boards are touch sensitive and the interactive nature provides a unique learning experience for the children. Fen Ditton Community Primary is very unusual in having an interactive whiteboard in every classroom.


Those residents who have accompanied children to school will be aware of the danger posed by the very busy main road running parallel to the main school route. The school has been successful in bidding for grant money that will fund the building of a rail along the pavement, to keep children off the road. The rail will be timber to maintain the character of the village and will run from The Blue Lion to the school gates.  The Safer Routes to Schools scheme is at the planning stage and it is hoped that the rail will be in place by the start of the new school year in September.


The theatrical productions this year were ‘Christmas around the World’ and ‘The Black Shadow’. The younger children took part in the Christmas production and Years 3,4,5 and 6 took part in ‘The Black Shadow’. The children love taking part in the shows and anyone fortunate enough to see the productions will testify to the quality of the finished product. The school would like to thank Reverend Michael Bowers for allowing ‘Christmas around the World’ to take place in our village Church, this is something of a tradition now and the atmosphere is wonderful.


Our school has continued striving to improve by introducing French lessons. Learning a foreign language is most easily done before the age of ten, a trial was conducted with children in Years 1 and 5. The children have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it is hoped that French lessons will be introduced throughout the school from September. The school wishes to thank the Parish Councils of Fen Ditton and Horningsea whose donations enabled the trial to take place.


Another successful bid was made on a national PE Co-ordinators project, success has meant that the school has been provided with new sports equipment and training for staff.  The children have also been given the chance to play against other schools. This seems an appropriate time to thank all residents who have collected vouchers from Tesco and Sainsbury’s and to thank Dr and Mrs Madahar at the Post Office for providing a collection point for the vouchers.  Our current drive is progressing well but please remember the school when grocery shopping and never turn down your vouchers!


The efforts of the PTFA raised £1,600, the Christmas Fair and the Easter Egg Bingo night were notable high points. The village supported both events admirably and such support makes an enormous difference to a small school. The funds were used to plant a willow bower and a willow tunnel, adding to the interest of playtime. The next step in the development of the school grounds is a wildlife garden and a ‘quiet area’ where science lessons can be given and children may observe the natural world.


There have been some changes to the Governing Body this year, the school has welcomed Tony Jenkins, Chris Dawes and Janet Mills. Eve Daniel has stepped down after many years of service and we all thank her for her work. The work continues, the Governing Body is determined that the mobile classrooms to the rear of the school will be replaced with permanent buildings.  For years village children have been taught in these rooms which are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  Discussions are taking place with Cambridgeshire County Council and the wheels are in motion, I hope to be able to report favourably on this project next year. In the meantime, if you feel you might be able to help the school then please contact me or the Chairman of the Governors, Mr Nick Argue…..at the moment we are most in need of an architect.


16.              Fen Ditton Church Report


Mr Ian Ritchie presented the following report on behalf of Revd Michael Bowers:


I am sorry that I am not here in person to report at this APM, as I have a three Parish Joint Paraochial Church meeting tonight and so I have asked Ian Ritchie to present the Church’s report.


During this last year your Parish Church has maintained a regular pattern of worship at 10:30 am each Sunday – with a Parish Eucharist on the 1st, 2nd and 4th Sundays and a Family Service on the third Sunday.  On 13th July 2004, I was Licensed as Priest-in-Charge of All Saints Teversham and with my Staff Team (Assistant Priest:  The Revd Howard Bigg; Readers:  John Hullock, Colin Shaw, John Paulson and Angela Watts) am responsible for the three parishes of Fen Ditton, Horningsea, and Teversham.  Our joint PCC’s met to reorganize our Sunday service pattern in a way that it could effectively be managed by available staff.  We have started a tradition on 5th Sundays of holding a JOINT service in either Fen Ditton, Horningsea or Teversham which has been well supported.


In Church there have been 15 baptisms following Baptism preparation for Parents and Godparents:  5 weddings following marriage preparation sessions and 9 Funerals.


Our choir led by Mr John Bruce-Ball and Mrs Pauline Wilkinson has weekly supported those services with the addition of singing various anthems.  We would love to hear of any other individuals who would like to sing in our choir.  Our regular band of Bell Ringers has been able to ring most Sundays giving a wonderful welcome to those arriving at the Church.  We are very fortunate to have an excellent ring of eight bells, and we have welcomed various visiting teams to ring them during the year.  If there are members of the community who would like to learn how to ring our bells, we would be very pleased to hear from you.


Our Sunday School continues to meet on every 2nd and 4th Sunday meeting in the Church Hall and are then welcomed in to the Church service.  We have a small team of flower arrangers who make a splendid job of decorating the Church each week and would welcome any new members to assist.  It has been a joy to strengthen our association with Fen Ditton Primary School not only pastorally, but also in taking regular assemblies and class visits to the Church.  Also, my being a Community Governor.


The 1st Fen Ditton Cubs and Beavers have gone from strength to strength this year through the wonderful leadership and commitment of their leaders and have been encouraged to attend our monthly Family Service.


The fabric of the Church is still a great concern with costly repairs needed to the South Aisle roof to stop water pouring in during heavy rainfall, this is a PRIORITY project and will be fully addressed by the PCC to sort out an effective solution to stop further damage to the fabric.  The trouble is, the longer we leave it the worse it gets and the costs rise.  Our Parish Church is very much valued by the community and we will be launching an appeal when all the costs are known.  Initially we fear that this will be in the region of £100,000 and therefore encourage each member of the community to consider how they can support financially this much needed and essential work.


While on this subject, there have been tentative discussions recently about an organization for all 3 churches, but perhaps initially for Fen Ditton, to appeal to those who look upon St Mary’s as an important historical building rather than as a place for worship, that needs maintaining.  Possibly to be called “The Friends of St Mary’s” this could appeal to a wider group of people who wish to help this beautiful old building that is a focal point for the village.


To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of VE Day we held a successful concert on Friday 6th May, in Church – Music in War and Peace, which was well appreciated and attended.  On Sunday 8th May, we held a joint service of commemoration in Horningsea Parish Church followed by an exhibition and talks.


On the weekend of our Patronal Festival on August 14th, we will be holding a Gift and Prayer Day in the Church inviting people to pay a visit to their Parish Church, to say a prayer and bring a gift and to light a candle to mark their visit.  We would like to thank all those from the community who supported our Gift and Prayer Day last year.  We hope that this will continue to be an annual event to allow people to show that they value their Parish Church in the heart of the community.


Our Joint Parish magazine ‘New Life’ has continued to reach out into the community, this is your local magazine and to ensure a local community focus we need regular articles submitted, and would encourage the Parish Council to use this facility for outreach.  The Church has enjoyed its involvement with Ditton Day and looks forward to this years’ event.  On Sunday 14th May we held a very successful Whitsun Fair in and around the Church and we would like to thank everyone who came and supported it.


Finally, we look forward to welcoming you all as you visit St Mary the Virgin, Fen Ditton, YOUR PARISH CHURCH.


17.              Elizabeth March Foundation


Mrs Margaret Buxton presented the following report:


The Elizabeth March Foundation exists to provide financial help to young people who are under 25, have lived in Fen Ditton for at least two years and have attended local schools.  Small grants are awarded for training or further equipment needed when starting work.  Applications are treated in confidence and must be made in writing to:  Mrs Margaret Buxton, 1 Bakery Close.


In 2004, the total income of the Foundation was £58.49 from COIF shares, but with the balance brought forward from the previous year, the Trustees were able to award one grant of £100.  Only the income may be used.  The valuation of COIF shares (£1153.94 in 1994) is now £1648.43 so capital is steadily increasing.


After 21 years as a Trustee, first as Clerk and latterly as Chairman, Frank Burton has retired from the Elizabeth March Foundation.  We would like to thank him for his excellent service.


18.              Quy Fen Trust


Cllr E Daniel presented the following report on behalf of Mrs Brenda Matthews:


Quite a lot of work has been done on the Fen this year.  New hedging eaten by rabbits has been replaced.  It is now possible to walk round the end of The Cut at the Horningsea end and scrub has been cleared to make walkways for cattle to The Cut.  This is all according to the agreement with English Nature who gives a grant towards the upkeep of the Fen, but does not cover all the costs.


At present there is just over £1000 in the Fen Ditton account which can be used for the village as a whole.  The Parish Council can request money for projects but these have to be sent to the Trustees for approval.


The Trustees representing Fen Ditton are Roger Welham (Chairman) and Eve Daniel with the Secretary to the Trustees being Brenda Matthews.


19.              Willy’s Almshouse Charity


Mr Ian Griffith presented the following report


The large expenditure predicted for 2003, based on works recommended by Bidwells’ report has finally become evident in this year’s financial report.


As mentioned previously, this consists of a rolling programme of repairs and maintenance, managed by Bidwells and coordinated by our secretary, Nick Dakin.


A major exterior decorating programme was completed as well as urgent electrical work.


Although completed, payment for the latter work is not included in this report.


Additional work included the installation of a shower in number 6 and replacement of all fencing at the rear.


The ‘misc expenses’ item is made up by an electrical inspection, asbestos survey, structural survey and the Bidwells’ management charges.


I am pleased to say that the Secretary, Mr Nick Dakin has agreed to continue with his duties for the time being, given that the management arrangement with Bidwells is working so well.


Towards the end of the year, Mr Robert Smiley was appointed as the Parish Council representative to the Trust and Mr Mike Daniel as the village representative.  A new churchwarden was also appointed.


Mr Smiley replaced Dr Madahar as the PC rep and our thanks are due to Dr Madahar for his long association with and work with the Trust.


20.              Townlands Estate Charity


Cllr S Madahar presented the following report:


Estate Charity


Osier Holt tenancy agreement has been renewed for a further three years with an increased rent.


Once again Billygoats Society are hiring Osier Holt for the May bumps, again with an increased rent.


A new fence has been installed adjacent to the road.


The insurance for the field has cost more this year.


Parochial Charity


This charity has paid out over £900 in grants during the last year.  Rental on two lifeline telephones has been paid costing £162.  £700 was given to the Parish Council (approximately half of the cost) to make the trees at the bottom of Green End safe and £100 given to help a student with travelling costs.


Anyone wishing to apply for a grant that cannot be met by professional bodies, ie Social Services etc should apply to either Roger Welham, 44 Church Street, Dan Jackson, 16 Church Street, Rev Michael Bowers or Brenda Matthews, 20 Green End.  All requests are treated with utmost confidentiality.


21.              Any Other Business


Mr Frank Burton thanked Dr and Mrs S Madahar for their efforts in running the Post Office.



Sara Scrivener

Clerk to Fen Ditton Parish Council