Minutes of the Meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council held on October 21st, 2020

A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held online via Zoom videoconferencing on October 21st, 2020, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 9.05pm.

The meeting opened with prayers

117/20).  Present were:-

Councillor P. Jones (Chairman)            Councillor L. Dale

Councillor R. Taylor                              Councillor R. Langford

Councillor J. Leather                            Councillor S. Kean

Councillor J. Jones                              Councillor P. Stenning

Councillor E. Amos                              Councillor G. Dale

Councillor S. Perren

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)

3 members of the public

Apologies were noted from Cllrs. Delanchy, Wilkins, Mifflin and County Councillor Pert.

The Council noted the resignation of Cllr. Watson and the Council expressed its thanks for his work during his time in post.

118/20).   To consider Declarations of Interest and Councillor requests for dispensation relating to  items on the agenda.

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

119/20).    Public Participation:

       There were 3 members of the public present.

A resident spoke with regards to the increase in the precept for 2020/21, and the later agenda item on project ideas, to encourage the Council to move ahead with parish improvements and use the monies raised by the precept increase towards the development and implementation of projects.

The resident also spoke in support of considering alternative options to provide an 8am transport service to Stafford and the impact on residents who need it for work and education as well as the impact on the return bus service usage from Stafford.

120/20).    To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on September 23rd, 2020:

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

121/20).    To receive any reports from Borough and County Councillors:

Cllr. P. Jones advised the latest Borough Council finance report indicated a deficit of £5m. Stafford Borough has moved to the top of the list for Covid-19 cases, but this in part is due to the outbreak within the Prison.

122/20).    Committee Updates:

Traffic Management:        

There was no report to receive

Footpaths:

Cllr. Taylor advised there were no updates. With regards to litter picking, there are 6 areas still requiring volunteers. It is planned to expand the scheme into outlying areas (Slindon, Broughton), but only where there are not existing schemes in place, and where there are pavements. Cllr. Taylor thanked those councillors who have joined the scheme.

With regards to asking litter pickers to take their litter home and sort into recycling and non-recycling, there are concerns this may discourage participation in the scheme and is something that may be considered in the future.

It was resolved to write to a resident regarding cutting back of a tree across the Eyeswells path near the Old Vicarage. The tree is growing over the path and whilst not yet obstructing pedestrians, there are concerns that branches may fall across the path.

Enhancements:

It was resolved to approve £349 plus VAT for the purchase of a new picnic table at Croxton play area to replace the existing one which is rotting away. It was also resolved to approve the cost for removal of the old table and installation of the new, at a cost of £65 if existing fittings can be used, £90 if not.

123/20).    To consider the project ideas report and resolution to allocate next steps to the relevant committees and working groups:

The project ideas report was circulated prior to the meeting for consideration. The ideas have been broken down into categories which will facilitate exploration of the ideas and the development of a formal project plan which will assess the viability, costs and impact of the project.

A number of ideas fall within a ‘Health and Wellbeing’ subject area and it was resolved to form a health and wellbeing working group to explore the ideas. In time, this may lead to a formal committee which will be responsible for all activities within this theme.

The Council resolved to accept the categorisation proposal as follows, and move ahead with discussions.

The agreed categories were:

Full Council:

Eccleshall Parish Council monthly Surgery manned by Councillors Full Council to resolve when it is feasible to do so.
Fund a weekly/monthly shopping bus service to Stafford: E.g. 10am Eccleshall pick up in Stafford at 2pm. Cost per trip  if this trip was done monthly £200-00. Full Council first need to consider any action regarding the loss of the 8am bus service, and whether any action may link to this.

 

Traffic Management Committee:

Actively look for more car parking e.g. the old Gas Works in CherryTree Close Traffic Management Committee
A charging Station for Electric cars Traffic Management Committee
Fund PCSOs to visit the town more often Traffic Management Committee
Fund Traffic Wardens to regularly visit the town Traffic Management Committee

 

Enhancements Committee:

Clear all paths (pavements) in the Parish to a standard that makes them accessible for mobility scooters etc. Enhancements (siding out works).
A Scarecrow Festival Enhancements Committee

 

Footpaths Committee:

Tarmac the path from Shaw’s Lane to the Vicarage Footpaths Committee

 

Health and Wellbeing Working Group: (Cllrs. L. Dale, Taylor and Wilkins)

Well-resourced Health Centre with Car Park (Local Dr’s facilities are under extreme pressure) Health and Wellbeing Working Group, to report to Full Council
Could we work with/fund Eccleshall Cares to expand this operation to make it permanent incorporating The Volunteer Car Scheme? Health and Wellbeing Working Group, to report to Full Council
Work with other Societies/Churches to set up Support Groups for Dementia sufferers, stroke victims, widows/widowers etc Health and Wellbeing Working Group, to report to Full Council

 

Individual Working Groups:

Eccleshall Library- Have exploratory talks with the Library Committee to see if we can work together to use this facility as a Community Hub. Separate working group to hold initial discussions. Cllr. P. Jones has contacted the Rotary Club.
Explore Youth facilities — is there a need to Fund a Youth Leader? Separate working group to hold initial discussions, once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted
A campaign to ensure there is less use of single use plastic and suitable ways of disposing of it. Individual working group to report to Full Council
Can the telephone signal and internet access for Eccleshall be improved? Individual working group to report to Full Council. Cllr. Kean has volunteered to explore in more detail.
Proposal to develop a children’s street play project in Eccleshall To group with Youth Facilities discussions

 

Neighbourhood Plan aspirations:

Country Park with a walk by the river Consider in any Neighbourhood Plan Review. Cllrs. G. Dale and Taylor will undertake some initial explorations.
Country Park in the Town Meadow Consider in any Neighbourhood Plan Review
No new housing Use any Neighbourhood Plan Review to consider what is required by the Local Plan and provide sustainable options
Monthly Farmer’s Market selling fresh produce as in Stone Consider in any Neighbourhood Plan Review

 

124/20).    To discuss the ongoing impact of Covid-19 within the Parish and how the Council can support the community and link with local organisations:

A report was circulated to all members outlining concerns about the ongoing pandemic and the need for further support throughout the difficult winter months and the expected second wave. The report notes that Stafford Borough Council and Eccleshall Cares are both doing excellent work in providing support, but the Parish Council need to determine whether and what further support we can give in addition to that already available, avoiding duplication.

It was resolved to form a working group of Councillors who will liaise with all relevant organisations and contacts to determining the role the Council should play in providing support to those in the Parish who may need it.  Cllrs. L. Dale, Taylor and Wilkins to lead.

125/20).  To provide an update on the Christmas tree installation quotes:

The Christmas trees are on order – delivery date is the 24th November to allow additional time for trimming the small trees, as this can’t be undertaken as a group activity. The installation and removal of lights is £800, the same as last year. A cherry picker will be hired to provide access for the electrician.

126/20).   To provide an update on Remembrance activities within the Parish:

It is not possible to deliver the usual event due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Parish Council has applied to the Borough on behalf of the church for permission to conduct a small activity on Sunday 8th Nov consisting of 4 attendees to say prayers, lay wreaths and for the bugler to play before and after the two minutes silence. The clerk has submitted the application which includes of a full risk assessment and mitigation for the safety of any spectators. The community are encouraged to take part in a doorstep commemoration to mark the two minutes silence. Other wreaths can be laid after 12pm. Thanks were extended to Ian at Creative Copy, who has offered to print the publicity and poppy posters free of charge.

St. Peters at Broughton will be holding an outdoor service. It was noted that outlying areas will not be able to hear the bugler, but as it is planned around the national 11am silence, it is hoped they will still take part.

127/20).    To approve the tender detailing the areas to be maintained for the grounds maintenance contract 2021/2022, prior to obtaining quotations.

It was resolved to approve the current tender specification for grounds maintenance without any amendments, and this will now be sent out to tender.

128/20).    To discuss the termination by D&G of the contract of the 8am bus service from Eccleshall to Stafford and any alternative options to explore.

D&G has terminated the contract for provision of the 8am bus service as they no longer have a bus available to cover the service. Due to social distancing on school services, they have had to allocate additional buses to provide school transport.

Members expressed their disappointment and noted the importance of the service for work commuters, schools and for medical appointments. Alternative suggestions included finding an independent bus company to provide the service (but not all have disabled access),  providing a community bus or hiring a minibus with driver. It was noted that D&G may be able to resume the service once social distancing is relaxed, so any solution may be an interim measure.

It was resolved for the Clerk to contact D&G in the first instance, to ask if they know of alternative providers to approach and to research community transport options within Stone and Loggerheads. There is also a Stafford Community Transport Scheme that can be approached.

129/20).    To provide a response to the consultation by Staffordshire County Council regarding a  proposed scheme of road safety improvements along Stone Road, Eccleshall.

  It was resolved to support the proposal and it was noted it will be an asset to road safety.

130/20).   To consider the proposal to develop a business plan for the Parish Council.

A full report detailing the benefits of a business plan and examples in use by other Council was circulated to members prior to the meeting. A formal business plan will provide a clear statement of the Council’s priorities and activities in line with community aspirations, inform budget planning, ensure activities are prioritised in line with the plan, and provide accountability. The plan would be reviewed annually and be flexible in order to incorporate changes in circumstances. The Council resolved in favour of the resolution that the Chairman of the Council, working with the chairs of all the Council committees, the Clerk of the Council, and anyone else whom they recommend, and building on Councillor L. Dale’s “Blue Sky Thinking” initiative, prepare a draft formal EPC Business Plan for the remainder of this Council’s term (i.e. from mid-2021 until the next Parish Council election), and that such a draft be presented to the Council in time for its consideration for adoption at its May 2021 meeting.

131/20).    To receive the Clerks Report, containing liaison representative updates.

 The Clerks report was received by the Council.

Cllr. Perren summarised the allotments water pressure issue as detailed in the Clerks report. The Allotments Association are arranging for a contractor to investigate the condition of the plastic tubing that distributes the water in a loop around the site and will feed back the results for further discussion.

    Correspondence:-

  • Resident correspondence re anti-social behaviour. The Clerk reported a complaint received about young people obstructing pavements, riding bicycles dangerously in the middle of the road as well as concerns about gatherings in the Co-op car park, which may be linked to broken glass found in the car park which subsequently caused a puncture in the resident’s tyres. The Clerk has notified the local PCSO and discussed the issue with the Community Safety Lead officer at the Borough Council.
  • The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme for Rural Communities. The Clerk circulated information about the scheme, which offers grants towards the cost of installing broadband to groups of businesses/communities. There are two levels of voucher, and due to the current low speeds, Eccleshall may be eligible for the higher value. Cllr. P. Jones will ask local businesses if they may be interested in the scheme. This may also be of value to groups of residents in rural areas.
  • Perren summarised the information in the Clerks Report regarding a Wellington bomber crash in Eccleshall in 1945. It was resolved for Cllr. P. Jones to liaise with the Stafford/Stone Gazette to see if this would be of interest to them, and whether it could be included in the parish newsletter. It was resolved for the Clerk to circulate the information to the Historical Society and to thank the contributor for supplying this information.
  • The response from SBC regarding no current provision for collection of recycled waste from street litter bins was noted (as detailed in the Clerks Report). Disappointment was expressed at the response and possible solutions will be considered in the Anti-litter strategy paper to be produced by Cllr. Stenning
  • The response from Eccleshall Rugby club regarding the Pillar Clock was noted.

 

132/20).     Chairman’s Report:-

Cllr P. Jones recently attended the second part of the SPCA Chairmanship course. He also attended the Stone area Parish Liaison meeting via Zoom.

133/20).     Accounts:-

To accept the Financial report to end September 2020:

It was resolved to accept the financial summary, which includes the bank reconciliation up to the 30th September 2020.

To approve accounts for payment October 2020:-

Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

Japhlin – Computer maintenance (monthly direct debit) 46.14
Staffing Costs 1935.05
Office Expenses (cheque £51.34, balance s/o) 112.54
E.ON Lighting Solutions Ltd. – Street lighting 203.02
Trent Grounds Maintenance – grass and verge works 558.30
Mr. A.G. Jones. Movement of SIDs, October 100.00
Mr. Rod Sheard – Elford Heath benches 220.00
Eccleshall Guide – Parish Council entry 145.00
The Royal British Legion – poppy appeal donation 25.00
Mr. Graham Cole – footpaths works 172.70

 

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

The clerk advised that the completed external audit for 2019-20 with no qualifications had been received, and this was noted by the Council. The chair had been provided with a copy of the completed annual return.

It was resolved to note the implementation of the NJC pay scale award as agreed by the National Joint Council for Local Government services (NJC) for the Clerk, backdated from 1st April 2020, in accordance with the Clerks contracted pay scale.

It was resolved to retrospectively approve councillor attendance at the Councillor Fundamentals and Planning courses, total cost £55.

It was noted that the contribution to the Poppy Appeal should be reviewed and increased in next years budget.

134/20).      Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next full meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for November 18th via Zoom, commencing at 7.30pm.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.05pm.