(Draft) MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING OF BUCKLAND BREWER PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 11th DECEMBER 2013 AT 7:30PM AT BUCKLAND BREWER SCHOOL
Members Present: Mrs Barbara Babb, Mr Andrew Hewitt, Mr George Heywood, Mr David Lloyd, Mr Jim Lowe, Mr Trevor Mills, Mrs Kate Slocombe, Mrs Shirley Tilley and Mr David Watson.
Also in attendance 10 members of the public including Jane Lowe (Village Hall Committee) and Cllr Robin Julian (Devon County Council)
Parish Clerk: Patrick Blosse
KEY: Actions are shown in bold blue type Decisions are shown in bold red type
1059 Apologies for Absence Barbara Babb, Kate Slocombe and Alison Boyle.
1060 Minutes of the Meetings of 13th November, 19th November (Personnel Sub-committee) and 3rd December 2013 (Budget Review Sub-committee) The minutes of the meeting held on 13th November, 19th November and 3rd December 2013 were confirmed and signed.
1061 Declarations of Interest None.
1062 New Community Hall Jane Lowe gave a presentation about the new Community Hall. Jane provided a transcript of her presentation, which is attached at Appendix 1.
1063 WildWestNet: Broadband Opportunity The representative from WildWestNet did not attend the meeting.
1064 Public Participation Alex Dziurzynski explained that he had submitted an outline planning application for a new property on land off Gorwood Road and hoped that it would meet with the Council’s approval.
1065 Budget Review Sub-committee Report: The Clerk provided a resume of the Budget Review Sub-committee held on 3rd December. A budget paper was distributed and explanations were provided on any significant changes in the proposed budget, including:
• Supplementary Support Grant (not previously in the budget), £50.00cr
• Increased field and allotment rent income, £464.00cr
• A proposed increase in Clerk’s hours to 24 per month following receipt of guidance from NALC and a recommendation of the Personnel sub-committee – an increase of £1,033.00
• Establishment of a training budget, £300.00
• Other administration costs, website maintenance and subscription fees, £233.00
• Contribution to Election Costs Fund, £750.00
• Legal Fees relating to land transferring to the Parish Council, £500.00
• Increased contractors fees for Salt Spreading, £900
• Contribution towards Playing Fields Association regular maintenance costs, £250.00
• Budget reductions for completed projects (Village Hall, PCC cobblestones and Back Lane), £1,650.00cr
The clerk explained that a small part of the budget could be met from reserves. This would leave a balance in reserves of just over £3,000, roughly 52% of net expenditure (excluding precept) and that he would not wish to see reserves any lower than that. The proposed net budget that would fall on the precept amounted to £6,000. No decision was required at this stage as the Council has until 31st January 2014 to submit its precept amount to Torridge Council. It was agreed that members would consider the budget report during the next month and that a final decision would be made at the next meeting.
1066 Personnel Sub-committee Report The Chairman gave an overview of the Personnel Sub-committee held on 19th November which was held solely for the Clerk’s 6-monthly performance review. It was agreed that the clerk’s hours would increase to 24 with effect from 1st April 2014 and that his appointment would be formally confirmed.
1067 Clerk’s Report
I. Correspondence. A summary of various items of general correspondence was supplied to each member. The following item was specifically drawn to the Council’s attention:
o Lyn & Chris Layton: Objection to grazing on the football pitch
o BB History Group (Lyn Layton): Thank you for grant
o Alison Boyle: Christmas wishes and congratulations to Andrew Hewitt on his appointment as vice-chairman of the Torridge Area Advisory Group
o Claire McIntosh: Fencing at Thornhillhead Moor: Members agreed to proceed with the fencing as proposed
o Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm: Withdrawal of planning application
o DCC: Devon Local Flood Risk Management Strategy public consultation 27th November – 27th January: Chairman and Clerk to liaise to draft a response
o Citizens Advice Bureau: Application for grant: Members agreed to a grant of £50
o DCC: Devon Waste Plan: Pre-submission Consultation: Jim Lowe to attend
o Torrington Community Cares Oversight Group Meeting: Tuesday 18th November 2013
o Richard Cottrell’s Campaign West
o Peter McClymont: Mock-up of redesigned website: Members were asked to review the site and report any feedback directly to Peter McClymont
o Geoffrey Cox: Christmas card
o Maggie Melville: Email regarding wind turbines
o Torridge Household Waste & Recycling Guide A-Z:
II. Allotments Notice had been received on plot 8 (R J Thompson, wef 28/2/14), who plans to leave his shed for the next tenant and on plot 2 (G E Hasler, wef 31/3/14), who might be prepared to manage a half-plot if anyone wishes to share it.
III. Archery The clerk reported that a licence has been drawn up for use of the football pitch for archery. Clerk to distribute copies to members.
IV. Insurance Community First have confirmed in writing that our public liability risks are adequately covered in respect of the use of parish-owned land. A quotation for an increased annual premium of £37.04 for street furniture has been provided.
V. S.137 Spending Limit 2014/15 The government has announced that the limit that a parish council may spend under S.137 powers will be £7.20 per elector for 2014/15 – equivalent to £4,745 per annum.
1068 Thornhillhead Communications Mast A letter has been received from Arqiva suggesting that they were not prepared to increase their offer, Geoffrey Cox, MP has been contacted and has undertaken to take up the matter on the Council’s behalf.
1069 Members’ Reports
Andrew Hewitt reported as a member of the Clinical Commissioning Oversight Group that the beds at Torrington Hospital had now been withdrawn. Only 3 bed places had been provided recently with only one patient, for whist 24/7 nursing cover had been provided.
Andrew also reported that the school bus had been seen going via The Glen. Jim Lowe to call DCC to complain.
Jim Lowe reported that no invoice had yet been received for the Summer Bus service and that he would chase it up.
George Heywood stated his concern that there were no facilities for 8-14 year-olds and asked whether the youth club should be restarted. Jim Lowe pointed out that a basketball hop and volleyball court had been provided. David Watson pointed out the difficulty of finding someone to run it.
George also asked whether it would be economically sensible to ask for a settlement figure on the BT wayleaves. Clerk to investigate.
David Lloyd asked if Pearce Construction could review their traffic movements as their route seemed questionable. Jim Lowe to contact the site manager, Paul Knox.
Trevor Mills reported that leaves on the road at The Glen were causing a problem and the annual sweep was needed. Jim Lowe to contact Highways.
Shirley Tilley asked if the Parish Council would agree to bellringers going round the village on the following Tuesday. There was no objection.
Shirley also asked Robin Julian, the DCC representative, to report on his activities:
Robin Julian (DCC) said that he managed a locality budget of £10,000 and that the parish Council should consider making an application for funds for a suitable scheme. He said that DCC would continue to provide services such as the Lengthsman, but that parishes and farmers were being asked to do more for themselves. Cllr. Julian is a member of the Highways Committee and said that he will always fight for work to be done on potholes and other highways issues but that he need to be told exactly where the issues were located. He was informed about various works that were required.
(i) Communications with Torridge DC re Settlement Plan (Lower Abbots) Jim Lowe reported on discussions that had taken place with Torridge Planning regarding Lower Abbots. It had been suggested by Torridge that the site proposed in the Settlement Plan was too small for any significant development and that the Parish Council should consider extending the boundary to include the whole of Lower Abbots. Jim Lowe reported that this was acceptable to the landowners. It was proposed by Shirley Tilley, seconded by David Lloyd and carried by 6 votes to 1 that the whole of Lower Abbots should be included in the Settlement Plan.
ii) 1/0981/2013/OUT: Land off Gorwood Road, outline application for single dwelling and garage – No objection
iii) 1/0654/2013/FUL: Land at Langtreemoor lane, Langtree – Installation and operation of a single 250kw (hub height of up to 30m and 45m to blade tip) – Affecting a right of way – No comment
iv) 1/1027/2013/FUL: The Cottage, Gorwood Road – Remove porch and erect conservatory – No objection
v) 1/0864/2013/FUL: 15 Southwood Meadows: Proposed extension – Granted Permission
• Parish Council Current Account was £4,295.53 as at 29th November 2013
• Thornhillhead Moor Account £14,029.44 as at 29th November 2013
Payments due (£256.23):
• Parish Clerk’s salary, expenses and associated PAYE
Date of Next Meeting: Wednesday 8th January 2014 at Buckland Brewer School – 7:30pm
The meeting closed at 9:30 pm
Chairman: ………………………………………………………………………. Date: …………………………………
Agenda Item 1062
New Community Hall: Presentation by Jane Lowe 11th December 2013
THE LAST 12 MONTHS –
The following information has been shared with the public at AGM and is regarded as a matter of public record.
Last November we hoped to have planning permission for the new development, including our own project, signed off & agreed with Torridge. We knew only when that had happened could we make a beginning.
During November 2012 Village Hall engaged Gates as Employers Agents (in effect they will act as our site project managers and deal with all matters builder) and also as CDM (Care Development Manager), effectively site Health & Safety managers & enforcers, now a legal requirement. This gives us, as trustees, comfort that we have a full & proper professional umbrella which will shield us from personal liabilities connected with site and building contract matters.
Towards the end of last year, we were led to believe that there was a significant amount of matched funding available (£20k + £20k) between TDC & Community Council of Devon, available only to submissions received by 31st January 2013 – a lot of pressure was put on TDC to sign off the planning permission – this proved elusive, with nominal sign off only being agreed in the last week of January. The bid for funding on this occasion was, whilst thorough, not successful mainly because of the enforced rush and inability to prepare, outside our control, but the work put into this will form a significant part of the foundation for future large bids.
The S106 agreement, which (as you are aware) is Village Hall’s quasi guarantee of funding and land upon which to build, was not signed off by TDC until spring 2013. Only at that stage, did Village Hall discover that, for all the proper reasons, we were not direct beneficiaries of the S106 as it was pointed to you, the Parish Council, who are rightly regarded as guardians of matters community. To remind us all, the basic terms of value to Village Hall are that as soon as 20 houses are built, sold and occupied, £325k will be released to the community & a parcel of land will become available for sale at a nominal price. You will also be aware of the correspondence between us and yourselves regarding letters of intent to ensure that as soon as the terms of S106 are complied with, Village Hall will receive the funds, and solicitors for both sides have already been instructed to effect land purchase – Village Hall will cover legal fees for both Parish Council & Village Hall for their specific portion of land, having given various assurances about return of unspent funds, interest charges etc. To affirm, Village Hall regards Parish Council as our partner in this venture.
During July & August, a few fairly complex applications for funds had been made – with only limited success, it has become apparent that funding will only be agreed when we can evidence that the hall is under construction ( a chicken and egg scenario) – we have to accept that in such times, and with much fraud having taken place over recent years, this is a reasonable precaution from funders and we will have to respect these conditions. Also during this time we instructed Gates to go out to tender with full building spec – we have invited builders to quote using local labour where possible. Quotes were a little staggering, ranging from just short of £1M at the top, to £850k at the bottom including a cost to hold to price for one year. Any idea of self-build has been vehemently discouraged by Community Council of Devon (apparently quite common in the 1970s & 80s) and common sense on many levels bears this out in analysis with massive changes in building regulations, Health & Safety Law, and not having the in depth knowledge of builders track records to know who can deliver within the set timescales without placing us at serious financial risk. It is probable that prospective funders would not pay out on self-build either – it is simply no longer considered acceptable practice.
In recent times Village Hall has created a new officer role – Project Liaison Officer – dealing with all matters new village hall, including planning the overall project, applying for funds and interfacing with the professionals e.g. Nigel the architect, & Gates. As I have been doing this “off the side of a desk” for many months, alongside the secretary role, it makes sense to stand aside and concentrate purely on this, which will become increasingly time consuming.
The key challenge for us in the coming months is to make ourselves fit for a Big Lottery funding application. At the end of September I attended (along with Parish Council Chair) a Lottery Funding Masterclass – I believed that at the end of this day I would be “genned up” to know how to fill in successfully a 100 page application and away we would go. THIS PROVED TO BE FAR FROM THE CASE. Many participants of that day simply gave up at the end of it. Lottery representation was there on the day, and made clear they were not interested in time wasters (their words, not mine). The hurdles are immense and average time from start to finish in terms of Lottery is 74 months.
I presented to this Village Hall committee in full at the beginning of October, half expecting people to find the cross between “Dragons Den “ & “The Apprentice” just too challenging. However, all of us genuinely believe that if we don’t achieve a new hall this time, we can bury our ambitions for future generations forever. So following a “blind ballot” the majority of trustees opted to go for Lottery funding (as opposed to giving up or seeking an alternative solution).
Before we can apply to Lottery at Stage 1, we must own the land on which we wish to build. Whilst we wait for houses to be built and sold, we see this as our chance to get ourselves in the best position to be at the top of the application pile (finding funding is competitive, we are up against the rest of the country). We are seeking an accreditation called Hallmark – this will start in earnest in January – and an independent bill of health approved by Lottery for our financial set-up (known as Sustainability) – we know we may have a lot of work to do on our operational model, but we also know that without this, any application to Lottery is likely to be among the first to be discarded. I now have the pack which will start us on the road to Hallmark and it is my intention to review this over Christmas and try and put together a programme for us that is manageable (bit size chunks). We will need to address properly formulated policies as a start – I am informed that we don’t necessarily need to “reinvent the wheel” – there are some “off the peg” ones Community Council of Devon (CCD) can help with although we will have some of our own that will have to be included. I have already identified to our trustees areas I regard as financially vulnerable but CCD will certainly add some meat to those bones and help us find solutions. I have starter meetings “pencilled in” at Community Council of Devon for early February to construct an overarching project plan for agreement by our trustees which will include “Plan B “ and possibly “Plan C” too and to commence a full financial analysis. We shall be seeking funding i.r.o. £0.5 M. There is only one alternative funder identified who will potentially provide a sum of this size and they will be equally challenging in demands of us.
Also during this time we are seeking to get outline planning permission for the old hall – simply high level change of use, so that it will auction quickly when needed – it is not realistic to assume we will be able to maintain 2 properties for long so a quick sale is vital. We will not be able to sell – we will be prevented by both TDC now – they need to be satisfied we are not “selling the family silver”, & Charity Commission at contract stage, as they have control of the freehold (the freehold is registered in the name of Official Custodian) and a public vote is needed – until we can evidence that we have an alternative for the community to use, so the community as a whole is not at risk.
It is important to point out that at AGM, 5 trustees resigned and one fresh face joined us – we await representative trustees from church, WI & skittles which will bring our trustee contingent back to 16 – we will still have 2 places and have made it clear that we both welcome and need new blood on our committee.If anyone from Parish Council can help us with this it would be regarded as a great service both to the hall and to the community.
Finally, as the S106 names the Parish Council as beneficiary, I am advised to request that you approach Pearce fairly regularly (monthly?) for an update regarding the sale and occupancy of the housing – it is probable they will not proactively seek to part with funds and land as a first priority and a request for information should form part of the S106 agreement made between them and Parish Council.
Jane Lowe, Project Liaison Officer & Vice Chair, Buckland Brewer Village Hall