HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF HOOK NORTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE MEMORIAL HALL ON THURSDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2012 at 7.30pm
Present: Councillors: Kane, Hicks, Usher, Cooke, Hayward, Millar, Brotherston, Casson, County Cllr Jelf (part), District Cllr Irvin, Mrs Watts (Parish Clerk) and eight members of the public
Apologies for Absence
Cllrs Shepley- Cuthbert and Leader
Cllr Kane took the chair in the absence of Cllr Shepley- Cuthbert who was absent due to a family illness.
Minutes of Previous Meeting held on 12 July 2012 and Matters Arising
It was proposed by Cllr Hicks and seconded by Cllr Usher that the minutes of the previous meeting on 14 June 2012 be accepted as a true and accurate record and this was passed unanimously.
Declarations of Interest
Cllrs Usher and Millar declared an interest in revised allotment rents. Cllr Brotherston declared an interest in an invoice from Active Connexions for work carried out in the Memorial Hall.
Vacancy for Parish Councillor – Co-option
The Clerk had placed an advertisement on the village noticeboards notifying villagers that there was still one Parish Councillor vacancy on the Parish Council. She had received one application from Amanda Watkins, Little Bowden, The Bourne and her details and CV were passed to Councillors before the meeting. Cllr Kane proposed that Mrs Watkins be co-opted as a Councillor to Hook Norton Parish Council, seconded by Cllr Casson and unanimously agreed. Mrs Watkins completed a Declaration of Acceptance of Office and Register of Members’ Interests form and then she was warmly welcomed to the Council table.
Heath Allotment Trust
Cllr Brotherston had received further correspondence from Pauline Walters asking the Parish Council to provide Public Liability cover for the fields held in Trust (12/103 refers) Cllr Brotherston proposed that the Clerk speak to the Insurers to ascertain the cost of any additional premium. If the additional premium were to fall below £50 the Clerk should add the fields to the PC’s PL policy. If the additional premium is higher than £50, the Clerk must refer the matter back to the October meeting. This was seconded by Cllr Usher and unanimously agreed.
Planning Committee and Delegated Responsibility
Cllr Usher attended Roles and Responsibilities of a Clerk and Councillor training on 5 September. Delegates were advised that planning decisions should not be made by email but at an open meeting which is advertised in advance. Following a discussion Cllr Kane proposed that if controversial planning applications could not be discussed at the monthly Parish Council meetings due to Cherwell District Council’s 21 day time limit, interim open meetings would be held having previously been advertised on the website. This was seconded by Cllr Hayward and unanimously agreed.
Report of the Planning Co-Ordinator on Planning Applications Received
During July and August, Cherwell District Council approved sixteen planning / TCA applications (including the Stanton Engineering site) and refused outline planning permission for land north of The Bourne for up to 70 dwellings. Cllrs had no objections to any of these applications other than to the proposed application for The Bourne.
The PC objected to planning application 12/01049/F, Shires, 25 Ironstone Hollow on the grounds that proposed work to trees appeared to include trees belonging to the Parish Council. The Clerk had written to the applicants inviting them to seek permission from the Parish Council to carry out this work.
To Invite Members of the Public to Comment on Planning Applications
A member of the public expressed concern over work being carried out at Ferris Hill Farm. Were trees going to be planted to screen the site? C Cllr Jelf will contact OCC to get an update.
Reports of Working Groups
Cemeteries and Allotments
Hook Norton Memorial Hall Cllr Kane read Cllr Brotherston’s written report:
Report on District Council Matters
District Cllr Irvine had nothing to report.
Report on County Council Matters
County Cllr Jelf had nothing to report.
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 £7,280.89 for the Parish Council and £1,344.98 for the Memorial Hall. Cllr Usher moved acceptance of the payments detailed, this was seconded by Cllr Hicks and approved unanimously.
To Approve and Accept the Audited Accounts 2011/2012
The Clerk reported that the accounts to 31 March 2012 have been formally signed off by the external auditors, BDO LLP. No issues were raised. The Clerk formally sought approval and acceptance of the accounts. Proposed Cllr Kane, seconded Cllr Cooke and passed unanimously.
Review of Allotment Rents 2013 – 2014
The allotment year runs 1 April – 31 March, with rents payable 1 October. Allotment rents have not been increased for 2 years. Cllr Usher reported that the HNAA had suggested a 3% increase with effect from 1 April 2013, payable 1 October 2013. He therefore proposed that rents from 1 April 2013 will be £21 for a full plot and £13 for a half plot. This was seconded by Cllr Cooke and unanimously agreed. A proposal to give a small discount to two tenants with 1½ plots was turned down unanimously. The Clerk will send invoices for 2012/2013 out next week.
Pauline Walters had emailed Cllrs asking if the Parish Council would consider funding the shortfall of £9,000 annually to keep the Library open for the current number of hours following OCC cut backs (i.e. Cost of library manager plus on-costs is £18,310.16 and OCC will cut this by 50%. The hours are currently 19, of which 5 represent administration (i.e. closed) and 14 are opening hours). Cllrs agreed that the Parish Council needed to see a business plan before it could discuss the matter any further. The proposal would in any case have to go to an open meeting as any costs would impact on the Parish Precept.
Cherwell District Council Local Plan Consultation
Cllr Shepley- Cuthbert was still considering the report.
Cllrs unanimously agreed that the Parish Council should continue to look at providing affordable housing in the village. Cllr Cooke is meeting officers from Cherwell District Council and ORCC on 9 October at 15.00 to talk about this and the Neighbourhood Plan.
Cllrs discussed the need for a Neighbourhood Plan. It was agreed that a plan was essential if villagers are to have a say in future planning or recreational matters. Cllr Millar proposed that a steering committee be formed, to include some Councillors but in the main villagers who will then consult with the entire village (i.e. villagers will have the opportunity to dictate their own future). Cllr Casson seconded the proposal and it was unanimously agreed. Costs have yet to be ascertained and no commitment to the scheme will be made until they can be established. It is hoped that volunteers will freely offer their time and expertise and some costs will be met by the District. Cllr Kane proposed that a sub-Committee of the Parish Council be formed and this was seconded by Cllr Cooke. Cllrs Kane, Cooke, Hicks and Millar agreed to be on the committee and it was unanimously agreed that Julia Edwards be invited to join the group. There will be an open meeting in the Memorial Hall on 11 October at 8.00 to discuss the matter further.
Proposed Bourne Lane Development
The outline planning application was refused by Cherwell District Council on 6 September. Cllrs thanked Rob Gardner, Julia Edwards and Brendan Queenan for their invaluable help with the response to Cherwell District Council.
The Bell Inn
The Bell Inn has been sold and Cllrs unanimously agreed that as this property is one of the village’s ‘crown jewels’, every attention must be paid to its future use. Cllr Millar proposed that once the new owners have been identified, the Clerk write on behalf of the Parish Council offering them full support if the premises are to be kept open as a public house but advising them that the Parish Council would not support any application to turn the property into a private dwelling. This was seconded by Cllr Cooke and unanimously agreed. Concerns were raised about the property being boarded up for any reason.
To Invite Questions and Comments from Members of the Public
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday, 11 October 2012 in the Memorial Hall at 7.30pm. This will be followed at 8.00pm by an open meeting to discuss Neighbourhood Planning.
There being no further business the Vice-Chairman thanked everyone for attending and closed the public meeting at 9.15pm
Walls Inspection August 2012
Churchyard: the pointing of the wall adjacent to the footpath on High St is deteriorating at ground level and will need re-pointing in lime mortar in the foreseeable future. There is a crack in the wall to the right of the entrance to the church that is probably due to ground movement and will eventually need attention, but should just be monitored for now. The wall between the churchyard and St Peters hall has deteriorating pointing and will eventually need attention. The part of this wall adjacent to the gas tanks is a dry stone wall, and is in good condition.
The wall to the rear of the church, that forms the garden wall of the properties on Osney Close is generally difficult to access as it is behind undergrowth but what can be observed seems to be in the same condition as at last inspection. We are unsure that this is PC responsibility, as part of the wall is the outside of a barn, and it would be plausible to assume this wall belongs to the adjoining property. We did write to the residents some time in the past to ask them if they could consult their deeds to clarify the ownership of this wall, and we have had no reply. The lack of reply tends to support our conjecture.
The walls around the Baptist cemetery are not PC responsibility and have received no attention since our last inspection. The wall between the two cemeteries is in very poor condition and has partially collapsed. The wall between the Baptist cemetery and the footpath has collapsed in one section. As this is the route to playgroup, we feel this presents a potential danger and we should contact OCC to request that they repair it as a matter of urgency. We should also bring this and the other wall to the attention of the Baptists by letter from the PC.
The walls opposite playgroup at the entrance to the playground have been partially repaired (see comments on style below) but there is a section that has not been rebuilt that is starting to bulge, and we should consider repairs to this now.
The wall along Watery Lane we have agreed to allow to deteriorate and the undergrowth is now well developed and is providing a very effective barrier. The fencing will eventually be subsumed by this and we don’t feel any further attention will be required. It is clear that no-one is passing through this barrier any more.
The wall between the playground and the bungalows on Osney Close is difficult to inspect, as it is behind a fence, but it looks in good condition. This may not be PC responsibility, but we have always assumed it was in the past. At the gate end, this wall runs alongside the drive of Birch Lea. We are unsure as to the ownership of this section, but the wall does need some attention. We feel the PC should write to the residents of Birch Lea to ascertain and agree ownership, and if it is ours, we should arrange repairs.
We need to find a contractor or contractors who can deal with our walls and we feel we should try to develop an ongoing business relationship with someone with the necessary skills so we can call on their expertise. One name is John Greatbatch phone no 01993 831486 and we also have the details of Chris Hobbs, on 01608 643118.
The style of walls in Hook Norton in general: the traditional style of walling in Hook Norton is Oxfordshire Dry Stone walling. This is a recognised style and method and is distinctive from other types such as Cumbrian and reflects the type of stone found locally. Theoretically within the conservation area any area of walling that is repaired or rebuilt requires planning permission, but quite a few walls have been rebuilt in recent years that probably haven’t had any input from CDC planning, and we know that CDC have given planning permission to replace dry stone walling with cemented walls (top of Mobbs Lane being a glaringly obvious example). Sadly one culprit is the PC itself: It replaced some of the dry stone walling at the entrance to the park with cemented walls which adds to the “urbanisation” of the village. The Neighbourhood Plan should enable us to reverse this trend by specifying that any walls built or rebuilt in the village that face the highway are built as dry stone, or built to emulate a dry stone wall (like the PC did on Tite Lane).