OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD 31 JANUARY 2011
Present: In attendance:
Cllr J Burlo Mrs P Potter (Clerk) Cllr H Anderson District Councillor Anthony Shelton
Cllr J Fenner County Councillor David Finch
Cllr J Holder Jan Cole, RCCE
Cllr S Rawlinson Peter Darlington, Village Agent
6 members of the public
1. Apologies for Absence
All Parish Councillors were present.
2. Consideration of the Minutes of the Meeting held on 15 November 2010
The minutes of this previous meeting were agreed as a true record and signed accordingly.
3. Declaration of Interests
Cllr Jim Holder declared a personal interest in item 7.1: Planning Application, Dairy Cottage.
It was agreed to bring Item 6, District and County Items forward to this point in the meeting:
6. District and County Items
County Councillor David Finch spoke to the meeting about the ongoing budget review at ECC following cuts from central government, which equate to decreases of around 25-30%. There have been reductionsof around £13m in specific local area improvement grants but ECC are promising to protect front line services and make savings from back office, administration and procurement. ECC are making their reductions over four years rather than one, to ease the impact and using reserves where necessary. Under their transformation programme, there were savings of £60m last year and this year of £90m, with a further £40m needed next year. Council tax was not increased, as set by government and the books have been balanced for 2011/12. No major services are being cut but all services are being reshaped and indeed there is an increased budget for Highways of £12m. Reshaping is being undertaken by looking at things such as shorter opening hours for various call centres or libraries etc.
Cllr Finch also spoke about the ‘Big Society’, where individuals are encouraged not to depend upon the state for everything but to take some things on ourselves, such as devolving services and/or powers to authorities lower down the hierarchy, such as district and parish councils, together with rearranged funding systems to increase parish precepts. More details on the parish’s role will be sent out shortly. Cllr Finch also confirmed that the Community Initiatives Fund was still operating.
District Councillor Anthony Shelton then spoke to the meeting regarding BDC’s budget cuts which are on a similar percentage to ECC. The formula grant has been reduced by 15.8% for 2011/12 at around £1.429m, which is £500m less than was anticipated. BDC are looking at ways of working more closely and in conjunction with other district/borough councils where work can be joined up, such as enforcement, trading standards and on street parking services, to reduce costs but maintain service. Each household will have received the latest edition of BDC’s ‘Contact’ magazine, which includes a survey for everyone to complete and return to give their own views of where savings could and should be made and he encouraged everyone to respond. Cllr Shelton confirmed that the travel token scheme has been retained but that taxi fares would be increased by 20p for every journey starting in the district, reflecting the increasing cost of fuel.
Cllr Shelton also confirmed that the Halstead Local Committee would cease, along with its grant system and it is not yet known whether this will be replaced by another scheme. The issue of planning applications only being available online was briefly discussed and a suggestion for the improvement of measuring plans online was made. Cllr Shelton also paid tribute to the work of the Village Agents and conveyed his appreciation of their work on behalf of the district’s rural communities.
Peter Darlington, Village Agent, spoke to the meeting and thanked the Parish Council and BDC for their support in keeping the service going. They are covering costs at present and have helped over 1500 people since the scheme was launched. The kinds of services provided include collecting prescriptions, taking people to and from doctor and hospital appointments and helping during the snow and icy weather where carers were not able to access villages and homes. The Village Agents have been instrumental in helping to change how cross county border health services are arranged and funded. Peter is also available to help people deal with the digital switchover, which is due to happen in July, for those who need it. There is a meeting in Bulmer on 11 February at 2pm about this subject. The Parish Council thanked Peter for attending.
It was agreed to bring Item 5, Community Led Plans, forward to this point:
5. Community Led Plans
Jan Cole, from the RCCE, attended to speak to Councillors regarding starting up a Parish Plan for Pebmarsh. Jan explained that the plans are made by the community, usually under the facilitation of the Parish Council. These plans research the views and opinions of parishioners regarding their village and how they wish to see things progressed in the future. The results of this kind of survey are put together in a publication which concludes with an Action Plan for the village. This Action Plan is then used by the Parish Council to inform their decisions and help to steer future projects in the direction that residents wish it to go.
Parish Plans can be instrumental in gaining grants, funding or services, as the need for a particular item or project has already been established. There are grants available, up to £2,400, for Parish Councils to take this project on , which can cover expenses from starting up to publishing. Jan explained that RCCE run a Community Led Planning network, for a charge of £35 to become a member.
Jan also spoke about Village Design Statements, which are documents produced by the village regarding how they wish to see their neighbourhood reflected in planning decisions. They set out the character of the village as a whole and in different areas, which may require the application of planning policy in different ways. A VDS is drawn up within existing local authority policies but sets out the desires of the village as a whole as to how things should/should be treated.
Jan left it with the Parish Council to look over some example plans and other information and to contact her if they wish to take this project on. The Parish Council thanked Jan for an informative discussion and for the time taken to explain it to them.
The meeting then reverted to the original running order of the agenda.
4. Public Forum
The outgoing tenant of a property in Pearson Close attended the meeting to inform the Parish Council of recent difficulties experienced during the termination of her lease and the proposed transfer to a new prospective tenant. It has transpired that the property was incorrectly advertised because it barred applications from single people and couples by Gateway to Home Choice and as a result it has been readvertised. This has resulted in confusion for the proposed new tenant as the offer of the house (pending confirmation of qualification under the ‘local connection’ s106 agreement) has now been withdrawn and the process restarted. The Parish Council explained that the correction and readvertising was necessary to be fair to everyone but they would be able to write to the new tenant’s current Housing Association to explain the problem, if her resignation in her current home could not be rescinded.
7. BDC Planning Issues
7.1 Planning Application
11/00074/FUL: Dairy Cottage, The Street, Pebmarsh – proposed loft conversion. The Parish Council will look at this application online, as it was not possible to view the plans at the meeting. The deadline date for comments is 22 February. Councillors will forward their views to the Clerk who will respond as per the majority view.
7.2 Planning Results
The following results were noted:
The following applications were granted:
- 10/01072/FUL: Old Mill House, Oak Road – Change of use of redundant agricultural land to domestic garden and erection of summer house.
- 10/01394/FUL: Catley Cross House, Catley Cross – Proposed tennis court and fencing in existing paddock.
- 10/01488/FUL: The Old Baptist Church, Clay Hills – Erection of two storey extension.
The following application did not require approval/permission:
- 10/01284/AGR: Broomhills, Catley Cross – erection of grain store
Tree Preservation Order
- TPO No. 27/2010 – Cornerways, Cross End: This order was confirmed (made permanent) on 23 November 2010.
8. Reports from Representatives
8.1 Playing Fields/Bus Shelters:
§ ROSPA Play Area Safety Inspection Report: a few items need to be addressed: some rotten fence posts need to be replaced, weeds to be killed and the gate is not able to close. Cllr Rawlinson will arrange for these issues to be resolved.
8.2 Village Hall:
§ Approval of new store room – the Parish Council noted that a letter of support was passed to the Village Hall Committee regarding the building of a new store room at the Village Hall.
8.3 Street Lighting
§ It has come to light that the a recompense payment of £20 per annum has not been paid to the owner of Brook Cottage towards the electricity bill for this street light. The Clerk will look into this and arrange for payment up to date. It was also noted that the lamp needs painting and a new bulb is required.
§ No current issues to discuss.
9. Winter Gritting
Cllr Burlo reported that the Parish Council currently has almost 2 tonnes of grit/salt which is being stored at a farm in the village. This supply has come from ECC as part of its current pilot scheme. The Council needs to identify appropriate places for small amount of grit to be stored around the village so that quick application of grit can take place at the appropriate times.
Cllr Fenner will organise volunteers for this and to be responsible for gritting when the need arises. The Clerk will contact ECC regarding the £120 grant which is being offered towards equipment for this pilot.
10. Speed and Volume Survey
The survey identified that the areas surveyed contained speeds above the intervention level and as such, police enforcement would be requested. The Clerk will follow this up to ensure that it is implemented and also write to ECC regarding how the Council can go about requesting the installation of traffic calming measures.
11. Footpath Maintenance
An ongoing maintenance issue on FP8 was discussed, where the path is overgrown. This has been flagged up by ECC P3 team to be addressed. Cllrs Fenner and Burlo will look into this, along with completing the P3 work proposal form for 2011/12 to ensure that funds are secured for next year’s grass cutting.
12. National Grid Undergrounding Consultation
The Parish Council agreed to send a response to this consultation supporting the undergrounding of power cables as per the report.
13. Affordable Housing – Letting Vacancies
This issue was discussed in the public forum, above.
14.1 Finance Report
The latest finance reports were received by Councillors.
14.2 The following cheques were approved for payment:
14.2.1 £400.82 Clerk Salary
14.2.2 £ 88.81 Clerk Expenses
14.2.3 £250.00 Strutt & Parker – Glebelands Rent
14.3 Other Payments made since the last meeting – this was noted:
14.3.1 £ 22.74 1 Dec 10 A&J Lighting – Maintenance
14.4 Monies received since the last meeting were noted:
The Clerk went through various items of interest in the post to bring Councillors up to date.
16. Date of Next Meeting
The following dates were provisionally agreed, subject to venue booking:
- Annual Parish Assembly – to be held on Tuesday 15 March, at 7.30pm in the Village Hall
- Annual Parish Council Meeting – to be held on Monday 16 May, at 7.30pm, in the Village Hall Committee Room.
The meeting closed at 10.10pm.