HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE MEMORIAL HALL ON THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER 2011 at 7.30pm
Present:Councillors:Kane [Vice-Chairman], Brotherston, Casson, Hayward, Jelf, Leader and Millar, Mr Porter [Parish Clerk] and eight members of the public.
In the absence of Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert Cllr Kane took the chair and welcomed Nick Casson, the newly elected parish councillor.
Co-option of new Parish Councillors
Following recent resignations there were still three vacancies on the PC and several parishioners had offered to stand. It was proposed by Cllr Kane and seconded by Cllr Jelf that Allison Hicks be co-opted and this was approved unanimously. It was then proposed by Cllr Hayward and seconded by Cllr Millar that Roger Cooke be co-opted and again this was approved unanimously. Finally it was proposed by Cllr Jelf and seconded by Cllr Brotherston that Graham Usher be co-opted and this was approved unanimously The new councillors all duly completed their Declarations of Acceptance of Office and took their places on the PC.
1. Apologies for Absence
were received from Cllr Shepley-Cuthbert [absent on business] and District Cllr Irvine.
2. Chairmans Announcements and Apologies
Cllr Kane reminded those present that, since the previous meeting, the PC had learned of the death of Mike Terry, who had served as councillor for a number of years and who was a personal friend of a several of those still serving. A minutes silence was held in his memory.
Cllr Kane then read a statement from the Chairman apologising for his absence particularly in view of the highly contentious meeting in August. He had been advised that the issue of the change of use of The Bell Inn should be dealt with under Standing Orders. This had been against his better judgement and for that he apologised to all members of the village wholeheartedly. The outcome of this application is now history but the Chairman felt that we should learn from this experience and items for discussion later on the agenda should ensure that planning issues are dealt with more transparently in future with added protection for the crown jewels. In the evolving world of planning extra vigilance will be required to ensure that the doctrine of presumption in favour of sustainable development is not forced upon the village and that Hook Norton can remain a village in which everyone wishes to live. Cllr Cooke commented that a large number of people in the village would like to know of the Chairmans apology and it was agreed to post it on the village website as it is in the public domain.
3. Minutes of previous meeting, 11 August 2011, and matters arising
Cllr Millar objected to the minutes of the previous meeting on the basis that it had been incorrectly terminated. Cllr Brotherston enquired whether they reflected an accurate report of what had happened up to that point? It was felt that only those in attendance as councillors at the previous meeting should vote and it was accepted that they were a true and accurate record by two votes to one.
4. Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations on this occasion.
(i) Discussion on Members Interests
Cllr Hayward commented that the model rules and publication scheme which had been adopted by the PC states that a Register of Members Interests will be maintained and these are available to the public on payment of a small fee for copying. However when somebody finally wished to look at the register the advice provided to the Clerk by CDC was that the enquirer could only see the Register at Bodicote House and could not take a copy as this would contravene data protection. Accordingly Cllr Hayward proposed that the Register of Hook Norton parish councillors should be updated and posted on the village website in the interests of open government.
Cllr Jelf commented that, as a county councillor, his interests are published against his profile.
Cllr Kane enquired whether a member may opt-out if he/she so wished? After discussion it was agreed that the motion should be that register should be posted on the web-site but if an individual councillor wished to opt-out he may do so.
This was seconded by Cllr Jelf and approved unanimously
5.Report by Planning Co-ordinator on planning applications received
Cllr Millar informed the meeting that decisions on the thirteen applications received since the August meeting had been all been granted, with the exception of that relating to The Bell Inn which had been withdrawn.
Cllr Millar then proposed that, following the unfortunate way in which a decision had been reached in respect of the application relating to The Bell that in future the PC promises to call and publicise a public meeting on all and any planning developments which would significantly affect any of the following: the school; the playground; the village shop; the Post Office; The Pear Tree Inn; The Sun Inn; The Bell Inn; The Gate Hangs High; Hook Norton Brewery; St Peters Church; the Baptist Chapel and any proposed development of more than six houses.
Cllr Brotherston expressed some concern about how such a meeting could be arranged given the relatively short space of time the PC has to respond. After a wide ranging discussion it was felt that information could be disseminated through the website, by means of notices and inevitably by word of mouth. Cllr Hayward then seconded the proposal which was approved unanimously.
(ii)The Bell Inn
Separately from the Chairmans apology Cllr Millar proposed that this Parish Council apologised unreservedly to the people of Hook Norton for not taking into account the depth of feeling concerning the potential change of use of The Bell Inn and for the failure to listen in a proper forum to the views expressed by the large number of villagers who attended the last Parish Council meeting.
Cllr Hayward seconded the motion.
Cllr Brotherston commented that the application had been discussed in a planning meeting and councillors did what they had always done and, while the decision was unfortunately unpopular, he did not feel that it merited an apology. The motion was carried by five votes to nil with five members abstaining.
Cllr Kane then proposed a general apology to parishioners for the events of the last meeting and this was seconded by Cllr Brotherston and passed unanimously.
(iii)Planning Meetings organisation, time and location
Cllr Hayward expressed the view that the planning process which CDC has in place is undemocratic as neighbours are no longer informed of applications which may affect them, the CDC planning portal is so difficult to negotiate that parishioners find it almost impossible to register an objection and thus the public feel cut off from the planning process. Accordingly Hook Norton PC planning meetings should be held in a public place where interested parties can attend. Ideally these will be after the normal PC meeting but the 21 day response rule means that inevitably there will need to be occasional meetings during the month. These will be publicised via the website with parishioners able to comment beforehand. He also proposed that minor applications, such as tree works, could be dealt with between councillors by email in order to streamline the process.
Cllr Usher expressed concern about the reliance on the website to disseminate information and it was agreed that such meetings would also be advertised on the noticeboards.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Jelf and approved unanimously.
6. To invite members of public to comment on planning applications
John Blackham noted that some members of the PC had met with representatives of Taylor Wimpey and wondered how its application would be treated.
Cllr Millar responded that, as this would certainly be for a development of far more than six houses the PC would call a public meeting.
Cllr Kane commented that the meeting had been a preliminary and Taylor Wimpey had not formulated any plans as yet.
Christopher Barry then commended Cllr Haywards motion about future planning meetings and wondered if site visits were still held? They are when deemed appropriate
7.Report of Working Groups
(a) Recreation & Open Spaces Group
Cllr Leader reported that the annual RoSPA inspection has been carried out in the Play Area and report makes excellent reading. There are one or two small matters which Mr Marshall is dealing with. In respect of the proposed gate at The Shearings entrance he has obtained two quotes to erect a five-bar gate with a small pedestrian gate adjacent and replacement of fencing the best being from Cherwell Fencing at 1500.78 inclusive of VAT and he proposed that this should be accepted.
This was seconded by Cllr Kane and approved unanimously.
A parishioner had been in touch to express concern about several trees to the rear of houses in Osney Close which shadow the gardens and overhang in places. Cllrs Leader and Hayward had examined these and while they do overhang in places they are mature trees which do not appear to merit any significant pruning. It was agreed that the Clerk should write to Mrs Koch and explain the councillors views and remains open to her to have any overhanging branches cut back by a qualified tree surgeon with PC approval.
(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 allotment rent letters were sent out at the end of September and more than half of the tenants have already paid. Those who have not already done so were urged to send their remittance as soon as possible as chasers will be charged at the rate of 2.50 per letter.
(c) Environment Group
Cllr Millar reported that the group had not met for some time but the issues requiring attention were the handrail at Netting Street which Cllr Jelf was asked to raise with OCC and also a request for a further grit bin along Swerford Road. Cllr Hayward had cycled along the road to investigate the problem and concluded that, as the additional bin would benefit only two properties, the expense could not be justified.
Cllr Brotherston expressed concern about the new recycling arrangements for terraced houses which had started this week and which basically involve leaving unopened sacks out overnight inviting scavengers. District Cllr Irvine will be asked to look into this matter on our behalf.
Cllr Jelf informed the meeting that a resident of Hollybush Road has offered to pay for an additional grit bin in that area if the PC will keep it filled. After discussion it was agreed to accept this offer by a majority of 9/1.
Cllr Hayward also reported an exchange of emails with Mr Cookson about a tree near the street light opposite the Old Post Office which he feels is impeding the light and casting a shadow over Mobbs Lane. The tree in question has a TPO and a recent application to prune was rejected by CDC so there is little that can be done at present other than to keep an eye on the situation.
(d) Hook Norton War Memorial Hall
Cllr Kane apologised that she had not yet managed to call a formal meeting but hopes to do so in the near future. However work on the garden has led to a significant improvement. The Clerk mentioned that we have two new regular users, a Tai Chi class on Wednesday mornings and a Yoga class starting on Tuesday mornings in November.
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 had nothing to report on this occasion.
10. 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 8087.25 for the PC, plus a further cheque for 129 to Tim Burchell for various maintenance work and 136 for the MH plus a cheque for 45 for window cleaning. Cllr Jelf moved acceptance of the payments detailed and this was seconded by Cllr Hayward and approved unanimously.
(i) To approve and accept the Audited Accounts 2010/2011
The Clerk reported that the accounts to 31 March 2011 have been formally signed off by the exteal auditors, BDO LLP. The only issue brought to the attention of the PC was that the assets, being the new play equipment, had been shown as per the asset register rather than the purchase price. This had been amended and Mr Porter therefore formally sought approval and acceptance of the Accounts.
This was proposed by Cllr Jelf and seconded by Cllr Leader and passed unanimously.
11. Declaration and rule changes re agendas and decisions
Cllr Hayward referred to rule 36 in the Standing Orders which precludes revisiting a decisions made within the previous six months. He felt that a de facto amendment to this rule had been established where circumstances had changed significantly and that had been how we had applied the rule. Cllr Hayward therefore proposed that this should be formalised and that it should also not preclude further discussion of any matter, when circumstances had not changed, just the reversal of the decision. He further proposed that members of the public should be allowed to speak on the issue as they may reveal a change of circumstances.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Millar and approved unanimously. Cllr Hayward also proposed that requests from the public for items to be discussed could be made via the Clerk or councillors and that there should be a presumption to accept any such request and that furthermore items on the published agenda cannot be removed before or at the meeting. Essentially this is formalising existing procedures and the motion was seconded by Cllr Brotherston and approved unanimously.
12. Standing Order Clarification Rule 36
Arising from the previous matter Cllr Kane noted that rule 36 specified that a decision could be reversed by special resolution the notice of which required the names of an indeterminate number of councillors and clearly this needed clarification. After discussion it was proposed that the number of councillors should be effectively one-third on the members, in this case four. This was approved unanimously.
13. The Village Website and the Parish Council
Cllr Hayward remarked the PC had agreed to fund the website which is hosted and organised very professionally by Cllr Kane and that the PC should pay the going rate for the facility. Cllr Kane then promptly declared an interest in this item. He also expressed the view that the PC should input as much information as possible to encourage parishioners to make more use of the facility and one of the team has offered to do this. There is now a Facebook page Facebook.com/hooknorton.
Cllr Jelf expressed some concern as councillors are allowed to defray costs but must not be seen to benefit from a service they provide and it was agreed that the Clerk should seek guidance from OALC on the issue. Cllr Brotherston felt that the PC needed to recognise all the work Cllr Kane has done and expressed gratitude for all her efforts.
14. Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Cllr Jelf commented that a number of parishes are considering ways to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee and wondered if anyone had given thought to anything in Hook Norton? As this is something which requires consideration it was agreed to place it on the agenda again for the November meeting.
15. Bus Stop at Church House
Mrs Lomas was in attendance and asked that the PC reconsidered its decision of April 2011 and allow the bus stop to be moved some 15 feet in the direction of the church on the basis that she will be happy to provide a suitable bench at the site for those waiting to sit down. She has discussed the matter with the Rev. Acreman on a number of occasions and he has no objection. There was some concern about whether a bench could be sited on a public footpath and Cllr Jelf will discuss the matter with Highways to see what is possible and the matter will be discussed again at the November meeting.
16. Maintenance of Stream Banks
This was an issue raised with the Chairman some weeks ago after residents had cleared the stream and its banks in the Park Road area and Tim Burchell was asked to remove the debris. The residents are prepared to accept responsibility for clearing the stream and removing rubbish but seek the PCs help in removing the debris and this was agreed.
Cherwell District Council:
(i)Cherwell Parish Liaison Meeting Wednesday 9 November
(ii) OALC Members Update July/August circulated by email;
(iii) OPFA AGM 17 October at Tackley Village Hall;
(iv) ORCC Annual Review to circulate;
(v) Local Government Boundary commission publication of draft recommendations [74 county councillors to be reduced to 63] full details on website www.lgbce.org.uk and views can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org the new Hook Norton district will run through to include Cropredy and neighbouring villages;
(vi) Banburyshire Community Transport Association CDC withdrawing funding for the Dial-a-Ride service wef 31.3.2012 which may mean an end to services unless alternative funding can be found [although the latest information is that it will continue in a more structured and economic way];
(vii) Berks, Bucks & Oxon Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group provide advice on wildlife and conservation matters to farmers and as funding from county and district has dried up they are looking to PCs to help with donations -;
(viii) Royal British Legion seeking donations towards commemorative bell for use at all repatriations at Brize Norton;
(ix) WSE Ltd instructed to Western Power Distribution to uprate high voltage overhead line and need contact within PC to access allotments Cllr Usher volunteered to liaise;
(x) Oxfordshire Carers Association seeking donations it remains the PCs policy to donate only to local groups.
18. Questions and Comments from Members of the Public
There were no matters raised on this occasion.
19. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday 10th November 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 9.32 pm
[Chairman Hook Norton Parish Council]
Dated10th October 2011