A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on January 16th, 2019 at Eccleshall Community Centre, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the Planning Committee at 9.35pm.

1/19). Present were:-

Councillor G. Garner;  (Chairman) Councillor P. Jones
Councillor J. Jones;  Councillor P. Alcock
Councillor B. Delanchy;  Councillor P. Mullee
Councillor R. Langford;  Councillor L. Dale
Councillor C. Marshall;  Councillor E. Amos
Councillor P. Baskerville
Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)
Borough and County Councillor Pert.
One member of the public (after 8.20pm)

Apologies were received and accepted from Councillors Leather, Price and Jacques. Cllr. P. Edwards was absent.

The meeting opened with a one minute silence in memory of Henry Butter, a former Borough and County Councillor for Eccleshall, who had sadly passed away on 12th December 2018.

2/19). To consider Councillor requests for dispensations and declarations of interest:-

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

3/19). Public Participation:-

There were no members of the public who wished to speak.

4/19). To confirm the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on November 21st, 2018:

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

5/19). Reports from Borough and County Councillors:-

Cllr. J. Pert provided a report on the following:
• A tribute was paid to Mr. Henry Butter, an alderman of the Borough and County Council, who had spent 47 years in public service, and had been a great supporter of the Parish Council. Mr. Butter had a particular interest in supporting Rights of Way, and the local footpaths and milestones.
• Cllr. Pert outlined his proposal to provide match funding up to £1000 to support additional gully cleansing works in areas identified as prone to flooding, but which will not be emptied in 2019/20 as part of the County Council cleaning schedule. The County Council clean gullies a minimum of every 3 years, but ‘A’ roads and fast roads may be cleaned every 1 or 2 years. Cllr. Pert will match every pound spent by the Parish Council on gully cleaning, up to a maximum of £1000. It costs £47 to clear a gully, although if any jetting work was included, this would increase the cost. A max of 42 additional gullies could be cleaned if the Parish Council took up this offer.
• Following discussions, and in order to retain the 07:50am bus service from Eccleshall to Stafford, D&G are prepared to run the service for another 12 months with no profit, subject to subsidy from the Parish Council and County Cllr. Pert. The service currently runs as a rail replacement service, and funding for this will be withdrawn from the end of March following the sanctioned closure of Norton Bridge railway station. It was stressed that a co-ordinated campaign would be needed to raise awareness of the service and increase passenger numbers so that it became commercially viable by the end of the 12 month extension. D&G have offered to supply vouchers to encourage use. If the campaign was successful and a profit was made, some of the subsidy funding could be reclaimed.
• A County Council/SPCA Forum will be held on Thursday 21st February 6.30-8.30pm at Yarnfield Park Conference Centre. All councillors were encouraged to attend and invitations were circulated. There would be an opportunity to network with Councillors from other Parishes from 6pm.
• Be Connected, a scheme to reduce social exclusion and isolation, held a Friendship Group meeting at Eccleshall Community Centre on the 16th Jan. The next meetings will be held at the Parish Rooms on 6th Feb and 6th March from 2-3.30pm. Each session will provide a different set of activities.
• A member queried the status of a recent confidential item and Cllr. Pert confirmed it was still confidential and had not been discussed with residents outside of the meeting. The item was not being progressed by the Parish Council at this time.

Cllr. P.Jones provided a report on the following:-
• Cllr. P. Jones welcomed the new ‘Be Connected’ venture and noted along with initiatives such as the Carer’s Café and activities by the Crown Surgery, that is was another activity helping to address social isolation.
• The next Borough Councillor surgery will be held on the Saturday 26th January .
• Cllr. P. Jones will be delivering a quiz for the Mayor of Stafford next week.

6/19). Committee Reports:-

Traffic Management Committee:-
Cllr. P. Jones provided the following updates:-
• Speed Indication Devices – 12 locations have been proposed following an initial meeting with a representative from the County Council. The grant of £5,000 has been received from Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership and Cllr. Pert has indicated £1,000 will be available from his County Council fund. If all 12 locations are approved and ground screws used to install the fixings, the total estimated project costs will be around £11,000. This includes the supply of two speed indication devices, but not any additional cost for moving of the signs between locations. The project was discussed by members, and some had concerns that the signs would be ignored, but others felt they were very effective. It was noted that the devices (SID’s) will also help by collecting speed data that could provide evidence of speeding and encourage other methods of support. The Council resolved to approve the project with a maximum cost of £12,000 (with £6,000 covered by external funding). Next steps for the Traffic Management Committee will be to progress finalising of the locations and gaining formal approvals from the County Council.
• The County Council has advised Bishops Lonsdale CofE Academy of the planned withdrawal of funding for the School Crossing Patrol service. Any response from the school to take up the offer of subsidising the continuation of the patrol will need to be confirmed to the County Council by Feb half term.
• Slindon gateway project – the quotations for the supply and installation of the gates were considered and the Council resolved to accept the quotation by Glasdon for supply of the gates, and Lawlor Construction for installation. The Clerk confirmed that all donations and grants towards the project have been received, and with the £1,000 contribution by the Parish Council all costs will be covered. The Clerk will place the orders accordingly.

Enhancements Committee:-
Cllr. P. Baskerville provided the following update:-
• Croxton Play area – Wicksteed provided a quotation of £898 for repair of the wet pour and the log walk, as a result of the recent inspection. As the repairs were low risk, the committee recommended approving the repairs for completion in March/April, when ground conditions had improved, and prior to the well dressing in July. The Council resolved to approve this course of action. As one log is already held by the Council, the actual cost may be very slightly lower. Concerns were raised about the ongoing costs to regularly repair the lifting edges of the wet pour and the Council resolved to investigate other surfacing options to reduce these costs. This item would be added to the enhancements agenda for consideration.
• Copmere Picnic Area – Stafford Borough Council has offered to supply one new bench and one bench requiring refurbishment free of charge, to replace the old benches currently on the picnic area. The Council resolved in favour of this action. Cllr. Mullee will arrange to collect the benches, and the Clerk will request a quote for a permanent ground fixing for the benches to ensure they remain in place.
• Elford Heath – Rob Keyzor has provided a comprehensive report on the trees around the pond, and the Clerk will request a quotation for the work highlighted in the report. It was noted that the reed mace is a large problem that needs addressing. Thanks were given to Mr. Keyzor for removing and disposing of the two large Christmas trees free of charge.
• Croxton phone box – Cllr. Baskerville met with the Clerk and lengthsman from Colwich PC to review the work required and a quotation is pending.

Policy and Resources Committee:-
Cllr. Garner provided the following update:
• Precept 2019/20 – Spreadsheets were circulated detailing the proposed precept for 2019/20 and a summary provided by Mrs Worden. The Concurrent Functions Allowance from the Borough Council was to remain unchanged at £3,733. Due to an increase in the Tax Base, if the Parish set an unchanged precept of £54,850 for 2019/20 a reduction of 5.2% in the charge for a Band D property would occur.

The proposed budget was reviewed and it was noted that the increased figure in part was due to inclusion of activities that have previously been allocated separately against the grants and concurrent allowance. Provision was also made for upcoming major projects such as the Speed Indication Devices and the works at Elford Heath. The Clerk noted that the recommendation for a small precept rise is balanced with the aim to spend a proportion of Council reserves to ensure that the balance does not cause concern with auditors whilst still ensuring a healthy reserve to cover unexpected costs. Members discussed whether the precept will be sufficient to cover ongoing concerns such as the bus subsidy and the gully emptying proposal.

The Council unanimously resolved that a precept of £58,280.00 should be levied for 2019/20 as per the attached spreadsheet – due to the increase in the tax base this would be an increase of 1.0% for a Band D property.

• Adoption of revised Standing Orders – The Standing Orders have been updated in line with the NALC model standing orders and the revised document was reviewed by the committee and circulated to the Council ahead of the meeting. The committee recommended adoption of the revised document. The Parish Council resolved in favour of this action and the Clerk will update all Council records accordingly.
• Provision of Committee Minutes on the website, including drafts – In order to be as transparent as possible and to widen access to documents for residents unable to access the library files, the Committee discussed and recommended that all minutes would be uploaded to the Parish Website. If there is a large gap between committee meetings, these minutes will be uploaded and marked as draft, after being circulated for checking by members. The Parish Council resolved to approve this course of action.
• Training and Development Policy – The committee recommended adoption of the new Training and Development Policy for councillors and employees. The Parish Council resolved to approve this course of action. It was noted that an Equality and Diversity policy will be considered by the committee at its next meeting in March.
• Adoption of the updated Acceptance of Office and Co-option application forms – The forms had been reviewed by the committee and it recommended adoption of the revised documents. The Parish Council resolved to approve this course of action.
• Approval of purchase of laptop and upgrade of PC – The Clerk outline a proposal that included the purchase of a surface style laptop which will be required for downloading of data from the proposed Speed Indication Devices, as well as providing IT that can be used within meetings to reduce paperwork and improve the efficiency of the Council. The proposal also includes a hardware upgrade to the desktop PC and the provision of the latest Windows and Office software for both surface and desktop machines. Once set up, the Clerk can look into developing a document sharing system for councillors. The total cost is approximated at £1110.79. The Parish Council resolved to approve purchase of the surface pro, accessories and to commission Japhlin to complete the upgrades. It was noted that the Clerk would purchase the surface and accessories for reimbursement via expenses.
• 1st Eccleshall Scout Group Grant request – Cllr. Garner outlined the Scout group project to complete a refurbishment of the scout hut, at an estimated total cost of £25,208. The group requested a grant in the range of £500-£1000. It was noted that the refurbishment includes improving disabled facilities and will be beneficial to the community in general. The committee recommended approval of a grant of £1,000, with £500 payable now and the balance of £500 in March/April. The Council resolved to approve this course of action.

Footpaths Committee:– The next meeting will be held on February 6th 2019.

7/19). Liaison Representatives:-

Reports were accepted by the Council, as circulated in the Clerk’s Report prior to the meeting.
Ecclian Society update:
• At the AGM on 20th Nov, Brian Freeman was elected as Chairman; David Heelis is now Treasurer of both the Ecclian Society and Eccleshall in Bloom. Mike Starkey retired from the Committee and was thanked for his many years of service. Jean Leather, after 20+ years, retired as Treasurer of Bloom but remains on the Committee.
• The work on the new Christmas tree at the crossroads including the electricity supply and the supporting structure were completed over this time frame. The street Christmas trees were prepared and erected on December 2nd in time for the 5pm switch on by the Chairman of the Parish Council and the arrival of Santa’s sleigh (courtesy of Eccleshall Mercia Rotary Club). Richard Egan, representing the Lonsdale PTFA, had decorated the new tree with baubles made by the children of Lonsdale School. A great number of people were involved in the new Christmas tree project and were formally thanked by Phil Baskerville by email. The project was rated as a great success.
• On 17th Dec the Ecclian Society supplied the mulled wine in Holy Trinity at the Carols around the Christmas Tree.
• On 18th Dec an Ecclian Society/ Bloom informal Committee meeting was held to consolidate the changes made at the AGM. Luke and Anne Serjeant were co-opted onto the Committee to help coordinate 2019 Open Gardens.
• The Ecclian Christmas lunch was held at the Stone House hotel on the 19th Dec.
• The Christmas trees were taken down on the 6th Jan, with an excellent turnout of volunteers. The large Christmas trees were dismantled professionally in the preceding few days.
Allotments: The Allotments Association requested the Parish Council to consider the following:
• Revision of the maximum height of storage boxes – In order to fit in with metric measurements, the maximum current height of 36 inches would need to be revised to 39 inches/1 metre. The Parish Council resolved to approve this amendment.
• Use of Polytunnels on site – Stafford Borough Council allows polytunnels on its allotments up to a maximum of 15ft x 8ft. Concerns were raised about their use at Eccleshall as they could be an eyesore and a noise nuisance to neighbours and other plot holders due to flapping plastic. The Parish Council resolved that polytunnels were NOT allowed on the allotments at this point in time.
• Location of water meter – the Allotments Association Chair has raised concerns about the current location of the meter which could only be accessed from the road, on a blind bend. Severn Trent (Water Plus as the commercial supplier) has offered to provide a new meter as the current one is very old and hard to read. However, this would be in the same location. The Parish Council resolved to respond to the Allotments Association to support them if they wished it to liaise with Water Plus to request the meter is moved. It was noted this would likely be expensive. Alternatively, if the water meter is sited facing inwards, the hedge could be cut to allow viewing of the meter.
The Clerk will write to the Allotments Association to advise the decisions.

8/19). To discuss the potential removal of the 13A bus service:-

As mentioned in Cllr. Pert’s report, and following discussions with D&G, there is an opportunity to extend the provision of the 7:50am bus service to Stafford for a further 12 months. The cost is £2,000 for term time provision and £2,500 for 52 weeks. Cllr. Pert will provide £1,000 towards the cost. Eccleshall Parish Council resolved in favour of providing funding of £1,500 so that the service will run for 52 weeks for another year, supporting residents who need the service to access work and study. The need to develop co-ordinated publicity plan to raise awareness of the service was highlighted, as an increase in passenger numbers will be required to ensure commercial viability and enable the service to continue beyond the initial 12 months. It was noted that student concessionary passes were being removed by September and senior citizen concessions on services before 9.30am would be removed by April. D&G were happy to provide vouchers to encourage use of the service, and the Council and Cllr. Pert will discuss methods to raise awareness of the service. Cllr. Pert was thanked for all his work with D&G.

9/19). To discuss a proposal from Cllr. Pert for match funding for gully cleansing:-

An overview of the proposal was provided in the earlier update from Cllr. Pert, which provides the opportunity for the Parish Council to fund additional gully cleansing, with every £1 spent being matched by Cllr. Pert’s County Council fund, to a maximum of £1,000 each. This would provide an opportunity to address blocked gullies that are not on the County Council cleaning rota for the upcoming year. Eccleshall Parish Council resolved to approve the spend of up to £1,000 and accept Cllr. Pert’s funding offer for 2019/20. Cllr. Pert will facilitate the works with the contractor. The Clerk was tasked with approaching the Flood Action Group to discuss working with the Parish Council to identify critical areas for consideration.

10/19). To consider and approve provision of Civic Amenity Visits 2019/20:-

In order to continue with the provision of the 6 Civic Amenity visits per year for 2 hrs a visit, the cost for 2019/20 is £804, an increase of £24. The Parish Council resolved to approve continuation of the service at the current level.

11/19). To consider any New Development updates:-

Taylor Wimpey site:- Enquiries were ongoing regarding the circulated play area plans showing access from the play park to the Community Centre Car Park. The Parish Council has always been in opposition of this access and is requesting clarification that there will be a boundary fence between the play area and car park, not gated access.
Bovis:- Cllr. Pert has corresponded with the Chief Executive to intervene regarding bringing forward the opening date for the play area, as they are in breach of the s.106 agreement.
Roundabout Feature:- Cllr. Delanchy has submitted all the collated information to the relevant team in the County Council for review and response. It is likely to be given to Development Control to make a decision, who may recommend a refusal.
Cross Butts:- Nothing to report.

12/19). To receive the Clerk’s report and correspondence:-

The Council resolved to accept the Clerk’s report.

Correspondence for discussion:
• Flooding of track off Langot Lane – The Clerk has been dealing with a resident issue with flooding of an unadopted track to their property, which was partly due to blocked drains on Langot Lane. The County Council has been very helpful and acted to clear the gullies and complete a survey of the system to ensure all was working correctly. In order to fully address the issue, ditches either side of the track now need to be cleared by respective landowners, to deal with the remaining runoff. The County Council have agreed to write to the landowners but have suggested that the Parish Council lend their support by writing to Savills (the agents for the Church Commission, who own the track) requesting they also write to the landowners to request clearing of the ditches to prevent the track they own from flooding and excess silt. The Parish Council resolved in favour of this action.

13/19). Chairman’s Report:-

The Chair attended the following:
• The Community Awards in November, where the Council nominees, the Historical Society, won a special Judges award for its work on the addition of further names to the War Memorial and subsequent re-dedication.
• The Stone Town Council Civic Carol Service on the 9th Dec.
• Carols Round the Tree on the 17th December. The Parish Council resolved to send a letter of thanks to Mr. Gordon Dale for his hard work in organising this event.
• Attended and switched on the Christmas lights in Eccleshall on the 2nd Dec.

The Chair advised that he did not intend to stand for re-election to the Council in May.

The Clerk noted she had been provided with a set of comprehensive documents about the work of a councillor and the elections process in order to encourage nominations. The Parish council resolved in favour of the Clerk raising awareness of the forthcoming elections to encourage potential candidates.

14/19). Accounts:-

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

TGM Grass and hedge cutting – Open Space Act 1906 s10 432.00
Woods Christmas Trees – Concurrent Allowance 1786.00
Nigel Ferguson, website annual hosting and SSL – LGA 1972 s.111 120.00
Zurich Municipal – Council Insurance – LGA 1972 s.111 2140.52
C&S Building Services – supply & install Christmas Tree foundations – LGA 1972 s.137 2280.00
AS Electrical Services install tree lights – LGA 1972 s.137 660.00
Traction Equipment (Stafford) Ltd. Cherry picker for xmas tree – LGA 1972 s.137 120.00
Jacksons of Eccleshall Grass and hedge cutting – Open Space Act 1906 s10 1119.60
Photocast Products Ltd – replacement plaque – LGA 1972 s.137 546.00
ICO fee Data Protection – LGA 1972 s.111 (replacement cheque) 40.00

Authorisation was requested for payment of the following:-

S. Worden – Salary – LGA 1972 s. 112 1093.83
Expenses – Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963 192.96
PAYE – LGA (Financial Provisions) 1963 43.80
NHI – LGA (Financial Provisions )1963 149.51
Pension LG Pensions Scheme Regs. 1995 374.20
Youth Marching Band (Chairs all) – LGA 1972 ss. 15 (5) 150.00
SLCC – Elections Webinar – Training – LGA 1972 s.111 72.00
AS Electrical Services remove tree lights – LGA 1972 s.137 300.00
Mr. P. Baskerville – storage for xmas lights – LGA 1972 s.137 18.00
Traction Equipment (Stafford) Ltd. Cherry picker – xmas tree lights removal – LGA 1972 s.137 120.00
Chairman’s Allowance 2017/18 – LGA 1972 ss. 15 (5) 68.00

15/19). Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:-

The next Meeting of the Parish Council will be held on February 20th, 2019, Eccleshall Community Centre, 7.30pm. Items for addition were requested to be sent to the Clerk.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.25pm.