Minutes of Parish Council meeting, 18 November 2015

In attendance:  Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mrs Mary Button, Mr David Hamblin and Mr Richard White (Councillors) and Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk).  Absent:  Mr Jason Cantrill.  Also attending:  County Councillor Barry Stone and 7 Parishioners.  District Councillor absent.

15.96  Approved absences – Mr Jason Cantrill was out of Claxton and had apologised for his absence.

15.97  Declarations of interest – None.

15.98  County Councillor Report
Barry Stone referred to his November report, sent through electronically.  He had previous been a County Councillor and Borough Councillor in Great Yarmouth, had moved to South Norfolk and been elected a District Councillor in May and then nominated to contest the vacant County Councillor seat in September.  His report covered a lot of ground but he wished to draw attention to the current public consultation on County budgets (details in the latest “Your Norfolk” magazine, and the Norfolk Speed Management Strategy, available on the County Council website.  He looked forward to serving Claxton and getting to know everyone better.  Parishioners raised two issues with him.  The poor quality resurfacing on Church Lane which didn’t survive subsequent bad weather, and road clearing at Whitlingham, both of which were pointless and a waste of scarce resources.  He asked to be copied in on any debate in Claxton about broadband.

15.99  Parishioner Questions
The Council was asked for clarification of who was responsible for trees, eg on Church Lane going up towards the church on the right-hand side, as one had fallen over in the high winds.  If they were better maintained (kept shorter and lower) they might not be such a hazard.  The Clerk thought this was part of the Tree Warden duties but was unaware of any form of job description having been drawn up.  He would check with the two Tree Wardens and also, if necessary, with the Highways Agency.

15.100 The minutes of the previous meeting on 16 September 2015 were approved and signed.

15.101  Proposed Village litter pick
The Clerk explained that a small number of villagers were keen to do a comprehensive tidying up of the village, and had received an offer from South Norfolk Council to loan equipment to carry this out.  The Council confirmed their support for this proposal and the Clerk will contact SNC the next day to arrange collection of the loaned equipment from Long Stratton.

15.102  Update on Marsh Barn
The Clerk reminded the meeting that this issue had been unresolved for a year.  A date for a joint experts visit to the site had finally been arranged for Tuesday 24 November.  Pat Clare would also be there.  The hope was that a definitive decision would be taken about responsibility for the maintenance of the bank on Marsh Barn’s side of Hellington Beck.

15.103  Broadband including the Satellite Hub
The Clerk confirmed that the equipment has been operational since 21 September.  There is a notice next to it giving access (password) details.  He periodically checked usage to ensure no-one was taking unfair advantage of the installation.  Its potential was still being explored though if the Community Cafe got off the ground this would be a welcome addition.

The Clerk also updated the meeting on his discussions with the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) project, explaining that the alternative solution for Claxton was a satellite service, with the hardware costs being met by Government through vouchers to be issued during December 2015.  He had also read that the Government was planning to launch a further initiative to deliver upwards of 10Mps to rural users, but there was a suggestion that the deadline for this would be 2020, when the next general election would take place.  He will continue to monitor developments and report back, including on the website.

15.104  Request for Additional Signatories on the Council’s bank account
Richard White offered to be the third signatory and the Clerk will provide him with all the papers he needs to get this done.

15.105  Request for financial assistance to launch a Community Café
Julia Kaye explained that a small team had formed to get this idea off the ground.  The café would be open to all villagers and passers-by, who could enjoy tea, coffee and cakes while meeting up with others.  They hoped to have a children’s corner, a book exchange, advertising board etc and were open to all ideas.  They planned to start on Tuesday 12 January (10am to 12 noon) and were hoping the Parish Council would make a grant to meet the start-up costs, ideally to be matched by the Village Hall.  After discussion the Councillors not directly involved in the project both agreed that a grant of £100 would be in order.  The Clerk will work with the team to ensure the payment is made when it is needed.

15.106  Parish Chairmen’s meeting at South Norfolk Council on 29 September
Pat Clare reported on this event.  The main focus had been the shortage of willing candidates for Parish Council seats, which had resulted in many Parishes not having a full Council.  Since the election there had been a further 14 resignations and 2 non-acceptances, exacerbating the problem.  The other main issue was boundary reviews.  The first would be at the parliamentary level, followed by Districts in 2016-17, Parishes in 2017-18 and Counties the following year.  Government would look to Parishes to come up with ideas for changes, which could include merging with a neighbour.  She thought the one change which would make sense was a merger with Carleton St Peter, but of course this would need their agreement too. Carleton did not have a Parish Council or Precept, just a Parish Meeting.  But she stressed this was all some way off.

15.107  Planning Matters
There had been no new applications or decisions since the last meeting.

15.108 Finance
a) The bank balance at 18 November was £4,933.44. Budget and bank statements had been circulated separately.
b) Receipts – £100 on 25 September (Mini Recycling Agreement) and £1,915.50 on 30 September (second half of the 2015-16 Precept).
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments

Cheque No Payee Description Amount
100305 M A Balmer Salary (Oct-Nov) and Admin (Sep-Nov) £ 296.61
100306 HMRC Clerk’s PAYE for second quarter of 2015-16 £ 63.80
100307 Norse Eastern Ltd Grass cutting at the Warren – second half £ 199.04
100308 Norse Eastern Ltd Grass cutting at the Village Hall – second half £ 187.90

Pat Clare proposed approval and David Hamblin seconded.

15.109  Update on the Parish Plan
There were two changes since the last meeting which the Clerk read out.  He had a copy which anyone present could consult.

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

15.111  Clerk’s Report
The Clerk reported that he had successfully had the Village Satellite Broadband Hub installed, chased the Environment Agency about an experts visit to Marsh Barn, started the process of tendering the grass-cutting contract for 2016-1018, chased the BBfN project on the expected timing of their alternative solution for Claxton and liaised with SNC over the loan of litter-picking equipment.

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

15.113  Items for next Agenda
The Clerk said that the 2016-17 budget and precept requirement would need to be decided in January, and much depended on how much Council Tax grant came from SNC.  This would be known by mid-December.  Councillors also had two months to suggest any additional activity.

15.114  Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 13 January 2016 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall.  The Chair wished everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year.

The meeting closed at 2025.

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