A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on March 18th, 2020 at Eccleshall Community Centre at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 8.15pm.

40/20). Present were:-

Councillor P. Jones (Chairman); Councillor L. Dale
Councillor R. Taylor; Councillor M. Watson
Councillor B. Delanchy;  Councillor J. Jones; Councillor G. Dale

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

Apologies were received from Councillors Langford, Amos, Perren, Stenning, Wilkins, Mifflin, Mullee, Leather and Borough & County Cllr. Pert.

41/20). 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.

42/20). Public Participation:-

There were 2 members of the public present.
A resident raised their concerns regarding the Community First Responders and the recent decision by West Midlands Ambulance Service to remove the ability to use emergency blue lights and from carrying and using potentially lifesaving drugs in Staffordshire, in line with other Counties, particularly when there is no law that requires some of these changes. The resident requested the Council to write to the CEO of West Midlands Ambulance Service on behalf of the Parish to express concern and to ask that the service reconsiders this proposal in order that Enhanced Community First Responders are able to continue to operate in the current way and to help prevent unnecessary delays in emergency care.
A resident raised their ongoing concerns regarding the amended planning application for Castle Street. They noted the new response deadline date of 25th March and changes that included a new entrance design. They felt that the amendments still did not address the original objections and the plan still extends beyond the Neighbourhood Plan boundary. The issue of the meeting date was raised and whether this will go ahead and include public attendance, to ensure concerns are heard as part of the deliberations. Cllr. P. Jones will advise when information is available.

43/20). To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on February 19th, 2020:-

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

44/20). Reports from Borough and County Councillors:-

There were no reports.

45/20). Committee Reports:-
Traffic Management Committee:-

There has been no meeting since the last Parish Council meeting.

Enhancements Committee:-

Cllr. L. Dale provided the following update:-
• It was resolved to approve the cost of £104.98 for the replacement Cherry Tree on the Stone Road, to be installed free of charge from Mifflin Garden Services.
• It was resolved to approve the repair cost of £290 for the repair work to replace two microswitches in the Pillar Clock by Cumbria Clock Company.

Policy and Resources Committee:-

Cllr. P. Jones and the Clerk provided the following update:-
 Budget update 2019/20:- It was noted that expected expenditure was in line with the budget.
 It was resolved to approve the recommended virements 2019/20 and Earmarked Reserves as follows:
 £150.00 from Clerks Salary will be vired to PAYE/NI, and £210.00 from Clerks Salary vired to Pensions (as a result of uneven split in estimated costings)
 £400 to be vired from grass cutting to Office Supplies, to cover provision of printer cartridges due to unexpected replacement of the printer, and other miscellaneous costs.
 £800 to be vired from contingencies and £162 from grants to publishing, due to additional printing costs incurred due to additional projects.
 £125 to be vired from repairs to Benches/Noticeboards to cover the new bench at Copmere picnic site.
 £1280 to be vired from Insurance to Traffic Management, to cover the purchase of additional speed signs.

The transfer of the following funds to earmarked reserves:-

 £100 – to Clock Maintenance (from unspent budget)
 £1,000 – to Community Centre (from general reserves)
 £1,200 – to Croxton Play Area (from unspent budget and general reserves)
 £1,000 – to Traffic Calming from general reserves
 £840 – to Highways maintenance work (from unspent budget)
 £3,700 – to Training (general reserves)
 £490 – to Allotments from rents
 £250 – Elections (accumulated reserves)
 £750 – to IT reserves (general reserves)
 £2,000 – Elford Heath longer term management (from general reserves)
 £5,000 – Police Post, maintenance costs, if purchased (from general reserves).
 £5,000 – Beech Road update, subject to agreement by Stafford Borough Council (general reserves)

• It was resolved to accept the revised Financial Regulations in accordance with committee recommendations.
• Discussions are ongoing with the website provider regarding the upcoming requirement for website accessibility.
• To allow for full consideration of the additional staffing proposal, it was resolved to defer this item until the next convened meeting.
• The Clerk is reviewing the current committee structure/function to suggest a scheme of delegation for some decision making, and this is ongoing
• It was resolved to approve the following grants:
 £800 towards replacement defibrillator for First Responders. (Cllr. Watson abstained from the vote).
 £250 towards hall hire costs for Eccleshall Community Band
• It was resolved to approve the recommendation to pay fixed elements of Clerks salary and expenses by Standing Order, starting from April. This includes basic salary and fixed expense elements. Monthly variable balances will be paid by cheque as per current procedure and both payments recorded separately on monthly accounts sheet.

Footpaths Committee:-

• It was resolved to write to the resident who has a tree that is overhanging Footpath 15 (Eyeswells), and obstructing pedestrians, to request that it is cut back.
• It was resolved to add Cllr. Wilkins to the committee membership as per his request.

46/20). Liaison Representatives:-

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

47/20). To consider any New Development updates:-

Castle Street:- An amended application has been received and will be discussed in planning.
Eagle Sculpture update:- the landscaping designs are still awaiting Bovis for approval, prior to submission to the Borough Council.

48/20). To receive and discuss the report analysing the feedback from the public survey:-

It was resolved to defer discussion and adoption of this report to the next meeting.

49/20). To receive any updates regarding proposal for Police Station property:-

There has still been no information from the vendor to advise the outcome of the bid.

50/20). To consider any response to the consultation Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service Safety Plan 2020-2024 (deadline 22/3/20):-

Members did not have any feedback to submit and the report was noted.

51/20). To consider a trial of dog bag dispensers to reduce dog fouling:-

It was resolved to refer the items to the Enhancements committee for consideration.

52/20). To discuss the timing of the Annual Meeting:-

It was resolved to postpone the meeting planned for the 29th April. If it is possible, the Council will re-convene this meeting prior to the 1st June statutory deadline, but this may not be possible due to the Coronavirus outbreak and government guidance. It is hoped that planned government temporary legislation will allow for the meeting to be held later in the year without penalty.

53/20). To receive the Clerk’s report and correspondence:-

The Council resolved to accept the Clerk’s report. No further correspondence had been received.

54/20). Chairman’s Report:-

The Chair had planned to attend the Stone Civic Dinner, which will now be postponed.

Members discussed the earlier item raised by a resident regarding the action to be taken by WMAS to remove the ability to use blue lights and carry/administer certain medication from the Staffordshire First Responders. It was noted that the blue lights also serve to keep responders safe when attending incidents on roadsides and will now reduce their ability to work in these circumstances. Other organisations have written to the WMAS, but it has not had any impact on the decision made. It was noted that the removal of the use of blue lights has been actioned in line with highways legislation, but there is no change to legislation that has resulted in the withdrawal of a number of drugs that advanced responders have been able to use until now.
It was resolved for the Council to write to WMAS to ask for the reasons behind the decisions that have been made, for further discussion and response by the Council.

55/20). Accounts:-

It was resolved to accept the financial summary and bank reconciliation up to 29th February 2020.

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

Stafford Borough Council – Uncontested Parish recharges 408.58
Creative Copy n Colour – walks leaflets 8 and 12, planning consultation document 286.00

Accounts for payment March 2020:-

Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

Japhlin – Computer maintenance (monthly direct debit) 46.14
Staffing costs – 2018.82
Visit Stafford – annual membership fee 30.00
D&G Bus – No. 14 service provision 200.00
Chairs allowance 72.00
Mifflin Garden Services – Allotment road repairs 1050.00
No Butts Bin Co. Ltd – recycled bench for Copmere picnic area 576.00
Trent Grounds Maintenance – verge works Washpits to Kerry Lane 72.00
Eccleshall First Responders – grant (subject to approval) 800.00
Eccleshall Community Band – grant (subject to approval) 250.00
Mr. Rod Sheard – replacement fencing at Bishops Court 155.00
SPCA subscription (April due date) 551.00
Mr. A.G. Jones – Movement of Speed indication devices 90.00

56/20). To pass a resolution to approve delegation to the Clerk for dealing with items of emergency and payment of accounts in consultation with the Chairman and Vice Chairman in the event of any disruption to scheduled Parish Council meetings.

IT was resolved that in response to the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and in the event that it is not possible to convene a monthly meeting of the council, the Clerk shall have delegated authority 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. The Clerk will consult with the chairman or vice chairman for guidance as necessary. The delegation does not extend to matters expressly reserved to the council in legislation or in its Standing Orders or Financial Regulations. Any decisions and payments made under this delegation must be recorded in writing, brought to the attention of the Councillors at the next convened meeting, and published in the minutes in accordance with the relevant regulations. This delegated authority ceases upon the first meeting of the council after the council meeting at which the delegation was put in place. Where appropriate, any major items of business will be circulated to all councillors for their opinion, but it must be noted that voting cannot take place by email unless any new legislation is brought in.

It was resolved to postpone the Footpaths and Traffic Management Committee meetings scheduled for the 1st April, and to cancel the Planning committee due the same day. It is possible the meetings scheduled for the 15th April will also be cancelled. The annual Council meeting, required by law to be held in May, could also be affected. It was noted that guidance from NALC is expected, as discussions into relaxing the legal requirements are ongoing. It is also possible that legal options for online meeting and voting may be considered by government, and the Clerk will advise accordingly.

The Eccleshall Voluntary Car Scheme is currently suspended, as many drivers will be put at risk and fall within the high risk categories.

Eccleshall Today Facebook page members are putting together a voluntary support scheme, which the Council will help to promote as much as possible.

It was resolved to co-ordinate a dedicated website page to provide an A-Z of local businesses who are offering additional services such as home deliveries and online ordering. The Clerk will liaise with the community Facebook pages to promote the page and encourage businesses to submit their services.

At the time of the meeting, the Community Centre is currently open for those safely able to attend, but individual groups are making decisions on whether to still hold their activities.

57/20). Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next full meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for April 15th 2020, Broughton Parish Rooms, 7.30pm. This may need to be cancelled, depending on Government guidance for management of the Coronavirus.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 8.15pm.