Minutes – 29 April 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.

21/1 Apologies – Ms L Allwright.

21/2 Vacancy on the parish council – Notice in Castle News is pending input on experience of being a parish councillor.

21/3 Declarations of Members Interest and Requests for Dispensation – None.

21/4 Minutes of the previous meeting – The minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 were agreed to be a true record.

21/5 Report from the Herefordshire Councillor for Bircher Ward
Ward Cllr. Bowen reported on the “abysmal” performance of children’s services. The service needs to improve and support is to be provided by Essex County Council. A new interim director has been appointed. Programmed highway work in 2021-22 will focus on drainage projects to keep water off the road, but there will be less funding for repairs. A hole by Rock crossroads has been reported to the highway authority and will be raised in a tour of the parish roads with the locality steward.

21/6 To invite views and discussion from members of the parish
There were no matters raised.

21/7 The Future of the parish council
Cllr. Enzer reported on the recent PC Summit held by Herefordshire Council and proposed areas for Richards Castle to consider, including doing more for older people, children, pets (dogs and cats), providing entertainment, marking anniversaries and national events and supporting employment. Cllr. Enzer felt the parish council should work more closely with other groups such as the village hall committee and WI, with Richards Castle (Shropshire) Parish Council, and consult actively with local people.

The proposal to develop a long-term plan for the parish council to work towards was supported. A joint approach will be proposed to Richards Castle (Shropshire) Parish Council. If possible, a working group comprising members of both parish councils will meet in May 2021 to explore this proposal. The Clerk was asked to facilitate the joint working group meeting.

21/8 Clerk’s Report
A metal kissing gate has been requested from Balfour Beatty to place on RC10 by Orchard Rise. A member of the public has asked the parish council to support a request to the highway authority for a safety mirror on the B4361. Ward Cllr and parish councillor Bowen informed the meeting that Balfour Beatty will not support safety mirrors on the highway as they are considered to cause confusion. The parish council then agreed that the matter should not be considered at a future meeting.

Herefordshire Council has granted planning permission for 210690 Mapps Place.

21/9 Financial Items
i) Payments have been received from Herefordshire Council: Pt1 precept 2021-22 (£4,500.00) and PtII drainage grant payment (£1,489.50).
ii) The following payments were agreed: Eyelid Productions Ltd. annual website support (£100.00); Herefordshire Council, installation of three village gates (£1,520.49); R Bayliss, footpath maintenance (£142.46); Clerk, office/ admin. costs, 2020-21 (£254.36); and Clerk, wages April 2021.

21/10 Footpaths
The Chairman’s report was noted.

21/11 Maintenance of drainage sump, Rock crossroads
Cllr. Bowen said the landowner has kindly offered to find a grid, and the matter has been raised with the highway authority as well. An offer from a local contractor to scoop the sump was noted but will be dependent on provision of suitable public liability insurance and streetworks certification.

21/12 Highway/ Lengthsman
Concern was expressed that the new road surface on Castle Road has not been kerbed by the Orchard Rise junction. Cllr. Enzer said visibility splays will be kept clear by the lengthsman.

21/13 Speed Indicator Devices
A quotation from the manufacturer to retrofit the two SIDs with solar panels was agreed, subject to support from Luston Group and Orleton Parish Councils. Support for the retrofit by all the parish councils will mean that the cost (£1,473.36 net) is split three ways. It was agreed not to take out a maintenance contract in 2021-22, to reduce the net cost of the retrofit.

21/14 Protocol for reporting of overgrown hedges and defective ditches
The proposed protocol was agreed.

21/15 Village gates on B4361
The Chairman and Clerk reported on a site meeting held with Balfour Beatty. Based on this it was agreed to amend the dimension of the village gate located on the county boundary to 400mm (W). It will need to fit below the existing highway sign which is 1 metre above the verge with space to strim between the posts.

21/16 Smartwater
The location of ‘We don’t buy crime’ signs as deployed by the Smartwater coordinator, was agreed. Locations are restricted to the parish of Richards Castle (Herefordshire). Balfour Beatty have advised that a We don’t buy crime sign placed on the county boundary will need to be moved to a nearby post to make space for the village gate. Two large scale A1 signs have yet to be provided. A request for a photo to publicise the listing of Richards Castle as a Smartwater parish was agreed. This will happen once the A1 signs are in place.

21/17 Parish Council meetings
In the absence of new primary legislation, meetings in person will be required to conduct parish council business from 7 May 2021. The main hall allows more scope for socially distanced public meetings to be held. A risk schedule for in person meetings was noted. The annual meeting will be held outside the village hall. Meetings are expected to be held in the main hall of the village hall after 21 June 2021 but this will be dependent on government guidance and regulations in place at the time.

21/18 Matters raised for next meeting (no discussion) – None.

21/19 Date of next meeting – The annual meeting will be on Thursday 27 May 2021 and will be held outside the village hall.

The meeting closed at 9.25pm.