7 February 2023

Minutes of Neasham Parish Council meeting held on Tuesday 7 February 2023, 6:30PM, in Neasham Reading Room


B Crossen, P Dunn, G Crute, M Hannaford, E Miller, K Sandick, J Weighell, C Chou, Clerk J Walker


J Grainger, L Tostevin

22/121 – WELCOME

K Sandick welcomed Councillors to the meeting. Apologies for absence were accepted from J Grainger (Holiday), L Tostevin (Visiting poorly close relative).


There were no Declarations of Interest.


The minutes of the Ordinary Meeting held on 6 December 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.


There were no matters arising.


Recent meetings had been disappointing in respect of attendee numbers and matters raised for discussion. Although it was not raised at the last meeting, it is understood that the police had been warned of a potential theft of agricultural machinery and subsequently a woodchipper had been stolen. However it was agreed that Neasham would attend the next two meetings and review the position after that. The Chair agreed to enquire as to the availability of the Reading Rooms for the meeting in Neasham.


  1. It was resolved to accept a quotation in the sum of £188 (excluding VAT and parts) from Swarco to repair the defective VAS unit. The clerk to place the order and ask them to meet J Weighell on site to discuss.
  2. The Chair has received a request for assistance from a parishioner on Teesway about heavy traffic causing damage to his house. It appears that a trench repair across the road had sunk and lorries dropping into this depression was leading to vibrations which was causing damage. It was resolved to raise a defect notice to forward to Darlington BC. The Chair to provide photographs of the house and road damage.
  3. The Chair requested that a reminder will be sent to Highways if there is no further action taken shortly in respect of the road markings at the Dibdale Road junction.


  1. The Vice Chair reported that he had a meeting on 12. 12.2022 with the EA new management team, which had gone well and they had taken on board all matters raised by us. A full inspection of the path had been carried out and items not on the previous lists of defects added. The agency had instructed ESH to carry out the works and who had worked on the two worst sections, but to date had done little in respect of items identified by us. The fence damaged by the fallen tree had been repaired but by the householder but additional posts may be required. Persons assumed to be agency operatives had been seen taking notes in that area. The Vice Chair had informed them that the fence installed by them along the Kent Beck would benefit by being extended by 2.00m and he would have no objection if they carried this out. It was also understood that “mole trappers” had been working on the embankment.
  2. The Vice Chair raised a separate issue which involves a parcel of land, adjacent Kent Beck, given to the parish by the Abbey containing trees for which we had no access to maintain. As some of these trees were large enough to cause significant harm should they fall on anyone, we need to be able to demonstrate that we have inspected them and that they are safe for insurance purposes. The Vice Chair has a contact who is qualified to carry out these surveys and approval was given to approach him. (POST MEETING NOTE:- The Vice Chair is proposing to have a meeting with the owners of the Abbey to clarify the position of boundaries of the parcel of land in question and ownership of the trees in that area).


  1. A quotation for extending the paved area of the Square in the sum of £1200 had been received from Brindle Construction. This had been requested for budgetary purposes, however as this is for an extension to an existing paved area for which three tenders had been obtained, demonstrating value for money, and   the advantage of utilising the same contractor, it was resolved to accept the quotation for a commencement on site in early April and the clerk was instructed to place an order.
  2. Replacement of 2No notice boards. M Blundell had been asked to quote for constructing them, however he felt it would more financially viable for the parish council to purchase “ready made” ones. The Chair and Vice Chair agreed to obtain prices.
  3. The Vice Chair stated it was clear what works were required to upgrade the Millennium Garden in the current financial year, but some planning needed for next year, however this was very much dependent on weather conditions which could also affect the outstanding work to the Memorial Garden.
  4. As instructed by Darlington BC highways, the Clerk has re-directed our query requesting guidance on the hornbeam tree overgrowing a lamp standard to their Senior Arboriculturist. As no response has been received to date, it seems unlikely that one will be received and if there is further resident complaint about the shading of the lamp standard, affected residents may have to be balloted on a solution at the next meeting.
  5. C Chou informed the meeting that Darlington BC had made available to him a grant of £1000, which he was proposing to allocate to Neasham. The projects have to be of benefit to the local community and acceptable proposals to be submitted to himself in time for them to be assessed and payment to Neasham PC made by 31 March. It was resolved to submit a qualifying proposal within the timescale. Vice Chair to action with Cllrs. Weighell and Crossen

22/129 – PLANNING

  1. Applications received since last meeting:-
  2. Decisions received since last meeting: -
  3. 20/00327/FUL (Holiday Units at Sockburn Hall) Not received (Darlington BC claim sent) and was only seen by the Vice Chair on the Planning Portal. The revised scheme included relocation of the holiday chalets due to concerns over possible damage to historic structures and other issues were also addressed. Because of timescale, members were asked to forward their observations on the revisions. No comments were received and the decision was not to comment further, which was confirmed at the meeting. In view of the none receipt of several applications sent by mail, Darlington BC have suggested the use emails to  forward the notifications. This facility was not previously not available. The members instructed the clerk to contact Darlington BC to arrange this.
  4. An email had been received requesting comments on the updated version of the Skerningham Village of the Design Code by 13 January, this was prior to the February meeting and was therefore circulated to the members. As no issues were raised, Neasham PC submitted no further response.
  5. The appeal against the enforcement on the traveller site on the north east side of Neasham Road, Hurworth Moor has been re-scheduled to 21/02/23 at 10.00am in the Town Hall, Feethams. It was reported that this was liable to further delayed for up to 12 months because of Nature for England issues.
  6. The Vice Chair proposed that when considering applications, councillors should be asked if and to what extent they wish to be involved in future decisions related to that application. There is a facility to monitor the course of an application and requesting it be tracked. As this facility would generally be useful in potentially more complex application, it was resolved that this procedure should be adopted – clerk to action.


  1. One scheduled inspection was carried out in January - Christmas tree lights (post use) were found to be satisfactory and now stored indoors.
  2. 3No defects referred to the Environment Agency remain open. Defect No 22/005 - Darlington BC had cut back the hedge at the Dibdale Road junction, the defect remains open in respect of the road markings.

22/131 – FINANCE

  1. Previously approved payments made in December/January: - Fox and Hounds £200 (Carol service), Clerk £572.24 (Salary backdated), HMRC £143.20 (PAYE). Payments made under the Chair’s discretion: - Wel Medical £71.94 (Defibrillator pads).
  2. The Vice Chair proposed an earlier approach to insurers to ensure that we have an acceptable offer to consider at the July meeting, this to include a review of the documentation and provision of an updated inventory for insurers to assess the risk. This approach was accepted by the members.


  1. The Asset and Planning registers have been posted on the website. Two minor corrections to be made.
  2. Our current insurer (Gallagher) had forwarded details of their Cyber Assist Lite package which included 2 hours call time for advice. The clerk was instructed establish what the package contained and any cost implication if we followed it through.


The Vice Chair stated that the starting point in developing a strategy is engagement between the parishioners, the parish council and other local councils, but the current position is that little progress has been made and no “bright” ideas put forward. It was a greed to continue to monitor progress.


The Chair reported that the Reading Rooms have a strong team with a large number of volunteers which demonstrates the advantage of communicating and that social media and leaflet boxes will work. The Chair volunteered to compile a punch list of forthcoming events and other significant matters discussed or decided at the parish council meeting. Enquiries had been made re the status of Darlington APC which appears to have been disbanded.


Unfortunately L Tostevin was unable to attend the meeting and give an update on the Tees Flexibus service for which the trial three year period is almost over. It appears likely that it will not be extended.


  1. Various emails from NALC regarding Newsletter (13/12, 14/12, 25/01, 01/02). Chief Executive’s bulletins (05/12, 16/01, 20/01, 30/01, 06/02). Various events (15/12, Local Government Financial Settlement 2023/4 (19/12). For information only, unless any matters raised by members.
  2. The Vice Chair stated that he could not attend the Cleveland Local Councils Association meeting on 21 February but that he would be willing to attend future meetings. Clerk instructed to send apologies and request a list of dates of future meetings.


  1. Elections to Neasham Parish Council are scheduled for 4 May 2023. In view of this it was resolved that the first meeting of the new parish council and the Annual Meeting would be held on 9 May 2023.
  2. The members agreed in principle to a request by Paul Howell MP to meet the council. However it would have to be on a Tuesday and because of parliamentary commitments would probably need to be in July.


  1. The replacement pads to the defibrillator have been delivered and installed on 31/02/23, the expiry date on the standby unit is 30/04/23 and a further replacement would be needed before then.
  2. In view of the passing of parish stalwart John Alderson, members agreed that a suitable plaque should be fixed to the steel bench alongside the existing plaque to commemorate his service to the community.
  3. E Miller advised that trees in the woods on Neasham Road near Skipbridge were overhanging the road and were a danger to motorists and needed attention.


Date of next ordinary parish meeting is Tuesday 7 March 2023. The meeting concluded at 8.10pm.

Minutes signed on 7 March 2023 by K Sandick