DRAFT Minutes of the Meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council held on MAY 5th 2021

A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held online via Zoom videoconferencing on May 5th 2021, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 9.35pm.

The meeting opened with prayers

65/21).  Present were:-    

Councillor P. Jones  (Chairman)           Councillor L. Dale           

Councillor R. Taylor                              Councillor S. Mifflin

Councillor G. Dale                               Councillor B. Delanchy

 Councillor S. Perren                            Councillor C. Wilkins       

Councillor P. Stenning                         Councillor S. Kean

Councillor J. Leather                            Councillor J. Jones 

Councillor A. Reid                               Councillor E. Amos

Councillor R. Langford            

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk) , Mrs. Beverley Partridge (Assistant Clerk)

Borough and County Councillor J. Pert                          

1 member of the public

66/21).   To elect a Chairman and signature of declaration of office.

The outgoing chair, Cllr Peter Jones took the Chair for the election of the Chairman. There were two candidates for the Office of Chairman, Cllrs P. Jones and L. Dale. Councillor  P. Jones  was re-elected as Chairman for the ensuing year.

Cllr. P. Jones duly signed the declaration of office form.

67/21).    Apologies:

      There were no apologies to receive.

68/21).    To elect a Vice-Chairman and sign the declaration of office.

There was one candidate for the Office of Vice-Chairman. Councillor  L. Dale was re-elected as Vice- Chairman for the ensuing year.

Cllr. L. Dale duly signed the declaration of office form.

69/21).   To consider Councillor requests for dispensation and accept Declarations of interest    relating to items on the agenda.

     There were no requests to receive, and no declarations of interest were made.

70/21).   To confirm the minutes of the Council Meeting held on April 22nd 2021

The minutes, which had been previously circulated, were agreed and will be signed at the earliest opportunity.

71/21).    To appoint Committees and Liaison Representatives. To include the formation of a new        Events Committee and appoint members.

It was resolved to approve the current membership and liaison responsibilities as listed below:

Committees:

Planning Committee                     All Councillors. Cllr. Delanchy (Ch).

Traffic Management Committee    Councillors L. Dale (Ch), P. Jones, J. Jones, Amos, Langford, Leather (VC), Stenning, Perren, G. Dale and Wilkins.

Enhancements Committee           Councillors L. Dale (Ch), P. Jones, Amos, Langford, Stenning, Taylor (VC), G. Dale, Wilkins, Reid and Perren

Policy and Resources                   Councillors P. Jones (Ch), Amos, J. Jones, L. Dale, Taylor (VC), G. Dale, S. Perren, C. Wilkins and Reid.

Footpaths                                      Councillors Taylor (Ch), P. Jones, Leather, Mifflin, Wilkins (VC) and Perren, together with co-opted members – Mr. N. Davenport, Mr. D. Smith, Mr. E. Ranson and Mr. Graham Cole.

Staffing Committee                       Councillors  P. Jones, L. Dale and Delanchy.

The Chair of the Council is a member of all Council Committees.

Other responsibilities/Liaison Reps:

Croxton Playing Fields                 Croxton Councillors

Allotments                                    Councillor S. Perren

Eccleshall Community Centre      Councillors Amos and Dale. 

Parish Councils Assoc.                 Clerk

Parish Forum                                Clerk

Police Liaison Officer                    Clerk

Flood Action Group                      Councillor S. Perren

Eccleshall First Responders         Clerk

Offley Hay Village Hall                  Councillor J. Jones

Press Officer                                Councillor P. Jones

Visit Stafford                                 Councillor J. Jones

Ecclian Society                             Councillor G. Dale

Internal Auditor                             Councillor S. Mifflin

Independent Internal Auditor        Mr. Alan Toplis

Slindon Residents                        Councillor J. Leather

Children & Young Peoples Champion   Councillor A. Reid

Croxton News                               Councillor R. Langford

Newsletter Editorial Team             Councillors P. Jones, R. Langford and R. Taylor

Membership of the following working groups was confirmed as follows:

Health and Wellbeing:-                              Councillors L. Dale, Taylor, Wilkins and Reid.

Sustainability and Climate Change:-         Councillors Langford, Stenning and Reid

It was resolved to form a new Events committee with membership as follows:

Councillors P. Jones, J. Jones, L. Dale, G. Dale, Amos and Taylor.

72/21     To consider the Council’s Deeds and Insurances

It was resolved to defer this item to the next Policy and Resources committee meeting, to allow for full consideration.

73/21     To review and re-adopt the following policies: –

    The following policies were reviewed and re-adopted with any changes as noted below: –

  1. Complaints procedure. Unchanged. It was noted that a new model complaints procedure is imminent and will be considered in due course.
  2. Standing Orders. Amended with minor changes on p.9 regarding the voting process, and an update on p16. to reflect new online banking procedures. It was also resolved to amend Standing Order 3 to clarify the rights of the public with regards to speaking at a Council meeting.
  3. Financial Regulations. No changes required.
  4. Publication Scheme. Minor update to p4 disbursement costs.
  5. Policies, procedures and practices in respect of its obligations under freedom of information and data protection legislation. No changes required.
  6. Financial Risk Assessment. Updated to reflect current insurance provision and procedures to manage online banking provision and mitigation of risk.

74/21     Public Participation

 There were no members of the public who wished to speak

75/21     To receive any reports from Borough and County Councillors.

County Councillor Pert provided a verbal report. Updates included:

  • Coronavirus 7 day case rates remain low for Stafford, and lower than County and UK averages. 622,000 1st jabs have been administered, and 243,000 2nd The importance of regular lateral flow testing was highlighted.
  • The A519 at Mill Meece remains closed due to bridge works but is expected to re-open from 14th May, with 2 way lights for a further 2 months.
  • Work on the Stone Road flood alleviation scheme is ongoing and expected to last 3-5 weeks.
  • Resurfacing works on the Newport Road to the Eagle pub and along Castle Street are due to commence over the summer.

Borough Councillor P. Jones had no updates to report.

76/21      Committee Updates:

Traffic Management:        

There were no updates to report.

Footpaths:

  The Parish Council considered and approved the KETT business card design. It was resolved to approve Creative copy to print 250 cards, at a cost of £23.

Enhancements:

  • It was resolved to approve refurbishment works on 6 benches and the Croxton bus shelter, reported as a result of the annual asset checks. The costs are low, usually less than £25. It was also resolved to approve delegation for approval to the Clerk in conjunction with the Chair/Vice Chair for any further minor refurbishment works as a result of the outstanding asset checks.
  • It was resolved to approve the purchase of 6 Litres of specialist blue paint to repaint the Pillar Clock and town bins, colour RAL5013, at a cost of £218.76 plus VAT.
  • It was noted that the Cheshire railings bordering Elford need repainting. The Clerk will report them to Highways, as they are County Council responsibility. Other areas of Cheshire fencing owned by SCC are located on the Chester Road by the Pershall Road junction, and along Cash Lane. It was agreed to refer the issue to Enhancements for further discussion.

Policy and Resources:

There were no updates to report    

77/21).    To consider and approve the updated finance infographic

It was resolved to approve the revised finance infographic, for dissemination via Facebook, and the website to provide information on the expenditure of the Parish Council.

78/21).    To consider a grant request from the First responders to support their ongoing work.

      The Council resolved to approve the award of a grant of £1,000 in support of the ongoing work of the First Responders. It was noted that the work of the First Responders extends to other parishes and it could use the example of the Parish Council to request support from other Parish Councils.

79/21).    To consider a proposed motion with regards to concerns over commercial logging in Bishop’s Wood and its impact on climate change.

Bishop’s Wood, consisting of Big Bishop’s and Little Bishop’s wood, an ancient woodland and site of biological interest, is located to the northwest of the Parish. Privately owned by the Church Commission, it is leased and managed by the Forestry Commission. 3 public rights of way cross the land. The management plan for the area is within the North Staffordshire Forest Plan 2019-2028, and the plan also includes Future Forest Structure plans up to 2060. The area is a site for commercial logging, is enjoyed by walkers, and provides a habitat for many species including ground nesting birds, red ants and the scarce Argent and Sable moth.

There was an in depth discussion regarding the use of Bishop’s Wood as a commercial logging site, if current activity levels are reflected in the Forest Plan, if this is monitored and how lease conditions may restrict public accessibility due to private land ownership. There were also considerations around habitat preservation, sustainability and climate change. It was noted that Cllr. Taylor had spoken to the area manager regarding footpaths and access and he had volunteered to lay some logs along the main paths as resting spots for walkers in lieu of benches.

It was agreed this was a complex subject that requires further discussion and research to fully understand the logging activities undertaken, how the site is managed, public access restrictions and any other related issues. The original motion was withdrawn and the council resolved to form a working group to liaise with agencies including the Forestry Commission and  Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, in order to deepen understanding of how the area is managed and the current on site activities. A report will be brought back to the Council for further discussion. The Working Group consists of Cllrs. Leather, Reid, Stenning, Langford, Taylor, Perren and G. Dale.

80/21).   To consider and appoint the internal auditor for the period April 1st, 2021 – 31 March 2022.

It was resolved to approve the appointment of Toplis Associates as the internal auditor for the financial period 202-22.

81/21).    To consider and agree a plan for upcoming meetings following the removal of the option to hold virtual meetings after 6th May 2021.

The Clerk had circulated a paper outlining the considerations for returning to physical meetings beyond the expiry of the temporary Coronavirus legislation that allowed meetings to be held legally via Zoom. It was noted that the government had advised that the public be provided with options to view the meeting remotely prior to the 21st June to reduce attendance in person, which was not possible with the current meeting venue and required technical equipment. Safety of Councillors, staff and the public were the prime consideration. It is hoped that the planned relaxation of restrictions from June 21st in line with reduction in cases will support the next scheduled meeting of the Parish Council on the 23rd June, which will be held at Offley Hay Village Hall.

It was resolved to approve delegation to the Clerk, in consultation with the Chair/Vice Chair until the next convened meeting, in line with the proposed Scheme of Delegation. This will ensure day to day running of the Council is not disrupted, and any items of emergency can be dealt with in a timely manner. Informal discussions can be held with other councillors if required, at any time.

It was resolved to postpone the Planning Committee meetings until June 23rd 2021. A response to any applications received that require a response prior to the next meeting will be delegated to the Clerk, in consultation with the Chairman and members.

82/21).   To receive the Clerks Report, containing liaison representative updates.

  The Clerks report was received by the Council.

   The Clerk advised that the summer newsletter was being compiled and can members email the clerk with suggested content.

83/21).    Correspondence: –

There was no correspondence for consideration

84/21      Chairman’s Report: –

  There were no updates to report.

85/21).    Accounts: –

A1 – To receive the Internal Audit report. Copies of the report had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting. The report advised that there were no matters to be brought to the attention of the council. The Parish Council noted receipt and resolved to accept the report.

A2 – To Approve the Annual Governance Statement (Section 1 of the Annual Return). The Annual Governance Statement was considered by the Council in detail and it was resolved that all matters had been adequately complied with. The Chairman signed the form accordingly.

A3 – To consider and approve the Accounting Statements (Section 2 of the Annual Return). Copies of the statement had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting. It was resolved to approve the statement of accounts and this was signed by the Chairman.

A4 – To accept the Financial report to end April 2021. It was resolved to accept the Financial summary. The Clerk was not able to provide a reconciliation as bank statements had not yet been received.

A5 – To approve accounts for payment May 2021:-

       Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

Japhlin – Computer maintenance (monthly direct debit)

46.14

G Dale – Helping Hand Voucher reimbursement

48.00

Japhlin – laptop, set up and antivirus

960.00

Mr. Graham Cole – Footpaths maintenance

66.25

Eccleshall in Bloom – Bloom baskets x 4

120.00

Mr. A.G. Jones – SIDS movement

100.00

 

All were in favour and the cheques will be signed accordingly.

A6 – To consider SLCC membership for the Assistant Clerk:-

It was resolved to approve the annual subscription fee of £95 for the Assistant Clerk, which will allow access to training, reference materials and to attend regional meetings on behalf of the Council.

86/21).   To consider and approve delegation to the Clerk until the next convened meeting:-

It was resolved to approve delegation to the Clerk to make decisions and arrange payments on behalf of the council where such decision cannot reasonably be deferred and must be made in order to comply with a commercial or statutory deadline and to effectively carry out the day to day business of the Council, in line with the approved Scheme of Delegation. This is in the event of any disruption to the planned meeting schedule due to the removal of legislation that allows virtual meetings and will be in place until the next legally convened council meeting. Decisions will be made in consultation with the Chair/Vice-Chair.

87/21).    Items / Date and Venue for next meeting: –

The Annual meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for June 23rd, 2021, Offley Hay Village Hall, commencing at 7.30pm.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.15pm.