The July meeting continued our sequence of virtual meetings, however on this occasion we welcomed two members of the public who had an interest in planning applications.

The Parish Council supported an application for change of use of the annexe at the Staddles, Meare Green from ancillary accommodation to a holiday let, recognising the mitigating circumstance that the owners live on site. More contentiously consideration was given to the fate of the ‘temporary’ accommodation adjacent to the Cottage Meare Green. This building was granted exceptional permission in 1994 as accommodation for use by the owners of the Cottage for as long as required but with the eventual condition that the land was returned to its original use. The application to remove this condition was not supported by the PC.

In the absence of an AGM this year due to the prevailing circumstances a motion was passed that all Councillors would continue in their representative roles on the various local groups. The only change noted was that Nick Sloan would represent the PC on the HOTV Management Committee as Sara Sollis did not stand for election to this group.

There was considerable debate around the proposals for a major change in local government organisation with the proposed unitary authority for Somerset. This proposal as you may well have read in the local press, abolishes both SCC and the four district councils and replaces them one, or possibly two, unitary authorities. The anticipated impact on Parish Councils is that they will have greater control over providing for the specific needs of their communities, albeit with an increased requirement to manage the resources that have been delegated downwards. So far, all of the running in this discussion has been made by SCC with little in the way of a coherent response from the districts.

While there was a majority of councillors generally in favour of change, almost all expressed concerns with the speed at which this is being pushed and the consequent lack of discussion for clarification and understanding. As a small parish reliant upon volunteers it is not clear how we will best take advantage of the opportunities this important reorganisation offers.

Issues raised by local residents around the Willey Road housing development concerning dust, noise and weeds in the buffer zone have been passed on to the contractor by the PC.

The general issue of planting in the headland space of fields with footpaths has again exercised the Footpaths Officer and the PC. In an attempt to pre-empt this situation contact was made with landowners immediately prior to maize planting but to little avail. One specific concern was raised over the footpath from Curload to Slough Court. Action has been taken by the landowner to make this passable and new way marker signs will be fitted to posts. One idiosyncrasy of this route is that as mapped it passes through a building which is several decades old.

Finally, the New Pavilion on the playing field has been handed over to the PFMC. The PC noted that this is a great improvement and a real asset to the village. Cricket will resume in late July and football is scheduled for September. It is pleasing to see the increased usage of the playing field particularly by families and young children.