HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE MEMORIAL HALL ON THURSDAY 10th NOVEMBER 2011 at 7.30pm
Present: Councillors: Kane [Vice-Chairman], Brotherston, Casson, Cooke, Hayward, Hicks, Jelf, Leader, Millar and Usher, District Cllr Irvine, Mr Porter [Parish Clerk] and eight members of the public.
1. Apologies for Absence
Were received from Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert [absent on business].
2. Chairman’s Announcements
In the absence of Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert Cllr Kane took the chair and informed councillors that the Remembrance Sunday Parade would assemble at the Green on 13th November at 10am.
3. Personal Statement from Cllr Millar
Cllr Millar expressed the hope that the unfortunate business of the August PC meeting could have been forgotten but the absent Chairman had ensured that this could not be. Mr Shepley-Cuthbert had lodged a formal complaint against Cllr Millar with the Standards Board in what he considered to be an underhand and cowardly manner without having the courtesy to inform him. Cllr Millar felt he had no option but to defend his position and to clarify the anti-democratic attitude exemplified by the Chairman’s actions at the August meeting by lodging a counter complaint for abuse of office and, in doing so, has received support from a gratifying number of people both within the PC and among fellow parishioners present on that evening. Standing up in defence of free speech is not something which any supposedly elected official should ever apologise for and certainly not something which any supposedly elected official should attempt to stifle. Cllr Millar stated that it was his personal feeling that it is unfortunate that this confrontational and bureaucratic direction had been taken which has not been the way of this PC over the 14 years during which he has been a member; however it was not his choice and he felt that he was left with no alternative, on a purely personal level, but to declare his complete lack of confidence and trust in Mr Shepley-Cuthbert as Chairman of HNPC.
4. Minutes of previous meeting, 14 October 2011, and matters arising
Cllr Cooke objected to the minutes of the previous meeting on the basis that he had asked that the Chairman’s apology be minuted in full as not everyone is able to read it on the website. Cllr Jelf commented that minutes are never verbatim and Cllr Brotherston agreed and suggested that the matter could be resolved by adding the apology as an addendum. This was agreed and the minutes were duly approved.
5. Declarations of Interest
Cllr Hayward declared an interest in a planning application to be discussed after the meeting as did Cllr Jelf on the Matthews application in the light of his membership of OCC’s planning committee. Cllr Usher declared an interest in Item 13 [land at Southrop] and Cllr Brotherston commented that the nature of his business inevitably meant that some planning applications are submitted by his customers and he will declare an interest whenever that occurs.
- Report by Planning Co-ordinator on planning applications received
Pending the appointment of a new Planning Co-ordinator the Clerk reported that there had been five applications approved in the past month, none of which the PC had objected to.
(i) Appointment of New Planning Co-ordinator Cllr Casson volunteered and Cllr Millar offered his support while he settles in to the role; this was approved unanimously.
(ii) The Stanton Site The Clerk read out an email from David Green a planning advisor appointed by A C Lloyd (Builders) Ltd to advise on their interests in theStanton works site atStation Road. Two applications have been approved by CDC for a total of nine houses at the northern end of the site and they would now like to engage the local community to explore issues to allow for the further development of the site. As a preliminary they offered to meet with parish councillors to present their early thoughts. Cllr Hayward commented that, as a member of Low Carbon Hook Norton Ltd, this matter had been discussed recently and it was felt that any new houses should be built with a low carbon specification. There is a strong wish for low cost housing and there is interest in creating a community land trust which would allow ownership of the land to stay within the community and thus ensure the properties would remain affordable for the future. Cllr Usher commented that he had attended the Parish Liaison meeting the previous evening and the Localism Bill was discussed together with community land trusts and neighbourhood plans. He spoke with Bob Duxbury from the Planning team who has offered to come to a PC meeting to amplify these ideas. It was agreed to ask Mr Duxbury to attend the February meeting. The Clerk will respond to Mr Green to ask their representatives to attend the December PC meeting.
7. To invite members of the public to comment on planning applications
A parishioner commented that it was his understanding that, when the first application for five houses had been received for theStantonsite, the PC had not objected but on the basis that there should be no more. He therefore wondered why then had we not objected to the second? Cllr Brotherston explained that the applications had come separately and that opportunity to object was limited. Cllr Millar emphasised that interested neighbours should be informed of the offer from A C Lloyd so that they can attend the next PC meeting.
8. Report of Working Groups
(a) Recreation & Open Spaces Group – Cllr Leader reported that the five-bar gate and replacement fencing will be erected early next week by Cherwell Fencing. Cllr Kane mentioned that fresh chippings will be required from Playdale for under the zipwire and Cllr Leader will order this.
(b) Cemetery & Allotments Group – in the absence of Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert there was nothing significant to report on this occasion but the Clerk commented that three or four allotment rents are still outstanding and he will be writing to those concerned shortly and charging a further £2.50 for the need to chase. Cllr Brotherston confirmed that the leaking tap at the cemetery has been replaced. Cllr Usher mentioned that Tim Burchell usually trims the cemetery hedge at this time of year and he was asked to contact Mr Burchell to ask him to proceed.
(c) Environment Group – CllrHayward reported that the kerb inNetting Street and adjacent manhole cover had again been crushed by a lorry having to mount the kerb but fortunately this had been repaired fairly quickly. However the railing is still in urgent need of repair and Cllr Jelf will report this to Highways. Cllr Millar commented that the bi-annual inspection of the drystone walls will be carried out shortly before winter sets in.
(d) Hook Norton War Memorial Hall – Cllr Kane apologised that she had again been unable to call a formal meeting as Brian Rider had been away for the whole of October but she hopes to be able to do so in the near future. The Clerk reported that CDC’s Environmental Health Officer had carried out an inspection of the premises on 3 November and the only item he reported as a contravention was absence of hot water in the wash hand basin in the kitchen. Cllr Brotherston had checked that the system was in working order and the Clerk had responded immediately to express our surprise as there is an instant electric heater which fires when the hot tap is turned on and this is working perfectly.
9. Appointment of New members to Working Groups
After discussion it was proposed that the groups be constituted as follows:
i) Recreation & Open Spaces Working Group
Cllrs Leader, Brotherston and Kane
ii) Cemetery & Allotments Working Group
Cllrs Usher and Hicks
iii) Environment Working Group
Cllrs Millar,Haywardand Cooke
iv) Memorial Hall Working Group
Cllrs Kane, Jelf and Brotherston, together with Brian Rider
v) Finance Group – the Chairman together with the Chairs of each working group.
10. Report on District Council Matters
District Cllr Irvine reported that the senior management has now joined with South Northamptonshire District Council and that there are three new directors and ten heads of service together with a new Regional Co-ordinator,Kevin Lane, who is essentially a relationship manager
11. Report on County Council Matters
Cllr Jelf reported that the long standing Chairman of OCC, Keith Mitchell, will be standing down at the AGM.
12. Finance/Schedule of Receipts and Payments for authorisation by the Council
The Clerk presented the schedules of receipts and payments and sought approval to pay the cheques itemised on the schedules totalling £2616.94 for the PC and £181 for the MH. Cllr Kane moved acceptance of the payments detailed and this was seconded by Cllr Jelf and approved unanimously. The Clerk also reminded members that it was usual at this time of year to send a donation to the Royal British Legion, £75 having been sent in 2010. Cllr Jelf proposed that we do the same again and this was seconded by Cllr Hicks and approved unanimously. The Clerk also reminded heads of the working groups that he would be preparing the budget for 2012/13 to present to the PC next month and he asked if anyone knew of any capital requirements which should be considered to let him have details by the end of November.
13 Land at Southrop [BBOWT]
Cllr Kane referred to an email the Chairman had received from Giles Strother, the Acquisitions and Project Development Manager at Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, about a parcel of land left to the Trust by the late Joyce Windeyer. Although it was Mrs Windeyer’s intention that the land be preserved for nature it is a small parcel which does not meet the Trust’s criteria despite being quite close to their existing reserve in the railway cutting. They are faced with two alternatives – either taking it on, which they are reluctant to do, or selling it. A third alternative would be to set up a local community group to manage the land, which would hopefully satisfy Mrs Windeyer’s intentions and they would like to discuss this initially with the PC. Cllr Hayward suggested that the PC should hear from Frank Lucas, who was among the public present, and Mr Lucas explained that the land in question is an old meadow which has not been grazed for some time. There is no public right of way or access from the viaduct and the only way to gain entrance is across the common land. It is of conservation interest being part of the green infrastructure and, although he had not seen a species list, it does appear to be botanically interesting but would need grazing by a small herd of livestock maintain the wildlife and biodiversity. Cllr Millar wondered if it would be possible for BBWOT to take on the land to be passed on later to whoever would be the eventual custodians. It was agreed to leave this matter with the Environment working group to make further enquiries. Cllr Usher asked that an attempt be made to identify what the ongoing costs would be likely to be.
14. Church Clock
Cllr Cooke declared an interest as Treasurer to St Peter’s. The Clerk reminded councillors of a letter he had received from Mrs Wood, the Parish Administrator, in which she informed us that the church clock face is in need of refurbishment and that this is a cost which falls to the PC. As agreed the Clerk had replied to Mrs Wood seeking further information and asking whether other estimates had been obtained in addition to that from Gillett and Johnston at £4968 + VAT. Cllr Cooke was able to clarify the matter by informing members that Gillett and Johnston carry out an annual inspection of the clock and noted earlier this year that the clock dials badly need repair which is, apparently, the responsibility of the PC. The quote from Gillett & Johnston is now out of date and the PC does not have funds to deal with this matter in the current financial year. It was also felt that we need to establish that the dials are really in need of refurbishment and obtain further quotes for the work. Cllr Brotherston reminded the meeting that any repairs would have to be funded from the precept which is a charge on every household in the village.
15. Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Following the November meeting Cllr Jelf wondered if councillors had come up with any ideas for commemorating the Jubilee? Cllr Casson commented that the Sports and Social Club is organising several events over the weekend. Cllr Millar reminded members that we still have the millennium beacon which could be re-activated. Cllr Hayward commented that such events are usually marked by a celebration but wondered what capital would be available. It was agreed to place a snippet in the next Newsletter seeking ideas from parishioners.
16. Bus Stop at Church House
Cllr Jelf apologised as he has not yet had an opportunity to clarify whether a bench could be sited on a public footpath with Highways as the cabinet member at OCC has just undergone a serious operation and locally changes within the department have made it difficult to make contact with somebody in charge. Mrs Lomas was present and wondered why a decision could not be made based upon the presumption that Highways would not object. Cllr Kane felt that the PC would need to know the full implications before deciding and Cllr Hayward expressed the view that to be pushed into a hurried decision might not assist her case. After discussion it was agreed that the matter would be placed on the agenda again at the December meeting although Mrs Lomas will not be able to attend.
17. Gritting Arrangements
Cllr Hayward expressed the view that he was still not entirely sure what was happening this winter but understood that the tonne of salt allocated to Hook Norton is to be stored with Nigel Matthews at Ferris Hill. He asked how many salt bins this would replenish and Mr Matthews, who was present, estimated only two or three. However he added that he does have a stock of salt which he can source more cheaply than the county council and he will fill the bins in the village. It was agreed that the Environment working group will talk with Mr Matthews about managing the issue but essentially the responsibility for keeping the bins replenished now rests with the parish and OCC Highways will only clear the main roads. Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert will be asked to organise a contract with Mr Matthews for the work on his return fromSouth Africa.
(i) OALC Members Update September/October – circulated by email;
(ii) ORCC – Winter General Meeting – Stratfield Brake, 21 November;
(iii) CPRE – Annual General Meeting – 28 November St John’s RC Dupuis Centre
19. Questions and Comments from Members of the Public
Mr and Mrs Smith informed the PC that they have been subject to a series of incidents of anti-social behaviour in recent months with glass broken, tapping on windows, items thrown at windows etc. They have spoken with neighbours who have also been suffering from this kind of behaviour and the Police have been informed and are now taking action to try to catch the perpetrators. As it is a dark area of the village Mr Smith wondered if a deterrent might be to put up a light on a nearby telegraph pole [which they would be willing to pay for] but Highways has indicated that this would have to be requested by the PC. One of the councillors who has also suffered from such behaviour commented that her house is close to two street lights which does not appear to deter those responsible. Cllr Jelf will discuss the light with Highways and, in the meantime, PCSO Lana Smith will be contacting neighbours and placing a note in the forthcoming Newsletter.
20. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday 8th December 2011 in the Memorial Hall at 7.30pm.
There being no further business the Chairman thanked everyone for attending and closed the public meeting at 9.10 pm
[Chairman Hook Norton Parish Council]
Dated 8th December 2011