MINUTES OF MEETING OF BREDENBURY & DISTRICT GROUP PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON MONDAY 13TH JULY 2015 IN BREDENBURY PARISH ROOM
PRESENT: Cllrs D. Sutton (Chairman) Cllr H. Milton, Cllr M. Piggott
Mrs Carolyne Gwynn and Mr Brian Fowler – for co-option
Ward Cllr B. Baker Clerk R Sutton
There were no members of the public present
15/66 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – Cllr Pat Thorne
15/67 CO-OPTION OF PARISH COUNCILLORS
Before the meeting opened Mrs Carolyne Gwynne and Mr Brian Fowler were formally co-opted onto Bredenbury & District Group Parish Council to represent the parishes of Grendon Bishop and Bredenbury respectively. They were welcomed to their roles by the Chairman, the Clerk, and fellow Councillors.
The Clerk handed them the relevant forms that they were required to complete. She asked them to complete and sign their ‘Declaration of Acceptance of Office’ documents immediately, as these needed to be witnessed. These documents were duly signed and witnessed by colleagues. The Clerk also requested that they complete, date, and sign their ‘Register of Interest’ forms at the earliest, because these were required to be returned directly by them to the Elections Office as soon as possible. She reminded them that she did require a copy of these documents for the Parish Council’s own records as these had to be available for public scrutiny locally if requested. The Clerk also handed both of them a copy of the Code of Conduct. This is the Code that the Council has adopted and all Parish Councillors need to comply with its requirements. Finally she suggested that they should access the Internet to download a copy of the Localism Act 2011. She felt that it would be very useful if they familiarised themselves with this legislation and the way in which it impacted on Parish Councils and Parish Councillors.
Action: Cllr Gwynn
The Chairman reported that he had spoken with the Electoral Services Department at Hereford with regard to the existing councillor vacancy for Grendon Bishop Parish. He had asked for their assessment and comment on the present situation in view of the fact that the number of Parish Councillors required to represent each of the Parishes within the Bredenbury Group was so uneven. He pointed out that Wacton has 2 Councillors to represent 91 electors and Bredenbury has also 2 Councillors to represent 100 electors, whereas, historically, Grendon Bishop always has had 3 Parish Councillors, but these represent only 75 electors. He had pointed out to them that he, colleagues, and parishioners, felt that these levels of representation were unfairly weighted and the consequence was that there was a danger of unbalanced decisions being arrived at. Electoral Services had confirmed that they were aware of this anomaly and that it was not unique in the county. They had advised that they would be undertaking a review of this situation at the earliest. This review and consultation would address amending the number of parish councillors per parish council, as well as the grouping or de-grouping of parishes and parish councils, splitting off areas of existing parish councils and establishing new separate parish councils, and altering boundaries of existing parishes and parish councils.
In view of this, and until the situation was resolved, the Chairman suggested that it would be expedient for the Parish Council to continue with six Parish Councillors as at present, because each parish was then evenly and well represented, the Council was working well with this number of Councillors, and there could always be a quorum available. He asked for colleagues’ views on this. All were in agreement.
The Chairman then formally opened the meeting at 19:45.
15/68 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None declared
15/69 CHAIRMAN’S REMARKS
The Chairman again welcomed Cllr Brian Fowler to his first Parish Council meeting and Cllr Gwynne back onto the Parish Council. He also welcomed and introduced Cllr Bruce Baker the new Ward Councillor to the Parish Councillors.
15/83 REPORT FROM WARD COUNCILLOR BRUCE BAKER
This item is out of sequence at the request of Cllr Bruce Baker, as he needed to leave the meeting early due to another commitment.
Cllr Baker confirmed that following the May elections he had been elected as the Ward Councillor for Hampton Ward, which now included the parishes of Bredenbury, Wacton, Grendon Bishop, Edwin Ralph, and Collington. The ward boundaries had been altered to take into account the number of electors in a given area rather than the geography of a ward as had been done historically. Hampton Ward now covered a larger area and included some of the more sparsely populated parishes. He intended to visit every parish within the Ward and this was his third Parish Council meeting. He said that whilst he was always happy to speak with Parish Councillors he would prefer that all queries and enquiries were routed initially via the Clerk. He explained that as well as being a Ward Councillor he had also been appointed onto Herefordshire Council’s Planning Committee as well as onto the Regulatory Committee for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. He had also been elected onto the committee of the Lugg Valley Drainage Board.
He explained that as a member of the Planning Committee he would not able to vote in decisions made on any planning applications arising in any of the parishes within Hampton Ward. However he will have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the appropriate Parish Council either in support of or against a planning application. He gave a brief outline of a planning application for a chicken farm where the applicant had agreed to pay and install a one-way road system, to include passing places that would also be of benefit to the district generally as well as to the actual development.
Pencombe and Stoke Prior have had planning applications for wind turbines turned down as Government policy is now that there should be no more proliferation of onshore wind turbines. However this policy may mean that it is likely that we will see more applications for solar panel farms as an alternative. The latest panel systems are designed for installation above the ground enabling sheep to graze and shelter beneath them. They are also required to be very well screened and not visible in distant views.
Hereford is now one of the only towns without a bypass and there is a proposal for one to be constructed to link the A465 Abergavveny road with the A49, which will relieve the some of the congestion in Hereford city caused principally by the number of HGV’s travelling in and out of Wales.
Balfour Beatty is responsible for all the roads in Herefordshire except the A49. This road is the responsibility of Highways England. Maintenance of roads includes grass cutting and verges. It is felt that Balfour Beatty are doing a much better job than their predecessors, Amey, who it is understood still owe Herefordshire Council a large sum of money.
Cllr Baker gave brief details of a new building in Edgar Street that will house the Fire Station and Police Station in combination. He also gave brief details of the new owners of the Butter Market. He reported that Hereford’s Archive and Record centre has recently been given an award by the Royal Institute of Architects as being a very eco-friendly building and that Herefordshire Council have purchased the Three Elms Trading Estate in the hope they can attract more businesses into the county. He confirmed that BT is continuing with the installation of the infrastructure necessary to provide fibre optic broadband. It is predicted that 85 – 90% of premises in the county will have fibre optic broadband available by the end of next year.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Baker for his comprehensive and very informative report. Cllr Baker then left the meeting.
15/70 MEETING WILL BE ADJOURNED FOR PARISHIONERS QUESTIONS
As there were no members of the public present the meeting was not adjourned.
ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETINGS FOR PARISHES OF BREDENBURY, GRENDON BISHOP AND WACTON HELD ON 18TH MAY 2015
ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING HELD ON MONDAY 18TH MAY 2015
ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE ORDINARY MEETING OF PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON 18TH MAY 2015
The Chairman advised that the correct procedure was for the minutes of the three Annual Parish Meetings that had been held in May 2015 to be formally adopted at the next Annual Meetings. These were due to take place again in 2016. This item was therefore suspended.
The Chairman then moved on to enquire if everyone had received the minutes of the Annual Meeting and those of the Ordinary Meeting of the Parish Council that had been held on 18th May and if they considered them to be to be a true and accurate report of those meetings. All agreed.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Piggott
15/72 FINANCIAL MATTERS
• Report from Clerk
The Clerk handed everyone a spreadsheet for information that detailed the income and expenditure for both the Parish Council and the Lengthsman Scheme to date. However she immediately spotted that whilst the spreadsheet showed correct entries for all income and expenditure there was an addition error in one of the column totals. She apologised for this, but pointed out that this did not undermine the validity of the financial position shown. She undertook to rectify the error and email to everyone a copy of the corrected spreadsheet.
The Clerk confirmed that the Auditors had returned the accounts, which had been approved and duly signed. A Confirmation Notice and Statement of this had been placed on the Parish Council Notice board for public information, as required.
The Clerk reported that the sum of £540.06, being a refund of VAT that had been claimed by her had now been received and that a BACS payment for this amount has been paid into the Parish Council’s bank account.
• Cheques requiring signature
The Clerk requested reimbursement of her expenses to date totalling £30.03. She presented a copy of these together with relevant receipts for scrutiny and approval. No questions or issues were raised and the necessary cheque was duly signed.
The Clerk asked that the Vice Chairman countersign several cheques in order that she could make any payments that became due before the next Parish Council Meeting. She pointed out that whilst this is not ‘best practice’ it did obviate the chore of obtaining signatures between meetings in order to make payments promptly and thus avoid any possible penalties for late payments.
The Chairman asked for approval of all these financial matters as reported. All in agreement
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Gwynne
• “Clerk & Councils Direct”
The Clerk drew attention to this publication. It is a magazine currently received free of charge by the Clerk. She advised that it was very informative about all aspects of local council work and would be well worth purchasing at the annual fee of £75.00 if the free editions were to cease when the trial period expired. It could be passed around Councillors for information. The current copy was placed on the table.
• Any other Correspondence
The Clerk had received a mail shot from the Citizens Advice Bureau requesting a donation. She reminded Councillors that in previous years they had resolved not to support requests from national organisations however worthy, because there were so many of these being received regularly and it was very difficult not to favour one from the other, particularly as funds were so limited. Agreed not to donate.
The Clerk had received an invitation from HALC to attend an evening seminar entitled “Transparency Funding for Smaller Councils.” She confirmed that she had booked herself and the Chairman onto this seminar, which was due to take place on the 17th August at the HALC offices. NALC have been awarded a sum of money that can be used by HALC members to set up their own websites etc. and this seminar is designed to help smaller councils access that pot of money and it should be helpful because the Council had decided to proceed with our own website.
The Clerk reported that Herefordshire Local Access Forum (HLAF) had requested that anyone interested in footpaths, bridleways and by-ways should consider becoming a member of HLAF with the opportunity to attend two evening briefings per annum. The Clerk confirmed that she would provide these HLAF contact details to Cllr Milton, Cllr Piggott and Cllr Gwynne in order that they could decide whether or not this would be of interest or of benefit to them in their capacities as the local Rights of Way and Footpath Officers.
Action: Clerk and Cllrs Milton, Gwynn, Piggott
15/74 PLANNING APPLICATIONS
• 150756 – Grendon Manor, Bredenbury HR7 4TH
Proposed Lambing Shed
Applicant Mr & Mrs Piggott
The Chairman confirmed that enquiries had shown that the reason that this application had been marked ‘withdrawn’ on the planning website was because it had been mistakenly duplicated by the applicant’s agent. In fact the applicant has already received approval for this development under the ‘prior notice’ procedure for agricultural developments.
• 151235 – Nestons Retreat, 4 Brockington Grange Mews HR7 4TF
Proposed alterations & extension to existing conservatory
Applicant – Mrs Maureen Clayton
The Chairman confirmed that Herefordshire Planners had approved this application.
• 151676 – Wicton Farm, Wicton Lane, Winslow HR7 4LR
Proposed agricultural workers dwelling
Applicant – Mr Anthony Howlett
The Chairman confirmed that the Parish Council had agreed to fully support this application and had done so in writing. However they had pointed out that the site of this development did not seem to be fully within ‘sight and sound’ of the farm as had been stated in supporting documents. It was felt that the proposed position of the bungalow could make it vulnerable to outside speculative purchase at some time in the future. Therefore they had suggested that an agricultural occupancy condition should be attached to the development in order to limit and preserve the scale of the dwelling and its intended use.
Cllr Piggott observed that he felt that adding this proviso was ‘unfair’ as he felt that farmers ought to be able to build piecemeal their own land if it was necessary to ensure the future of the farm. The Chairman reminded everyone that material considerations only were taken into account in planning matters. Councillors agreed that it is also their duty to reflect the views of the neighbourhood and to ascertain and report the impact of any development on surrounding properties and the neighbourhood.
Any other Planning Applications received after the date of this Agenda
Planning Application 151970 – Land at Nicholson Farm, Docklow, Leominster,
This had been received after the agenda had been circulated. This application was an Electricity Notification and the proposal is to upgrade a section of line at this location from 2 wires to 3 wires. The site is outside the boundary of Bredenbury & District Group Parish and the notification had been sent for information only. There were no concerns or issues raised by Councillors and the Clerk was instructed to reply accordingly.
Action by: Clerk
The Chairman informed Councillors that he had recently received a telephone call from an anonymous caller representing a “land bank agency” who was enquiring whether Bredenbury had a completed Neighbourhood Plan in place. The caller also requested details of the extent of any existing ‘parish planning envelope’. The Chairman informed him that Bredenbury did not yet have a Neighbourhood Plan and that details of the parish envelope were freely available from Herefordshire Council to any enquirer. When pressed, the caller divulged that he was tasked with identifying areas and plots of land within Herefordshire villages that could be available for development. The Chairman reminded Councillors that this is the second time similar agencies have contacted him trying to identify opportunities for development in the village and in the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan the village was very vulnerable to speculative development.
The Chairman reported that Balfour Beatty have now trimmed all the grass verges, albeit it appeared to be just a light trim and already these need further attention. He also reported that the soil and debris encroaching onto the carriageway of the stretch of the A44 between Brockington Mews and Harp Cottage has been attended to and removed, but the action taken seemed to be just a short-term remedy and that the problem will undoubtedly re-occur until a permanent solution has been put in place.
Cllr Fowler reported that recently a large blue vehicle that appeared to be carrying animal waste has been travelling regularly along Harp Lane. Apart from the smell, the vehicle has been leaking a slurry type of liquid onto the road in a somewhat continuous stream. Children from the primary school and their parents use this road and have to cross it on foot several times a day. Concerns about this material being trodden and carried into the school and homes have been expressed. A Health and Safety issue might ensue. Cllr Piggott confirmed that he knew the owner-driver of the vehicle in question and he undertook to make him aware of the issue to try and resolve it. He would report back to the Parish Council.
Action by: Cllr Piggott
The Clerk requested that all Councillors should check the condition of all grit bins in their respective areas and advise if any of them are in a bad state of repair and require replacement. She reminded Councillors that there is also now a one-off opportunity to acquire additional bins for siting in strategic areas. She asked to be informed as soon as possible of everyone’s requirements in order that the Council does not miss the chance of obtaining sufficient replacement or extra bins at minimum cost.
Cllr Fowler advised that there used to be a bin on the corner of Valley View but for unknown reasons this had disappeared. There is bin just inside the playground of Bredenbury Primary School that could be used in an emergency, but this is the property of the Education Authority and is maintained by them for use in the school grounds. Cllr Fowler felt that it would be very useful if a bin could be located somewhere in the vicinity of the junction of Valley View with Harp Lane. The Clerk was instructed to liaise with the Locality Steward accordingly.
Action by: Clerk
15/76 LENGTHSMAN SCHEME
The Chairman enquired of Cllr Gwynn if she had received an invoice yet for the road planings that had been delivered to Horsnet farm for storage on behalf of the Parish Council. Cllr Gwynn advised that she had not expected to receive an invoice because she had requested the suppliers to send it directly to the Clerk. She agreed to ‘chase this up’ with them.
Action by: Cllr Gwynne
The Clerk confirmed that the Parish Council’s request to have a ‘pothole repair facility’ added to the Lengthsman Scheme had been accepted by Herefordshire Council subject to return of a signed contract made between them and Bredenbury & District Group Parish Council. The Clerk and Chairman had already completed a pre-prepared standard contract that they had brought to the meeting. This was then signed and dated accordingly and witnessed by Cllr Gwynn in the in the presence of the Parish Councillors. The Clerk confirmed she would now forward the signed document to Herefordshire Council.
Action by: Clerk
Cllr Milton enquired about the obstructive overgrowth on the land at the beginning of footpath Wk 2 . The Clerk advised Cllr Milton that the correct procedure was to firstly approach the landowner to remind him that it was it was his responsibility as the landowner to maintain all rights of way that were situated on his land and to keep them free of obstructions and hazards. Cllr Milton undertook to approach him in order to determine if he would be prepared to cut the offending obstruction back, and if not, to let him know that the Parish Council could instruct the Lengthsman to undertake the work, who would then be entitled to charge him for work done.
Action by: Cllr Milton
Cllr Milton requested whether enquiries had yet been made as to whether the Lengthsman could undertake the work necessary to repair the collapsed bridge on Bridleway Wk 11. After some discussion the Clerk reminded everyone that tentative enquiries regarding this had been made some while ago with Herefordshire Council. The advice received at that time was that the work needed to be of an engineering nature and would involve health and safety issues, expert supervision and certification, etc. and it was probably beyond the skills of an average contractor. It was decided that the Clerk should be asked to speak to the Lengthsman for his own assessment of the work involved, and if possible to obtain a quotation from him for the repairs. The Chairman counselled that if the Lengthsman undertook the work rather than the local authority, then the bulk of the cost would fall onto local council taxpayers.
Action by: Clerk
The Clerk requested Parish Councillors to let her know if there was any work in their areas that needed to be undertaken by the Lengthsman.
Action by: All Councillors
The Clerk reported that she and the Chairman had attended the seminar entitled ‘Wonders of the Web’ which had been arranged by HALC. Mark Millmore who is the Chairman of Holmer & Shelwick Parish Council had presented this. The Chairman confirmed that they both came away from the seminar feeling very positive and enthused. He explained that it was now mandatory for every Parish Council to have their own website and whilst HALC were happy for their members to publish the minutes of their meetings and announcements on HALC’s own website this could only be on a short-term basis. The easiest publishing tool for the web is WordPress and with the help of Mark Millmore most members of HALC could have a site configured especially for Parish Councils at a one-off cost of £500.00. Mark Millmore would assist each parish council to purchase a unique domain name and email address. HALC had strongly recommended that a “dot gov” domain and email be purchased. The fee for the initial purchase is £130.00 for the first year and then the cost would be approximately £65.00 per annum thereafter. Once the website has been set up Mark Millmore will host the site for the Parish Council for a fee of £10 per month. However HALC have negotiated with him to host members’ sites free of charge for the first 10 months. In addition he will provide clerks with two hours free one-to-one training. The Clerk will also have access to a password-protected video training website, which will take her through the steps of necessary to update and maintain the website. The Chairman remarked that there is so much more to a good website than just setting it up and that they were very impressed with WordPress, which would be backed up once a month by Mark Millmore, using ‘drop box’. Contributors will have the ability to write pages as well as posts, but only the Clerk will have the ability to edit and publish material. The website would have an RSS feed directly to Herefordshire Council’s website. This means that planning applications in the parishes would be uploaded automatically to the Parish Council’s website. HALC’s own website is using WordPress and was designed by Mark Millmore.
Cllr Gwynn challenged the cost involved as she thought it was too high and felt we should look for something cheaper. However the Chairman and Clerk felt that this package was very inexpensive bearing in mind all of the free long-term support given and that Government funding that was available for it. Support of this kind would only be available at a cost if the package were provided from elsewhere. Furthermore, all annual charges could be taken into account at the time that the budget and precept was set.
All Parish Councillors agreed to have a look at a typical website that had been set up using this system such as that of Holmer and Shelwick Parish Council. They were asked to have a good look at that website and respond back to the Clerk within 7 days if they had any queries or concerns about it’s format, features, or usability. The Chairman reminded everyone that the Parish Council does not have any option other than to set up a website sooner rather than later because this requirement has become mandatory since April 2015. Therefore it was agreed that in the absence of any queries or concerns reported back to the Clerk within the given time that she would ‘put the wheels into motion’ to set up a website.
Action by: All Councillors
The Clerk reported on the outcome of a decision made at the meeting held on the 18th May 2015, when the Parish Council decided to purchase a defibrillator to be installed at a strategic point in Bredenbury in order that the public could use it in an emergency. She had been instructed to find probable costs and suppliers together with details of the different types of equipment available etc. However in the meantime it had emerged that the Barneby Inn was already fundraising for similar equipment utilising an online ‘crowdfunding’ facility provided by the ‘Pub in the Hub’ scheme. Because of this the Clerk had sent an email to all Parish Councillors enquiring if they were happy for the Parish Council to relinquish their own scheme and become involved with The Barneby’s efforts, thus making a single scheme that would have a better chance of success. The proposal was for the Parish Council to make up any shortfall of money raised by the Barneby once their fundraising had reached its closing date. All the Councillors who responded were fully supportive of joining the Barneby scheme. The Clerk reported that she and the Chairman had then met with the proprietors at The Barneby Inn to outline this proposal and that they had been delighted with the idea and the help offered. They would acknowledge the Parish Council’s involvement with the project during any publicity events that were due to take place when the equipment was commissioned. The Clerk undertook to keep the Parish Council up to date with further developments.
Action by: Clerk
15/79 PARISH ROOM
The Clerk advised that she had received an email from Mrs Mari Knowles, requesting details of how much the Council believed it owed for meetings held. The Clerk had advised her that, so far, the Parish Council have only been asked to pay up to January 2014 inclusive, and she had suggested to her that in order to bring matters up to date she would need to provide invoices charging for the 9 meetings that have been held since then. The amount is involved is £144.00. The Clerk has requested a total invoice for payment, which would then be paid promptly.
Acton by: Clerk
15/80 PARISH SIGNAGE
The Clerk informed that she had spotted an advert in a Glasdon publication ‘Special Offers for Local Councils’ that detailed the village signage that was available showing a speed limit together with, for example, “Welcome to Bredenbury, please drive carefully”, and a similar sign saying “Bredenbury, thank you for driving carefully through our village”. The Clerk enquired whether the Parish Council would be interested in purchasing and installing this type of village sign. After a short discussion the Councillors were approving, subject to the Clerk finding out more about the probable costs, planning permission, etc.
Action by: Clerk
15/81 UPDATE FROM FOOTPATHS & RIGHTS OF WAY OFFICER
The Chairman enquired of Cllr Gwynn if she was happy to return to her previous role as a joint Footpaths and Rights of Way Officer with Cllr Piggott, in respect of the footpaths and rights of way in Grendon Parish. She confirmed that she was happy to do so. The Chairman reminded the Footpath Officers that they were obliged to walk and inspect all footpaths and bridleways in our parishes at least twice a year and report back on any issues.
Cllr Milton confirmed that way markers were now in place along WK 2. Because the issues that she had raised concerning WK 2 and the bridge on WK11 had already been debated under 15/76 Lengthsman Scheme, she had nothing further to report. Cllr Milton asked if the Clerk would ascertain from the Locality Steward whether the Footpaths Officers should have been provided with a current ‘letter of authority’ because the one she has at present is out of date.
Action by: Clerk
15/82 UPDATE FROM POLICE & RURAL WATCH LIAISON OFFICER
Cllr Milton reported that she had attended a meeting where she had learned that all local policing would be run from Leominster rather than from Hereford, but no date had been given as to when this change will be implemented. Meanwhile, the police station in Bromyard will remain as their base. She reported that at the meeting it had become apparent that a big problem was emerging in Bromyard regarding under-age drinking. Cllr Milton advised there was a ‘Face Watch’ meeting on Wednesday the 15th July. This was due to be held in Brimfield, however she was unsure as to whether or not she would be able to attend.
15/84 ITEMS TO BE INCLUDED ON NEXT AGENDA
None were noted. The Clerk requested that if anyone had anything to include in the next Agenda that they let her know at least 7 days before the date of the next meeting.
RECONFIRM DATE OF NEXT MEETING
It was noted that meetings are normally held on the 2nd Monday of the month. However as the Clerk is away for the next scheduled meeting this was re-scheduled for Monday 28th September. The final meeting of 2015 is scheduled for Monday 9th November 2015.