Pen Selwood Parish Council Election 2015

For the first time in a long while there will be an election for your Parish Councillors. On 7th May you will have seven votes to cast between the 10 candidates, and you can vote for anywhere between one and 7 candidates.

The candidates are (listed in alphabetical order):

Below you will find a brief statement from each of the candidates.

Parish Council Candidates:

Tony Appleton

Susan and I moved from Bourton to Pen Selwood thirty years ago and have appreciated living here every day.  Our daughter moved here when she got married seven years ago and is now raising the twins in this perfect environment. You can often see me traveling around the village on my horse, on foot walking my dog or sometimes even on my bicycle.

I have been a serving member of the Parish Council since 2007. My main role has been to negotiate with the Highways Office when work needs to be done around the village such as pot hole repairs, drain repairs, road cleaning, collecting salt from Yeovil and verge cutting. (Again this year the council have agreed not to cut the verges too early to allow wild flowers to thrive). I have a good working relationship with the Highways Office and if I do not make petty requests then the work is usually carried out promptly according to their limited available budget.

During the last twenty five years or so I have been involved with the Horse Show, and other fund-raising functions more as an Indian than a Chief. I am an active member of the Selwood Sports and Social Club, I help out as and when required at other events in the village.

Regarding planning applications, as Parish Councillors we can only make an informed decision based on the specific wording of an application, we should read any professional documents, visit the site in question and take note of any comments from parishoners.  This enables us to make a fully informed decision regarding an application.

Having lived in the village for thirty years, if re-elected as a Parish Councillor my commitment will be to maintain the integrity and unique character of the village.

Jane Ashman

I have lived in Pen with my partner Richard since June 2009 having moved here from Bristol. I have also lived in small villages in Cheshire and North Wales in the past.

Since coming to the village, as well as running my business from home, I have enjoyed getting involved in the really positive life and activity that goes on here. I became involved in developing the community plan as part of the steering group, from which I have been delighted to see and participate in the development of a number of new community activities including helping at the village café. Working from home I understand the limitations of our current broadband service and together with my partner Richard have been working to try and draw attention to the issues both locally and with the Somerset County Council Rural Broadband Project.

I joined the bell-ringing group to learn a new skill and help keep alive a village tradition and have regularly helped with another tradition: the village fete. I can often be spotted walking the many wonderful footpaths we have with our 2 lively vizsla dogs.

I joined the Parish Council in May 2013 and try to input positively to the modest contribution the Parish Council can make to village life, but I recognise the biggest contribution comes from its residents. My aim therefore, is for the Parish Council to facilitate what you want from our village. I was the only Parish Councillor present who voted against the planning application to import huge quantities of demolition waste and subsoil to Penhouse Farm land and believe we did not do as much as we could have to seek & represent the majority views of the community. My aim, if elected, would be to try and involve residents more on the issues that concern them.

Sue Burnley

I have lived in Pen since August 2007 and count myself as very fortunate to live in such a beautiful area.  During my time in Pen I have been impressed with the friendliness of the village and the way I was welcomed into the community. 

For several years I played an active role in the Village Horse Show and am currently a member of the Book Club and a keen supporter of the Black Bin Cafe.  I particularly love walking in this area and participating in the Village walks when I can. 

I would like to be elected to the Parish Council as I feel I am able to listen to both sides of any discussion before making a fair and unbiased recommendation.  My past work experience both in IT and HR brings skills which may be of benefit to the community. 

Adrian Carter

My reason for standing for the Parish Council on 7 May is to encourage a more robust defence of the interests of village residents than was shown in February by the majority of existing parish councillors over the Hopkins proposal to import large quantities of subsoil and construction and demolition waste to a site within the parish.

I have lived in Pen for 15 years. During that time I have contributed to village life by serving as Horse Show Secretary for 8 years and as a parish councillor for 5 years, including 4 years as Chair. I am a Holding Trustee for the Village Hall. I am not a church-goer but at the request of the then Rector helped to manage the restoration of the Church roof. I have helped with teas at the Fete for the last 5 years and before that helped with the Produce Show each year. I am an active member of the Book Club and the Play Reading Group.

I am currently editing my first novel, set in a small village in Somerset. I am also standing at this election as Labour candidate for Tower Ward, of which Pen is part.

Elizabeth Carter

I am standing for the Parish Council because I was very unhappy with the way in which the existing Council dealt with Mr. Hopkins' application to import 17 lorry loads of subsoil and demolition waste to the land he recently acquired from Encie Farm every working day for 3 years. I am also unhappy with the conclusion the Council reached and felt it was important that voters in Penselwood should have the opportunity to elect some different members as there have subsequently been a significant number of complaints to the County Council about this application from people in the village.

I have lived in the village for 15 years after taking voluntary redundancy from the Civil Service. I  chaired the Horse Show committee for 8 years, set up and currently run the play reading group, helped put together the Community Plan and help with the fete and in the village cafe. I currently chair a local chamber choir and am a grandmother and horse owner.

Peter Fitzgerald

I have been Chairman of the Parish Council for about 5 years. I have tried hard during this period to help the parish Council to work as a team and to reach consensus wherever possible. During the period of my chairmanship we have assisted in the creation of the Village Plan, created new Allotments restored the railings in Coombe Street and bought the Telephone Box for the defibrillator. In addition to monitoring planning applications and dealing with highway and footpath problems, we have tried to assist on the difficult Broadband problem, and the problems of animal welfare that arose recently.

We haven’t asked for an increase in our share of the Council Tax since the beginning of the Recession.

I am very much aware of the unhappiness in some quarters over the current land-fill application. All the Parish Councillors who inspected the site, at the request of Mr Bill Hopkins took the view that the land-slip needed remedial work but that we weren’t qualified to know whether land-fill was the right solution, and that this should be left to the experts. However we concentrated on the strongly held view that if the land-fill went ahead it would be very wrong if the access was off Salters Hill, the lane running up to the village.

Richard Gething

I moved to Penselwood in 2009 with my partner Jane, our move here was prompted by changes in our work (I worked in the construction industry for many years designing Timber Structures) and a desire to change the style and pace of our lives, we found in Penselwood just that. We bought a property on Bleak Street which we have extended and reworked doing much of the design management and finishing ourselves.

I have become progressively more involved in village life, I bell ring, helping to  keep an old tradition alive, I’m involved with the village show and I’ve taken on the management and upkeep of the village foot paths many of us enjoy and with help, I have restored 7 stiles so far. I have been part of the village plan organising and running a survey into the broadband provision in the village and I continue to monitor what is happening.

I’ve never been a councillor, but I decided to stand because I wanted the village to have a proper election and to be able to choose who they wanted to represent them. I feel strongly that the Parish Council is there to represent the village as a whole and important issues like the current Hopkins planning application should be questioned and challenged strongly by the council. I appreciate a Parish Council has little real power but it should speak up for and represent the village where it can.

Andrew Jenkins

Sandra and I have lived in Pen Selwood since April 1975 having moved here when we got married. All three of our children were born and brought up in the village.

I have taught in a successful local Comprehensive School, in Gillingham, for 38 years and have been a member of the Parish Council for over 30 years. I am a holding trustee for the Village Hall and am also on the Village Hall Committee, chairman of the Community Field Committee and, have for a number of years, been vice chairman and chairman of the Selwood Sports and Social Club.

In 1996 I compiled the book Pen to Paper Memories of Pen Selwood by Vi Hocking and, at present, have nearly completed a book on the life story of a very prominent past member of our community who was the reconnaissance pilot for the “Dam Busters” during World War 2.

Gillingham School was founded in 1516 making it 500 years old next year and I am, at present developing a (largely pictorial) history of the school.

In 2009 I was awarded (and proudly accepted) the Chairman of Somerset County Council’s award for services to the community. My wife received a similar award in 2011.

I am opposed to urbanisation of villages like ours by the introduction of street lights and road signs. Modern satellite navigation systems can identify addresses without street signs in rural areas.  Speed limits requiring signage are totally against my views of what is best for our village, especially when we know that they will, in reality, never be enforced.

I have, for several years, been vice chairman of the Parish Council and have undertaken to deal with planning issues within the village. I am determined to continue to ensure that all planning applications are dealt with fairly and without bias, taking into account the views of the applicant as well as the views of those who may be opposed to the application.

I note that some candidates have chosen to voice objections to the way the Parish Council have dealt with the recent planning application to stabilize land at Pen House Farm.

It is, perhaps, worth thinking in more detail about the Parish Council’s role when considering planning applications.

We are asked for our opinion about applications in the village and, in some cases, in neighbouring Parishes if they have an affect upon our Parish . We should not try to advise on alternative ways of carrying out the development, we should not make comments about what we think are the reasons behind the development and we should categorically not be influenced by the personalities of the people making the application.

I have often said that a large number of letters from those people who are genuinely affected by the application will have far more influence on the final decision than one letter from the Parish Council.

Members of the public, if they wish, can suggest that the applicant:-

1)    is only undertaking the development to make money

2)    is, as has been suggested in this case, having to find an alternative tipping site because his existing site is becoming full and this site will be useful to “follow on”

3)    has just obtained permission for a housing  estate in Wincanton and needs the site to dispose of sub soil, etc. from this new development.

However these are not arguments that we as a Parish Council can use. We can only look at the paperwork in front of us and hold a site meeting, if we consider it to be necessary. We can only comment on “planning” issues.

We can certainly take into account comments made by parishioners to us before or during the meeting but we should also look at the issues from the point of view of the applicant. I am sure that anyone in the village making a planning application would want the Parish Council to be fair and unbiased in their decision making.

In this case the meeting was advertised, as required, but not one member of the public spoke to me prior to the meeting (and only one person has spoken to me about the decision we made since the meeting). However Mr Hopkins did invite us to see the problem he was trying to rectify.

A site meeting was held and the four councillors who attended saw the condition of the area of land in question and, subsequently at the planning meeting, only three of those at the site meeting were in attendance but did agree that something must be done to stabilize and improve the land. We also agreed that we were not experts on land stabilisation and tipping and that we therefore had to be advised by the experts.

The two existing Parish Councillors who continue to oppose the Parish Council decision on this matter were unable to attend the site meeting.

With reference to the number of lorry loads, we did state that concern had been expressed about the number of lorry movements and the quantity of fill but, again, it is not our job to suggest alternative methods of undertaking the development (we can only be advised by the experts). I did point out that Mr Hopkins does tax and insure his lorries and is, therefore, entitled to drive them on the public highway. Even if there was a weight restriction on the road in question, it would state “except for access”.

This is why I suggested that the best entrance (from the village point of view) would be the entrance at the bottom of Salters Hill. This would, I hope, keep lorries away from the narrow lane as well as giving them much more opportunity to discharge any mud that they pick up from the site on the temporary road within the site boundaries before reaching the public highway.

We are not in a position to suggest that the tipping process will not be carefully monitored or that the river Cale will become polluted. We have to rely on the agencies and experts involved to monitor the process and ensure that the landfill is made up of suitable material.

Part of the land may be just within the AONB and the rest of the site adjoins the AONB but the condition it is in at the moment is not conducive with AONB status which is why something has to be done to improve and stabilize the land.

The decision that we made was, in my opinion, the correct decision based upon the evidence we had at the time. I still think something must be done to improve and stabilize the land. I am still not an expert on land fill and I still consider the best entrance to the site is at the bottom of Salters Hill.

My door will always be open (as it has been in the past) to anyone who lives in the village and who wishes to discuss items of concern about Parish matters.   

This village has formed a major part of my life and, if re-elected, I will continue to do all in my power to ensure that the character of the village is maintained for future generations. 

Alex Milne

Having moved to the village 2 years ago with my partner Ben Juckes, I am keen to become more involved with village life.

We have recently started a family (our son, James, was born in early February) and I feel that I am well placed to represent the younger families in our community.

I am a qualified Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor with a passion for the countryside and have a good understanding of rural and property issues.

I am keen to protect and enhance the village of Penselwood for the benefit of all the residents; this has been demonstrated in my raising awareness of and objection to the planning application at Penhouse Farm for an: ‘Agricultural improvement operation to stabilise existing areas of landslip using imported sub-soil and construction and demolition wastes’ which, if successful, will result in a 13 hectare landfill site at the entrance to our beautiful village.

My hobbies are horse riding and walking; I enjoy gardening and have recently taken up botanical drawing.  I love living in this village and if elected will do all I can to represent the interests of the residents.

Jenny Steadman

I have been a Parish Councillor for the last four years.  During that time I have kept particular watch on the progress of South Somerset’s draft core strategy for planning to 2028 in order to fully understand any implications for Pen.  Last year I revised the Parish Council’s own planning policy document, a copy of which is available in the village hall and on the Pen website.

I believe we must be very cautious over any development in the village.  Our roads and facilities are in themselves self limiting and it is good to note that under South Somerset’s draft core strategy new development in rural settlements like ours should only be allowed when it benefits the community.

Unfortunately I was away at the time of the special Parish Council meeting and site visit to review the application for land fill at Penhouse Farm. I would have spoken strongly against it and have since taken a lead with Alex Milne in giving it greater publicity in the village in time for people to submit objections before the Council deadline.

I worked on getting the defibrillator for our village and with Annie Harvey liaise with the ambulance service to keep it in good working order and arrange for periodic training sessions for villagers on its use.

I also take an active part in village life.  Together with Anne Clarke I started the Black Bin Café which has been running successfully now for two years.  I run the bookstall at the fete, help with other village activities including entertainment events and have provided lunch for the horse show judges and helpers for the last six years.

This is a fantastic village and if re-elected I would continue to do all that I could to preserve those things held precious by its inhabitants.

Parish Councils are the first tier of our democratic system. They may not have much power but I believe we should still strive to protect our environment and put the best interests of our villagers first.


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