Playground boundary fence
With some generous donations, we have sufficient in the kitty to replace the playground fence along Binegar Lane. We have chosen Jackson’s specialist Playtime timber playground fencing. It will weather to an attractive shade of silver grey, which will improve the look and feel of the area. Jackson’s timber comes with a 25-year warranty, making this a long-term and economic purchase from a firm with strong local roots.
The drainage ditch in Gurney Slade
One of its streams is the parish boundary, so our two Parish Councils – Ashwick and Binegar – are working on how to improve the drainage ditch by Gurney Slade Stores. The ditch has long been an eyesore as the brambles have grown thicker and thicker. We are thinking through a number of options but if you have any thoughts, we will be pleased to hear them.
A host of golden daffodils
Fingers crossed for the 250 bulbs we planted on Marchant’s Hill, just down from our new village nameplate. We hope they will give you a cheery welcome to Gurney Slade. Shall we plant more? Where? Will you help?
Our Binegar Bottom conundrum
It has taken hard work to get the south side of Binegar Bottom into shape, making it look good and building a ‘leaky pond’ to help prevent flooding. Now 4x4s and tractors – or rather their antisocial drivers - are doing their best to wreck it. Thoughts on how to protect the area will be much appreciated. The conundrum is how to do that while letting in travellers who have used the site since time immemorial and who, if you keep them out, will find a way in.
Village signs by Kingscombe
By now, we had hoped that the works would be complete with the old speed limit signs taken away. Indeed, that is what we predicted last month. Our good friends at Highways tell us, though, that they have scheduled the work for before the Ides of March. They were free to us, so no complaints!
Spring 2019 Great British Clean-up
Saturday and Sunday 13-14 April 2019. Put a note in your diary. Please!
Ice and snow – salt and grit
As I write in early January, it is still mild if getting colder. Ice and snow still seem far away! In case of another beast from the east, though, we have replenished the grit bin on Neville’s Batch.
Remembrance Day Centenary lunch
The Parish Council was delighted with the support for its charity lunch on November 11. From the feedback, the lunch itself was a great hit. We must record our thanks to those who donated meat, poultry, vegetables and groceries; and those who selflessly prepared and cooked the three lunch courses. We are delighted to report that the lunch raised over £600 for our two chosen charities: the Royal British Legion and Help the Heroes.
Village clean up – date for the diary
We plan to hold our Spring 2019 Great British Clean Up on Saturday and Sunday 13-14 April 2019. Put a note in your diary, we need your help.
Village signs by Kingscombe
Thank you to those who commented on the strange way Highways left these new village signs. By now, we do hope that the works are complete with the old speed limit signs taken away. Highways planned to do the work last autumn but a problem with one of the signs that meant ordering a new one. That meant a delay and that meant we missed our slot with the electrical contractor. Still, they were free (to you and me) so no complaints!
Conifer tree in Holy Trinity Churchyard
We have invited tenders to fell the damaged conifer aiming to complete the work by the end of March 2019.
Holy Trinity Churchyard gate
Our second Churchyard project this year was replacing the pier caps on the south gate. Wells Cathedral Stonemasons carved them from Doulting stone to match the originals and other dressed stone on the Church. We think the new ones look the part! We hope you do too.
Ice and snow – salt and grit
Writing on a mild December day, ice and snow seem far away! In case of need, we have replenished the grit bin on Neville’s Batch.
A37 air quality
Rupert Williamson, Mendip’s Environmental Protection Officer, tells us that the new vehicle NO2 monitoring site will go in at the beginning of January 2019. The first results will be in mid-February and we will publish them.
Village clean up – date for the diary
We plan to hold our Spring 2019 Great British Clean Up on Saturday and Sunday 13-14 April 2019. Put a note in your diary, we need your help.
Police bike mobile radar cameras have started again and we must all thank Mr Graham Fuzzey who has agreed to allow police vans once again to use the forecourt of The George Inn.
Budget for the financial year from April 2019
This time of year, Parish Councils must plan for 2019-20. We thought about what we want to achieve next year and reckon we will need some £20,000. We have income from land, the cemetery, wayleaves and a VAT refund that should make us £11,000 leaving us needing to set a precept of £9,000, which is 0% increase on last year. As ever, we will do our best to get grants and donations to supplement our income to make more improvements.
PCSO Rob Nell
Rob is our new Police Community Support Officer. Though based at Shepton Mallet police station, he will spend much of his working time out and about. Contact Rob at email@example.com or call 101.
The new nameplates have arrived! We hope you like them. Highways provided them “free” (they paid). The rules say they must place signs at the 30mph speed limit. That is why the southern signs show the speed limits. Rest assured, the old 30mph signs are to be removed and the new signs (with their 30mph limits) will be lit.
On Marchant’s Hill, that was not possible so they allowed us to have a sign that bears the crest of our villages. It looks good, eh!
Making Gurney Slade’s A37 safer
We battle on trying to improve safety. In our quest to replace the speed camera, Mendip, Somerset and the police all say, “not us”. Somerset says it will work through a new strategy in 2019 so we will keep up the pressure.
If we get nowhere, we will consider purchasing a vehicle-activated speed enforcement sign to try to calm drivers down.
None of this is very easy. Wish us luck and help us with any ideas!
Checking A37 air pollution
Next month, Mendip will start to monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the dangerous gas emitted by vehicle engines. The air quality objective is to protect us from exposure to NO2 over a long time. The measure, therefore, is the concentration of NO2 in the air averaged over a year.
There will be monthly results and will keep you up–to-date. Environment Health has been very helpful, so thanks are due to Mendip District Council.
You have seen the ditch by Gurney Slade Stores we cleared. Now Ashwick and Binegar councils are figuring out how to make an amenity out of this brambly eyesore. We cannot kill weeds by spraying - illegal by a stream - so we thought black membrane, depriving them of light might work. First, though, we must dredge those silted-up streams and shape the banks.
Audit of 2017-18 accounts
The Parish Council's allotted auditor - PKF Littlejohn - has completed its independent audit of our 2017-18 accounts. It has issued a certificate with the opinion that our accounting accords with 'proper practices' with no items raised to give cause for concern that laws and regulations have been broken. All of our accounts and the auditor's certificate can be viewed by clicking the parish documents button.
Are your boundary hedges or trees over-growing the road? Yes?
They will become a greater danger to drivers, horse riders and pedestrians once the clocks go back. A combination of your overgrown hedge and dark evenings could result in an injury.
This year there seem to be overgrown hedges almost everywhere. Now, then, is the time for you to cut that hedge back. Make sure you prune it enough so that new growth does not spill onto the road next year
We hope we shall not need to do so but the Parish Council must report any dangerous overgrown vegetation to Somerset Highways and you may have to pay as a result. Cut back that anti-social vegetation now.
Clear the culvert
We have worked hard to make a ‘leaky pond’ at Binegar Bottom to help control excess flows of surface water. We have also cleared the drainage ditch by Gurney Slade Stores to help the water flow.
If you live on Binegar Lane, Woodside Terrace or Uphill and have a culvert inspection cover in your garden or outside your house, please look now and make sure the chamber is clear. Blocked chambers caused flooding in winter 2012. Let us all do all we can to prevent it happening again.
A more welcoming village entrance
Many thanks; we are pleased you like the idea of planting daffodils as a welcome to our villages. We plan the first drift for the A37 verge opposite Tellis Lane. We will be in touch about how you can help with planting.
Mendip has agreed to our request to install a monitoring station in Gurney Slade to check levels of nitrous oxide (NO2). We need a location that will show the “worst case”. That means a station by a house close to the road. Call if you think you know where to place it. Obviously, it will take a while to get the results. We hope then we can be reassured.
Somerset County Council is consulting on a draft strategy for air quality. It is about preventing pollution and managing areas where emissions of particulates (from wood burners and the like) or NO2 (diesel nitrous dioxide) exceed legal limits. It is a strategy for all councils in the county, including Mendip District Council.
It is Mendip that actually takes the air quality measurements. Mendip has not published an annual air quality report since 2014. Because of that, we have asked for data about the busy A37 through our villages. We want reassurance that levels are safe.
We will consider Somerset’s draft strategy at our next meeting and respond to it. You can find it on Somerset’s website along with a questionnaire – do complete it to make sure the strategy considers your opinion.
A brighter welcome to our villages
We are thinking of planting a host of daffodils along the Marchants Hill roadside, inside the new village nameplate. A good idea? Tell us what you think.
A37 new village name signs
We have agreed with Somerset Highways the locations for new village name signs. To the south, nameplates, on each side of the A37 will replace the existing 30 mph signs. To the north, there will be just one nameplate, opposite the entrance to Moors Farm. Highways will pay for this work. These things take time but Highways promise this financial year. The one at the north of the village will display our village crest.
Gurney Slade A37 traffic census
The census was for 10 days in May, including the bank holiday. The radar was half way along Salisbury Terrace. It counted some 9,000 vehicles a day - around 1:10 were heavy goods vehicles. That makes A37 the busiest in north Somerset between the M5 and A36. Daily average peaks were 12 vehicles a minute at 0700 and 1700.
Average speeds were slower than we expected. North was 30-34 mph, south was 25-33 mph. However, this masks weekends when 75% vehicles travelled at over 30 mph, some over 50 mph. Most speeding occurred early morning and in the evening.
Judge for yourself and tell us what you think. Click here.
Your right to examine and question our accounts
Any year - like 2017-18 - when we spend over £25,000, we must submit our accounts for independent audit. You can ask to see our accounting records. You can also question the auditor about them and object if you think any spending is unlawful or if you think there is an issue of public interest. You have from 11 June to 20 July to exercise your rights.
The auditor appointed for us is: PKF Littlejohn, 1 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London E14 4HD, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flood prevention work starts in Binegar Bottom
You will see changes happening at Binegar Bottom. There are two leaky ponds being built with the aim of managing the peak flows of water downstream into the villages. They are deliberately leaky so they do not stop the flows entirely but we hope they will cope with and manage the worst of the peaks like the ones of 2012.
Three cheers for First West of England buses
We owe thanks to Andrew Sherrington, First's Operations Director. First is putting double deckers on route 173. It is a successful route and too busy for single deck buses, particularly around Radstock and Bath. Double deck buses, though, cannot get along the lanes into Binegar because of tree overhangs. The plan, then, was to bypass Binegar.
The change was due to happen this month but Andrew listened to our appeal even though it was very late - we only heard in the last week of March. He has postponed the change to double deck 173 buses until 7 June. This gives Somerset County time to trim back the trees to allow double deckers to pass through.
Thank you First West of England, you gave us excellent service.
County consultation on Shepton Mallet library - our response
Our nearest town is Shepton Mallet and parishioners visit its library. We oppose the proposed changes to the library.
The County Council agreed its latest vision for the library service in 2017. However, putting the service on a "sustainable financial footing" is a "key reason" for this consultation. This compromises the vision and the County's consultation is about how to deliver "a real-terms net annual cost reduction of between £300,000 and £520,000", a budget cut of 7%-13%.
This is the third consultation since 2011. Cuts to library services have followed each one. The £520,000 target cut now is on top of £500,000 cut following the 2015 consultation. What confidence can we have that this consultation will create a financially "sustainable" service? The answer is "none".
There are three options put forward for Shepton Mallet library:
That the County considers these acceptable alternatives demonstrates how this consultation is about cuts, not libraries.
- Maintain current service but relocate the library out of the town centre (to Mendip Council Offices)
- Provide a library through a "community library partnership" to keep the library in the town centre
- Close the library and replacing it with so-called "outreach services" (events, activities, small book collections and/or public computer terminals) and providing an additional mobile library stop
Shepton Mallet is a town with high degrees of social deprivation. The County has a responsibility to remove or reduce disadvantage by providing support. The proposals do exactly the opposite.
Maintaining quality of life and environment in the town centre is already a challenge. To close the current library will reduce town centre footfall and strikes at the heart of the community. Moving the library out of town to Mendip District Council offices will undoubtedly reduce its usage. Given the policy since 2011 of hitting the weakest, this will simply result in further cuts. The option is designed to ensure the end of the library service in Shepton Mallet.
Unspecified "outreach services" are no substitute for the library. In Binegar, our mobile library has been cut rather than promoted. The Parish Council has no confidence that the "outreach services" will survive if, indeed, the County actually provides any.
The final alternative is the warm-sounding "community library partnership". This, though, is a weasel phrase. The County expects "the community" to take over all expenses, offering a meagre contribution of less than £96 a week. As with road safety and supporting special educational needs, the County appears to believe it is acceptable to dump costs on communities.
The Parish Council supports Shepton Mallet Town Council. Somerset County Council must:
- Publish all data after any library premises contract is ready so that the electorate may have faith that the decision has been arrived at in a dispassionate, open and fair manner and not because of pre-determination or bias towards certain options.
- Ensure democratic control of the task of finding a sustainable future for the Library by establishing a 'task-force' to monitor and supervise the process
- Agree that the Task Force's findings be given proper weight and consideration in the decision over finding a sustainable future for the Library.
No civilised society sets out to destroy its cultural assets. It is shameful that Somerset County Council is doing exactly that.
A crest for our villages
The Parish Council wanted a crest to display on signs as a symbol of Gurney Slade and Binegar.
Ours are historic settlements, named in the age of the ancient Britons, before the Romans came.
In Britonnic, slàd is a lush green dell. A thousand years later, the Norman de Gournay family added its name to make the Gurney Slade we know today.
Britonnic Ben na Gra became Old English Begenhangra - hillside (hangra) of worship (begen). It is usually translated as slopes where berries grow but this mistakes beger (berries) for begen. With so many ancient burial sites around us, Binegar was surely named to honour these places of worship.
We chose two intertwined chevrons to symbolise our two villages. Vale and hill, Binegar and Gurney Slade, joined as one. Gurney Slade’s chevron is gold to symbolise its mineral rock wealth. Binegar’s upturned chevron is white for our sacred local sites. The background is blue for the Mendip Hills sky.
For centuries, our parish was Whitchurch Prebend with an intimate association with Wells Cathedral. The Cathedral's colours are blue, gold and white. The colours mirror our historic links.
Help us make Gurney Slade’s A37 safer
We were disappointed our bid for a highway improvement scheme did not succeed. At our annual meeting, parishioners were clear it was a priority.
We must now make the case for better road and pedestrian safety. With so few recorded road accidents recently, Highways say we are not a priority.
We need your help. Tell us what accidents or near misses you have experienced or seen. Tell us of any close shaves you have had walking along the footpath. We need to build up a good case. For that, we need your help.
We will do what we can to make the A37 safer. We have already had Woodside footpath opened up for mobility scooters making safe the route from Tape Lane to the Memorial Hall. We will get the vegetation on the footpath between Stone Edge and Myrtle Cottages cleared. What else?
We still intend to get new village signs that – Highways tell us – can reduce traffic speeds.
A Look Back
It has been a busy and exciting year. We can look back with pride at many achievements. They include a new lych gate, our Let’s Celebrate weekend enjoyed by so many, new play apparatus, refurbished park benches, Binegar Bottom south-side restoration, village clean ups, A37 traffic island planting and much more.
A Look Forward
We look forward to continuing to make a difference with numerous projects in the pipeline. This month sees the installation of new estate fencing around the cemetery. Additionally, there are plans to replace the front playground fence. Work will continue on progressing flood prevention at Binegar Bottom and clearance work will continue to enhance the area for all to enjoy.
It's mainly gone, the wooden fence. It makes way for our new metal estate fence. Depending on weather, we will install the new fence on 8 January 2018. Bear with us if there is no cemetery fence for a while.
Much of the wooden fence is reusable. In return for taking it down, we have given it to Holy Trinity Church Council to fence off its new Fair Field car park.
A traffic island flowers and a big ditch needs your help
Mind the traffic island by Gurney Slade Stores. We have planted it with Euonymous (which is tolerant of salt from road gritting) and Heuchera (to cover the ground). Next season, it should start to take off and look the part.
Meanwhile, parish councillors Jon and John have cleared the adjacent ditch and verge. Any ideas about managing it?
We have refurbished the public seats at Colbourn Close bus stop (Binegar Lane) and between the old School and the Church (Station Road). OK, it's a bit chilly to sit on them now but we hope they will give you a bit of rest in 2018.
They’re bright! They're yellow! They're free gifts! They’re in the playground! Have fun.
County award for our postman, Kevin Seymour
On October 18, Kevin received this year’s Services to the Community award from Somerset County’s Chairman, Councillor William Wallace. Kevin has delivered our mail for nine years. We thought his cheerful attitude, his helpful approach his kindness and concern made him not only an honorary parishioner but also a man who deserves this award. Congratulations Kevin!
Autumn clean up
Phil Roberts says a big thank you to all who turned out in the midst of Storm Brian to pick up litter. This year, litter was noticable by its absence. Well, if not absence, by how little there was. We reckoned that was because of parishioners taking care of their villages. And, of course, avid litter pickers Hazel Payne and Paul Gauteri. Thank you all.
ZINGO - another new playground apparatus
It took ages to install our new junior multiplay. We bought it from a company called HAGS/SMP. To make amends, HAGS is giving us three Zingos. We are grateful; it is a valuable gift worth well over £1,000. We shall install them soon and you can play.
Making Gurney Slade's A37 safer
The Parish Council, with Ashwick, has applied for a highway improvement scheme for the A37 through Gurney Slade. We asked and you said this was your priority.
The A37 is the busiest road for miles around. Since 2000, heavy traffic is up by half. Traffic speeds have increased too and drivers use the run through the village to overtake. The footpath between Binegar and Tellis Lanes Is now hazardous.
Our application was to County Councillor Mike Pullin. We will report progress.
A flower bed traffic island and a big ditch
That new traffic island near the Gurney Slade Stores has become a real eyesore – full of weeds. We have ordered a makeover with pretty Heuchera plants.
Meanwhile, parish councillors Jon and John volunteered to clear the ditch and verge beside the traffic island. We are at a bit of a loss to know how to deal with this area, which just keeps growing stronger and stronger brambles. Any ideas?
Have you seen what a great job councillor John and Mr Paul Sharp have made of the south side? We hope soon to be able to do some earthworks to help prevent flood.
Many thanks for your interest in how to replace the cemetery’s boundary fence. The Council decided to go with the majority and install a steel estate fence. It will complement the fine new lych gate and look very smart. Better still, it will last many years making it a good, economic purchase.
Help us make the A37 in Gurney Slade safer
At our Annual Meeting in May, people from the village said their first priority was to make the A37 through Gurney Slade safer.
We are planning improvements for the entrances to Gurney Slade but we also hope to attract a highway Small Improvement Scheme (SIS). Each County Councillor can put forward two SIS each year. For this, we need to set out for Councillor Mike Pullin the problems we experience. Here are the problems that local people have said they want solved:
- Many vehicles ignore the speed limit and take the straight section through the village as a chance to speed up
- Drivers use the straight section of the A37 in Gurney Slade to overtake
- The trees and vegetation on the quarry side of the A37 force southbound traffic towards the crown of the road
- There is a footpath that is unsafe as many six-axle lorries must mount the kerb to pass each other
- From the quarry side of the A37 to the Village Hall, there is no pedestrian route for wheelchairs or mobility scooters other than actually going along the A37
- There is no pedestrian access to the most northerly village dwelling, Moors Farm and exiting onto the A37 is dangerous
Tell us of the problems you face, especially the ones we have missed.
Binegar Cemetery lych gate
The dedication of the new lych gate will be at 6:30 pm on Sunday 10 September.
The ceremony - at the lych gate - will begin Holy Trinity’s Harvest Festival.
The lych gate is a gift to our community from Mr and Mrs Robert Wilcox in loving memory of their daughter, Chloe.
Rev Richard Priestley will conduct the ceremony of thanksgiving for the community and local craftsmen.
All are welcome to attend.
Is the boundary hedge of your garden or field overgrown? Does it spill onto a footpath, lane or road? Now is the time to cut it back. Overgrown hedges are a hazard to pedestrians and drivers. Cut back your hedge to make sure you are not putting people at risk.
Have you looked at Binegar Bottom lately? You'll be delighted at the clearance along the left hand side as you go up towards Maesbury. It has been the work of John Scadding and Paul Sharp to who we all owe a great debt.
We have two aims: the first is to help reduce flood risk in Gurney Slade, the second is to increase bio-diversity making the area friendly to more species of flora and fauna. John Scadding got help from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group. Their plan is that we create 'leaky' ponds to slow the flow of surface flood water, reduce the amount flowing down to Gurney Slade and collect silt. We shall be tendering for this work soon.
Work started to build the new entrance to our cemetery, replacing the old gate, which has, to be fair, served us well this past 60 years! Over the next weeks, you'll see Sean Leaver and Alban Bunting as the building goes up.
Phone box saved
In the face of opposition from the parish, BT withdrew its plan to take away the phone kiosk on Turner's Court Lane at Binegar Green. It is available for emergencies. It is also available for calls but beware! It will only allow reverse charge or credit card calls and these work out a more than £6.50 for a three minute call. Yes, £6.50 - all part of BT's public service commitment.
The Great British Spring Clean
What a great lot of parishioners! Seven huge bags of rubbish collected. It's so good to keep our villages clean. It's a big thank you from your parish councillors.
© 2019 Binegar Parish Council