18th February 2021 minutes

Michaelchurch Escley, Newton, St Margarets, Turnastone, Vowchurch
Minutes of the Vowchurch Group Parish Council meeting held on
Thursday 18th February 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom
Please note that the meeting is being recorded

PRESENT – Councillors P Mason (Chair), I Chadwick, T Williams, A Picton, R Lloyd, J Kernahan, E Williams, E May and M Engel.
IN ATTENDANCE – Ward Councillor Peter Jinman, Mrs L Cowles (Clerk) and Jacky Edwards (Black Hill Communities Network).

  1. ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – Councillor H Franklin.
  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 PREVIOUS ORDINARY MEETING – 21st January 2021 – The minutes were signed as a true and accurate record.
  4. OPEN DISCUSSION – No members of the public attended the meeting and therefore no specific points were raised.
  5. BLACK HILL COMMUNITIES NETWORK – The Chair welcomed Jacky Edwards to the meeting. Jacky explained Black Hill Communities Network (formerly Longtown Community Network) was formed to help local residents during the initial months of the COVID 19 pandemic. They have a core group of 4 volunteers plus a volunteer treasurer from another local charity. They currently have a list of 56 registered volunteers and 45 community partners including Parish Councils, the church, Primary School Headteachers and WI. The group currently has 20 people registered for support needing help with food boxes, prescription collections, dog walking, lifts to GP appointments and carer support. Whilst the network was initially set up to help with the pandemic, it has become clear that the network is something that can be useful to people in the longer term. After much discussion and whilst Councillor Engel had some reservations about the arrangements when answering calls, it was agreed that the Parish Council would support the network moving forward. Jacky confirmed that they are in contact with Talk Community which included volunteers accessing training and with the possibility of becoming a virtual hub in the area. They hope to offer informal help and guidance towards receiving professional help. It was agreed to include discussions about donations on the March agenda.
    6.1 Ward Councillor – Ward Councillor Jinman’s report included: –
    Broadband – Details included in agenda item 10.
    Budget – The budget was agreed last week with an increase of 4.99%, to include a 3% increase on social care funding with the remaining 1.99% to cover other areas.
    Transport Package – Herefordshire Council has agreed to cease work on the southern link road and western bypass schemes. Ward Councillor Jinman was asked how he voted. He confirmed that he had voted against the schemes as they were not financially viable and plans were incomplete. Alternatives will now be investigated.
    6.2 Lengthsman report – The Lengthsman was unable to attend the meeting. His monthly reports had been forwarded to Councillors prior to the meeting. The Lengthsman rates for 2021/22 will increase to £397.00 nett per day, which will include Labour, equipment, fuel, Jetter, materials and waste carriers’ licence.
  7. CLERKS UPDATE – The Clerk confirmed that the vacancy for Councillor to represent Michaelchurch Escley was now being advertised and members of the public have until 11th March to request an election, after that, if no election is called the Parish Council can co-opt a member when possible.
    HSBC have requested confirmation of bank signatories to fight fraud and financial crime, it was agreed that Councillors Mason and Lloyd would sign when the cheques were signed and then posted to Councillors T Williams and Franklin.
    Site: Cae Garw, Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire. HR2 0QS
    Description: Proposed detached garage and store.
    Application No: 203572 Grid Ref: 333846:232064
    9.1 Confirmation of bank balance – £10,315.41 Statement Sheet No. 153 issued 17th January 2021.
    Receipts – None
    9.2 Payment to Mrs Linda Cowles for January 2021 Clerk’s hours, £11.99 plus VAT Zoom subscription and £24.99 plus VAT Ink cartridge – Payment agreed.
    9.3 Payment to Mr T Griffiths, invoice no. TGC1363 for January 2021 (1) roads account of £373.00 plus VAT and invoice no. TGC1373 for January 2021 (2) roads account of £373.00 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
    9.4 Payment to HALC, invoice no. H1284 for annual affiliation fee and subscription fee 2021/22 of £479.78 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
    9.5 Payment to Information Commissioners Office for Data Protection of £40.00 – Payment agreed.
  10. BROADBAND – Ward Councillor Jinman had forwarded a response to the Clerk from both Fastershire and Jesse Norman MP after requesting an update on progress in installing fibre broadband in the area. It is clear that progress is being made, but very slowly. There is an intention to reach the area but it is still not clear which properties will be included. Councillor Engel confirmed that Jesse Norman MP has now agreed to attend a meeting on Friday 17th September, currently at 4pm but with the hope of pushing it back to 6-7pm to include Gigaclear and any other interested parties. Some people have been looking onto the Elon Musk satellite system, but it is very expensive. Mobile connectivity can be taken further and Councillor Kernahan suggested that there are cheaper ways of using the cellular network right now for some homes in the area, there are alternatives available. Toby Murcott is aware of the areas to be covered by Gigaclear and what other different options are available if Councillors want that information. Councillor Mason’s concerns are that the Parish Council has no way of knowing which houses will be covered by the Gigaclear scheme as there seems to be no information and nobody seems to be held to account. The South Golden Valley area is locked into Gigaclear now until their contract expires in 2022. Councillor Kernahan offered to get an update from the Gigaclear Chief Executive which was welcomed by Ward Councillor Jinman.
  11. ENVIRONMENTAL SCHEME – It was thought that the Parish Council could begin to develop a policy towards the local environment that would reward actions that benefitted wildlife etc. As the Clerk had confirmed that the Parish Council cannot benefit an individual, Councillor Picton suggested supporting Herefordford Wildlife Trust who have 4 nature reserves in the parishes, one being at Crow Wood in Vowchurch. Having spoken to the trust Councillor Picton advised that they are looking for funding to enhance signage in this area and suggested supporting them as an alternative. It was agreed that the Clerk would confirm they are a charity and include on the March agenda to discuss any donation.
  12. SPEED REVIEW UPDATE – Balfour Beatty have confirmed that the Traffic Regulation Order request for the B4348/C1206 will not be looked at again until 2022. After reviewing the Traffic Regulation Order waiting list in January the scheme has now been rescored at number 32 out of 120 schemes waiting to be started. Whilst the score has gone up from number 26 out of 112 schemes a few new schemes have entered above it and pushed it down by six positions, this does not necessarily mean it will not be picked up in the financial year commencing April 2022. Councillors queried whether this now included the speed reduction on C1206 through the village of Vowchurch. The Clerk confirmed that she thought it did as advised by Balfour Beatty in October 2020. It was agreed to include this latest information in the local newsletter and on the website along with advising the list of residents who have shown an interest in the scheme. It was also agreed to look at signage requesting motorists to drive carefully.
  13. B4348 & C1206 WATER RUN-OFF FROM FIELDS – The Clerk stated that she had not heard back from the Environmental Officer yet, but he had requested that any further photographic evidence would be helpful.
  14. RESILIENCE PLAN – Councillors agreed to start working on updating the draft Resilience Plan and organise a consultation period when complete. It was agreed that the Clerk would add to the plan, Councillor Chadwick offered to help and this was welcomed.
  15. MARCH NEWSLETTER – Councillor vacancy, water on roads, speed reduction request on B4348.
  16. RAISE MATTERS FOR THE NEXT ORDINARY PARISH COUNCIL MEETING – Thursday 18th March 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom – Resilience Plan, Environment Scheme

The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 8.40pm


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