Minutes of the meeting held on March 13th 2017
Present: Cllrs D Sutton (Chairman) Cllr P Thorne Cllr B Fowler Cllr C Gwynn
Ward Cllr B Baker R Sutton (Clerk)
One member of the public was present.
The Chairman opened the meeting at 14-30
17/21 Apologies for Absence – Cllr M Piggott (The Clerk had been advised by Mrs Piggott that he had a prior appointment)
17/22 Declarations of Personal and Pecuniary Interests – None declared
Councillors are reminded to:
a. Update their register of interests
b. To declare any Non-Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in items on the agenda and their nature (Councillors may discuss this item, but may not vote on it)
c. To declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests items on the agenda.
(Councillors must leave the room for the item in which they have declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, without making representations or voting).
17/23 Chairman’s Remarks
Firstly, the Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting and he also welcomed the one member of the public who was present. The Chairman then advised the reason that Cllr Milton was not present without an apology was because she had tendered her resignation and it was her wish that her resignation letter be read out at the end of the meeting, but before the meeting was closed. He also said that he would be making a short announcement regarding his own position at the end of the meeting.
At this point the meeting will be adjourned for a maximum of 15 minutes to allow any members of the public present to speak.
The member of the public who was present addressed the Parish Councillors regarding the speed limit along the A44 and in particular he expressed his concern that the current 40mph that was in place in the village did not extend to include the length of the A44 alongside Grendon Firs to the junction with the C1060 – the Morris Corfield turning. He reported that recently there had been three accidents in as many weeks along this particular stretch of road and that residents were becoming increasingly concerned about the speed of vehicles at this point and the probability of a very serious accident. Councillor Baker observed that no amount of signage or restrictions could legislate for the reckless and inconsiderate drivers who were the main cause of the problems. However he agreed with the other Councillors that efforts should now be made to get a speed restriction in place along this particular length of the A44. He advised that a TRO would have to be obtained in order to achieve this and that evidence based information would have to be produced to support any such request. It would also require the support of the police and the highways authorities and was likely to be a very lengthy process. It was agreed that ways forward should be explored at a future meeting of the Parish Council. It was suggested that an initial step might be for the concerned residents to organise a petition that could be presented to the authorities and to Parish Councillors who should agree to give it support. The member of the public confirmed that he would take this idea away with him and try to enlist support for a petition and report back to the Council.
17/24 Adopt the minutes of the meeting held on the 16th January 2017
To take as read and confirm the minutes as an accurate record of the meeting held on the 16th January 2017.
The draft minutes of the meeting held on 16th January had been circulated prior and had been published as draft minutes on the Parish Council’s website. Everyone confirmed that they had received and read the minutes. The Chairman pointed out a minor omission in that the minutes failed to state that Ward Cllr Baker had left the meeting immediately after delivering his report. The minutes were amended to reflect this and it was then proposed and seconded that the minutes should be accepted as a true and accurate record of that meeting. The minutes were then duly signed and dated by the Chairman.
Proposed by: Cllr Thorne
Seconded by: Cllr Gwynn
At this juncture, the member of the public left the meeting.
17/25 Report from District Ward Councillor Bruce Baker
Cllr Baker reported that on March 3rd 2017 Herefordshire Council had adopted a total council tax precept increase of 1.9% with an additional 2% that is necessary to provide adequate adult social care, thus making a total increase of 3.9% for 2017/18.
Herefordshire Council are facing a challenging financial situation and this means that there are even more cuts in the pipeline. These will need to be introduced by 2020.
Presently there are around 185,000 people living in the county which has 80,000 dwellings. There is a need for more housing and the programme that is in place is designed to increase the number of houses in the county by 16,500 units by 2030. This means that there will have to be more development in the market towns.
Feedback from care providers confirm that Hereford is placed 5th in the country for the standard of care that is provided to its ageing population. In the next few years it is anticipated that at least 1/3rd of the population in the county will be over the age of 65. Herefordshire is fast becoming a county where people want to retire to.
Cllr Baker confirmed that Cigaclear are working with Fastershire to provide more access to those who need faster broadband speeds in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. He said that the emphasis was on ‘those that need’ and not on ‘those that require’. The Chairman observed that Herefordshire’s stated ambition of providing every premise in the county with 2mb of speed being was now “very 20th century” and that nowadays a minimum speed of 10mb was the least that was required by most households in order to cater for their daily activities online.
Herefordshire’s plans for a university were still on schedule and they have obtained a grant of £8m towards this.
Hereford will be spending more money as they put themselves forward to be considered for the City of Culture award for 2021.
Permissions for the first phase of the Hereford bypass have been submitted. Hereford has not lost its funding for this project as has been reported in some newspapers.
Herefordshire Council have restructured their website and have made a considerable number of changes to its appearance and the way that it can be navigated. There was some disruption to the website during this process. The Chairman observed that unfortunately this disruption had impacted on several of the Parish Councils’ websites which had become corrupted, including that of Bredenbury, which was not useable for a period.
At the end of the winter gritting programme BBLP had not used as much grit as they had budgeted for, therefore there is a surplus left over that can be used for the 2017 programme. BBLP will no longer be carrying out temporary highway repairs and in future all repairs will be undertaken in a manner that is designed to be permanent. Cllr Baker urged all Councillors to report any highway defects via the allocated website. BBLP are to be given an award for replacing over 9000 street lights with energy saving LED lighting. Hereford is to provide all of their car parks with electric charging points with 2 hours free charging.
Cllr Baker informed that a number of local road closures have been planned for Sunday 24th September, when 15,000 cyclists will pass through the county. They will travel south from Birmingham and eventually arrive in this area along the B4214 travelling through Edwyn Ralph and Bromyard, then north via the B4203 and back to Birmingham. The local road closures will be in place for 9 hours. Cllr Baker and other Ward Councillors were very concerned that they had not been consulted about this and that the closures would have a negative impact on local business and residents alike, particularly the farming community who needed frequent access to their fields. His view was that the cycling lobby is all-powerful and he doubted if these routes can be changed. However, he and his colleagues will be protesting and making as much noise as possible. Cllr Fowler observed that car drivers and other road users need to be made more aware of ordinary cyclists’ entitlement to use of the roads.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Baker for his very detailed report.
17/26 Bredenbury Parish Room
It was agreed that following on from the discussion that had taken place as item 17/13 at the meeting held on the 16th January that any meeting of the Parish Council jointly with the Parish Hall Committee and the PCC Committee should be adjourned until such time as the Parish Hall Committee had undertaken further work towards establishing the present ownership of the building and land and was able to report back with their findings. Cllr Gwynn observed that accessing the Land Registry might throw some light on the ownership of the hall and land.
17/27 Financial Matters
Income and Expenditure presented by the Clerk
The Clerk handed out copies of the spreadsheet that she had prepared detailing the present position with regard to Parish Council’s Income and Expenditure and she explained the detail of each item. She enquired if everyone understood them and asked if there were any questions. None were forthcoming.
Outstanding Invoices requiring payment
The Clerk requested confirmation that payment can made for:
HALC membership renewal of £352.83. The Clerk urged the Councillors to authorise renewal of this. She explained the benefits of having HALC as the Parish Council’s point of contact for information and advice on all matters.
The Clerk’s final salary for the month of March. However, she informed that payment could not be made until the 30th March.
The Clerk asked for a proposal and seconder that these payments should be made.
Proposed by: Cllr Thorne
Seconded by: Cllr Fowler
All in agreement
Any other financial matters
There were no other financial matters raised.
17/28 Neighbourhood Plan
Agree response to the correspondence dated 3rd January from NHP Team Leader
The Clerk advised that Samantha Banks had not yet replied to the Parish Council’s email dated the 22nd January that included asking for observations about whether the proposed housing development along the A44 would fulfil the local housing allocation that is required under the Core Strategy.
Parish Plan Snapshot
The Clerk had already forwarded details of the Parish Plan Snapshot that had been received from HALC to the Parish Councillors for their consideration. The Chairman suggested that the Annual Parish Meetings that were due to be held in May would provide an ideal forum in which to disseminate the idea of Parish Plan Snapshot to parishioners. These meetings could be held separately to the Parish Council’s Annual Meeting. HALC had confirmed that it was able to provide an experienced speaker who could explain the concept of Parish Plan Snapshot. Councillors expressed their reservations about the number of parishioners who might attend based on their past experience of Annual Parish Meetings. Nevertheless, it was agreed that the idea should be proceeded with and that consideration should be given to HALC’s suggestion of producing flyers and notices that could be distributed to publicise these events.
17/29 Highway Issues
Speed limit review along A44 – to formulate a response to the Traffic Regulation Order Officer’s communication dated 27th January 2017
The Clerk reminded Councillors that she had already forwarded to them details of the recommendation proposed by BBLP’s Traffic Order Regulation Officer that the present 40mph should be maintained because there was insufficient evidence or reason for this to be reduced to 30mph. She reminded Councillors that she had asked for time for them to respond with additional comment or challenges to the TORO’s conclusions. In the meantime, BBLP had provided a considerable amount of data that had been obtained from the SIDs. These data detailed the speed and number of vehicles passing hour by hour in both directions on a daily basis through the village over a 2-month period. The Clerk had provided Councillors with this additional information. After debate Councillors concluded that in the face of both sets of evidence there was very little prospect of the Parish Council being able to mount a sufficiently robust challenge to the Traffic Order Regulation Officer’s recommendation. Reluctantly it was agreed that the Clerk should reply accepting his recommendation but reserving the opportunity to revisit the issue in the future.
The Clerk advised that a resident in Grendon Firs had expressed concerns about the amount of litter along the footpath between Grendon Firs and the Primary School. The resident had suggested that litter bins should be provided. The Clerk had approached BBLP accordingly and had been advised that BBLP no longer provide new litter bins and that Herefordshire Council were also actively reducing the present number of litter bins throughout the County. She had been told that litter bins would have to be provided at the Parish Council’s own expense and funded from the precept. Additionally, she was advised that all litter bins would have to be sited by the Parish Council and maintained and emptied by them. The Clerk advised that she had made initial enquiries as to the likely cost of bins and that she had been quoted a cost of between £350.00 and £390.00 plus VAT for each bin. Councillors unanimously concluded that in view of this information it was not feasible for the Parish Council to provide or maintain and empty any litter bins at the present time.
The Clerk advised that the same resident had also enquired about the possibility of a litter pick in the area. The Clerk had informed him that it was not possible for the Parish Council to organise such an event or even to sanction any activity of this nature by local groups because any such activity was debarred by the authorities from taking place along major highways owing to health and safety issues. She advised however that she had taken up the matter of litter in the district with BBLP and that they had agreed to see if they could undertake a litter pick. They had logged this under ref. 110415116. The Clerk further advised that the same resident had expressed concern about the amount of excess mud on the same length of footpath and that he had stated that he had slipped on it. The Clerk informed that she had also taken this issue to BBLP. They had informed her that they would arrange an inspection of the area. They had logged this issue under ref. 11041513.
The Clerk informed Councillors that at the present time she has not been made aware of a Locality Steward who has been permanently allocated for the three parishes to replace the two previous persons who have been moved elsewhere within BBLP. In the meantime any issues that arose should be reported via Herefordshire’s website.
Any other Highway Issues
None to be discussed
17/30 Correspondence Received
Warwickshire & West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company
The Clerk read out a letter received from the above company who were offering to provide offenders who can serve some of their sentence working in the community under a community payback scheme. The Chairman reminded Councillors that they had had similar offers from time to time and they had discussed them at previous meetings. The Parish Council had decided not to ‘go down that route’ at the time because there was too much restriction on the type of work that could be undertaken by these groups and because of the health and safety issues that the Parish Council would need to comply with were too onerous. Additionally, reports received from organisations that had taken up the scheme had not been very encouraging. All Councillors agreed not to take the offer up.
Great British Spring Clean
The Clerk reported receipt of an email from Anthony Bush, the Parish Liaison and Rural Services Officer at Herefordshire Council. This was a promotion of ‘The Great British Spring Clean’ campaign. This is a campaign backed by Herefordshire Council who want groups and individuals to ‘do their bit’ to help clear up the litter that is blighting our streets, parks and roads. Herefordshire Council want this to become an annual event. Any group or individual wanting to support this should register on Herefordshire Council’s ‘Stop the Drop’ webpage.
To consider any other correspondence received after the date of issue of these Agenda
There was no further correspondence to be discussed.
Endorse the Parish Council’s revised written comments submitted in respect of Plan No. P/170064
The Chairman reminded Councillors of the issues that had arisen as a result of the Parish Council’s response to Herefordshire Council’s Planning Department with regard to this application. He briefed Ward Councillor Baker of the situation. He asked the Parish Councillors to formally endorse both the wording and the tone of the letter that had since been sent to the Case Officer, Andrew Prior. This letter stated the Parish Council’s significantly revised position in the matter and is intended to correct the misunderstandings that had arisen. Councillors had had prior sight of the letter and had signified their agreement with its content before it had been sent to the Planning Department. The Chairman proposed that both the content and tone of the letter should be formally endorsed and ratified by all Councillors present. This proposition was seconded by Councillor Thorne.
The proposition was unanimously agreed by a show of hands.
Agree a revised protocol for future Planning Applications
The Chairman reminded Councillors of the protocol that was in place when considering planning applications and that it had been agreed that the Council should continue with these arrangements at every Annual Meeting of the Council over very many years. He said that it had now become evident that some elements of the procedure were unsatisfactory and that it should be abandoned without delay. The Chairman proposed that the present procedure should be discontinued forthwith and replaced with a more structured and well thought out approach that would include debating planning applications at a properly convened meeting and that advice should be sought from HALC with regard to designing a new procedure. The new protocol should be put into place at the Council’s next Annual Meeting in May 2017. This proposition was seconded by Councillor Fowler.
The proposition was unanimously agreed by a show of hands.
17/32 Precept 2017
The Clerk confirmed that Herefordshire Council have agreed the Parish Council’s requested precept of £6,800.00 Payment would be made in two instalments, the first one being on the 21st April 2017 and the second one on the 22nd September 2017.
17/33 Clerk – Resignation in writing
The Clerk reminded Councillors that they were already aware of her impending resignation and that she had already verbally advised them of this. She read out to the meeting her official letter of resignation that confirmed that she would no longer be in post with effect from the 31st March. Her letter contained an outline of the reasons why she no longer wished to continue in the job.
Ward Councillor Baker expressed his extreme disappointment at the Clerk’s decision to resign. He wished it to be minuted that throughout the time that he had worked with the Parish Council he had found that the way in which she had approached the complexities and challenges of the job had been very professional and workmanlike and he commended her for it. He had been made to feel very welcome at meetings and he had always appreciated that she had involved him in the workings of the Parish Council whenever it was felt to be necessary. Ward Councillor Baker also thanked the Clerk on behalf of Herefordshire Council for her years of service to the Parish Council.
All Councillors signified their own agreement with Cllr Baker’s tributes to the Clerk.
Agree procedure to replace Clerk
The Clerk urged Councillors that in view of the increasing complexities of the job and the responsibilities now being placed upon Parish Council clerks that they should engage her replacement with a person who was CILCA qualified or at the very least someone who is willing to take the exams necessary to become qualified. She advised Councillors that in the meantime they should ask HALC to provide a qualified clerk who could serve the Parish Council during the transition period. They should also delegate to HALC the task of finding a permanent clerk who is suitably qualified and competent. The Chairman asked for a show of hands to agree that this course of action should be undertaken.
Agreed unanimously by a show of hands
17/34 Agree the date, time and format of the Annual Parish Meetings
It was agreed that because the present Clerk would no longer be in post to arrange the Annual Parish Meetings the process would have to be undertaken by the Councillors themselves in conjunction with HALC. These meetings should be along the lines suggested in 17/28 above – Parish Plan Snapshot.
17/35 Agree a date for the Annual Meeting
The date of the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council had already been set for May 8th 2017 but because the present Clerk would no longer be in post to arrange this it was agreed that the date of the meeting would be subject to review and that the process of organising and conducting the meeting would have to be delegated to HALC.
At this juncture, the Chairman read out to the meeting Councillor Milton’s official letter of resignation. He stated that her services to the Parish Council had been very much appreciated by her colleagues, past and present, throughout the long time that she had served the Council and local community. Her contributions to the debates and to the work of the Council had been both valued and respected. All Councillors signified their own agreement with the Chairman’s tribute.
The Chairman then referred to his remarks at the commencement of the meeting when he said that he would be making another announcement before closing the meeting. He reminded the Councillors that at a previous Annual Meeting he had indicated that he was considering whether to continue as Chairman and also whether to continue as a Parish Councillor. He said that he now wished to announce his immediate resignation from both of these roles. He then read out to the meeting his official letter of resignation that contained an outline of the reasons why he no longer wished to continue in either of the roles. He said that he was sorry that the Parish Council would find itself without either a Chairman or Vice Chairman for the immediate future but he was sure that the Council was resilient enough to continue to function.
Ward Councillor Baker stated that he was very surprised at the Chairman’s resignation and wanted it minuted that the way in which the Chairman had conducted himself and the business of the Parish Council had always been, in his view, very professional, conscientious, even-handed and public spirited. Ward Councillor Baker then also thanked the Chairman on behalf of Herefordshire Council for his many years of service to the Parish Council and to the community and for the responsible way in which he had carried out both roles throughout his tenure.
All Councillors endorsed Councillor Baker’s tribute to the Chairman.
Before closing the meeting the Chairman reminded the remaining Councillors that no further cheques could be issued as he and the Vice Chairman were the only two authorised signatories and would now no longer be able to sign cheques. He said that that they should make immediate arrangements for this situation to be resolved in order that the Parish Council could meet its immediate financial obligations.
The meeting was closed at 16-30