Minutes of Parish Council Meeting, 18 March 2015

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

15.20 Approved absences – Councillor Paul Wright.

15.21 Declarations of interest – None.

15.22 The minutes of the previous meeting on 14 January 2015 were approved and signed.

15.23 The Chair noted that County Councillor Adrian Gunson had recently stood down after 41 years of service and recorded Claxton’s thanks and appreciation for his dedicated service to everyone in the village.

15.24 Parishioner Questions
Peter Lancaster raised the issue of sewage seeping from an unidentified property on Church Lane into the dykes. This was particularly noticeable after heavy rainfall. He suspected that at least one septic tank system was faulty, and asked if residents could be asked to have theirs checked. It was noted that this issue had sparked an exchange with the Environment Agency in 2014 but that it still remained unresolved. The Chair agreed that this should be discussed at the next meeting and would be placed on the agenda.

15.25 County Councillor’s Report
Adrian Gunson had sent in a short report as his swansong, reporting no progress in securing a 50MPH speed limit at Hellington Corner and the poor condition of the Wherryman’s Way where it runs on the bank of the Chet, particularly at Hardley Flood and near Chedgrave Common. He noted that a 50MPH speed limit on the Trowse Bypass was to be introduced in 2015-16.

15.26 District Councillor’s Report
Derek Blake was absent, thus no report.

15.27 Flooding at Marsh Barn
The Chair confirmed that she had had no recent contact with the owners of Marsh Barn, and did not know whether the promised joint visit organised by the County Council had take place.

15.28 Anglian Water Donation – choice of beneficiaries
The Clerk reported he had been in contact with Anglian Water as they were chasing ideas, but had failed to make contact as they had promised in their letter of 31 December. He had been told that they needed a response from the Parish Council by the end of the current week, so it was important that the Councillors agreed on a project to benefit from the grant. The Council discussed the 3 options previously floated (new speed signs, new noticeboards and a community defibrillator). The first two received no support from Councillors. The Clerk reported on his research into defibrillators, pointing out that the British Heart Foundation would – if they felt Claxton was an acceptable location – provide the kit subject to a £400 donation from Claxton, who would also have to meet the cost of locating the kit at the Village Hall and ongoing expenditure on, eg electricity. The village would have to nominate an administrator and agree to train users on an ongoing basis.

Councillors were unconvinced that it would be worth the expense. They asked the floor for ideas. One parishioner suggested asking Anglian Water to donate the money to the Ambulance Service. Councillors thought this would benefit the whole area including other parishes which had received Anglian Water grants, rather than Claxton. Another parishioner suggested the provision of a village broadband hub, based at the Village Hall. After further discussion the Clerk was asked to engage with the parishioner to get more information on what would be required, and then take this forward with Anglian Water.

15.29 Rats in Church Lane
There was an inconclusive discussion about this perennial problem. Claxton Manor felt it was doing all it could at the moment. They believed the current rat population was only 5% of last year’s. The gamekeeper was undergoing training later in the year which would allow him to use poisons to address the issue. The Chair concluded that this was as much as could be achieved.

15.30 Applications for Grants or Donations
The Council discussed 3 applications for financial assistance, from the Parochial Church Council (churchyard maintenance), Magpas (general funds) and the Community Gym in Loddon. They concluded that the Church was a reasonable beneficiary and agreed a donation of £300, but declined to support the other two applications.

15.31 Boundary fence between “Foxgloves” and the Village Hall
Overgrown trees and bushes in “Foxgloves” were forcing the boundary fence away from its posts and into the Hall car park. The Clerk was instructed to write to the residents and ask them to take action to cut back the growth and repair the fence.

15.32 Planning Matters
There was one new application (2015/0424), the papers for which were on display at the meeting, with a deadline for consultation of 25 March.  The Clerk had been asked by one villager to read out a message, expressing concern that the Parish Council should consider this application.  He informed the meeting that he had responded by explaining that the Council had a duty to consider such applications and would be failing if it did not.  Whether or not the application succeeded, and whether it was taken at desk level or in full Committee at South Norfolk Council, was not an issue for the Parish Council.  One Councillor expressed disappointment that the integrity of the Council was being questioned.  After discussion, the Council agreed to support the application and the Clerk was authorised to register this position on the South Norfolk website.

15.33 Finance
a) The bank balance at 18 March was £3,246.10. Budget and bank statements had been circulated separately.
b) Receipts – South Norfolk grant of £432.50 for a new fridge for the Village Hall.
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments

Cheque No   Payee                     Description                             Amount

100283    M A Balmer                        Salary (Feb-Mar) and Admin (Jan-Mar)   £296.81
100284    HM Revenue and Customs   PAYE for Clerk (Dec-Mar)           £129.00
100285    Claxton Village Hall             Hall hire charges 2014-15                £112.00
100286    NPFA                                 Membership 2015-16                             £20.00
100287    NRCC                                 Membership 2015-16                            £20.00
100288    South Norfolk Council         Dog-bin emptying 2014-15               £73.56
100289    NALC                                Subscription 2015-16                             £92.24
100291    Claxton Village Hall            Transfer of grant for new fridge                    £432.50
100292    Claxton Parochial Church Council  Churchyard Maintenance Grant      £300.00

The Clerk explained that all planned expenditure had been seen by Councillors in advance, so nothing was unexpected. Pat Clare proposed approval and David Hamblin seconded.

15.34 New Parish Plan
It was agreed not to pursue a new Parish Plan but rather to roll the existing Plan forward. The Clerk commented that it could be developed and added to further if necessary.

15.35 Update on the Parish Plan
The Clerk confirmed that there had been only small changes to the Parish Plan since the last meeting. A copy was available.

15.36 Update on Playground Facilities
No change since the last meeting.

15.37 Clerk’s Report
The Clerk reported that he had contacted the County Councillor about soil spillage onto Church Lane and had now been pointed to the District Council. The issue is ongoing. He had also spoken with Anglian Water about the £1,000 donation and agreed to contact them immediately after the March meeting with the Council’s decision. He had despatched the 2015-16 Precept application to South Norfolk Council, where it has now been built into Council Tax bills as a 0.9% increase on 2014-15. In addition he has handled a great deal of information on the May elections, and put much of it on the website, and researched the provision of community defibrillators (which he will now stop).

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

15.39 Items for next Agenda
Sewage seepage from Church Lane.

15.40 Other Business
The Chair noted that the Planning Permission to convert Claxton house into a Dementia Centre had expired on 8 February. It was unclear whether the intention to do so remained, but she thought this would need a fresh application.

15.41 Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be the Annual Parish Meeting on Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall, followed by the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council, where the new Councillors will complete their Declarations of Office.

15.42 Other dates for 2015 meetings
The dates are: 15 July, 16 September and 18 November 2015.             The meeting closed at 2046.

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