ECCLESHALL PARISH COUNCIL Meeting – July 17th, 2019

A meeting of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on July 17th, 2019 at Broughton Parish Rooms, at 7.30pm. This meeting was followed by a special meeting of the Parish Council at 9.55pm and the Planning Committee at 10.05pm.

103/19). Present were:- Councillor P. Jones (Chairman)
Councillor R. Langford; Councillor R. Taylor; Councillor E. Amos
Councillor P. Edwards; Councillor C. Marshall
Councillor J. Jones; Councillor P. Stenning
Councillor M. Watson; Councillor L. Dale
Councillor B. Delanchy

Mrs S.J. Worden (Clerk)
Borough and County Councillor Pert
2 members of the public

Apologies were received and accepted from Councillors Leather and Mifflin.

104/19). 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.

105/19). Public Participation:- There were two members of the public present. A resident spoke to advise that he had been in contact with the headmaster at Sir Graham Balfour, who said he was not aware of the 8am bus service and is looking at potential numbers of students who may use the bus.

106/19). To approve the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on June 19th, 2019:- The minutes, which had been previously circulated, were agreed and signed.

107/19). Co-option of Councillors to Croxton Ward.
An application has been received but due to unavailability of the candidate, consideration will be deferred until the September meeting. There has been further interest by another person.

108/19). Reports from Borough and County Councillors:-
Borough Councillor Pert advised attendance at a meeting to discuss a potential merger between Stafford and Rural Homes and Housing Plus. Borough Councillor P. Jones also attended this meeting. A decision will be made on the 25th July.
Cllr. Pert also attended a Staffordshire University graduation ceremony.

109/19). Committee Reports:-
Traffic Management Committee:-
The minutes from the meeting held on the 3rd July had been circulated prior to the meeting and were noted by the Council. Cllr. Dale provided the following update:-
• Speed Indication Devices:
o Due to the presence of overhead lines, 3 locations have been slightly amended to avoid them, and one location at the Washpits has been removed, so there are now 8 post installations to be completed.
o Delivery of the speed indication devices is expected within the next 10 days.
o The posts and units will be covered under the Parish Insurance at no extra cost for the remainder of 2019, but the premium is expected to increase by approximately £72 from 2020. The Council resolved to approve the addition of the units and posts to the existing policy.
o The speed watch team have offered to look at what is required for the installation and movement of the speed signs with a view to taking on the work as volunteers. The Parish Council were in favour of accepting this offer, but it was noted it would be subject to adherence to a robust risk assessment. Cllr. Delanchy advised a method statement may be needed and would discuss with the Clerk.

Enhancements Committee:- The minutes of the meeting from 3rd July had been circulated to all members prior to the meeting.
Cllr. Dale provided the following update:-

• The repainting of the benches has been completed and Mr. Sheard advised that the bench located by Croxton church is rotten and beyond repair. The Parish Council resolved for Mr. Sheard to remove the old bench and the Clerk to purchase a replacement oak bench in the same style as the one sited at Croxton play area. The Council resolved to accept the cost of the bench at approximately £330, and for the Clerk to order as soon as possible. Mr. Sheard has quoted £65 for minor repairs and revarnishing of the bus shelter at Croxton. The Parish Council resolved to accept the quote.
• Bishops Court – a resident has raised the issue of low hanging branches from a tree located near to pedestrian access, and a piece of wire fencing that is flat to the floor. The tree was identified as Parish Council responsibility and the Council resolved to approve for the Clerk to ask TGM to remove the obstructive branches when the annual hedge cut is conducted. The other queries about the fencing will be looked into and discussed at the next enhancements meeting.

• Elford Pool
o Cllr. Marshall has met with Foxley Earthworks to progress a quotation for the drain clearance and silt removal from the pool. The contractor has been involved in similar works in the past and will be providing the Clerk with a quotation for the works. The contractor advised it would be ideal to construct an earthworks area to locate the removed silt, so the water could drain out of the silt back to the pool, and the dry silt could then be removed in the spring. The area would need to be bounded by Heras fencing and appropriate signage. The clearance of the drains was identified as the first priority for the works.
o Following consultations from the Wildlife Trust and Fisheries officer, a timeline was proposed that is in line with breeding cycles in order to reduce environmental impact as much as possible.

The timeline was outlined by the Clerk, and is as follows:

When Works to be undertaken Action and by who
Ongoing/as soon as possible Obtain quotes for drain clearance and removal of reed mace. Once approved, the drain clearance part of the works can commence immediately. To consider if volunteers/Amey can help with this stage. Cllr. Marshall (quote from R. Plant)

Clerk (obtain quotes from contacts supplied by the Wildlife Trust).

 

To start early September 2019, subject to checks for late nesting birds. (time is outside of main bird nesting season which is March-July)

 

Stage 1 coppicing of crack willows and reducing overgrowth and cutting back of trees around pool edge. Rob Keyzor Tree Surgeons (quote approved in June meeting)
From start November 2019 to end January 2020 (outside Great Crested Newt breeding season).

 

Clearance of reed mace and silt from the pool, using approved contractor. Clerk to obtain and present quotes for approval prior to November. Quote to include options for disposal of the silt.
Mid-March- Mid June 2020 Survey for Great Crested Newts (can only be conducted at this time of year).

 

Clerk to obtain quotes for approval.
2021

 

Consider introduction of fish to the pool, dependent on the results of the newt survey and stability and quality of water levels. Ongoing discussion with Fisheries Officer.

The Parish Council resolved to approve the proposed timeline and to proceed with the necessary quotations for approval.
There is an issue with Jacksons who are not cutting close enough to the treeline. They have advised the Clerk this is due to low hanging branches, but it is felt that a closer cut could be completed without issue. Cllr. Marshall advised that the Council need to consider the long-term plan for Elford and clarify what it wishes to achieve with the area. Many volunteers have been in touch and are keen to help with improvements to the area. The Council are happy to work with volunteers but feel that the initial tree works need to be completed before anything else can be started.

Policy and Resources Committee:-
There has been no meeting since the last Parish Council meeting.
Footpaths Committee:-
No meeting has been held since the last Parish meeting. The next meeting will be held on the 3rd September, and at present there is no Chair or Vice Chair in post to advise on issues raised.

• To provide feedback on the alleged footpath between A5013 and B5405. The Parish Council resolved to respond that it had no objection to the application for a Public footpath from A5013 near Walton Grove to B5405 leading to footpath 0.1592 Seighford.

110/19). Liaison Representatives:- Reports were accepted by the Council, as circulated in the Clerk’s Report prior to the meeting. A further report was provided by the Ecclians as follows:

• The hanging baskets and mangers are now getting well established and putting on a good show. The various troughs around the town have been augmented with summer bedding and are all looking good.
• The Open Gardens weekend was a great success with large numbers of visitors despite the “iffy” weather. This event was organised for the first time by Luke and Anne Serjeant, who did an excellent job. The reports from the visitors to the Drake Hall gardens were very positive.
• The Ecclian BBQ is planned for Saturday, July 20th at 48, High Street, which hopefully will be a good social event.
• The Ecclian Society will be sponsoring a photography competition at the Eccleshall show. Some of the photographs will be used in the production of the 2020 Eccleshall calendar.
• Routine activities, including the welcome pack and Ecclian lunches are continuing.

It was noted that the feedback from the Croxton Well Dressing has been very positive. Future well dressing events will depend on engaging younger volunteers from the community due to the manual nature of the work.

111/19). To discuss the focus of the Council over the current term of office:
Cllr. Edwards outlined some ideas about the need to outline clear objectives for the Parish Council to work towards over the 4-year term of office, informed by results from a resident survey, in order to ensure the objectives are led by priorities of the community. In order to improve efficiency, project teams could be aligned with committees, with a designated lead councillor to ensure progression of the project between meetings, in line with approved plans. An action plan may prove useful so that councillors take on responsibility for actions within a meeting and progress is reported back at the next meeting in order to update the action plan and carry forward any outstanding activities. Supporting 3 or 4 key objectives will improve focus and provide opportunities to apply for supporting funding. Improvements could be made regarding communications, including social media engagement. Cllr. Edwards agreed to produce an overview of a proposed structure for consideration.

112/19). Consultation response to the Borough Council’s Draft Economic Growth Strategy:- the deadline for completion of the survey is the 29th July and requires response to a large number of in-depth questions. In order to complete the survey within the required timeframe, it was resolved for a working group comprising of Cllrs. P. Jones, Dale and Amos to complete the key responses to reflect the views of the Council regarding issues such as the need for town centre investment.

113/19). Response from D&G regarding concessionary proposals in lieu of the ‘Your Staffordshire’ card:- The Clerk had spoke in depth to D&G in order to ascertain if any discounts or passes could be offered by D&G in order to bridge the gap for young people once the ‘Your Staffordshire’ card is discontinued in August. The card currently offers a single fare rate of £1.30. D&G noted that their discounted weekly pass of £13 works out at the same rate. However, if the full ten journeys are not required, then it does not provide an equivalent saving, and post 16 students do not always need to attend school/college every day. It was noted that Sir Graham Balfour currently provide a minibus that is used by Eccleshall students, but if these students start to use the bus, this would improve take up of the service. D&G were happy to support the introduction of a discounted ticket or pass, but only if the difference in cost was subsidised by the Parish Council.
It was noted that the Parish Council will already be paying £2,500 to subsidise the bus for 2019/20, and that the additional £1,000 funding by County Cllr. Pert will not be available next year, so any future costs will need to be totally funded by the Parish or other organisations.
The Parish Council were in favour of supporting the continuation of the reduced fares for young people by subsiding the difference between the new fares and the previous Your Staffordshire Card fare. The Clerk had circulated a report indicating an average cost of £47.70 a month. As improved usage would drive up costs for the Council, there would need to be a cap in place to ensure this amount is not excessive.
It was resolved to approve the provision of a top up subsidy to ensure the continuation of suitable reduced fares for young people who will no longer receive a Your Staffordshire Card and for the Clerk to discuss the options and next steps with D&G, in line with the potential subsidy cost of £47.70 a month (average). It was noted that the Parish Council subsidised fare shouldn’t detract passengers from taking advantage of the £13 weekly pass so that costs are shared between D&G and the Parish with regards to concessionary options.

114/19). Feedback from the Surveys working group and to note upcoming County Council survey consider any New Development updates:-
The Parish Council expressed its disappointment at the County Councillor survey document, and at the lack of prior consultation with the whole Council, as outlined in a report circulated by the surveys working group. Cllr. Pert advised he had presented the survey at a recent meeting to discuss the Community Interest Group at which some members and the Clerk were present. He also noted that the survey will feed into the CiC proposal to purchase the Police Station in order to ensure this is with the support of the community. The community feedback will help to drive the next steps and aims to introduce a collaborative way of working. The questions asked should not conflict with any planned Parish Council survey as they are very different.

The survey working group had concerns regarding the planned Parish survey with regards to – the current volume of other consultations currently in circulation; how to ensure any survey is inclusive of all areas outside of the town centre, and whether residents will take the time to complete a 3rd survey.
The group proposed to reach the community via focus groups with local organisations. It was important to access hard to reach groups such as young people, the older residents and people who commute to Eccleshall for work. Four open questions were proposed:
• What do you want to tell the Parish Council about working and living in Eccleshall?
• What are your aspirations for Eccleshall in the future?
• What are your concerns for Eccleshall in the future?
• At the moment the precept (the bit of the council tax that comes to the Parish Council) is £27.12 per household per year (Band D). Gnosall is £35.51 and Stone £50.11. In the past we have tried to keep this tax as low as possible. Would you support an increase in this if it was used to achieve your aspirations for the parish?
The survey response period would be from September until the end of October.
The Parish Council resolved in favour of proceeding with the survey and the Clerk and Cllr. Edwards would put together a list of community group contacts to approach.

115/19). The Future of Beech Road play area:- Concern was expressed that the Borough Council may be planning to sell Beech Road in order to release funds. It was noted that there are 3 new play areas to be opened that are of much better quality. However, residents local to Beech Road wish to retain this area as it avoids crossing a busy main road with small children, and provides a green space for free play. The Parish Council resolved in favour of opposing any potential sale of Beech Road play area.

116/19). To consider any New Development updates:-
Taylor Wimpey site:- Cllr. P. Jones is awaiting a response from the Borough Council after raising safety concerns with regards to the balancing pool located at the edge of the public open space.
The site manager invited the Clerk to a site visit to look at the open space area next to a resident’s property that has been the subject of a complaint regarding lack of maintenance. The site manager advised that the cut back vegetation on the floor will be cleared and the concrete structures will be removed. The trees will be assessed by their tree surgeon with a view to applying for remedial works to the Borough Council, as they are subject to a TPO.
The Clerk has also requested that the fence is erected between the rear of the Community Centre and the play area, as agreed in previous written correspondence from Taylor Wimpey.
Bovis:- The play area is still closed, and Cllr. Pert has been advised that the delay is due to the suitability of the grass. It will be reviewed in 2 weeks’ time.
The defibrillator is currently inaccessible due to the placement of heras fencing but Bovis have advised this will be moved by Monday 22nd July.
It was noted that the large 30mph signs by the site are obscured by the hedge, and some signs are flat on the ground. The Clerk was asked to request excess signs be removed and cutting back of the hedges to improve visibility of others.
Roundabout Feature:- Bovis have given approval for the submission of a planning application for the revised site location on the verge, and highways have confirmed that a new Road Safety Audit is not necessary. The Council were in favour of submitting the new application as soon as possible.

117/19). To receive the Clerk’s report and correspondence:-
The Council resolved to accept the Clerk’s report.

• Participation in VE day 75 commemorative activities. Correspondence was received to advise of commemorative activities taking place in May 2020 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The Council resolved to defer this item to the enhancements committee for discussion.
• Request to site clothing bank for the Children’s Air Ambulance. It was noted that limited locations were available to site a clothes bank. The Co-Op car park was suggested as an option, if it did not take up a parking space. The Clerk and the Chair would make enquiries of the Co-op to see if this is possible.

118/19). To note the opportunity for Clerk to apply for the Higher Education Certificate in Community Governance as covered in the employment contract.:
The Council were advised that applications for the course commencing 2020 were underway, and the Clerk is considering an application in line with the provision in her employment contract. It was noted that it is expected to require a commitment of approximately 6 hours a week. The budget has accounted for this expenditure, and the Council were in support of any application made.

119/19). To receive an update regarding the Police Station property.

Cllr. P. Jones requested permission to extend the meeting past 9.30pm, which was granted.

A meeting of interested parties plus a number of Councillors and the Clerk was held on the 10th July, where the options for the potential purchase of the Police Station were discussed in relation to the plan that would generate the most income. It was agreed that a single unit use would generate the best return, although may not attract as much funding as an incubator hub.
The Parish Council were provided with a summary of the information gathered to date on the Community Interest Company proposal for consideration. During discussion it was proposed that the Parish Council could also obtain a loan and purchase the Police Station itself, thus retaining full ownership and decision making on the property.
There was much discussion on the merits and disadvantages of the proposals. The Council took an indicative vote to gauge the level of interest for the options and the majority were in favour of considering the option of outright purchase of the property.

However, due to the need for further detailed information of a purchase proposal and consideration of financial implications and due process for both CiC involvement and to purchase the property, the Council resolved to defer further discussion and any decision until Wednesday 24th July 2019, when an extra ordinary meeting will be convened for this purpose.

120/19). Chairman’s Report:-
The Chair will be attending the Stone Civic Service Parade on the 28th July.

121/19). Accounts:-

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

Eccleshall Rugby Club – Grant – GPC, Localism Act 2011 ss1-8 250.00
SPCA – Training – LGA 1972 s.111 20.00
Creative Colour n Copy – 2000 newsletters – LGA 1972 s.142 443.00
DPWS – Croxton play area jet wash – Open Space Act 1906 s.10 150.00
D&G Bus – Provision of No.14 morning service – GPC, Localism Act 2011 ss1-8 200.00
Public Sector Deposit Fund – CCLA investment account – LGA 1972 s.111 25000.00

Accounts for payment July 2019:-

Authorisation was sought for payment of the following accounts:-

S. Worden – Salary – LGA 1972 s. 112 1177.53
Expenses – Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963 128.74
PAYE – LGA (Financial Provisions) 1963 54.00
NHI – LGA (Financial Provisions )1963 173.96
Pension LG Pensions Scheme Regs. 1995 423.55
TGM Grass and hedge cutting – Open Space Act 1906 s10 465.00
Rod Sheard seat re-painting x 12 – Parish Council Act 1957 s.2* 395.00
Stafford Borough Council Planning App- Eagle Street Art -GPC, Localism Act 2011 ss1-8 117.00
S. Worden – extra expenses for Speed Sign hose clips x 50 – GPC, Localism Act 2011 ss1-8 152.78

All were in favour and the cheques were signed.

The Clerk noted that the signatory information was now updated for the Bank accounts and for the record, the signatories are now: Cllrs P. Jones, Marshall, Dale and Delanchy, with the Clerk, Mrs S. Worden, as a signatory for administration purposes only, and not for signing of cheques.

122/19). Items / Date and Venue for next meeting:- The next full meeting of the Parish Council will be held on September 18th, 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 9.55pm.