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Parish Council Minutes - January 2005

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

1. Apologies:

No Apologies were received.

2. Minutes:

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 situation.

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. All agreed.

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.

6. Finance:

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 abstained.

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 in April.

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 current regulations.

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
  Current Account
£ 7,143.59
  Savings Account
£ 8,204.52
  Depreciation Account
£ 0.00
Accounts Payable
Pay To
  Clerk's Wages
  Clerk's Expenses (stamps)

The payment for the above bills was proposed by Councillor Moody and seconded by Councillor Smith. All were in favour.

7. Correspondence:

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 Timetables
Bus Timetable updates

Certificate in Local Administration - 7 month course - £350.00 (£200 bursary)
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 list.

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

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