Minutes of the Meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council held on NOVEMBER 18th, 2020

A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held online via Zoom videoconferencing on November 18th 2020, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 8.50pm.

The meeting opened with prayers

135/20).  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                             Councillor B. Delanchy

Councillor C. Wilkins                           Councillor S. Mifflin

 

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)

8 members of the public

Apologies were noted from County Councillor Pert.

136/20).   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.

137/20).    Public Participation:

 There were 8 members of the public present, but no-one wished to speak.

138/20).    To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on October 21st, 2020:

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

139/20).    To receive any reports from Borough and County Councillors:

County Councillor Pert sent apologies due to a meeting clash but provided a report which was circulated to all members prior to the meeting. The report was noted and is published in full in the Clerks Report available separately.

140/20).    Committee Updates:

Traffic Management:        

There was no report to receive

Footpaths:

Cllr. Taylor advised work is ongoing to improve the footpaths and visible progress is being made.

Litter Picking:- There are 5 areas where volunteers are still required.

Enhancements:

  • After due consideration of 3 quotations, it was resolved to approve Streetscape to supply and install the replacement double swing at Croxton play area, at a cost of £2590 plus VAT.
  • It was resolved to approve the quotation of £275 plus VAT from Trent Grounds Maintenance for cleaning of the play equipment at Croxton play area.
  • It was resolved to approve the cost of £60 from Moledover for the provision of mole catching services at Bishops Court. It was also resolved to approve for the Clerk to spend a further £60 if another visit is required.
  • Eccleshall Parish Council own a public open space along the Eyeswell path, which contains a number of trees. It was resolved to approve the commissioning of a tree management plan from Rob Keyzor Tree Surgeons at a cost of £295 plus VAT, to inform on necessary remedial tree works.
  • It was resolved to approve the quotation of £608.72 from Peter Eaton to re-paint the pillar clock and blue bins, which includes the gilding on the clock. The work will be completed in summer 2021.

Policy and Resources:

  • The P&R committee met on the 4th November, and the minutes were circulated to members in advance of the meeting.
  • It was noted that the regular external grants have not been received as forecast.
  • The committee reviewed the expenditure to date against the budget and the effect that the pandemic has had on the planned expenditure. Some areas will be underspent due to withdrawal of services from suppliers, or the delay in approvals from third parties, and it was noted that the Parish Council did not purchase the Police Post. However, this has provided opportunity to expand work in other areas such as the footpaths clearance project, and the siding off works to pavements. Tree works are also expected to be undertaken at Eyeswell footpath.
  • Members noted that the minutes advised no change to the precept. The Chair clarified that there had been no discussion either way with regards to the actual precept amount, but committee members had noted concerns of residents and expected a rise would not be required. The minutes will be amended to clarify this. The precept setting is driven by the budget and until that is discussed in January, there will be no decision either way. The proposal and final decision will be made at the full Council meeting in January.

141/20).    To consider and approve additional councillors for committee membership.

It was resolved to approve the addition of Cllrs. Wilkins and Perren to the Policy and Resources committee.

142/20).    To provide any updates on the Christmas tree installation.

The trees are due to be delivered w/c 23rd November 2020, and the small trees will be erected throughout that week, in line with current Covid-19 restrictions.

The children from Bishops Lonsdale CofE Academy are decorating baubles for the large tree at the Stone Road roundabout, as in previous years.

143/20).   To provide a response to the consultation by Staffordshire County Council regarding a proposed speed reduction to 40mp along A51 Stone Road/The Rowe at Hatton.

It was resolved to respond in support of the proposed speed reduction.

144/20).    To consider the proposal for recruitment of an Assistant Clerk.

Prior to the meeting members were provided with a business case and draft recruitment proposal for an assistant Clerk, containing all relevant recruitment documentation for consideration.

The previous Clerk was appointed on a full time basis, 37 hrs a week. The current Clerk is on a part time contract of 27hrs and is often required to undertake additional approved hours to ensure the work of the Council is fulfilled.

The proposal is for a temporary role in the first instance, with the number of hours to be confirmed but to not exceed the equivalent of a full time role when the hours of the Clerk and assistant are added together. The temporary contract can be reviewed according to the needs of the Council to ensure that the work is in place to justify the role. This will allow for the administrative capacity to be in place to cover planned projects and activities as well as supporting the volume of work already in place.

Concerns were noted that it may not be appropriate to take on additional staffing and expenditure during a time of financial hardship and lack of employment. However it was also noted that it would provide an employment opportunity for someone who may have been furloughed or unemployed.

Members suggestions included:

  • Duration of the contract to be less than two years, potentially 12 months or less.
  • Recruitment to the role can be on a date to be agreed by the council, deferred if necessary.

It was resolved for the Staffing Committee to meet and finalise the proposal in line with feedback, for review at the next Parish Council meeting.

145/20).    To consider any feedback to the Stafford Borough Council Corporate Business Plan, which incorporates Brexit and a COVID-19 -19 recovery strategy:

The Parish Council did not have any formal feedback to submit. It was noted that the consultation is for individual response as well as group responses and the Clerk will circulate the deadline date to all members.

146/20).    To consider the following applications for receipt of a grant:

  • Katherine House Hospice, in order to support its work within the parish. Members were satisfied that the figures provided evidence of support to residents within the Parish and that funding would be to the benefit of the community. It was resolved to approve a grant of £500.
  • The adoption of a further Community Public Access Defibrillator at an annual recurring cost of £50, located outside the Catholic Church, Stone Road. This contributes towards the cost of pad replacement at £40 every two years, and a new battery which costs around £250 every four years. It was resolved to approve the annual grant of a further £50 to support the maintenance of the defibrillators.
  • Eccleshall First Scouts project to erect a wooden covered outdoor structure and also to submit the planning application on their behalf. It was resolved to approve the grant application for £500, but in line with feedback from Stafford Borough Council, it would not be practical to submit the planning application.

147/20).    To receive the Clerks Report, containing liaison representative updates.

The Clerks report was received by the Council.  The Clerk noted that research into alternatives to the 8am bus is ongoing, and the Clerk and Chair are in communication with other Parish Councils, community bus services and the County Council.

    Correspondence:-

  • Resident correspondence regarding ongoing concerns about the unsuitable path surfacing on Sancerre Grange. The paths are covered with a sandy surface layer as opposed to tarmac, and this is prone to run off during wet weather, which leaves grooves in the surface and makes them unsuitable and dangerous to use. One footpath has been tarmacked in response to earlier complaints, but the other paths also need resurfacing. Cllr. P. Jones is liaising with the SBC planning department and enforcement for support and has also contacted numerous Bovis representatives to request them to address the issue. However, Bovis are not responding to the request, so this is ongoing. It was also noted that Bovis are not responding to further requests to confirm approval to site the Eagle. Approval was given earlier in the year but is now being questioned by another Bovis representative.

148/20).     Chairman’s Report:-

Cllr P. Jones reported that there has been a number of comments regarding the Parish Council on Facebook and noted that what appears on Facebook doesn’t have to be the truth. Whilst freedom of speech is valued, some comments may be opinion and not always an accurate and full representation of events.

It was noted that the Parish Council were strongly in favour of a remembrance service in line with social distancing and had worked hard to secure a licence to hold a small private service at the memorial prior to the change in Covid-19 restrictions. However, due to the increased level of restrictions subsequently implemented, the original approval was no longer valid. Although there was provision in law for certain remembrance activities, in line with recommendations from other local authorities it was deemed that any activity at 11am would encourage a gathering and pose a health risk to the community. The Parish Council actively promoted the doorstep remembrance, and the Revd. Jules Walker held a private commemoration in advance of 11am to lay wreaths and say prayers in accordance with church guidance, to which RBL representatives were invited.

149/20).     Accounts:-

To accept the Financial report to end October 2020:

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

To approve accounts for payment November 2020:-

Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

Paid since the last meeting:
Trent Grounds Maintenance – grass and annual hedge cutting (Bishops Court) 537.00

 

Japhlin – Computer maintenance (monthly direct debit) 46.14
Staffing Costs 1934.45
Office Expenses (cheque £37.60, balance s/o) 113.19
SPCA – Councillor Training 25.00
NBB Recycled Furniture (Croxton picnic table and bin at Fletchers) 694.80
Wicksteed Leisure Ltd – annual play inspection 96.00
Staffing Costs ( to be paid in December) 1934.45
Office Expenses (December) (£77.90, balance by s/o) 153.49
Watering of Street Planting 1650.00

 

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

It was resolved to approve the removal of Martin Watson as account signatory and to add Cllr. Stuart Perren as a new authorised signatory.

It was resolved to approve delegation to the Clerk for advance booking of training courses if it meets the following criteria:

  • the request is reasonable and directly related to the work of the Clerk or Councillor
  • the amount is available within the approved training budget
  • There will be an upper limit of £100 per course, although it is noted that many courses run by the SPCA are around £25-30.

 

134/20).    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.

It was resolved to approve this course of action.

135/20).      Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next full meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for January 20th 2021, via Zoom, commencing at 7.30pm.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 8.45pm.