MINUTES OF RICHARDS CASTLE (HEREFORDSHIRE) PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD AT THE VILLAGE HALL AT 7.30 PM ON THURSDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2016
PRESENT Mr S Broom (Chairman); Mr A Davies; Mr P Owen; and Mr S Greetham.
IN ATTENDANCE Ward Cllr. S Bowen; and Mr R Hewitt, Clerk. There were four members of the public present.
16/62 Apologies for absence – Cllr. T Evans. The Chairman asked the meeting to note that Mrs R Thomas (Vice Chairman) and Mr W Hall have resigned as councillors. Both were thanked for their service, particularly Mrs Thomas who has served the local community as a councillor for many years.
16/63 Declarations of Interest and requests for Dispensation – None.
16/64 Minutes of the previous meetings – The minutes of the meetings held on 28 July and 1 September 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.
16/65 Election of Vice Chairman – Cllr. P Owen was elected unanimously to the position of Vice Chairman.
16/66 To invite views and discussion from members of the parish – A member of the public asked about the oak tree on the Green. The Chairman said the lengthsman’s tree surgeon has looked at the tree and it will require a 30 percent reduction in the crown. Apparently, the oak tree was planted to mark the Coronation of Queen Victoria.
A member of the public asked about the sign to designate Post Office Lane, and requested a mirror opposite to help vehicles see oncoming traffic on the B4361. Ward Cllr. Bowen indicated that mirrors are discouraged by highways. The parish council agreed to ask the highways authority whether a suitable road mirror was possible.
16/67 Neighbourhood development plan – The meeting noted that the steering group is working with Data Orchard and Herefordshire Council to finalise the HRA, SEA, policy maps, basic condition statement and consultation statement as directed by the parish council on 1 September 2016. Submission to Herefordshire Council for Regulation 16 public consultation is on track for October 2016. The parish council agreed that the Regulation 16 public consultation undertaken by Herefordshire Council will be highlighted on noticeboards, in Castle News and on the neighbourhood plan website.
16/68 Financial items
a) The following payments were agreed: Boy Thorne Garden Services, churchyard maintenance (£287.00); the Clerk, expenses April-September 2016 (£115.48); HMRC, PAYE for the period to 5 October 2016 (£80.80); the Clerk, wages July-September 2016 (£323.36); Hitrees, lengthsman (£370.80); and HALC, website (£36.00).
b) Financial overview re: event to mark the Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen – The meeting noted the report provided by the Parochial Church Council.
c) Quotation for work on oak tree on the Green – The parish council agreed to ask the lengthsman’s tree surgeon to reduce the crown of the oak tree on the Green at a cost of £450.00 plus VAT. It was noted that a local landowner and neighbour have kindly agreed to provide two thirds of this cost. The parish council decided to contribute one third of the cost as the lengthsman maintains the verges of the Green, and historically is believed to have cut the grass on the Green. The Chairman and Cllr. Davies kindly agreed to remove the wood from the ground once it has been cut, in order to try and reduce the cost of the work.
d) External audit: Notice of conclusion and external auditor certificate and report – The Clerk reported that the 2015-16 audit has been completed. The external auditor’s certificate and report highlights the need to have a separate minute reference for the annual governance statement and accounting statements in future years.
e) Automatic enrolment and declaration of compliance – The meeting noted the Clerk will complete the declaration of compliance for automatic enrolment by 1 December 2016.
16/69 Reports from parish councillor representatives and Report from the Herefordshire Ward Councillor for Bircher
a) Appoint representative to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and Village Hall. The Chairman kindly agreed to be the village hall representative. A PCC representative will be appointed at the next meeting.
b) Neighbourhood Plan: Report provided under 16/67.
c) Footpaths: Cllr. Davies reported that the footpath from Post Office Lane to Goodwins Field may be too narrow. A footpaths representative will be appointed at the next meeting.
d) Lengthsman: A lengthsman representative will be appointed at the next meeting.
e) Highways: Cllr. Greetham reported on a meeting with the locality steward and proposed a campaign to encourage Balfour Beatty to prioritise the resurfacing of Castle Road and Orchard Rise. The parish council agreed to support the proposed campaign. Cllr. Greetham said he will write an article for Castle News asking local people to report the road defects and to support a formal complaint to Balfour Beatty about the condition of the roads.
Ward Cllr. Bowen reported that all 11 libraries in the county will be maintained. The chief financial officer has resigned. A four year financial structure has been agreed with the government. Sixty million pounds has been saved to date, and a further £28 million is required by 2020. Business rates will be a key source of funding local government by 2020, however small businesses will not be required to pay business rates, which will lead to a shortfall in Herefordshire. There will need to be some form of re-distribution to take account of this. Full membership of the West Midlands Combined Authority is under consideration.
16/70 Village gates on B4361 on the Orleton side of the village – The meeting considered an email from Balfour Beatty which estimated the cost of a village gate at £2,000-3,000. It was agreed to request a site visit with Balfour Beatty to identify the exact location, options for road markings, and confirm what can be done by the parish council and what needs to be done by Balfour Beatty. A budget of up to £200.00 was agreed to fund initial work by Balfour Beatty.
16/71 ‘Children Crossing’ sign near the Bury – The parish council noted that Balfour Beatty has said they “would not provide this type of sign for the purposes mentioned. There needs to be frequent movement of numerous school children to make the sign effective, which would become ignored if this was not the case.” Balfour Beatty has advised relocating the stop to “make it safer and more visible to other road users”. The parish council agreed to contact the person who requested the ‘Children Crossing’ sign, to let them know the response from the highways authority.
16/72 Request for road sign and/ or mirror at Post Office Lane – The meeting agreed to confirm whether the owner of the wall at the entrance to Post Office Lane is willing to host the proposed sign. Balfour Beatty will be approached to request a highways mirror is located opposite Post Office Lane on the B4361.
16/73 Damaged planter – The meeting agreed no action is required until the location of the proposed village gate is confirmed with Balfour Beatty.
16/74 Herefordshire Council consultations – The parish council completed questionnaires for the bus and community transport consultation and 2017-18 budget consultation. The new standards procedure was noted.
16/75 Complaints procedure and draft model financial regulations – The parish council agreed unanimously and without amendment to adopt the proposed complaints procedure and financial regulations.
16/76 Clerk’s Report – The notice of casual vacancy following the resignation of Mrs Thomas has been posted on the noticeboard. If there is no request for an election by 6 October 2016 the parish council will be able to co-opt at the next meeting. The resignation of Mr Hall will be reported to Electoral Services shortly and a further notice of casual vacancy will be required. The Clerk held a meeting with the webmaster of the neighbourhood plan website. Planning decisions will no longer be emailed to the Clerk by Herefordshire Council. Herefordshire Council is hosting a Planning Update for parish councillors on 6 October 2016. Balfour Beatty is hosting a parish briefing 11 October 2016.
16/77 Planning – There were no planning decisions by Herefordshire Council to report since the last meeting.
16/78 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – There were no matters raised.
16/79 The next meeting will be on Thursday, 1 December 2016. The meeting closed at 9.24 pm.