HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE WAR MEMORIAL HALL, HOOK NORTON ON THURSDAY, 8 JANUARY 2015 at 7.30pm
Present: Councillors Kane, Watkins, Hicks, Hayward, Griggs, Henderson, Casson, Wright, Matthews, Mrs Watts (Parish Clerk) and one member of the public.
Apologies for Absence – Cllr Brotherston, District Cllr Jelf
Cllr Kane reported the unexpected death of employee, Doug Marshall on 2 January. Councillors stood and observed one minute’s silence.
The Chairman read out a letter of resignation from Peter Millar (Annex 1). Mr Millar believes that the capacity of the Parish Council to influence local affairs has diminished to almost zero. The buzzword of ‘localism’ introduced by the present government is a hollow expression, local democracy has become a sham and the wishes of local people are ignored. Cllr Kane added that she had accepted Mr Millar’s resignation and thanked him for his many years of service.
Declarations of Interest – there were none.
Minutes of Previous Meeting held on 11 December 2014 and Matters Arising
Cllr Hicks proposed that the minutes of the meeting on 11 December 2014 be accepted as a true and accurate record. This was seconded by Cllr Hayward and passed unanimously.
Report of the Planning Co-Ordinator on Planning Applications – Annex 2
Two planning/TCA applications were received during December. There were no objections.
Cherwell District Council granted six planning/TCA applications, including two which the Parish Council had objected to: 14/01769/F Demolition and rebuilding of former railway abutment wall in Station Rd and 14/01810/F The Bell Inn – change of use of premises to use as a dwelling.
Cllr Kane reported that following CDC’s decision on The Bell Inn, she had received an anonymous telephone call accusing her of corruption. Councillors agreed that the call was totally unacceptable.
Cllr Kane had received the following email from Roger Cooker regarding The Bell Inn.
“I would like to formally record my frustration and anger that the Parish Council did not get the planning decision for Change of Use on The Bell called in, despite a reminder the week before. We will never know but the situation may be different had that been done.
Parish Councillors are rightly jumping up and down now but I only hope that turns it proper support and action in the fight that ensues to retain our pub. It is likely that legal action will be the only option at a cost which I would hope the PC would contribute to given the circumstances and that the Bell is an Asset of Community Value.
I would also like to air my disappointment with Councillor Jelf whose has been conspicuously quiet on almost all local affairs, The Bell in particular. His job is to represent the views of the village and not go silent when those differ to his own personal views”.
Cllr Kane said that Roger Cooke had emailed her before CDC made their decision but because she was ill for more than two weeks before Christmas she had unfortunately not picked up the message. As a result, the PC did not call the application in. She had made numerous telephone calls to CDC before the decision but was verbally misled by CDC’s Planning Officer.
Sir Tony Baldry is checking the legality of CDC’s decision. He believes that the PC would have to ask a High Court Judge to review the decision they have made. It was agreed that the PC cannot spend the precept on legal fees such as these.
Councillors agreed unanimously that in future, all contentious planning applications will automatically be referred to the District Councillor with a view to them being ‘called in’.
Councillors unanimously agreed that they have complete confidence in the Chairman and that Councillors are all responsible for dealing with planning matters, not just the Chairman.
To Invite Members of the Public to Comment on Planning Applications – there were no comments from the member of the public attending.
Reports of Working Groups
Recreation – Cllr Kane confirmed that the PC will advertise for a Parish Warden. A job description is being written and the post will be advertised in the Banbury Guardian.
Cemetery and Allotments
a) Cllr Hicks said that there appears to be no site plan of the lower cemetery.
a) Cllr Hayward reported that he had received three quotations for replacing the fence at the entrance to Hollybush Road but that the quotation received from David Smith includes the use of top quality materials. He asked Councillors to approve Mr Smith’s quotation of £760 as longevity is a requirement.
b) He had asked David Smith for a quotation for tidying up the triangle of land at the entrance to Hollybush Road. Mr Smith had reported that there a number of overgrown shrubs and trees and self-sown weed species (mainly elder) that ought to be dug up. It will take a day to clear the area at a cost of £400. Cllr Kane proposed that the quotations for the fence and for site clearance as described above be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr Hicks and approved unanimously.
c) The grass cutting contract is due for renewal. Cllr Kane had met Bob Bickley to discuss the areas covered by the current contract. The Parish Clerk will place an advertisement for the Tender in the Banbury Guardian.
d) The bottle bank by the primary school is often overflowing, especially during the Christmas season. Cllr Kane reported that the Headmaster of the Primary School has asked for the bottle bank to be moved to a more suitable location. The Parish Clerk will write to CDC.
Hook Norton War Memorial Hall
a) The outside light is still not working. Cllr Watkins will take the matter forward.
b) The NEST thermostat has not been fitted. The Parish Clerk will chase RMH Boiler Maintenance.
c) Cllr Matthews will liaise with Cllr Brotherston about replacement windows for the hall.
d) The kettle is not working. Cllr Watkins will purchase a new one.
e) A volunteer has offered to deal with the inner door which will not close properly.
f) Edwina Cornelius has offered to take over the Village Market. The first market of 2015 will be on 14 February.
g) HNLC Group is still considering a long-term heating system for the hall. Of especial interest is a forced-air electric system.
h) Councillors will meet on 10 January to clear the Memorial Hall of unwanted items and rubbish. Cllr Matthews will provide transport to take the items away.
Neighbourhood Plan (HNNP) Sub-Committee – Cllr Hicks reported:
a) Due to the Christmas holidays the HNNP will not be considered by the appointed Examiner until the end of January.
b) The grant for the HNNP ended on 31 December 2014 and any unspent monies have to be returned to the Community Development Foundation. The Parish Clerk has this in hand.
Finance/Schedule of Receipts and Payments for Authorisation by the Council
The Parish Clerk presented the schedules of receipts and payments and sought approval to pay the cheques itemised on the schedules for January totalling £4,833.70 for the Parish Council and £90 for the Memorial Hall. Cllr Watkins moved acceptance of the payments detailed. This was seconded by Cllr Hicks and agreed unanimously.
Precept 2015/2016 It was agreed at the last meeting that the Parish precept should be set at £57,600. However, since the Parish Warden’s job is now being reviewed and wages costs will increase, Cllr Kane proposed that the precept be raised to £60,000. This was seconded by Hicks and unanimously agreed. The Parish Clerk will notify CDC.
Report on District Council Matters: Cllr Jelf had not submitted a report.
Report on County Council Matters: County Cllr Reynolds had not submitted a report
Correspondence – the Parish Clerk had forwarded all correspondence to Councillors during the month. There were no matters outstanding.
To Invite Questions and Comments from Members of the Public – a member of the public complained about the apparent lack of interest in parish matters by the County and District Councillors, there being no reports from either of them.
AOB – there were none.
Confidential Item – one item was discussed after the public meeting closed.
The next Parish Council meeting will be held on 12 February 2015 at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall.
There being no further business Councillor Kane thanked everyone for attending and closed the public meeting at 8.30pm.