Minutes of Parish Council Meeting, 7 November 2012

In attendance: Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mr Paul Wright, Mrs Mary Button and Mr David Hamblin (Councillors), Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk).  Also attending: 3 Parishioners, Mr Adrian Gunson (County Councillor).  Absent: Mr Derek Blake (District Councillor).

12.70 Approved absences – none.

12.71 Declarations of interest – none.

12.72 The minutes of the previous meeting on 19 September 2012, which had been circulated, were approved and signed.

12.73 Parishioner Questions
John Garrod asked why the track surface on Peascod Lane was so treacherous. It had been damaged by the weight of farm vehicles using it, resulting in deep ruts which were now full of water and would turn to ice when the cold weather arrived. The same observation was made about Slad Lane between Staines Barns and Folly Lane. Although these routes were public highways, Pat Clare felt it best to approach Claxton Manor direct, and undertook to speak to John Heathcote, who was unlikely to be aware of concerns about the current state of the tracks.

12.74 County Councillor’s Report
Adrian Gunson had got the highways engineer to add a layer of tarmac to the road outside Grey Gables where Church Lane met Church Road in Ashby, but one villager had already reported that it had made no difference, as water gathered in the same spot. Adrian Gunson confirmed the engineer would look at it again, but with budgets so tight, it was a very low priority. Another parishioner suggested that the situation would worsen as construction at Claxton House drew closer. Pat Clare also mentioned flooding/standing water at the bottom of Peascod Lane and the entrance to Church Lane from Claxton Corner. Adrian Gunson undertook to follow up and press for remedial action.
Claxton was next to have the Vehicle Alert System which is currently in Chedgrave. It would stay for about a month. It didn’t record findings, and simply displayed speed when drivers exceeded the laid-down limits.
The sand which had gathered on Folly Lane below Chapel Lane in Ashby had been swept up by the Highways team but had reappeared following heavy rain. It was agreed that the exits from the fields which caused this were in the wrong place!
Norfolk County Council has launched its Community Construction Fund for building projects, eg improving indoor or outdoor facilities, including play areas, access for disabled etc, but this has to be construction work, not purchase of equipment. The Clerk confirmed that the leaflet had been circulated to Councillors, who discussed its relevance to the Village Hall. The Clerk was asked to assist the Village Hall Committee in constructing a bid for funds against this initiative, and the Council would reimburse him for time spent on this activity. He would attend the next Committee meeting on 28 November.
Dualling of the A11 was now expected to be complete by late 2014. Signs to that effect were already on display at both ends of the stretch of road affected. Dualling remaining parts of the A47 were more difficult, and no design had yet been drawn up.
Adrian also mentioned social statistics for Loddon where there was a higher percentage of older people, a lower percentage of younger people but also low levels of those drawing Job Seekers Allowances. It suggested this was a good area to live in.

12.75 District Councillor’s Report
Derek Blake was absent so there was no report from Long Stratton.

12.76 Planning
1 Staines Barns (2011/1645) and 2 Staines Barns (2011/1781) – the decision notices for both applications had finally been issued and construction had to commence by 11 April 2013 or permission would expire. It was pointed out that the security fencing around the site was deteriorating and had collapsed in places, allowing access to the site for, eg children. This presented a risk of injury, as did the recent collapse of part of a gable end. The Clerk was asked to alert South Norfolk Council of these two issues.

A new application for a stable block on the field behind the Claxton Mill development was discussed. There were no objections, and the Clerk will feed this to Broads Authority.

12.77 Declaration of Pecuniary Interests Issues
The Clerk had been informed that under the new rules, no Councillors who lived in the village could set budgets from which they would derive benefits. Given that all Councillors live in Claxton, this would leave none to agree a budget. The Council were therefore authorised to grant dispensation to all Councillors to set budgets, with this dispensation lasting until the next General Election in 2015. The Council agreed to grant this dispensation, with the Clerk retaining the signed declarations.

12.78 Request for Grant from St Andrew’s Church
The Council considered a letter from Claxton Parochial Church Council for a grant of £300 towards the maintenance of the churchyard. After some discussion this request was approved.

12.79 Finance
a) The bank balance at 7 November was £3,365.76. Budget and Bank statements had been circulated to Councillors separately. The Clerk now had online access to the bank account.
b) Receipts – the second half of the 2012-13 precept of £2,000 had been received from South Norfolk Council.
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments
Cheque No Payee Description Amount
100226 M A Balmer Salary (Oct-Nov) and Admin (Sep-Oct) £ 288.20
100227 HM Revenue and Customs PAYE for Mike Balmer Oct-Nov 2012 £ 57.00
100228 Norse Commercial Services Second payment for grass-cutting at the Village Green £ 179.33
100229 Claxton PCC Grant towards churchyard grounds maintenance £ 300.00

Paul Wright proposed that the schedule should be approved, and this was seconded by Pat Clare.

12.80 Diseased Trees at the Warren and Village Hall
The Council considered quotes to remove a maple and horse chestnut respectively. They accepted advice that both were potentially dangerous, though the maple was more so given its size, location and the fact that children play on/under it. They agreed to accept the quote for £390, on the understanding that the main trunks would be reduced to a manageable size and could be taken away by villagers for their own use. A note to this effect would be drawn up under the Parish Council’s name, and circulated to all villagers once details were known and a date had been set. Given that there was no provision for either tree in this year’s budget, it was agreed that the second tree was less urgent and could safely wait until budgets were healthier.

12.81 2013-14 Budget Priorities
Faced with the likelihood that the precept for 2013-14 would be unchanged at £4,000, and the regular/contractual commitments against that money, the Council discussed options. They felt that they were already aiding the Village Hall by assuming responsibility for grounds maintenance from 2013 on, and preferred to focus on supporting the church through a grant towards future maintenance costs. The Council had asked the Fare on the Yare Committee to hold back a sum from this year’s income for insurance next year, to avoid a further request in 2013. This would allow the Council to use a portion of its budget for one-off expenditure, such as the removal of diseased trees. The Clerk will draw up a draft budget reflecting these views for consideration at the next meeting.

12.82 Parish Plan Update
The Clerk had updated the table and circulated copies to Councillors, with updates shown in red. On crime levels, there had been two reported incidents of a domestic nature in August and October. Otherwise Claxton remained a relatively safe place to live. It was noted that neighbouring villages had not fared as well recently.

The Chair recalled discussion of a children’s play area being in the original document (but it had not found its way onto the action sheets). Once the diseased maple on the Village Green was down, arrangements would be made for the oak tree (from which the village sign is to be made) to be put in position and sculpted on site.

12.83 Clerk’s Report
The Clerk reported that he had got Anglian Water to cut the hedge round their water treatment plant on the Green, and that Norse had promised one more cut of the Green and Village Hall grounds before the winter. The phone box would go eventually, but it was well down the list on BT’s priorities. Quotes for Village Hall maintenance from 2013 will be considered at the next meeting. There are currently 14 villagers registered with “Thinking Fuel”. He is going to another meeting on 9 November to consider expanding bulk-buying into other areas, and will report back to the next meeting.

12.84 Correspondence
The Clerk tabled a list of correspondence which had been e-mailed or circulated to Councillors or received prior to the meeting. Items included:

• South Norfolk Older People’s Forum newsletter
• Norfolk County Council’s briefing note on Community Construction Fund
• South Norfolk Council – Norfolk Prepared Week 6-12 October 2012
• South Norfolk Place-Making Guide DVD September 2012
• Letter from Magpas (air ambulance) asking for financial support
• Notice of election of Police and Crime Commissioner (for noticeboard)
• Norfolk Association of Local Councils Annual Seminar, AGM and Annual Report
• Eastern River Valleys Neighbourhood community project funding

12.85 Items for next Agenda
Staines Barns, Parish Plan, Allotments, speaker for the AGM, grass cutting at Village Hall, budget for 2013-14.

12.86 Date of next meeting is Wednesday 16 January 2013, at 7.30pm.

The meeting closed at 2120.

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