Minutes – 23 November 2017


PRESENT Mr P Owen (Chairman); Ms L Munn; Mr A Davies; Mr S Greetham (Vice Chairman); and Mr R Alden.

IN ATTENDANCE Ward Cllr. S Bowen; and Mr R Hewitt, Clerk. There were six members of the public present.

17/87 Apologies for absence – None.

17/88 Co-opt two new members – Postponed to the next meeting.

17/89 Declarations of Interest and Requests for Dispensation – Cllr. A Davies declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in planning application 174040 March Hare Cottage.

17/90 Election of Vice Chairman – Cllr. S Greetham was unanimously elected Vice Chairman.

17/91 Minutes of the previous meeting – The minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

17/92 Planning
[Cllr. A Davies left the meeting.]

174040 March Hare Cottage, Richards Castle, SY8 4EL. Application to vary condition 2 and remove condition 3 of planning permission P142746/F. Several members of the public present spoke against the planning application.

The parish council resolved to oppose the planning application on grounds of traffic, impact on neighbouring properties, and concern that the built form is contrary to planning permission granted under 142746, and comment that:

Because the property that the annexe is to have been ancillary to under 142746 has since been sold (High Bank Cottage), access to the annexe/ holiday cottage is now around two sides of a neighbouring private property. The parish council considers this access will cause undue traffic generation, noise, disturbance and loss of privacy to High Bank Cottage. In addition, access to the B4361 is very dangerous at this point, and the parish council believes strongly that no additional traffic should be encouraged though planning.

The parish council understands that the topography of the land on which the annexe is currently being built has been altered due to the construction of a neighbouring property on the same plot by the vendors. Excess soil from the foundations of the new property is believed to have been placed on the site where the annexe is now being built, with the result that it is significantly higher, and more imposing, than would have been the case. Also, the built form of the annexe now includes a mezzanine floor, which has raised the height of the walls and roof line, which means it is no longer the single storey building that received planning permission under 142746. Taken together, the increased height of the annexe is unacceptably imposing given the already challenging topography of the site.

Given these concerns, Richards Castle Parish Council opposes the planning application and urges that the planning authority reviews how the private sale of High Bank Cottage has altered the impact of the annexe on neighbouring properties, and how this has been exacerbated by the increased height of the built form of the annexe for the reasons set out above.

It is more than a regularisation of the original permission, and for that reason Condition 2 in planning permission 142746 should stand, and “The development carried out strictly in accordance with the plans…”. Proper weight should be given to the fact that boundary changes made since planning permission mean that the access will now significantly disturb the neighbours.

[Cllr. A Davies rejoined the meeting.]

17/93 Views and discussion from members of the parish – A member of the public was concerned at the speed of traffic on the B4361 through the village. The Chairman said the parish council is looking at further options to address speeding with the traffic advisor for West Mercia Police. Ward Cllr. Bowen said he will request a report from Herefordshire Council/ Balfour Beatty on the matter.

17/94 Report from Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward – Ward Cllr. Bowen said the ambulance service is rated top in the country. There is a paramedic on every ambulance, the target call out time is 7 minutes, and 4×4 emergency vehicles are available to the service. Prevention is becoming more important. There is to be more home based care to help people stay in their own homes. In February 2018, 22 beds will be closed at Hillside in Hereford, which will help to deliver the home based care.

A recent Balfour Beatty briefing at their Kingsland depot was positive given the financial constraints. Up to date methods are being used, potholes remain a problem. There have been 4-5 gritting runs so far this winter. General Scrutiny will be looking at the maintenance of the roads by Balfour Beatty in January 2018.

Ward Cllr. Bowen has asked for an overview of traffic movements in north west Herefordshire in order to devise better and safer routes, particularly for heavy goods vehicles. A mini roundabout has been proposed for the Lawton Cross junction, though since new signs were put in, there have been no reported accidents.

Herefordshire Council has been asked to be the ‘accountable body’ for the new university. A fee would be received for this. Scrutiny will be examining what this means and making a recommendation on the proposal shortly. It will be important to use the funds raised from the sale of the county smallholdings to invest in a new income generating asset such as student accommodation for the university by the new link road.

There will be no basic grant funding by government by 2020. Business rates are likely to be increasingly important. There is a proposal to pool business rates for Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire, and Herefordshire.

17/95 Financial Items
a) The following payments were agreed: Boy Thorne Garden Services, churchyard maintenance (£144.50); Defib Pad (Safelincs), defibrillator battery (£241.79); HMRC, PAYE for period to 5 January 2017 (£81.60); Clerk, expenses April-November 2017 (£165.82); Clerk, wages, Q3, 2017-18 (£326.61); and HALC, in-house training, 19 Sept. 2017 (£204.30). Richards Castle (Shropshire) will be approached to request that the cost of the defibrillator battery is split equally between the parishes.
b) Planter to mark entrance to the village – The meeting considered a proposal from Cllr. Greetham to locate one new planter to the south of the village on the B4362. It will be located 50 centimetres from the edge of the road. A budget up to £100.00 was agreed. Cllr. Greetham kindly offered to source the planter. It was noted that Balfour Beatty has yet to respond to the request for a cultivation licence.
c) Rock crossroads signpost and new village signs – A budget of £244.00 was agreed for the repair and cleaning of the Rock crossroads signpost by the enhanced lengthsman. It was agreed to add two signs for ‘Woodhouse Lane’ in order to help direct local deliveries – the new signs will be similar in design and colour to the existing signs and the lettering placed over two lines. The cost of the new Woodhouse Lane signs will be agreed at the next meeting.

It was agreed to purchase two new village signs at a cost of £68.08 which will be installed on the existing 30 mph posts to the south of the village on the B4361. The wording will be: ‘Richard’s Castle Please drive carefully’, and the signs put up by the enhanced lengthsman.
d) Authorisation of payments to the footpaths contractor between parish council meetings – The Clerk was delegated to make payments to the footpaths contractor provided the total cost is no more than £300.00. All payments authorised in this way will be reported to the parish council at the next meeting following the payment.
e) To consider advice from HALC re: transparency code grant application – The advice to maintain separate computers for each Richards Castle parish council was noted. Currently, the parishes share a single laptop purchased by Shropshire with a transparency code grant. The parish council felt it was not necessary to have an additional laptop as each computer would require maintaining, and if one was purchased to hold in reserve it would quickly become obsolete given the dynamics of the computer industry. The Clerk was asked to obtain a cost for Microsoft Office and complete a Transparency Code grant application for the next meeting.
f) Review accounts and consider the 2018-19 precept – The current financial year 2017-18 was reviewed. The precept for 2018-19 was set at £6,850.00, up from £5,100.00. The increase will pay for the lengthsman (£1,500.00), and help prepare for new data protection regulations which come into force in May 2018 (£500.00).

17/96 Cabinet member response to the highways petition – A letter responding to the roads petition from the cabinet member for roads and transport was reviewed. It was agreed to publish the letter on the website and to take up the offer to “meet to provide any further explanation that may be required and to set out how the Community Commissioning Model might be utilised by the Parish to invest in the condition of these roads that are clearly a matter of local concern”. The cabinet member will be invited to the next meeting of the parish council, and also to review the roads at an appropriate site meeting in daylight.

17/97 Seasonal event to mark planting of the new tree at Orchard Rise – The work is scheduled for the week beginning 4 December 2017. An event to mark the new tree will be considered in 2018.

17/98 Options to address speeding through the village – West Mercia’s traffic management advisor has offered to meet in the village to review the options to address speeding. Cllrs. Munn, Greetham and Alden agreed to meet during daylight hours. Suggestions and recommendations from the site meeting will be brought to the next parish council meeting.

17/99 Reports from parish councillor representatives
a) Parochial Church Council (PCC): Cllr. Munn said there is a new vicar, and contact is expected to be made soon.
b) Footpaths: Cllr. Alden said reported that all footpaths and bridleways have now been walked, inspected and many remedial repairs and way marking undertaken. There is still ongoing maintenance, and a few posts with markers will be replaced this winter. A summer Parish Walk is planned in conjunction with the 2018 Herefordshire Walking Festival. A brief summary paper on the recently issued Herefordshire County Council ‘Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2017-2027 has been prepared. The key message is to keep open and well maintained the PROW network for all to enjoy.
c) Highways: Cllr. Greetham raised a concern at a recent pothole repair carried out near Kington, and it was agreed to make a formal complaint to Balfour Beatty. A meeting will be requested by Ward Cllr. Bowen.

d) Lengthsman: There was no report.
e) Village hall: There was no report.

17/100 Parish council communications – Cllr. Alden kindly offered to draft the next Parish Council article for publication in Castle News.

17/101 Boundary Commission consultation on revised proposals for West Midland Constituency boundaries – The matter was not considered.

17/102 Herefordshire Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan – Cllr. Alden provided a summary in the footpaths report under 17/99.

17/103 Herefordshire Local Plan, Travellers Sites Development Plan Document Pre- Submission Consultation – The matter was not considered.

17/104 Neighbourhood Planning event for Parishes with an adopted NDP – The matter was not considered.

17/105 Dates for next parish council meetings in February and April 2018 – The following meeting dates were agreed: 25 January, 22 March and 24 May 2018 (Annual Meeting). The Annual Parish Meeting will be held jointly with Richards Castle (Shropshire) Parish Council on 22 May 2018.

17/106 Clerk’s Report – Postponed to next meeting.

17/107 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – Annual Parish Meeting on 22 May 2018.

17/108 The next meeting will be at 7.30pm on Thursday 25 January 2018.

The meeting closed at 10.05 pm.