Minutes – 14 January 2021


PRESENT Mr R Alden (Chairman); Ms L Allwright; Ms L Munn; Mr M Ayres; Mr P Enzer; and Ward Cllr. Bowen (Vice Chairman).

IN ATTENDANCE Mr R Hewitt, Clerk. No members of the public were present.

20/109 Apologies – None.

20/110 Co-opt a new member to the parish council – Deferred.

20/111 Declarations of Members Interest and Requests for Dispensation – None.

20/112 Minutes of the previous meetings – The minutes of the meetings held on 26 November and 15 December 2020 were agreed.

20/113 Report from the Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward
Ward Cllr. Bowen reported on the appointment process for a new chief executive. The budget for 2021-22 anticipates a 4.99 percent increase in Council Tax. Parish councils may be asked to take on more, but with no additional funding. A decision on the waste strategy has been postponed to July 2021. The western bypass is likely to be axed. It is a difficult time of year for programmed repairs/ resurfacing of roads because of the winter weather. Ward Cllr. Bowen asked to be informed of problems and defects with roads in the parish.

20/114 To invite views and discussion from members of the parish
There were no matters raised.

20/115 Clerk’s Report
Herefordshire Council has granted planning permission for 202751 Land to north of Westbrook House. The 2021-22 precept request has been submitted to Herefordshire Council and the budget for the 2021-22 financial year is available to view on the parish council website. The drainage grant contract has been returned to Balfour Beatty. SID data from the deployment in October-November 2020 has been posted on the parish council website and shared with the Safer Roads Partnership.

20/116 Financial Items
The following payments were agreed: D C Gardening Services, lengthsman (£720.00); Smartwater Technology, 110 Smartwater kits (£875.76); P Enzer, expenses for community Smartwater letter (£31.18); and the Clerk, wages January 2021 (£327.80).

20/117 Footpaths
The Chairman reported on planned footpath work, including repair of a broken rail. A new kissing gate (cost approx. £240.00) will be purchased to replace the wooden stile off Orchard Rise.

20/118 Highway/ Lengthsman
Cllr. P Enzer, lengthsman coordinator, reported on the work being done by the lengthsman under the drainage grant, and recent work on Castle Road. Sumps have been cleared. Balfour Beatty have been asked to renew the white lining/ red tarmac at the entrance to the village on the B4361. Balfour Beatty will be asked about the schedule for mowing public land on Orchard Rise.

Drainage at Rock crossroads is an ongoing issue. The sump has been cleared out, but the underlying problem is that the pipe under the road is 6 inches and is fed by a 12-inch pipe. Ward Cllr. Bowen said a 12-inch pipe under the road will be requested from Balfour Beatty.

20/119 Village gates on B4361
The Clerk reported that Balfour Beatty have advised that the minimum width that the gates can be placed from the side of the carriageway is 45cm. The width of the gates was then reconsidered, and it was agreed to request an update to the quotation as follows: two village gates with dimensions of 50cm (W) x 1 metre (H) and a single gate with dimensions of 60cm (W) x 1 metre (H). Balfour Beatty has been asked to quote for the installation of the gates, and the lengthsman will be asked to quote for installation as well. The installation contractor introduced by the supplier of the gates is no longer available to do the work.

20/120 Smartwater
Due to the new lock down a Smartwater registration event at the village hall is unlikely to be achievable in the near term. A proposal to wait until lock down has eased was not supported as this was thought to make it unlikely that 70 percent of the kits will be registered in time to obtain Smartwater village signs from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office. The parish council agreed to offer Smartwater kits to residents directly and invite requests for registration which will then be fulfilled by the Clerk and the kits posted. Cllr. Allwright kindly agreed to publicise the availability of the kits on the village Facebook page.

Local people will be invited to register via the parish council website and a notice in Castle News which will include a registration form. A proposal to hand deliver a further mail shot to households in the parish was considered. The Clerk advised the parish council that hand delivery of a letter might contravene lock down guidance and recommended that it should not be undertaken. The parish council noted the recommendation and agreed to proceed with a hand delivered letter to invite residents to register for a Smartwater kit.

20/121 Sandbags
The Clerk reported that the village hall committee can hold lightweight ‘sandless’ sandbags for the benefit of the community at the hall, but not traditional sandbags. If traditional sandbags are required, they will need to be stored at an alternative location. The cost of lightweight ‘sandless’ sandbags was noted. The parish council decided to defer the matter to the next financial year, which begins in April 2021.

20/122 HALC training programme – Noted.

20/123 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – No matters for consideration were raised.

20/124 Date of next meeting – The next scheduled meeting will be on Thursday 25 February 2021 and will be held online.

The meeting closed at 9.13pm.