Minutes – 24 June 2021


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

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

21/37 Apologies – Ms L Allwright.

21/38 Co-opt to vacancy on the parish council – Deferred.

21/39 Declarations of Members Interest and Requests for Dispensation – None.

21/40 Minutes of the previous meeting – The minutes of the annual meeting held on 27 May 2021 were agreed to be a true record.

21/41 Report from the Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward
Ward Cllr. Bowen reported that the locality steward will sort the gully defect at Rock crossroads. The roads are a deteriorating asset at present. In 2021-22 70 percent of spend will be on highway drainage. In the opinion of Cllr. Bowen funds should be borrowed by the county to fund road improvements. Allegations of environmental crime should be reported to the police to investigate, and this will be raised at the police and crime panel. The Knife Angel is on display at Hereford. Armed Forces Day was held outside the cathedral. Children’s services are being heavily monitored.

21/42 To invite views and discussion from members of the parish
Concern was raised at the removal of a hedgerow along the B4361 just across the county boundary, and the impact on dormouse habitats. Several members of the public spoke against planning application 211632 Field to north of Westbrook House.

21/43 Planning
211632 Field to north of Westbrook House, Richards Castle – Application for Technical Details Consent for proposed variation of condition 2 of planning permission 202751 to allow changes to plots 7, 8 and 9 for a double garage attached to the associated dwelling with a home office space in the garage roof space and a sun room added to the rear and minor changes to other plots.

The parish council objected to the proposed variation for the following reasons:
• Increasing the footprint of three of the properties means the density of development is increased unacceptably, particularly given the prominent, gateway location of the site;
• The impact of the increased footprint of development on drainage provision has not been provided. Recent groundwork at the site has created a bank which has reportedly affected surface water run off. A proper assessment needs to be made of the impact of this bank and the proposed variation, and additional measures looked at to ensure neighbouring properties are not adversely affected. For example, the parish council would like to see any run off caused by the development diverted past the bungalow;
• The variation proposes to build three double height garages with a room above, which will require deeper and more extensive foundations, with a strong likelihood of damage to the root systems of retained trees. As with the drainage this appears not to have been assessed;
• The inclusion of three garden rooms will lead to a loss of privacy as the significant increase in fenestration will allow neighbouring properties to be overlooked;
• The garden rooms will reduce the size of the individual plots considerably leading to inadequate gardens for the size of property, particularly for plots 7 and 8; and
• Highway access remains of great concern. While the existing hedgerows adjoining the B4361 at the site have now been removed (reportedly during the bird nesting season and at great cost to the formerly thriving natural habitat and ecosystem), the line of sight towards the south on the B4361 is still shown as running though the hedgerow of the neighbouring property. This will cause an ongoing highway safety issue at a location with an acknowledged speeding problem that needs to be addressed fully.

The parish council is concerned that the development has fundamental weaknesses and respectfully requests an independent design review is undertaken to assess and improve the design of the residential development (NPPF, para. 62).

21/44 Clerk’s Report
A summary of speed data from the May deployment of the SIDs was noted. The SIDs have been shipped to the manufacturer to be retrofitted with solar panels, which should enable full 4-week quarterly periods of deployment. An email has been received from two members of the public in support of a children’s playground. The village gates have been made and shipped to Balfour Beatty at Rotherwas ready for installation. A neighbouring parish has expressed interest in the ‘We don’t buy crime’ signs and have been referred to West Mercia Police. The alternative quotation requested for parish council insurance was based on two policies and was consequently more expensive.

21/45 Financial Items
a) Annual Governance Statement – Approved.
b) Accounting Statement 2020-21 and Certificate of Exemption – Approved.
c) The following payments were approved: K Adams, internal audit 2020-21 (£100.00); DC Gardening Services, SID deployment (£36.00); JACS, village gates x3 (£1,414.32); Clerk, wages June 2021; and HMRC, PAYE to 5 July 2021 (£245.80).
d) Large poppies to mark Remembrance Sunday – It was agreed to purchase 20 in preparation for November 2021.

21/46 Appointment of footpath contractor to undertake work under the P3 footpaths scheme
The parish council noted the resignation of the footpaths contractor and asked the Clerk to write to acknowledge many years of excellent work. It was agreed to appoint a new local contractor, Castle Digging Solutions, subject to confirmation of insurance and streetworks certification.

21/47 Appointment of an additional lengthsman
The parish council felt that a second lengthsman was not necessary and agreed to take no further action.

21/48 Children’s playground
The parish council agreed to form a working group for this purpose and to encourage participation by interested members of the public. Richards Castle (Shropshire) Parish Council will be invited to form a working group to enable a joint approach.

21/49 Footpaths
The Chairman reported on several repairs that need to be done once the paperwork for the new contractor has been completed.

21/50 Highway/ Lengthsman
Cllr. Enzer informed the meeting that he will be unable to fulfil the role of lengthsman coordinator for a few months. Cllr. Ayres kindly volunteered to be lengthsman coordinator on a temporary basis.

An article on roadside and hedge management drafted by Cllr. Enzer was agreed and will be submitted to Castle News for the September 2021 issue. The Clerk was asked to facilitate a meeting with Herefordshire Council, the highway authority, to discuss highway improvements on the B4361 to improve safety and encourage drivers to observe the speed limit.

21/51 The Queen’s Green Canopy in Herefordshire
Deferred pending availability of land to plant trees. Members were asked to raise awareness
of the Queen’s Green Canopy informally. The initiative will be considered at the next

21/52 Police and Crime Commissioner Town and Parish Council Survey
The Clerk was delegated to complete the survey on behalf of the parish council.

21/53 Local Policing Community Charter
The proposed ‘contact contract’ as set out by the Safer Neighbourhood Team was supported.
The following issues should be considered the top policing priorities, speeding and road safety. Speeding is a problem on the B4361 on the 30mph section through the village. There is a blind summit and the road is used by pedestrians, for example at the time of the school bus, and horses. Road safety is a related issue as set out above.

21/54 Boundary Commission consultation on initial proposals for new constituencies
The consultation was noted.

21/55 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – None.

21/56 Date of next meeting – The next meeting will be on Thursday 29 July 2021 and will be held at an appropriate location in line with NALC guidance and government regulations and advice that may apply at the time.

The meeting closed at 9.15pm.