Minutes 8th December 2011

Minutes of Clehonger Parish Council meeting held on 8th December 2011 at 7.30pm at Innesfield Community Centre

Present: Cllrs C Tomlinson (Chairman), J Whittal, C Protherough, P Jeffree, J Hammond, J Rider, J Thorne and A Hitchener

In attendance:  Mrs A Wright (Clerk), Mr D Taylor (Ward Councillor) and 4 members of the public.

117/11 Apologies for Absence

Apologies were accepted from Mr G Walker (Vice Chair). 

118/11 Declarations of Interest

 Resolved: Cllrs Protherough, J Hammond, and J Rider declared prejudicial interests in matters relating to the Village Hall and Councillor Tomlinson declared similar in relation to Dore Community Transport.

119/11 Chairman’s Statement

Cllr Tomlinson welcomed Alison Wright, the new Clerk, to her first meeting and also the Councillors, Mr D Taylor (Ward Councillor) and members of the public.  Councillor Tomlinson then made the following statement.

“As you are all aware our meetings have been going on much too long. The general advice is that they should not last more than two hours.  In an effort to make this possible I am aiming to have only two major items for discussion at each meeting. This may not always be possible but you can but try.

Parish Plan: I had invited Lynda Wilcox Chief Executive of HALC to come this evening to give here presentation on Parish Plans but she was already running a training session so instead I have, with the council’s approval, booked her for our next meeting on 19th January 2012.  Her presentation does take some time when you include questions and answers afterwards. May I suggest you all, including members of the public, come prepared with some questions.

The two main items for this evening are a preliminary discussion on our precept which will be held for the first time, in my memory, with the public present and secondly the council’s response to the LDF consultation.  I am pleased to report that Clehonger P.C. made more effort to inform members of the parish of the opportunities to attend public meetings and as far as I know was the only one in our area, through the auspices of our ward councillor, to arrange a drop in session.  I am pleased to note that it was well attended.  All Clehonger councillors attended a special group briefing on the LDF by representatives of Hereford Council at Madley on Monday 17th October.  We have had dispensation from Kevin Singleton Team Leader Strategic Planning Herefordshire Council to delay the council’s response to the consultation until Monday 12th December.  May I suggest, from my experience that if we want to be listened to we do not go in with a totally negative response; it should also include some positives. Can we all bear this in mind when we come to discuss it. When the council debate its response there will be no public participation. It is up to the council to agree its response”.

Councillor Tomlinson asked that a vote of thanks be recorded to all those who had helped with the meetings. He also wished a full and speedy recovery to Audrey Evans following her recent accident.

120/11 Open Session

The following comments were made:

  • Pothole issues. Some have been filled but there are others that are still a problem. Several holes appeared to have been filled in after a BBC Hereford and Worcester Radio program on the subject.
  • New grit bins had been supplied, by Amey, but were not considered to have been placed in the optimum locations. Councillor Taylor would speak to Amey about possibly moving them, or obtaining additional bins.
  • More publicity was thought required for the meeting on the 19th January so that members of the public could hear Mrs Wilcox speak about the Parish Plan. The meeting will be publicised in the newspaper and notice boards and members of the public will be invited to attend as always. Cllr Hammond stated that there needed to be a “snowball” effect of people telling each other and encouraging them to become involved.  The chairman made the point that this is only the first stage in a long process and there will be plenty of opportunity for members of the public to get involved. This first presentation is basically for the Parish Council to help them decide if they wish to proceed and to give them some idea of the costs involved. Lynda Wilcox will come to other meetings to help the process if it is decided to go ahead.

121/11 Reports:

a)    The clerk read out an e mail report from the Local Policing Team – absent. There was some discussion on the importance of keeping the local police informed about incidents and concerns so that they could be more proactive. The number 101 is now in use for incident reporting.

b)   Ward Councillor Mr Taylor gave an update on action items. He had been on a drive round the area, with Amey, and together they had identified issues, in particular potholes which Cllr Taylor had requested they repair properly. Cllr Taylor is going to arrange for salt bin relocation and is also going to inform the clerk of two properties, whose hedges are overhanging the highway, so that arrangements can be made for Amey to contact the householders. A drain would be installed at the driveway to Perryhill Farm, where ice had previously been a hazard. The 40mph speed limit initiative from the Belmont Bus stop and out to Ruckhall Lane was ongoing.

c)    Dore Community Transport. Cllr Tomlinson updated Councillors. Herefordshire Council would no longer be blanket insuring vehicles which would vastly increase insurance costs for Dore. A consultation evening had not proved very helpful in finding a way forward and the post holder in charge of this was about to go on maternity leave.

d)   Outside bodies: No further updates

Clehonger Community Group – absent.

Broadband Champion – absent.

122/11 Minutes of Previous Meeting held on 20th October 2011  

The minutes were subject to two minor alterations and were then were approved and signed by the chairman.

 123/11 Update on Action Items

 The Clerk gave an update on the progress of action items.  The works order for the cutting of the playing field hedge had been passed to J & D Sanders. The new clerk had been familiarising herself with all of the paperwork inherited from the outgoing clerk.

124/11 Correspondence

 Resolved: the following items were noted

Letter received from Herefordshire Council regarding changes to the bookings for the Parish Freighter.

Letter received from Herefordshire Council regarding changes to how planning matters would be conveyed. Cllr Whittal and the clerk to discuss way forward.

Letter regarding funding for IT from Herefordshire Council had been received. Grants available for IT equipment subject to a 20% contribution from the Council. Cllr Jeffree to explore this.

Letter received from Amey about self help gritting scheme. No action taken at this time.

Letter from Woodfield Gardens (Belmont) Management Co. Ltd. This in regard to the erection of a notice board at Woodfield Gardens. The Abbey Trustees had given permission for one to be erected, but in a specific place. It was decided by the Council that no notice board would be erected at present. The clerk would inform the secretary of this decision.

A letter had been received from Herefordshire Council for the new clerk to apply to obtain the up to date register of electors for the parish. Clerk to complete this and send off for the register.

Two letters had been received from Cllr Thorne in relation to Hayleasow Wood. Cllr Tomlinson clarified access notices in this regard.

 125/11 Finance

 a)            Resolved: The following list of payments were approved;

 Hire of Innesfield                                                                   £10.00

Lengthsman  (R. Layton Morris)                                             £105.00

Lengthsman  (R. Layton Morris)                                             £190.00

Mrs A Wright – (salary £280.46, ink cartridge/stationery £21.55

Telephone  £11.31 and stamps £2.76)                               £325.08

HALC                                                                                     £50.00

Longfield Services ( £25.00 + £69.57)                                       £94.57

Tax due on salary payment (Payable to The Post Office)             £70.00

Mrs J Honey – (salary £230.76, UBS £8.97, Stamps £1.84 )                            £241.57

____________

£1086.22

b)   Resolved: The bank balance was noted

c)    There were no travelling expenses for Councillors

The contact details for the Royal Bank of Scotland account had been changed to that of the new clerk. The list of signatories had been checked and found to be completely adequate.

126/11  Precept Budget

Cllrs Tomlinson, Jeffree and the clerk had collaborated to produce a spreadsheet detailing the financial position for the council’s budget. Councillor Jeffree explained that there were restrictions as to how much reserve the council could hold, unless the funds were earmarked for specific projects. The budget, as forecasted, was expending circa £14,000 against an income of circa £8,000 which clearly did not add up. It was stated that it was always advisable for reserves to be held should there be an uncontested parish election (suggestion £1500). It could also cost between £3000 and £5000 to produce a Parish Plan. The recommended maximum reserve stood at between 3 and 12 months worth of precept value (currently precept is £8000 pa).  It was thought advisable to earmark some of the reserves towards funding the Parish Plan. The electronic planning initiative could bring additional costs in terms of required technology and the purchase of paper copies of documents. Two large projects had already been identified as requiring funding, the village hall and the playing field. There were also considerations in regard to the Lengthsman in that the cost of this exceeds the money received but this could be seen as essential expenditure in regard to upkeep of the area plus there were the Diamond Jubilee celebrations etc. to consider for next year. After discussion it was agreed that there may have to be some cut-backs and this may include things such as the number of parish freighter visits arranged. Some of the take up has not been good for this and the council cannot afford to supply the facility if take up is low. There was some further discussion on the possibility of raising the precept to £9000 but it was decided that the final decision should be deferred to the January meeting. The general feeling was that a modest increase was necessary. No rise at all would severely curtail necessary projects.

Resolved The Precept decision is to be taken at the next meeting and the application submitted.

127/11 Planning

a)    To receive report from Planning Working Group leader

Cllr Whittal reported that there had been three planning applications approved and one rejected since the last meeting. Cllr Whittal and the Clerk would discuss the best way forward for dealing with the applications administration. She would also look at the possibility for technology funding in conjunction with Cllr Jeffree.

Cllr Thorne gave an update on the Belmont Rural Ruckhall Lane, Home Farm planning. A number of officials with theodolites had been observed in the locality for a protracted period. It was decided that the Council should request consultee status, as a neighbouring body, so that they can be kept informed of any developments.

128/11 Discuss Local Development Framework

 There followed a lengthy discussion in regard to the LDF. The points can be summarised as the main body of the Council’s response to the LDF as sent to the Herefordshire Council by letter. They are as follows:-

Requirement for a third bridge:  The question we asked was: Do we think another Bridge will be required in the future? The majority opinion of the Council is that there is a requirement for a third river crossing but it was felt that all options for sustainable transport should be considered alongside the requirement.

Link Road: Do you think we require a link road between the A49 & A465? This would be required to make the proposed Park & Ride on the south side of the river at Red Hill a viable option. There were differing opinions on this matter but it was felt overall that the whole issue of school transport should be examined as a considerable amount of the traffic is peak time school transport related. This is evidenced by a marked drop in flow during school closure periods.

Park & Ride: Once the Park & Ride is established on the South Side of the river at Red Hill it will be essential the council ensure that schools use it if it is to fully reach its potential and have a real effect on traffic flow particularly in the morning and afternoon during school terms.

Western Route: If the proposed Western Route is to be followed then there seems to be some uncertainty as to how exactly the route will bypass Belmont Abbey. There are many valid opinions held on the potential for the disruption to amenity land, farm land and existing houses if this route is pursued. The Council strongly disagree with the retention of an Inner Western Relief Road. There was unanimous agreement that if the full Eastern route is not possible then the next option should be to create a link to the Ledbury Road.

Ring Road/ Bypass: Despite all the recent publicity the general consensus is that if a Ring Road/ Bypass  is to be built then the original Eastern route as proposed in the 1980’s should still be the preferred route.   If it was considered to be the preferred route then, which had full funding (until the money was transferred to Worcester to complete their southern bypass) then what has changed? It is clearly the better route because it is the shortest way to connect the major roads into Hereford and the city’s largest housing areas with the Rotherwas Industrial Estate.

Housing in Clehonger: The Council acknowledges the requirement for the building of a limited number of new houses in Clehonger. It is recognised that there does need to be more affordable homes made available to enable people to join the” property ladder” and to stimulate the potential for young people/families to stay in the community. The need for affordable housing must be matched with the need for jobs, roads, schools, surgeries and other necessary amenities. There are major concerns however in relation to the current infrastructure and the council would point out that the Clehonger Sewage Works, built by prisoners of war in the early 1940’s, is already at maximum capacity. This would limit further development until this situation has been rectified.  Sewage and other infrastructure problems, in terms of a shortfall in facilities, also affect other major areas of Hereford, and the surrounding villages, which obviously will have to be addressed before any major housing projects can be instigated.

Hospital Beds: It is quite clear that the demand for Hospital Beds is going to increase. Since the new hospital was built it has not been possible to close all the hutted wards as was said would happen. Thus with the proposed planned general increase in population of which a large proportion are going to be in the older age group the demand will surely increase.  There was also concern expressed in regard to residential care places and also care in the community facilities. These are likely to become increasingly inadequate as the population ages and increases.

It was agreed that this would constitute a summarised response from the Council to the LDF.

 129/11 Report from Web Site Working Group

Cllr Jeffree again reported that domain names have been registered. Some suggestions were put forward for content pages e.g. lych gate picture. Cllr Jeffree would consider requirements and also head up working party to progress website.  It was agreed that it would be a good thing to have a specific website for the Council. Put item on next agenda for further update.

 130/11 Standing Orders

It was agreed that these would go on the agenda for the next meeting.

131/11 Items for next Agenda

 Parish Plan, Precept, Standing Orders, Website working party, Queen’s diamond Jubilee and dates of forthcoming meetings.

132/11 Review meeting dates

 Meetings have been set for 19th January and 8th March 2012. Further meetings will need to be arranged at the next meeting.

133/11 Administration issues within the Parish Council.

 A discussion was held around administration issues and it was resolved that the Council would be working to follow best practice in relation to administration as recommended by HALC and outlined in Quality Council documentation.

The meeting closed at 10.00 pm