Parish Council Minutes September 2010

You can download a copy of these minutes here (PDF file).

Broomhaugh & Riding Parish Council

Minutes of the Parish Council held on 13th September 2010 in the Supper Room of the Parish Hall at 7.45pm

Present: Councillors Reid, Dunhill, Eakins and Heslop. Also present were Cllr Anne Dale and 3 members of the public.

1. Apologies: Cllr Mills. The resignation of Mrs Stephenson over a point of principle was reported.

2. Minutes of last meeting: These were agreed as a true record.

3. Matters arising: a) Northumbrian water: Cllr Dale had had a meeting with representatives of Northumbria Water and had raised the matter of the water main under the bridge. They have agreed to bring the matter forward as soon as they can and will look at a long term alternative solution that is safe.

b) VHT committee: Cllr Heslop reported on the recent meeting. One of the main items for discussion was the proposed turning head and car park for the Hall. The VHT appreciate the use of the green area for events and have voted in favour of the turning head, but not the car park. In response to Cllr Reid’s query, Cllr Heslop agreed he had put his own views forward on the matter and not those of the Parish Council whose views he was elected to represent.

c) Handy- man: It was noted the seats need doing as soon as possible. The Clerk would continue to chase him up and if he was not going to do the work, would look for an alternative. (He has since communicated and will commence work in 10 days time). Mrs Stephenson had agreed to continue liaising with Mr Johnson as originally agreed.

d) Weir: Cllrs Reid and Heslop met with Gary Cutter, an engineer from the Environment Agency. The Agency’s view is that it would be very costly to repair and it would be a continuing cost over the years. The better option would be to reduce the water levels gradually and let it run at natural depths. This would be better for the fish as well. As nothing can be started until next Spring at the earliest it was suggested by Cllr Reid that the options be put to the village for consideration eg. through the Parish News. If the village wishes to fully retain and repair the Weir, some sort of Friends Group would need to be formed to raise funds to maintain it as continuing to do so would be contrary to professional advice. The costs of the necessary work should be researched. MR

e) Spinney: The footpath has been scythed and chippings have been laid over the black support base.

f) TPOs: Cllr Dale has continued to chase these up. It turned out that the applications recently seen in the press should not have been there in the first place.

g) Cllr Dale has also met with the Sandy Bank Residents Association about improving access at the bottom of the Nick. The issue is ongoing.

4. Local Transport Plan: Matters for inclusion on the LTP were discussed. Already on the list are the 20mph limit past the School and the pedestrian crossing. Cllr Dale reported that she and Cllr Mills had had a meeting at County Hall about the crossing. They were informed that even if the Parish offered to pay for a crossing, the County Council would refuse permission as the potential amount of use fell far below that required by the County Council for them to support one. It was noted that the County was trialling 20mph limits past schools in five areas. If that experiment is successful, it may be further trialled in Church Lane. It was agreed to add to the list: refurbishment of Slaley Road and the surface of Church Lane where it passes St James’s Close.

Cllr Dunhill commented that the County had apparently ignored the detailed report he and several other councillors had prepared on the state of roads in the Parish – at the request of the Highways Department. It was agreed that the costs of flashing warning signs could be looked at again and Cllr Dale offered to assist with the costs out of her fund. Additional white lines of Church Lane at the narrow part were considered an unnecessary expense.

5. Hexham Magistrates Court: Cllr Dunhill stated the reasons for not closing the Court, essentially relating to the rural nature and size of the region; the lack of good public transport, the potential increased costs for people attending courts in Newcastle and the consequent likelihood of those same people not bothering to attend because of these problems, thereby making court procedures difficult. A petition on the subject which was well supported has already been forwarded. It was agreed to send a letter based on Cllr Dunhill’s draft with a copy to the local MP, Guy Opperman.

6. Mirror: The safety mirror opposite Hollin Hill Terrace had been stolen, in broad daylight. An insurance claim would be impractical as the value of the item is £2 less than the Council’s excess. The residents have replaced the mirror and the Council have agreed to pay for the cost of this.

7. Recycling: Cllr Eakins expressed concern that recycling facilities for less common items such as waxed paper drinks cartons and batteries were offered only at larger tips such as the one in Hexham, and hence not readily accessible to people who do not drive. Cllr Reid suggested that he and Cllr Eakins form a working party to look into recycling from a wider perspective. This was agreed. JE/MR

8. NALC County Committee: The Clerk raised the matter of re-election to the County Committee. The benefits of being on that committee were briefly summarised by the Clerk for the Council members, including the usefulness of direct contact between the Council and the County Council. Anything decided is always reported back to the Parish Council and to the East Tynedale Forum. It was noted that there were few representatives from the west Tynedale area despite efforts to recruit more. The work load is not onerous and the costs are low, being mileage only. It was agreed the Clerk be nominated again. MA

9. Planning:

20100381 Conservatory, The Granary, Riding Grange Conditional permission
20100386 Listed, satellite dish at Shepherd’s Dene Consent given
20100399 Replacement building at Freshfield, Sandy Bank Conditional permission
20100537 Extension, Denton House Conditional permission

10. Correspondence:

a) General – including correspondence about the Street Traders licensing consultation which has provoked much discussion amongst Parish and Town Councils.

b) Response from Standards Board: Following a complaint made about Cllr Reid and the result of the investigation, he made the following statement, which he was also submitting to the Hexham Courant:

“On 30th October 2009 Mr Brian Young made a formal written complaint to the Standards Board that at the Parish Council (PC) meeting of 12th October Councillor Malcolm Reid had failed to treat him with respect and had conducted himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his Office or Authority into disrepute.

After a 10 month investigation in which the County Investigating Officer interviewed and took statements from 12 people present and produced a 176 page report including appendices, the Standards Sub-committee concluded that there was no evidence that the officer, Cllr Malcolm Reid, had been guilty of the conduct complained of, and that there was no failure to comply with the Code by the Member. This is published on page 35 of this week’s Courant.( 10th September)

The PC has sought the cost of this inquiry through a Freedom of Information request but I understand that the costs cannot be separated out. The public has to draw its own conclusions.

This is the tip of the iceberg in the cost of complaints made by 3 individuals in this Parish working together. The PC has no redress. The inquiry is not empowered to report on Mr Young’s conduct. Anyone wishing to pursue legal redress against defamation has to be prepared to put up around £50,000 for this. The only other avenue we have is to inform the public as to what is going on, and what the public is paying for. The complainers are well aware of their cost to council tax payers.

The PC needs new members but people have been discouraged from standing when they know that we have serial complainers. I call on the complainers to restrict themselves to constructive criticism, which is welcomed, and hope that we are about to enter a new era of more constructive engagement and that parishioners will come forward to serve on the Parish Council.”

Cllr Dale explained that the costs were inevitably high because of the solicitor’s time involved but the nature of the investigation is such that the costs of the individual complaint cannot be isolated easily.

11. Finance:

a) Budgetary review: The financial statement and receipts were accepted. All categories were currently within budget.

b) The following payments were authorised:

M F Anderton – Salary/Aug – £420.36
M F Anderton – Expenses/June, July and August – £246.98
ROSPA – playpark inspection – £81.08
Viking (Stationery) – £139.11
VHT – rent – £33.00
Northumbrian Water – £24.23
BDO Audit fee, 09/10 Accounts – £334.88
Ward Hadaway, deed of covenant release – £881.25
Ward Hadaway, fees for last 18 months, general – £3,475.75

c) The Council agreed to accept the Audited Annual return. There were no significant comments

d) Release of Covenant: The recent release of a Covenant was under the old Covenants Policy because the original application had been made when the old policy was still in force. The decision was made after legal advice had been taken. Mrs Stephenson disagreed with the Council’s decision on this point and subsequently resigned. Having obtained permission from the homeowner, the Council has permission to state that the release refers to Grovefield.

e): Reserve accounts: Because of the very low rate of interest, it was agreed to look at alternatives for the savings account that might offer a better return. As the Clerk would be attending the SLCC National Conference in October where a number of banks would be exhibiting, it was also agreed to leave the matter until then although any suitable suggestions from other Clerks would be considered as well.. It was also noted that the Bank of Ireland is in the process of setting up its’ UK accounts as Bank of Ireland (UK) Ltd so that the security of funds is guaranteed under UK law.

12. Minor matters:

A representative to attend the joint meeting of the NCC and parish and town councils on 12th October is needed;

There is a problem with trees overhanging the main road near the railway bridge. Cllr Reid has not yet been able to see the householder. He will try again. They have also deposited rubbish in public view but on private land; MR

The future of the East Tynedale Forum was briefly mentioned. It seems likely the funding will not continue;

The Chairman had authorised (under the Council’s financial regulations) the resurfacing and line painting on the bridge in Millfield Road as no-one was around for consultation during the holidays; the Council accepted that a survey of the bridge should be carried out; JM

Councillors are preparing a statement on Millfield Road to go to the public as there are a number of misconceptions in circulation which need correcting;

Letters of thanks would be sent to Mrs Stephenson and of good wishes to the Vicar, who is moving;

Cllr Dale had been in touch with the Fire Brigade who were concerned about the letter that had appeared in the Hexham Courant after the bridge width was reduced. They confirmed that the NRFS appliance mentioned in that letter as responding to a non-emergency incident was, in fact, undertaking an on-scene assessment in response to look at alternative routes, note the addresses of properties affected, offering Home Risk assessment to those properties affected.

The meeting closed at 9.15pm.