Minutes of Parish Council Meeting, 9 January 2013

In attendance:  Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mr Paul Wright, Mrs Mary Button and Mr David Hamblin (Councillors), Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk).  Also attending:  7 Parishioners, Mr Adrian Gunson (County Councillor).  Absent:  Mr Derek Blake (District Councillor).

13.01  Approved absences – none.

13.02  Declarations of interest – none.

13.03  The minutes of the previous meeting on 7 November 2012 , which had been circulated, were approved and signed.

13.04  County Councillor’s Report

A number of reported potholes in the area had been repaired.  Adrian Gunson reported that Anglian Water had closed Mill Road in Ashby near the Hall Road junction for a few days.  Similarly Church Plain in Loddon has been closed to traffic while electricity works on the extension to the Co-op store were undertaken.

He recalled previous discussions about drainage problems in Claxton.  Work on Church Lane at Claxton Corner in November had not solved the flooding problem.  The flooding at the bottom of Peascod Lane was similarly unresolved.  He would continue to pursue both with the appropriate authorities.

The non-functioning Vehicle Speed Monitor on The Street had been reported and it had been agreed that the monitor would remain for a month after it began working properly.

He had received reports that surface dressing of New Inn Hill and The Street in Bramerton, as well as Church Plain in Loddon, had not been carried out well enough, resulting in considerable loss of chippings.  He had spoken with May Gurney who will attend to these once the weather was kinder.  This had happened partly because they pushed through work into the early winter months, which is not the ideal time.

He noted that the contract between Norfolk County Council and BT for improved broadband for all had now been signed.  The minimum download speed expected was 2Mps though most would get up to 24Mps.

There had been no criminal incidents in Claxton in December.

The A146 at Yelverton had been closed through flooding twice before Christmas, both times due to excess water running off nearby fields.

Hobart High School is hoping to achieve full academy status by February 2013.

Adrian also raised the Community Construction Fund with regard to the Village Hall.  The Village Hall Committee had concluded that the fund did not apply to internal refurbishments,  After discussion it was agreed that the committee be offered Adrian’s help in considering whether in fact it could apply for funds.  The Clerk would inform the committee of this offer.

13.05  Parishioner Questions

John Ford raised the very poor state of the road surface along the length of Church Lane, but especially at the Ashby end, which still flooded badly after any significant rainfall.  The real problem, in his view, was the large amount of heavy vehicles which used Church Lane as a way through between Thurton and Claxton.  Someone suggested this was partly the fault of SatNav systems which offered this as a way through.  Adrian was asked to ensure the previous weight restriction sign be reinstated, to match the one at the Claxton Corner end of Church Lane, while following up on drainage and pothole issues identified earlier in the meeting.

The Chair read out the e-mailed letter from Alan Ives about the poor state of footpaths and bridleways in the village, which had been raised by Parishioners in November 2012.  She firstly asked that this be added to the Agenda for the next meeting so that a full discussion could be had.  David Hamblin noted that he had contacted South Norfolk Council in his capacity as a resident, and had been put onto Highways.  They have agreed to come out and look at the condition of both Slade Lane and Peascod Lane, the two worst affected by farm vehicle usage.  The Chair had already spoken with Claxton Manor, who had agreed to undertake some remedial work once the weather improved.

Alan Ives had also asked that work should be commissioned to revisit historical Rights of Way in the village.  There was some discussion among those who had lived in Claxton for several decades, with the general view being that we were well served with existing routes which, once repaired, would be more than adequate, particularly since a consensus agreed that the numbers of walkers at this time of year was very low.

13.06  District Councillor’s Report

Derek Blake was absent so there was no report from Long Stratton.

13.07  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.  South Norfolk Council had been informed in November of a lapse in security fencing around the site and had taken action with the agent to have this fixed.

A new application for a stable block on the field behind the Claxton Mill development had been approved by the Broads Authority.

13.08  Finance

a) The bank balance at 9 January was £2,151.23, with no outstanding cheques.  Budget and Bank statements had been circulated to Councillors and Parishioners separately.
b) Receipts – none.
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments

Cheque   No Payee Description

Amount

100230* K M Parker Tree Surgery on Village Green

£ 390.00

100231 M A Balmer Salary (Dec-Jan) and Admin (Nov-Dec)

£ 318.91

* Cheque 100230 was raised and signed in advance of the meeting, and has now been cashed.

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

13.09  Contract to maintain the grounds at the Village Hall

Only two quotes had been received for this work.  One, from Norse, had been provided in July 2012 and came to £322 in all.  The other, from Eclipse Gardening, was provided just before the meeting and totalled £890.  With Norse already cutting the grass on the Village Green, their much lower quote was accepted, and the Clerk was authorised to take this forward with the company, including signing the contract on behalf of the Council.

13.10  2013-14 Budget

The Clerk had circulated a draft Budget to Councillors and Villagers, drawing attention to the changes in handling Council Tax benefits from 2013-14 on.  Claxton would receive a grant of £247, and – in order to avoid any increase in the Parish Council’s share of Council Tax – it was agreed to seek a precept for 2013-14 of £3,752.  Together this would  total £3,999, ie just £1 less than precepts in previous years.  Although 2013-14 spending plans could mean a slight overspend, reserves were sufficient to manage this.  There were also options to reduce the discretionary elements of the budget if needed.  With the approval of full Council, the Chair and Clerk signed the Precept Application, which the Clerk would despatch to South Norfolk Council.

13.11  Allotments

The Chair confirmed that while the agreement on allotment provision was between Claxton Manor and the Parish Council, it would be administered by the Pits Trust, and the Trust’s Chairman (Roland Kaye) would be examining the contract provided by Claxton Manor.  2 of the 5 allotments provided remained unallocated.

13.12  Parish Plan Update

The Clerk had updated the table and circulated copies to Councillors and Parishioners, with updates shown in red.  The Village Sign would be put in place and carved in site in the coming weeks/months.

13.13  Clerk’s Report

The Phone box was disconnected in November and removed on 6 December.  The way is now clear to install the new noticeboard.  The diseased maple on the Green was cut down on 19 December with the wood being collected by various villagers.  Grounds maintenance at the Village Hall had been covered earlier.  The Clerk had also been in contact with the company which empties bottle banks as villagers have been dumping empty bottles on the ground, making the area both unpleasant and unsafe.  The company have done an excellent clean-up job and have been thanked.

13.14  Management of the dog litter bin

As part of a census update, the Clerk had discovered that South Norfolk Council did not empty the dog litter bin in the Village Hall car park.  In fact Linda Clitheroe had been doing so by arrangement with the previous Clerk for several years.  The Parish Council thanked Linda for her public spirited contribution but agreed that it was time for a more formal arrangement, and authorised the Clerk to agree a contract with the District Council at a cost of £55 per annum, going forward.

13.15  Correspondence

The Clerk tabled a list of correspondence which had been e-mailed/circulated to Councillors or received prior to the meeting.

13.16  Speaker for the Annual Parish Meeting on 17 April

Suggestions including a talk on the history of the village by the Norfolk Archaeological Society, and Kevin Parker on trees.  We await a response to the first suggestion.

13.17  Items for next Agenda

Staines Barns, Parish Plan, speaker for the AGM, paths/bridleways/drainage/flooding, a mini Recycling Centre Agreement.

13.18  Date of next meeting is Wednesday 20 March 2013, at 7.30pm.

The meeting closed at 2130.

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