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Draft minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of Withiel Parish Council
Wednesday, 16th October 2013
109-13 Attendance: Cllr Coy (Honorary Clerk), Cllr Harper, Cllr Kirkby, Cllr Malone, Cllr Nott-Bower, Cllr Shearer, Cllr Thomas (Chairman). Plus two members of the public.
110:13 Members’ declaration of interest and any requests for dispensations.
Cllr Coy said that during the precept discussion, both the clerk and the Village Hall would be discussed, and as Honorary Clerk of the Parish Council and Chairman of the Village Hall he sought advice on the proper course of action he should adopt.
The Chairman also declared an interest in the Village Hall, being Secretary of the Village Hall committee and sought the Council’s views on whether they should remain in the room when these items were discussed.
Cllr Harper suggested they remain for the discussion but leave the room for the vote.
Cllr Malone said the Council would have to lay down ground rules for the relationship between the Parish Council and the Playing Fields Association and Village Hall committee, establish protocols and stick to them. They could not guarantee today’s close and constructive working relationship forever, and protocols had to be established that would stand the test if the two bodies were ever at loggerheads.
Cllr Thomas said a time would come, possibly this year, when decisions would have to be made by the Council and the Playing Fields Association which may benefit one or the other.
Cllr Shearer said that the two bodies had common interests. Cllr Thomas said they were however entirely separate; the Village Hall was owned and run by a set of Trustees elected from the Parish. The Council are the Custodian Trustees, which means that if anything goes wrong with the Village Hall the Council can step in.
Cllr Malone said that if precedents were established now, or money was committed on a medium or long term basis, changing circumstances might mean we were unable to change our position.
Cllr Harper said that where money was involved there was always the risk of disagreement.
For the purposes of the precept debate the council agreed that Cllrs Coy and Thomas should stay in, and should feel free to speak to any and all issues.
Cllr Kirkby said that the Council had to establish a plan of how it was to deal with the Village Hall.
Cllr Coy said one solution might be a sub-committee that attends to every aspect of the Village Hall. Cllr Thomas said the Parish Council had always been represented on the Playing Fields Association.
It was agreed that some thought should be given to how the relationship between the two bodies should be put on a sound footing, with suggestions to be brought to the next meeting.
111-13 Apologies for absence… None
112-13 Invitation for members of the Public to address the meeting.
Mr Peter Boden, a chartered surveyor and environmental consultant based in Camborne, spoke again in support of planning application PA13/07847, which is for a temporary worker’s dwelling, a caravan, on 1.5 hectares of land south of Kerriers. He was asked by Mr Stephen Martin whether the premises would have an agricultural tie. Mr Boden replied that it was a temporary dwelling for three years, and if at the end of that time the business for which it was granted was not successful, it would have to go. Mr Boden said it was a business opportunity for a young man who had to start somewhere, and it the business was successful they may put in for a permanent dwelling. Mr Martin said he thought the ultimate aim was to place a permanent dwelling on the site.
Mr Boden said it was a genuine business opportunity and was not simply an attempt to circumvent planning laws.
Cllr Thomas said the application was for a caravan on the site, because the business centred around having horses on the site, which could not be remotely monitored. I was for occupation by a rural worker… the old agricultural tie is now extended to that definition. He thought that if Cornwall Council did approve it, it would be with conditions, and probably these would include exactly who could reside in it.
Mr Martin said parking was also an issue.
Cllr Harper asked who decided whether the business plan was viable? How much profit would make the business a success?
Mr Boden said it should return enough to cover an agricultural worker’s wage, although there was a subjective judgement in the planning guidelines as to whether the business was sustainable.
Mr Martin said the septic tank on the premises was adjacent to a floodwater course.
Cllr Thomas said the planners would take that into account.
113-13 To approve the minutes of the meeting of 2 October 2013. Acceptance proposed by Cllr Harper, seconded Cllr Kirkby.
114-13 Matters arising from the minutes of 2 October 2013.
Cllr Coy said he had an action in the minutes to ask County Councillor Batters to bring a planner to the parish meeting, which he had done.
Cllr Shearer reported that Sam Chapman had cut the path he hadn’t previously done between Withiel and Lanjew.
115-13 To discuss the 2014-15 Precept.
Cllr Thomas said that by November the Parish Council must bid for the precept for the next financial year. There was a requirement to carry forward a £1,600 reserve. Expenditure last year on the Clerk should have been £2,001.60; it was recommended that next year this be raised to £2,126, which allowed for the recruitment of a clerk at 18 hours per month and allowing £25 per month expenses. Last year the stationery allowance was £275 and it should be held at that figure; insurance was budgeted at £430 and actually cost £408, but it seemed prudent to budget at £450. Insurance covers the bus shelter, and included such things as the laptop, the fidelity insurance, and public liability. It did not include the Village Hall.
Cllr Harper said that sounded expensive.
Cllr Thomas said Zurich did a special rate for councils, but thought it was time to test the market. It was decided to carry insurance on the budget at £450 while trying to engineer a saving.
Cllr Coy said that while most insured items cost peanuts, the painful sum was for public liability.
Cllr Thomas said the Village Hall rental is raised to £225 in order to make more use of the larger room. Cornwall Association of Local Councils membership is £165. Communications, which includes a £250 contribution to News & Views, would be £300 to take account of other mediums like posters or flyers, £100 had been set aside for training, and £100 for the ‘free resource’ which covered such items as the Remembrance Day wreath. Advertising would be covered at £400 – this would cover advertising for a clerk, it necessary.
Provision had been made for £100 to go to the Village Hall.
On footpaths, Cornwall Council should pay the Parish 90 percent of £300 this year, which won’t come in until next year. For next year it was proposed to raise this to £600 to reflect recent discussions on the way the Parish Council would like the work to be done.
Cllr Shearer said the paths needed to be cut twice, and it was intended to be far more specific during the tendering process.
Cllr Malone agreed with the £100 allocation to the Village Hall on the understanding that no precedent was created. Cllr Kirkby said it created a heading in the Parish Council budget for the Village Hall.
Cllr Thomas said the overall effect was to raise the precept from £4,750 last year to £4,791, an increase of £241.
Cllr Kirkby said the actual budget was lower than last year, but provision had been made for advertising for a Clerk, which was not budgeted for by the last council despite the fact that they had to do it twice after their first choice left after one meeting.
Cllr Thomas said no provision was being made for the cost of an election. Should there be one, it would have to be covered by the reserve.
Cllr Harper said the new council had practically started with nothing, and was now on a solid financial footing.
Cllr Malone thanked Cllr Kirkby on the work she has done to get the Parish finances in order, which was the first prerequisite when the new council took over. She had accomplished this despite serious financial challenges, and had re-established the council’s reserve fund in a very difficult year.
118-13 Planning –PA13/07847. Land South of Kerriers – Application for Temporary Rural Workers dwelling and variation of domestic use condition.- Mrs Tracey Trudgeon.
(This item taken out of sequence to allow Mr Peter Boden to participate and depart).
Cllr Thomas said he that if certain conditions were met, Cornwall Council would probably approve this application as part of their plan to encourage people to have businesses in rural areas. He was worried that it was a way of getting a temporary dwelling which would later turn into an application for a permanent dwelling that was not related to the business. At a previous meeting we heard that Lucinda Fredericks was going to send down high quality horses to be trained, but there was no commitment to this in the documentation.
Cllr Shearer said there was some question in her mind as to whether the business plan was viable.
Cllr Thomas said that with some reluctance he would support the application, but there should be conditions on who lives there, safety considerations on parking near the four-way junction, and a there should be a serious and viable business on the site.
Mr Boden said the business plan was in the justification documents, including predictions for profit in the first year.
Cllr Thomas questioned the value of what purported to be the business plan in the documentation, which was a very skimpy document.
Cllr Shearer said making a profit out of horses in Cornwall was very difficult. There were many more secure livery stables about, and it seemed unwise to put valuable horses on such an insecure site.
Cllr Harper said the Council should give the applicant a chance, allow him three years to prove the viability of his business.
Cllr Kirkby agreed, but cautioned that if the business was not viable, there should be no question of the granting of permission for a permanent dwelling on the site.
Cllr Thomas asked whether the Parish Council supported the application for a static caravan on the site to support a business for three years to enable this young man to stay close to his horses to make sure the business was viable.
Cllr Kirkby supported the application with the caveat that it applied only to the young man named in the application, it was only for three years, and it was not a Trojan Horse for a permanent dwelling.
Cllr Thomas said the Council would support this with conditions. Firstly, it must be occupied by Mr Trudgeon. Secondly, a viable business plan must be produced. Thirdly, some consideration must be given to safety on the road outside the site.
Cllr Nott-Bower said he shared the cynicism of many people he had spoken to who did not believe the business was viable.
Cllr Malone said the Council had to take the application at face value; hunches could not be a valid basis for opposition.
It was proposed that approval of the application be recommended to Cornwall Council on the three conditions presented by Cllr Thomas. Proposed Cllr Malone, seconded Cllr Harper. Votes in favour: Cllr Thomas, Cllr Coy, Cllr Malone, Cllr Harper, Cllr Kirkby, Cllr Shearer. Against: Cllr Nott-Bower.
2. PA13/05414.Application for alterations to former barn adjacent to a house to create accommodation or ancillary residential accommodation for paying and non-paying guests or long term tenants at Bramble Cottage, Moorland View Farm, Inches.
Cllr Harper commented the building was about the size of a shed to keep a lawn mower in.
Cllr Coy said he was in favour of the application, even though the building us minute. It’s at the back of an existing building, it’s a sensible conversion, there was a query on the bat report which the County Council would no doubt pick up. He thought the Parish Council should express support.
Cllr Harper said he would be in favour of the extension as an extra bedroom but had concerns if it was to be tenanted.
Cllr Nott-Bower said he was happy with the application if the bat issue could be satisfactorily resolved.
Cllr Shearer shared Cllr Harper’s concern as to whether the application was adequate for tenanted accommodation.
Cllr Thomas agreed it should be limited to ancillary residential accommodation.
Cllr Coy said it would provide inexpensive accommodation of the sort that was needed in the area.
Cllrs Malone, Shearer and Nott-Bower expressed approval for the application in full.
Cllr Thomas said he favoured approving the application, but limiting it to ancillary residential accommodation. He thought the development too small for paying guests.
Cllr Malone asked whether it was the Parish Council’s place to dictate the size of tenanted premises. If there was a market, and someone wanted to live there, why would we stand in their way? On the grounds that it was too small, and the renter shouldn’t go there?
Cllr Thomas said it was a matter of how we wanted the area to develop. Did we want every small shed in someone’s garden to become a house with a family with two or three children?
Cllr Coy said it was more than a shed, having three rooms. Dictating what the market would stand, and whether someone would or would not pay money for it, was not our business.
It was agreed to support the application in full.
116-13 Finance… No change since the last meeting on October 2.
117-13 To discuss Sec 106 conditions attached to proposed solar farm development at Inches. (Papers circulated)
This was a continuation of the debate during the last Parish Council meeting where Cllr Coy read a letter from the German developers Kronos which said they intended to start work on the solar farm this year and expected to complete the work by next March. They offered the Parish Council three options:
• 25kWp of solar panels for mounting on or more Parish Building(s) or
• £35,000 as a one-off payment or
• £3,500 for 10 years adjusted by RPI
A decision was required on which of the options to adopt.
Cllr Malone said we had favoured taking the full sum, partly because attitudes to the exploitation of renewables subsidies were changing as they increasingly got out of hand, and there was no guarantee they would be able to pay out in the longer term.
Cllr Thomas said the solar panels could only go on one building in the Parish, the Village Hall, which had no south facing roof.
Cllr Harper said the building was totally unsuitable for solar panels.
Cllr Kirkby said she thought the public should be given the opportunity to decide what to choose at the public meeting in November.
Cllr Thomas said the Parish Council should come forward with a recommendation. Cllr Coy added that the public would decide what was to be done with the money.
Cllr Thomas said regarding the £3,500 a year plus RPI for ten years, it was just as well to opt for the lump sum because the annual sum would have to be treated as revenue and spent in the year in which it was received, whereas a lump sum of £35,000 could be carried over as a capital fund for infrastructure in the parish. If we decided to take the lump sum, we should then ask the public meeting what the parish through we could do with it, by was of infrastructure projects.
Cllr Malone said the Parish Council had not fully explored the powers the council has. There could be some opportunities under the Free Resource regulations which allowed a Parish Council to use money, up to a specified limit. The people of the parish were paying as much as £300 a year each in green stealth taxes on their heating and lighting bills, and some could ill-afford it. The Free Resource allowed the Council to spend money on “anything which in the opinion of the parish is in the interests of the parish, or any part of it, or is in the interests of all or some of its inhabitants.” This would include giving financial help to people who were having trouble paying their heating bills. It was also open to the Council to set up a parish charity to disburse the money, which could then bid for some of the money that was said to be coming to the parish from the new wind turbines on St Breock Down.
Cllr Thomas said Free Resource allowed the spending of only a limited amount of money from the revenue budget. Cllr Coy said there had been a charity in Withiel for the relief of the poor, but it had been wound up recently for want of customers. Cllr Malone said projections were that green stealth taxes would double and triple if the Coalition’s unilateral targets were to be achieved, and with fuel poverty an increasingly pressing issue, the situation would certainly change.
A vote was taken on how to take the money, with six councillors opting for the lump sum and Cllr Kirkby opting for the solar panels.
119-13 Invitation for members of the public to address the meeting: None
120-13 Correspondence. None
121-13 Date of next meeting is Wednesday November 6th at 7:15 pm.
The meting closed at 8:45 with the Chairman thanking all those who had attended.
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