This report was first published in the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald. 

Over 80 residents filled the Village Hall for the annual parish meeting last Wednesday. The meeting opened with approval of last year’s meeting minutes then two guest speakers made their presentations. First was Dr Martin Read-Jones who spoke about the plans for a new medical centre on Dog Close in the centre of the village. He explained the need for bigger premises and outlined the extra services they hoped to offer, such as physiotherapy, ultrasound, endoscopy and more minor surgery.   The practice would be seeking to widen the skills on offer with trained specialists. This would free up the doctors to concentrate on what they do best. When asked when the new centre would be built, he expressed the hope that work would start on site this summer and confirmed that there would be 65 parking spaces, as opposed to 17 at present. Asked if the new centre could cope with the increasing population, he said they currently had 11,000 registered patients and the new centre was designed for up to 18,000, however he preferred not to take on patients who might require home visits but lived more than 20 minutes’ drive away as this is not a good use of professional time.

The next speaker was Dene Holloway, Manager of the Wellesbourne Sports and Community Centre which opened for the first time in January. He introduced his staff and outlined their experience. They also offer work experience and Duke of Edinburgh award opportunities. He described the equipment available at the centre, in particular the latest acquisition of 16 spinning bikes, which are more like road bikes than normal exercise bikes. The Centre has exceeded its initial targets both in memberships and the number of classes launched. Future plans include Monkey Music sessions for pre-school children, fitness classes for school age children, and the Secret Garden Theatre Company for kids. He finished by describing how the Multi Games Area currently being constructed alongside the centre will be used. The Wellesbourne Wheelers Cycling club expressed their pleasure at the arrival of the spinning bikes, whilst the Cricket Club asked that consideration be given to protecting users of the MUGA from balls from the cricket pitch which is adjacent to the site.

The Chairman. Anne Prior, next invited the public to ask questions about the annual report of the Parish Council. The first speaker requested an update on the airfield. Frankie Stuart, from Wellesbourne Matters was present and gave an optimistic view of the future of the airfield and invited everyone to attend their AGM in the Village Hall at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday April 5th. The next question concerned the frequent heavy lorries that pass through the village. Councillor Eric Lawley explained that they use the car auction site at the top of Frizz Hill and come through the village because they are taller than a normal lorry and the Fosse Way has too many overhanging trees. The Chairman referred to the recent consultation on highway strategy for Stratford which appeared to seek to put more traffic on to the A429. The Parish Council has responded that only a new bridge over the river would solve the traffic problems on the east side of Stratford and the vague ideas in the strategy would simply increase traffic going through Wellesbourne.

The next questioner asked for an update on the proposed leases of parcels of land by Walton Estate to the Parish Council. The Chairman replied that they expect to hear soon from Walton Estate who they believe are waiting to hear from Persimmon Homes first. Another speaker complaining of overhanging trees and hedges around the village restricting roads and endangering pedestrians was asked to give the council a list of these sites so that the landowners can be prompted to cut back their vegetation.

Asked if the Parish Council had been informed of the intention to stage part of the Aviva Women’s World Cycling tour through the village in June, the answer was no but it would be investigated. The same speaker asked about the protocol for using the parish council noticeboards which seem to be abused at times. The Chairman said it would be put on the agenda for the next Parish Council meeting. Finally a speaker asked when the promised bollards would be put in Chestnut Square and was assured it would be soon, and another speaker asked for more postboxes in the village. The Council will contact Royal Mail to ask what the procedure is for obtaining more boxes.

Councillor Rosalind Bolton introduced the new administrative assistant to the Council, Kate Skinner, and appealed for the public to let them know of any changes needed to the Index of Shops and Amenities due to be produced by the Council next year. The Chairman then closed the meeting by publicly thanking the two retiring Parish Councillors, David Close and Eric Lawley for all their hard work for the Council.