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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Memories of Burton Green in the 1950s by Stuart Barratt

My parents bought a plot of land in Cromwell Lane, Burton Green in 1947 for £165 with the intention of building their own bungalow. Just after the Second World War houses and the materials to build new houses were in short supply. Many people lived in temporary accommodation such as caravans and wooden shacks.

I was born in 1948 and until I was seven years old the family lived temporarily in a large wooden shed. The shed had two windows, a brick fireplace and chimney. This was our living room and bedroom. We also had an ex war department caravan for cooking and eating, and a small sink for washing. Baths were taken in front of the fire in the wooden shed. We had an earth closet at the top of the garden. The water pipe frequently froze in the winter and my Mum had to defrost it before the day could start. The first photograph of 1947 shows the temporary accommodation we lived in while my parents built their bungalow.

In the next photograph, a view across the land, you can see a number of other temporary buildings across the road. Also in the photographs are my great grandma, born in Scotland in 1878, she died in the 1960's, my grandma also born in Scotland in 1899, she died in 1979 and my mother born in Scotland in 1923, is still living at Burton Green. The extended family had all moved to Coventry in 1935 in search of work.


Building the Bungalow

The building of the bungalow was hard work. Every evening Mum would have a load of mortar mixed ready for my Dad to start bricklaying as soon as he came home from a day’s work at Wickmans in Banner Lane. It took him 3 years of evenings and weekends to build the bungalow to the point where we could move in. He did everything himself apart from the plastering. Even I helped as a small child by stacking bricks in piles of 100 around the build, using a small wooden wheelbarrow carrying four bricks at a time.

My Mum particularly remembers the building of the cesspit, as it was a very wet time and she had to keep bailing out the water that accumulated each day by carrying a bucketful at a time up a ladder, so that my Dad could continue building the brick lining.

A few years later Burton Green was connected to the main sewer so all that hard work was redundant. I took this photograph of the sewer trench in our back garden with a Kodak Brownie camera. All hand dug by Irish navvies. I don’t remember the date but it must have been in the early 1960’s.

We grew all our own vegetables on a large plot; we also had chickens and two beehives.

374 Cromwell Lane, being built, 1953
Next to the plot on one side were a number of older bungalows, one of which was occupied by Mr Ebbrell who was the builder of these bungalows and the water tower. There was a field on the other side owned by Mr. Alan Webb. He kept a few pigs in the field, and on November 5th one year we had a big bonfire.

For the Coronation in 1953 we bought a Pye 12inch black and white television. I remember lots of people crowding into the shed to watch, but I was more interested in playing outside. At this time my Dad hoisted a Union Jack flag from the roof timbers of the unfinished bungalow.

Amateur dramatics were staged regularly at the old wooden Burton Green village hall. My Dad helped by providing trees for scenery and dimmed the lights by plunging a copper rod into a bucket of water (no health and safety then).


Deliveries and Mobile Shops

Burton Green used to seem quite a remote country district, although there was the convenience of several shops; Mrs Whiteheads (later Dockers), Mrs. Seatons, Honey’s Post Office and also Red Lane Stores. Fewer people had cars, and so mobile shops and deliveries were a lifeline to many.

Chattaway’s Hardware from Balsall Common was a tall van with all sorts of hardware hanging on the outside; mops, buckets, tin baths, etc. You could hear the rattling hardware in the distance as it came down the lane.

There was also an old converted coach that used to sell vegetables, potatoes etc and always seemed to smell of paraffin. It always looked very heavily laden and had large army style tyres. I think it was painted pale green.

Harry Chick the newsagent from Tile Hill. He was in the habit of not putting on the handbrake when he left his van to deliver papers, and on one occasion it rolled down the road, mounted the pavement and crossed several gardens before coming to rest.

Mr Honey from the Post Office Shop on Honey’s Hill in Red Lane used to deliver groceries once a week in a grey Austin A30 van, collecting the order in a little red book for delivery the next week.

The Baker from Balsall Common delivered in a black and cream van. He carried bread in a big open wicker basket up each drive, holding it in the doorway for you to choose the loaf you wanted. In wet weather he put a black cover over the basket, lifting one side at a time to show the bread.

A firm of butchers called Trepass called twice a week. Ted the butcher carried the meat to the door in a round uncovered aluminium bowl.

Eggs could be purchased at Mrs Webb’s egg farm. I remember a fox getting into one chicken house and killing a large number of hens. I also remember John and I were always a little intimidated by the cockerels. Day old chicks used to start their life at Burton Green under an infrared lamp in the conservatory by the side door of the house.

A Corona lorry used to deliver pop in open wooden crates.

De DiMaggio Ice Cream van with the distinctive DeDi tune, was a real treat when few homes had refrigerators. We even treated our dog occasionally sticking the ice cream cone into the spout of a watering can, for him to eat!

The milkman delivered milk daily (except Sunday) and left it just inside the gate. A tile was put over the bottles to stop the blue tits pecking the foil tops and drinking some of the cream. The farm that supplied the milk was next to the village hall.

The Bettaware man used to come to the door with his suitcase of brushes and polishes for sale. Once or twice a year we had coal and coke delivered.

The coal lorry would stop in the road and the coalmen would carry on their backs 20 or 30 one hundredweight bags of coal and coke up the drive to the bunker. I used to count the bags to ensure we had the correct number.

Once a year a French onion seller used to come to Burton Green, pushing his bicycle laden with strings of onions.

In the 1950’s Cromwell Lane had no street lighting or pavements and there were a lot of potholes at the side of the road. The road was quite busy at rush hour as many people used it as a short cut even then. The Lane was well used for the delivery of parts (e.g. unpainted car bodies) to the Fisher and Ludlow factory at Tile Hill. At this time Standard Triumph transported the new cars to a storage area in woodland off Hob Lane. The entrance to the car storage was next to Burton Green School.

The field at the back my parent’s garden was used as a market garden to grow vegetables by a Coventry greengrocer. His 13-year-old son used to drive the Ferguson tractor ploughing the field. All their family used to help pick the vegetables for the shop. The family eventually built a house in the corner of the field on Hodgetts Lane.

Mrs Coombes, another resident of Burton Green had a thriving business growing and selling cacti. She won many cups at shows and supplied many shops in the Coventry and Birmingham area. My Mum used to work for Mrs Coombes, potting up small cacti which had been imported from Holland. She also helped with deliveries and on the sales stand at shows. Children of Mr and Mrs. Coombes were Martin, Rosemary and Richard. Richard, John Webb and I spent many hours constructing and flying model aircraft in the early 1960’s.

Black Waste Wood used to be the playground for many of the children in Burton Green. Many happy hours were spent amongst the bracken and trees until the sewer pumping station was constructed and clay spread over a large area. It was an intrusion into a natural area that never seemed the same again.

The East Midlands Electricity Sports Ground was another unofficial playground when not in use. It was an ideal place for football and other activities including flying model aircraft.

I remember the railway line in operation and the sound of the night train struggling up the incline sometimes having several attempts. The dry embankments used to be frequently set on fire by sparks from the engine. On one occasion we could see the smoke of the embankment fire from the Westwood Heath school playground. The embankments in the spring were covered in wild primroses and later in the year wild strawberries.



Westwood Heath Church of England School

I attended Westwood Heath C of E School, and travelled by bus. In the morning about 10 past 8 whilst waiting for the number 12 bus at the corner of Hodgetts Lane, the smoke from the early morning passenger train used to cover the bridge and road. It used to cost 1 penny to travel to Westwood Heath School. The bus conductor would dial the amount on his ticket machine then print a ticket by turning a handle on the side. The money was put in a leather pouch.

I have many memories of Westwood Heath Church of England School and the children and teachers. Mr Hancock headmaster, (his son Peter went to the school.) Teachers: Juniors: Mrs Lancaster, Miss West. Infants: Mrs Mathews, then when she retired Mrs Bull.




This photo was taken at the Westwood Heath School Speech Day in 1959.

Click on the photo to enlarge it. There is a key to the names just below. The key may also be enlarged.







My friends were: Rodney and Jonathan Adams, and Alan Hatton. Alan lived in temporary accommodation in ‘Le Van’ before moving to a house in Red Lane next door to the shop. He used to run up Red Lane to catch the bus to Westwood School from the route terminus at the junction with Cromwell Lane. John Webb was another good friend. John went to Burton Green School.

Others I remember are Catherine and Philip Hargreaves who lived in the white cottage next to the road just past Thomson’s Farm. Clive Horler lived in Cromwell Lane opposite the Hodgetts Lane junction and Richard Preece lived next door to him, Richard went to Burton Green School I think. The Lucas family lived in Hodgetts Lane in the first of the white houses on the left. David Vine and his family lived in the first house in the row of farm workers cottages (now demolished) opposite the village hall. Susan Gutteridge, Elizabeth and David Morris lived in Cromwell Lane near Westwood Heath Road. I am sure there are others from Burton Green that I can’t recall at present.

More children who attended Westwood lived in Westwood Heath Road (Robert Hardy, Jeanette McCoy, Robert and Jonathan Atkins, Jill Chapman, Sheila Miers, Rosemary King), Bockendon Road (Valerie Hall, Helen Bostock) and both ends of Charter Avenue (Michael Musson, Gaynor Mutton at the Cromwell Lane end and Ian Hill, Ian Sayers, Raymond Growcock at the Canley end).

Westwood Heath School (the gates are missing in the photo) had about 70 pupils (infant and junior) when I first went there in 1953.

The school was a traditional Victorian Building with high set windows and large thick wooden external doors each with a big cast iron round handle and latch. The children were taught in two classrooms separated by a tall cream painted wooden and glass partition which could be folded back for special occasions. There was a connecting door between the two classrooms and in the junior classroom an open fireplace with a tall guard. Later the headmasters study was converted into a classroom for the last year’s class.


When I started, the infants were still using Victorian writing slates with chalk. In the juniors we had Victorian desks, joined in rows, later these were changed for a more modern style. We wrote with pen and ink. A new nib was pushed into a holder and had to be licked before it was used. It could then be dipped into the inkwell in the desk to write. The ink was made up from a powder mixed with water. The inkwells were then filled from a jug with a long thin spout. We were taught the Marion Richardson style of writing.

Our classroom used to have a roaring open fire in the winter where the crates of one-third pint milk bottles, if frozen, were thawed out before the children could drink the milk through a straw. Defrosted milk has a sweet taste, which nobody really liked. I was a milk monitor for a time. Together with another boy we had to fetch the crates from near the gate and carry them to the classrooms, making sure there were the right number of bottles. The outside toilets were at the back of the school, regularly getting frozen up in the winter. The school had a pet white rabbit called Milky kept in a hutch. In summer she would be let out into a run on the grass at the side of the playground near the Working Men’s club.

Later I was responsible for getting all the games equipment out and assembling it in the playground before the games morning or afternoon. The games equipment consisted of a wooden vaulting horse, mats, climbing bars, wooden hoops and beanbags, rubber rings etc. housed in a set of boxes in the four team colours, red, green, yellow and blue. When it was put away afterwards or if it rained, put away in a hurry, the art was to get it all back into the shed, as it would only fit in a certain order. We all had to wash our hands before lunch in a bowl of water, so by the time I was ready to wash my hands after putting the games equipment away the rest of the pupils had all washed in the bowl so the water was very murky!

We didn’t have a playing field, but I do remember once we had a sports afternoon in the farmer’s field opposite the school. Each of the teams had a section of garden to look after (the garden was the border behind the front hedge).

Lunch was either a school dinner delivered by a Coventry Education van in large aluminium boxes hot at about 10 o’clock in the morning, or a packed lunch from home. The dinners were served in the infant’s classroom. I tried school dinners for one week. I had packed lunches for the rest of my school life. The packed lunches were eaten in the junior classroom off plastic plates. Pupils had to take turns washing all of the plastic plates in a bowl. When I was older (10 years) I used to cycle home for lunch.

Just up the road from the school was a Post Office housed in a concrete Batley Garage just inside the garden of a house. Mr and Mrs Dash ran the Post Office, their daughter Pam went to the school and Mrs Dash was one of the kitchen dinner ladies. Mrs Davenport was another. They were far more scary than any of the teachers. Mrs Goddard used to serve the lunches and do playground duty at lunchtime. We all liked her, as she seemed far friendlier. More importantly the Post Office sold sweets. At breaks and lunchtime children would run up to the green wooden gate in the tall privet hedge, which was the entrance. Gob stoppers, sherbet dips, lemon sweets and many other kinds of sweets for halfpennies or pennies were sold. At one time a very popular sweet was a Liquorice Imp, which was bought not for the sweets but for the small 1” diameter tin they came in. With a suitable modification they made excellent ‘mini-frisbees’ when propelled by a rubber band that was until they were banned.

Once a week we all used to go to swimming lessons at the Coventry Teachers Training College at the end of Westwood Heath Road (now part of Warwick University) Miss Pepper was the instructor and she would teach us to swim at the same time as training teachers to teach swimming. The smell of chlorine was very strong and made your eyes sting if you opened them underwater. Swimming certificates were obtained by a trip to the Livingstone Road swimming baths in Coventry.

I remember two school trips. The first was to London on a steam train from Coventry Station. I think we went to the Natural History Museum and a few other places. My main memory is of the rain dripping off the peak of my cap as we walked along. The other trip was to Whipsnade Zoo. We must have gone by coach. I bought a wax penguin as a souvenir.

One activity I remember was basketry, soaking the canes in the school kitchen sink before weaving them in and out of the uprights. I still have the tray I made. We all used to do sewing of sorts, daily spelling and times tables’ chanting etc. cutting and sticking. We also went pond dipping over the fields at the back of the school, which is now a business park.

We used to have a summer fete held at the vicarage which was on the left just inside Torrington Avenue. I think this is where the new C of E school was built to replace the Victorian building, the subject of many fund raising events such as rummage sales held over the whole of my school time. The highlight of the fete was the country dancing and a maypole performance by the pupils. This involved much practise. The maypole practise was I guess, a teachers nightmare, as the under and over plaiting pattern dancing into the pole had to be reversed and inevitably this went wrong and the ribbons used to get in a tangle.

At Christmas we used to put on a play. The vicar used to dress up as Father Christmas to distribute presents from a sack at the party. We used to have a Carol Service at the Church, those who couldn’t sing were called groaners and had to dress up as Mary and Joseph, Kings and Shepherds for the procession down the aisle.

Every so often we used to take a trip on the way home from school to Harry Stevenson’s the barbers in Tile Hill. Sometimes a number of us would pile into the back of Mrs Powers’ Landrover. The Powers used to farm at Nailcote Farm, their children Janet, Rodney and Michael all used to go to Westwood School. I vividly remember travelling home one winter’s afternoon, when the bus did not arrive, in the canvas covered back of the Landrover sitting on a straw bale looking out at the snowy Westwood Heath Road down the long hill we had just driven up.

Sometimes we used to walk home from school in winter if the bus couldn’t get through; schools were never closed in adverse weather conditions in those days.

Stuart Barratt - October 2011


See Also

Post-War Development of Burton Green (YouTube video)
Memories of Hob Lane (YouTube video)
Cromwell Lane - 1841 Tithe Map
Reminiscences of Burton Green by Anthony Richards
Reminiscences of Burton Green by Rick Jowett
Burton Green Local History

Friday, 28 October 2011

Garden Archaeology in Burton Green

Describes an amateur archaeological dig, in a garden, at Sarah Coleman's Homestead, in Burton Green, Warwickshire.


The Inspiration for the Dig

The large village of Kibworth, in Leicestershire, recently undertook an extensive investigation of its history, which was made into a BBC TV series, 'The Story of England'.

Kibworth is fortunate, and exceptional, in that it has a large amount of surviving documentation from the medieval period. In the absence of written documentation, some idea of a village's history can still be obtained by exploring what lies beneath the soil. In the Kibworth program, some 50 villagers dug small test pits, in their gardens, to see what might be found.

There are several websites which give instructions for the methodical exacavation of a garden test pit. For example:
How To Dig Up Your Back Garden (Suffolk County Council)
Garden Archaeology (Leicestershire County Council)

One of the residents of Burton Green thought that it might be instructive to dig a test pit in their own garden. The resident has a house that was built in the early Victorian period. Although the present house is Victorian, it was probably built on the site of an older dwelling.


The Dig

The resident chose a spot in some grass at the rear of their house, a few metres from the house.

A 1 metre square area was first marked out with pegs.

This photo shows the 1 metre square, with the turf carefully removed and stacked (for replacement afterwards).

The soil was then removed in layers of 10 cm. The piece of white card was being used simply to indicate a depth of 10cm. This photo was taken at a depth of about 8cm. Roots of some nearby shrubs, running beneath the lawn, have been exposed.

All of the excavated soil was sieved. A sieve is not essential, but it makes separation of the soil from any objects in the soil much simpler and faster. The basin contains stones that had been removed at this point.

In this particular garden, the soil was friable down to about 20cm. Then a layer of clay was encountered. In the Kibworth dig, residents were told to stop digging when they reached clay. In the Cromwell Lane dig, 20cm of the clay layer was also excavated.


The Finds

These are two trays of sieved material that was found in the Cromwell Lane dig. 

The left tray contains material found in the upper 20cm of soil, and the right tray contains material found in the lower clay layer.

The material is mainly stones, plus a few Victorian artifacts.



These are the most interesting of the finds, after sorting out, and some light cleaning. All of this material, which is a considerable amount, came from the 1 metre by 1 metre test pit...






There were several fragments of porcelain, originating from various different pieces of crockery.







These are fragments of earthenware (used for cooking vessels) and stoneware (used for storage jars).









These are fragments of glass, of various different thicknesses, shapes, and colours.





Several pieces of very rusty iron work.

These ought to be cleaned further, to give a better idea of exactly what the objects are. The items are quite fragile so cleaning is not that easy.



Various pieces of brick.

The brick at the left appears to be part of a house brick, although the width of the brick is smaller (48mm) than the bricks of most Victorian houses.

The fragment in the middle appears to have a black surface, as though burnt. The fragment at the right appears to be part of a brick tile.





Pieces of bone.









A fragment of a clay pipe. This may have been used for smoking.








This object appears to be something from a child's game.








Numerous stones were excavated. This is a singularly usual stone, unlike any others that were found.

It is about 14cm in length.






Sarah Coleman and the 1841 Tithe Map



This particular property is believed to have been the residence of Sarah Coleman, who was a local landowner in the early 1800s. The present house is not necessarily the same building that existed in the 1800s, but some of the artifacts discovered here may well have been hers.

There is a little more about Burton Green in the 1840s, and Sarah Coleman, on a separate page: Cromwell Lane - 1841 Tithe Map.






The Geology

In the Kibworth dig, residents were told to stop digging when they reached clay. Our resident proceeded to exacavate for a further 20cm into the clay, to a total depth of 40cm.

This photo shows a profile of the side of the pit, after exacavation to a depth of 30cm.

The red dotted lines, added to the image, indicate the boundaries between an upper layer of cultivated soil, and an intermediate layer of compacted soil, and the start of the clay layer.


The British Geological Survey have an interactive website which gives details of the subsoil and the bedrock for any precise location.

This image summarizes the geology beneath Burton Green. You can click on the image to enlarge it, or visit the Geology of Britain Viewer
at the British Geological Survey.

Along Cromwell Lane, the subsoil is a clay, known as Oadby Till, with embedded rocks, a few metres deep. Beneath this clay is an underlying bedrock of sandstone known as the Tile Hill Mudstone Formation.


The Kibworth Dig
This is a very short (1 minute) video of the Kibworth dig....


video

The collective exacavation of test pits, performed by residents, througout a village has also been featured a number of times on the Time Team program. See, for example:
Welcome to Bitterley
Time Team at Bitterley

Digs in Burton Green would most likely to be productive around the old village green, Cromwell Cottage, Moat Farm, and Long Meadow Farm, though Victorian artifacts might possibly be found anywhere.

There are basic instructions for digging a back garden test pit here:
How To Dig Up Your Back Garden (Suffolk County Council)
Garden Archaeology (Leicestershire County Council)

A more complete methodology, for serious excavators, is described here:
Test Pitting Methodology (South Oxfordshire Project)


See Also

Cromwell Lane - 1841 Tithe Map
Burton Green Local History

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Superfast Broadband Update

From Warwickshire County Council:

Since the announcement that the Government was to make £530m available for the provision of superfast broadband in the rural areas there have been a succession of follow-up announcements. We are seeking clarification on a number of issues, but this is the position as we currently understand it.

Funding

The Government is making £4.07m available for Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire. There is a requirement that this amount should be match-funded from Local Authority capital funds, which is challenging given the current economic climate, although the spend can be spread over a number of years.

Ambition

The Government ambition is to provide a minimum of 2Mbps broadband to all homes and superfast broadband to 90% of people by 2015. Superfast broadband has been clarified to mean at least 24Mbps. Coming behind this is an EU requirement that by 2020, fast broadband coverage at 30Mbps should be available to all EU citizens, with at least half European households subscribing to broadband access at 100Mbps. Clearly this is a significant uplift coming just a short time after the UK targets and this will have implications for the Local Broadband Plan.

Progress

We are still actively collecting data (see below) and hope to submit the Local Broadband Plan to Government in April next year. This document should show how we propose to improve broadband speeds across the whole of the sub-region, not just the rural areas, although it is only the rural areas that will receive Government funding.

What can you do to help?

How good is your broadband?

A key component of your Local Broadband Plan will be evidence of where specific problems exist across the sub-region. We therefore have to map this information and in order to do that we need your help.

If you have not already done so please complete the broadband survey that is located at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/superfastbroadband - there is one survey for domestic use and one for business use, so if you run a business or work from home please do both – and encourage your neighbours to do it as well because the more people that respond from a given area the higher priority it will be.

How close can fibre get to your property?

A (usually) simple way to improve broadband speeds is to put fibre to the BT cabinet. This is a green box by the side of the road which provides telecoms to a village or group of properties. We need to map the exact locations of these boxes so that we can establish what benefits might be gained from this type of upgrade.

Please register the location of your BT cabinet and any others you may come across. You can do this at http://4sfb.crowdmap.com/ and there is also an App for iPhone or Android so that you can do it whilst you are out and about!

Further updates will be issued monthly (or more regularly if necessary)

For more information about the project:
please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/superfastbroadband
or email mailto:econdev@warwickshire.gov.uk

The results of the previous survey, earlier this year, are here:
http://burtongreen.blogspot.com/2011/08/broadband-survey-results.html

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Minutes of AGM - October 3rd 2011

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Burton Green Residents’ Association held on October 3rd 2011 at the Village Hall.

Rona welcomed everyone and, in particular Marcus Bridger, the new Head Teacher of Burton Green School; Gordon Gatward, Acting Chair of the Parish Council; Pat Maddison, Clerk to the Parish Council; P.C. Peter King; and all the councillors.

Regret was expressed regarding the recent death of Howard Baker, formerly Chairman of the Parish Council.

Apologies
  
Apologies had been received from Paddy Deeley, Carol Green, Adrian Hickinbottom and Jerry Marshall.


Minutes of the last meeting and Matters Arising

The minutes of the last Annual General Meeting of October 2010 were accepted. 
Proposed: Marlene Hills
Seconded: Judi Hibberd



Chair’s Report

The Chair, Rona Taylor, explained the focal points for 2011 had been:

HS2 – opposition continuing to dominate the local situation. An Extraordinary Meeting had updated residents on progress.  Burton Green was still leading the field in its opposition to HS2 and representatives had recently been amongst those attending the Labour and Conservative conferences.

Independent Parish Council – following support at the 2010 AGM, a petition had been raised before the end of March 2011 with the aim of implementing a separate PC by April 2012. Although consultation had taken place about the wording of the petition, Warwick District Councillor lawyers decided that it needed to be amended and hence a delay had been caused. They agreed that they would not create further delays with regard to a second, re-worded petition, which had now been raised and signed by 308 people and had been submitted by the end of July 2011.  A period of consultation was now taking place. The overall decision would be taken on the strength of the argument.
Once a decision had been reached by the regulatory committee, the BGRA committee would decide if it was necessary to call an Extraordinary Meeting. A note was made that 25 people who had signed the petition were not found on the Electoral Roll and residents were asked to check this for themselves.

Rona went on to explain why it was felt a separate independent Parish Council would better serve the needs of local residents:

Burton Green was a talented and proactive community which she felt could easily run its own Parish Council and become the democratic voice of the community.

As a ward of the current Parish Council, Burton Green affairs were not currently well served as Stoneleigh village matters tended to dominate the meetings. This was partly because Stoneleigh did not have a Residents’ Association which could filter” matters before they reached the Parish Council meetings.

Burton Green was faced with the enormous challenge of HS2 which would cut straight through the community and threaten both housing and the Village Hall. A separate Parish Council could concentrate on this.

Rona felt the formation of a separate Parish Council was the next step in forging Burton Green’s identity.  She envisaged it would integrate with the BGRA committee, the Village Hall committee, the school and other local groups.

A map of the area was displayed and the amount of Green Belt around the village was highlighted as another area to be protected by the work of a Parish Council.

Transport – There had been cutbacks regarding the bus service. Cuts had meant that the village had previously had three buses a day to Kenilworth for six days and now had one bus a week on a Monday only. Investigations were taking place to see if a bus service could be operated on Thursday (market day).Investigations were taking place regarding the setting up of a service like the Solihull taxi bus service operated by Centro.

Planning Issues – Earlier in the year, a group of residents had attended an appeal meeting regarding the number of mobile homes allowed on the site of Le Van in Red Lane. Thanks to residents’ comments, the appeal had been turned down.

The site of a demolished house in Cromwell Lane had caused some concern to neighbours with regard to its future. Permission had been granted to build a substantial house and BGRA committee was keeping a watching brief.

Following consultation, a response had been submitted to WDC’s Plans for the Future of Warwickshire.  Residents wished development to remain linear; to support the local school; and to retain a Village Hall. It was suggested a Neighbourhood Plan be developed and this was to be covered later in the agenda.

Bugle – Mary Webb was thanked for taking over the editing and production of the Bugle. The most recent edition had been funded through local advertisers and Mary asked for ideas for future funding to be sent to her. Thanks were extended to the team of distributors.

Roads and pavements – Problems with the pavement at the top of Red Lane had been reported to WCC and this was to be addressed. The condition of Hob Lane road surface was also a concern of a number of residents and the meeting agreed that BGRA committee should seek agreement from the Local Authority to settle this issue.


Election of Committee members

Janet Hickinbottom, as Joint Secretary, conducted this agenda item.

The constitution required that the officers and three committee members should stand down.  Rona Taylor, Marlene Hills, Janet Hickinbottom and Judi Hibberd, were re-elected.
Proposed: Martin Beckett
Seconded: Sylvia Clifford

Mike Holt stood down as Vice Chair.  Mary Webb had agreed to stand. 
Proposed: Andy Gibbs
Seconded: Archie Taylor

Others remaining on the committee were Bron Putnam, John Levett, John Nisbet and Faith Ward.

Andy Gibbs had been a co-opted member because of his Chairmanship of the HS2 Action Group.  He had now agreed to stand as a full committee member.

Proposed: Betty Woodward
Seconded: Steve Webb



HS2 Overview

Andy Gibb said that six months ago preparations had been taking place for the consultation.  He extended thanks to John and Diana Levett who had worked so hard on that score. He explained that the battle had become a PR one.  Arguments against HS2 had been very well made (HS2 would at best be carbon neutral; transfer of jobs to the North unlikely; cost benefits argument flawed etc).  Vast subsidies would be required in the future to pay for HS2.  The current problem was getting the general public, especially those not living near the proposed route, to be aware of and to understand the situation.

An upcoming event was a debate in the House of Commons and Andy urged residents to pass on to friends and relatives a website address  http://www.highspeedrail.org.uk which explains MPs’ constituencies and asks for your support in writing to your MP to encourage him/her to attend the debate.

Andy also mentioned the government e-petition 353 called Stop HS2.

In November 2011 the Transport Select Committee would be publishing its findings and in December Philip Hammond would announce his decision. Dependent upon the outcome, there would then be much to do in 2012.

Andy gave sincere thanks to all who had contributed in whatever way to the struggle against HS2.

Cllr Archie Taylor reiterated that it was important to contact MPs in time for the debate. He felt that if a judicial review was held following an announcement in favour of HS2, it would be possible to show that the consultation was flawed and this should lead to a public inquiry. He also felt there were many communities who would be missed out by the introduction of HS2 including Coventry, Stoke and Liverpool.

Archie added that if the line was approved, there would be a need to work on mitigation.


Costing of separate Parish Council for Burton Green

Marlene said if the proposal for a separate Parish Council proved successful, a decision would have to be taken whether to increase the precept which is paid via the council tax.

She had drawn up a draft document having referred to the WCC Finance Department, and the West Midlands and Warwickshire Association of Local Councils. She had compared figures to those of the existing Parish Council as completed and submitted by Pat Maddison, the Parish Clerk, whose book keeping was exemplary. Marlene had based salary scale and number of hours on discussions with the WCC and had included costs for home working and travel. An additional amount of £509 was added for contingencies. In addition there would be costs for the statutory audit and a provisional figure for room hire at the Village Hall.

The total expected income from the precept (729 individuals at the last census) would show £6775 and expected costs were £6958 resulting in a deficit of £183. There would be no money to fund the Bugle or for any grants.

Marlene’s draft figures showed that the proposal would be just about workable but with no room for manoeuvre.

It had been suggested that the percentage for the precept could be increased.  The precept is based on the number of D band houses in a parish and is pro rata upwards depending upon the band category.  A deduction is then made for the number of single people living in a house with a 25% reduction (or empty houses) etc


Neighbourhood Plan and Community Plan

A small group had been formed at the time of the consultation submission to focus on what would happen if the Village Hall was threatened with demolition. The group members had spoken to the County planners who had recommended drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan in order to find out people’s views on all aspects of the village future. A final Plan has to be completed by a Parish Council (or a Forum such as Kenilworth Community Forum).

Cllr George Illingworth explained this was part of the proposed Localism Bill.  He said the community could produce the Plan but the Parish Council, as the legal body, should be consulted.

It was unanimously agreed that BGRA committee should ask the Parish Council to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan.
                            Action: Rona

Rona explained that a Community Plan was quite separate and contained the hopes and aspirations of all sections of the village community.  She showed an example from Offchurch.

A comment was made that matters affecting those just over the boundaries should be included and it was agreed, as Offchurch had also done this,

Costing and funding needed to be researched and Marlene agreed to do this.
                            Action: Marlene

In response to another question asking if relevant information was available from the councils, Cllr. Blacklock said they would be happy to help and all information was available via the Freedom of Information Act.

It was generally felt that a lot was going on at present to take on another project, but anyone interested in forming a steering group should see Rona.


Jubilee Celebrations

Mary Webb reported on behalf of a small group from the BGRA committee and the Village Hall committee. They had ambitious plans for a number of events during the weekend of June 2nd-5th 2012.  These included:
  • Village Hall supper and sing song
  • Art display involving local schools and groups
  • Photography exhibition with images of Burton Green over the past 60 years
  • Oral and visual newsreel featuring a number of older properties with Living History participation
  • A memory tree
  • A community mosaic to be made by villagers and sited within the village
  • A series of living sculptures on the Greenway
  • A beacon to be lighted on a high point
  • A picnic on the school field with music and entertainment
Funding was to be sought from BGRA and the Parish Council and recommendations were welcome for further sources.

A further planning meeting was to be held on Monday November 14th to which all were welcome.


Village Hall

Diane Swindells welcomed everyone to the hall and thanked residents for their support over the past year. Much time had been taken up with opposition to HS2 and the Village Hall committee was pleased the Hall was the focal point of the struggle. The committee wished to thank the Action Group and Jerry Marshall in particular for their brilliant work. Following a lengthy meeting at the Roadshow, a letter had been sent to HS2 with no response except an acknowledgement.

As trustees of the Village Hall, the committee would join with some members of the BGRA committee to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.  Vic Stuthridge would be the Village Hall representative.  Vic had also taken over the bookings of the Hall (which could now be made through the website) and thanks were extended to Maxine Viney who had been Bookings Secretary for 17 years.

The Produce Show had been a great success. Jill Lines was thanked for her work and everyone was pleased to hear that David Lines was making progress following his bad accident.

The Village Hall AGM would be held on November 2nd at 7.30p.m. and all were welcome.

The final event of the year would be the Senior Citizens’ Christmas lunch and residents were urged to bring this to the attention of any neighbours who might be interested.

Police Matters and Neighbourhood Watch:
P.C. Peter King introduced himself as the beat manager for Kenilworth. He explained that there had been significant restructure in the force in May 2010 and Kenilworth had lost its Safer Neighbourhoods team.  Now P.C.King and two community support officers were in post.

Burton Green’s isolation had come to his attention and he suggested holding community surgeries at the Village Hall where residents could raise issues of concern.  This was generally deemed a good idea and he agreed to liaise with Diane regarding available times.

He was also looking at a pilot Junior Neighbourhood Watch scheme to help local children learn to trust and communicate with the police. Marcus Bridger of Burton Green School had welcomed the idea.

P.C.King was asked about levels of crime in the area. He said it was generally low but throughout the county had risen by 4.3% since the new model of working had been introduced. He said that most crime was opportunistic and urged residents not to leave valuables on display in the home or in vehicles.

Residents at the meeting commended the force for speedy responses to individual incidents.

P.C. King concluded by saying he was overwhelmed to see so many residents in attendance with such an interest in their community and he thanked everyone for making him welcome.

John Levett spoke on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch to encourage everyone to remain vigilant in the light of reduced police budgets.   He reminded everyone to be alert to telephone and internet scams.

He referred residents to his article in the recent edition of the Bugle which explained how to receive messages direct from the Warwickshire Police Watch Co-ordinator.  He urged everyone with an email address to register on the successful village email distribution list managed by Paddy Deeley.

County Councillor’s Report:
Cllr. Whitehouse commended Burton Green as a fantastic community which he was proud to represent.

In discussing the opening of the cycle bridge on the Greenway, he said the National Director of Sustrans had declared the Greenway was now part of the National Cycle Network and Cllr. Whitehouse made sure HS2 was aware of this fact.

He was considering again what opportunities there were to look at the speed limits within Burton Green.  In the recent past, residents had decided they did not want road cushions or chicanes but in the light of Solihull’s proposals to review speed limits on roads including some entering the village, he wondered if residents would like him to make enquiries. It was agreed he should do so.
                        Action: Cllr. Whitehouse

Consultations had taken place about the future of the county’s libraries.  It was proposed to cut the opening hours of Kenilworth Library from 51-35 per week.  Discussions were taking place with WDC and Cllr. Whitehouse was aiming to find out why a decision was delayed. He said provision of mobile libraries was being discussed with Solihull MBC with the intention of enhancing the service.

The future of the Youth Service lay in the possibility of it being established as charity following withdrawal of council funding. An Open Day was to be held on October 29th from 2-6p.m. He urged residents to vote on http://communityforce.natwest.com in support of the project in the hope of winning funding.

Residents expressed dissatisfaction about the surface of the Greenway in the Burton Green area. This had been removed in readiness for new surfacing but this was not scheduled until 2012.  Cllr. Whitehouse agreed to make enquiries about when this might take place and to convey residents’ concerns.
                        Action: Cllr. Whitehouse


District Councillors’ Reports

Cllr. Blacklock said it was a depressing time with so many cutbacks and many projects had been shelved because of loss of funding from central government.

She explained a review of district wards was taking place and there would be an opportunity to comment.

Grant funding was being reviewed to ensure best value for money.

Cllr. Coker gave further insight into the library situation where its employees were those of WCC but those of the One Stop Shop within the library were employed by WDC; and so the two councils were trying to collaborate to reach a satisfactory conclusion for all.

He condemned the decision by WCC to withdraw funding from the Youth Centre and said this was a central facility next to the new Senior Citizens ‘Club which was a very valuable asset.  Kenilworth Town Council would be in support of the Youth Centre and the District Council did not intend to see it closed.

The past year had been taken up with HS2. WDC played a major part in the founding of 51m: eighteen councils which had come together to challenge the evidence base about the HS2 project.

He closed by saying the rates would not be going up the next year.

Cllr. Illingworth said his particular interest was planning matters. He referred again to the Le Van planning appeal and how intervention by residents had played a crucial part in overturning this.

With reference to planning at the national strategic level, he said the Localism Bill would bring power to a local level and he commended the Neighbourhood Plan proposal. He said Burton Green should take an interest in the strategy framework and gave examples of likely revisions. He added that residents should be pleased that the government had said the Green Belt was to be protected.

Rona thanked all the councillors for their continued support.


Parish Councillor’s Report

Cllr. Taylor said many issues raised at the Parish Council were only relevant to Stoneleigh. For Burton Green, the issue of prime importance was HS2 and it was a tribute to the late Howard Baker that he had been responsible for increasing the precept to have funds to fight HS2.

He knew representatives of Stoneleigh and of the university would be disappointed if Burton Green formed its own Parish Council, but he felt strongly that the village needed its own representation but it needed to get it right.  He reiterated that it would work in partnership with BGRA.


Treasurer’s Report

Marlene presented the accounts which were a collaborative effort between herself and Archie Taylor (who had managed the accounts until March 2011). She explained income (£991.59) was down on the previous year (£1031.47). £350 of the income was being held for the Kenilworth to Berkswell Charity, the formation of which was to be finalised. Hence the actual income was £641.59. There had been a significant reduction in subscriptions collected (down from £531 to £297.83) and residents who had not contributed £2 were urged to do so.

The Parish Council had kindly donated £250 to cover the cost of printing the Bugle.

The Royal Wedding event had made a loss of £39.76 but everyone attending, especially the children, had enjoyed it.

A donation of £250 had been made earlier in the year to the Action Group.

The brought forward figure from last year was £280.02.  Expenditure for the year (£705.59) was greater than income and so a small portion of the brought forward amount was used to cover expenses.

The bank account had been moved from Santander to Lloyds TSB, Kenilworth.  At the yearend BGRA bank account held £1817.24 of which £350 was kept for the Greenway Charity making the true figure £1,467.24.

Peter Tacon had received the accounts at very short notice but had independently examined them.

Marlene suggested setting up a system of collecting subscriptions by standing order and of increasing the amount top £3p.a.  There was a general consensus of agreement.

Finally, Marlene suggested setting up BGRA as a charity in order to benefit from Gift Aid.  A resident commented that BGRA would also be able to use online donating as a charity. Marlene felt BGRA’s work was closely allied to that of a charity. Marlene would make further enquiries and this would be discussed at the next committee meeting.

Rona thanked Marlene for all her work.


Any Other Business and Date of Next Annual General Meeting

The parliamentary boundaries review consultation would need a BGRA response.
                            Action: Rona

Rona said funding was being sought to provide a notice board for Red Lane residents.

The next meeting of the newly-formed History Group would take place on November 7th.

Residents were again urged to sign up for the village email distribution list.



Election of Independent Examiner

Peter Tacon again agreed to act as Independent Examiner.
Proposed: Marlene Hills
Seconded: Deirdre Vernon.
Unanimously agreed.

Thanks were extended to the residents who had attended.

The next Annual General Meeting would be held on Monday October 1st 2012 at the Village Hall.