MINUTES OF RICHARDS CASTLE (HEREFORDSHIRE) PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD AT THE VILLAGE HALL AT 7.30 PM ON THURSDAY 25 JANUARY 2018
PRESENT Mr P Owen (Chairman); Ms L Munn; Mr A Davies; Mr S Greetham (Vice Chairman); and Mr R Alden.
IN ATTENDANCE Ward Cllr. B Durkin, Cabinet member Transport and Regulatory; Mr C Hall, Head of Highways and Community Services; Mr P Crumpton, Rural Crime Prevention Officer, West Mercia Police; Ward Cllr. S Bowen; and Mr R Hewitt, Clerk.
There were no members of the public present.
17/109 Apologies for absence – None.
17/110 Co-opt two new members – Postponed to the next meeting.
17/111 Declarations of Interest and Requests for Dispensation – None.
17/112 Minutes of the previous meeting – The minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.
17/113 Maintenance of roads and community commissioning
Ward Cllr. B Durkin, Cabinet Member, Transport and Regulatory; and Mr Clive Hall, Head of Highways and Community Services provided an overview of the challenges faced by Herefordshire Council in maintaining 2,000 miles of roads and hundreds of bridges on tight and diminishing budgets.
Herefordshire is the fourth least populated county in the country with the second longest network of roads. A budget of £100 million will bring the roads up to standard, however, in 2017-18 funding from Herefordshire Council is just £6 million though additional funding has been obtained from government as well.
According to Mr Hall, Herefordshire Council’s main criteria is to keep the roads safe, aided locally by work contributed by the parish council through the lengthsman scheme. Due to the financial environment, this means defects are more often repaired than the road is resurfaced.
Parish councillors asked for solutions, which led to discussion of a new ‘Community Commissioning Model’, which is set to be available to parishes from April 2018. It is effectively a self funding approach to resolve local highways issues and concerns.
The Vice Chairman thanked Ward Cllr. Durkin and Mr Hall for their perspective, and for reviewing the local roads earlier in the day with Ward Cllr. Bowen.[Ward Cllr. Durkin and Mr Hall left the meeting.]
17/114 Crime reduction measures, including ‘Stop that Thief’
[Ward Cllr. Bowen joined the meeting.]
Mr Paul Crumpton, Rural Crime Prevention Officer, West Mercia Police provided an overview of measures to deter rural crime, including ‘Stop that Thief’. There is an opportunity to introduce a scheme in Richards Castle at no cost to the parish.[Cllr. P Owen (Chairman), joined the meeting.]
Mr Crumpton said social media has helped in the recovery of stolen property, and also underpins many Neighbourhood Watch schemes, though it is not suitable for all areas.
The Vice Chairman thanked Mr Crumpton, and an invitation was extended to talk about rural crime at the Annual Parish Meeting on 22 May 2018.
17/115 Report from Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward – Ward Cllr. Bowen said the roads should benefit from the availability of £8 million from a former highways contractor once the new financial year starts in April 2018. Council Tax is likely to increase by 4.9 percent. Funding for schools and social care is ring fenced. Government is likely to provide financial support for the Hereford bypass which will shortly go out for consultation on a proposed western route from Holmer to the A465 / A49 at Rotherwas.
The sale of the county smallholdings has raised about £45 million. There have been no evictions of existing tenants who have all found new opportunities or jobs. The Quarry Farm shop is set to continue. The funds raised from the sale should be invested in new income generating assets such as student accommodation for the new university, industrial estates and affordable housing.
The full impact of the Edgar Street link road has yet to be assessed. The area around the football stadium is likely to be developed. The stadium will stay put however.
A decision on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposal to take on responsibility for the fire service is expected soon. The sale of the historic ‘AB1’ numberplate by the Police and Crime Commissioner will be looked at by the Police and Crime Panel. The police precept is set to increase by 4 percent which will add £7.80 to share borne by a band D property.
Hillside in Hereford is to close, which will release staff to help care for more people in their homes. Up to six new staff will be hired for this purpose as well. The initiative needs to demonstrate that it works effectively and delivers the appropriate levels of care required.
The Good Neighbour schemes in Yarpole, Orleton and Luston are providing very helpful local support for people. The help provided is not intended to replace existing services. It was agreed to look at how Good Neighbour schemes work in more detail, and invite members of the Yarpole scheme to talk about how it works.
Statistics on the use of the 490 bus service are expected to be available soon. Ward Cllr. Bowen said the service is being well used, with numbers up on previous years. Leisure centres are holding exercise classes for people who have had heart attacks. The Director of Social Services is leaving for a new role.
In response to members’ questions, Ward Cllr. Bowen said that a somewhat opaque report has been provided on the Blueschool House overspend. There is no hint of what new systems have been put in place. In response to a report that the 490 service was reduced over the holiday period in December 2017, Ward Cllr. Bowen kindly said he would look into the matter
17/116 Views and discussion from members of the parish – There were no members of the public present.
174428 Bank Cottage, Richards Castle, SY8 4EL – Proposed extension and alterations to dwelling and annex. The planning application was supported.
Update on planning decisions/ enforcement by Herefordshire Council: 174040 March Hare Cottage (planning permission); 173538 and 173539 Old Church Cottage (planning permission and listed building consent).
17/118 Financial Items
a) The following payments were agreed: Clerk, defibrillator pads (£40.08); Morelock Signs Ltd, village signs x2 (£81.70); Herefordshire Council, 490 bus service (£750.00); R Mills, enhanced lengthsman (£451.50); and Hitrees, plant new tree at Orchard Rise (£120.00);
b) Lengthsman and footpaths schemes in 2018-19 – It was agreed to submit an expression of interest in line with the provision made in the precept.
c) Woodhouse Lane signs x2 for Rock crossroads signpost – The meeting noted the lengthsman is finding it difficult to find the appropriate square brackets to add the new signs. The plan is to renovate the signs and signpost, and attach the new ‘Woodhouse Lane’ signs at the same time. To do this the signpost will need to be taken down and removed for 2-3 days. This will be done once the square bracket question has been resolved.
d) Transparency code application – HALC has advised applying for a parish laptop as it would remove the need to share the Shropshire parish laptop, and simplify the implementation of the new General Data Protection Regulations which are due to be implemented in May 2018. It was agreed to make an application for £112.80 of funding for Office software.
e) External auditor appointment – The appointment of PKF Littlejohn was noted and members were asked to consider whether there may be a potential conflict of interest relating to the appointment. The Clerk reported on a webinar held by PKF Littlejohn on the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for 2017-18. The parish council is minded to complete Part 2 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2017/18 subject to being in accordance with the criteria.
17/119 New tree at Orchard Rise – Consideration of event to mark the planting of the tree was postponed to the next meeting.
17/120 Annual Parish Meeting, 22 May 2018 – It was agreed to invite two guest speakers to the Annual Parish Meeting: the Crime Prevention Officer, West Mercia Police; and representative(s) of the Yarpole Good Neighbour scheme. The meeting will be held in the Jubilee Room, and the WI invited to help provide refreshments. A budget of up to £50.00 was agreed. A notice publicising the meeting and guest speakers will be submitted to Castle News once the guest speakers are confirmed.
17/121 Grit bins, snow, and advice from Balfour Beatty – A notice was agreed for submission to Castle News, asking local people to take care not to clear snow from their driveways on to the pavement, and to remind people that grit is for use by the public on roads, pedestrian areas and pavements only and is not for private use.
17/122 Measures to reduce speeding – Cllr. Munn reported on the meeting with West Mercia’s traffic management advisor in December 2018. A suggestion was made to request a ‘pedestrians in road sign’ to place either side of the hill on the B4361 through the village. It was noted that a local resident and special constable is intending to look at options to address speeding. It was agreed to take no further action for the time being.
17/123 Reports from parish councillor representatives
a) Parochial Church Council: Cllr. Munn reported that contact has been made with the new vicar.
b) Footpaths: Cllr. Alden said the footpaths are generally in good condition. A new stile is to be installed by Spout House Farm.
c) Lengthsman: The Vice Chairman said the small budget left to 31 March 2018 will be focused on Castle Road and Orchard Rise.
d) Highways: The roads were discussed under item 17/113.
e) Village Hall: There was no update.
17/124 Consultation on Wigmore Group neighbourhood development plan (Regulation 14) – Noted.
17/125 Frequency of parish council meetings – It was agreed to keep the same frequency of scheduled meetings. From time to time extraordinary meetings may be called in line with the parish council’s standing orders to consider planning applications and other matters which have a deadline that falls before the next scheduled meeting.
17/126 Clerk’s Report – The Clerk attended a meeting on 1 December 2017 at Herefordshire Council for parishes with an adopted neighbourhood development plan. Given the variety and range of policies in neighbourhood plans across the county it is important to make appropriate references when commenting on planning applications. Severn Trent Water will be undertaking works for 12 weeks from 12 February 2018, and held a consultation evening in January 2018 for local residents. The information letter has been posted on noticeboards and on the parish website news page. Contact details for members have been updated in Castle News. The precept for 2018-19 has been submitted to Herefordshire Council. Boxes of parish council documents have been handed to the Chairman.
17/127 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – Meetings 2018-19, tree at Orchard Rise, and planning the Annual Parish Meeting on 22 May 2018.
17/128 The next meeting will be at 7.30pm on Thursday 22 March 2018. The meeting closed at