ECCLESHALL PARISH COUNCIL Meeting Minutes – November 20th, 2019


A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on November 20th, 2019 at Eccleshall Community Centre at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 10.00pm.

170/19). Present were:-

P. Jones (Chairman); Councillor R. Langford
Councillor R. Taylor; Councillor P. Stenning
Councillor B. Delanchy; Councillor S. Mifflin
Councillor J. Jones; Councillor L. Dale
Councillor M. Watson; Councillor J. Leather
Councillor S. Perren; Councillor E. Amos
Councillor G. Dale; Councillor C. Wilkins

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)
14 members of the public

Apologies were received and accepted from Councillor Mullee and Borough and County Cllr. Pert.

171/19). To consider Declarations of Interest and Councillor requests for dispensation relating to items on the agenda.

Cllrs. Stenning and L. Dale declared an interest in the co-option of new councillors and advised they will abstain from voting.

172/19). Public Participation:-

There were 14 members of the public present, and 3 who wished to speak. A resident asked when the survey results would be published. The Clerk advised there was no set date but it was anticipated that the simpler yes/no responses would be available soon after the survey end date, but the narrative feedback would take longer to collate. The resident also asked about the large Christmas trees, and as there was now a tree at the Stone Road roundabout, is there still a need for the Parish Council to install a tree at the Church.
A resident spoke about the recent comments published regarding the sale of the Police Station and apologised for some issues that may have arisen from these comments. The resident noted he felt the station should not be on the open market at all and should be returned back to the community as an asset. He suggested that should the bid for the station not be accepted that the Council consider retention of its reserves for supporting the CiC, if a clearly defined project proposal was put forward.
A resident advised concerns about the slippery pavement in front of Selwyn Court, and noted people have slipped and fell. The resident has reported this to the County Council, and the Clerk asked for the report number to be forwarded so it could be looked into and chased up.

173/19). To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meetings held on October 16th, 2019:-

The minutes, which had been previously circulated, were agreed and signed.

174/19). Co-option of Councillors to Horsley and Town Wards:-

There were two vacancies to be filled – one for Horsley Ward and one for Town Ward. Four candidates gave a short presentation to the meeting, answering questions from existing Councillors.

Following the sets of votes for each individual post, Mr. Chris Wilkins of Elford Rise, Shaws Lane Eccleshall was co-opted to represent Horsley Ward, and Mr. Gordon Dale of 74 High Street, Eccleshall was co-opted to represent the Town Ward.

175/19). Reports from Borough and County Councillors:-

There were no reports to receive.

176/19). Committee Reports:-

Traffic Management Committee:-
Cllr. Dale provided the following update:-
• Mr. Jones has requested the purchase of safety signage and 6 cones in order to ensure road users drive carefully whilst he is working at the side of the road to move the Speed Indication Devices. The Council resolved to approve this course of action, with an estimated cost of £120. Cllr. Delanchy advised there is statutory guidance on the types of signage that can be used, and the Clerk will look into this before ordering. Some Councillors queried if the speed signs were calibrated correctly as they seemed to be recording cars at speeds slower than the actual speed as recorded on the car speedometers. The Clerk will contact Elan City to confirm they are working correctly.

Enhancements Committee:-
Cllr. Dale provided the following update:-
• Elford Pool
o Mr. Arblaster has been working on removing of the silt from the pool. Due to the bad weather, the machinery has left the ground much more churned up than anticipated, and he has recommended hiring additional fencing for health and safety reasons to ensure walkers are kept away from those areas. The council resolved to approve the additional cost of approximately £300 for the provision of additional fencing.
o Mr. Arblaster has also quoted for the additional work required to clear the ditch located further down from the pool at a cost of £500 plus VAT, and the Council resolved to approve this quote.
o 2 Quotes have also been received for levelling of the car park area (one from some initial enquiries in 2018). It was resolved to accept the quote of £800 from Mr. Arblaster, which also includes the removal of encroaching vegetation which will increase the size of the parking area.
o As the work is ongoing, the Council resolved to approve delegation to the Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, for any additional urgent work that may need approval prior to the next meeting in January, within the approved project budget.

• Pillar Clock:- The Clerk has obtained 3 quotes for investigation works into one of the clock faces, which has stopped. The Council considered all quotes and resolved to approve the works to be carried out by the Cumbria Clock Company at cost of £165 plus VAT for the initial investigation works. If a simple repair cannot be effected on site. The mechanism will be removed and taken back to the workshop for further investigation, and a report and further quotation will be provided.
• Trees at Croxton – councillors have conducted an initial survey of the trees in the playing fields next to the play area, for consideration at the next enhancements meeting. Thanks were given to Cllrs. Mifflin and Langford for their work.

Policy and Resources Committee:– There has not been a meeting since the last Parish Council meeting. The next meeting will be held on 4th December 2019.
Footpaths Committee:– There has not been a meeting since the last Parish Council meeting. The next meeting will be held on 8th January 2020.

177/19). Liaison Representatives:-

Reports were accepted by the Council, as circulated in the Clerk’s Report prior to the meeting.

178/19). Consideration of Insurance Quotations for 2020 renewal:-

The Clerk provided an overview of the quotations and cover for policies provided by Zurich (the current provider), Came and Company, and BHIB. After the policies were reviewed and discussed, it was resolved to accept the quotation provided by Came and Company, which offered significant savings over the other companies, for a comprehensive policy that provides additional cover for locum provision for the Clerk, should the need arise. It was also resolved to agree to a 3-year contract, to obtain a further discount.

179/19). To consider any New Development updates:-

Taylor Wimpey site:- Taylor Wimpey has advised that the agreed fencing around the balancing pool and the boundary between the play area and Community Centre will be installed within the next two weeks.
Bovis:- There has been further issues with flooding due to the ineffectiveness of the balancing pond. Water was released in bulk and flooded the basement of the Catholic Church, as well as the footpath and the Stone Road. Concerns are that this is likely to be an ongoing issue and the Clerk would look to follow this issue up with Bovis. The Clerk will obtain photos and information from a resident at the meeting, who provided an update on what had happened.
Eagle sculpture:- The Clerk is in the process of approaching contractors to provide quotations for a landscaping scheme that will incorporate the safety features recommended by the Staffordshire Police.

180/19). Selection of the defibrillator location to be adopted by the Parish Council:

It was resolved that the defibrillator located on the Sacred Heart Church would be the unit to be adopted by the Council.

181/19). To consider Beech Road play area and opportunities to request the transfer of ownership from the Borough Council:-

The Council discussed the possibility of whether the Borough Council will consider transferring the running of Beech Road play area to the Parish Council. It was noted that minimal maintenance takes place at present, and that the play equipment needs updating. The Borough Council recently agreed to hand over a play area to Colwich Parish Council to look after, although it was noted that in this case the land had a covenant on it that prevented any other development.
It was resolved for the Clerk to contact the Borough Council to explore the initial possibility of renting/leasing Beech Road.

182/19). To consider feasibility and costs associated with the use of a portable projector:-

Cllr. Watson is happy for the Parish Council to use the data projector owned by the First Responders for a trial period, to determine if it can be used to reduce the amount of paperwork printed by members. The projector was in use at this meeting to trial the setup of the machine, but only a sample of papers were projected for viewing. It was noted that an alternative room layout would be beneficial to allow for easy viewing, and also to facilitate face to face discussions between members. It was resolved to continue the trial for the next full meeting in January, and for members to consider a suitable alternative room layout. If the trial is successful, costs for a projector will be considered, or whether it would be possible for the Community Centre to equip the room with a projector for use by all who hire the room.

183/19). Update on survey responses to date, prior to the 22nd November response deadline:-

The Clerk reported a low response rate than hoped to date, ahead of the deadline date. Once the deadline had passed, responses regarding the police station and precept questions will be shared with all members, although the narrative responses will take some time to complete. A resident noted that they had received the results of Cllr. Pert’s survey. The Council had not received this information and the Clerk will ask Cllr. Pert if he is happy to share the results.

Cllr. P. Jones requested permission to extend the meeting past 9.30pm, which was granted.

184/19). Updates regarding proposal for Police Station property:-

To consider and respond to Cllr. Pert’s letter of the 9th November 2019:
Councillors received a copy of Cllr. Pert’s correspondence in advance of the meeting, so members were able to consider the points raised in advance of the meeting. The Clerk had also provided supporting notes on the procedures followed by the Council and advice provided by the SPCA. It was re-iterated that although the Parish Council had been keen to pursue discussions with regards to a partnership with the Eccleshall CiC, a lack of clarity regarding the proposal and questions that were unanswered led to the proposal being rejected. After discussion of the points raised in the document, it was resolved for the Clerk to respond to Cllr. Pert’s letter detailing the procedures followed in the discussion of the various partnership proposals for purchasing the Police Station, and that the Council felt it had acted in the best interests of the residents with the information that had been provided. The Council noted that if there were any further concerns regarding the steps taken, it will welcome feedback on its actions from the appropriate authorities.
To resolve the value of loan to be applied for and to approve the Clerk to proceed with relevant applications and procedures, subject to final survey response results:
The funding element of the bid submitted was for £40,000 for the purchase of the car park. Councillors debated a number of options available in terms of loan amount and duration of loan.

It was resolved to seek the approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government to apply for a PWLB loan of £40,000 over the borrowing term of 20 years for the purpose of funding the purchase of the car park at the former Police Station. The annual loan repayments will come to around £2,610 (based on October 2019 interest rates). This is subject to the result of the survey showing resident support for the project.

The loan repayments are expected to have minimal impact on the council tax precept, although the Council is reviewing its current activities and this may result in a small increase to support other projects and activities. The precept has not yet been calculated as the Borough Council has not yet advised tax base numbers for next year.

It was resolved to approve that the Clerk proceed with the loan application and any associated correspondence or actions related to this course of action, subject to the final survey results.

185/19). To receive the Clerk’s report and correspondence:-

The Council resolved to accept the Clerk’s report.

• Feedback on flood reporting of Stafford St flash flood and how reporting by residents can be encouraged. The correspondence noted that only 2 reports had been submitted regarding the recent flash floods. If reports are not submitted in volume, the problem will not be taken seriously by Severn Trent. The Council was asked to consider ways to raise awareness of the need to report flooding. Suggestions included an article in the next newsletter and Cllr. Jones offered to distribute leaflets at his Borough Councillor surgeries.
• To note receipt of resident letter regarding further development in Eccleshall. The council noted the letter by a resident who has many concerns about plans for further housing within Eccleshall and the impact it will have on the infrastructure of the town. The letter has also been sent by the resident to the Borough Council for its attention.

86/19). Chairman’s Report:-

The Chair will be representing the Parish Council at the upcoming Civic Carol Service held by Stone Town Council on the 8th December.

187/19). Accounts:-

Retrospective approval was granted for payment of the following accounts:-

Eccleshall First Responders – annual sponsorship for defibrillator 50.00
Stafford Borough Council – Watering Contract 7251.19
Creative Copy n Colour – Orders of service @ £117.00, surveys @ £76.80, bus leaflets and posters @ 26.00 219.80
Poppy Appeal – donation for wreath 25.00
Wicksteed – annual playground inspection (Croxton) 72.00
Mr. A.G. Jones – installation of Speed indication devices 168.00
SLCC – Clerks Manual 52.30

Accounts for payment November 2019:-

Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

S. Worden – Salary 1222.88
S. Worden – Expenses 96.26
HMRC – PAYE/NI 259.79
Staffs Pension Fund – Pension 445.27
TGM – Grass and hedge cutting 241.50
D&G Bus – Provision of No.14 morning service 230.00
e.on – street lighting 187.45
Scouts – newsletter delivery 150.00
Creative Copy n Colour – Winter Newsletters 504.00
S. Worden – Salary Dec 1177.53
S. Worden – Expenses Dec 17.33
HMRC – PAYE/NI Dec 227.96
Staffs Pension Fund – Pension Dec 423.55
A.G. Jones – movement of speed indication devices 48.00
SLCC – SLCC annual membership fee 235.00

All were in favour and the cheques were signed.

• It was resolved to accept the financial summary and bank reconciliation up to 31st October 2019.

188/19). To pass a resolution to approve delegation to the Clerk for dealing with items of emergency and payment of accounts until the next Parish Council meeting, in consultation with the Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The Council resolved to approve this course of action.

189/19). Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next full meeting of the Parish Council will be held on January 22nd, 2020, Eccleshall Community Centre, 7.30pm. Items for addition were requested to be sent to the Clerk.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 10.00pm.