16th November 2023 Minutes

Michaelchurch Escley, Newton, St Margarets, Turnastone, Vowchurch.
Minutes of the Vowchurch & District Group Parish Council meeting held on
Thursday 16th November 2023 at 7.30pm in Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall.

PRESENT – Councillors E May (Chair), S Craddock, E Williams, D Cross, A Picton, G Deas, R Lloyd and M Engel.
IN ATTENDANCE – Mrs L Cowles (Clerk).

  1. ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – Councillors I Chadwick, J Kernahan and the local police.
  2. RECEIVE DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST & CONSIDER ANY WRITTEN APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION – There were no declarations of interest or written requests for dispensation.
  3. ADOPT MINUTES OF THE ORDINARY MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL – 12th October 2023 – The minutes were signed as a true and accurate record.
  4. OPEN DISCUSSION – No members of the public attended the meeting therefore no specific points were raised.
    5.1 Ward Councillor – Councillor E May welcomed Matthew Engel to the meeting in his new capacity as Ward Councillor and offered the parish councils congratulations following his recent election.
    Ward Councillor Engels report included: –
    As a new Ward Councillor, he is slowly getting to know a little more every day. The full council meet 5/6 times per year and the next council meeting will be in three weeks’ time. He is planning to go and observe the next full cabinet meeting. His plan is to concentrate first and foremost on the Golden Valley South Ward, protecting all the good things and trying to improve things the area lacks, i.e., broadband, Pontrilas station and mobile phone coverage.
    Broadband – Of the 1518 premises in the GVS ward, 838 premises have less than 30mbps and only 234 have full fibre coverage this is unlikely to improve before 2025. BT are planning to shut down the copper wire network and the area needs to be mindful of those who don’t have efficient broadband or mobile signal at home.
    Children Services – This is one of the biggest problems, things are improving but not very fast and they are currently working in tandem with Leeds Council. Staffing is one of the main issues.
    Planning Services – These are also grossly under staffed.
    Pontrilas Station – This was one of the main concerns whilst canvassing for the election. Hoping to have a meeting with council members to keep this on the agenda and in the budget.
    Bypass – Councillor D Cross asked if this was still being considered. Councillor Engel advised it is on the agenda but will not happen overnight, the East/West road may be a starter.
    Hoping to put a newsletter together in the New Year and would also like to arrange for the five parish councils in the area to meet informally and share ideas and concerns.
    Councillor Engel tendered his resignation from the parish council to enable him to concentrate on the Ward Councillor job.
    5.2 Local Police – The local police were unable to attend the meeting.
    5.3 Lengthsman report – The Lengthsman was unable to attend the meeting. His latest reports had been distributed to Councillors prior to the meeting via email. The grant funded works have recently been completed in Turnastone. CRT have previously advised they are not the landowners of this area. It was agreed that whilst the CRT are not owners of the land it was thought that it was still their responsibility to maintain to half way across the ditch. It was agreed to write to them and advise that the parish council have completed this work along with clearing the ditches on C1206 and as landowners it is their responsibility to maintain under Riperian Ownership.
  6. CLERKS UPDATE – The Clerk advised that the business money manager account has been closed with HSBC and will now move forward to open an account with Unity Trust Bank.
    Graig Farm – The Enforcement Officer has closed this case as they feel the build is fully compliant with the planning permission.
    The Fold – The Clerk has chased the Enforcement Officer; he has advised that the landowner is in the process of putting in for planning.
    The domain name of vowchurchgroup-pc.gov.uk has now been registered and the email address is active. The Clerk would now set up email addresses for Councillors to include their name followed by @vowchurchgroup-pc.gov.uk. The Clerk advised that she may need help from Wyenet to find out how Councillors will access the individual email accounts.

    Site: Glendore, Vowchurch. Herefordshire. HR2 0RA
    Description: Proposed refurbishment and single-storey extension of Glendore, including change of use of former shop floor space, repair of existing outbuilding, erection of detached garage and formation of access with related change of use of land to form part of the residential unit and associated drainage works.
    Application No: 233107/233108 Grid Ref: 335743:236392
    SUPPORT – The Parish Council support this application. The plans have been sympathetically done and are in character with the surrounding area. They are inline with the adopted Neighbourhood Development Plan and save a building which is in danger of rapid deterioration. There are concerns however regarding the scale of the garage development and this should not be pre-eminent over the listed building. The Parish Council are aware of the sites historic use as a petrol station and any decision should reflect this accordingly.
    Site: New Barn Old Farm, Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire. HR2 0QW
    Description: Proposed regularisation of residential curtilage, single storey extension and minor alterations to existing fenestration of dwelling.
    Application No: 233200 Grid Ref: 334812:233849
    SUPPORT – The Parish Council support this application. The design of the extension is sympathetic to the original barn.
    Site: Land at Chanstone Court Farm, Vowchurch, Herefordshire. HR2 0QE
    Description: Proposed change of use of workshop/store to holiday let.
    Application No: 233308 Grid Ref: 336729:235732
    SUPPORT – Whilst the Parish Council support this application, they would like assurance that there will not be problems with effluent during flooding.
    Site: Land at Orchard View, Michaelchurch Escley, Herefordshire. HR2 0JW
    Description: Proposed erection of a bungalow to replace the existing fire damaged bungalow and associated works.
    Application No: 231846 Grid Ref: 331691:233594
    Site: Linden House, Vowchurch, Herefordshire. HR2 0RL
    Description: Proposed single storey side extension
    Application No: 232730 Grid Ref: 336472:236843
    Site: Hyde Park, Michaelchurch Escley, Herefordshire HR2 0JY
    Description: Change of use of agricultural barn to residential dwelling (retrospective).
    Application No: 232765 Grid Ref: 331414:236708
    8.1 Confirmation of bank balance – £15,328.08 Statement Sheet No. 188/189 issued 17th October 2023.
    Receipts – None
    To include £5.00 bank charges 17th September 2023 to 16th October 2023.
    8.2 Payment to Mrs Linda Cowles for November and December 2023 Clerk’s hours – Payment agreed.
    8.3 Payment to Mr T Griffiths invoice no. TGC2433 roads account October 2023 (1) of £440.00 plus VAT and invoice no. TGC2444 roads account October 2023 (2) of £440.00 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
    8.4 2024/25 BUDGET – A draft budget was produced for 2024/25 along with a projected budget for 2025/26 and 2026/27. This included a proposed 10% increase in the precept for 2024/25 and 5% in the following years. The 2024/25 budget was approved with no amendments.
    8.5 DONATIONS – It was agreed to donate £200.00 to Dore Community Transport.
  9. B4348/C1206 SPEED SURVEY – The results of the speed survey on B4348 & C1206 have been received. The Clerk has contacted the Herefordshire Highway Engineer to ask about the next course of action and awaits his response.
  10. WORKS AT PICCADILLY FARM, VOWCHURCH – The Clerk confirmed that the Locality Steward had not been to visit the landowner. Councillor Deas felt that the landowner has gone to some effort to accommodate the footpath and whilst the line is not how it was the change would have no consequence to anybody using the footpath network. There are many footpaths that do not follow their original line. The landowner has also installed a conduit to accommodate the ditch water. There is a new gravel area and earth ridge which is approximately 1.5 – 2 metres high. This may or may not be temporary. It was agreed to ask the Locality Steward to visit the site to see if he has any concerns regarding the ditch drainage and a letter will be drafted by the Clerk to respond to the concerns of the local resident for approval by Councillors May and Deas.
  11. OPENREACH PETERCHURCH EXCHANGE – GIGABIT VOUCHER SCHEME – Councillor Deas reported that Vowchurch & Turnastone residents are eligible for UK Government funding to improve their broadband under the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme with ultrafast speeds of over 100mbps. 600 homes in the Peterchurch exchange are affected, only 25% of residents would need to commit to the scheme for works to go ahead. There are currently 120 properties so far committed, needing a further 40 for this to go ahead. It has been advertised on Facebook along with a leaflet drop by Openreach although some residents seem quite suspicious of the scheme. This may be a scheme that can be considered for the Michealchurch Escley exchange again only needing 25% of properties to commit to the scheme if it were to go ahead.
  12. WEBSITE – The website memory has been exhausted leading to a critical error and the Clerk has been unable to upload anything to the website. Wyenet have now fixed the memory issue, replaced the security plugin as it was no longer supported and updated to php v8.0 for a charge of £60.00 plus VAT – Payment of invoice agreed. As the previous support from Tony Usher is no longer available it was agreed to engage Wyenet for future website support at a charge of £40.00 per hour plus VAT.
  13. MEETING DATES 2024 – Meeting will continue of the 3rd Thursday of the month apart from August and December and split between Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall, Escleyside Pavilion and Newton Church Room. The Annual Parish meeting was discussed and suggestions for attendees/speakers included Verging on Wild, Wildlife Trust, Local clubs/Societies, Jesse Norman MP and Herefordshire Council Planning Officer. It was agreed to defer a decision on date and speaker until the January meeting.
  14. DECEMBER/JANUARY NEWSLETTER – Mud on roads, avoiding verges and new email address.
  15. NOTE THE CORRESPONDENCE SHEET – The correspondence sheet was noted.
  16. RAISE MATTERS FOR THE NEXT ORDINARY MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL – Thursday 18th January 2024 at 7.30pm in Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall – Annual Parish Meeting.


  1. PARISH CLERK ANNUAL PERFORMANCE AND SALARY REVIEW – It was agreed to increase the Clerk’s salary by £1.00 per hour as per the agreed NALC 2023/24 national salary award, backdated to April.

The Chair declared the meeting closed at 9.05pm


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