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Council

Welford on Avon Parish Council is made up of seven Councillors supported by the Parish Clerk. Its main objective is to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the village and to this end is required to address a wide range of matters. The major recurring topics are allocated to individual councillors as portfolios and are listed below.

The Parish Council meets twice a month, on the first Tuesday of the month to consider all matters. Two weeks before each Full meeting is a Planning Committee meeting. Meetings are published on our events calendar.

All Parish Councillors are members of the Planning Committee, which is chaired by Councillor Neal Appleton.

Parish Council Clerk

Iona Wibberley

  • Parish Council Clerk
  • Responsible Finance Officer

The clerk is the first point of contact for the Parish Council. They may be contacted by submitting the contact form or by email at clerk@welfordonavon.com.

The clerk is the Proper Officer of the Parish Council and has responsibility for ensuring that the instructions of the Parish Council, in connection with its function as a Local Authority, are carried out.

The Parish Councillors

Simon Carter : simon.carter@welfordonavon.com

  • Chair
  • Welford Matters liaison
  • Publicity
  • Community liaison
  • Welford Sports Club trustee

Jamie Hockaday : jamie.hockaday@welfordonavon.com

  • Deputy Chair
  • Synder Meadow
  • Synder Meadow Pavilion redevelopment

Martin Lake : martin.lake@welfordonavon.com

  • Financial matters
  • Audit
  • Annual accounts
  • Finance process
  • Contracts & procedures

Martyn Stanley : martyn.stanley@welfordonavon.com

  • Village maintenance
  • Traffic
  • Highways
  • Millenium Trust Parish Council representative

TBA

  • Rights of Way
  • Footpaths, including pavements
  • Cress Hill and Parish Council land management
  • Annual Parish Meeting

Neal Appleton : neal.appleton@welfordonavon.com

  • Planning
  • Neighbourhood Development Plan
  • CIL
  • Stratford District Council Planning liaison
  • Playing field and playground equipment

Debbie Jones : debbie.jones@welfordonavon.com

  • Remembrance Day
  • Defibrillators
  • Flood Action Group
  • School liaison

Additional Support

Members of our local community who are not council members but provide essential support functions.

Alice Wynn-Edwards (External Auditor)

Colin Winston (Parish Website Manager)

 

Playing field closure – July update 2

The meeting proposed last week between Welford on Avon Primary School and the parish council took place this morning, 09 July 2024 at Warwickshire County Council offices in Shire Hall.

Welford on Avon Parish Council and the primary school agreed a joint statement:

As a result of a meeting on 9th July 2024, the Parish Council of Welford on Avon and the school of Welford on Avon share a commitment to explore all options for the use of the school playing field that works for the school and community within current legislation.

Playing field closure – July update – additional

Since posting this morning’s update, a positive development.

Our contact at Warwickshire County Council has been in touch. Welford on Avon primary school have proposed a meeting between three representatives from each of the Parish Council and the school. The meeting to take place early next week (2nd week of July 2024).

There appear at this stage to be no preconditions to the meeting. Other than that, details are scant. The Parish Council regard this as a first step in the right direction and are fully prepared to engage.

Parent post: Playing field closure – July update

Playing field closure – July update

Since publication of this post, the situation has changed. Update: Playing field closure – July update – additional

Following close on the heels of the Parish Council’s last update on 17 June 2024, a letter was received by our solicitor from Warwickshire County Council’s legal department. The letter reflected many of the points made to the Parish Council previously in communications from school governors and specify three main pre-conditions before a meeting can take place.

The PC has responded with two letters of our own. The first was written by our Chair, to the Head of Property Services at WCC, who is our first point of contact at WCC for discussing this topic. The second letter was from our solicitor to the Head of Legal Services at WCC.

The Parish Council response to each of the preconditions is:

  1. Cessation of Negative Comments
    Negative comments are to be expected if children are not able to play in a safe space. Comments come from our community. They need no encouragement or amplification by the Parish Council. Indeed, the PC recognise individual’s right to protest and encourage those who wish to protest to do so in a respectful manner. Negative comments will stop if school governors relent and the public gate to the field is opened.
  2. Acknowledgement of the legal position
    In short, the Parish Council have been asked to accept that a licence exists. In its absence we do not feel able to do this. The school have categorically stated to the Parish Council that a licence does not exist. We certainly don’t have a copy of it, nor does it seem WCC have a copy, so we are unable to confirm a licence exists.
  3. Commitment to Positive Engagement
    The Parish Council are fully supportive of positive engagement and are pleased that the school has offered to commit to meet in the same spirit.

Subsequently, the Parish Council has received a response from our contact at WCC. We have been invited as a first step to meet with WCC’s Property Services and Education Services departments. This is progress. Education Services have been investigating the situation on behalf of WCC and the Parish Council are keen for feedback. The Parish Council are pursuing this as quickly as possible.

We await a response from WCC’s legal representative.

Post from the Chair

From the pen of Simon Carter, Chair of Welford on Avon Parish Council

I moved into this lovely village nearly 30 years ago and one of my children went to Welford Primary School. We’ve enjoyed everything about this village for years and when the children were younger the park on Headland Road was a regular destination.

I’ve been on the Parish Council for many years now and when l was asked “why do you want to be a Parish Councillor?” My answer came immediately and without thinking, that it was my opportunity to help the community. The village, its residents and, most important to me, to ensure that all in our community will reflect on their time in Welford on Avon with fond memories.

I admit now I wasn’t thinking back to my own time as a child meeting my friends at the local park for a chat, play football or just to ‘hang’ out somewhere together. Reflecting now that’s exactly what I was remembering but with my children. And it is those very memories that we are about to lose. Those memories that one day they might reflect on and encourage our children and grandchildren to return here with their children to relive those memories. My two children are doing exactly that and moving back into the village.

My focus and that of all your Parish Councillors has always been to make our village the best it can be. For it to be a safe and enjoyable place to live. Listening to your concerns and aspirations is our primary role as a Parish Councillors. We’re all volunteers and have a part time clerk, so can be quite frustrating when trying to persuade statutory authorities to do something! But let me assure you that our focus has and always will be – Our village, Our community, Our school and Our playing field.

As a parent and grandparent myself, it is so sad to read the experiences of so many villagers, parents and grandparents, are like mine at the moment – explaining to our children / grandchildren why on a warm summer’s day that they can’t go and play on the village playing field.

Why it’s locked to all children and not just them. Why, despite the play equipment that they see through the fencing cannot be used – it’s not wet but the gate is locked by the school. The very school, in some cases, they attend. How confusing it must be for them?

As adults the logic behind the decision to shut the playing field is nonsensical. The school won’t clearly say what needs to be done to open the playing field and have said the matter is closed, refusing to communicate with us.

We only instructed solicitors because we needed legal advice and don’t have any expertise on the Council, not because we wanted to litigate against the school.

Their decision lacks empathy and compassion for villagers and thoughtlessly dismisses the social, emotional and physical needs of the very children they teach.

Our beautiful village and its residents are quite rightly angry. At present we are trying to get a meeting to discuss the park with the School and WCC. We just want common sense to prevail.. no more letters back and forth.. let’s just meet and work it out!!

Playing field closure – June update

The topic of Welford’s playing field closure remains uppermost in many residents’ minds. Not least the Parish Council’s.

Since the gate to Welford Park was locked shut on 24 May 24, the Parish Council have:

  • Listened to the residents of Welford on Avon
  • Written to Warwickshire County Council asking for intervention
  • Written to Welford on Avon primary school asking for the gate to be opened
  • Attended a meeting with a representative of WCC
  • Held an Open Forum ahead of our meeting on 4th June 2024
  • Engaged with community groups
  • Monitored social media

Village residents have begun two online petitions. One asking for access to the park to be reinstated. The other expressing no confidence in Welford on Avon school governors.

The overwhelming message from residents is for the park to be shared between public and school. Most residents are outraged that it has been closed. Others are cautious to express a view.

Enquiries with WCC are progressing, but slowly. A meeting two weeks ago was cautiously positive, but has yielded no substantive response… yet. The PC will update the community when we have something to report.

Governors, having requested the PC to make arrangements to clear the field of the community’s assets, have reiterated their position that the matter is closed.

Welford Playing Field Closure – WPC letter to residents

Dear resident

Welford on Avon Playing Field Closure – Letter from the Parish Council

Following the decision by Governors of Welford on Avon Primary School to lock the gate to the field adjacent to the School on Friday 24th May 2024, until further notice, we wish to update you. The gate was locked, without communication to the wider community. A public notice and a letter to the Parish Council arrived at 5pm. The communication from the school advised that it was now closed for half term break and would return to school on the 3rd of June 2024.

The letter asks the Parish Council to contact the school to arrange to vacate and remove the play equipment for disposal or relocation to another amenity site at the expense of the Parish Council (you the taxpayer).  The letter states that it sees benefit in the Parish Council performing its task without legal redress, or recourse to Warwickshire County Council (WCC) as the freeholder, including the need to issue either eviction notices or proceedings.  The Governing Body conclude by offering their continuing support to the Parish Council in carrying out their statutory duties of providing amenity areas in the village, and encourage the Parish Council to do so, with child welfare uppermost in their minds.  The letter also asks the Parish Council not to disturb them further on this issue.  A copy of the letter can be found on the Parish Council website, at www.welfordonavon.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/WPS-to-Lodders-24.05.24-redacted.pdf

The public notice displayed by the school on the gate to the playing field states the responsibility for providing amenity areas in the village falls to the Parish Council, and there are provisions in the village with play areas for children at Synder Meadow and Cress Hill.

In justifying their actions, the governors refer to DfE statutory guidance “Keeping children safe in education 2023”. The Governors decision is recorded in the minutes of Welford on Avon Primary School Extra Ordinary Meetings of 14th May and 23rd May.

The playing field is owned by Warwickshire County Council, not the school.

The Parish Council’s position on the playing field has developed following feedback received from the community including conversations, emails, social media, the Annual Parish Meeting and more recently two petitions. The Parish Council have received reports of upset and concerned parents, children of all ages, and their extended family and friends from the village and beyond, including reports from parents being scared to voice their feelings.

The Parish Council also consider it to be overreaching of the Governing Body to direct children to play at Cress Hill adjacent to the river and at Synder Meadow, isolated from the centre of the village.

The overwhelming message from the community is one of looking to the Parish Council to maintain and protect the amenity space at the playing field. The Parish Council doesn’t have a statutory duty to provide amenity space, however we believe it is fundamental to children’s safety, everyone’s wellbeing, and for social cohesion within our community that this space is maintained. Our predecessors set up a Village Playing Field Trust in the 1950s and the village is determined to maintain the facility which has been in place for more 60 years.

The view expressed by the community is supported by Government, WCC and a number of other public bodies:

  • The Department for Education – ‘Involving the Secretary of State in Land Transactions’, September 21, provides for ‘Joint User Agreements’.
  • Warwickshire County Council’s – Warwickshire Children and Young People Strategy 2021-2030 includes a local and community-based approach to provide play, leisure, culture, and sporting opportunities. A quotation from the document: ‘We will ensure all children have local access to play and leisure activities.’
  • The Children’s Commissioner ‘Playing Out’ Aug 2018 discusses outdoor activities for children including the use of school assets.
  • The recent OFSTED Report for Welford on Avon Primary School Oct 2021 states “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective” (written prior to the school erecting a fence around the playing field).

The BBC has reported on a similar situation where a school must share a playing field with the community – BBC News www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-66053352

There are several similar situations across the country where the users have worked together to keep children safe, responding to what the Governing Body appear to rely as part of their justification.

We have found other schools that have dealt with the same situation in a very different way and are sharing local authority assets with their communities. As we have maintained all along, there many ways facilities can be shared safely.

The Parish Council are aware of two online petitions on the field closure, started by a local resident. One asking for the reopening of the play area – 467 votes and the second, a no confidence vote in the Governing Body – 38 votes. They do provide an additional way for the Parish Council and others to gauge village sentiment.

The Parish Council has written to the Chair of the Governing Body and Head Teacher with a copy to Warwickshire County Council. (Darren Pembleton, elected County Councillor for Stratford and Manuela Perteghella, District Councillor for Stratford have also been copied).   A copy of the letter can be found attached to the gate of the playing field and is available on the Parish Council website at www.welfordonavon.com/wpc-letter-2024-05-27/

The Parish Council has also written to the Chief Executive of WCC, the Head of Property Services & Strategic Asset Management Enabling Services Resources Directorate and the Senior Solicitor at WCC.  The Parish Council has again repeated its request for a meeting with the School Governing Body and WCC. We are surprised we’ve come to a point where the local community School won’t meet with its Parish Council and equally that the Governing Body made this decision without any consultation.

School staff probably find themselves in a very difficult position. The Parish Council urge all residents to be mindful of this.

The Parish Council has also received questions relating to use of S.106 money, including the use of the recently built school hall and reports that various local children’s groups have been excluded from meeting there.  We will raise this matter with WCC and SDC.

The Parish Council very much appreciate the significant feedback and strongly encourage you to continue to share your views with us and other relevant bodies until the gate is reopened.

Welford on Avon Parish Council

References

Letter from Welford on Avon governors to Parish Council, 24 May 24
Keeping children safe in education 2023, DfE, 1 Sep 23
Involving the Secretary of State in Land Transactions, DfE, Sep 21
Warwickshire Children and Young People Strategy 2021-2030, WCC, Sep 21
Playing Out, The Children’s Commissioner, Aug 18
Welford on Avon Primary School OFSTED report, Oct 21
School must share Stoke Lodge playing field with community, 29 Jun 23
Reopen Welford-on-Avon Park After School Hours, petition, 25 May 24
Hold a Vote of No Confidence in Welford on Avon School Governors, petition, 26 May 24 
Welford on Avon Parish Council letter to school, 27 May 24

Welford Playing Field Closure – WPC letter to school

Subject: Childrens play area closure – Urgent action requested
Date: 27 May 2024

To: Welford on Avon School, Welford on Avon School Head Teacher
Cc: Welford on Avon Parish Councillors and Clerk, Warwickshire County Councillor, Stratford upon Avon District Councillor, Warwickshire County Council Officers

Without prejudice

We write in response to the outrage being expressed by village residents and parents in the last couple of days and to your letter of the 24th May.

On behalf of the residents of Welford on Avon we request the immediate unlocking of the playing field gate on Headland Road.

The correspondence received from yourselves on Friday of last week suggests that the decision to lock the gate is due to your perceived obligations to Safeguard children at all times.

However, the timing of your decision to notify parents at exactly 5pm, on the first day of the May half term holiday, together with the lack of communication, prior to your action, with either the Parish Council or with wider village public, now places younger members of our community at risk.

The children of Welford on Avon deserve better and are not safer due to your actions. Without warning, a well-established safe space has been removed by you as Governors of Welford on Avon Primary School. This unilateral decision by the Governing Body is both overreaching and unhelpful in maintaining a relationship with the community you serve and has directly impacted the Parish council’s ability to mitigate your actions.

Your letter to WCC (copied in to the Parish Council) asking that they serve notice on the Parish Council’s License to Occupy the playing field openly recognises that the license does indeed exist.

Additionally we note that the Governors have specifically chosen to direct children and parents to alternative locations, namely Cress Hill and Synder Meadow. This we consider to be beyond the remit of the Governing Body and an irresponsible act. Today children were playing football on the Maypole Green next to the busy High Street, a very unsafe area to play !

As we have recently stated, the Parish Council are ready and willing to discuss this matter in person and find a mutually agreeable solution.

Whilst the email received from your Business Manager states the school is now on half term and will return Monday 3rd June, this does not prevent the Governing Body from unlocking the gate and responding during this period. Given that this is a child safety matter, you will understand the urgency of our request.

Kind regards
Simon Carter
Chairman, on behalf of Welford on Avon Parish Council and the Welford community.

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