The Chairwoman opened the Meeting at 7.30 pm, and welcomed Mrs Christine Turton to her first meeting as a Parish Councillor.
2. Declaration of Members’ Interests
None on known agenda items.
3. Public Participation
4. The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19th November 2008 were reviewed, and with the correction of a typing error on page 3, paragraph c (i), were signed as a true record.
a. Review of parish boundaries: the Clerk reported that North Somerset Council is proposing to consult residents of Downside Road who would be affected if the boundary between Wrington and Backwell parishes were altered. It was noted that Backwell Parish Council had also commented that Downside Road residents should all be in one parish or the other, not split between the two. Cllr Turton said that she understood that most residents would prefer to remain in Backwell Parish or even be moved into Backwell if given the choice. The outcome of the consultation will now be awaited.
b. Special Expenses: the Clerk read out a letter from Peter Sloman, Head of Financial Management at NSC, which set out possible options for dealing with costs such as street lighting, currently paid for by some parish councils. This can have the effect of residents apparently paying twice for the same service, as they are also charged for this through their Council Tax.
After discussion, it was felt that the option whereby NSC would pay parish councils a grant to cover the cost of street lighting would be preferable, providing that it would cover all costs ie. electricity, maintenance and replacement of lighting columns when needed.
The Clerk was directed to query this with Mr Sloman. If the answer was positive, then the Clerk should respond that Wrington Parish Council would prefer the grant option.
c. Letter from Pengelly Consulting, who are carrying out a survey of Green Infrastructure on behalf of North Somerset Council. It was agreed to pass this to the Environment working group to ascertain what information is required and respond appropriately.
d. Information from the Clerk of Long Ashton Parish Council with regard to a meeting at the Town Hall, Weston-s-Mare, on 30th January 2009 to discuss the Part II of the Parish Charter. It was agreed that the Clerk and Chairwoman would attend this meeting.
e. Letter from Wrington Gardening Club with a donation of £100 from the Wrington Show held in August, to be used towards floral displays in the village in 2009.
f. Letter from Mrs Maureen Robinson responding to the Council’s request for views on the trees on the village green. Mrs Robinson’s view is that one only should be retained, and that this should be the one nearest the old Manor House.
g. Letter from Wrington Vale Medical Practice, providing a progress report on the project to provide a new single-site surgery to cover both Wrington and Churchill/Langford. An important element of the plans is the identification of a suitable site, which will need to be 1.25 acres, including provision for parking.
There was discussion of what potential sites might be suggested. It was agreed that the Glebe field would not be large enough. Other possibilities could be the field between Butts Orchard and Garstons Orchard, or the field between the Recreation ground and Cox’s Green.
Members felt it was important to offer constructive help and support to this project, otherwise there was a danger that Wrington might lose its local surgery which many residents are able to walk to. The Clerk was directed to write to the practice with suggestions and expressions of support.
a. Police Report: copies of the report provided by PC Tacchi had been circulated at the beginning of the meeting, and the contents were noted. Cllr Bigg queried whether members currently receive the Neighbourhood Watch newsletter, and as it appeared that most did not, she offered to arrange for this to be circulated. Cllr Gallop reported a recent incident of an attempt to deal in drugs within Wrington village and it was suggested that PC Tacchi should be informed of this.
b. Clerk’s Report and Financial Report: these had been circulated in advance of the meeting, with the accounts for the month of November. The following payments were approved:
Avon Youth Association 3rd quarter £1,000.00
S Arrowsmith - village orderly - November £96.00
Connaught Environmental - dog bins October £55.00
EDF Energy £114.13
Clerk’s salary December
(including backdated pay rise to 1st April) to be calculated
HMRC 3rd quarter payment due by mid-January to be calculated
Invoices to be set against Memorial Hall grant:
Harbour Blinds (blinds for backstage rooms) £210.00 including VAT
c. Working Groups
i. Finance Cllr Gallop circulated a draft budget for the 2009/10 financial year, which had been produced following a recent meeting of the working group. This showed a precept figure of £76,300, an increase of 1.93% on the current year. Members were asked to consider the figures and respond with queries by 12th January, so that a final budget could be presented and adopted at the January meeting. The Clerk will circulate some explanatory notes to assist in this process.
Cllr Matthews reported that he has now considered the position with regard to the Council’s bank accounts and the possibility of repaying the bank loan on behalf of the Memorial Hall Committee. With the recent drop in interest rates, the Capital Deposit account is only earning 0.3% interest, and the Reserve account (used for day to day transactions) is earning 0.5%. The rate of interest currently being charged for the bank loan is 3.5%.
In the light of the disparity between interest earned and interest paid, he believed that it would be sensible to repay the loan out of Council funds, and come to an arrangement with the Memorial Hall Committee, the details of which would need to worked out. This was agreed.
In addition, Cllr Matthews suggested investing a lump sum of up to £50,000 into NatWest’s Special Interest Bearing account, which pays 1.5% interest, and has instant access.
ii. Highways Cllr Matthews reported that the paper on the GBSTS report had now been send to Cllr Elfan ap Rees at NSC, and circulated to other key members of the Council. Copies are also to be emailed to neighbouring parishes and other interested parties. Cllr Irving proposed a vote of thanks to Cllr Matthews for his efforts in organising the working group that had gathered the data for the report, and for producing such an comprehensive document.
Shared space: Cllr Matthews reported that he had now been in touch with Ben Hamilton-Baillie, the landscape architect who has designed a number of shared space schemes, and some dates were suggested for Mr Hamilton-Baillie to make a presentation to the Council. It was agreed to arrange this for Tuesday 20th January at 7.30 pm, following the Planning Committee meeting.
Cllr Yamanaka raised the issue of parking in School Road the head teacher has asked whether the section opposite the school could be designated ‘no parking’ with zig-zag yellow lines. It was suggested that cones might be used initially to discourage parking, and if this was not effective then lines might be considered.
iii. Airport: members were reminded of the meeting arranged with Mr Robert Sinclair, the new CEO at BIA, for the following evening, 18th December. The purpose of the meeting would be to hear details of the major planning application to be submitted in 2009, and to ask questions about this and other airport issues. Cllr Yamanaka reported that the application for the new fire station had been considered at a meeting of the South Area Committee earlier in the evening. This is permitted development, but it had been agreed that the colour of the cladding would be changed.
iv. Environment: Cllr Bigg reported that she had now obtained quotations from printers for producing 1500 copies of the Parish Plan. The best price was from Aqueous - £2,700 to include design. It was agreed to go ahead with this.
v. Emergency Planning: Cllr Thorn reported that a further item had been placed in the current issue of the Journal appealing for volunteers to serve on the ‘duty officer’ roster. In the meantime, he has made a start on completing the paperwork for the Emergency Plan.
d. District Councillor’s report
A written report had been circulated previously by Cllr Yamanaka, and this was received. She also provided an update on the proposed closure of St Katherine’s School, Felton. No actual decision has yet been taken on closure, as the consultation process has to be completed before this can happen. It is understood that the governors of Winford School have agreed that the school should expand to take additional pupils. The number of pupils at St Katherine’s is likely to be 36 in January 2009.
7. Publication Scheme
Members had been circulated previously with a copy of the model Publication Scheme and a draft of the Guide to Information provided by the Information Commissioners Office. The Clerk explained that councils were required to adopt a Publication Scheme by 31st December 2008, and also provide a Guide to Information held by the council so that members of the public would be aware of what information is available to them and how it can be obtained.
It was agreed that the model Publication Scheme provided by the ICO should be adopted in its entirety. The draft Guide to Information was reviewed and suggestions for amendments were made by members. The Clerk will now complete the final version of the Guide, which will be publicised through the Journal and the Wrington website.
8. Code of Conduct consultation
Prior to the meeting, the Clerk had circulated extracts to members from a consultation document issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government. The two issues to be considered were: whether adoption of paragraph 12(2) of the Code of Conduct should be mandatory for parish councils, and whether the Code of Conduct for employees of councils should be extended to cover parish council staff.
There was a general feeling that the adoption of paragraph 12(2) should be optional, but after discussion it was decided that members did not feel strongly enough about the issues to make any comment on the consultation. It was therefore agreed not to submit comments.
9. Avon Local Councils Association
Cllr Bigg provided a verbal report of the Annual General Meeting of ALCA which was held on 29th November. The meeting had been attended by herself, Cllr Irving, Cllr Glynn, and the Clerk. Cllr Bigg commented on the inadequate paperwork provided at the meeting and the unsatisfactory venue which had been very cramped.
She also raised other concerns such as the unwillingness of ALCA to circulate its newsletter by email, so that it could be easily passed on to councillors, and the lack of information as to the various organisations and committees, such as the North Somerset Partnership, where ALCA has representation. This latter point she felt is important because individual councils are unaware of how their views are being represented, and there is no feedback as to the discussions and decisions taken at the various meetings.
Cllr Bigg suggested that Wrington Parish Council should write to ask for a list of the organisations on which ALCA has representation, and also to request that the newsletter be circulated electronically. Cllr Matthews asked what subscription the Council currently pays to be a member of ALCA, and questioned whether this was good value for money.
It was agreed initially to contact ALCA as suggested, and to review the matter in February 2009 when further consideration could be given as to whether to continue membership.
10. Meeting with Mr Robert Sinclair of BIA
This matter was dealt with earlier in the meeting under item 6(c).
11. Change of use for the Cyber Room
It was agreed that the following people would join the working group set up by the Memorial Hall and Recreation Field Committee to consider changing the use of the Cyber Room: Cllr Irving, Cllr Bigg, Cllr Thorn and the Clerk.
Cllr Irving reported that Mrs Susan Dunn Morua had recently resigned as a member of the Parish Council, as she was shortly to be moving out of Wrington. It was agreed that the vacancy should be advertised, along with the vacancy in the north east ward, in the New Year. The Clerk was directed to write to Mrs Dunn Morua to thank her for commitment to the Council and the important contribution she had made during her time on the Council.
13. Open Forum
· Cllr Gallop said that she is currently the Parish Council representative on the Wrington Sports & Social Committee, but as she is due to retire from the committee in March 2009 another representative will need to be appointed. It was proposed and agreed that Cllr Moss should take over this role.
· Cllr Phillips asked whether the Council would be willing to make a donation to the Dickensian Fair Committee to cover some of the extra costs associated with providing the Christmas tree on the green. The Council had previously agreed to contribute £60 towards the cost of the tree itself. The additional costs were: £60 for the tree (total £120); £104.95 for three sets of lights and £76.50 for a power box for the lights. The total contribution would therefore be £301.45. It was agreed to fund this under Section 137.
· Cllr Moss raised an issue about dogs fouling the football pitch at the Recreation Field. She had been asked whether dogs could be banned from the field. It was felt that this would be impractical, although dogs should be kept on a lead whilst on the field. It was agreed that the Clerk should contact the dog warden at NSC to follow this up. It was thought likely that most offences are committed between 7.00 am and 9.00 am.
· It was noted that hedges in Long Lane in the vicinity of Barleywood are growing over the road. As the property is currently for sale, it was felt unlikely that the owners would be looking after the hedges, and it was therefore agreed that the Clerk should ask if NSC would cut them back.
· Cllr Turton asked how communication might best be maintained with residents of Downside Road who are in Wrington Parish. The Wrington Journal is not normally taken by these residents, so they would not see the Parish Council’s regular entry. The St Katherine’s magazine is more widely read, and Cllr Turton therefore suggested that she might contribute a short article to this publication. It was agreed that she should do this, in liaison with the Clerk regarding the content.
· Cllr Bigg showed a copy of the Annual Report of NSC’s Local Access Forum. She felt that there could be benefits in the Parish Council in being involved in this organisation. The Clerk said that meeting papers are sent out by NSC, but the Council has never been contacted by its liaison member, Mr Phil Avery, and she suggested that Mr Avery should be invited to attend a future Parish Council meeting to explain the remit and role of the LAF. This was agreed.
There being no other business the meeting was declared closed at 10.20 pm.