Clerks Report – Parish Council Meeting 18th November 2020, 7.30pm via Zoom.

Supplementary documents circulated to support the agenda:

  • Quotations for new swing (item 6)
  • P&R Minutes and Deeds and insurances summary (item 6)
  • Staffing proposal documents (item 10)
  • Grant applications (item 12)

Committee Updates (to note):

Footpaths:

  • No report

Enhancements:

  • No additional report

Traffic Management:

  • No report

Policy and Resources:

  • No additional report

Borough Councillor Update:-

  • No report

County Councillor Update, Cllr. J. Pert:- (updated 18th November)

Good evening, unfortunately I have a clash of meetings this evening which means that I need to be elsewhere on Borough Council business and whilst technology allows more meetings to be squashed into diaries, side by side to fill the day, it does not yet allow for me to be in two places at the same time.

By way of a high-level update :-

  • Coronavirus cases continue to rise across Staffordshire, relatively uniformly across all district or borough areas albeit at a much slower level and it is hoped that by the end of the week, the peak will have been seen, although the same cannot be said for some near neighbours outside of Staffordshire
  • It remains vitally important that we all continue to remind friends, family, people that we come into contact with of the importance of those three elements of HANDS – FACE – SPACE
  • It is most likely that when we come out of national lockdown on 2nd December 2020 that we will go back to the local tiering system – with or without a new level – maybe Tier 3+, although not starting at level 1, but at a level equivalent to the number of cases (- the R Rate) in each individual area, so we really do need to keep re-enforcing the positive messaging if we are to come out of the national lockdown at the lowest level possible, if only to reduce the impact on the local economy as much as possible.  Christmas offers cheer to many, but is also the peak trading period for many businesses and a vital part of their trading year, so it is important for the economic and physical health of Staffordshire – not to mention the mental health impact that will undoubtedly be long lasting
  • No doubt Councillors will have seen last week’s unemployment figures which make for grim reading:

 

Unemployment In October 2019 October 2020
England 2.8% 6.3%
West Midlands 3.7% 7.3%
Staffordshire 2.0% 4.8%
Stafford Borough 1.7% 4.2%

 

And these figures exclude the 40,000 people who remained on furlough, as at the end of September in Staffordshire – and since the new national lockdown that figure will almost certainly be higher.

Stafford Borough figures, whilst low, against the national average, are still significant nonetheless and each person without a job is a tragedy for every person involved, with all the impacts that that entails

  • The extension to the furlough scheme comes off at the end of March 2021 and that could be a cliff edge for many in our community, particularly for many of the 1.2m who work in the hospitality sector nationally
  • It is likely that many of the people that are affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic would have never seen themselves as vulnerable or in a position of needing help and support, as hours are cut by employers, or jobs get cut or as businesses fail, with many expecting a peak rate of 10% unemployment nationally and maybe double that for youth unemployment.
  • Therefore we need to encourage as many people back into supporting local businesses as possible, so that Stafford Borough and Staffordshire can bounce back as soon as possible.
  • The economic impact is very real as 10% will have been wiped off the UK’s economic output this year as a whole and that equates to lots of people impacted, sectors that no longer exist and impacts that maybe be sharply felt for some for much of the next two or three years or more.
  • These are difficult and tricky times for many in our community and anything that we can do personally to mitigate some of these impacts is to be welcomed.

On a more local level,

  • The Borough Council is hosting the Community Awards on Thursday 26th November 2020 at 18:30hrs, where we will celebrate the efforts and endeavours of 30 shortlisted individuals and groups and thank them publicly – and many others working in the Borough to support everyone in our community – for all that they have done in the past twelve months and not just during the pandemic.  The awards are virtual and there will be a buffet available before the event from 18:00hrs.
  • The Borough Council is also hosting three x one hour seminars that will be held online on Zoom during week commencing 30th November 2020.  They are designed to be informative and to provide tips and tools and insight when working with people in the community and they may just help provide a nugget to help with work that you are doing and conversations that you are having with people in your community.

They cover mental health, financial management and money and sustainability and capacity building in the voluntary sector.

The webinars are open to all Parish Councillors – and not just the chairs and clerks – voluntary sector organisations and community based leaders.  Please feel free to share the details with as many relevant people as possible as these sessions should offer superb input from experts in their fields, with a minimum of input (- just a couple of hours of your time).  You have to register to attend, so please book in at the earliest opportunity – they are free to attend.

  • In September 2020, Staffordshire County Council announced – following lots of lobbying – that an additional £2m would be set aside in this year’s budget for dealing amongst other things with flooding, blocked ditches and gullies, roadside maintenance, etc..  This investment is welcome and I have spoken about this in a number of forums, but it has already helped resolve some longstanding issues in various areas across the Eccleshall division, although I hear that some of the teams doing the work are yet to leave the Eccleshall division, such is their focus to get on top of the issues that I have been raising consistently on resident’s behalf.  This is good news and will positively resolve some longstanding issues which have been severely affecting some residents.

There is obviously a lot more that we could cover but I think if we are focusing in on the key issues at the moment, they are as per the above.

I would encourage Councillors and members of the public to look at the County and Borough Council agendas and to watch some of the online sessions, as some of them offer real insight to the local response to the Coronavirus pandemic and Councils responses and the work being done to lead Stafford Borough and Staffordshire more widely out into recovery and from there into renewal, as these things don’t just happen by chance.  They also show the financial cost to all parties with for example the County Council spending £10m more than they have coming in, on supporting residents through this inordinately difficult period.

Liaison Reports:

Community Centre:-

Community Centre hosted a pop up Covid testing station on Friday October 30th – and they were assured that it had been very successful.

The Community Centre is closed until the end of the lock down period.

Springfields Nursery at the Community Centre continues to be open.

The new flue has now been fitted to the chimney at a cost of £4,492.00.

2 motorised valves have been fitted to the heating system.

All fire extinguishers have been checked and replaced as necessary at a cost of £500.

Offley Hay Village Hall

No report

Visit Stafford:

No report.

Slindon News:

No report.

Croxton:

No report

Community Transport:

No report

Allotments:

No report

Ecclian Society:-

A Zoom Committee Meeting was held on October 13th.

The street flower mangers were removed on November 1st. Thanks to Richard Egan, Al Hodson and their helpers for their hard work and the support of Greg at Johnson Hall.

The flower troughs will be maintained through the winter by the same volunteer members who looked after them in the summer.

The plans for 2021 street planting are for the normal mangers and hanging baskets, assuming a return to some type of normality.

The Eccleshall calendar has been completed by Philippa Smart with support from Al Hodson and will be distributed through a number of Eccleshall businesses. This will be somewhat curtailed by the current lockdown but Philippa has arranged for the calendar to also be available on-line.

The Ecclian Society 2020 AGM has been deferred until a time when a physical meeting can take place.

The Ecclian Society Autumn Newsletter has been completed by Christine Heelis and has been distributed by email to all members.

Plans are progressing or are in place to make sure the Christmas trees will be put up around Sunday, November 28th. This will be done while observing all the current rules and guidelines.

The normal testing procedure for the wall brackets was carried out on October 23rd.

There is a plan, led again by Richard Egan in conjunction with the Lonsdale PTFA, to have baubles made by the pupils to decorate the big tree at the crossroads.

Children/Young People

No report.

First Responders:

No report.

Flood Action Group:

No report.

Other Updates:

Further Information to support agenda items:

  1. Enhancements:
  • Croxton play area swings – quote provided separately.
  • Croxton play area cleaning costs – £275 plus VAT. (balance beams only £137.50). The cleaning is to remove detritus and rectify the slippery surfaces
  • Cost of mole catcher for Bishops Court (if required) – quotations pending
  • Trees on the Eyeswells Public Space – cost of management plan which will advise an appropriate course of action for the trees – £295 plus VAT.
  • Re-painting of the pillar clock and blue bins – quote pending
  1. Request to support an additional Community Public Access Defibrillator at an annual recurring cost of £50, located outside the Catholic Church, Stone Road.

Supporting information from Eccleshall First Responders:

This money is to cover the cost of replacement pads (approx. £50 per set) and a replacement battery when required (approx. £250).

Any amount that the PC could contribute would be a great help

Eccleshall First Responders had noted that they have had a responder on duty virtually every day since lock down started in March but their income from donations, on which we entirely depend, has dwindled by about 90% of what we need to continue to operate.  They know they are not unique with this problem in Eccleshall but may need to start seeking help with finances.

Further Information:

There has been no request for an election to fill the Town Ward Councillor vacancy, so recruitment and advertising for co-option in January 2021 will be undertaken. If you know of any who may be interested, please ask them to contact the Clerk for further information.

Correspondence information:

No correspondence has been received by the date the agenda was finalised.

Correspondence circulated:

  1. SPCA Weekly Bulletins
  2. Visit Stafford Updates

General Council Updates:

  • ***Any items for inclusion on a meeting agenda must be received by the Clerk 10 clear days ahead of the meeting date.***

Abbreviations:

SCC- Staffordshire County Council                                 SARH – Stafford and Rural Homes

SBC- Stafford Borough Council                                      SPCA – Staffordshire Parish Councils Assc.

EPC – Eccleshall Parish Council