Minutes – 25 March 2021


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

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

20/141 Apologies – Mr M Ayres.

20/142 Vacancy on the parish council – A notice will be submitted to Castle News to publicise the vacancy together with an insight into the experience of being a councillor. Cllr. Allwright kindly agreed to provide some words on what it is like being a councillor.

20/143 Declarations of Members Interest and Requests for Dispensation – None.

20/144 Minutes of the previous meeting – The minutes of the meeting held on 25 February 2021 were amended to include reference to the grassed areas by Green Farm and Springfield (20/136). With this amendment the minutes were agreed to be a true record.

20/145 Report from the Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward
Ward Cllr. Bowen reported that the suggestion of a grate on private land has been raised with a landowner by Rock crossroads to help keep the nearby highway drain clear of debris. Balfour Beatty has been asked to respond to the parish council’s gateway licence enquiry. Fibre broadband installation on Bircher Common has reduced areas which have been used by some visitors, however parking is not a right and access to the common is as usual. The Fownhope road is to open following extensive work required to repair damage caused by a landslip. There has been limited support from government for the cost, and a request has been made for the Bellwin scheme to be amended for the future. There is a new High Sheriff for Herefordshire, Mrs Joanna Hilditch. Ward Cllr. Bowen thanked the outgoing Sheriff for their service to the county.

20/146 To invite views and discussion from members of the parish
There were no matters raised.

20/147 Report on All Saints Church’s move to festival church status
The Chairman reported that All Saints now has festival church status. There will be six services per year. A faculty has been submitted to remove pews in the south aisle. The intention is to use the church for public recitals and other events which can benefit from its superb acoustics and performance space.

20/148 Clerk’s Report
The default submission deadline for the annual return 2020-21 is 2 July 2021. The parish council’s insurance brokers have sent a renewal risk presentation. Equipment insured will need to be updated to include village gates. A note has been submitted to Castle News showing grassed areas cut by Herefordshire Council on Orchard Rise. A single cut of verges by Balfour Beatty has been requested for 2021. An update from Herefordshire Council on neighbourhood development plans in the Lugg catchment area was noted. Herefordshire Council is hosting a virtual PC summit on 30 March 2021.

20/149 Planning
210690 Land adjacent to Mapps Place, Richards Castle, SY8 4EL – Proposed outdoor riding arena for domestic use only, sand and fibre riding surface enclosed by a timber post and rail fence. The planning application was supported.

20/150 Financial Items
The following payments were agreed: Clerk, office/ admin. costs, 2019-20 (£234.20); Clerk, wages March 2021 (£328.00); and HMRC, PAYE to 5 April 2021 (£245.80). The contract required to participate in the lengthsman and P3 footpath schemes in 2021-22 was agreed.

20/151 Footpaths
The Chairman reported that the spring maintenance programme will soon be underway. A new metal kissing gate is required, and the Clerk was asked to order a gate from Balfour Beatty for delivery to the Chairman.

20/152 Maintenance of drainage sump, Rock crossroads
A proposal was made to request a metal grate is placed by the landowner “above the waterfall” on private land to catch debris before it gets to the sump on the highway. Cllr. Bowen said the landowner had kindly said they would try and “find something” and said the pipe under the crossroads will be raised with the locality steward again.

20/153 Highway/ Lengthsman
Cllr. Enzer said the focus for 2021-22 will be Goggin Road, including the short section of Killhorse Lane which is in the parish, and the “hill to the church”. Cllr. Bowen kindly agreed to report an uncovered drain near the entrance to a field in Woodhouse Lane to the locality steward.

20/154 Speed Indicator Devices
The SIDs have been deployed during February-March 2021 for just under four weeks. The average speeds recorded are in line with previous deployments. Concern was expressed that the SIDs should be always operating when deployed and not stand idle with no power. To address this, it was agreed to approach the manufacturers to see if the devices could be retro fitted with solar panels. Cllr. Enzer kindly agreed to speak with the manufacturer to discuss technical options.

20/155 Protocol for reporting of overgrown hedges and defective ditches
An outline protocol was agreed for reporting of overgrown hedges and defective ditches. This will be written up by the Clerk and reviewed at the next meeting.

20/156 Hedge cutting by local landowner
The parish council agreed to write formally and thank Mr Roger Thomas of G & O D Thomas & Sons for cutting back hedges along Woodhouse Lane. This was reported by Cllr. Enzer to have been done entirely at Mr Thomas’ initiative. It allowed the lengthsman to focus drainage grant funded work on the ditches along Woodhouse Lane rather than cutting back hedges to uncover the ditches.

20/157 Village gates on B4361
Balfour Beatty have advised that their quotation includes stat plans and will “identify if there are externally owned assets that were required to be taken into account before positioning”. The alternative quote did not include this, and for this reason it was agreed to accept the Balfour Beatty quotation for installation of the three village gates (£1,267.00 +VAT). The Gateway Licence, which requires appropriate installation, obliges the parish council to keep the structure in a sound, clean and maintained condition and maintain the highway land to which the license relates in a trim and tidy appearance, was agreed. The gates, the purchase of which was agreed at the last meeting, will be delivered to Balfour Beatty at Rotherwas.

20/158 Smartwater
The Clerk reported that 76 registrations have been received, and the seventy seventh is expected to be completed by the end of the week. The meeting considered preferred locations for the Smartwater signs which will be installed once the 77 registrations have been confirmed by the coordinator. It was agreed to offer the remaining Smartwater kits to residents of Richards Castle (Shropshire) parish, and that residents should contact the Clerk to obtain their kit. The parish council agreed to request that Smartwater signs are placed in Richards Castle Shropshire as well as on the boundaries with neighbouring Herefordshire parishes.

20/159 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – Scheduling of meetings, including Annual Parish meeting.

20/160 Date of next meeting – The next scheduled meeting will be on Thursday 29 April 2021 and will be held online.

The meeting closed at 9.09 pm.