Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in The Reading Room, Church Road, Buxted on Tuesday 10th October 2017 at 7.30p.m.
Prior to the start of the parish council meeting, Roy Galley (member) and Pat Buesnel (Director) of the Conservators of the Ashdown Forest addressed the meeting:
Roy Galley advised that Ashdown Forest has several short and long-term issues, mostly financial. There are plans to change the governance of the forest to become a charity as at the moment they are a statutory body so are unable to apply for charitable grants and are unable to claim back VAT. A change to a charitable status would also mean ESCC would no longer own the forest and have no governance over it. In the short term, and given that grants for the forest are being reduced as part of a wider money saving scheme at ESCC, the Conservators are approaching surrounding parishes requesting grants to help run their day to day activities. Grants are received from Natural England but these are for conservation purposes only. The core budget (day to day running including 24-hour emergency cover) predicts a budget deficit for the next two years and the Conservators are seeking grants from parishes and town council within and around the vicinity of the Ashdown Forest. Buxted has asked if they could provide a grant of £1000.00 per annum for the next two years.
Pat Buesnel then addressed the meeting and commented that it sounds as the Conservators are only after parish money (which they admitted they are), but Buxted PC has many visitors to the forest including the local primary school which use forest facilities together with a number of horse riders. Ex councillor Geoffrey Sheard and now Vivienne are active members of the Ashdown Forest Liaison Committee. The Conservators really feel they have something to offer and hope the resource can be maintained and enhanced bearing in mind it has 4600 visits per day, most within 9km radius of the forest.
She also wished to thank Vivienne for her continued support and for taking over Geoffrey Sheard’s role as parish liaison officer.
In answer to a question by Cllr. Roberts, it was clarified that the amount of grants requested are relative to the parish. It is true that grants will not fill the deficit but the Conservators are also pursuing other routes for funding such as sponsoring car parks.
The budget shortfall is Â£40,000 over two years with a hope that £20,000 can be raised via grants from the parish councils.
This item will be put on next month’s agenda.
Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Cox, Illingworth, Johnson, McQuarrie, Milner, Roberts and Rose.
Also present: ESCC Cllr Galley, WDC Cllr Lunn and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
Caroline Hopkins commented that it would be helpful to have a breakdown of Section 106 (developer contribution) monies and where they have been spent. The clerk gave a verbal run down but a full account would be sent to Mrs Hopkins and minuted (see end of minutes)
Mrs Carlton ask why contamination of the land was not mentioned in the planning application. The chairman advised that oil storage/asbestos/metals is classed as contamination for planning purposes and would only be notable on exchange of contract.
H. Cox asked if the amendments, for the Reading Room planning application, would be consulted upon. Cllr. Lunn advised that it is the planning officers decision as to whether a full consultation will be undertaken, however everyone has the opportunity to comment on any amendment to WDC Cllr. Lunn would be asking the officer to reconsult.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies received from Cllrs. Cox and Milner
DECLARATION OF MEMBERS INTERESTS
Cllr. Blandford declared personal interests in any matters relating to the community hall by virtue of being members of the Hall or Ionides Trusts appointed by the Council.
Cllrs. McQuarrie declared a personal interest in matters relating to the Ionides land (including the surgery/land/hall) by virtue of being a member of the Ionides Trust.
Cllr. Rose declared a prejudicial interest in any matters relating to the land west of Church Road (Taylor Wimpey site) due to having owned part of the application site and a personal interest in the Ionides Surgery/Hall site due to having a business opposite the land.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the meeting held on 12th September 2017 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.
Cllr. Galley explained that the focus at ESCC is currently financial issues. A monthly report will be circulated and updated on the parish council website.
Cllr. Lunn commented that he had listened very carefully to the planning committee prior to this and all comments have been noted. It was noted that post meeting, he had followed this comment up by showing ensuring the comments will be reiterated clearly and firmly to the planning officer.
He then reported that he had been on a district wide planning tour that day to review some of the decisions made by WDC and was encouraged by what he saw. Given that the committee has made some difficult planning decisions it is good to see the results being good quality builds. However, there is one area of real concern which is the creation of local business to provide local jobs is almost zero. There is clearly a conflict of interest between respecting the value of Ashdown Forest and trip generations but and the impact this has on businesses. A business in Wadhurst which took three years to get planning permission and employees 80 people is a success story but there is a real policy vacuum with regards supporting new and existing businesses.
Finally, he commented that Kier is closing its waste contract with Wealden, so the District Council is currently looking at a new contract bearing in mind the reduction in revenue from recycling. It was commented that the costs are too high to bring the contract back ‘in house’ especially given that WDC saved £1million per year by outsourcing.
RECRUITMENT OF NEW COUNCILLORS
The chairman reported on two resignations this month from Cllr. Hall and Skinner and wished to thank them for their commitment to the parish council. If anyone wishes to apply to be a councillor, the parish council can co-opt at any point during the year. We would welcome any interest. The clerk will upload an article on the website and social media outlets – ‘be the change you want to see’.
Public footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees: Nothing to report.
Road Safety: The clerk reported that a number of local residents have been in contact with the parish council raising concern for pedestrians walking on the south side of the High Street opposite the Methodist Church due to vehicles mounting the pavement when passing one another at the pinch point in the road. There has been a fair amount of discussion on social media and one parishioner has asked residents of Buxted Court if they have had any experience of this. In addition to this, and increasing the potential for an accident is the free school coach which now parks in the layby opposite Crusader Vehicle, resulting in an increased number of school children walking along this pavement at peak hours.
In response to this, the clerk had been in discussion with ESCC officers and has established the following:
“The footway remains too narrow to accommodate posts or pedestrian guard rail outside of Berwyn and High View, which are the properties at the narrowest part of the road, opposite the parking bays.
With regards to the suggestions that have been made concerning the narrow section of road on the A272, there is not an easy solution to the situation. Several years ago, a resident approached ESCC with regards to the section of road and was not in favour of any removal of parking. As the resident did not have any off-road parking and needed to park on the road in the day, they strongly opposed any suggestion of restricting parking at the site. Furthermore, removing parking in situations such as this often leads to an increase in vehicle speeds, which would not be favourable in Buxted.
Road narrow warning signs are used where the physical geometry of the road narrows and not where the road is narrowed by parked cars. At times when cars are not parked, the sign would have no meaning and drivers would ignore it.
The road clearly narrows when cars are parked here and the problem is exacerbated by the attitude of drivers who choose to take the risk of squeezing through. Regrettably, these are the drivers who are most unlikely to pay any attention to any signage or road markings that we could offer.”
At the present time and having investigated the possibility of bollards, further yellow lines or road signage, there doesn’t seem to be any way to control this problem
With regards the parking of the coach, the local resident is currently asking the school why coach stops in that location, was it chosen for any specific purpose.
Therefore, this matter is ongoing and a further update will be reported at the next meeting.
The chairman stated that she had recently been driving through Halland and saw a Speedwatch gang. When previously used in Buxted, Cllr Roy Galley commented it had been very effective, especially in the Buxted area. The chair made a plea to local residents who are concerned about speeding issues to form a group as the parish council have their own speed gun which can be used if volunteers come forward. Please contact the parish clerk on this matter and training can be provided.
Ionides Trust: No updated news.
New community hall: An application has been submitted to WDC to satisfy several building conditions, which are required for the whole building, and a cross over to create an access (to ESCC Highways) as part of the original planning design. The application for satisfy the conditions is quite extensive but this information is required to be satisfied for the entire build, whereas it will only be minor works in December – when digging of some of the foundations may commence.
Defibrillators: Phone box at High Hurstwood is almost complete and we are just waiting for the installation the electrical connection. Volunteers are setting up the training session.
There is a small stumbling block at Five Ash Down as they did have a volunteer but this person is not responding to messages. However, given recent events the parish council will wait another month before chasing this again. However, this isn’t quite as urgent as the defibrillator is behind the bar at the Pig and Butcher so is available if required during opening hours.
Wealden Local Development Framework â€“ Local Plan: Nothing new to report.
Reading Room Planning Application Update:
The chairman advised that after listening to public views and consulting with WDC planning, the parish council’s working party recommend to full council that amended plans be submitted to reduce the scheme to two semi-detached dwellings with two parking spaces per property and turning within the site. It was unanimously resolved to submit the amended plans to Wealden District Council on this basis. It was also minuted that Cllr. Lunn could not commit to either support or not support the scheme at this stage as it could be considered as predetermination, however it was noted that in the planning committee Cllr. Lunn appeared to support the residents who were objecting to The Moorings application and stated that comments would be forwarded to the officer.
The parish council noted the letter from Caroline Hopkins on behalf of a number of residents in the parish. All points have been noted and a response regarding the public consultation in 2011 which took place will be sent back to Caroline Hopkins once the correct information has been sought.
Scoping for Bonfire Site: Having viewed the site, councillors agreed to put this matter on hold for this year and to work closely with the Buxted Bonfire Society and Football Club in 2018 to ascertain the most suitable site.
Communications Matters: Website
Addition of .gov.uk email addressed for all councillors: Agreed thank in accordance with the GDPR that the all councillors have their own email addresses.
P1 Buxted W.I. – Permission to locate a planter at the base of the Buxted Village sign to commemorate the centenary of the W.I. in 2018: All in agreement, but the clerk will advise that a license will have to be obtained prior to installing this planter.
P2 Several residents of the parish – Concerns raised at parking outside Methodist Church, High Street, Buxted and how the effects traffic mounting the pavement. Also, complaints regarding crusader vehicles parking in the layby opposite premises effecting school coach in the morning (this items as discussed under Road Safety in minute 06/10/17 above)
P3 High Hurstwood Village Hall Committee – Request for HHVHC to repair existing fence rather than PC replace: Agreed.
P4 Caroline Hopkins on behalf of 21 residents of the parish – A response to the parish council statement regarding the hall at the previous parish council meeting (this item was noted under Reading Room application in minute number 06/10/17 above)
S9 Ms Ings: Requesting help to find a volunteer to take on the responsibility of station flowers: The chairman suggested that anyone wishing to take on the station flowers may want to concentrate on just the planters at the station, rather than the planters out the front of the car park which are mostly covered during the day by parked cars. The clerk has asked the Horticultural Society but no interest to date.
Set date for Annual Finance Committee – normally at the end of November. This will be decided and put into the minutes.
i) Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Rose, seconded by Cllr. Roberts, payments totalling £9,051.96 covered by cheque numbers 4007 and 4025 were approved.
ii) Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for September accounts which were signed
iii) Confirmation of appointment of Keith Richardson as internal auditor for fiscal year 2017/18
The clerks reported on training they had attended regarding the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations): Clerk Beccy Macklen advised that her and Claudine had attended the training which was aimed predominantly at larger town/parish council’s which hold a lot of personal information on parishioners. We all now have a right to be ‘forgotten’ so any personal information held needs to be justified. Requirements and recommendations following the training, were all understood and agreed are as follows:
On behalf of the village, the chairman wished to thank Ian Goldsmith and litter picking team for excellent job on Saturday 30th October.
|The meeting closed at 9.00p.m.|
Response to question raised by Mrs Hopkins regarding Section 106 Developer Contributions Payments
Buxted Hall Contribution:
£108,514.00 received via WDC into our Natwest current account and transferred to Business Reserve (Hall) account 17.11.15. These monies were from Grampian Site (Five Ash Down) and for the purpose of the new community hall.
Extract from the Section 106 planning agreement:
I will have to follow up on what is remaining in this account at the current time as some confirmation is needed from the hall group of what have come from this account and what should be funded through general parish reserves
Off Site Play Space Contributions – Buxted Recreation Ground
£156,000 received via WDC 5.5.15 from Taylor Wimpey for off- site play equipment. Held in Natwest Business Reserve Account (Ionides). Play equipment purchased (exercise equipment, zip wires and cantilever swing). Remaining balance: £50,965.91, with £25,000 agreed to keep in the fund for general upkeep of the equipment.
The Ionides Trust have led this project as originally the equipment was being located on the Trust land. However, when the equipment was chosen, it became apparent that the Ionides land could not accommodate it. Therefore, the parish council was approached and asked if the equipment could be located on our land instead. The Ionides Trust continued to lead this project, choosing suppliers etc in consultation with the parish council. There is still £25,000 effectively left to provide more equipment, which is still has to be decided on.
All bank accounts are Natwest.
Traffic Calming Measures â€“ Five Ash Down
Finally, WDC are holding Â£50,000 for traffic calming measures in Five Ash Down. As stated, the parish council undertook a village wide survey asking if they would prefer traffic calming or one green man crossing at the FAD traffic lights (£50,000 would only provide one crossing point) but neither of the options were particularly supported. Therefore, the parish council asked WDC if the £50,000 could be used to part fund a traffic controlled crossing outside Buxted School to try and assist in the safety of parents and children who park in Buxted Park and have to cross the A272. We were advised that this site is too far from the original application site. Our final proposal was to at least improve the footway between Five Ash Down and Buxted School to assist with safe walking between villages. We have been advised that this would be an acceptable use of the contributions and should cover the cutting back of the debris that has covered the pavement and provide a permanent barrier to stop this happening again. We are currently in talks with ESCC as to when this could take place.
We do not have this money in our accounts. It has to sit with WDC until a suitable project is chosen, at which time any payment would be made direct to ESCC (that is what I am led to believe).