Meeting held on Wednesday 17 January 2018 in Claxton Village Hall at 7.33pm.
In attendance: Councillor Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Councillor David Hamblin, Councillor Mary Button and Councillor Jason Cantrill and Mr Mike Balmer (Clerk). Also attending: 4 Parishioners and District Councillor. Councillor Sarah Kennedy and County Councillor both absent.
18.01 Approved absences – Councillor Sarah Kennedy.
18.02 Declarations of Interest – there were none.
18.03 Minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2017
The minutes of the above meeting, which had been circulated beforehand and placed on the notice board and website, were approved and signed.
18.04 District Councillor
Councillor Jaan Larner said he would contribute to item 5 (Defibrillator).
18.05 County Councillor
Councillor Barry Stone is currently unwell and unable to attend meetings but has been in regular touch with the Clerk and continues to work from home.
18.06 Parishioners’ Questions
One parishioner noted that the Environment Agency was currently working on dredging Hellington Beck but there was a problem. They were using the environmental bucket which took out plant growth but no silt. This was not only causing the spread of Himalayan Balsam but was also leading to the Beck silting up, as silt was not being taken out and piled on the sides. There had already been a case of water from the Beck flowing onto the road surface. He understood that every 5 years the EA was committed to using a conventional bucket to remove much of the silt at the bottom of the Beck, and this was now overdue. The Clerk noted that work had not yet started on Carleton Beck and he would endeavour to contact the EA to seek an explanation.
Another parishioner asked about work to tidy up the village sign and improve the area around it. This was still planned but no progress had yet been made.
Councillor David Hamblin updated the meeting. He had established that neighbouring village halls had all had the Community Heart Beat Trust defibrillator installed, complete with key code lock etc. Langley and Hardley had received a grant from East of England Coop towards the cost. Councillor Sarah Kennedy had passed on details of an alternative defibrillator for consideration. There were various funding possibilities and these had to be pulled together. Councillor Jaan Larner said he was able to offer some help from his Ward Budget, and that he was happy to provide £500 towards this worthy project. This was accepted with pleasure. The Clerk will provide him with bank details so this can be arranged.
18.08 External Audit
The Clerk explained the 2018 arrangements with the appointment of a new external auditor. Claxton was a small enough Parish Council to be able formally to opt out of external audit. While this would not normally be considered, PKF’s charges for a Limited Assurance Review would be £200, whereas for the last 3-4 years Mazars’ services had been free. £200 equated to 5% of the Precept which was disproportionate and the Clerk would be recommending that the May meeting of the Parish Council opt not to go for external audit. The Council’s performance against the requirements of the Transparency Code was strong, there was total financial transparency and this would continue.
18.09 Precept 2018-19
The Clerk had provided Councillors with 5 different options, all of which meant a very small change in the Parish Council element of Council Tax for Band D households. After discussion Councillors unanimously agreed to accept Option D, which foresaw a small increase in the PC element of Council Tax (an extra 47p more a year), The Chair and Clerk signed the application which the Clerk will scan and send to South Norfolk Council by the Friday deadline.
18.10 Clerk Vacancy
The Clerk had put the vacancy notice on noticeboards, on the village website and NALC’s website. The Chair had not received any contacts as a result. The Clerk confirmed he would be standing down on 31 May at the latest, and contingency plans will need to be built in case there is no successor on that timing.
18.11 Claxton Corner traffic issues
The Clerk reminded the meeting that he had been negotiating a visit to Claxton Corner by the new Head of Highways (Gary Overland) and had asked Barry Stone to chase this. At the same time Barry Stone had agreed to fund additional road signage, details of which were also with Highways. The Clerk would ensure these were not lost sight of. In the meantime his request for all the badly deteriorated upright posts holding the 30MPH signs to be replaced had been partially successful, in that 6 of the 8 posts were now new. One parishioner noted that there had been a traffic accident at Claxton corner between Christmas and the New Year though no-one was injured.
18.12 Commemorative Tree for Linda Clitheroe
The Chair reported that the stump of the Jubilee tree had been ground out over the weekend, reducing the height of that part of the car park, and thanked the parishioner who had done this free of charge. She had received a request to consider a different location for the commemorative tree for Linda Clitheroe, since planting it at the front of the Hall would not only eventually jeopardize the underground piping, but would also conceal much of the Village Hall again. Having an open front meant more people noticed the Hall. There was already one plaque against a tree in the car park which was all but invisible. She proposed that the tree should be planted at the far end of the container, where it would still be completely visible and easy to tidy up around its base. This was agreed by the Council.
18.13 Request from the PCC
The PCC had asked for a grant towards churchyard maintenance in 2017-18. There was already £300 in the budget for this purpose and the request was approved.
18.14 Request from NARS
The Council had received a request for a financial donation from the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service. They were in favour of making some donation but given the financial pressures around the defibrillator did not feel able to offer more than £25.
18.15 Request from the Village Hall Committee
The Chair of the VH Committee had asked for permission to plant a cotoneaster hedge on the front of the car park parallel to the wooden fence belonging to the neighbouring property (Foxgloves) but far enough from the fence that it was not affected and the hedge could be keep under control. This was agreed.
The Clerk confirmed there had been no new applications since the last meeting.
The Clerk reported that the bank balance at 17 January was £3,706.63. The Budget/Financial Report and Payments Schedule have both been circulated to Councillors in advance. There had been no receipts or grants and the Payments Schedule was as follows:
*** The first cheque had been signed and despatched in December under Standing Orders, with formal approval requested now. The Schedule was approved for payment by Pat Clare and seconded by David Hamblin.
18.18 Clerk’s Report
The Clerk reported that he had contacted Highways/the County Councillor in follow-up to the last meeting re traffic at Claxton Corner and the purchase of road signs from the CC’s member’s budget, added the Clerk’s vacancy notice to the NALC website, and asked Highways (Rangers) to jet drains outside Peascod. On Bus services he had checked whether the 85 is again under threat as part of a recent consultation – it isn’t. He had also registered Claxton for the South Norfolk Litter pick in February.
The Clerk tabled a list of correspondence which had been e-mailed or circulated to Councillors or received prior to the meeting. Items included:
- Norfolk ALC Newsletters
- Community Action Norfolk’s newsletters
- NDR updates
- Clerks and Councils direct
18.20 Items for next Agenda
Updates on a defibrillator, traffic at Claxton Corner and tree planting. Flooding at various points on the road into Norwich.
Date of next meeting – Wednesday 14 March 2018.
The meeting closed at 8.26pm.