Minutes of a Meeting of the Parish Council held on
Tuesday 23rd January 2018 at 7.00pm in Storridge Village Hall
Councillors: Bruce Herriot (Chairman), Simon Davies, Alan Eldridge, Wynne Harries, Giselle Edgar, Geoffrey Fielding, Clare Jones, Miles Meager, Diane Merker, David Roys, Anne Scarsbrook, Sarah Thomas.
Apologies for absence:
Judith Aldridge, Ann Carver, Janita Goodwin
Clerk … Helen Tinson
Ward Councillor … Eleanor Chowns
20 members of the public.
1. Election of new councillors
1.1 It was noted that new councillors, Giselle Edgar, Geoffrey Fielding, Clare Jones, Miles Meager, Diane Merker, David Roys, Anne Scarsbrook, Sarah Thomas, Judith Aldridge and Ann Carver had been elected and had signed their Declarations of Acceptance of Office forms. It was further noted that Janita Goodwin was unable to sign her form prior to the meeting because of ill health and would do so on her return to the village. The Chairman congratulated and welcomed the new councillors.
2. Recruitment of clerk
2.1 It was noted that the new clerk had taken up her appointment on 1st January 2018. A contract of employment has been issued and signed on the basis of a 6-monthly review and annual appraisal. The contract was made available to the councillors.
3. Apologies for absence … as noted above.
4. Declarations of interest & written requests for dispensation
4.1 Bruce Herriot declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest in planning item 184.108.40.206 … HoV
4.2 Wynne Harries declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest in planning item 220.127.116.11 … HoV
4.3 Alan Eldridge declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest in planning item 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 … HoV and Church Stile Farm
4.4 Anne Scarsbrook declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest in planning item 7.1.3 … Talland
4.5 David Roys declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest in planning item 18.1 … Cradley Village Hall
All councillors signed the book accordingly.
5. Minutes of Extraordinary meeting held on 29th November and 21st December
It was RESOLVED to adopt the minutes of the above meetings as a true record and they were signed by the Chairman.
6. Open Session:
6.1 Ward Councillor report:
6.1.1 Ward Councillor, Eleanor Chowns, reported that she had had useful conversations with Herefordshire Council staff, in particular in relation to the planning application at Pixiefields and was confident and reassured that the impact on the village was being considered. A designated Locality Steward for the parish is expected to be in place by the end of February at which point Cllr Chowns will conduct her ward tour and raise pothole concerns. Any concerns can be raised in the meantime to Balfour Beatty office or Senior Locality Steward Maynard Smith (Manny). Cllr Chowns announced her personal priorities whilst in post are sustainable transport, adult social wellbeing and care, and monitoring the investment strategy of Herefordshire council.
6.1.2 The Chairman asked members of the public if they had questions for Cllr Chowns … a resident raised a concern about piles of rubbish at Mirrorbrook and Cllr Chowns confirmed she will enquire what can be done to resolve it. It was further RESOLVED that the Clerk write to the Enforcement Officer to look at the site as there are concerns about blocked drainage ditches.
6.2 Local residents’ views on parish matters. The Chairman limited this to 15 minutes and asked for views on planning applications during the open session … there were none.
6.2.1 General questions: a resident asked that an official thank you be made to ex-councillor Fred Beard to commend him for his years of service. The Chairman confirmed this will be done and is on the agenda Item 12.
6.2.2 The same resident also asked the Chairman to comment on the new website name and queried why it is different to that proposed by the Risk Management Group, which he felt was in contravention of Standing Orders. The Chairman responded that the .gov.uk website name was approved at the EOM on 29th November as this offers greater protection to ensure compliance of new Data Protection Rules coming into force on 25th May 2018 and that he had been advised a long domain name would be rejected. Further the domain must represent the official name of the Parish Council
6.2.3 A resident asked for assurance from Cllr Eldridge that a line can now be drawn under the Heart of the Village application. Cllr Eldridge asked that the resident write directly to the HoV committee but that his view is that the application has been withdrawn and he does not expect it to be resubmitted in the near future.
6.2.4 A resident asked for the village Facebook page to be re-started as soon as possible as it offers an important line of communication to the younger residents of the Parish. He also
asked whether the Facebook page could be linked to Instagram and Twitter. It was noted that the Communications Strategy working group would consider this.
The following comments were made on applications to be determined by Herefordshire Council:
7.1 Application P174437/F … Land at Mirrorbrook Smallholding, Cradley. Application for variation of condition 2 of planning permission 153490.
PC Comment … It was RESOLVED to support this application in principle but requesting that the waste materials on site are removed as soon as possible and the area landscaped; noting that visibility splays are an area of concern; that drainage is looked into carefully as this is an area known to flood; and that the natural hedge proposed offering screening for existing houses does go ahead. It was RESOLVED that the Clerk would comment accordingly.
7.2 Application P174416/F … New Inn, Storridge. Proposed change of use from public house to residential use, including alterations, 2-storey extension, garages, swimming pool and outbuildings.
PC Comment … It was RESOLVED to support this application. It was sadly noted that it had been unsuccessfully relaunched as a public house more than once in the previous few years and there was notably no objection from local residents and neighbours to keep it going as a public house. However it was also noted that the site is in an AONB and next to a SSSI and any works should be duly sensitive. Concern was raised that the distance from the main road to the gates must be sufficient for vehicles to pull in completely from the road. Any landscaping around the access point should not obscure the view onto the main road and it was RESOLVED that the Clerk would comment accordingly.
Anne Scarsbrook left the meeting in accordance with her declaration of interest in 4.4 above
7.3 Application 180111… Talland, Cradley, WR13 5NF, Works to Trees in a Conservation Area.
PC Comment … It was RESOLVED to support this application noting that all trees to be removed
would be replaced. No comments had been received from neighbours indicating any objection.
Anne Scarsbrook returned to the meeting.
Bruce Herriot, Wynne Harries and Alan Eldridge left the meeting in accordance with their declaration of interest in 4.1-4.3 above
7.4 Application P160601/F … Heart of the Village Cradley Ltd: Cllr Simon Davies presented an update to confirm the application has been withdrawn.
Bruce Herriot and Wynne Harries returned to the meeting.
7.5 Application P162155/O … Land at Church Stile Farm: An update was received to confirm the appeal has been refused.
Alan Eldridge returned to the meeting.
8. New website
8.1 It was noted that this correspondence had been presented in the Open Session and has been RESOLVED to be discussed further at the February meeting.
8.2 It was noted that .gov.uk email addresses were a possibility for all councillors but that advice was not to have them as all correspondence should go through the Clerk. There is a cost of £360 per year and it was RESOLVED not to proceed with this further.
8.3 An update on the new website was presented by the Clerk. It was confirmed that the new website is now live and training has been received. Councillors and parishioners were requested to subscribe to receive newsletters, agendas and minutes directly. The new communications strategy would establish the content and direction of the website and it was confirmed that the Clerk should be able to update pages within a couple of days. A question for debate is whether the new website should have a mandatory field for address and telephone numbers to ensure all commentators are identifiable. It was confirmed that the names of the new councillors will be updated on the website following the meeting and that Mr. Nason has been asked to take down the old site and if possible to implement a redirect to the new address. Finally, a request was made for photographs of Cradley and Storridge that could be used on the website.
9. Communications Strategy Working Group:
It was RESOLVED to set up a working group to prepare a communications strategy for presentation at the February meeting and that this working group consist of Cllrs Geoff Fielding, Anne Scarsbrook, Simon Davies, Wynne Harries, Miles Meager, in addition to the Clerk. It was further RESOLVED that all councillors are happy to accept correspondence electronically and council was requested to make it known to the Clerk if anyone would prefer to receive paper copies through the post.
A final report was received following a meeting in December which confirmed that repayment of £828.92 was due in reimbursement of unused funds. It was reported that Herefordshire Council recommend that the NDP group continues to assess how well the NDP is working. The Chairman confirmed that establishing new working groups will be on the agenda in February and this will be discussed accordingly at that time. It was RESOLVED to circulate the report with the next agenda.
11. To consider a donation request:
It was noted that a request for donation had been received from Broadwas Sports Association. It was unanimously felt that a donation was not appropriate and it was RESOLVED that the Clerk write to advise accordingly.
12. To consider nominations for the Herefordshire Community Champion Awards:
The Chairman proposed to nominate Fred Beard for this award, seconded by Cllr Fielding, in recognition of his lifetime of community work and it was RESOLVED that the Chairman speak to Fred to seek his consent and then complete the application. The Chairman thanked Ward Cllr Chowns for her support.
13. To consider repairs to the Church clock faces:
It was reported by the Chairman that major works are scheduled on the Church during 2018/2019 which will require full scaffolding. This presents an opportunity to use the scaffolding to repair and renovate the clock faces which were given by public subscription in 1918. It was felt that it would be appropriate to complete works this year which also marks the centenary of the end of World War I. It was noted that the Clerk has made enquiries about possible grant funding for the project and the idea of raising funds via public subscription was also suggested. It was further noted that the works will require a faculty licence from Hereford Diocese which may not incur a cost if applied for jointly with the PCC. It was RESOLVED to revisit this item at a future meeting when funding options are known.
14. To consider a second community access defibrillator:
It was reported that some funding has been raised by the Friends of Cradley Surgery, which will be matched by the Friends of Ledbury Hospital, for the purchase of a second community access defibrillator by the Parish Council using funds donated, to site on the outside of Cradley Surgery. It was noted that the cost for replacement pads and battery is currently £135 per defibrillator and the Parish Council was asked if it supports the cost of governance and maintenance of both defibrillators, which the Chairman will complete. Statistics for recovery/revival were not to hand but reported to be dramatically better when the defibrillator was used at the earliest possible stage after a collapse. It was unanimously RESOLVED to support both defibrillators at a cost of £270 per year.
15.1 A brief financial report was received from the Clerk which advised that the estimated bank balance, with all due payments made, is £31,864.77, estimated due to a lack of current bank statements. It was further noted that there is a reserve account with a balance of £14,874.20. Regular bank statements should resume shortly. It was RESOLVED that a financial summary should be reported at each Parish Meeting.
15.2 It was noted that all future payments will be listed excluding VAT and that cheque signatories are Cllrs Herriot, Harries, Davies and Eldridge. It was RESOLVED to pay the following invoices:
15.2.1 Ashridge Nurseries … Standard Pin Oak, £59.95 plus £11.99 VAT
15.2.2 Kidwells Solicitors … Legal Fees, £1728.00
15.2.3 Pricepoint Gardening … Grounds Maintenance, £740.00 plus £148.00 VAT
15.2.4 123 Connect ….gov.uk Domain Name, £94.00 plus £18.80 VAT
15.2.5 123 Connect … DNS control, £30.00 plus £6.00 VAT
15.2.6 HALC … replace returned cheque, £364.85 plus £72.97 VAT
15.2.7 HALC: a) Meeting Cover £329.70 plus £65.94 VAT b) Clerk recruitment £200.00 plus £40 VAT
15.2.8 Eyelid Productions, Website Development, £500.00
15.2.9 Helen Tinson, Clerk Salary, £435.64
15.2.10 HMRC, PAYE, £108.80
15.2.11 Groundwork UK, NDP Grant Repayment, £828.02
15.2.12 Resolve IT, Clerk Laptop, £400.00 plus £80.00 VAT
15.2.13 Grant Thornton, External Audit, £200.00 plus £40.00 VAT
15.3 A draft budget was circulated with the agenda and discussed at length. Concern was raised about costs that have not been taken into consideration along with the proposed budget for Lengthsman works. It was RESOLVED that a Finance Working Group be established to complete further work on the current draft budget and present a revised proposal to full council at the February meeting. It was further RESOLVED that Cllrs Herriot, Fielding, Eldridge and the Clerk would form the new Finance Working Group, proposed by Cllr Harries, seconded by Cllr Scarsbrook and unanimously agreed. It was further RESOLVED that the current draft budget be presented on the website for public consideration and comment.
16. Communications received:
It was noted that a list of ‘Information Received’ should have been distributed with the agenda. It was RESOLVED that the Clerk would forward electronically all emails and invitations considered relevant and compile a list to accompany the agenda.
17. CMS newsletter:
It was RESOLVED that the report for the CMS Newsletter would include relevant items from the evenings discussions which may include an item welcoming the new councillors, Ward Cllr Chown’s priorities, issues raised during the open session, points taken from the website report, defibrillator, our nomination for Community Champion, and proposed budget, if appropriate when considering timings of publication. It was suggested that perhaps this report could be published on the website which would make the information available to the public much quicker.
18. Matters raised for next agenda:
18.1 To consider new working groups
18.2 To consider revised budget and precept for 2018/19
18.3 To approve new standing orders and financial regulations
18.4 To consider delegated responsibility to the Clerk
18.5 To consider new communications strategy
18.6 To consider full council training
18.7 To consider a grant for Cradley Village Hall
18.8 To consider a grant for Cradley Church
18.9 To consider a defibrillator annual policy
18.10 To discuss issues with signage for groundworks due to commence in March
18.11 To consider works to trees in churchyard
18.12 To consider issues of speeding through the village (for March agenda)
19. Date of next meeting
It was RESOL VED that the next meeting would be held on Tuesday 13th February at 7pm at Storridge Village Hall.
A resolution was passed to exclude the public due for the following confidential employment matter.
20. Employment Matters …
20.1 The Chairman gave a full report of financial matters relating to ex clerk; matters relating to council property e.g. computer; matters relating to legal position and financial risk.
20.2 It was RESOLVED to continue following legal advice in matters related to item 20.1 and 20.3.
20.3 Following detailed discussion, it was unanimously RESOLVED to overturn the appointment in May 2017 of the existing internal auditor. It was further RESOLVED to appoint HALC as the new auditor to complete an End of Year Audit, pending clarification on one point, proposed by Cllr Herriot, seconded by Cllr Scarsbrook, all in favour with one against.
The Chairman closed the meeting at 9.58pm.