ECCLESHALL PARISH COUNCIL Extra Meeting Minutes – September 25th, 2019

An extra ordinary meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on Sept 25th, 2019 at Eccleshall Community Centre, at 7.30pm.

151/19). Present were:-

Councillor P. Jones (Chairman); Councillor R. Langford
Councillor R. Taylor; Councillor E. Amos
Councillor J. Leather; Councillor C. Marshall
Councillor J. Jones; Councillor P. Stenning
Councillor L. Dale; Councillor S. Mifflin
Councillor P. Edwards; Councillor B. Delanchy
Councillor P. Mullee

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

Apologies were received and accepted from Councillors Watson, Perren and County Cllr. Pert

152/19). 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.

153/19). To consider and resolve the voting system to be implemented for this meeting.

The Council resolved to adopt a preferential system of voting in order to consider and vote on the proposals for involvement in the Police Station. As there were 4 options to consider, this system allowed for councillors to consider all the options on the table, and each councillor will rank the options in order of preference. The first preference is awarded the highest score, 2nd preference one point lower and so forth. Once all councillors have voted, the scores are added up to show which option has the highest score. In accordance with Standing Orders, the option with the highest score must have also received a majority vote whereby it is also the 1st choice option by more than half of the Councillors present and voting. Should a clear majority not be obtained, the lowest score option will be discounted and the vote retaken. Councillors have the choice to abstain on any of the options presented, which effectively gives that option a score of zero.

154/19). To consider opportunities generated by the upcoming sale of the Police Station, to include:

1. For the Parish Council to not be involved in any proposals
2. Consideration of involvement as part of a Community Interest Company to purchase the property, for use as parking and a business hub
3. Outright purchase of property solely by the Parish Council
4. Proposal by local business to purchase as a joint venture

Councillors deliberated the options listed above at great length and with due consideration to the opportunities and threats presented with each proposal. Options 1-3 had been deliberated at the previous meeting held on the 24th July and there had not been any significant changes to the structure of the proposals.

The Parish Council invited a representative of Bowcock Pursaill to outline proposal 4, which was a new opportunity that had arisen since the last meeting on this subject. The proposal outlined the opportunity for a joint purchase of the site, with Bowcock Pursaill acquiring the building and a nominal amount of spaces, and the Parish Council to own the parking area, which will equate to ten spaces. The Parish Council will have outright ownership of the land and be able to issue paid permits to use the spaces in order to alleviate pressure on the High Street parking and obtain an income to offset some of the initial purchase costs.

It was noted that due to the timescale required for submission of a community bid that acceptance of a new bid will be at the discretion of the vendor, and that there was a possibility that the bid may be refused.

155/19). To vote on proposals to be considered:

Councillors voted on the four options available, using the score system of 4 points for the first option, down to 1 point if all 4 options were ranked. Any options where the Councillor abstained from ranking received a score of 0.

The Council resolved to proceed with the submission of a joint bid in conjunction with Bowock Pursaill in order to obtain the car park area, alongside the public consultation process. This option received a score of 51 points and obtained a majority vote of 12 councillors out of 13. The next highest scored option was no involvement in the police station, which scored 27 but received no majority.

The chosen option was seen to provide a solution whereby the Parish Council would own the parking area outright at an expected cost of £40,000. This would fulfil its initial aim to retain parking spaces in Eccleshall but have full control of the land, the purchase investment and income generated rather than as part of a group. The purchase of the building by Bowcock Pursaill would allow a local business to remain in town and expand to support the community. The partnership option would also significantly reduce the costs compared to the purchase of the whole site.

156/19). To clarify any next steps, to include consultation, further work to be completed and any required delegation to the Clerk:-

It was resolved:
• For the Clerk to arrange a meeting with Bowcock Pursaill and Cllrs. Dale and P. Jones, in order to finalise the bid for submission within the next week.
• To commence preparations for a public consultation on the proposed course of action. The Clerk will update the draft survey document and circulate to all councillors for review and comment. Once all amendments have been made, the survey will be released to allow for members of the public to feed back to the Council. The survey will also contain more general questions to find out the aspirations of the community as a whole.

157/19). Meeting Close:-

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.30pm.