Minutes of Parish Council Meeting on 18 January 2017

In attendance:  Councillor Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Councillor Mary Button, Councillor David Hamblin and Councillor Jason Cantrill and Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk).  Also attending:  County Councillor and 11 Parishioners.  No District Councillor present.

17.01 Approved absences – none.

17.02 Declarations of Interest – there were none.

17.03 Minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2016
The minutes of the above meeting, which had been circulated beforehand and placed on the notice board and website, were approved and signed.

17.04 Filling the vacant Councillor position
The only candidate to put themselves forward was on a previously-arranged foreign holiday so would now be co-opted at the next meeting.

17.05 District Councillor
Barry Stone noted that bus services was a separate item on the agenda.  He confirmed that the reduction of the speed limit at Hellington Corner had been agreed and hoped for progress shortly.  Similarly he expected work on the new roundabout where George Lane met the A146 in Loddon to start in the spring.  There was no funding agreed for a similar roundabout in Hales, given that there was no new housing development.  Council Tax was set to rise in 2017-18, with the County increasing its share by 4.8% (of which 3% was for Social Care).  The Police and Crime Commissioner was raising his by 2% and the District Council by £5 though it was unclear whether this was across the board or for Band D only, meaning that other Bands would see proportions of this sum.  The New Homes Bonus has moved from District to County leaving less money for South Norfolk.  Last year they were 6th nationally by new homes built and this year (only) 8th.

17.06 Parishioners’ Questions
One parishioner felt that the rises in Council Tax were unacceptable, given that Claxton receives little benefit from County or District, or the PCC.  He also felt that Claxton’s Precept was unreasonable.  He went on to suggest that the national taxation system should be changed to mirror that in some European countries where a proportion of the VAT-equivalent went to the local authorities.  Lastly he criticised the County Council decision the previous year to pay Cory Wheelabrator a £35m penalty after cancelling the King’s Lynn incinerator project.  The County Councillor responded on some of the points and the Chair pointed out that many of his points were not appropriate for a Parish level meeting.

17.07 Revised Bus services – 85, 85A and 86
Some parishioners present had not seen the revised schedule and expressed concern that it would not meet needs.  One of the main concerns was the short connection times in Loddon which came unstuck whenever the A146 traffic was heavy, and in one recent case had left a villager stuck in Loddon for a long period.  There was consensus that the new schedule should be given a fair run, and others encouraged to use it.  The Parish Council looked forward to hearing views at its next meeting, a month after the new schedule came into effect.

17.08 2017-18 Precept
Councillors had seen the correspondence from South Norfolk Council and the draft 2017-18 Budget completed by the Clerk, alongside an Options Paper to guide their deliberations. After a short discussion they opted for a Precept of £4,077, equivalent to a 2% rise or 85p  a year for a Band D household.  The application was signed and the Clerk will dispatch to SNC the following day.

17.09 Request for Financial Support from the Parochial Church Council
The request for a grant of £300 was discussed and approved.

17.10 The 1,000 Beacons Initiative
The Clerk explained that all Parish Councils in the UK had been approached with a view to their participating in the 1,000 Beacons initiative which will take place on 11 November 2018, exactly 100 years since the end of World War I.  The Council agreed that they wished to take part and the Clerk will confirm this with the organisers.

17.11 Village Hall Grounds issues
Councillor Button offered her husband’s services to tackle the increasing mole problem at the Village Hall, and the Council agreed that two quotes should be sought from tree surgeons to dismantle the horse chestnut at the front of the car park which is now splitting very badly along the trunk.

17.12 Planning Issues
There was one recent application – 2016/2743 which is an application to build a garage/workshop at Cart Barn behind The Beeches.  The Council had considered this outside the meeting and agreed to support it.  This had been done.

17.13 Finance
A detailed financial statement had been made available to Councillors and parishioners alike, and Councillors had seen the complete list of proposed payments well in advance, so there were no surprises.

a) The bank balance at 18 January was £3,635.01.
b) Receipts – none.
c) Grants – none.
d) Payments

Cheque Payee Amount Description
100339 M A Balmer £271.50 Salary (£193.50) Dec-Jan 2017 & Admin (£78.00) Nov-Jan 2017
100340 Claxton PCC £300.00 Annual grant for churchyard maintenance

On a proposal from Pat Clare, seconded by David Hamblin, the schedule was approved for payment, and cheques signed.

17.14 Report from Clerk
The Clerk reported that he had followed up on mud on Church Lane, published the Councillor Vacancy Notice, advertised the Broads Authority Local Plan consultation, continued contact with the County Council over bus schedule changes and provided hard copies to those in the village without internet access (and at the Community Café), handled all Parish Precept paperwork and drafted an Options paper for Councillors, sought advice from other Clerks about paying his PAYE electronically and begun to sort out Bank Mandate issues.

17.15 Correspondence
The Clerk tabled a short list of correspondence which had been circulated to Councillors or received prior to the meeting.  Items included:

  • Consultation from PCC on next year’s budget and updates
  • NDR updates
  • Norfolk ALC Newsletters
  • Community Action Norfolk’s December newsletter
  • Clerks and Councils Direct December 2016 and January 2017
  • Guidance on new external audit arrangements

17.16 Items for next Agenda
Buses – an update.  Tree quotes.  Slade Lane blockages.  Hellington Beck conservation (to be clarified with parishioner who raised this).

Date of next meeting – Wednesday 15 March 2017 at 7.30pm.

The meeting closed at 2027.

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