MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF BREDENBURY & DISTRICT GROUP PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON 18th MAY 2015 IN BREDENBURY PARISH ROOM
PRESENT: Cllrs D. Sutton (Chairman) H. Milton P. Thorne M. Piggott
R. Sutton (Clerk)
Members of the Public Present: There were no members of the public present
Before the meetings were opened the Parish Councillors, all of whom had been returned unopposed at the recent election, were asked to complete their Declarations of Acceptance of Office and the Clerk acting as witness countersigned these declarations.
The Chairman reminded Councillors that they must complete and return their Declarations of Election Expenses – even though these would be a nil return – and he confirmed that these forms must also be returned to Herefordshire Council within 28 days of the date of the election. He reminded them that they would also need to complete and return their updated Notice of Registerable Interests documents. They were asked to take away the necessary forms, completed copies of which should be given to the Clerk at the next meeting.
At 7-30pm Cllr Sutton, acting as Chairman for the purpose, opened and conducted the
ANNUAL MEETINGS FOR THE PARISHES OF BREDENBURY, GRENDON BISHOP AND WACTON
The Chairman advised that the necessary Public Notices advising that these meetings were to take place had been published correctly on each of the notice boards in all three parishes, and that they had been posted to conform with the requirement to give 7 days clear notice prior to the date of these meetings. However despite this publicity there were no members of the public present for any of the Annual Parish Meetings.
The Chairman reminded the Parish Councillors present and the Clerk that they were entitled to speak acting as members of the public in their respective parishes, and as such could raise any matters relevant to the purpose of these meetings.
The Parish of Bredenbury – The meeting for Bredenbury was opened. There were no matters or issues raised. The Chairman closed the meeting.
The Parish of Grendon Bishop – The meeting for Grendon Bishop was opened. There were no matters or issues raised. The Chairman closed the meeting.
The Parish of Wacton – The meeting for the parish of Wacton was opened. There were no matters or issues raised. The Chairman closed the meeting.
The Chairman expressed disappointment at the lack of interest shown by local people in these meetings that were arranged as a forum to enable them to raise any matters of concern to them, and also for them to outline their ideas to help improve the amenity of their own neighbourhoods. All of the Councillors who were present echoed his disappointment.
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF BREDENBURY & DISTRICT GROUP PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON 18th MAY 2015 IN BREDENBURY PARISH ROOM
15/38 ELECTION OF PARISH COUNCIL CHAIRMAN
Cllr Sutton, acting as Chairman for the purpose of electing a Parish Council Chairman for the ensuing period, asked for nominations for this post. Cllr Milton nominated Cllr Sutton. Cllr Thorne seconded this nomination. There were no other nominations. Cllr Sutton confirmed that he would be willing to serve another term as Chairman. All were in favour. He then signed the Declaration of Acceptance of Office and took the Chair.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Thorne
15/39 ELECTION OF PARISH COUNCIL VICE CHAIRMAN
The Chairman enquired of Cllr Milton if she was prepared to serve another term as Vice Chairman. She confirmed that she would be willing. Therefore he proposed that she continue in the post. Cllr Thorne seconded this. There were no other nominations.
Seconded: Cllr Thorne
15/40 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
All the elected Parish Councillors were present. There were no apologies to be recorded.
15/41 APPOINTMENT OF RIGHTS OF WAY, FOOTPATH AND BRIDLE PATHS OFFICERS
Cllr Milton and Cllr Piggott agreed that they would be happy to continue in these posts, each to continue with responsibility for their respective previously defined areas.
15/42 APPOINTMENT OF POLICE & RURAL LIAISON OFFICER
Cllr Milton confirmed that she would be happy to continue in this post. All were in agreement that she should continue, especially as she was familiar with the meetings’ routine and that the other members of the scheme accepted her.
15/43 ADOPTION OF ACCOUNTS – NB ACCOUNTS MUST BE ADOPTED BY 255TH MAY 2015
The Clerk handed everyone a copy of the Accounting Statement for the year ended 31st March 2015 together with copies of the Explanation of Variances, Bank Reconciliation, a list of Unpresented Cheques, and a Spreadsheet showing the total income and expenditure for the Parish Council for the previous 12 months, including that of the Lengthsman. She explained the detail of each item on the Accounting Statement and outlined the answers that she had given to the questions asked thereon. She explained that the Government Council Tax Support Grant has to be deducted from the total precept (column 2 on the return) and is shown separately under ‘all other receipts’ (column 3), together with the VAT refund and Lengthsman monies received. After explaining these intricacies the Clerk enquired if anyone had questions or queries. None were raised. Approval and adoption of these Audited Accounts was proposed, seconded and unanimously approved. They were then duly signed and dated by the Chairman and the RFO (Clerk) for onward submission to Grant-Thornton who are the nominated independent Auditors for the Council.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Piggott
15/44 REVIEW OF ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS AND INSURANCE POLICIES
The Clerk outlined all payments made in respect of Annual Subscriptions as detailed below:
Insurance . . . £262.15
Information Commissioner’s Office (Data Protection) . . . £35.00
“Get Mapping” (Parish on Line) . . . £33.60
HALC subscription. . . £288.00
The Clerk informed everyone that the Insurance and ICO payments were necessary as these particular subscriptions were essential to enable the Parish Council to comply with the legislation in force. She confirmed that “Get Mapping’ was particularly useful for the Parish Council when it was necessary to closely identify particular properties, specific features, or areas within the three parishes when required. She asked that this facility be continued. Although the HALC subscription was the highest annual payment made, it was felt that it was essential to continue this membership as it provided access to advice and clarification on various matters of importance of procedure, legality, and the manner in which the Council should act, as well as access to useful training in every aspect of the Council’s work. It was unanimously agreed that the Clerk should continue payment of all of these annual subscriptions. The Clerk reminded everyone that she was able to claim back the VAT element of both the ‘Get Mapping’ and HALC subscriptions.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Thorne
15/45 CONFIRM THE CONTINUATION OF THE EXISTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEALING WITH PLANNING APPLICATIONS
Herefordshire Council’s current requirements are for the Clerk to access all planning applications electronically. All of the relevant drawings and supporting paperwork are then printed off and circulated to every Parish Councillor in turn, for appraisal and comment. All planning applications are delivered firstly to the Councillor in whose area they will impact on the most. After circulation the Clerk collates all of the comments, observations and appraisals that have been made. These are summarised and are forwarded to the Planning Authority electronically, within the required timescale. Every Planning Application is shown in the agenda and minutes. If a planning application is received that is considered complex, or likely to be contentious, then a full meeting of all Councillors can be called to discuss it. The Councillors were unanimous in their view that these arrangements were working well and should continue.
Proposed: Chairman Seconded: Cllr Piggott
15/46 ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT
A copy of the Annual Governance Statement was handed to everyone and the Chairman gave them time to study this. He then enquired if the answers that had been given on the Statement were a true representation of the procedures that the Parish Council had in place, and that the Council had been following all of these correctly. All Councillors were in agreement that the document should be accepted as a true statement of the protocol that was being followed. Accordingly it was duly signed and dated by the Chairman and the Clerk.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Piggott
15/47 CHAIRMANS REPORT
The Chairman firstly thanked everyone for his or hers continued support. He then summarised one or two of the main highlights and low points of the year.
Whilst the Lengthsman Scheme took a while to ‘get it off the ground’ it was felt that on the whole it had been successful and it was hoped that its success would continue in 2015/16. The Lengthsman’s work during the preceding months had included clearing the ditch along Gt Wacton Lane, laying stone and road planings in the passing places along Harp Lane, rectifying the flood problem at the end of Gt Wacton Lane (towards Gt Wacton Farm), cutting back the overgrowth along Harp Lane and slightly widening the road opposite to the entrance to St. Andrews Close, thus giving room for two vehicles to pass which helps to alleviate the problem experienced by vehicles entering or exiting St Andrews Close.
The footpath between Grendon Firs and Bredenbury Primary School had been cleared by the Highways Authority and made more comfortable for pedestrians to use, although the Chairman commented that it was difficult to keep this stretch of footpath entirely free from debris and that it would probably need clearing properly once again, and in the not too distant future.
A Public Open Meeting had been held in the Barneby Inn to discuss the possibility of producing a Neighbourhood Plan. At the time, the meeting had been considered a success and a steering group had been formed. Cllr Gwynne had put a lot of her own time and effort into setting up this group, arranging meetings, and maintaining contact with Herefordshire Council etc. in an effort to produce a basis for the project and take it forward. It was disappointing that eventually this group had been disbanded due to lack of enthusiasm and support from colleagues. As a consequence the entire project had fallen by the wayside, with no immediate likelihood of it ever being revived.
The Chairman and Clerk had each given up much of their own time to attend a number of the seminars and training courses that had been offered by both Herefordshire Council and HALC throughout the year and they had had found all of them to be interesting and beneficial.
One or two of the other Councillors had attended some seminars and training courses, and having attended these, they too had felt that these had been of benefit to them.
After outlining the above the Chairman then closed the Annual Meeting of Bredenbury & District Group Parish Council at 8-05pm and opened the ordinary meeting of the Parish Council.
MINUTES OF THE ORDINARY MEETING OF BREDENBURY & DISTRICT GROUP PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON 18th MAY 2015 IN BREDENBURY PARISH ROOM
The Chairman opened the meeting at 8.06pm
15/48 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no Declarations
15/49 CHAIRMAN’S REMARKS
The Chairman reminded everyone that it was his or her duty to abide by the revised Code of Conduct, a copy of which had been circulated by the Clerk to everyone by email. In particular, the revised Code clarified the protocol to be followed after a member has registered interest in an item. If a Councillor has registered an item, then it is necessary for them to leave the room when that item comes up for discussion. Everyone confirmed his or her awareness of this requirement and also the requirements of the Revised Code of Conduct in general. Accordingly it was signed and dated by the Chairman on behalf of the Council.
15/50 MEETING WILL BE ADJOURNED FOR PARISHIONERS QUESTIONS
There were no members of the public present so the meeting was not adjourned.
15/51 ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH MARCH 2015
The Chairman enquired if everyone had received and read the minutes of the meeting held on the 9th March 2015 and if they considered them to be a true and accurate record of that meeting. No queries were raised. The minutes were then adopted and signed by the Chairman.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded; Cllr Thorne
15/52 ELECTION RESULTS INCLUDING WARD COUNCILLOR
The Chairman asked the Clerk for clarification of the procedure to be followed where vacancies had still occurred following the election process. The Clerk confirmed that in these circumstances it was in order to co-opt councillors onto the Parish Council. The Chairman reported that the Clerk had already spoken with ex Cllr Carolyne Gwynn to ascertain if there was a particular reason as to why she had not stood for re-election. Mrs Gwynn explained that she had fully intended to stand but unfortunately she had missed the deadline to submit her nomination papers. However, following a conversation that Mrs Gwynn had had with Herefordshire Council she had been advised that if the Parish Council wished, they could co-opt her back onto the Council without further ado. The Chairman asked if everyone was in favour of accepting Mrs Gwynn back onto the Parish Council. There was unanimous support for this. Accordingly the Clerk was asked to make contact with her to confirm that she was still happy to re-join the Council representing Grendon Bishop Parish. If so, it would nevertheless mean that the Parish Council would still be short of two Councillors, one for Bredenbury Parish and one for Grendon Bishop Parish. Again these could be filled by co-option if there were suitable candidates.
The name of Brian Fowler, a resident of St Andrews Close was put forward for consideration for one of the vacancies. It was observed that Mr Fowler had been fully involved in the Neighbourhood Plan campaign and that his enthusiasm and common sense approach to this as a member of the steering group had been appreciated and had been helpful. It was agreed that the Chairman should approach Mr Fowler to ascertain if he would be willing to become a co-opted member of the Council. If he was agreeable there was unanimous support that he should be invited to attend the next meeting in order to be inducted into the Council without delay.
Proposed: Cllr Milton
Seconded: Cllr Thorne
Action by: Chairman
The Chairman confirmed that Jeremy Millar had not stood for another term as Ward Councillor. Everyone commented that they were surprised that Jeremy had not given any indication whatsoever of his intentions at recent Parish Council meetings. With regard to the election of a new Ward Councillor the Chairman expressed everyone’s’ disappointment that, whilst there had been three candidates for the position none of them seemed to have made any effort to publicise themselves in any of our three parishes, or even to introduce themselves to the Clerk, or any of the Parish Councillors, in order to make them aware of their candidacy and their policies. Even a simple flyer would have given a little about their background etc. Whilst some parishioners had voted in the election, they had commented that nevertheless they did not feel that they had been fully informed about the candidates. In the event the Conservative candidate Mr Bruce Baker had been elected and he had now sent an email to the Clerk to introduce himself as the new Ward Councillor. The Chairman confirmed that following our usual custom and practice Ward Cllr Baker would be invited to attend future Parish Council Meetings.
Action by: Clerk
15/53 FINANCIAL MATTERS
Report from Clerk – The Clerk handed everyone a spreadsheet setting out the Council’s Income and Expenditure to date, from the end of the financial year – 31st March 2015. Councillors raised no questions or issues on the details of this. A copy of this spreadsheet is held on record with these minutes.
Cheques requiring signature – The Clerk requested that one or two blank cheques be pre-signed following usual practice, in order that that she could pay the Insurance demand and pay an invoice received following a training course that she and the Chairman had attended.
VAT – The Clerk confirmed that she had completed and submitted an end of year VAT return and that this had amounted to £540.06, To date she had not received any payment.
Any other financial matters – The Clerk confirmed that, in future, all Councillors in turn would be asked to undertake an internal audit of the Council’s finances from time to time, as this was a now requirement under the Audit Process.
The Clerk asked if anyone had any queries or concerns they wished to raise with regard to any of these financial matters – none were forthcoming.
• The Clerk reported that she had received details of two events in connection with ‘Setting up a Good Neighbour Scheme’ She explained brief details of the scheme, which was intended to combat loneliness. She asked that if any Councillor was interested in attending any of these events for him or her to let her know and she would arrange accordingly.
• The Chairman read out a letter received from former Parish Councillor Karen Nielsen in which she advised Councillors that she had not stood for re-election because she did not wish to continue for a further term as a Parish Councillor. She stated that her intention had always been to serve for an initial 4 years only.
• At this juncture the Clerk requested permission to read out a report that she had written immediately on her return from a very difficult meeting that she had had with a former parish councillor. The Chairman adjourned the meeting in order that this report could be delivered ‘in camera’ and assimilated by members. The Chairman confirmed that the CEO of HALC was fully aware of the unsavoury nature of the meeting and the issues involved, and that she had given advice. However the Clerk reported that she had decided not to pursue the matter.
15/55 PLANNING APPLICATIONS
• 150515 – WICTON FARM, WINSLOW, HR7 4LR
Applicant: Mr Anthony Howlett
Description: Proposed milking parlour extension to existing cattle building
The Clerk confirmed that Herefordshire Council had now approved this application.
• 150756 – Grendon Manor, Bredenbury HR7 4TH
Proposed Lambing Shed
Applicant Mr & Mrs Piggott
The Clerk reported that this application had been marked ‘withdrawn’ on Herefordshire Council’s planning portal. This surprised Cllr Piggott as he had already been informed that they had approved the application, which was his own. In fact the shed has been erected and is in use. The Chairman suggested to Cllr Piggott that he speak directly with Herefordshire Council, as it would appear that once again they might have posted the wrong comment against a planning application.
Any other items of planning received after preparation of these Agenda
An application had been received for –
• Neston’s Retreat, 4 Brockington Grange Mews, HR7 4TF
Application No: 151235
Applicant: Mrs Maureen Clayton
Description: Proposed alterations and extension to existing conservatory.
This application was placed the table for Parish Councillors’ appraisal and for their comments and observations. No issues or queries were raised. The revised lower roofline that had been agreed was helpful to neighbours and was noted. Councillors agreed to support the application. The Clerk was asked to reply to Herefordshire Planners accordingly.
Action by: Clerk
The Chairman confirmed that he and the Clerk had attended a recent half-day session about the audit process and the future of audits for Parish Councils. He also observed that both he and the Clerk had attended most of the training and information sessions that had been designed in order to make Parish Councils more effective and Parish Councillors better informed. He commended these events to other Councillors. He suggested that when the Parish Council have a full compliment of Councillors that the Clerk should arrange for HALC to undertake an ’In-house New Councillors’ training session. These sessions can be arranged, at a cost of £150.00 in total for each event, plus travelling expenses. This would be less costly than paying the usual minimum of £25.00 per person per training session. He enquired how colleagues felt about this. Everyone was in agreement that they would benefit from attending such an event and that it could be ‘money well spent’. The Clerk was asked to make further enquiries.
Action by: Clerk
15/57 NEW LEGAL REQUIREMENTS (INCLUDING IT)
Following the recent Audit Trail course attended by the Chairman and the Clerk, the Clerk reported that these audit arrangements are now not likely to come into operation until 2016/2017
Information Technology – The Chairman reported that it is now a legal requirement tor all Parish Councils to publish their draft minutes not later than one month after a meeting had taken place. They must also publish the details of every item of expenditure over £100.00. The Government is pushing for this information to be published on Parish Councils’ own websites, which do need to be set up asap. He confirmed that, in the interim, Parish Councils in Herefordshire who do not have a website at present can ask HALC to publish the information on their own main website, but this arrangement will be tolerated for only a short period. Parish Councils are expected to set up their own website asap. He advised that he and the Clerk intended to attend a training session promoted by HALC that features the building and maintaining of a Parish Council Website. This event will take place in June. The Clerk reported that she was still waiting for Herefordshire Council to advise when their own promised training course on designing websites was due to be held.
The Clerk advised that she had received an email from Alistair Phillips, a Parish Councillor for Dorstone parish, regarding website design for parish councils. He can set one up for an initial cost of around £350.00. However, the Clerk had read an article in a Parish Clerks’ magazine stating that NALC have been given a fund of £4.7m to help fund packages to help the smaller parish councils meet the new audit and transparency rules by setting up their own websites. The Clerk will endeavour to find out more about this fund when she attends the forthcoming training session with HALC.
Action by: Clerk
15/58 LENGTHSMAN SCHEME
The Chairman reported that Mrs Carolyne Gwynn had kindly offered to store a stock of road planings at Horsnet Farm for the Parish Council. This would help them to use some of the money in the Lengthsman Scheme, which is yet to be spent. The Chairman said he had taken up Mrs Gwynn’s offer and had ordered 40 tonnes of road planings to be stored at Horsnet, which be could now be used as and when required by the Lengthsman.
The Clerk reported that both she and the Chairman had spent an inordinate amount of time preparing a ‘Schedule of Works’, with a proposed ‘Lengthsman Income and Expenditure Budget’, and an ‘Annual Maintenance Plan’, detailing proposed works with a budget for the 2015/16 period. These proposals had to accord with Herefordshire Council’s specific formulae. The entire package had now been submitted to the ‘Lengthsman Schemes Co-ordinator’ at Herefordshire Council and the Clerk was now awaiting confirmation that Bredenbury and District GPC had been accepted into the scheme and is able to join the arrangements for repairing our own potholes.
The Clerk advised receipt of an email from the Locality Steward advising that the re-surfacing programme throughout Herefordshire was presently on hold.
The Clerk had sent an email to the Locality Steward asking for an update on her requests for clearing the stretch of the A44 between Harp Cottage and Brockington Mews where the nearside carriageway has become increasingly narrow due to soil and debris continually encroaching onto the road. The Locality Steward had replied by saying that she had asked her ‘Reactive Team’ to clear as much debris as they could in advance of the ‘bigger programme work’. The Locality Steward had not indicated what the ‘bigger programme work’ was, but observed that we might have to wait a long time for it to commence.
15/60 PARISH DEFIBRILLATOR
The Clerk reported that she had spotted an article in the ‘Clerks and Councils Direct’ magazine outlining schemes that could make defibrillators available locally. She asked Parish Councillors if they would consider having a defibrillator installed in a public place somewhere in the parish. She had researched provisional costs for the equipment, which would appear to be in the region of £1,375.00 plus VAT. This sum could include a weatherproof, locked, heated, ventilated, and alarmed cabinet. She felt that the Parish Council could easily afford this sum from funds at present. The Clerk felt that by installing this equipment it would be very re-assuring and beneficial to folk in the Parish and perhaps could even save a life. She suggested that a public meeting at which training and information on it’s use would be provided should also be arranged. The Chairman put her request to Parish Councillors who after enthusiastic discussion were unanimous in deciding that the Clerk should be asked to investigate further details.
Action by: Clerk
15/61 UPDATES FROM FOOPATHS & RIGHTS OF WAY OFFICERS
The Chairman reported that it had been brought to his attention by Bromyard U3A that following a recent walk organised by them along the footpath WK2 from Wacton Lane across fields, that they felt that the route was very poorly way-marked, that one of the foot bridges was considered to be in an unsafe condition, and that the route was difficult to negotiate by less able-bodied walkers because of minor obstructions and overgrowth at several points. He requested that the Footpath Officer(s) make necessary arrangements to have these issues attended to. Regarding the rest of the network, Cllr Milton said she did not have much to report, but she did make reference to the closed bridge on Bridleway Wk.11. The ‘Closed Notice’ is due to expire in July. She asked if the Clerk would request that the Locality Steward be made aware of this in order that it could be renewed. Cllr Milton also asked if it was in order to ask the Lengthsman to cut the overhanging branches on the start of walk WK2.
Cllr Piggott requested Cllr Milton to arrange for him to have some more Way Markers
Action by: Clerk
Action by: Cllr Milton
15/62 UPDATE FROM POLICE & RURAL WATCH LIAISON OFFICER
Cllr Milton stated that she had nothing to report and advised that there would be a meeting on the 19th May when members would be told of some ‘important news’. She would relay this news to everyone at the next meeting.
The Clerk advised that she had received details of a ‘Blue Light Evening’ for parish councils that is to be held on the 4th June from 6-00pm. West Mercia Police Commissioner Bill Longmore and Superintendent Sue Thomas will give the talk. If any Councillor wished to attend the meeting the Clerk has full details.
15/63 ITEMS TO BE INCLUDED ON NEXT AGENDA
Co-option of Councillors to fill vacancies following the Election
15/65 RECONFIRM DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next Parish Council Meeting is scheduled for Monday July 6th 2015
The Chairman thanked everyone for his or her attendance and input and then formally closed the meeting at 9-15pm.