Minutes of the meeting of the Helmdon Parish Council
Held on Wednesday 26th January 2005
In the Reading Room, Church Street, Helmdon at 7.30pm
Present: Councillors Burns, Brookhouse, Moody, Bearman,
Spendlove, Earl, England, Gittens, Smith, England and Parish Clerk
There were three members of the public present
No Apologies were received.
The minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on 24th November
2004 had been circulated and were duly adopted as a true record.
3. Matters Arising:
i) Councillor Earl asked whether the councillors had taken the
opportunity to visit the War Memorial to evaluate the necessity
for the post and chains, since the recent accident. Councillor
Brookhouse pointed out that the chains had been there for some
years without incident and that all the people he had spoken to
on this matter had wanted the chains to stay. Councillor Earl
asked if there had been a risk assessment carried out on the War
Memorial area and was told that nothing specific had been done
to date. Councillor enquired as to how the accident had occurred
and was told that Councillor Earl had simply tripped over the
chains whilst mowing the grass. Following a brief discussion it
was decided that the chains should stay. Councillor Earl resigned
from cutting the grass around this area and was told that quotations
had been requested for this task.
ii) Councillor Moody enquired whether the letter had been sent
to the Hardimans accepting their offer to maintain the Pump Gardens.
The letter had been sent and Councillor Moody advised that as
soon as weather permitted the work would commence.
iii) Councillor Smith asked whether we had heard any more regarding
our correspondence to Atkins about Grange Lane. No reply had been
received to date and letters would continue to be sent about this
and the general state of the road surfaces throughout Helmdon.
Councillor Burns explained that he had attended a recent meeting
regarding highways and that the budget for this years repair works
was a miserly sum of £79,000, £19,000 of which would
be spent on administering the budget. Councillor Spendlove asked
whether we should be complaining about Atkins but it was suggested
that we should hold off until the resurfacing work was completed
on the road to Towcester before complaining to see whether there
were more complaints we could add to.
4. Open Forum:
i) Judy Cairns asked again about the situation with the clerk's
post box and whether security could be tightened or whether a
letterbox could be fitted to the door. The clerk explained that
a new front door would be fitted in time but for now the box would
have to suffice. Councillor Earl kindly offered the loan of a
more secure box and will deliver it to the clerk shortly. Councillor
Earl to supply box.
ii) Mrs A Forgham asked whether the gap by the bridge on the
way out of Helmdon is likely to be blocked off as it posed a danger
to traffic, which could end up going through it. Councillor Burns
explained that this is not Parish Council land and belongs to
Mr Humphrey at Upper Court. It was agreed that Mr Humphrey would
probably want to fix this hole before lambing commenced and therefore
a letter would be written only if no action was taken shortly.
If, following this letter, no action was taken the Parish Clerk
should write to Atkins to see whether they have any suggestions
for making it safe. Clerk to write to Mr Humphrey if no action
taken before lambing season.
iii) Mr B Short asked why some roads in the area are being repaired
to excess whilst others were being left. Councillor Burns reiterated
the discussion regarding the small budget of £79,000 but
also explained that there are different pots of money and complete
resurfacing came from a different pot. Mr Short expressed his
dismay at the length of time the roads had been closed and that
the work is still not satisfactory. Councillor Burns agreed and
pointed out that the Parish Council were not happy with the current
iv) Mr B Short asked whether street lamp number 11 could be reported
to Clarence as it was still out. He also asked whether we have
saved money against the budget by so many lights being out for
some time. Clerk to check progress and chase work.
5. Clerks Salary, Contract and Job Description:
The clerk was asked to leave the room whilst this discussion took
place. It was agreed that as not every councillor had received
a copy of the proposed contract, this matter would be discussed
at the next meeting.
Councillor Moody proposed that the clerk be paid for 5 hours
per week. Councillor Brookhouse asked for a recorded vote, the
results of which were: For the motion, Cllrs Moody, Spendlove,
Earl, Gittens and Smith. Against the motion, Cllrs Brookhouse,
England and Bearman. The motion was therefore carried and the
clerk is to be paid for 5 hours per week from 1st April 2005.
Councillor Moody proposed that the clerk be paid at the NALC
recommended rate, which will be £7.622 per hour from 1st
April 2005. All in favour. It was further proposed that the clerk's
salary would track the NALC recommendations from year to year.
A review of the hours needed by the clerk would be made at the
end of the next financial year.
The clerk was called back in to the room.
a) Proposal to adopt model Financial Regulations: Councillor
Smith asked whether the Regulations should be more tailored to
suit our particular situations and a number of alterations were
suggested and agreed upon. (Separate record of alterations attached).
Councillor Brookhouse asked that a new document be typed up and
signed at the next meeting.
b) Proposal to adopt budget for 05/06: All Councillors had a copy
of the budget given to them and were asked for their comments.
Councillor Smith asked why the money was being allotted to the
Brackley Cottage Hospital and what it was being used for. Councillor
Brookhouse declared an interest in the Cottage Hospital and left
the room and did not take part in the discussion the following
voting. Councillor Burns explained that we see a copy of their
annual accounts each year. Councillor Smith asked whether we were
donating for a specific piece of equipment or area of the hospital.
Councillor Burns pointed out that the money would be used within
a central pot and therefore it would be impossible for us to know
where our money was being spent. He also pointed out that the
board members for the hospital were working hard to keep it as
a useful local alternative to Banbury. Councillor Bearman commented
that the name 'Brackley Cottage Hospital' was misleading, as the
facilities served the whole region. Councillor Moody asked how
the plans for a new hospital in Brackley would be affecting the
current situation. Councillor Burns explained that the new hospital
would provide further assistance to the services already run at
Brackley Cottage Hospital and that there was no intention to close
the existing site. Councillor England proposed that we should
continue to support the hospital. This was seconded by Councillor
Earl and the vote was carried. Councillors Smith, Moody and Gittens
Councillor Spendlove asked whether the money for the Clerk's
course had been allocated within the budget and it was agreed
that £150.00 would be allowed to complete the course starting
Councillor Moody explained that in comparison to other villages
in the local region, Helmdon has the 27th lowest precept out of
78. If you do not include those that do not currently have a precept,
then we fall in the bottom 15. He also pointed out that on the
increase of 4.02%, the average Band D property paying £24.11
precept would be increased to £25.08 (an increase of £0.97).
Councillor Burns explained the main reasons for the increase,
which included the Clerk's wages being brought into line with
Councillor Spendlove enquired about the £150.00 budgeted
towards the Talkabout magazine especially as they are now self-funding.
Councillor Burns explained that this was a safety net in the event
that advertising for the magazine didn't cover the outgoings for
production. As the magazine is still the responsibility of the
Parish Council, this was thought to be the best idea and the amount
could be carried forward to the following year in the event that
it wasn't required.
The acceptance of the budget in its current form was proposed
by Councillor Moody and seconded by Councillor Smith. All were
in favour apart from Councillor Spendlove who abstained. Clerk
to complete precept documents and supply to SNC.
c) Adopt Risk Assessment: Councillor Earl has been given the task
to run through the Health & Safety risk assessment within
the Parish and report back at the next meeting. Councillor Moody
to supply copy of the Risk Assessment document to Councillor Earl
for his perusal.
d) The quotations received for the grass cutting were read out
and discussed and on the basis that one was cheaper and included
the cutting of the War Memorial area it was proposed and accepted
by all of the Councillors that we use Mr B Wadeson. Clerk to inform
both tenders of situation.
e) Financial Statement
|Balance as at 26th January 2005
||Clerk's Expenses (stamps)
The payment for the above bills was proposed by Councillor Moody
and seconded by Councillor Smith. All were in favour.
Animal Welfare Service - Discounted micro-chipping & quarterly
report (1 complaint)
Precept paperwork for 2005-2006
Housing 4 U
South Northamptonshire Youth Council 2004-2005 - Posters for board
Letter regarding AP28 footpath
Northamptonshire Rights of Way Improvement Plan - Parish Council
Survey - Ren
Bus Timetable updates
Certificate in Local Administration - 7 month course - £350.00
New NALC salary award recommendations for April 2005
Wickstead Leisure - Safety Grass information - passed to Val
Inland Revenue - New Employers starter pack
CPRE - Campaign to Protect Rural England Roadshow information
Letter regarding Nottingham Bond Renewal
Northamptonshire Police - Policing 2005/2006 paperwork - David
Volunteer - Christmas greetings from the Towcester Volunteer Group
Affordable Housing Co Ltd - Asking if we have a need for affordable
housing in our village.
Tender for grass cutting - Bernie Wadeson
Tender for grass cutting - C & E
Letter regarding litter from the Dial A Skip site
8. Helmdon Parish Plan Update:
The PPMG has had its second meeting and several parish plan action
points are progressing well.
The new Environment Group is looking forward to its third meeting
and will be advertising for membership and outlining its plans
in the spring Talkabout.
The PPMG hopes to initiate, and provide seed funds for, several
other groups; most notably a road safety group, a parish paths
group, youth sports teams and a gardening club. At the moment
the PPMG is at the stage of information gathering and making contact
with the relevant people both within the village and further afield.
With regret, the PPMG accepted the resignation of Councillor Earl
as one of the two parish council representatives on the monitoring
group and it was hoped that the council could appoint another
councillor to take his place.
The PPMG will provide a report for Talkabout and will continue
to publicise its activities via the village web site.
The next meeting of the PPMG will take place on 22nd March 2005.
The situation of Councillor Earls resignation was discussed and
Councillor Smith has agreed to take his place on the committee.
All in favour.
9. Freedom of Information Act:
Councillor Moody advised that the Parish Council had already agreed
to this act on 27th November 2002 however we are currently not
covering the legislation because we are not publishing details.
It was agreed that the NALC model for this legislation should
be distributed to all Councillors and discussed at the next meeting.
Clerk to distribute.
10. School Playground:
There was a meeting of the Playground committee on 6 December
2004 and the possible lease agreements were discussed.
The audit to cover the DDA inspection was also discussed and
our current auditors would charge £190.00 for this audit
if done at any other time than the annual audit. As it was deemed
that the DDA inspection was required before the next audit another
quotation received from Wickstead Leisure for £40.00 plus
VAT will be accepted instead. All in favour. Clerk to arrange
for audit to take place as soon as possible as they have a waiting
11. Annual Parish Meeting:
The proposed Agenda presented at the previous meeting was agreed
and the clerk will write to all of the local groups to invite
them to speak at the meeting. 10 minutes will be given for the
main speakers and 5 minutes to the other groups. Councillor Spendlove
will organise a photographic display at the meeting. Clerk to
start sending invitations.
12. Councillor Questions:
There were no councillor questions, however Councillor Spendlove
thanked the Clerk for sending the letters to those who had overgrown
plants encroaching the pathways. Since sending the letters there
had been a vast improvement in most areas.
13. Any Other Business:
Councillor Spendlove notified the council that there would be
a house to house collection in Christian Aid week.
Councillor England advised that Councillor Bearman has resigned
as secretary to the Reading Room Committee. He thanked him for
his input whilst in this position.
Councillor Gittens mentioned that there was an increasing amount
of Fosters cans being left lying around between the Church and
Falcutt. Councillor England said that they could also be found
under the bridge. Councillor Burns asked whether we should now
put the spare bin near the Church to see whether this would improve
the situation. No decision was made.
Councillor Earl thanked everyone, especially Jill, Councillor
Bearman and Bungalow Stores, for helping to raise £142.16
during the Poppy Appeal.
Date of next Parish Council Meeting
23rd March 2005 - 7.30pm
Meeting closed at 10.15pm