Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in Five Ash Down Village Hall on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 7.30p.m.
Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Cox, Illingworth (7.33pm), Johnson, McQuarrie, Milner, Roberts and Rose.
Also present: ESCC Cllr Galley, WDC Cllr Lunn and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
A member of the public requested that all councillors introduce themselves, which they did.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
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.
Cllr. Cox declared a personal interested in any matters relating to allotments due to being an allotment holder.
Cllr. Milner declared a personal interest in any matters relating to the parish council website due to being a personal friend of the parish council’s website consultant.
Cllr. McQuarrie declared a personal interest in any matters relating to the Buxted Pig Syndicate due to being a member of the syndicate.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
Matters arising regarding the published minutes of the previous meeting.
After having taken advice from SALC (Surrey and Sussex Local Council Assoc.):
The minutes of the meeting held on 10th October 2017 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.
Cllr. Galley had three hot topics from ESCC 1. Members may be aware of an ESCC campaign to improve school attendance in the county which is currently a problem. However the campaign was not well received by parents who have subsequently created an online petition against the campaign. The parents petition will be discussed at the next ESCC full member meeting 2. There has also been some controversy regarding a substantial pay raise for the leader of ESCC. Cllr. Galley noted that he voted against this given the current financial climate. 3 Cllr. Galley has also circulated information regarding works to road signs, drainage etc in the area.
Charge for Garden Waste or Increase in Council Tax? – Councillors discussed both options with some feeling that garden waste should be charged for but others being of the view that it should be included within the council tax. Cllr. Galley was asked what the increase to council tax would be. He advised that the rule of thumb is that for every £100,000 charge there is a 1p increase per £1. So this would equate to approximately £50 per household. Members were entirely divided on this subject.
The chairman suspended standing orders to take a vote from the public – 11 out of 14 would be prepared to pay for the removal of garden waste but it depends on the cost.
On Street Parking Charging? – The Police will not enforce breaches of on street parking, or parking issues unless life is in immediate danger. Specifically for Buxted, this relates to Crusader Vehicle staff/owners parking between the hours of 8am and 10am in the layby opposite the business, as well as inconsiderate parking directly outside the business causing large traffic congestion on the High Street. WDC could decriminalise parking but council tax would be raised to pay for wardens, or meters in towns. Without the introduction of parking meters and wardens there will be no parking enforcement. WDC car parks would remain free, but on street parking would be charged. The Police have openly admitted that the removal this provision is to force the hand of WDC to implement changes.
A vote was taken by all in attendance in favour of the decriminalisation of parking – no parking meters/wardens was an overriding view.
Standing Orders were reinstated.
Cllr. Lunn referred to the planning application for 8 houses at the Moorings. He is still waiting for an officer’s report and to hear whether it will be called to the WDC North Planning Committee.
Cllr. Illingworth referred to the Local Plan and that work on the data for Ashdown Forest has been completed, but we are now looking at the first quarter of 2018 for the Local Plan to be presented to Full Council.
Public footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees: Nothing to report.
Ionides New Play Equipment: Nothing further to report.
New community hall:
The Chairman suspended Standing Orders to allow George Claydon read out a statement on behalf of the Buxted Community Hall Trust regarding some of the questions regarding the new hall and phase 1 of the building works – George Claydon, Company Secretary:
“The Trustees acknowledge that they have been made aware by the Parish Council that some residents have voiced opposition to the new hall proposal and its location, primarily on the grounds that there has been a lack of consultation with local residents. These matters were discussed by the trustees at some length and our response is as follows:
It is now some eight years since the first public consultations and since local groups and societies began contributing to the efforts to provide a new village hall facility. Newer residents to the village may not be aware of this process, or indeed of the fact that the BCHT has held FIVE public AGMs at which residents have been encouraged to come forward and support the project. Also, during the considerable number of years both before and since the BCHT was registered as a charitable company on 11th May 2011, the BCHT board (or its earlier unincorporated body HOBI) has attended many other meetings including annual parish assemblies, and held some exhibitions and well supported fundraising events etc, with no formal objections having been voiced about the new hall project. However, extensive discussions were held between the Buxted Players, BCHT and the architect essentially about the lack of a fixed stage provision which basically could not be provided due to hall size constraints – otherwise the Players were supportive of the new hall, parking etc.
Improving the Reading Room was certainly an option that was investigated at the outset. However, because of the restrictions of its site (including concerns about an increased level of on-street parking), the strict conditions concerning the way the S.106 funding may be used, and the great opportunity presented by the Ionides Land to provide the village with a popular modern facility at its heart, the decision was taken to pursue a modern new-build on the Ionides Trust land in Framfield Road. A great deal of time, effort and money has been expended to take the planning and building regulations applications to their “full consent” position, with a significant level of involvement, consultation and compromise between the many local societies and their requests and requirements. Any delay now would inevitably mean that the consent would lapse thus rendering all these efforts etc, wasted.
Taking all these matters into consideration, the trustees unanimously decided to continue with the tender selection and acceptance processes that are actually to be finalised within the next few days and to commence the new hall Phase 1 building works in due course as previously planned in order to secure the Planning Permission. Immediate benefits of this Phase 1 work are that it creates a much improved entrance to the Ionides Trust land and better access to their hall for the Scouts.”
Standing Orders unsuspended
It is intended that the planning condition will be kept alive for the future with the commencement of phase 1 of the ground works. A great deal of hard work by BCHT and, as you have heard, various consultations over a long period of time, has brought it to this stage and those responsible for it are thanked. However, they need support and more commitment from local people if it is to proceed to the next stage.
Cllr. Johnson took the lead on this matter and advised that his view is fairly straight forward. The proposal to develop the Reading Room to provide a substantial amount of money towards the costs of the new hall has crystalized objections and issues with either the concept of a new hall, or process that the then parish council took to make this happen. The parish council has felt bound by a process of a previous parish council and that prior to the Reading Room application the project had not solicited any complaints. However, given the size and cost of the new hall we do not know at this point that there is the support in the community. There is a timing issues however, as if the foundations are not laid by end of the year, planning will expire. So far from allowing parishioners to make the choice, this choice will effectively be taken away if the foundations are not started. The cost of laying the initial (Phase 1 foundations) will be paid for from Section 106 monies, not public funds and will allow the phase 11 to be implemented, if there is the support to do so. However, if the BCHT proceed to lay the footings, the parish council could then have a vote asking if the new hall is wanted and how this can be implemented.
Cllr. McQuarrie gave a potted history of the site and how it came that it would be a good site to create a new heart to the village.
Cllr. Cox commented that for the benefit of those who feel that the project is flawed is some way, that either a public meeting or a vote should go ahead.
Cllr. Johnson also commented that the new hall has to be ‘the settled will of the people’ in order for the project to successfully move ahead. However, the facts relating to all issues and restrictions regarding the Reading Room and Section 106 monies have to be made clear.
For the purposes of clarity the chairman wished to make the following points:
· the parish council would not provide funds for a new hall other than that already set aside in Ear Marked Reserves
· It is not within our remit to say we will not build the village hall – it is not our project
· We do not yet know if we will obtain planning permission for the redevelopment of the Reading Room, this is in the hands of WDC.
Some members of the parish council already have had financial discussions in relation to a parish wide survey/vote/referendum and will add the estimated costs into next year’s budget.
It was also considered appropriate to commission an outside body to create the survey to ensure transparency and independence.
In regards to a future timeline, it was concluded that:
1. the BCHT are waiting for WDC to come back to them with regards the satisfying of conditions to allow the footings and associated work to commence.
2. Costings for footings are still being received
3. The BCHT have an AGM on 16th January 2018
4. The Parish Council will not devise a questionnaire/vote until after this date.
All above points and processes were agreed by all on the parish council.
The chairman suspended Standing Orders to get initial feedback from the public – discussions took place between parish councillors and members of the public regarding the Reading Room and new community hall.
Unsuspend standing orders.
The defibrillator has now been installed in High Hurstwood and training will be taking place at the High Hurstwood Village Hall Thursday on 23rd November. Everyone is welcome to attend.
The BT box in Five Ash Down still needs to be refurbished. The parish council we re-look at this in the new year. In the meantime, the defibrillator is available behind the bar at the Pig and Butcher during opening hours.
Wealden Local Development Framework – Local Plan: The plan has been delayed until early 2018 to allow full assessment of the ecological survey of Ashdown Forest to take place.
Given the current climate this is probably not the time to carry around any vegetation removal from the boundary fences, but we were made aware of the problem of overgrown vegetation by the contractors who look after the site who quoted £500 for the work. We have decided not to proceed at this time but will review next Spring.
Someone has been filling the Reading Room wheelie bin with hedge cuttings and green waste. This bin is provided for Reading Room users only.
We are aware of a few, presumably local, residents using the Reading Room car park for their own purposes and not just short-term parking for the village shop which is acceptable. It clearly states that these spaces are for ‘use of the Reading Room only’. Given that residents of Church Road routinely complain about the traffic and parked cars along Church Road the parish council are monitoring the situation. We are also concerned that it may be used by a local business and residents for all day parking.
Communications Matters: Nothing to report.
P1 Wealdlink – Request for increase in funding for 2018/19 £680 – £699: Agreed, given that it is only a £19 annual increase.
P2 A Parish Residents: Further comments on the original Parish Plan question and legitimacy as a basis for a new hall and advising that she represents a number of residents within the parish: See minute 05/11/17 above which resolves that the parish council will undertake a parish wide survey to establish desire for new hall in Buxted.
P3 A Parish Resident – Freedom of Information Requests: As the parish councillors are aware, the parish council are the subject to a FOI request about various matters which equates to some 19 questions. Some of this requested information is already in the public domain but all questions will be answered. However, this work puts an extra burden on the clerk’s normal working hours. SALC recommended that we hire a locum, but our two parish clerks have said they would prefer to do the work themselves as they feel it would be more efficient. The chairman as asked them to keep a record of the extra time taken and if necessary request overtime. Is this agreed by the parish council? The chairman also added this has taken up a great deal of her time in addition to the normal working procedures. This type of request comes at some financial and personal costs to the parish council. It was unanimously agreed to pay any additional costs and they would be publicised.
P4 A Parish Resident – Would like to amend the minutes to include a statement regarding Japanese Knotweed: See minute 03/11/17 above regarding the advice received from SALC regarding minute writing and signing.
i) Consideration of grant requests under new application scheme: Prior to the meeting, the clerk circulated a list of grant applications received by the parish council. Discussions took place regarding the grants requests. The grant requests and agreed grants awarded can be viewed at the end of the minutes. More information is required in order to decide on a grant towards the pig syndicate which can be decided by email prior to the Finance Committee. The attached grants were proposed by Cllr. Rose, seconded by Cllr. Illingworth and agreed by all members of the parish council.
ii) Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Rose, seconded by Cllr. Illingworth, payments totalling £16,409.07 (inc. VAT) covered by cheque numbers 4026 and 4038 were approved. Significant payments within this are architect’s fees, heating and boiler system within reading room
iii) Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for October which were signed
(During the above item at 8.45pm ESCC Cllr. Galley and WDC Cllr. Lunn left the meeting)
The chairman reported that she had attended the Tree Council. Tree charter to be uploaded onto the website.
Cllr. Rose advised that since the removal of a radiator situated on the stage at the Reading Room a low level window has been exposed which does not contain toughened glass. Therefore, this window needs to be part covered by wire mesh/plywood to ensure safety of people using the Reading Room. Clerk to ask Steve Holmes to carry out this work asap.
Cllr. Milner mentioned that the land opposite the White Hart seems to be becoming a breakers yard. On site currently are four shipping containers, the storage of non-agricultural vehicles, a temporary lambing shelter which seems to have become permanent, and concerned is raised regarding the burning of building waste. Subsequent to the parish council meeting, the clerk received the following response from WDC Enforcement:
“Apparently, despite the owner’s best efforts, the site has been the subject of a number of break-ins which have resulted in the loss of equipment, tools and machinery from the site. The storage containers became available to him at short notice and he decided to take the opportunity to acquire them in order to provide him with more secure storage on site for the replacement tools, equipment and machinery he has had to buy. He has further advised that he also has plans to get rid of the caravan on site due to its deteriorating condition and use the containers for the dry storage of the hay and equipment currently kept in there. He advised that he is hoping to sort this out when the weather is better at some point next year. He has also reiterated that it remains his primary focus to use the site as an agricultural smallholding, and I have reinforced to him the need for this to continue to be the case in our last telephone conversation.
In the circumstances described above, it would be the case that no breach of planning control would have occurred. This is because as the stationing of the storage containers does not involve either the carrying out of operational works (as they are mobile units and not permanent structures) or a material change of use of the site (as their use is for purposes incidental/ancillary to the agricultural use of the site) it does not constitute the carrying out of development as defined under the current Town & Country Planning Act.
I am aware of the level of concern that this site continues to generate and as I pass by the site relatively frequently these days I will make sure to keep an eye on it when I am in the area
With regard to the issue of burning waste material on the site, this would not be a planning matter and would probably be best referred to the Rother & Wealden Environmental Health Service (Tel: 01323 443555; e-mail: email@example.com) if it is a regular occurrence.”
The clerk has reported the burning to Pollution Control.
Members also wished to mention that Crusader Vehicles continue to park inconsiderately along the High Street as mentioned in minute 04/11/17.
Cllr. Illingworth raised the issue that people driving down the High Street facing the roundabout are failing to give way to vehicles existing Queenstock Lane. This is a real issue and needs better signage to ensure drivers along A272 know there is a roundabout. There is now a precedent in Maresfield for parish councils to pay for speed indicating visual reminder sign installed. Clerk to investigate.
|The meeting closed at 9.00p.m.|