HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL
Present: Councillors: Timms [Chairman], Walsham [Vice Chairman], Brotherston, Hayward, Jelf and Richardson, together with Mr Porter [Parish Clerk] and one member of the public.
The Chairman welcomed everyone and the Clerk informed the meeting that the Notices of Vacancies to fill the places of Sharron Barnes and Melvyn Riley have not produced a call for an election but David Shepley-Cuthbert, who was in attendance, had offered his services as a Parish Councillor. Cllr Jelf proposed that Mr Shepley-Cuthbert be co-opted as a member of the Parish Council and this was seconded by Cllr Timms and passed unanimously. Mr Shepley-Cuthbert duly signed the Declaration of Office and took his place on the PC.
1. Apologies for Absence
were received from Cllrs Millar and Stubbs and District Cllr Irvine.
2. Chairman’s Announcements
The Chairman informed everyone that there will not be a meeting in September.
3. Minutes of previous meeting, 11 June 2009, and matters arising
It was proposed by Cllr Richardson, and seconded by Cllr Brotherston, that the minutes of the previous meeting be accepted as a true and accurate record and this was passed unanimously by those present at that meeting. The Clerk informed councillors that he discussed a couple of issues arising from the previous meeting with the grasscutter, Bob Bickley. The area in the churchyard obstructing access to the old barn has largely been cleared though there is an area of dogwoods which, if taken out will destroy a trellis in the neighbouring garden. He has cut a two mower width border in the churchyard, which should improve its appearance, but he cannot use mowers or equipment over graves and to remove grass cuttings would require raking which would virtually treble the cost. With growth now slowing the Clerk suggested this matter be left in abeyance pending review of the grasscutting contract at the end of the year.
4. Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations on this occasion.
5. Report by Planning Co-ordinator on planning applications received
In the absence of Cllr Stubbs the Clerk reported that nine new applications had been considered since the previous meeting and there were no objections to all but the application to fell a willow at Prews Close, and a TPO has been sought for this tree, and the proposed developments at Applegate. Subsequently the application to demolish the single storey bungalow and erect a one and a half storey dwelling with detached garage has been withdrawn. Cllr Richardson has subsequently pointed out that bats are present on the site and the local authority will need to comply with full legal protection for these animals. Three of the applications came in the last few days and were considered at a meeting yesterday evening and there were no objections to any of these which were an extension to a building at Ferris Farm, installation of security fence and replacement aerials at Oatley Hill Radio Site and crown reduction of a cherry tree at Brewery Cottage. We have established that the Wigginton Heath property is not in our parish. Of the three decisions we had objected to none of them although that for The Cottage, Bell Hill, was rejected by Planning Department on the basis that it was an unsympathetic and incongruous extension, detrimental to the historic character and appearance of the property. There was further discussion about the effect on the remaining application for Applegate now that bats are known to be present on the site and Cllr Richardson has taken advice from The Bat Conservation Trust which expressed shock that CDC had not already asked for this to be withdrawn. The Clerk will email Bob Duxbury expressing our surprise and concern over this issue.
6. To invite members of the public to comment on planning applications
There were no comments on this occasion.
7. Report of Working Groups
(a)Recreation & Open Spaces Group Cllr Leader reported that he has a meeting this coming Saturday with Paul Clarke who will hopefully be in a position to start work rebuilding the wall shortly. Play Safe has looked at the multi-play equipment, which is now about 15 years old, and advised that if refurbished it will have to conform to current standards, which will be an expensive exercise, making it more sensible to replace. A note will be placed in the next Newsletter asking parents of younger children for their opinions with the view to possibly forming an action group to consider the need for replacement equipment if there is still a strong wish for the Play Area to remain. The proposed hedge in Watery Lane is projected to cost in the region of 3K and Cllr Leader will approach the Trust for Oxfordshires Environment with a grant application to try to defray some of the cost. Cllr Hayward then proposed that, as the multi-play equipment is out of service, it should be removed to ensure there are no further accidents, and this might also encourage parents to think about replacing equipment. This was seconded by Cllr Leader and passed unanimously. The Clerk confirmed that he has received a claim from solicitors acting for the child who was injured on the equipment and this has been passed to our insurers to deal with but with the comment that, as we feel we had fulfilled our duty of care and were not responsible for the subsequent act of vandalism, this should be resisted if possible. Cllr Leader also informed the meeting that a group of youths had been found camping in the area the previous weekend and with concern expressed by the Chairman about vehicles still accessing the site through The Shearings it was agreed that the working group will formulate a list of restrictions to be placed on the site.
(b)Cemetery & Allotments Cllr Brotherston reported that nothing of note had happened since the previous meeting but we now have one allotment available and the Clerk is contacting those at the head of the waiting list to have this utilised as soon as possible. It was noted that it is now five years since rents were increased and Cllr Hayward proposed that the working group should make some enquiries with a view to an increase in 2010/11 and this was agreed.
(c)Environment In the absence of Cllr Millar Cllr Hayward reported that he has asked Mr Marshall to provide a brief report on the condition of our walls once a month. The Low Carbon Support group is looking at ways to encourage villagers to reduce their carbon footprint and one of these is to discourage the use of cars and the PC may be asked to lend its support to such action. Cllr Jelf commented that, since we returned responsibility for cutting certain areas of grass in the village to OCC, there has been a lot of adverse comment, particularly about the bottom of Bells Lane/Down End/Park Hill area. The grass cutting contract is due to go out to tender again this autumn and councillors were asked to nominate any areas which they feel the PC should be responsible for having regard to the significant costs involved. Cllr Hayward enquired whether we should encourage residents to take more responsibility for cutting areas of grass near their homes and the Clerk confirmed that this is the case in Cropredy where grass cutting costs significantly less and produces an income from OCC in lieu of work they do not have to carry out. It was agreed to put a note in the Newsletter asking for volunteers.
(d)Hook Norton War Memorial Hall Cllr Walsham referred to the notes of a working group meeting held the previous evening and noted that there are no major issues at the present time. There is to be some tiling in the Ladies toilets, following which all three toilets and the old and new kitchens will be redecorated. Thankfully there have been no signs of further leaks after the recent repairs so he will seek quotes for the work shortly.
(e)Norman Matthews Community Hall Cllr Jelf reported that OCCs contractors have now completed the essential exterior work and removed the loose/blown plaster inside. It is now left for the building to dry out properly before the remaining work can be completed.
8. Report on District Council Matters
In the absence of District Cllr Irvine there was nothing to report on this occasion.
9. Report on County Council Matters
Cllr Jelf reported that work on resurfacing Queen Street is being chased and he is hopeful that it will be carried out shortly. Cllr Jelf also read a briefing from Keith Mitchell, Leader of OCC, about the economic situation in the light of the current recession. With the anticipation of severe constraints as a result of reductions in government funding Cllr Mitchell has stressed that they are responsible for handling taxpayers money and protecting public services and to do so they will make ambitious efficiency savings of 10% to the budget over five years, which is 60m on top of the 30m already budgeted. No front-line key personnel will be affected and, although jobs will be reduced, it is hoped this can be done without the need for redundancies.
10. Finance/Schedule of Receipts and Payments for authorisation by the Council
Mr Porter presented the schedules of receipts and payments and informed the meeting that he had received a late bill for 46.90 in respect of business rates for the cemetery. He therefore sought approval to pay the cheques itemised totalling 2411.25 for the PC and 102.48 for the MH. Cllr Hayward moved acceptance of the payments detailed and this was seconded by Cllr Jelf and approved unanimously.
Cherwell District Council:
(i) Development and Control Meeting Wednesday 22 July Memorial Hall all members of HNPC invited as we are hosts and Cllr Jelf will introduce the speaker, Bob Duxbury;
(ii) Parish Liaison Meeting notes of the meeting and Q&A sessions to be circulated;
Plots for Gypsies, Travellers and Showpeople details circulated in last pack, responses to be in by 1 September:
Cherwell Seniors Groups Newsletter to be circulated;
Planning Futures Newsletter to be circulated;
Oxfordshire County Council:
(vi) Road closures Wigginton crossroads all day Sunday 9 August; Station Road from just west of Wigginton crossroads towards Manor Farm Monday 10 Thursday 13 August, for resurfacing;
Helping Village in Flu Pandemic Presentation at Kennington Village Hall, 29 July;
Affordable Housing new Rural Housing Enabler appointed, Tom McCulloch Clerk has written to inform him no progress made on proposed HN site for many months and to ask him to familiarise himself with situation asap;
ORCC Strategic Plan 2009-2011 to be circulated
ORCC Review Spring/Summer 2009 to be circulated
West Oxfordshire Citizens Advice Bureau AGM 30 July Chipping Norton Town Hall;
Banburyshire Community Transport Assoc. Ltd AGM Bodicote House 30 July 6.30pm.
12. Questions and Comments from Members of the Public
There were no questions on this occasion.
13. Date and Time of Next Meeting
Thursday 13th August 2009 in the Memorial Hall commencing at 7.30pm
There being no further business the Chairman closed the meeting at 8.57pm