Minutes of Neasham Parish Council meeting held on Tuesday 5 April 2022, 6:30PM, in Neasham Reading Room
B Crossen, G Crute, P Dunn, J Grainger, M Hannaford, E Miller, K Sandick, J Weighell, C Chou, L Tostevin
J Weighell welcomed Councillors and parishioners to the meeting. There were no apologies for absence.
21/167 – DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Declarations of Interest were declared by G Crute in Agenda item 11 (Website Accessibility Test) and E Miller in Agenda item 9 (Low Maidendale Farm planning applications).
21/168 – REQUEST BY A PARISHIONER TO ADDRESS THE MEETING IN RESPECT OF THE PROPOSED SHRUBBERY (AGENDA ITEM 8)
An application had been received from one of the attendees to address the meeting and the Chair stated that to avoid a long wait for them during discussion on other matters he was proposing to bring forward part of Agenda item. This was seconded by the Vice-Chair and the motion was passed unanimously. The Chair then read out a statement outlining the progress that had been made in the village with various projects since the mid-fifties leading to the current proposal. The current proposal had evolved from a wish to make the Roll of Honour, currently on display in the reading rooms, accessible to the public generally by installing a replica on the green with a raised bed containing low shrubs and wild flowers. This would be a permanent feature and it is proposed it will be known as the Memorial Garden. The Chair then invited the parishioner to address the meeting. The parishioner thanked the Chair for the opportunity to address the meeting and stated that she was representing six other parishioners whom had asked her to speak on their behalf. The parishioner began by stating that her complaint was not directed at the councillors, but at the project itself. She then read out a statement describing in great detail the various issues in connection with the project which, she considers to have a detrimental effect on the village and why it should make the council reconsider it’s decision to proceed. She also felt that there had been a lack on consultation on the project and that she had strong support in the village for her stance on the issue and requested that the raised bed be cancelled. G Crute then responded on behalf the parish council in which he stated that we felt that we have complied with legislation in respect of consultation by publishing various documents such agenda, minutes, newsletters, but unfortunately the Parish Assembly that gives parishioners a forum to discuss such matters did not take place because of COVID. G Crute then provided further details on the project and the reasoning as to why the bed had to be raised. K Sandick felt that the area was a focal point for the village where people could congregate and had brought back the carol service and a location for holding Remembrance Day services and whilst he respects the parishioner’s opinion he feels the area is of significant benefit to the public. At the end of the discussions the parishioner thanked the members for hearing her and for providing additional information, however she still felt that communications should be open and that the project should not go ahead and left the meeting. Following the departure of the parishioners, a discussion between the members agreed that there was no reason to propose any new motion to alter the decision reached at the February meeting and proceed accordingly, but they did agree to consider reducing the height to one board subject to additional boarding to suit contours. In addition the members did recognise the need to keep the parish fully consulted on such matters.
21/169 - MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the Ordinary Meeting held on 1 March 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.
21/170 – MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MEETING / PROGRESS REPORTS
There were no matters arising.
21/171 – PACT REPORT
The Chair had attended the PACT meeting held on 16 March 2022 but was disappointed in that it included many issues that were not relevant to the meeting.
21/172 – ROADS AND FOOTPATHS
The Chair reported that the bridge on the bridleway off New Lane remained closed pending the results of a structural survey by Darlington BC. This was causing severe disruption to a local farmer who was having to make a long diversion through a neighbouring fam because of this. E Miller reported that one parapet had been demolished with all the bricks dropped into the stream. The Chair agreed to send a photograph of this pollution to A Hale (Environment Agency).
21/173 – ENVIRONMENT AGENCY MATTERS
The Chair reported that all logs arising from the fallen conifer tree which had been blocking the Teesdale Way remain on site and awaiting removal by the Agency, also the remedial works to the damaged fence was still outstanding.
21/174 – VILLAGE GREEN
- Proposal for a wild seed area to the east end of the green. K Sandick reported that he had identified an area of 70 to 80m2 adjacent the river as a suitable site, particularly as it was a naturally wet area that would alleviate watering problems. K Sandick had also been in contact with Mark Riddle (Darlington BC) who had advised him that if established the plants would survive if flooded temporarily and also on the procedure for preparation of the area. It was felt that the planting of plugs rather than seed would be the best and an indicative cost of £800 was suggested. In view of recent complaints, it was agreed that an area of 3-5m2 should be trialled which would involve weedkilling to the area and this should be clearly recorded in the minutes to warn the public that this was happening. A decision on a proposal by the Chair that the grant recently received from Darlington DC should be used to fund this project was deferred until after the trial.
- Trees available by Darlington BC to parish councils for planting. L Tostevin reported that she had spoken to the department and was informed that only whips 80-100cm high were left, but a better selection may be available at a later date. The members agreed that this offer was not acceptable. G Crute advised that traditional deciduous trees had been anticipated which would have to be carefully planted in view of the rubble sub-strata on the green. The members agreed that if no better offer was received then the issue should be raised for discussion at the Parish Assembly.
- G Crute reported on the progress of the shrubbery. He had received a telephone call stating that the boards were ready for delivery. He had also been provided with the preliminary details of the lectern and queried the colour of the lettering which was agreed should be gold. He was awaiting sight of the first proof as it was intended to make the new board look like the original. As discussed earlier it had been agreed to keep the raised bed to the minimum but would have to be increased in places because of the falls and contours of the existing surface. Despite criticism of the project it was agreed that M Hannaford in spraying in the area had done an excellent job in avoiding the daffodils and he advised that the area could now be rotovated.
- Applications received since last meeting:-
- 22/00164/RM1 - Manor Farm, Low Dinsdale - Reserved matters on 22/00300/OUT – APPROVED.
- 22/00192/FUL - Low Maidendale Farm, Burma Rd-Convert dog kennels into 1No dwelling. E Miller was asked to leave the room for the debate – OBJECTION (As Response Form).
- 20/00159/FUL-Low Maidendale Farm, Burma Rd-Convert agricultural buildings into 5No dwellings. E Miller was asked to leave the room for the debate - OBJECTION (As Response Form).
- 20/00327/FUL- Sockburn Hall-Convert piggeries to holiday let, 5 new lodges and amenity block – NO COMMENT (Neasham PC repeat earlier comments as Response Form).
- Decisions received since last meeting:-
21/176 – RISK MANAGEMENT
- Two scheduled Inspections, Trees and Village Green, were due and carried out in March. There was one defect notice raised in February and forwarded to Darlington BC for action.
- The updated Annual All-Risks Checklist has now been completed and circulated for approval. All members confirmed that all the responses on the check-list had been considered and approved by them.
- The members were asked to consider removal of our Covid signage and replacing with a “responsibility” message. It was agreed that the existing signage should remain in place for the moment.
21/177 – FINANCE
- C Chou had arranged for his allocation of £1,000.00 from the government backed “stronger community” fund which has been paid into Neasham current account. This is to be spent in the next financial year on projects of benefit to the parishioners and which are acceptable to the sponsor. This donation was much appreciated.
- The balance in the current account stood at £7527.87 as at 21 March 2022 with the ICO DD and 4 cheques outstanding amounting to £763.47 which should result in a year end current account balance of £6764.40, unless any unforeseen works crop up before 31 March. The precept of £ 9,515 from Darlington BC was paid into our account 5/04/22. Additionally a cheque in the sum of £300.00 had been received from Neasham RR as a contribution towards the proposed lectern.
- The NALC pay scales for 2021/22 were published in March 2022 and backdated to 1 April 2021 as previously agreed. This represents a total increase of the clerk’s salary for the year of £42.24.
- Previously approved payments made in March:- Stationary £10.15 (Printing paper), Harrisons Flagpole £68.40 (Replacement flag), Information Commissioners Office £35 (Registration fee). Clerk £473.66 (Salary), HMRC £118.42 (PAYE).
- Additional payments made in March- Leeds PC Repairs £98.00 (Laptop Repair), Leeds PC Repairs £35.00 (Printer repair), Cartridge Discount £32.99 (Additional printer cartridges). All arising from problems with the laptop hard drive failing.
- An order placed with Marmax Recycled Products for raised bed materials in the sum of £1,322.40 (including VAT) for delivery in the next financial year.
- The AGAR has now been received and the accounts have been forwarded to the internal auditor (P Allen). The external auditor has confirmed that Neasham PC will remain in the Smaller Authority classification.
- Formal Web-site accessibility test. G Crute stated that as far as was known, nothing been carried out in the last year that would make the website non-compliant, but there is a legal requirement to test and therefore he was seeking approval to obtain a quotation with a view to placing an order to have the test carried out which was approved.
21/178 – UPDATED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES DOCUMENTS
The review of the Neasham PC policies and procedures documentation has proceeded and updated documents have been previously circulated. G Crute gave a brief clarification on the documents where required.
- Documents tabled and approved by the members:-
- Disproportionate Burden Assessment. G Crute stated that if the requirement imposes obligations that Neasham PC cannot afford then we are released from the obligation.
- Accessibility Statement. G Crute stated this is an update on the format of previous accessibility statements.
- Model Publication Scheme. G Crute stated it was consistent with previously approved policy documents, but the procedures had been moved to separate documents.
- Document tabled for authorised by the members:-
What we have to do. G Crute stated that this confirms the data processing duties of the Clerk and requested the members read it.
- Documents tabled for information only for the members:-
- Inventory/Assets Register.
- Document Management Policy Guidance.
- Guidance Notes for New and Prospective Councillors.
- Process for Periodic Inspections.
21/179 – CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES
G Crute had contacted Margaret Enstone of Darlington BC extending an invitation for her to address the Parish Assembly to be held on the 17th May, which she had accepted. He also wanted to know what actions Darlington BC were taking on the issue. G Crute updated the members on the proposed arrangements including the publication and distribution of the Annual Report. G Crute also set out the following draft programme for the event which the members agreed.
- Presentation by M Enstone
- Refreshment break
- Normal agenda including any consultations
21/180 – WARD COUNCILLOR MATTERS
L Tostevin stated that there was some confusion arising from the review of Parliamentary Constituency boundary change proposals. Whilst it is possible that Neasham could be moved from Sedgefield to Stockton West, Darlington BC will remain as the primary local authority for the parish.
21/181 – CORRESPONDENCE
- Various emails from NALC regarding General Briefing (15/03), Chief Executive’s bulletins (07/02, 14/03), Local Government Bulletin (08/03, 10/03, 10/03, 15/03. 15/03, 15/03, 16/03, 18/03, 21/03,23/03,24/03). No issues raised by the members.
- 29/03/22 Email from NALC inviting councillors to submit suggestions to which they would like to be considered by a dedicated smaller councils committee. Responses required prior to 30 April. This was not fully debated at the meeting, but members are encouraged to forward suggestions direct or to the Clerk.
21/182 – OTHER VILLAGE MATTERS
- Parish Assembly meeting. G Crute’s email 16/03/22 indicated that there had been a volunteer who had agreed to prepare the Annual Report for publication which was proceeding. Unfortunately the preliminary draft is not available for this meeting, because of other commitments, but will be completed shortly. Further details on the assembly to be agreed including provision of refreshments and distribution of the Annual Report, in particular to the outlying areas of the parish.
- The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. An email had been received from Gemma Murphy inviting parish councillors to join the Neasham RR working group on the Jubilee celebrations. K Sandick stated that Neasham RR were keen to see Neasham PC being involved and he had volunteered to staple books of tickets together. J Grainger agreed to represent the council at their meeting and would be in attendance at the next meeting on 6th April.
- Email from Tina Murray suggesting a link be posted on Facebook each month directing parishioners to the council’s minutes which are posted on the website and which would be beneficial to all. Chair agreed to organise this.
- P Dunn stated that she had contacted Neasham Nurseries regarding this year’s flowers for the tubs and boxes and had been advised that the cost would be £300 - £350. G Conlin had volunteered to carry out the watering.
- M Hannaford queried the spike that sticking up where the old dog bin had been and which was dangerous. It was agreed that should be removed, which he volunteered to carry out.
- G Crute raised the issue of publicity for the Parish Assembly but it was not fully discussed because of time constraints.
21/183 – DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Date of next ordinary parish meeting and Annual Meeting is Tuesday 3 May 2022.
The meeting concluded at 8.30pm.
Clerk to Neasham Parish Council
Minutes signed on 3 May 2022 by