MINUTES FOR THE MEETING OF BARLEY PARISH COUNCIL
HELD AT THE TOWN HOUSE ON MONDAY 1st SEPTEMBER 2014
Cllr Jerry Carlisle (Chairman), Cllr Tony Slater, Cllr Marc O’Brien, Dst. Cllr Gerald Morris, Mr Tim Martin (RFO), Mrs Laura Childs (Clerk)
1 member of the public.
Cllr Becky Wears, Cllr Graham Clark and Cllr Ian Turner
Councillor’s declaration of interests
Minutes of last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 7th July 2014 were read and approved, subject to an alteration requested by Mr Martin. Mr Martin advised that under item 6 the minutes should read that the Parish Councils accounts were sent to Hardcastle Burton, the councils’ accountants, prior to their then being sent to the audit commission for approval.
Proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr J Carlisle.
Cllr Carlisle advised the meeting that he had this evening received an emailed letter of resignation from Cllr Wears. Her resignation was with immediate effect.
Cllr Carlisle and Cllr Slater have now been around the whole village noting the condition of all of the road gullies, grips and surface water drains against a list provided by Ringway, Herts County Councils highways contractors. There were a few missing from their list but in the main they were represented. It was noted that many of the grips were either completely missing or blocked and many of the gullys were either blocked or otherwise in need of urgent cleaning to ensure they worked properly. Ringway had been advised accordingly and Cllr Carlisle advised that a road gully cleaning vehicle has subsequently been out in the village and had cleaned out the drains by the Fox & Hounds corner and at the bottom of the High Street by the doctors surgery. The result has seen some improvement but they are still not cleared completely. The Clerk was asked to email Mr Derek Jerrard, the councils contact at Ringway to advise that the works were only partially successful and further works are required. There does however remain a serious problem with the drains that run from Smiths End Lane down London Road towards The Cross, on the corner by the Fox & Hounds. Mr Jerrard has suggested that the only way to sort this out is to relay the main, which is going to be an expensive exercise with extensive road closures etc. Mr Gerrard additionally suggested that the hedge along London Road needs to be cut back and should be cut back approx. ¾ of a meter beyond the white line. Ringway will take this matter forward with the residents affected.
Dst. Cllr Morris gave a brief update on the timeframe involved with NHDC releasing their draft local plan. He anticipated that it would be finalised in September and then go for full council approval, with general release following in October / November time. It was discussed that there is a general pressure to build houses in all communities and with insufficient brown field sites it was inevitable that houses would be built in rural communities.
Cllr Carlisle updated the meeting regarding the Barkway & Nuthampstead Neighbourhood Plan.
Mr Brian Haughey gave an update on developments regarding the ongoing issues with regard to speed enforcement within the village. It now transpires that despite on going dialogue with the police and Herts County Council it has just come to light that the county council policy has changed with regards to Camera Safety Van deployment. The policy apparently changed in early 2014 but nobody had the courtesy to let us know. Following receipt of this information from Mr Robert Gordon, who is the Leader of Herts County Council we have been asked if we wish to pursue the matter to now liaise with Cllr Terry Douris of Herts County Council who is the cabinet member with responsibility for highways. Mr Haughey is now trying to arrange a meeting with County Cllr Douris and County Cllr Hunter in an endeavour to move things forward. Mr Haughey spoke about his general frustration that we seem to be constantly passed from person to person at both the county council and the police with no-one taking our issues forward and consequently our having not really made any progress at all in dealing with the problem.
Dst. Cllr Morris spoke about Mr Oliver Heald MP’s initiative to introduce 20 mile per hour speed limits through villages, although the meetings response was somewhat sceptical as to the possibility of actually policing this speed limit given the issues with policing the current 30mph limit.
It was reported that Sergeant Steve Oliphant is asking for more volunteers to join the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.
Dst. Cllr Morris asked if the Parish Council considered the landscape between Barley and Baldock to be part of the Chilterns as he was looking into whether the area could be graded as ‘an area of outstanding natural beauty’, as the rest of the Chilterns are considered. It was generally felt that most people did regard the area as being very much part of, and forming the edge of, the Northern Chilterns.
Cllr Carlisle reported that he and Mrs Rebecca Simms had met with the Estate Manager at Cockenach to discuss the proposed diversion of Footpath 14 and who had agreed to consider the alternative route suggested by the Ramblers Association and Parish Council and to take forward their proposals to the owner. He as yet has not come back with a response.
Cllr O’Brien informed the meeting that with regard to the proposed Parish Plan responses from the various drop boxes positioned around the village and responses from the village show had now been gathered together.
Mr Martin spoke about the yellow lines outside the school which remain unpainted and are therefore currently unenforceable. Cllr Carlisle advised that the school need to chase up Ringway and enquire as to when they are going to be done.
Cllr Carlisle confirmed that he will speak to Mr Joe Zigmund of the Tennis Club regarding the constitution now that the holidays are over.
Cllr Carlisle spoke about the need to take forward the project for the Lock Up and asked Cllr Slater if he could look out the paperwork to start getting things moving.
Financial Officers report & signing of payments
Mr Martin reported that the following payments were due this month
Laura Childs Parish Clerk (July & August) £277.32
Malcolm George May & June grass cutting £405.00
Tim Martin RFO (July & August) £ 72.00
It was agreed that these payments should be made.
Proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Slater
Alison Stacey Letting Officer and caretaker (July & August) £203.00
Vicky Stacey Cleaning (July) £ 15.00
Carol Robinson Cleaning (August) £ 75.00
Carol Robinson * Cleaning and materials (July) £ 66.25
Hardcastle Burton* Audit £450.00
Brian Haughey * Signage and suggestion box for Parish Plan £ 67.99
P Southam Deposit returned wedding in August £150.00
Anna Livings * Deposit returned wedding £150.00
Items marked * were authorised during the July break by Cllr Carlisle and Cllr Slater
It was agreed that these payments should be made.
Proposed by Cllr Slater and seconded by Cllr O’Brien
Mr Martin explained that the insurance is due for renewal and he has received a new quote from our present insurers via our existing brokers. Cllr Carlisle asked Mr Martin to ask the brokers if they have tested the market to ensure that the quote is competitive and that it is one that they recommend we accept. On the basis that our brokers are satisfied that this renewal is competitive and they recommend acceptance, Mr Martin was instructed to proceed with the renewal.
Ref: 14/01856/1HH – First floor side extension over garage at Willowsdown, Smith’s End Lane
Cllr Carlisle explained the proposals to the meeting and the drawings were reviewed. Following discussions it was unanimously agreed that there were no objections to the application. The Clerk was however asked to note in response to NHDC, that we were unaware as to whether the neighbouring property, Westfield, had been consulted and if they have any objections to the increase in bulk along the boundary created by the first floor addition.
Club Room, change of use request
The current tenant, Sharron Fletcher of The Cheddar Vine is relocating to Saffron Walden and has advised that she would like to assign her lease to Bright Advertising Ltd who would use the premises as offices. Cllr Carlisle advised that he has received some financial information in connection with the covenant status of Bright Advertising Ltd and which appeared satisfactory. Planning permission for the proposed change of use to offices would be required and in this connection a planning application to NHDC has been made by Bright Advertising Ltd. Cllr Carlisle explained that the Parish Council, from a Landlords perspective would need to formally consent to the proposed assignment and also to agree to the change of use. In this regard an office use should be easier to police with potentially fewer parking issues, generally normal office hours use and relatively few deliveries etc. and therefore he recommended that the Parish Council, as landlord, should agree to the request for change of use. Sharron Fletcher has instructed her solicitor to write to the Parish Council seeking consent to formerly assign the lease to Bright Advertising Ltd and to the change of use. Following further discussions it was agreed that the response to NHDC should be that the Parish Council have a conflict of interest in as much as this application is in relation to a property which is let by the Parish Council. The change of use is in relation to a proposed assignment of that lease in respect of which the Parish Council would not have an objection, nor to the proposed change of use.
Cllr Slater stated that the yellow strips are still to be laid / painted onto the stairs, as part of the Health & Saftey requirements and Mr Martin advised that Busy Bee has now fixed the trip switch. Prompt Fire Protection has undertaken the annual service of the fire extinguishers and was needed to replace one item that has passed its expiration date. Cllr Slater has held onto the certificate for his records.
It was noted that there used to be a contact list for the Town House on display and it was a agreed that a new on should be worked up and displayed. Cllr Carlisle agreed to purchase some gutter “hedgehogs” for the gutters. Mr Martin noted that the tables in the upstairs, rear storage room were damaging the wall where they are leaning against it and he suggested placing some plywood behind them to prevent further damage.
Mr Martin advised that the electricity provider is coming up for renewal and he agreed to look into this.
The lettings list has been received via email from Alison Stacey, Lettings Officer.
At the request of Mrs Sophia Wrangham, former secretary of the Town House Committee, the meeting discussed the tower scaffold which was purchased, some years ago, jointly by the Church and the Parish Council. It was originally stored by Mr and Mrs Wrangham but subsequently by Cllr Ian Turner and more lately at the home of Mr Chris Rees. Historically the tower scaffold has been used principally either in the church or by the parish council in the Town House but has also occasionally been ‘loaned out’ on an informal basis to various organisations / persons within the village. Mrs Wrangham is particularly concerned that the tower scaffold is only used by those authorised, on official business, for the Parish Council or the Church. Following discussion the meeting agreed that they were happy for the tower scaffold to continue to be be stored at either Mr & Mrs Rees or in Cllr Turners barn for use as originally intended and otherwise as outlined above. It is understood that the Church’s insurers, who currently insure the scaffold, are happy with these arrangements.
Cllr Carlisle has been approached by the family of Mrs Audrey Gooding, who recently passed away, asking to place a memorial bench in the village. In principle the meeting had no objection but would like the family to suggest where they would like it placed before finally giving permission. Cllr Carlisle agreed to advise the family accordingly.
In the absence of Cllr Clark, Cllr Carlisle has mended some of the fences. A quotation has been received from James King for the installation of the gate, discussed at our last meeting at the end of the footpath that exits the Plaistow onto Bankside. The cost would be £680 for a wooden gate or £765 for a metal gate and posts. Cllr Slater, having been absent at our last meeting queried the need for a gate in this location but Cllr Carlisle confirmed that the installation of a gate was agreed in principle at the last meeting.
Plaistow Play Area
Cllr Carlisle understood that the group of local mothers who attended the last meeting were moving forward with the playground project. They have now met with equipment manufacturers and are looking into costs etc. Cllr Carlisle suggested that whilst discussions are ongoing for the playground this was perhaps an opportunity to think about how the whole of the Plaistow is used, the position of the football pitch, where the playground is positioned etc. and that any projects should be considered as a whole rather than piecemeal.
Cllr Carlisle reported that Mr Tim Ashcroft, of Sapele Design acting on behalf of the Parish Council was due to meet shortly with Mr Richard Tiffin of NHDC Planning Department for a pre-application meeting to discuss the proposals for the new building behind the Scout Hut.
Health & Safety
The Clerk advised that Paula Santomauro from The Crown House, Shaftenhoe End had offered her services as a Health & Safety specialists to the Parish Council and had noted, when she attended our last meeting on a planning matter, that the curtain that covers the fire exit, downstairs in the Town House didn’t meet health & safety regulations. Cllr Slater said that he would speak with Janine Drew of Drew & Baltrop, the Parish Councils’ Health & Safety Consultants regarding this as they have never queried its presence before.
Cllr Slater reported that save for the yellow strips that need to be applied or painted on the stairs in the Town House there were no other outstanding Health & Safety related items.
Janine Drew has updated some notices for the Town House, which Cllr Slater has put up in the upstairs kitchen.
Cllr O’Brien reported that as outlined earlier under Matters Arising there had been some good responses and feedback received through drop boxes placed around the village and at the Village Show, held in July. Whilst the committee’s numbers have been somewhat diminished in numbers due to the holiday period, they would going forward, now use this feedback to form the framework to produce a questionnaire to go out to the village as a whole to seek their opinions and thoughts on key issues. Cllr O’Brien said that the committee were also looking into the merits of talking to groups and organisations within the village not just to individuals.
The Clerk reported that she had received an email of complaint regarding a large bonfire that had burnt out of control at the property of Mr Hanson in Pudding Lane. The fire was so severe that the fire service had to be called to bring it under control. Cllr Carlisle advised the meeting that following receipt of this email, received in late August, he had already spoken with Mr Hanson about the fire. The council have additionally formally written to Mr Hanson requesting that in future if it is absolutely necessary to burn waste at his property he is to ensure that in doing so it causes no disturbance to any of his neighbours, is burnt in a responsible and controlled manner and at a sufficient distance from any boundary so as not to cause any damage to adjoining property and fences.
A resident of the High Street telephoned the Clerk to request that the trees on Bankside be cut back. It was noted that they are now such a size that they are causing problems with high sided vehicles passing along the road. They are particularly causing the straw lorries that pass through the village to lose some of their load and create debris that then has a knock on effect with the drains and gullies. The Clerk agreed to contact the relevant person at NHDC to arrange this.
A consultation document has been received from Hertfordshire County Council on the merits of retaining bus services throughout the evenings and weekend periods. Cllr O’Brien agreed to complete the questionnaire on behalf of the Parish Council, who as a matter of priniciple object to seeing any bus services cut, having struggled to improve the service in previous years.
Any other Business
There have been some issues with accessing the village website, with the wrong website opening up when the web address is entered via a search engine. Cllr O’Brien has been looking into the problem and hoped to rectify it shortly.
Following the resignation of Cllr Wears there was now a vacancy on the Parish Council and an opportunity for anybody who may be interested in becoming a councillor to be co-opted on to the Council. The Clerk agreed to place an advert in next months’ edition of The Diary.
The meeting closed at 22.55pm