Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in The Reading Room, Church Road, Buxted on Tuesday 12th December 2017 at 7.30p.m.
Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Illingworth, McQuarrie and Rose.
Also present: ESCC Cllr Galley, WDC Cllrs Lunn and Illingworth and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies received and accepted from Cllrs Cox, Johnson, Milner and Roberts
DECLARATION OF MEMBERS INTERESTS
Cllr. Blandford declared personal interests in any matters relating to the community hall by virtue of being a member of both the Buxted Community Hall Trust and Ionides Trust, 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 14th November 2017 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.
Cllr. Illingworth had one comment regarding the use of the word “referendum” and that the “referendum” was described as following the BCHT AGM. However, Cllr. Illingworth understood that any vote/referendum would be dependent on a representation of strong objections to a new hall at the BCHT AGM. The chairman advised that the word “referendum” would be removed from the minutes and that further clarification on this matter would be addressed in item 05/12/17BCT AGAGMwould on the agenda.
Cllr. Galley reported on changes to the school funding formula which have been written very bureaucratically but, he has been advised that no school would lose out on budget. Exact amounts to be advised soon.
Cllr. Lunn commented on the recently published consultation regarding on-street parking charges and that it would be discussed at the Cabinet meeting the following day. He is concerned that there has not been enough public consultation to ascertain the public view. Even if it were to materialise it would not help with the parking problems on the country roads.
Other issues – Planning – still waiting for Natural England’s Ashdown Forest nitrogen level assessment to find out what effect this will have on new development numbers for the area and whether mitigation measures can be put in place or whether all development needs to be stopped which would have an impact on the forest. We understand that nitrogen levels are going up, but we do not have evidence of the impact this is having on the forest.
Cllr. Illingworth wished to mention the parking debate and that he is perplexed by the report being considered by WDC Cabinet prior to parish councils being consulted to ascertain if there is a public desire to contribute to the new scheme. Both Cllr. Illingworth and Lunn would be lobbying colleagues.
Public footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees: Nothing to report.
Update on Buxted High Street feasibility study: The clerk has received a rather unhelpful response from Highways which advised:
“The Design Team have had the opportunity to take an initial look at the above request, the introduction of a new pedestrian crossing facility on the A272 between the mini-roundabout at Framfield Road and Swan Lodge (opposite Crusader Vehicles). A distance of approximately 80m.
Given the presence of various private accesses and on street parking, it will be difficult to introduce a crossing facility along this section. That is unless parking or private accesses can be removed.
Without traffic data they are unable to determine if traffic speed is a problem to the extent that it is causing difficulties for people to cross the road. Therefore, you may wish to obtain traffic speed data along this section of road to see if the speed limit is being adhered to. Data on traffic volume would also be useful as high traffic volumes would create problems for pedestrians wishing to cross the road. Speed surveys are £400 for each location, please contact Penelope Bentley at East Sussex County Council on: Penelope.Bentley@eastsussex.gov.uk for details of how to undertake the survey.”
Having paid £500 of tax payers money to Highways to carry out a feasibility study, the response was no more than advised on an initial site visit with a Highway officer at which Cllr. Galley was also present. The clerk responded to advise that this response is unsatisfactory given costs and that it would not be prepared to spend a further £400 at this point. Highways have advised that they understand our situation and are currently looking in to ways to resolve the situation. Cllr. Galley would chase up this issue as the current response is unacceptable.
Ionides Trust: The chairman reported that she had finally managed to contact the Trust’s solicitor who apologised for doing nothing since September 9th and informed the Trust that it would have to call an AGM and pass a resolution to change the status of the charity to allow the parish council to become sole Trustees, record it and send off to Charity Commission. The AGM is set for 15th January at 19:30 in the Reading Room. The Parish Council would need to sign a deed of transfer to pass the Trust over to them as sole Trustee although this would still be run as a separate charity with separate funds. The new Scout lease is currently with the Ionides Trust. The amount of £2400 has been passed from the Trust to the solicitor keep on account so that Scouts solicitor continues works on lease between Scouts and the Trust. The chairman also commented that a letter had been received that day setting out how the Trust could be transferred to the Parish Council stage by stage. Cllrs. reiterated that this transfer of responsibility would only be acceptable if there is no liability on individual councillors. Clerk to investigate.
New community hall: Groundworks on Phase 1 started yesterday in appalling weather conditions. More under Property issues.
Defibrillators: Nothing new to report.
Wealden Local Development Framework – Local Plan: Nothing to report.
We have been advised that the planning application to redevelop the Reading Room site has been approved by WDC – although the decision notice is yet to be issued. In order for this to happen, there is a need to have the existing 106 discharged. Given the problems with local solicitors, the chairman suggested we use WDC solicitors to carry out the work for us. The costs range between £500 to £1500.00 and WDC need written confirmation of how Buxted Parish Council wish to proceed. It was resolved to use WDC solicitors to carry out the necessary works to discharge the Section 106 Planning Agreement.
If phase 1 of building of the new hall goes ahead Buxted Parish Council wish to make it clear that the Reading Room site will not be sold until the construction of the new village hall has commenced. All funds gained from the proceeds of the sale of the site will be put towards the cost of the new village hall. At this point in time we do not have a firm idea of what the site might be worth, as that will depend on market forces at the time. We also have no idea when this might happen, that is within the hands of the BCHT and the will of the community to enable the new hall project to be realised. All this has been said, and minuted, previously but we have recently found ourselves in the position where it is sensible to repeat everything to make sure there are no present and future misunderstandings. At our last meeting we spoke about consulting the wider community about their thoughts on the building of a new village hall, but Buxted Parish Council have not yet decided what form this would take. The footings for phase 1 started yesterday, just before the deadline of the planning permission expired. This effectively means the choice to build a new hall is kept alive, if that is the wish of the community. The BCHT AGM is set for the 16th January when they hope for a crowded hall. The next parish council meeting is set for the 9th January so no decisions on any vote for or against the building of a new hall will be addressed by the parish council until at least February. But again, we make the point it is not the parish council who are building the new hall but the BCHT. Phase 1 is being paid for by section 106 money, not public funds.
The clerk has previously reported the damp in the kitchen cupboard in the Reading Room. We have tried to resolve this problem, but it still exists but to a lesser extent. However, the only way to now resolve this issue is to remove the cupboards to ascertain where the remainder of the damp in coming from. Members agreed that this work could take place.
Following discussion at the last meeting regarding unauthorised parking at the Reading Room, Cllr. Illingworth suggested that this matter be added to the next parish council agenda.
Communications Matters: Website: Nothing to report.
P1 ESCC Highways – requests if the parish council would like to re-establish SLR meetings: At the current time, there is good communications by email, so we will monitor this situation and not attend meetings, at this point in time.
Clerks responded to the Freedom of Information request which amounted to 19 questions. The answers were sent over a week ago, but we have yet to receive any acknowledgement. The extra time taken to process this request, notwithstanding information previously gathered and sent out, took some 15 hours of extra work between the clerks and chair. Consequently, the clerks are requesting 11 hours collectively. Resolved that the clerks should be awarded the following overtime: Claudine Feltham 6 hours, Beccy Macklen 5 hours.
The annual Finance Committee will take place prior to the next Parish Council meeting on Tuesday 9th January 2018.
i) Grant Application from Pig Syndicate: Councillors, having discussed this matter further, had differing views from not providing a grant, providing part of the grant, and awarding all the grant. Having taken a vote, members resolved not to award the grant. It should also be noted that the parish council has invested a great deal of money at the allotment site over the past few years.
ii) Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Rose, seconded by Cllr. Blandford, payments totalling £9,625.21 covered by cheque numbers 4039 and 4056 were approved.
iii) Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for November which were signed
Ionides Trust – Cllrs. McQuarrie and Blandford attended a Trust meeting and other than that mentioned above, Crusader staff vehicle parking in the Trust car park was discussed. However there seems to be no easy resolution to this blatant disregard of the rules. If the parish council becomes sole trustee of the site, this is a matter than can be considered further.
Clerk Claudine Feltham attended the WDC Parish Conference at which there was a presentation regarding mobile telephone masts reported that we should expect more applications to be submitted and that parish/town councillors should work with the community to find an individual location that all can agree on rather than the continual battling against each site that is submitted. It was suggested that this be added to the next parish council agenda.
Cllr. Illingworth asked if the clerks are aware of the GDPR coming into force next May 2018. It was advised that a half day course has been attended and a further full day course will be attended on 1st February. SALC are being very pro-active in preparing parish councils.
The chairman wished all a Merry Christmas
|The meeting closed at 8.15pm.|