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Withiel Parish Council
Minutes of the meeting held in the Village Hall
Wednesday 2nd October
96-13 Attendance: Cllr Coy (Honorary Clerk), Cllr Harper, Cllr Kirkby, Cllr Malone, Cllr Nott-Bower, Cllr Shearer, Cllr Thomas (Chairman).
Plus seven members of the public.
97-13 Members declaration of Interest and any requests for dispensations. None
98-13 Apologies for absence. None
99-13 Invitation to members of the public to address the meeting.
Mr Peter Boden, a chartered surveyor and environmental consultant based in Camborne, spoke in support of planning application PA13/07847, which comes before the Parish Council at a special meeting on October 16th. This is for a temporary worker’s dwelling, a caravan, on land south of Kerriers. It was previously turned down because the wording in the original application was “for occasional onsite equestrian welfare,” and there was no evidence of a business on the site. New design and access statement have been lodged, including one by Rebecca Wilson, an equestrian consultant, presenting the business case. The business is schooling horses, training them for three-day events.
The worker concerned is a young man who shows promise in three-day eventing and has been working for Lucinda Fredericks in Devizes. She is an Olympic medalist, representing Australia, who is interested in a satellite property where horses can be trained. These would be high value horses, and Mr Boden spoke of the need for security.
Cllr Shearer asked about the facilities on site; there is already a sand school, plus three temporary and five permanent stables, and there is electricity and water.
Councillor Harper asked whether the horses would be exercised on the roads. Mr Boden said he did not think so – there was other land at Roche and elsewhere that would be used.
Cllr Thomas asked whether the caravan would be occupied full-time. Mr Boden replied that it would be, and as the business improved, the intention would be to improve the accommodation. Cllr Thomas asked whether there had ever been an application to alter the designation of the land from agricultural use. Mr Boden thought not.
Cllr Nott Bower asked whether it was likely that there would ultimately be an application to upgrade to a permanent dwelling. Mr Boden said the temporary permission would be for three years, after which there could be an application for a permanent replacement.
This planning application will be considered by the Parish Council on October 16th.
100-13 To approve the minutes of the meeting of 18 September 2013.
The Chairman read through minutes; their approval was proposed by Cllr Kirkby and seconded by Cllr Shearer.
101-13 Matters arising from the minutes of 18 September: None
102-13 Report from Cllr Thomas concerning his meeting with the Cornwall Association of Local Councils (CALC) regarding neighbourhood planning.
CALC had recommended, when we consider neighbourhood planning, to think about having another Parish Plan. After we have our meeting on November 12th, we should afterwards distil what comes from the people who attend and think about a Parish Plan before a neighbourhood Development Plan. He asked whether there was anyone we would like to attend – our County Councillor, Cllr Batters, would be there – to talk about Neighbourhood Planning and suggested that we ask someone from the CC’s planning department to attend.
Cllr Coy undertook to make this request through Cllr Batters, and asked whether someone from a village who had already gone through the process could be invited to advise.
Chmn said there were plenty, and added that he thought our natural linkage would be with Lanivet and Nanstallon. It would be up to the people of the Parish to make their views known at the meeting on November 12th.
Cllr Harper noted that they were big councils compared to Withiel; the Chairman said St Wenn has teamed up with St Breock and Roche.
103-13 Councillors Reports
Finance: Cllr Kirkby said the financial situation had greatly improved due to the fact that the second tranche of the precept had come in. Added to that was a refund of £100 the Parish had paid for training. When cheques had cleared we would have £3,090 in the bank. This covers our contingency requirement of £1,600, leaving £1,490. We had to pay rent and footpaths invoices, and we would like to repair the notice board. Together that would cost £683, leaving £800 in hand.
Regarding the notice board, Cllr Thomas said he’d like to think about doing something a little better than we have. He thanked Cllr Kirkby for her accurate and meticulous work on the parish finances.
Footpaths: Cllr Shearer showed a picture she had been sent by Cornwall Council of the bridge they were proposing to erect at Tregawne to replace the one that was washed away last winter. It seemed as a result of the Honorary Clerk’s letter and other hassling of the appropriate people, the bridge replacement had moved up the schedule and was now due to be worked on in November. A picture was no substitute for the real thing, and it would be necessary to keep the pressure on to ensure that the County Council followed through on its intentions.
Cllr Shearer said the successful footpaths tendered Sam Chapman has completed the work as briefed and had done a very good job. The stiles had been well strimmed and the paths cleared. Some of the paths were not done, including the footpath from Withiel to Lanjew. Mr Chapman had done a one-off job, using two men for one day.
Cllr Thomas said Mr Chapman had done everything we had asked him to do in the works schedule.
There was some discussion of what the works schedule comprised; bidders had been given Cllr Shearer’s report of the state of the footpaths, compiled in June, which noted in the case of some footpaths that “no action was required.”
Cllr Thomas said if we wanted the footpaths cut four times a year, we would have to specify that in the schedule of works.
Cllr Malone said that we should establish exactly what was wanted – whether it be a single cut or year-round maintenance – set it down on paper in a schedule of work so there was no ambiguity, make it available to all bidders next year, and ensure it was adhered to.
Cllr Thomas said the question was whether we wanted the paths to be perfect all year. If so, we should ask potential contractors to bid on that basis.
Cllr Shearer agreed to write a specification for the work for the consideration of the Parish Council.
Cllr Shearer said Mr Chapman had had difficulty in finding some of the paths, as she had done when she compiled her condition report in June. This was because there are no signs. Who provides the signs, she asked, and how are their paid for?
Cllr Thomas said they were available from Cornwall Council free of charge.
Cllr Shearer undertook to get enough signs from Cornwall Council, and all councillors agreed to put them up.
Cllr Coy said there had been complaints about construction activity in relation to Drake’s windmill, particularly about lorries using the lane to Judge Forrester’s house. The lane was privately owned and unfortunately the parish council had no influence over its use. The transport plan had not been made available to the parish council; had it been, we might have objected to it, specifically on the grounds of HGVs using the lane west from Ruthernbridge, which was specifically signed by Cornwall Council as being unsuitable for HGVs.
Cllr Shearer said a crack about 80 feet long had appeared in the road there and it looked like the road had dropped, which was a major concern. It was agreed to alert the Highways Department to the condition of the road. Action: Cllr Harper.
Cllr Coy said the ‘Varcoe 2’ windmill was still under discussion at Cornwall Council. County Councillor Batters was keeping an eye on its progress.
Cllr Kirkby said the existing ‘Varcoe 1’ turbine had broken down three times in the year it has been operational, and the noise was horrendous. It was impossible to hear the radio inside the house. It had been turned off within an hour of the first complaint, but the company which owned the windmill had got out of the wind turbine business and the turbine had been sold on, and it was not always clear who was to be contacted when it next broke down. If it was sold on again, it would be a problem.
Cllr Coy said a new planning application had been lodged on October 1, PA13/05414, for alterations to former barn adjacent to house to create accommodation, or ancillary residential accommodation, for paying and non-paying guests or long-term tenants, at Moorland View Farm, Inchs. This could be considered at the planning meeting on October 16th, along with the temporary dwelling at Kerriers.
Cllr Thomas said he had received a letter from REG Windpower, which was replacing the 11 turbines on St Breock Down with 5 larger ones. Preliminary work had been due to begin at the end of September on driving an access road across from the A39 at the Halfway House, work which would take nine weeks. For part of this time construction traffic would also be using the Trevanion Road out of Wadebridge, past Burlawn.
The company was establishing a community benefit fund to support local ‘good causes’. Local people should decide how this money should be spent, and they had appointed Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) as ‘independent’ administrator to operate the fund on their behalf. ‘Ring-fenced’ amounts would be available of each parish annually.
There was some discussion of how much the fund might represent and what percentage might accrue to Withiel. This has not yet been definitively established.
Cllr Coy said this money would not be channelled through the Parish Council, although the council could bid for it. Local charities, the church, village hall could bid for it.
Cllr Thomas said a member of the company would sit on the community group to decide what budgets they had and virtually approve them.
Cllr Nott Bower said WREN was already £13,000 in debt and were banking on the REG Windpower money to get them out.
Cllr Malone said it was wrong to call WREN independent because they were so far into the company’s pocket that they were effectively no more than a front for REG Windpower.
104-13. To discuss Section 106 conditions attached to proposed solar farm development at Inchs. (Papers circulated)
Cllr Coy read a letter received from the German developers 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
Different parishes had opted for different payment schemes, the developer said. If the solar panels were accepted, the feed-in tariff would accrue to the Parish for 25 years.
Cllr Coy asked which of the options the council thought most advantageous.
Cllr Malone said the only suitable building in the parish on which solar panels could be mounted would be the village hall, where the roof faced east-west and would produce a relatively small subsidy. Furthermore, he thought it important to get the money in hand because there was a growing realisation that these renewables scams had to be sorted out, and recent reductions in feed-in tariffs might be just the start of a serious subsidy cut. For the same reason, it would be better to have the lump sum in hand rather than take it over ten years.
Cllr Coy suggested that each councillor write a position paper on what mechanism should be used for the disbursement of any money.
Cllr Thomas said the matter would certainly be discussed at the Parish meeting on November 12th.
Cllr Malone said that given that the money was a small proportion of what households in Withiel Parish were paying in green stealth taxes on their power bills, which were variously estimated to cost between £125 and £300 per year per household, it should be possible to assist people in the parish who were driven into fuel poverty by these surcharges.
Cllr Thomas said that would not be possible, as the money would have be disbursed within the constraints of the parish council’s areas of responsibility.
Cllr Kirkby said the solar panels concept should not be discarded as the feed-in tariffs were generous.
Cllr Thomas said the matter would be high on the agenda for discussion on November 12th.
105-13 Finance – to discuss draft precept for 2014-5
Cllr Thomas had prepared some draft figures for discussion which began from the standpoint that if we managed this year’s finances carefully we should star next year with the recommended reserve of £1,600 in the bank. Much depended on whether the parish carried on without a paid clerk. If we had a paid clerk, it would cost at least half the precept and probably more. If not, money could be released for work that was needed around the parish.
Included in the variables was one costly possibility – if one or more councillors were to leave for any reason there may have to be an election, which would make a hole in the finances.
Cllr Coy said the current system under which he operated as Honorary Clerk was working satisfactorily, and while it was prudent to make provision for a clerk, every year we didn’t have one made £2,500 available to parish funds. It might be wise of keep the cost of employing a paid clerk for a year in reserve.
Cllr Kirkby said we should have a clerk because if we get these extra funds there will be more work to do. Because Cllr Coy was a councillor she did not feel able to ask him to do things. The Neighbourhood Development Plan and Parish Plan would increase the workload.
Cllr Harper said that even without the possible funds from the solar farm and windmills the County Council was passing work down to the parishes and there wouldn’t be any money coming with it. The increased workload might require a paid clerk.
Cllr Thomas said it would be prudent to add the cost of a clerk to the precept, then “suck it and see”. He also raised the possibility of the precept assisting in the upkeep of the Village Hall, which is not the responsibility of the Parish Council but of the Playing Fields Committee. The Village Hall is the one big community-owned thing in the parish and is desperately needed work. It had had little heavy maintenance since it was built 30 years ago.
It was proposed by Cllr Malone and seconded by Cllr Shearer that provision be made in the precept for a paid clerk, while provision was also made to vire the money to a different sub-heading; also that a sub-heading be included for the Village Hall.
106-13 Invitation for members of the public to address the meeting
Mr John White informed the council that one of the two applications he had lodged for planning permission, which the council had supported, had come back from Cornwall Council with the advice that an acoustic test be done. (This is at Higher Brynn). This means the application must be lodged again, and will be coming back to the parish council.
Mr Steve Martin made the point that in deciding on footpaths work, it should be borne in mind that a three-foot clear area was required as a minimum.
Cllr Coy reported that Bodmin Community Network had asked the Village Hall to host their community forum on Thursday 31st October, and that this had been agreed. Unfortunately it was bowls night so the forum would be held in the small meeting room.
Cllr Coy also reported on a reply from the ex-clerk Christine Wilson who had been paid an additional £62.75. Cllr Thomas asked how much expense had been incurred in dealing with this matter. Cllr Coy said all direct expenses had been paid out of his own pocket.
108-13 Date of next meeting… 16th October at 7:15pm.
The meeting closed at 9:05 with the Chairman thanking all those who attended.
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