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Minutes of the
Withiel Parish Council meeting
held at the Village Hall on Tuesday 11 February 2014
Attendance: Councillor Kirkby (Vice Chairman) Councillor Coy (Honorary Secretary) Councillor Harper, Councillor Nott Bower, Councillor Malone, Councillor Shearer, plus eight members of the public and County Councillor Chris Batters.
The meeting began at 7:15pm with the Vice Chairman welcoming all.
171 /14 Election of Chairman (Vice-Chairman in the Chair). Councillor Kirkby was elected Chairman. Proposed Councillor Shearer, Seconded Councillor Malone. Adopted unanimously.
172 /14 Attendance: All present.
173 /14 Members declaration of interest and any requests for dispensations. Councillor Shearer announced her intention to make a statement, after which she would leave the room while it was discussed.
174 /14 Invitation for members of the public to address the meeting.
Two members of the public asked for a précis of events at the last meeting. Chairman said the meeting would cover the issues raised, and they could ask questions at the end.
175 /14 To approve the minutes of the meeting of 15 January 2014.
The Chairman read the draft minutes. Councillor Harper proposed that they be not accepted as he believed they were an inaccurate record. Proposal failed to find a seconder.
Acceptance of the minutes was proposed by Councillor Malone and seconded by Councillor Shearer. Vote 5 in favour, 1 against. (Councillor Harper)
176 /14 To consider matters arising from minutes of the meeting of 15 January 2014, and which are not agenda items below.
Councillor Malone said the council has been misinformed that emails were required to be lodged in a correspondence file for public perusal at meetings, but said that the council should reconsider its reliance on emails as its primary method of communication.
He said it had been brought to his attention that council minutes were overly-detailed and should be kept brief. This he would in future do, while providing a full report of meetings for the Withiel website and News & Views.
The Chairman said the matter of emails would be put off to a future meeting.
177 /14 Planning PA13/11649
Erection of a new commercial building for processing, storage and distribution purposes, Land North East Of Higher Brynn Farm Roche Cornwall, by Mr Alexander J White
Councillor Coy said this application had already been considered favourably by the Parish Council, but the County Council had asked a noise report. This had now been produced and accepted by County Council. He proposed that the application be approved. Seconded Councillor Malone.
178 /14 To consider whether the conduct of Councillor Shearer in arranging for the replacement of a Gate Post on the Saints’ Way at Cornwall Council’s expense was in breach of Withiel Parish Council Standing Orders, Withiel Parish Council Financial Regulations, and the Code of Conduct as alleged by the chairman during the meeting held on 15th January 2014.
Councillor Shearer read a statement in which she said she was acting as an agent of Cormac in the matter, having been asked to attend to it by the then Chairman. The footpath is a County Council responsibility. The gatepost was replaced by Max Simpson at Cormac’s expense and to Cormac’s instructions with Cormac being involved at every step. She was not acting on behalf of Withiel Parish Council and was not in breach of any regulation.
Councillor Shearer left the room.
The Chairman said Councillor Shearer had asked for this to be debated publicly because she had been accused publicly.
Councillor Harper said Max Simpson was not an approved contractor.
Councillor Malone said Cormac’s first request was that the farmer do it. They simply wanted a trifling matter out of their hair.
Councillor Nott Bower said Councillor Shearer had done a good job.
The Honorary Clerk said he had reviewed the Code of Conduct, Standing Orders and Financial Regulations and studied what Richard Thomas might possibly have had in mind when he accused Councillor Shearer of breaking the rules. He said: “In summary, acting as an agent of Cornwall Council Councillor Shearer seems to me to have behaved perfectly correctly throughout, and there is no foundation for the allegations made during the meeting on 15 January 2014.”
It was proposed that the council document the fact that Councillor Shearer was acting as an agent of Cormac and had breached no regulation. Proposed Councillor Nott-Bower, seconded Councillor Malone.
179 /14 To Consider Mr Thomas’s request that the recording of the last meeting be retained as he would in due course be making an application for a copy of that record under the Freedom of Information Act.
Councillor Malone said the council had agreed that recordings be erased after 30 days, but in this instance he sought agreement for the recording to be preserved and to be passed to anyone who wanted it. It should also be entered into the Parish Council’s documentation and placed on the Withiel website.
Proposed Councillor Nott Bower, seconded Councillor Shearer.
180 /14 To consider the appointment of a Parish Clerk.
Councillors unanimously agreed that a professional clerk should be taken on.
The Honorary Clerk Councillor Coy said advertising would begin immediately with a view to the clerk taking over after the audit.
181 /14 To consider Neighbourhood Planning.
The Chairman said this had not been actioned and a decision was needed on whether Withiel Parish Council should produce a local plan.
Councillor Batters said if the council felt able and keen, it should produce its own plan. Councillors agreed unanimously.
Councillor Coy said we should engage a clerk who has experience of the process.
182 /14 To consider the Bus Shelter.
Councillor Coy said the shelter had been hard hit by the weather. He had looked at the damage with builder Chris Rickard who would sort the crack in the back wall for £250. He proposed this be accepted. Seconded Councillor Shearer.
183 /14 To consider the Noticeboard
Councillor Coy said Chris Rickard also looked at the damaged noticeboard and would take it down, dry and stain it for £170. Acceptance proposed Councillor Harper, seconded Councillor Nott Bower.
184 /14 Footpaths. Invitation to tender for the 2014/15 season cut. To consider the Tender Documents.
Councillor Coy said applications are being invited. Insurance cover had been raised from £2 million to £5 million. There will be a cutting schedule, and notes had been produced to expand on the basic specification. The advert would be placed in local magazines.
185 /14 Finance Report to the Council under Paragraph 9b of Standing Orders.
Councillor Coy said the council looked likely to end the year with the finances in good order and the recommended reserve in hand. Small anomalies needed to be vired into repairs and renewals and clerk training.
Acceptance of the finance report proposed Councillor Nott Bower, seconded Councillor Harper.
186 /14 Correspondence
An email has been received from PSO Lloyd Paynter to say there had been no reported crime in Withiel. PSO Paynter said it would be his last report as he was moving to work in St Blazey.
Councillor Coy was asked to write to PSO Paynter formally expressing the Council’s appreciation for his work over the last seven years.
Councillor Coy requested that his £48 membership of the Society of Local Council Clerks be paid. Agreed unanimously.
The Chairman reported receiving a letter from the clerk of St Breock saying Withiel would receive either 5 or 10 percent of the money due to local parishes from the repowered wind turbine farm at St Breock Down. This was estimated to be £2,200 or £4,400 a year. Chairman said that given the number of parishes making a claim on money from St Breock, the council should be alert to opportunities to claim from other wind farms.
Chairman had received a letter about the post and rail fence at Withiel Crossroads which is becoming overgrown; it was agreed to include it specifically in the footpaths maintenance programme.
Chairman had received a letter from St Wenn Parish Council pointing out there were potholes on Prince Park Hill. Councillor Batters said an area bounded by lines drawn from south of Lostwithiel to north of Blisland, crossing Withiel and down to Gorran Haven was allocated just £1,600 a month for pothole repairs. Due to funding cutbacks many roads in rural areas may not be repaired.
187/14 Notice of Vacancy in the office of Parish Councillor.
Councillor Coy outlined the procedure for seeking a replacement following Richard Thomas’s resignation. If an election is called for it will be held on May 22, the same day as European elections, which means it will be less expensive.
188/14 Invitation to members of the public to address the meeting.
Jenny Pentland said meetings should be held on the first Wednesday of the month. The ‘date of next meeting’ had been wrongly entered in the draft minutes of the last meeting, which had ended in disarray with no date being set. The Chairman said the minute would be amended. She added that council meetings were held on the first Wednesday wherever possible.
Jenny Pentland also commented on the apparent lack of landscaping at Great Brynn Barton, which had been a condition of a previous planning application. This should be taken into account when a new planning application at Great Brynn Barton is considered at an upcoming council meeting.
The meeting closed at 8:50 pm. Date of next meeting: Monday 17th February at 7:15pm.
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