Minutes of Parish Council Meeting, 17 September 2014

In attendance: Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mr Paul Wright, Mrs Mary Button and Mr David Hamblin (Councillors) and Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk), Mr Adrian Gunson (County Councillor) and Mr Derek Blake (District Councillor). Also attending: 6 Parishioners.

14.73 Approved absences – None.

14.74 Declarations of interest – None.

14.75 The minutes of the previous meeting on 16 July 2014 were approved and signed.

14.76 Parishioner Questions
Roland Kaye asked if something could be done about the overgrown hedgerows between Claxton Corner and New Inn Hill, which were currently growing so far out into the road as to limit visibility around bends. He was unsure whose responsibility it was. After discussions with Councillor Gunson it was agreed that the Clerk would e-mail both him and the Clerk for Rockland St Mary Parish Council, as this hedge was theirs, to ask for appropriate action to be taken.

John Ford remarked that the village sign on the Green did not stand out at all, and generally passed unnoticed by villagers and visitors alike. The Chair explained that the Pits Trust had action in hand to make it more visible.

Roland Kaye drew attention to a letter from the Environment Agency to a number of villagers about a smell emanating from the area around the bridge on Church Lane. The Clerk had spoken with the EA, who had explained that some of the incorrect addressees had been a fault with their mapping software. Roland Kaye felt the tone of the letter was offensive and aggressive ( a sentiment echoed by others) and asked that the EA be tackled on it. Councillor Button confirmed that their testing would continue for a further 3 months but that no explanation had been found for the smell, which came and went.  The Clerk was asked to write to the EA on the points above. He will circulate a draft to Councillors beforehand.

14.77 County Councillor’s Report
Adrian Gunson reported as follows:

  • Completion of the A11 dualling was expected in the next few weeks.
  • The public enquiry into the Northern Distributor Road had begun.
  • The Postwick hub was on schedule.
  • Hobart High School GCSE results were similar to 2013.
  • The £45m broadband project would complete in 2015 with another £5m being targeted at areas which did not receive superfast broadband in the first round.
  • The number of road accidents in Norfolk had risen after several years of reduction, in particular those involving bicycles or motorbikes.
  • Closer to home he had been in touch with Highways over fixing the flooding at Claxton Corner, and had been told that a dredging team were in the area and would attempt to resolve the problem this week.
  • Norfolk County Council had made a further £5m available for highways maintenance and he had been successful in getting Church Lane added to the list of roads to be repaired. This would happen in the coming months. A discussion about sand and other materials spilling onto Church Lane from the roadsides was not resolved and the Clerk was asked to e-mail Councillor Gunson with details.

14.78 District Councillor’s Report
Derek Blake was welcomed back after a long absence, which he explained was due to a heavy workload, partly through his chairmanship of Bergh Apton Parish Council. He reported:

  • In his view broadband issues would get worse before they got better. After the 2015 elections South Norfolk Council (among others) would likely move to a paperless system, meaning everything would be handled by e-mail or on websites. Anyone wanting or receiving information would need access to the internet, and rural speeds were still very low. He recommended a letter to the Chief Executive at SNC drawing attention to the risks of such a move without adequate broadband provision.
  • There is a new structure at SNC which changes where the Planners come into the picture.  Once applications had been submitted for consideration they could not be changed.
  • The Planning Committee at SNC had that day approved a solar farm at Yelverton over the objections of many residents and the Parish Council. He was sure that, given the opposition, this was likely to be called in by the Secretary of State.
  • Changes to the planning system meant more requests would not need planning permission.
  • SNC were changing the way they viewed the need for gypsy and traveller sites which were up to now generally located near “services” (meaning locations with shops, schools etc), and would be looking at all villages instead.
  • He would leave behind a list of useful telephone numbers in relation to the Older People’s Forum.
  • He left a copy of WREN’s scoring criteria, reminding the Council that Claxton had been included in the area which could benefit, and encouraged any proposals (Village Hall and playground) to be sent in before March 2015.
  • SNC were the only Norfolk Council to retain the bottle banks once the new collection system came into force later this year. There were workshops being held around the county, with one at Church Plain in Loddon on Friday 26 September between 11-3pm.
  • Landowners affected by the route of the Long Stratton bypass were prevaricating and a compulsory purchase order might be required.
  • On 5 October there would be a “Silver Sunday” get-together at Chedgrave Church Rooms between 10-12 noon for older citizens. People from Claxton were welcome to attend.
  • He reminded the Council that he had a budget of £1,000 to spend on local “easy wins” and thought he could make around £300-350 of it available in Claxton.
  • The Water’s Edge at Bramerton was the joint winner of the South Norfolk Community Pub of the Year.

14.79 Improvements to road traffic signage in Claxton
It was agreed that the Clerk would investigate what might be possible (eg a “Claxton welcomes careful drivers” sign) and report back.

14.80 New internal audit and accounting arrangements
The Parish Council approved a proposal from the Clerk that Jacquie Clarke should take on the internal audit and accounting responsibilities previously handled by the late Chris Dix, to be reviewed after a year.

14.81 A Village Newsletter
The Clerk had been asked to raise this, as a way of ensuring people in Claxton knew what was happening elsewhere in the village and neighbourhood. The Chair had introduced a newsletter shortly after the elections in 2011, but responses to it had not been entirely favourable, and it had been allowed to lapse. After discussion it was agreed that an attempt would be made to resurrect it, with a view to issuing it 2 or possibly 3 times a year, based on the availability of relevant content.

14.82 Proposed letter to Richard Bacon MP about broadband in Claxton
The Clerk had drafted a letter which Councillors had seen in draft, enclosing the chart of data captured during July. Councillors were generally content, but would welcome further study before it issued. Roland Kaye also undertook to let the Clerk have details of coverage by Norfolk RCC’s “ThinkingWISP”.

14.83 Quotations for hard-standing under the bottlebanks
It was agreed that, with the inclusion of glass and other materials in future domestic recycling collections, it made sense to hold off any action until the future of the bottle banks in Claxton was clearer.

14.84 Request for permission to site a memorial bench on in the Wherryman’s Way in Claxton
This was agreed in principle, with further details awaited from Janice Dix.

14.85 Planning Matters
A site visit by all Councillors to the land behind the Beeches (2014/1337) had taken place, and as there had been no objections, this had been confirmed on the Planning pages of the SNC website.

14.86 Finance
a) The bank balance at 1 September was £2,464.52. Budget and bank statements had been circulated separately.
b) Receipts – £100 annual fee for mini recycling centre (bottle banks) had been received.
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments
Cheque No       Payee                                 Description                                          Amount
100274            M A Balmer                         Salary (Aug-Sep) and Admin (Jul-Sep)  £ 277.59
100275            HM Customs and Revenue    Clerk’s PAYE June-September 2014       £ 115.20

Pat Clare explained that all planned expenditure had been seen by Councillors in advance, so nothing was unexpected. Paul Wright seconded.

14.87 Update on the Parish Plan
The Clerk confirmed that there had been no changes to the Parish Plan since the last meeting, a copy of which was available for perusal.

14.88 Update on Playground Facilities
Pat Clare confirmed that her fellow co-ordinator had been very busy lately, but they had been encouraged by the potential funding from WREN.

14.89 Clerk’s Report
He had tidied up the broadband data survey and drafted a letter to Richard Bacon MP, had attending the site visit mentioned above, taken over his own PAYE administration (saving up to £100 a year) and agreed new audit arrangements for 2014-15 subject to Council approval.

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

14.91  Items for next Agenda
The Clerk would extract some of these from the meeting minutes.  There were no other proposals.

14.92 Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 19 November at 7.30pm in the Village Hall.

14.93 Dates for 2015 meetings
Parish Councils agreed the Clerk’s proposals, with one exception. They agreed to run the Annual Parish Meeting on the same evening as the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council. This would be on Wednesday 13 May subject to confirmation that all UK elections would have taken place the previous week (now confirmed). The dates are therefore:

14 January, 18 March, 13 May (APM and Annual Meeting), 15 July, 16 September and 18 November 2015.

The meeting closed at 2110.

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