OFFENHAM SAYS “NO” – Parish Meeting describes Blackminster Petition as premature
By 37 votes to one, a parish meeting at Offenham Village Hall on Wednesday evening opposed any alterations to the village boundaries, a resolution passed to this effect, describing the petition of residents at Blackminster to the County Council for the transfer of that part of the Offenham Parish to Badsey as premature in view of the general review of parish boundaries to take place in due course.
At the outset Mr T E Trenfield said the parish meeting had been called as the Parish Council thought the issue too big for them to take the responsibility on their shoulders without hearing the views of the whole parish. Secondly, it was felt that a parish meeting should empower the Parish Council to put forward a resolution when the enquiry was eventually held.
He then introduced to the meeting Mr A J Billings, Chief Rating Officer and Accountant of the Evesham Rural District Council who, he said, had been asked to preside over that meeting as a neutral chairman.
COUNTY COUNCIL LETTER
Mr Billings said he thought it desirable to bring to the notice of the meeting a letter which had that morning been sent to the District Council from the County Council and copies of which had also been received by the Badsey and Offenham Parish Councils and the Blackminster signatories.
The letter, signed by the Clerk of the County Council, stated:
I enclose herewith a copy of a letter I have today addressed to Mr S Bunting of Blackminster: “Dear Sir, I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th January which I regret has not been answered before. Enclosed with that letter was a petition signed by 48 persons requesting the County Council to consider the transfer of the whole of Blackminster from the parish of Offenham to the parish of Badsey. I note that you are having a parish meeting in Offenham Village Hall on the 22nd inst, to consider this matter.”
I think I cannot do better than send to you a copy of a letter which I wrote on 17th September last to the Clerk to the Badsey District Council: “… What the County Council would like your parish meeting to consider is whether the transfer is so urgent at the present time as to justify the work involved in preparing for and holding a local enquiry. They would, I am sure, prefer to postpone considering the transfer of Blackminster until a later date unless there are real grounds for regarding it as urgent. Yours faithfully, W H Scurfield, Clerk to the County Council.”
Mr Billings said he thought it was necessary to read that letter in view of the fact that there was going to be a general review of boundaries affecting both county and parochial boundaries. If a special enquiry was held prior to the general review he was not sure who would pay the expense of it; probably the petitioners themselves would be liable.
Mr Trenfield said as far as boundaries were concerned, the majority of the Offenham Parish Council were against the boundaries being altered in any way. (Hear, hear.)
Mr J Sharp (who is one of Offenham’s representatives on the Evesham RDC) then moved the following resolution:
“That this meeting requires the Offenham Parish Council to oppose any proposals to alter the boundaries between the parishes of Badsey and Offenham, viz Badsey taking in the portion of Offenham known as “Blackminster” on the ground that no material benefit would be gained by the inhabitants of Blackminster, but would result in a large financial loss in rateable value to the parish of Offenham by such an alteration, and that in view of the fact that a general review of parish boundaries will take place in due course, the Blackminster application is premature.”
Seconding the resolution Mr W T Careless, former chairman of Offenham Parish Council, thought the meeting should have been called when the weather was conducive to attracting a bigger attendance. He thought a good thing would be for each parish councillor to get the signatures of all those in Offenham who were against any part of the parish going to Badsey: “Badsey wouldn’t want Blackminster unless there was actual material benefit from it,” he added.
Mr Billings said it might interest the meeting to know that the rateable value of Blackminster was £484 north of the railway line and £221 south of the railway line, with a total of £361 assessments such as water and gas mains, which had to be divided.
Mr Pepper asked for details why Blackminster wanted to be transferred to Badsey?
Mr Trenfield said he could not say how long the undercurrent had been going on. It was hoped that when they got a good and useful Blackminster representative on the Offenham Parish Council things would go on amicably but following the “Children’s Day” last summer they began to deteriorate. What happened then he did not quite know and he questioned whether Mr Bunting (Blackminster’s representative on Offenham Parish Council) would perhaps tell them.
Mr Bunting said he was afraid he was not prepared to state any case on behalf of Blackminster that evening.
“The case has been stated in the petition which has been signed by 60 local government electors in Blackminster and in that petition there is no mention whatsoever of any individual or any organisation in the village,” he declared, adding, “The case is based upon the lack of compatibility of interests between Offenham village and Blackminster and the reasons are not individual reasons but are based on the local geography, transport and so on.”
DID NOT AGREE
He did not agree that things were going on smoothly until “Children’s Day”.
Mr Sharp pointed out that the whole matter would be thrashed out at the inquiry, and all he thought that meeting had to do was to authorise the Offenham Parish Council to put forward that resolution.
The meeting then agreed that the resolution should be voted upon and it was subsequently carried by 37 votes to one (Mr Pepper).
Mr Billings said he could assure the meeting that when the County Council did hold the inquiry everybody would have a fair hearing. He thought the inquiry would take place within 18 months, possibly earlier.
Mr H Boers asked what would be the disadvantages to Offenham if Blackminster was transferred to Badsey?
Mr Billings replied that it would make no difference to the general district rate but it would have the effect of reducing the rateable value of the parish of Offenham. In other words, it would reduce the product of a penny rate in Offenham, as for example if they decided to have street lighting, it might cost them another 1d or 1½d, if Blackminster had been transferred to Badsey than it would if such was not the case.
The rateable value of Offenham now stood at £14 and if Blackminster was transferred to Badsey, it would be reduced by £2 15s to £11 5s, while Badsey would be increased from £15 12s to £18 7s. This meant that if Badsey wanted to raise a penny rate for parish purposes, it would produce £18 7s.
Another possible effect of a transfer of Blackminster to Badsey might mean Offenham losing one of its District Council representatives, as a village was allowed one representative per thousand population or part thereof.
In reply to Mr A S Bran, Mr Bunting said the undercurrent referred to had been existent long before he went to reside at Blackminster.
Mr E A Stephens drew attention to the efforts made to see that Blackminster was represented on the Offenham Welcome Home Fund.
The meeting then closed after a vote of thanks had been accorded Mr Billings for presiding.