Minutes of the Great Staughton Parish Council
held on 11th July 2013 in the Village Hall
H Duberly (HD) (Chair) F Backhouse (FB) J Bowen (JB)
G Gilbert (GG) R Jewell (RJ) W Mumford (WM)
P Willmer (PW) A Withers (AW) D Palmer (DP) (Clerk)
Also present were District Councillor Jonathan Gray (JG) and County Councillor Peter Downes (PD).
a) Residents’ Forum
Mr Erkan Mustafa was welcomed to the meeting and invited to discuss the content of his recent emails circulated to the Parish Councillors prior to the meeting regarding the extension built on the property next to his at no 10 Green Lane. Mr Mustafa has submitted objections to Hunts DC against the extension. He has asked how the approval had been decided but did not receive a satisfactory reply. Only after 7 months was he given plans containing measurements. If the plans had been received earlier he would have informed Hunts DC earlier that the plans were wrong. Mr Mustafa has submitted a report to the local Government Ombudsman who has also expressed concern about the extension being in the wrong place.
Following discussion it was agreed that the Parish Council would offer Mr Mustafa full support and HD summarised that a) the Parish Council is unhappy with the decision and b) the extension has not been built in accordance with the planning permission. It was decided that this matter should be raised formally by the Parish Council. At present Mr Mustafa is awaiting a report from the Ombudsman. HD thanked Mr Mustafa for attending the meeting.
1. Apologies for absence were received from M Young (MY) who submitted a written report to the meeting.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 16th May 2013 were then signed as a true record.
3. Matters Arising
FB informed the meeting that the Neighbourhood Watch group (NHW) had held 2 more meetings and 12 zones were now covered together with 5 deputies in place. The NHW signs had been installed. A letter of support has been received from Mr Sadler and he has offered financial assistance. FB hopes that this can be used to purchase security equipment. Action: FB
Item 10 – a letter has gone to the primary school with an invitation to attend a Parish Council meeting.
Item 10 –reductions in local bus services. DP to approach other local parishes to ask whether they are interested in
submitting a joint protest in the hope that some of the facilities can be retained. Action: DP
PD mentioned that Cambs CC is supporting Cambridgshire Future Transport as a more effective way of serving
villages. PD also mentioned HACT which offers a local service and is being funded by Cambs CC. DP to write to the
relevant officer to argue the case to keep the bus service and copy PD any correspondence. Action: DP
Item 14 – Baby changing facilities in the village hall. The Village Hall committee is looking into this matter. JB
recommended that the committee ensure that the floor is disinfected after the dog classes.
4. Attendance at other meetings
AW circulated a report prior to the meeting to inform Councillors about the local structure plan meeting to discuss housing development up to 2036. Now at stage 3 of 8 and the final stage will be at the end of 2014. AW asked what attention is being given to rural communities as the focus of the plan is on urban sites and airfields. Apparently limited funds are available for local initiatives and villages should identify needs and pursue these with Hunts DC. If Great Staughton does have any requirements Hunts DC Planning Dept should be alerted. Bring forward as an Agenda Item for September meeting. Action: DP
1300591FUL Barns at Manor Farm Change of use to office Agreed
1300676FUL 8 Manor Close Extension to side and rear Agreed
1300869LBC 1 The Highway Glazed roof between house and barn Agreed
Following on from the discussion during the residents’ forum, it was agreed that it would be useful to invite Steve Ingram to a Parish Council meeting to clarify some points relating to planning applications. In the case being discussed it was known that the Parish Council objected to the extension and so did some residents. Concern was expressed that if the building work was incorrect and no action was taken this would set a precedent for future building work.
RJ mentioned that the council officers have to work within government frameworks and he asked whether they had followed their procedures properly and the government procedures properly. It was suggested that a letter be sent posing these questions and asking whether Hunts DC believed the building was in the right place and if not would enforcement action happen? Copy letter to JG. Action: HD/DP
PD reported that the work in Cage Lane is in the programme and work will be done this year. He has also spoken to Mr A King (AK) at Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) regarding Vicarage Walk and Green Close but is uncertain whether these qualify for repair work at present. HD thanked PD for his support with this matter.
RJ held a meeting in the village with AK from CCC to discuss general highway/road problems and circulated a report on the outcome. In brief, the line painting on The Highway will be done during the summer; the 2 damaged road signs will be replaced and other signage on The Highway will be reviewed; pothole work will be completed in Cage Lane and other areas within the next 6 months; the damaged culvert wall near the Snooty Tavern is not the responsibility of CCC and the remedial work needs to be organised between the landowner and the Snooty Tavern; CCC does 3 grass cuts on all approach roads into the village but the depth of the cut from the roadside is to be reduced, and finally in relation to the trees on the B645 that might need lopping CCC need to be notified of the location and the landowner. RJ spoke to AK about the request for a white line to be painted across the entrance to Laura’s Close, this would cost the residents £90 plus vat. A letter to be sent to the residents informing them of the situation. Action: DP
RJ also discussed with AK planting of trees in the verges in the village (on CCC land). If the Parish Council will accept liability for any trees planted in the verges and follow guidance from CCC as to the type of trees planted, permission will be given. RJ proposed that the Parish Council accept liability and this was unanimously agreed. It was also agreed to advise neighbouring residents before planting new trees. It was suggested that the Horticultural Society could be approached when planning to plant new trees in the village. Action: RJ/DP
AK mentioned that if any more grit bins were needed there would be a charge of £95.00 each and he asked to be informed if the 3 in the village needed topping up. Action: DP
HD thanked RJ for all the work he had completed in his role as Highway Warden for the village.
RJ has spoken to the farmer regarding the maintenance of footpaths and he could reduce the costs by spraying the field margins rather than manually clearing the footpath. DP to write to confirm. Action: DP
It was reported that the 30mph sign situated at Dillington when travelling from Cage Lane was obscured by foliage. DP to arrange for it to be cleared. Action: DP
JB reported that Anglian Water had been installing water meters and left the pavements in a poor condition. However, it is understood that this is only a temporary surface. JB reported that the pavement outside 10 Green Close has been damaged during the building work and asked who would be responsible for the repairs. PD thought whoever caused the damage would be liable. Report to Highways Department. Action: DP
RJ mentioned that Mr Brown has suggested that the hedges along the access to 3 Shires Way at Dillington need cutting back. Mr Brown is willing to carry out the work at cost. Agreed. Action: DP
HD reported that the Allotment Society were very grateful to WM for clearing the roadside ditch to prevent flooding at no cost.
Highways – Road Improvement Scheme
PD reported that CCC had increased the budget for this scheme which meant that Great Staughton were eligible for a grant as per the application in December for traffic calming at the western entrance to the village. A draft scheme has been circulated prior to the meeting and full costings will be prepared and submitted. The Parish Council agreed to proceed to the next stage. HD thanked PD for his support with the application. WM asked for removable bollards in order to be able to drive farming equipment through the area. DP to inform CCC. Action: DP
7. Street Lights
The Balfour Beatty website indicates that the work to update the street lights in Great Staughton is scheduled to take place between March and June 2014. It was agreed to invite parishioners to an open meeting prior to the November meeting to inform them of the proposal and seek their input. A quotation to update the street lights owned by the village has been obtained in the sum of £335.00 per light. The contractor stated that the new lights would make savings of approximately 65% on energy costs and 73% on maintenance costs. A grant might be available to carry out the work and Parish Councillors agreed that it would be worth while exploring this possibility. Action: DP
Two residents have contacted the Parish Council expressing concern and disgust at the continuing problem of dog fouling in the village. It was agreed to place another notice in Life. Action: DP
9. Cheques in and out since May 2013
Income – nil
CH Brown & Sons £416.52
St Neots Museum £50.00
Peter Round £235.20
Gt Staughton Village Hall £93.00
Camb Neighbourhood Watch £80.00
HMRC – PAYE £26.00
Cambs Countryside Watch £30.00
D Palmer (Apr & May) £416.28
Village Handyman £609.00
Petty cash £11.60
Peter Round £235.20
Total 2,210.12 Balance in Community account = £9,149.51
HD and RJ confirmed that they had seen a copy of the reconciled cash book up to 10th July and approved it.
HD proposed that the annual grants be paid as follows:
St Andrews PCC £400.00
Village Hall £1,000.00
Playing Field balance £500.00
Life Magazine £600.00
Seconded by G Gilbert and carried unanimously.
Report from County Councillor
PD asked to present his report and mentioned that the ‘Key Issues’ email contained some information relevant to Great Staughton. PD reminded the meeting of the Community Navigators Scheme; this has been advertised in Life but the scheme is still looking for volunteers to give guidance and support to those who need it.
PD said that there is a proposal to form an Academy made up of 5 local schools including Great Staughton Primary School and this was going to be discussed at Overhills school within the next few days. PD pointed out some of the changes this would mean to children attending the village school and their parents. HD will contact the primary school again and invite them to the September meeting. Action: HD/DP
RJ asked PD about the charges to the Pavilion for refuse collection; small businesses do not pay a charge but charities do. RJ also mentioned that small businesses do not pay general rates but charities do. PD suggested that a letter be sent to the District and County Council. Action: RJ/DP
PD pointed out a consultation on flood insurance for domestic properties. More information can be found on the Defra website www.gov.uk.defra, under consultations search for flood insurance. The consultation closes on 8th August. HD thanked PD for his input.
It was agreed to have a separate Agenda item in future for reports by the County Councillor and the District Councillor. Action: DP
10. Report from the Village Hall Committee
All electrical items have been PAT tested and the electrics of the hall will be tested and certificated. MY is also looking into baby changing facilities. Action: MY
11. Report from the Playing Field Committee
JB reported the tennis courts will be open for general use. FB thought that there was more litter now and asked whether a refuse bin should be placed nearby. Action: JB
JB has contacted Hunts Football Association to obtain advice on attracting new people to play football and an advertisement will be placed in Life together with notices placed around the village. Hunts FA has been very supportive and offered to act as a conduit for enquiries.
A quotation has been obtained for redecorating the Pavilion. JB is seeking another. The Tree Wardens have planted a tree on the playing field and asked whether the Parish Council would pay for a plaque to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee last year. A decision will be made once a price has been obtained. Action: JB
JB displayed 2 posters from Wicksteed Leisure Ltd with proposed new items for the play area. If a grant for this cannot be obtained the items will have to be replaced one by one. JB is approaching grant making trusts.
RJ, Treasurer of the Playing Field Committee, reported that he had received a generous donation to cover the increase in rates but he is still seeking an answer to the problem. It was agreed that a letter would be sent to Jonathan Djanogly, the local MP, asking whether he felt it was right to provide 100% rate relief to a small business but not to a charity with an equivalent rateable property. Action: RJ/DP
New Trustees are still needed and suggestions were invited. Action: ALL
12. Parish Matters
Although the exact result of the Housing Needs Survey has not yet been received it is understood that there is a ‘small but significant’ need for affordable housing. AW mentioned a village in Dorset that had build its own homes for local people. The newspaper article will be filed for future reference. Action: DP
AW volunteered to write an article for Life to inform people about the work of the Parish Council. Action: AW
HD reported that the village mower is broken and will cost approx £250 to repair. The meeting gave authority to spend up to £500.00 to replace the mower. Action: HD
Report from District Councillor
JG said he would like to reassure the meeting that Hunts DC realised how important it is for new development in villages and in particular small scale developments such as the affordable housing scheme. He also mentioned that there would be another reduction in government funding for local authorities of 10% in 2015 and this would mean that during the last 5 years there had been a reduction of more than 30%. JG gave prior warning that the special grant from HDC to parish Councils given in the current financial year is unlikely to be repeated. (A value of £471 in the current year). RJ said that the effect will be that the Parish Council will again have to raise its precept or cut expenditure.
RJ also said that this was unfair to Parish Councils as this loss of revenue was because their taxbase had been artificially diminished. This was a direct consequence of the Government’s cuts in Council tax benefit grant to Districts and Hunts DC were passing this on to Parishes.
JG said that the Bicton wind farm appeal will take place in September. WM said that the Southoe wind farm has been approved.
13. Date of meetings for 2013
HD thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at 9.30pm.