Minutes of Neasham Parish Council meeting held on Tuesday 1 March 2022, 6:30PM, in Neasham Reading Room
J Weighell (Chair), B Crossen, G Crute, P Dunn, J Grainger, E Miller, K Sandick, L Tostevin (Ward Councillor), J Walker (Clerk)
M Hannaford, C Chou
J Weighell welcomed Councillors to the meeting. Apologies for absence were accepted from C Chou (working). It was confirmed that apologies from J Grainger (Self Isolation in relation to holiday) had been accepted at the February meeting. The Chair also welcomed B Crossen to the meeting who signed the Acceptance of Office and presented the Register of Interests document for forwarding to Darlington BC.
21/150 – DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no Declarations of Interest.
21/151 - MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the Ordinary Meeting held on 1 February 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.
21/152– MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MEETING / PROGRESS REPORTS
There were no matters arising.
21/153 – PACT REPORT
A PACT meeting had been held on 16 February 2022. Unfortunately the Chair had to send his apologies as it was such short notice and he had a prior commitment. The next meeting has been set as 16th March and the Chair confirmed that he will be in attendance.
21/154– ROADS AND FOOTPATHS
- G Crute reported on the current position with regards the issue of the public right of way across the New Lane development. Following the February meeting at which it was agreed that the way markers installed on the adjacent fence had clarified the route and assist in avoidance of further confusion, G Crute wrote to the Darlington BC public rights of way officer requesting confirmation of their position. Darlington BC had responded stating that they had arranged for the installation of these additional markers and therefore had complied with Neasham PC’s request for assistance on the matter. They also stated that there was general agreement within the department that the notice on the entrance gate to the development did not contravene S.57 of the relevant 1949 Parliamentary Act and therefore was not unlawful and its removal could not be enforced. However they did confirm that they had spoken to owner of the gate who confirmed that he would consider removal of the sign when the gate was painted. The members agreed to accept this position and it was resolved that Neasham PC should take no further steps to implement the resolutions agreed at the meeting on 5th October 2021.
- E Miller reported that a bridge on the bridleway off New Lane had been fenced off by Darlington BC for safety reasons while they carried out a structural survey, although ramblers had been observed gaining access. Darlington BC were only required to provide a bridge for pedestrians and horses, but not for heavy machinery for which the landowners would be responsible.
21/155 – ENVIRONMENT AGENCY MATTERS
- The Chair reported that the fallen conifer tree blocking the Teesdale Way had been cut up, but many of the logs were still to be removed, despite the barrier posts having been left out for them to gain access for over two months.
- In response to a query raised by G Crute, the Agency have confirmed that they had installed the length of safety fence to Kent Beck and that they would maintain it.
- G Crute has reminded the Agency that he is still awaiting a response from them in respect of the overgrown trees growing in Neasham PC land in the flood bank area on both sides of the Kent Beck. The Agency had written stating that they would monitor them, but G Crute wanted confirmation that they would maintain them, as Neasham had no access to those areas.
21/156 – VILLAGE GREEN
- Wild seed areas to each end of the green were discussed in general terms at the previous meeting without any resolution. The Chair stated that a decision is needed on whether to proceed and for which professional advice should be obtained. It was suggested that Street Scene would be able to provide this advice. K Sandick stated that the west end of the green in the “snake” path area was unsuitable, however there was a suitable area at the east end. It was agreed that K Sandick should take some measurements and approach Street Scene for advice. It was also agreed, in the interim, to continue grass cutting in that area until a decision is reached.
- Trees made available by Darlington BC to parish councils for planting in agreed areas of the parish. Proposed site inspection still awaited. L Tostevin reported that they were still assessing the areas and B Graham is aware of Neasham PC’s concerns and will raise it again with him.
- Shrubbery. Following approval of the approach to procuring the works at the February meeting, G Crute has prepared a document detailing the works including budgets and risk assessments, which has been circulated. The document compared the cost of recycled material in lieu of tanalised timber which was agreed as representing value for money. G Crute stated that formalities were required in order to set aside the Financial Regulations, subject to this approach offering value for money and subject to budgetary controls. The proposals were agreed as satisfying the requirements to this approach and it was resolved to suspend the Financial Regulations in respect of these works and proceed on the basis outlined early in the next financial year.
- The defibrillator had been reported as offline on 17/02/22 and has now been re-instated, but there appears to be some sort of breakdown in communications between the Circuit and NEAS. It would appear that Hurworth PC had similar problems. Many thanks to Liz for turning out in the storm to check the unit.
- An application by a member of the National Council for Metal Detecting for a permit to use his equipment on the village green was declined.
- Applications received since last meeting: -
21/01397/FUL – 40 Teesway, Neasham – Demolition of bungalow and erection of two dwellings. It was reported that the applicant had consulted neighbours during the design process which had satisfied their concerns. – APPROVED.
- Decisions received since the last meeting:- None
- G Crute reported that the Inspector’s final report on the Darlington Local Plan had been received and would be considered by Council on 17th February and has now been adopted. L Tostevin reported that it was close vote with 24 to 20 in favour and that she had been strongly in favour of it, as it protected villages from further development and it is known what is happening for the next five years.
21/158 – RISK MANAGEMENT
- No scheduled Inspections in February. One defect was raised and forwarded to Darlington BC.
- P Dunn has prepared a simplified Inspection sheet for the planters which was agreed in principle at the last meeting and has been circulated.
- The Annual All-Risks Checklist has been updated and previously circulated and is now tabled for approval. The schedule is required to be completed for presentation to the April meeting. G Crute reported that the main differences from the previous years was in respect of GDPR and Website Accessibility, he also feels that all members should examine the completed document when presented at the April meet to be aware of the risks. The updated checklist was approved by the members.
21/159 – FINANCE
- The balance in the current account stood at £6,636.02 as at 17 February 2022 with no cheques outstanding.
- To confirm order having been placed with Harrison Flagpoles for a replacement Union Jack in the sum of £68.40 which has now been delivered. The Chair stated although the replacement was more durable than the original one, he was reluctant to raise it until the gales had passed by.
- Previously approved anticipated payments in March:- Clerk £439.84 (Salary), HMRC £110 (PAYE), Information Commissioners Office £35 (Registration fee).
- Finance Report 4Q projected to 31 March 2022 as circulated.
- Reading Rooms have agreed to a request by Neasham PC for a donation of £300 donation towards the cost of the lectern and Roll of Honour at the proposed shrubbery.
- No communication received from the auditor regarding the AGAR, but it is anticipated that Neasham PC will remain in the Smaller Authority classification.
21/160 – UPDATED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES DOCUMENTS
- Point of clarity. It was explained that the documents referred to in this section included both Policy documents and Procedures documents and only the policies require formal approval by the members. Procedures are issued for guidance and do not require approval.
- Revised Code of Conduct prepared by Darlington BC had been adopted by them from 1 January 2022. Following an exchange of emails with Luke Swinhoe which resulted in no objections to Neasham PC proposals to reduce the Code of Conduct down to a manageable size which could be accommodated on our website. G Crute subsequently produced three separate documents which have been circulated. The Code of Practice is a policy document and a resolution to approve it was agreed by the members. Guidance Notes on General Conduct and Guidance Notes on Registering Interests have been previously circulated for reference.
- The review of the GDPR documentation by G Crute is ongoing. G Crute reported that many of the original documents were quite lengthy and since Bexit the ICO have introduced simpler notices. Privacy Notices in respect of Personnel, Volunteers and General have been circulated and a resolution to approve these was accepted by the members. The Guidance Notes on the Document Management Policy together with updated proforma Consent Form have been previously circulated for reference. The review of the Asset Register documentation by G Crute is ongoing and he outlined the new process for valuing our assets. This will be based on the classifications set out in the insurance policy documents and containing three separate valuations to meet our own requirements and this approach was approved the members. The Asset Register – “Proper Practices” for Valuation document had been previously circulated for reference.
21/161 – CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES
The issue of Climate change had been discussed at previous meetings and broad agreement for an initial presentation at the Parish Assembly and the production of an enhanced publication to publicise these activities. G Crute agreed that there was broad agreement, but time was running short and we needed to agree the matter in greater detail. For example he had invited the Energy Saving Commission to attend the proposed event on 17th May, but they had declined as the notice was too short. It was proposed that we invite one of Darlington BC climate change officers to attend which was agreed. An offer by K Sandick to arrange the printing and distribution of the Report/Newsletter was accepted, G Crute confirmed that the person he suggested to edit it ready for publication had agreed to do so. A proposal by the Chair that he should provide a skeleton report to K Sandick for him to incorporate suggestions from the other members was agreed. Members were requested to forward any items of interest over the last two years or future to K Sandick as soon as possible.
21/162 – WARD COUNCILLOR MATTERS
- L Tostevin reported that on the Burma Road traveller site, Darlington BC had lost with their case against the approval and the travellers would be allowed to remain on site. There was disappointment that few residents had attended the hearing, but this was countered by members stating that they and parishioners had not been informed of the hearing date. The hearing on the appeal by the travellers against the enforcement order on the second site was still to take place. However the Local Plan confirmed that sufficient sites were already available.
- L Tostevin reported Parliamentary Changes Commission review is still open and G Crute stated that the reviews could not be seen on the website. It was suggested the Clerk should submit the Neasham PC review again.
21/163 – CORRESPONDENCE
- Various emails from NALC regarding Newsletter (02/02, 16/02), Chief Executive’s bulletins (07/02, 14/02, 21/02), Online Events (10/02, 15/02). No matters were raised by the members.
- Email from the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner (14/02) with a link to their Plan.
- Email from North Yorkshire CC (17/02) confirming adoption of the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan.
- An email had been received from an A Burgess advising that there was an error on the Roll of Honour in the Reading Rooms in which his grandfather had been wrongly listed as J Burgess when he was Fred. He had provided copies of documents in support of this claim. An investigation by a volunteer into historic records showed that there was a F Burgess living in the Boathouse at that time with a son called John. As there was nothing found to contradict his claim, it was resolved that this alteration should be incorporated into the new Roll of Honour at the shrubbery.
21/164– OTHER VILLAGE MATTERS
- The Reading Rooms have agreed to the 17th May for the Parish Assembly meeting.
- The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. There had been no response from any parents to the invitation from the Chair to hold events on the green, however the Reading Rooms had a list of planned events to be held there. L Tostevin informed the meeting that Councillor Jonathon Dulston is prepared to meet parish councils to discuss what funding is available for potential events. It was also agreed that the Chair should advise the Reading Rooms to contact him, through L Tostevin, on the matter.
- Minutes of the Darlington Association of Parish Council meeting on 3 February were circulated.
- P Dunn agreed to provide refreshments for the Parish Assembly and would also request prices for the flowers for planters.
- G Crute raised the issue of support for Ukraine and it was agreed to establish what Darlington BC had planned in support.
The meeting concluded at 8.15pm
Minutes signed on 5 April 2022 by J Weighell