MARK PARISH COUNCIL
It was noted that the Internal Auditor had inspected the 2020/21 accounts and had no issues to raise with Members.
It was reported that the balance of accounts at 1st July were as follows - Current £10,575.31, Reserve £28,504.22.
It was agreed to confirm recommendations made in respect of the following applications:
006 Variation of condition 2 of 33/20/004 – Erection of an agricultural building and formation of a vehicular access to amend the design of the proposed building, south of Blackford Road, Mark – O. Seymour. Recommendation of permission.
008 Erection of a two lane "English Cricket Board" and approved cricket practice net 7.3m wide x 4m high x 18.3m long to the west of Vole Road, Mark – Mark Cricket Club. Recommendation of permission.
009 Erection of an agricultural storage shed and formation of hard standing area for parking at Yarrow Road, Mark – Miss M. Vearncombe. Recommendation of permission.
010 Erection of single storey extension and first floor rear extension to provide a self-contained annex and holiday let, Ridgemoor, Blackford Road, Mark – C. Barrow. Recommendation of permission.
012 Change of use of agricultural land to residential curtilage and erection of a three-bay garage with storage over, The Cottage, Northwick Road, Mark – Mrs S.V. Baker. Recommendation of refusal.
013 Erection of two storey side extension and demolition of rear conservatory, Syringa, The Causeway, Mark - Mr & Mrs Shortland. Recommendation of permission.
015 Certificate of Lawfulness for the siting of caravan and its use as a dwelling, together with the site as residential curtilage, The Dolls House, Northwick Road, Mark – M. Waller. Recommendation of refusal.
The following new applications were considered: -
014 Erection of timber agricultural workers dwelling south of Rookery Farm, Northwick Road, Mark – C. Petheram – recommend permission.
016 Erection of extensions, Larches, The Causeway, Mark – Mr & Mrs R. May – recommend permission.
A number of specified road defects would be reported to County Highways.
A reply had been received from the County Council in response to the Parish Council’s schedule of proposed improvements to road signs, infrastructure and markings with a view to increasing road safety in the village but Members were not satisfied at the level of action proposed, including a lack of information held at County Hall on road traffic collisions in the village and were opposed at the suggestion of the Parish Council meeting the cost of new traffic orders. No further information had been received regarding the provision of 20 mph zones outside Mark First School and Sedgemoor College. The County Council had still taken no action to complete the signage following the extension of the 30-mph speed limit at Blackford Road. It was agreed to obtain press publicity in connection with the poor response of County Highways in dealing with matters raised by Mark Parish Council over many years, following which the issue be raised again with senior staff/Members at County Hall.
It was agreed to support Wedmore Parish Council in their bid for a 40-mph speed limit along Blackford Road and Mr Bickers would be requested to strim around the Mark stone at Blackford Road. The condition of the layby at Jubilee Green had deteriorated recently and it was agreed to seek a specification from Nigel Haggett for remedial work to include more robust foundations and possibly a tarmac finish. The County Council would also be requested to remove vegetation from the River Bridge near Burtle and to clarify the position regarding the operation of the bus service 67 on Saturdays.
Councillor Francis gave an update regarding the acquisition of more advanced SIDs for use in Mark, Burnham Without and East Huntspill. Approval was currently awaited from County Highways for sites and the installation of new poles for these SIDs in Mark.
It was agreed to purchase a quantity of top soil to fill defects alongside the path leading to the play equipment.
Public Rights of Way
Councillor Sellers reported upon a stile at Dutch Road and the situation relating to AX23/15
Village Hall /Football Pitch Area
It was understood that the issue caused by model aircraft being flown on the football pitch area had been considered by the Mark Community Association.
Councillor Human had circulated a response from National Grid regarding their intentions for this property. They had carried out some stabilisation work and were working to achieve vacant possession.
Councillor Sellers kindly offered to assist Councillor Mrs Weekes with the web-site.
Next Meeting of Mark Parish Council
The next Meeting is planned to be held in the Church Hall, socially distanced of course, on 7th September July 2021 starting at 7.00 p.m.
Dead Fish in the Mark Yeo River by the bridge
On Monday July 5th the Environment Agency aerated the Mark Yeo River by the Bridge to mitigate the ecological impacts of low dissolved oxygen levels. Low oxygen levels can be caused by pollution, but in this instance it’s a combination of warm weather, duckweed covering the water surface and low flows. Summer storms can also be factor. They reported that there were 20-30 dead fish with others in distress which was a natural result of duck weed cover causing very low dissolved oxygen levels. They introduced a fresh flow of water from the river axe to improve oxygen levels. However, by the weekend the flow of water did not seem present and more dead fish were present with duckweed cover retuning so on Sunday 11th the PC reported the problem once again to the Environment Agency who said they would again investigate.
Early in the morning oxygen levels are low because photosynthesis doesn’t happen at night and also the duck weed shades out most other plants so there is very little opportunity for natural oxygenation. The causes of duck weed can vary but often it is due to high levels of nutrients in the water, the sources of which are many. Including, discharge from Sewage treatment works, septic tanks, misconnections of the foul water drainage in settlements to the storm water systems and some from agriculture too. Due to the protected nature of large parts of the Levels and Moors most of the agricultural nutrients are likely to come from the wider upstream catchment.
Emma Fairbrother - report on Facebook Sunday 11th July
Hello villagers. I am a Fisheries Officer and I work for the Environment Agency. Just to reassure you, the fish kill is not caused by a pollution but is a naturally occurring drop in dissolved oxygen levels that sadly happens every year at this location, and also many other locations on the Somerset levels and moors. Myself and a colleague came out last Monday and I came out again tonight (in my own time, not for work) to assess the ongoing problem. A lot of larger fish have sadly died over the last week, which is causing the bad smell as they decay. I will try and organise for the dead fish by the bridge to be removed tomorrow (it will probably be me, since nobody else will want to do it!).
Unfortunately, we cannot have aerators permanently in there so I expect more fish will die, which is very sad. I will try and arrange a more extensive weed cut and removal of more floating duckweed, which might improve the situation. We also diverted more water down the Mark Yeo from the Axe last week, which I will try and arrange again. This might help a little bit. The duckweed is the main problem. It grows and spreads extremely quickly. It prevents oxygenation of the water on the surface that would normally occur from the wind, and it respires at night and uses up oxygen that the fish need.
We DO care and we ARE aware of the situation, and doing what we can. I think it is important that the dead fish are removed, and I’m sorry that didn’t happen last week. I will make sure that is sorted.
On a brighter note, I saw an otter by the river right in the village last week, no doubt feasting on the fish. You have a lovely river on your doorstep, and I’m glad you care about it! We do too.