Draft Minutes of the meeting held in the Village Hall

Wednesday, 7th August 2013

Present: Cllr Coy, Cllr Harper, Cllr Kirkby, Cllr Malone, Cllr Nott-Bower, Cllr Shearer, Cllr Thomas (Chairman)

County Councillor Chris Batters and nine members of the public

The meeting began at 7.15 when the Chairman welcomed all.

54-13       Apologies for absence. None

55-13       Members Declaration of Interest and requests for dispensations. None

57-13           To approve the appointment of an unpaid Parish Clerk. The Chairman said that our Clerk having left us, and it not being possible to recruit a paid Clerk, it was necessary to appoint an unpaid Clerk from among the councillors.

57-14           Councillor Coy agreed to do the job. Withiel, he said, is probably the smallest Parish Council in Cornwall, and it is incumbent upon it to administer its affairs economically. Between this meeting and the next Councillor Coy will consider the details of how the workload will be spread among the councillors, while he will remain the responsible officer. Councillor Kirkby asserted that she will retain control of finance, which Councillor Coy agreed. Councillor Coy’s appointment proposed by Councillor Nott-Bower, seconded by Councillor Shearer. Unanimously carried.

58-13            To resolve to exclude members of the public and press from the meeting during any items identified as containing confidential information as under the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. Item 68-13 came under this heading.

59-13            Invitation to members of the Public to address the meeting. This was proposed by Cllr Kirkby and seconded by Cllr Coy
1. Several members of the public expressed concern that the Parish Council meeting on July 18th had been held in closed session. Gossip and rumour had taken the place of information on this meeting.. This had led to false accusations being made in public and the public should know the truth..It was explained that the meeting had concerned the finances of the council and the terms and conditions of the Clerk, which were thought confidential. Members of the public said that the council’s finances were entirely in the public domain, as were the terms and conditions of the Clerk’s employment. It was therefore not necessary for the meeting to have taken place in camera. It was thought, however, that in the interests of transparency, the minutes of that meeting should be made public. The Chairman said the council would consider the matter when item 68-13 was discussed.

2. Members of the public also asked for a ten-minute opportunity at the end of each meeting in which they could address the council, as well as the ten minutes at the beginning. There being no objection from the councillors, the Chairman said he would look at incorporating such an opportunity in the agenda for consideration at the next meeting.

60-13            The Minutes of the meeting of the Parish Council 3 July 2013 were discussed and approved, apart from the words “dangerous” and “rented” which were removed from the Footpaths Officer’s report. Proposed Councillor Nott-Bower, seconded Councillor Shearer. The minutes were signed as being correct.

61-13      Matters arising from the minutes of 3 July 2013. The Chairman reported that a public meeting would be held at a date to be arranged to discuss the Neighbourhood Development Plan for Withiel Parish.

Officers reports: Councillor Shearer said that she had received one tender for the job and the Chairman said that following the council’s advertisements, he had received two requests for the specifications for work to be done on the Parish footpaths.

Councillor Shearer reported that she had contacted Cornwall Council and discovered that they did not intend to reinstate the bridge at Tregawne, washed away in the winter floods, for at least a year. The loss of this bridge had cut the Parish in half and the river was dangerous to cross except in conditions of extremely low water. After she had impressed upon them how vital the bridge was to the Parish they had agreed to get the Countryside Officer, who controls the capital works budget, to get in touch.

Councillor Coy said that under Section 56 of the Highways Act 1980 the County Council was required to act within six months of being notified of an issue. Failure to do so meant they faced action in the Magistrates Court.

The Chairman said the County Council had been notified by the previous Parish Council who had been told that repairs would take a long time because of the amount of damage done by the flooding across the County.

Councillor Batters asked for all correspondence on this issue to be copied to him. He and Councillor Shearer to pursue.

Councillor Shearer mentioned that there were guidelines for the timing of the trimming of hedges, and said it would be useful if they were known in the Parish. It was suggested she may wish to write a note for favour of publication in the Parish magazine.

62-13              Finance

Councillor Kirkby reported that as of August 1st the Parish Council had £23.31 in the bank. Under normal circumstances the Council should have a reserve fund of at least £1,600. The second tranche of the precept, £2,375, would be forthcoming shortly. With the reserves re-established, the Council would be able to pay for the footpaths maintenance and the hire of the hall for meetings, with £568 left over for the remaining six months of the financial year.

The former Clerk had sent the Parish Council a cheque for £75.06 previously paid to her for training. Councillor Kirkby asked whether the Council should accept the money. Councillor Harper said it should be sent back. Councillor Malone said that this was public money, and the council had a duty to accept it. The issue was put to the vote. The Chairman proposed that the money be returned to the Clerk. Councillor Harper seconded. Councillor Malone proposed that it be accepted. Councillor Coy seconded.

Vote against acceptance: Councillors Thomas and Harper.

Vote for acceptance: Councillors Malone, Coy, Shearer, Nott-Bower. Carried.

The council was asked to consider registering the Council with the ICO (Information Commissioners Officer) at a cost of £35. Councillor Coy reported that registration was required of everyone who holds personal data on computers. As far as Withiel Parish Council was concerned, this was a theoretical exercise which created work and cost money, to no reasonable purpose. We hold no public data. It was decided not to register. Proposed Councillor Kirkby, seconded Councillor Malone.

Internal Control Report. Councillor Kirkby reported that a VAT refund of £410.24 was expected, the previous council having not reclaimed VAT for two years. This had apparently escaped the notice of internal and external auditors.

Cheques for payment included Bricknells £9.98 for office supplies, Cornwall Council – £993.73 for election costs; Clerks Salary £202.66.

•             Planning

Two planning applications were considered.

Application PA13/03913 – Applicant Alexander John White.

Location – Shalimar, Roche. Proposal – change of use from agricultural land to B8 use for storage and welfare accommodation.

The Chairman said this had been the subject of a site visit on Saturday August 3rd involving Councillors Thomas, Harper, Shearer, Malone and Kirkby. No objection had been raised.

Application PA13/05967 – Applicant Alexander John White

Location – land NE of Higher Brynn Farm, Roche. Proposal – construction of a new commercial building for processing storage and distribution purposes.

The Chairman said this had also been the subject of a site visit on the same day by the same councillors. It concerned a building for the manufacture of wood pellets for heating systems. It was in an area where there were already a number of industrial buildings. Councillor Harper said the proximity of the old A30 meant it was an excellent place for such a building. Councillor Nott-Bower said there was widespread disquiet about the expansion northward into the Parish of the sort of development that characterised Victoria. The Chairman said this would be something the Parish would have to debate during consultation for the Neighbourhood Development Plan.

It was unanimously agreed to support both planning applications, Proposed: Councillor Malone. Seconded: Councillor Harper.

66 -13  Police report:

Councillor Coy had received a report via email from PC Lloyd Paynter, who was unable to attend the meeting. It said there was only one recorded crime since his last report – the theft of a baling machine from Brynn. This was just off his patch and is being investigated by his colleague from St Columb.

PC Paynter added that recently he had circulated an email to all Parish Clerks warning parishioners all over the Bodmin rural area to beware of suspect traders selling  tools from the back of vans. Although there was nothing to say that anything illegal was going on, he asked to be kept informed if anything suspicious was seen.

67-13               Report from County Councillor

Councillor Batters was welcomed to the meeting by the Chairman, who wishes him a speedy recovery from his recent hip replacement operation.

Councillor Batters asked that anyone in the Parish who wished to object to any planning application should contact him, rather than simply registering an objection online. If the internet is used, objections are merely tallied and gives as a number at planning hearings, whereas he is able to raise their substance in committee.

The Chairman reported that there had been no response to the Parish Council’s objection to the Varcoes’ second turbine application on the crossroads. Councillor Batters promised to look into it.

The Chairman also remarked that the Parish Council had not been consulted on the massive commercial development on the A30 roundabout at Victoria, even though it was right on the Parish boundary. For most people, he said, it had come out of the blue. Roche had objected, Cornwall Council had objected, but the development had been pushed through by a planning inspector.

Councillor Malone said that like the wind turbine applications in Withiel, the development had encountered strong local opposition which had been brushed aside by planning officers over whom there was no democratic control, or even influence. It made a mockery of the planning system.

Councillor Batters said a few dubious decisions of the last County Council were coming to light, including one in Lanivet where a development of 260 homes had been approved by one man, and the developers had made a donation of a large amount of money to St Petroc’s School in Bodmin, which was nowhere near the development and seemingly unconnected with it. This man was no longer on the council.

68-13               To approve the minutes of the closed meeting of 18 July 2013.

The council met in closed session and agreed to make public the minutes of the meeting of July 18th, 2013.

69-13                 The date of next meeting was fixed as Monday September 2nd.

The Chairman concluded the meeting at 9:10pm by thanking all those who attended.


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