Minutes of Council Meeting on 23rd July 2020 at 7.30pm via Zoom.
Cllr K Vernon, Cllr P Stevenson, Cllr D Harris, Cllr A Jones, Cllr G Stockdale. A and K Wakefield, G and R Tayler, N Cox, C Ewing, A Harrison, E Moreland, S and Y Higgins.
N.B. Action minutes in red.
Public participation: (15 minutes)
Mr S Higgins gave a statement on behalf of the Village Hall Management Trustees. He noted that VH Trustees had been encouraged by the opportunity for positive engagement with the Parish Council in evidence at the PC/VH subcommittee meeting of 17th Feb. 2020.
He felt that the meeting had been very positive and was in the best interests of the Parish Council, the Village Hall Trustees and the parish as a whole. He also noted, however, that the minutes of the Parish Council meeting of 5th Feb.2020 had been published without regard to amendments which the Village Hall Trustees had requested.
Furthermore, he noted that in the Parish Council meeting of 20th Feb.2020 the Acting Chair had wrongly declined his request to speak, wrongly declining to lift Standing Orders to allow him to do so.
He also noted that the Acting Chair had indicated her intention and that of the Clerk to return outstanding S106 funds to LDC. He added that no formal response had been received to his raising of concerns about these issues but he and the other Village Hall Trustees remain committed to looking to the future and working with the Parish Council for the benefit of parishioners.
He looks forward to a speedy resolution of these issues by the re-establishing of the PC/VH subcommittee at the earliest opportunity. Mr Higgins also gave an update on Village Hall matters:
• The recent flood, the second in a short time, had been successfully dealt with.
• Government guidelines are being followed with a view to making the Hall Covid secure.
• The Post Office service will resume on 30.7.20, in a virus compliant manner.
• The Chair introduced and Welcomed Cllr Antony Jones, recently co-opted to the Parish Council.
• The Chair reminded Councillors and members of the public of Zoom ‘etiquette’: please raise a hand as an indication of your desire to speak.
1. Apologies: Cllr S Barnett.
2. Declarations of Interest: None.
3. To approve the Minutes of Council Meetings on 5th Feb 2020, 20th Feb 2020 and 2nd July 2020:
• 5th Feb.2020: Amendment: with the deletion of Mr Higgins’ name at an agreed point: Proposed: Cllr Harris, Seconded: Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed and signed by Chair.
• 20th Feb 2020: Proposed: Cllr Harris, Seconded : Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed and signed by Chair.
• 2nd July 2020: Proposed: Cllr Harris, Seconded: Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed and signed.
4. Election of Councillors to specified roles:
• PC rep. on V Hall Committee: Cllr Stevenson. Proposed; Cllr Vernon, Seconded: Cllr Stockdale. All in favour. Agreed.
• HS2 liaison: Cllr Stockdale. Proposed: Cllr Vernon, Seconded: Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed.
• SevernTrent/South Staffs/Highways: Cllr Stevenson. Proposed: Cllr Vernon, Seconded: Cllr Harris. All in favour. Agreed.
• Neighbourhood Plan (See 14. Below)
5. Election of PC reps on VH subcommittee Committee: Cllr Stevenson and Cllr Harris Proposed: Cllr Vernon, Seconded: Cllr Stockdale. All in favour. Agreed.
6. Transparency Code: The Chair explained aspects of the requirements in the Code, which small Councils could avoid, but which he felt would be advisable for this Council to adopt:
• Communication with parishioners via a dedicated website.
• Minutes of Council meetings to be available (in draft) within 10 working days.
• Declaration of expenditure in excess of £100, showing date, item and possible VAT reclamation.
Councillors also discussed the advisability of disclosing employees’ salaried on the Cheque report. Councillors felt that such disclosure may infringe GDPR regulations; the Chair will take advice and report to the Council.
Adoption of Transparency Code: Proposed: Cllr Stevenson, Seconded: Cllr Stockdale. All in favour. Agreed.
7. Residual S106 funding: After the completion of the play area refurbishment, the residual monies had been held pending a decision on their use for the installation of a zip wire. However, objections had been received from residents adjacent to the site. Furthermore, Councillors had conducted a Health and Safety audit, which indicated that the proximity of the MUGA to the proposed zip wire was a safety hazard for both sets of users.
The Chair reminded Councillors that, at a previous meeting in February 2020, it had been stated that the then Vice Chair and the Clerk had decided that the monies would be returned to LDC; at that meeting CCllr Tittley had advised against that action.
The Chair proposed that the Council should formulate a prepared and costed plan for the appropriate spending of the residual funds, in consultation with the Village Hall Trustees and for the benefit of the users in the Parish. He proposed an upgrade to the current facilities, ie an extended FIFA approved MUGA which could be used for football, hockey, tennis, basketball etc. Seconded: Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed.
Cllr Stockdale will obtain quotations. Proposals will be presented to LDC and the VH Trustees for consultation.
8. Parish Council/ Village Hall noticeboard. Discussion took place around the current state of the shared noticeboard. Cllr Stevenson suggested the purchase of a separate PC noticeboard. The Chair suggested the existing board could be prepared and repainted. Decision: referred to Subcommittee. Agreed.
9. Accounts 2019-20 The outgoing Clerk had prepared the end of year accounts, pending signature by Councillors. Proposed: Cllr Harris, Seconded: Cllr Stevenson. All in favour. Agreed and signed.
10. Footpaths in village C and L Landscapes are expected to complete the cutting of the 3 footpaths shortly. (N.B. job completed 24.7.20) Re. footpath from School to Uttoxeter Road: Cllr Stevenson advised that the householder adjacent to the path is maintaining the hedge but SCC needs to reinstate the missing Public Footpath sign. Cllr Stevenson to contact SCC. Cllr Stockdale to contact School re. the maintenance of the hedge on the school side.
11. Village Gateway Some quotes had been obtained by the outgoing Vice Chair and Clerk. The Chair will request suggestions from parishioners. Cllr Stockdale to continue research and provide quotations.
12. Play area / VH grounds. Play grounds and public open spaces need to be better maintained and tidier than they are currently. Referred to sub-committee. All in favour. Agreed.
13. Hire charges for PC use of Village Hall space. The Chair offered apologies to the Village Hall Trustees regarding the outstanding hire fees for the PC’s use of the Lounge for PC meetings and space in the VH Office. He noted that, in previous time, the suggestion had been made that the PC did not need to pay for their hire of Hall facilities as the PC paid for grass cutting. This is not the case. Cllr Stevenson enquired if the Village Hall Trustees had confirmed this, and the Chair replied that they had done so. The Chair invited the Village Hall Trustees to submit a bill to the PC in order to rectify this situation.
14. Neighbourhood Plan. The Chair outlined the advantages in having a Neighbourhood Plan, including having a greater degree of control over future development in the Parish, and the facility to apply for grant funding for projects. The Chair proposed Cllr Jones and Cllr Stevenson to drive this forward. Seconded: Cllr Harris. All in favour. Agreed.
Cllr Stevenson advised that village groups will be invited to collaborate in developing the Plan.
15. Report on Play area Cllr Stockdale gave a report on the current state of the Play area and steps to be taken to permit a Covid 19 secure reopening. Advice on Risk Assessments and other virus compliant protocols has been obtained from The Health and Safety Executive, the University of Birmingham and RoSPA.
a. In the apparent absence of a weed suppressant membrane, pictures of the current weed growth have been sent to Schoolscapes, the installers. A reply is awaited.
b. The insurance company has been contacted and has given advice on measures needed to ensure compliance with the terms of the policy.
c. It appears that the required inspection due in April 2020 has not been undertaken. An equipment safety inspection has now been arranged with RoSPA and it is confirmed that the play area is on an annual inspection cycle.
d. Risk Assessments have been completed every time the Government advice has changed, and recorded in line with HSE and insurance company requirements.
e. Signage has been placed on access gates to the Play area. Updates are also notified via the PC website and FB page. Cllr Stockdale advised that the Caretaker has begun work on the tiding up of the Play area. She requested approval for the purchase of hand sanitising equipment, equipment for the sanitising of hard surfaces and PPE for the Caretaker. All in favour. Agreed.
Cllr Stockdale will provide examples of signage prior to a reopening, for Councillors’ approval.
16. Wages for July 2020. Proposed; Cllr Vernon, Seconded: Cllr Stockdale. All in favour. Agreed.
17. Date of next meeting: TBA. Please see the PC website for dates of meetings.
Correspondence. The Chair explained that no items of Correspondence had been advised due to difficulties accessing the PC laptop, and therefore was not included in the Agenda. Items advised separately:
• Correspondence from Mr J Grimley re. local footpaths, stiles and signs. (See 10. above)
• Correspondence from a parishioner re. potholes in Blithbury. Addressed by SCC.
• Correspondence from DCllr: Canvas letters from LDC for the annual survey of the District will go out from 24th July.
Concluding statement by the Chair. Having taken advice, the Chair confirmed that all recent actions taken by the PC, including the Extraordinary meeting of 2nd July, are lawful, properly constituted and approved by the SPCA.
He confirmed that Cllr Stockdale had been properly elected as interim Proper Officer after the resignation of the outgoing Clerk.
The Chair was pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Emily Moreland as Parish Clerk from 1.8.20. She can be contacted on the new PC email address: email@example.com.
The Chair confirmed that minutes of PC meetings will be emailed to parishioners if requested. This is in addition to the usual posting of minutes on the Noticeboard, in the Messenger and on the new PC website.
The Chair confirmed that minutes of PC meetings will now be available to parishioners in Draft form within a reasonable timescale, without the former delays in publication.
Meeting closed: 8.55pm. Signed……………………………………………… (Chair) Date……………………………………….