Minutes of the Meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council held on February 17th, 2021

A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held online via Zoom videoconferencing on February 17th 2021, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 10.00pm.

The meeting opened with prayers

17/21).  Present were:-    

Councillor P. Jones  (Chairman)           Councillor L. Dale           

Councillor R. Taylor                              Councillor S. Mifflin

 Councillor G. Dale                               Councillor B. Delanchy

Councillor S. Perren                            Councillor C. Wilkins       

Councillor P. Stenning                         Councillor S. Kean

 Councillor J. Leather                            Councillor J. Jones  

 Councillor A. Reid         

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)

Borough and County Councillor J. Pert                          

5 members of the public

Mr. Dan Cooke, Census Engagement Manager.

 Apologies were received from Cllrs. Langford and Amos.

18/21).   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.

19/21).    Public Participation:

     There were 5 members of the public present. A resident spoke with regards to the recent flooding of  properties in Slindon, which was noted as the 4th occurrence of flooding since October 2019. Cllr. Pert has been involved in discussions and the Council was asked to support residents to find a solution to the problems.

20/21).    To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on January 20th, 2021:

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

21/21).    2021 Census – Dan Cooke, Census Engagement Manager for Staffordshire.

Mr. Cooke gave a comprehensive overview of the census and its benefits to the Parish Council in understanding the community profile. He noted census data has been used to great effect by the parish previously. It is a legal requirement to complete the census, and it will be available online and other formats to make it fully accessible. Support is available for those who need help to complete it, and every household will receive a pack in the post. The census takes place on Sunday 21st March 2021, and data will be available from May 2022 (data remains anonymous for 100 years). Members noted this will be very valuable due to the changes in the parish since the last census. The council were happy to help with the census campaign messaging.  

22/21).    Co-option of Councillor to the Town Ward vacancy:

The candidate gave a short presentation to the meeting and answered questions.

Following a vote Mr. Anthony Reid of Hartlands Road, Eccleshall was duly co-opted to represent the Town Ward.

Councillor P. Jones welcomed Mr. Reid to the Council. Councillor Reid signed a Declaration of Acceptance of Office, and further documentation would be provided by the Clerk at a convenient date after the meeting.

23/21).    To receive any reports from Borough and County Councillors:

Borough and County Councillor Pert provided a verbal report to the Council. Actions included:

  • Pert is liaising with senior highways representatives regarding the Slindon flooding and currently awaiting details on what they can/can’t do to alleviate the problem.
  • Commencement of the Stone Road buildout is expected at the end March/early April
  • Pert will be sharing Staffordshire vaccination data with members via email – the 250,000th person was vaccinated in the last 7 days, which is a notable achievement.
  • The Staffordshire Director of Public health is hosting a webinar on Thursday 18th Feb to which parish councillors are invited. Everyone is being encouraged to take a test over the next 4 weeks due to the recent identification of the South African variant within the county.
  • Police and Crime Commissioner and County Council elections are being held in May. If anyone is concerned about attending a polling station, there is an easy online process on the Borough Council website to request a postal vote.

 

     Borough Councillor P. Jones had no updates to report.

24/21).    Committee Updates:

Traffic Management:        

There were no updates to report.

Footpaths:

  • 3 new footpath marshals have been appointed to take over from those retiring from the posts.
  • It was resolved to write to the diocese concerning an Oak on footpath 13, which is on church owned land and has some visible signs of deterioration which may cause a health and safety issue to walkers along the footpath.
  • It was resolved to approve the request from Severn Trent to replace the damaged fingerpost on footpath 16b (Hartlands Rd- Badgers Croft) and obtain reimbursement for the work. The Clerk will obtain a quote for a replacement post and the installation costs.

Litter Picking:-

There are 31 volunteers at present. The only outstanding areas where volunteers are needed are the Burgage and Kings Vale.

Enhancements:

  • The minutes of the Enhancements committee held 3rd February 2021 were received and noted.
  • The proposal to consider quotations received for tree works at the Eyeswell open space and to appoint a contractor was deferred until March as the Council is awaiting the final requested quotation.
  • It was resolved to ask Mr. Cole to cut back the lower branches under the laurel at Eyeswell open space in order to reduce the amount of cover and deter gatherings and litter deposits. It was noted that a hypodermic had been found at the site. The Clerk will contact the Borough Council to enquire about surveillance options and advise the PCSO of the situation.
  • It was resolved to approve the quotation from Stafford Borough Council to undertake additional pavement clearance works at the following locations:
    • Newport Road (A519) from Cross Butts to the junction with Wootton Lane (the Cross Butts and Johnson Hall Nursery side of the road)
    • Castle Street to Swynnerton Road Junction – from the bus shelter on the dentist/Smithy pub side of the road, up to where it ends opposite the junction.
    • Swynnerton Road to Sturbridge crossroads – start of Swynnerton Road to the junction.
    • Swynnerton Road HMP car park to Parish Boundary – from car park up to boundary at Cold Meece, near the war memorial.
  • It was resolved to approve the committee recommendation for allocation of the grounds maintenance contracts for 2021/22 and 2022/23. Works will be allocated as follows:

Jacksons of Eccleshall:

  • Elford Heath, verge near Kerry Lane – x 10
  • Offley Hay Village Hall – x 8
  • Rose Bay Willow Herb (cutting back) – x 3

Trent Grounds Maintenance:

  • Kerry Lane triangle (bench site) x 10
  • Washpits, Eyeswells footpath mowing, Croxton Play area, Bishops Court – fortnightly
  • Picnic Site, Pump Site, Eyeswells strimming/hedge, 2 verges opposite Croxton play area – monthly
  • Eyeswells and Bishops Court Hedge – annual cuts
  • Footpath 13, Hartlands Rd alley – x 3
  • Church St and Castle St. Verges – x 4

 

  • To consider the proposal for the Parish Council to take on the planning and delivery of the Eccleshall Festival from 2022:- Members agreed this was a proposal worth consideration. It was resolved for the current festival organisers (Cllrs. L. Dale, G. Dale, P. Jones, J. Jones and Amos) to form a working group to discuss the idea and return with detailed recommendations for consideration, including resource requirements, any financial impact and where this would fit within the current committee structure. It was noted that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is from the 2nd-5th June 2022, and activities could link into this celebration.
  • It was resolved to approve the purchase of 7 remembrance silhouettes for display throughout the town, Croxton and Slindon during the remembrance period at a cost of £125 each.
  • It was resolved to approve the proposal for the Health and Wellbeing group to discuss ideas for the provision of outdoor gym equipment.
  • It was resolved to approve the quotation of £60 for digging off the pavement from the Washpits to Kerry Lane (Church St.) It was noted that this will continue to need regular clearance due to water flowing from an adjacent property which washes debris from the bank onto the path. It was resolved to write to the property owner to discuss and consider improved drainage options.
  • It was resolved to write to a nearby property in Church St to request the cutting back of a holly hedge which is causing an obstruction to pedestrians along the same stretch of pavement.

 

Policy and Resources:

  • It was resolved to award a grant of £300 to Eccleshall Community Band, for the commissioning of a bespoke piece of music inspired by and focussed on Eccleshall. Members wished to request if the piece could be played at future events such as the festival.

25/21).      To provide an update from the Flood Action Group and current resident issues.

A meeting was held on 15th February for initial discussions and to meet old and new members. Discussion included previous and proposed housing developments, Castle St and Stone Road. Another meeting is planned within the next 2-3 meets and a public meeting at the end of March. Cllrs. Perren and P. Jones met on site with Vistry (Bovis) representatives on 12th February to discuss a number of drainage/flood issues, which has been taken back for further investigation.

26/21).       To consider a proposal and quotations for alternative website provision.

                 Members were circulated a proposal containing tenders from 3 website providers and the Clerk provided an overview of the report and available options. At present the current website is not fully accessible and obtaining technical support has caused a number of recent issues in publishing key documents.

After consideration, it was resolved to accept the quotation submitted by Staffordshire County Council to provide:

  • The gold website package (annual cost of £150/yr)
  • The supply of 15 councillor emails (£50/yr)
  • A one off additional cost of £825 in order to populate the website with initial content, and to add in additional design elements to include a secure password login area, calendar, 2 years of news articles, extra meeting functionality and template/menu/page edits to suit content.

Work is expected to start on the new website in early April.

27/21).      To discuss the format and suggested content for the Annual Public Parish Meeting.

Current restrictions will restrict how the annual meeting can be structured, but it was noted that for future meetings a different structure may be beneficial to encourage attendance. The meeting could be used as a vehicle for engagement activities such as feedback on the business plan. It was resolved for the Policy and Resources committee to discuss and propose a format at its meeting in March.

28/21).    To provide an update on the Eagle Street Art project.

Vistry Homes (Bovis) contacted Cllr P. Jones on the 17th February to advise that the current proposed location for the street art, on the verge adjacent to Sancerre Grange, was not a viable location. This was in direct contradiction to previous written correspondence with Vistry, where permission was granted for the location following a site visit and resident consultation.  Members discussed the project at length. It was noted that grants to the value of £8,250 had been received in support of the project and there has been a significant spend to date on the project in line with previous approvals by relevant parties. It was resolved in the first instance to respond to Vistry to query the response, request that they provide an alternative location and highlight the issue over any grant refund due to expenditure incurred to date.

29/21).   To review the allotments rents and approve any increment to apply from 2022.

It was resolved to approve a small increment in allotment rents, from £3.60 a rood to £3.90 a  rood, effective from April 2022.

30/21).    To receive the Clerks Report, containing liaison representative updates.

The Clerks report was received by the Council.

    Correspondence:-

  • Resident correspondence regarding Slindon flooding of residential properties and request for support.  Members discussed the various factors that contributed to the flooding and responsibilities, including riparian responsibility for landowners to drain water off their land responsibly, highways regarding blocked gullies, and Severn Trent for flooding related to rivers. Ditches are no longer dug out by highways, and if neglected by landowners, add to the problems. Potential solutions for Slindon include the heightening of the footpath, as the dropped kerb facilitates water flow into the properties. It was resolved to write to County Council highways in support of the Slindon residents in order to encourage action and to request viable solutions be found to alleviate the issue.

(Cllr. Pert left the meeting at this point)

  • Resident concerns about flooding off Langot Lane. This is a recurrence of a previous issue with runoff onto an adjacent track from the highway related to blocked gullies that are not draining the water away. The water continually wears away the track surface. The issue has been flagged up to Cllr. Pert and re-reported to highways for investigation.
  • To receive the letter from Vice Lord-Lieutenant Leavesley regarding the identification of County nominees for honours nominations. The Council noted the letter and members will consider any potential nominees. It was noted that the nomination is usually confidential, with a minimum of 3 people required to support it.

30/21).     Chairman’s Report:-

Cllr P. Jones advised that the Clerk has successfully completed the first year of the 2 year Certificate of Higher Education in Community Governance and received a formal letter from De Montfort University noting the high standard of achievement in the first year assessments.

It was noted that an invitation to attend the meeting to be held by What’s on Eccleshall was circulated by the Eccleshall Futures church group.

Cllr. P. Jones noted the recent site meeting he attended with Vistry representatives – the Technical Director, Site Director and Customer Care Director to discuss the Eagle and flooding issues.

31/21).     Accounts:-

To accept the Financial report for February 2021:

It was resolved to accept the financial summary, which includes the bank reconciliation up to the 29th January  2021.

To approve accounts for payment February 2021:-

 Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

Japhlin – Computer maintenance (monthly direct debit)

46.14

Staffing Costs

1934.45

Office Expenses (cheque £44.94, balance s/o)

120.53

Holy Trinity – Churchyard maintenance

195.00

Holy Trinity  – Floodlighting Contribution

150.00

Broughton C of E –  Churchyard maintenance

135.00

Croxton C of E – Churchyard maintenance

135.00

Croxton Methodist – Churchyard maintenance

85.00

Slindon PCC – Churchyard maintenance

135.00

Eccleshall Methodist – Churchyard maintenance

85.00

Broughton Parish Rooms – Grounds maintenance

55.00

Eccleshall Community Centre – Hall Hire (pro rata payment, 3 months)

187.50

D. Jacques – storage of footpath materials

5.00

Rob Keyzor Tree Surgeons – Eyeswell Tree Management Plan

354.00

SLCC Enterprises – Planning book

29.30

Midland News Association Ltd – Recruitment advertising

143.40

The Ecclian Society – reimbursement of Christmas tree donation

275.00

Mr. Rod Sheard – Croxton bench and Broughton notice board refurb

90.00

SPCA – Councillor Training

30.00

Mifflin and Dean – replacement of fencing – Bishops Court

225.00

Mr. Gordon Dale – reimbursement of £50 for food vouchers (Helping Hand)

50.00

Mr. Graham Cole – footpaths works

29.50

 

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

32/21).      Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next full meeting of the Parish Council is scheduled for March 17th 2021, via Zoom, commencing at 7.30pm.

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