21st October 2021 Minutes

Michaelchurch Escley, Newton, St Margarets, Turnastone, Vowchurch.
Minutes of the Vowchurch & District Group Parish Council meeting held on
Thursday 21st October 2021 at 7.30pm in Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall.

PRESENT – Councillors E May (Chair), T Williams, E Williams, I Chadwick, D Cross, A Picton, G Franklin, M Engel and J Kernahan.
IN ATTENDANCE – PCSO Peter Knight, Mrs L Cowles (Clerk) and one member of the public.

  1. ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – Councillor R Lloyd and Ward Councillor Peter Jinman.
  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 ON THE PARISH COUNCIL – 30th September 2021 – The minutes were signed as a true and accurate record. Councillor Engel confirmed that Escleyside Hall and Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall were going ahead and applying for the new climate and nature grant.
  4. OPEN DISCUSSION – The member of the public present advised that a message had been sent to the Clerk via the Parish Council website. The Clerk was unaware of any message. It was agreed that the Clerk contact the website administrator to investigate the forwarding of messages.
    5.1 Ward Councillor – Ward Councillor Peter Jinman was unable to attend the meeting.
    5.2 Local Police – PCSO Peter Knight reported that whilst crime remains low in the area a group of men had threatened a local resident in Newton St Margaret with baseball bats when they were disturbed digging a badger sett. They drove off in a silver car, possibly with a 54 number plate. Investigations are still on-going although this does highlight the importance of reporting any suspicious activity. Continue to spread the word to sign up to Neighbourhood Matters, this is an easy way of finding out what is happening in your area and keep in touch with West Mercia Police. The Police currently have some free catalytic converter marker, please contact them if you would like one.
    5.3 Lengthsman report and any new road defects – The Lengthsman was unable to attend the meeting. His October 2021 defects report had been forwarded to Councillors prior to the meeting. Some drainage issues have been raised on the C1206 in Turnastone where the recent drainage grant works have been compromised and in St Margarets where surface water run-off from a private drive has entered and blocked the drainage system. It was agreed to follow this up with the landowners.
    Councillor E Williams agreed to hold a supply of grit salt at his property.
    5.4 Footpaths Officer report – Councillor May confirmed she has walked nearly all on Newton and St Margarets footpaths and some of Michaelchurch Escley. There are a couple of issues that have been reported which are still on-going but hopefully all paths will have been walked by the end of the year. It was agreed to appoint Mr Graeme Deas as Footpaths Officer for Vowchurch & Turnastone. Mr Deas signed the Parish Footpaths Officers guidelines.
  6. CLERKS UPDATE – The Clerk reported that the Planning Enforcement Officer had visited Crossways Farm in Michaelchurch Escley and he confirmed that there has been no breach of planning control. Investigations are still on-going at Turnastone Court Farm.
    Unfortunately, the Clerk had missed the deadline for the November newsletter so will include items in the December/January issue.
    Site: Barn north of Marlborough Grange, Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire. HR2 0QN
    Description: Proposed new vehicle access and track and closure of existing unsafe access.
    Application No: 213593 Grid Ref: 334316:233525
    Site: Cwarelau Barn, Cwarelau Road, Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire. HR2 0QT
    Description: Proposed temporary siting of wooden cabin for accommodation while barn is being converted.
    Application No: 212567 Grid Ref: 334043:231531
    8.1 Confirmation of updated balance (unchanged) – £14,427.36 Statement Sheet No. 162 issued 17th October 2021.
    Receipts – None.
    8.2 Payment to Mrs Linda Cowles for October 2021 Clerk’s hours and £9.06 for stamps – Payment agreed.
    8.3 Payment to HALC invoice no. H1310, Best Behaviour training course of £40.00 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
    8.4 Payment to Mr T Griffiths invoice no. TGC1649, Roads Account September 2021 (1) of £392.00 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
    8.5 HSBC bank accounts – HSBC have advised that as of 1st November 2021 Community Accounts will no longer be available and they are introducing a new Charitable Bank Account. The Charitable Bank Account has a monthly account fee of £5.00, with charges for paying cheques into and out of the account over the counter along with charges for cash paid into and out of the account. It was agreed that as the Parish Council are moving towards internet banking the council would currently continue to bank with HSBC. It was also agreed to close the Business Money Manager account as this has not been used for a number of years.
    8.6 Finance Working Group – The quarterly reports were distributed to Councillors prior to the meeting. The Finance Working Group confirmed spreadsheets, invoices and PAYE had been checked and all were in order.
    8.7 2022/23 BUDGET – The Clerk and Councillor T Williams produced a draft budget for 2022/23 along with a projected budget for 2023-24 and 2024-25. This included a proposed 5% increase in the precept along with a contingency fund for the coming years. The 2022/23 budget was approved with amendments to include internet banking charges and costs to cover 2023/24 election.
  9. PLANNING INSPECTORATE ROW/3241619: Footpaths VO53 & VO 57 (part) Vowchurch Public Path Diversion Order 2019 – The diversion order has been confirmed and the Planning Inspectorates Order Decision was noted.
  10. TRAFFIC SIGNS – The Senior Engineer has looked at the signage on the C1206/C1209 at Michaelchurch Escley and feels the best option would be the placement of white SLOW markings on the C1206 about 100m from the crossroads. Crossroad signs are also possible but feels there is precious little verge space and signs would get overgrown and be invisible for most of the year. The Locality Steward also has concerns regarding the width of the verge for signs but will visit the site again to inspect. It was agreed that the Parish Council would be happy with the SLOW signage on the road. It is possible that the Parish Council would need to pay for the road signage or make a contribution, hopefully Balfour Beatty will pay for any crossroad signs as they should be there anyway. The Clerk will enquire regarding any costs involved.
  11. BROADBAND – Councillor Engel had forwarded a report highlighting the Golden Valley broadband crisis to Councillors prior to the meeting. He had met Jesse Norman MP and Ward Councillor Peter Jinman via zoom along with Toby Murcott and representatives from Fastershire to discuss the on-going crisis. Unfortunately, the report had made very little impression and overall, the meeting had not been very successful. Gigaclear currently have the contract to supply Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, it is beginning to look like they will withdraw from the Herefordshire contract and it is uncertain if Herefordshire Council will fight this. There is currently no immediate hope of getting any decent fibre broadband in many parts of the local area. There is a possibility of obtaining vouchers through Gigabit. Homes and businesses in rural locations which meet certain criteria can use vouchers to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections when part of a group project but there is no clear evidence that this is going to happen. An alternative, and something that need investigating is some type of community network. BT’s PSTN copper network will switch off in 2025 and there will be a real fight to get a decent alternative.
  12. HEREFORDSHIRE LOCAL PLAN UPDATE – It was agreed that Councillors May, T Williams and Chadwick would look at the pre-consultation survey and bring back to the November meeting.
  13. NOTE THE CORRESPONDENCE SHEET – The correspondence sheet was noted.
  14. RAISE MATTERS FOR THE NEXT ORDINARY MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL – Thursday 18th November 2021 at 7.30pm at Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall – 2022/23 Precept & Trees.


  1. PARISH COUNCILLOR VACANCIES – After consideration it was agreed to co-opt Mr Graeme Deas as Councillor to represent Vowchurch Parish.
  2. PARISH CLERK ANNUAL PERFORMANCE AND SALARY REVIEW – The Parish Council were happy with the Clerks’ performance over the previous year. It was agreed to increase the Clerks salary to SCP23 backdated to April 2021 after the new national salary awards have been agreed.

The Chair declared the meeting closed at 8.40pm


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