Minutes 25th May 2023

Michaelchurch Escley, Newton, St Margarets, Turnastone, Vowchurch

Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Vowchurch & District Group Parish Council
held on Thursday 25th May 2023 in Vowchurch & Turnastone Memorial Hall

As a mark of respect, the meeting began with a minutes silence following the sad news of
Ward Councillor Peter Jinman’s recent death.

PRESENT – Councillors E May, I Chadwick, G Franklin, G Deas, M Engel, R Lloyd, D Cross, S Craddock and A Picton.
IN ATTENDANCE – Mrs L Cowles (Clerk) and four members of the public.

  1. ELECTION OF CHAIR – Councillor May was proposed by Councillor G Deas and seconded by Councillor I Chadwick. There were no other nominations and the proposal was carried. Councillor May signed the Declaration of Acceptance of Office.
  2. ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE & AGREE ANY DELAY IN COUNCILLORS SIGNING DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE – The Police sent apologies. All Councillors were present to sign their Declaration of Acceptance of Office prior to the meeting therefore no extension to sign was required.
  3. RECEIVE DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST & CONSIDER ANY WRITTEN APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION – There were no declarations of interest or written requests for dispensation.
  4. CO-OPTION OF PARISH COUNCILLORS TO REPRESENT MICHAELCHURCH ESCLEY AND ST MARGARETS – Mr Evan Williams had expressed an interest in re-joining the Parish Council. It was agreed to co-opt Mr Williams for the Parish Councillor vacancy to represent Michaelchurch Escley. There is still a vacancy for Parish Councillor to represent St Margarets.
  5. ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIR – Councillor I Chadwick was nominated by Councillor A Picton and seconded by Councillor M Engel. There were no other nominations and the proposal was carried.
  6. NOTICE OF REGISTRABLE INTERESTES & ELECTION EXPENSES – Councillors were reminded to update their Notice of Registrable Interests if necessary and complete their election expenses even if the figure is nil.
    It was agreed to bring agenda item 17 forward as members of the public were present to discuss the verge cutting schedule for 2023.
  7. A member of the public present firstly raised concerns that no hearing loop was available in the building and felt it was an essential part of democracy to include the hard of hearing at a Parish Council meeting.
    Residents were ‘extremely concerned after the destruction and vandalism of local verges, of a 4ft. verge, 3 ft. has been mown, destroying much natural wildlife’. It was felt that this issue was discussed when deciding on the Neighbourhood Development Plan in 2011 and verges had been left in subsequent years for some time. The Wildlife Trust best practice guidelines suggest two cuts in February/March followed by another cut in September or alternatively just one cut in September. Many residents in St Margarets have expressed concerns via a local WhatsApp group stating ‘that grass cutting has been excessive, banks have been mown within an inch of their lives. It’s an unnecessary expense and complete overkill, cutting at this time of year (in May) is unnecessary especially in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Whilst there is concern for the safety of horses and riders the area could benefit from more passing places’.

Councillor May advised members of the public present that the Parish Council had asked for two cuts this year ideally at the time suggested by the Wildlife Trust but there are constraints with what is offered by Balfour Beatty with the first cut being offered from 1st May and the second cut to take place towards the end of August. Some roads in Newton and St Margarets were requested not to be included in the first cut, Balfour Beatty encourage full roads lengths to be specified and not just sections of road as this can be difficult to communicate to the contractor. Last year the Parish Council requested one cut but this didn’t take place until approximately October, this was too late and encouraged the growth of bracken, docks, hogweed and nettles which it was hoped could be avoided this year. Ideally the thatch should also be removed although this is not an option that Balfour Beatty currently offer. Councillors reassured residents that this is an issue for the Parish Council and a huge dilemma, pitching road and safety management against the environment. Moving forward residents could team up with Verging on Wild to become a volunteer warden and can help to identify areas of special interest, they can also help with ‘don’t cut signs’. Councillor May thanked members of the public for attending, it is hoped that Balfour Beatty can improve the options so as to recognise the optimal times for cuts.
As per the April meeting discussions Councillors agreed that both options and timings of cut were not ideal but Balfour Beatty have been asked to cut the verges twice for the 2023 season with the exception of U74202 and U74200 in St Margarets and U74202 and C1209 in Newton. It was noted that some roads identified to be left for the later cut had in fact been cut, it was agreed that the Clerk would contact Balfour Beatty for an explanation.

    7.1 Ward Councillor was unable to attend the meeting.
    7.2 Local Police – The local police were unable to attend the meeting.
    7.3 Lengthsman report – The Lengthsman was unable to attend the meeting. His monthly report had been distributed to Councillors prior to the meeting along with his annual report. He is scheduled to attend the June meeting.
  2. PARISH COUNCIL INSURANCE – As the Parish Council are currently in a Long-term agreement with Zurich, it was agreed to pay the renewal fee of £349.76.
  3. ANNUAL REVIEW OF BANK MANDATE – It was agreed that cheque signatories will be Councillor E May, Councillor R Lloyd, Councillor I Chadwick and Councillor G Deas.
  4. FINANCIAL WORKING GROUP – Finance working group members for 2023-24 will be Councillor E May, Councillor I Chadwick, Councillor E Williams and Councillor G Deas.
    11.1 Standing orders – Approved with no amendments.
    11.2 Financial regulations – Approved with no amendments.
    11.3 Complaints procedure – Approved with no amendments.
    11.4 Risk assessment – Approved with the removal of the face-to-face meetings as Covid 19 restriction no longer applied.
    11.5 Community Resilience Emergency Plan – Approved with no amendments.
    11.6 Data protection – Approved with no amendments.
    11.7 Model Publication Scheme – Approved with no amendments.
    11.8 Planning applications between meetings – Approved with no amendments.
    11.9 Website Accessibility Statement – Approved with no amendments.
  6. ASSESTS REGISTER – The asset register was noted. Total asset register value of £1009.00.
  7. ADOPT MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS ORDINARY MEETING – 27th April 2023 – The minutes were signed as a true and accurate record.
  8. CLERKS UPDATE – The Clerk reported that the damaged bus stop sign on B4348 near Poston Mill has been reported to Herefordshire Council.
    Herefordshire Council has this afternoon confirmed that there are two possible traffic regulation orders which need to be assessed, and if appropriate, introduce a speed limit on the B4348 and the C1206. The schemes are at 36 out of 133 schemes, they are 3 years away from delivery with the normal level of investment but the council have a budget to address some of the backlog, the impact on the programme is being assessed and as soon as this piece of work is complete, they will come back to the Parish Council with a revised position. Councillors were disappointed that the schemes had dropped down the list again and requested the Clerk ask for a timescale as to when they would get back to the Parish Council with this update.
    As far as the Clerk could see Green Farm have not requested any changes to their current license, it was therefore agreed to contact the traffic commissioner for an update.

    Site: Castle Ibo Farm, Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire. HR2 0RF
    Description: Proposed detached garage and enlargement of domestic curtilage
    Application No: 224256 Grid Ref: 332669:235407
    16.1 Confirmation of bank balance – £13940.72 Statement Sheet No. 182 issued 17th May 2023.
    Receipts – £7836.76, 1st Precept payment and £2401.80 VAT refund
    To include £5.00 bank charges 17th March 2023 – 16th April 2023 and 40p for cheque paid.
    16.2 Payment to Mrs Linda Cowles May 2023 Clerk’s hours and £45.02 plus VAT Ink Cartridges – Payment agreed.
    16.3 Payment to Mr T Griffiths, invoice no. TGC2245 for April 2023 (1) of £450.00 plus VAT – Payment agreed.
  11. VERGE CUTTING 2023 – As above.
  12. CLERKS HOLIDAY – With effect from April 2023 the National Joint Council has agreed that all employees covered by the national agreement will receive an increase of one day’s annual leave entitlement (pro-rata for part-timers). It was therefore agreed to increase the Clerks annual leave entitlement to 6.5 days, including bank holidays.
  13. JUNE NEWSLETTER – Note inclusion of – Elections, road works on C1206 & C1209, Verge cutting.
  14. NOTE THE CORRESPONDENCE SHEET – The correspondence sheet was noted.
  15. RAISE MATTERS FOR THE NEXT ORDINARY PARISH COUNCIL MEETING – Thursday 15th June 2023 at 7.30pm in Newton Church Room – Ponty Pinna planning, Co-option, HGVs at Green Farm.

The Chair declared the meeting closed at 8.35pm


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