Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in The Reading Room, Church Road, Buxted on Tuesday 8 May 2018 at 7.30p.m.
Prior to the start of the meeting Inspector Gross from Sussex Police addressed the parish council and members of the public. He introduced himself as the new Inspector for Wealden who has been in the post for four months and is naturally keen to meet local communities. Wealden is a large area with approx. 43 town and parish councils for the ’prevention team’ to cover. Since 2010 there has been approximately a £60 million cut in funding which has inevitably meant less feet on the ground. The team has a hub in Hailsham whilst covering all areas of Wealden. He understands that although crime statistics are positive, feeling safe within your own community is equally as important.
Cuts have been made to staff and there simply is not enough police within neighbourhood policing anymore. Incident responses have not been affected. Statistics show that we are still living in a safe place, but ward based PCSO cover certainly has changed. After the meeting, Inspector Gross sent through crime statistics which are appended to the minutes.
With regards the persistent illegal parking on Buxted High Street, it should be reported to the Police and a response would be tailored by gauging threat/harm. Incidents can also be reported to Operation Crackdown. The decision is that the Police will not respond unless life is threatened. WDC have chosen not to take on civil parking enforcement and therefore no general enforcement is currently in place. However, the Police are actively working towards improved community engagement which could have some capacity to provide a bit more visibility in the villages, within what the Police can realistically offer. Those officers could therefore respond to the concerns raised by the neighbourhood.
The Chairman then opened the discussion and accepted questions from councillors.
Inspector Gross confirmed that there are no temporary road signs that could be provided by the Police to request the slowing down of traffic.
What does Operation Crackdown cover? Dangerous parking, causing unnecessary obstruction, oversized vehicles travelling through the village, anti-social driving and abandoned vehicles. The enforcement of a reported incident would be to assess what has occurred, and possibly a letter sent to the perpetrator. They also have the ability to ascertain if the vehicle is taxed/licenced and work together with Sussex Safer Roads. It was pointed out that some unsociable or illegal parking could be associated to a business rather than a specific individual/vehicle, so would not necessarily be one repeat offender, but several different vehicles associated with one business. This could then be resolved by focusing on a business rather than one vehicle owner.
Why weren’t the community wardens given parking enforcement powers? Community wardens have been created from a community safety point of view rather than parking. Community wardens need to be accredited and therefore the scheme would not support them having these powers. Legislation would probably have to be changed to allow this to happen at a higher level.
How long to PCSO’s spend in the village and how much time to they spend in the towns? PCSO time is heavily weighted to where the biggest problems are, and after that, calls to service i.e. scams to elderly persons, rather than out on the streets. Once large incident can mean the entire PCSO crew are required. PCSO’s do also liaise with community wardens where available to assist where they can.
Traffic Policing – are there any only two response vehicles in the whole of Wealden? In terms of responding to calls, the nearest response unit attends. If necessary, cars can be called in from neighbouring authorities to assist with incidents and vice versa when we are asked to respond cross county.
Cllr. Lunn thanked Inspector Gross for attending and advised that the general feedback is a general loss of transparency of seeing Police on the ground and there is a confidence issue. He therefore asked how the precept rise of 7.8% is going to reflect in boots on the ground and has the precept has gone up to retain existing Police officers rather than recruiting new officers. What improvements are we going to see for the 7.8% increase? This increase will allow the recruitment of 800 new police officer by 2022 but 600 will retire or leave the force which is a net gain of around 200 new officers across Sussex. What is Wealden’s share of that? As yet we do not know, but these new officers will not be directed towards protection. Some will go to investigation which has been heavily cut. However, we are assured prevention is top priority. There are still cuts to be made to other departments, but protection should not be cut any further. There is a willingness to go above the budget and recruit more PCSO’s which would be an immediate gain, but Inspector Gross could not say exactly when this will happen, so for the time being he must work with the force he has. He now has monthly meetings with WDC to identify themes of crime or particular issues to find a longer-term solution.
If he could send out any message from this evening, it would be to report incident and crimes, as it does get picked up and could help piece together various information to help the Police.
Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Cox, Hoggan, Illingworth, Johnson, McQuarrie, Roberts and Wells.
Also present: WDC Cllr Lunn/Illingworth and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
8. A resident of Five Ash Down from Court Lane addressed the PC with regards speeding in Court Lane and confirmed that following the previous meeting, he had formally written to the parish council. His idea to resolve the issue of speeding along Court Lane would be to install a barrier part way along Court Lane which would provide a safe walkway for pedestrians through to Uckfield and would also serve to stop traffic using Court Lane as a cut through and way to avoid the traffic lights.
One resident of Buxted gave his apologies for the Annual Assembly the following meeting and requested that the PC avoid 8th May next year as it will also be a PCC meeting date.
ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL FOR THE FORTHCOMING YEAR
Proposed by Cllr. Illingworth and seconded by Cllr. Johnson, Councillor Vivienne Blandford was unanimously voted to remain as Chairman to Buxted Parish Council
SIGNING OF DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE BY THE NEW CHAIRMAN
In accordance with Local Elections (Declaration of Acceptance of Office) Order 2001.( SI 3941 of 2001) the Chairman signed the declaration of acceptance of office.
ELECTION OF VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL
Proposed by Blandford and seconded by Cllr Roberts, Councillor John Rose was unanimously voted to remain Vice Chairman of the Council
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies received and accepted from ESCC Galley and Cllr Rose.
DECLARATION OF MEMBERS INTERESTS
Cllr. Blandford declared personal interests in any matters relating to the community hall by virtue of being a member of the 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. Cox declared a personal interested in any matters relating to allotments due to being an allotment holder.
Cllr. McQuarrie declared a personal interest in agenda item 12 by virtue of being a family member of a contractor that quoted for works.
Cllr. Illingworth declared a personal interest in item 18 by virtue of being family member of one of the solicitor company discussed.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the meeting held on 10 April 2018 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.
ELECTION/APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS OF VARIOUS COMMITTEES AND OTHER BODIES AND TO AGREE AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
Prior to the meeting, the clerk has circulated a draft list of elections and appointment of members to committees and other bodies.
The list was agreed with the following amendments and additions:
Cllr. Hoggan as joined the Planning Committee
Cllr. Johnson has joined the Property Committee
Cllr. Wells has become Buxted Ward chairman
Cllrs. Hoggan and Wells have joined the Uckfield Railway Lines Parishes Committee
Until the Parish Council takes of the management of the Ionides Trust land, Cllrs. Blandford, McQuarrie and Wells will be PC representatives on the Ionides Trust
Cllr. Illingworth and Rose will represent the PC on the Buxted Community Hall Trust
A Road Safety Committee was also established consisting of Cllrs. Illingworth, Hoggan, Blandford and Rose
Members also discussed how to communicate good news stories by ways of councillors taking an interest in the press and wider environment. All communications would go through the clerk before being uploaded or publicised. An example was the war memorial at St Mary’s Church and how many members of the public know that it was the parish council that part funded the works. All agreed that all interaction with Facebook is only with the clerk.
Cllr Lunn gave advance notice prior to Annual Assembly the following evening regarding an update on the Local Plan which is slowly working its way to public consultation. Cllrs have raised serious concerns at the length of time it is taking to produce the local plan which is leaving the council vulnerable to challenges from developers who are using the lack of 5-year housing supply to try and obtain planning permission on sites across the district.
The Local Plan goal posts continue to keep changing. The bottom line is that because of the constraints of Ashdown Forest and Pevensey levels, WDC has been working on the lower limit of housing requirement. However, the Secretary of State has singled out WDC with its approach to the environmental constraints which has led to a meeting between the Portfolio Holder of Planning and old Secretary of State. It was a frank and open discussion. WDC will be moving forward with its Local Plan as it is now, rather than responding to every change at national level. The lower level of housing numbers that could be allocated to Wealden is 950 per annum with the upper limit of 1200 per annum for the life of the plan. This is significant as the upper level of housing would mean that housing may have to be allocated to some northern parishes as the south cannot take all the allocation. Therefore, village boundaries could expand or each village that has been identified as a settlement would be allocated a certain number of homes which could be ‘windfall’ in back gardens, but potentially all villages could potentially have some degree of growth which doesn’t correlate with Ashdown Forest issues. However, Natural England perceives that electric vehicles will solve the nitrogen level issue in the future. WDC are still working towards a July publication.
Cllr Illingworth reported that council tax increase for Wealden is 2.7%. The main reason is the Government grant is gradually being reduced to when it disappears completely in 2020. WDC will be raising revenue by virtue of a new crematorium to be completed by end of this year which is predicted to raise an income of over £900,000 per annum. WDC has also purchased a significant site in the centre of Hailsham with the aim of increasing revenues by over £600,000 once regeneration of site is complete.
Waste collection and littering – WDC is in the process of finishing its contract with Kier with a tendering process currently in place. The new contract will be slightly different as garden waste will require an additional charge. It is hoped that a statement will be forthcoming in the next couple of months as to who the contract has been awarded to.
ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT:
TO REVIEW THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE SYSTEM OF INTERNAL CONTROL AND PREPARE THE ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT
Resolved: All members of Buxted Parish Council acknowledged their responsibility for ensuring that there is a sound system of internal control, including the preparation of the statement of account.
ANNUAL ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS:
FOR FULL PARISH COUNCIL TO CONSIDER THE ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS
Resolve that full parish council approve the Accounting Statements
RESOLVE THAT FULL PARISH COUNCIL APPROVE THE ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS
Resolved: All members of Buxted Parish Council acknowledged their responsibility for ensuring that there is a sound system of internal control, including the preparation of the statement of account. Buxted Parish Council confirm, to the best of their knowledge and belief, with respect to the council’s statement of accounts for the year ended 31st March 2018 that Section 1 (the annual governance statement 2016/2017) had been adhered to. Cllr. Roberts also commented that as finance chairman he had read, in detail each document and believe all to be sound.
FOR THE CHAIRMAN TO SIGN THE ANNUAL ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS.
Page 2 of Annual Return was signed by the Chairman and the Clerk
REVIEW OF PARISH COUNCIL STANDING ORDERS AND FINANCIAL REGULATIONS
Resolved that the Standing Order and Financial Regulations do not require a further update at this time, they were considered fit for purpose and follow the NALC guidance.
Parish Telecommunications Mast: The clerk reported that no further communication has been received from the telecommunications company showing any interest in finding any new locations within the parish. Cllr Ilingworth will provide further information at parish assembly.
Public footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees: Nothing to report.
Buxted High Street Pedestrian/Speed Surveys update: Following on from last month, a request for clarification on various aspects of the process of a speed survey/feasibility study was sent to ESCC Highways. It has been suggested that a meeting take place between the parish council and Highways, which will include ESCC Cllr. Galley. A date for this meeting has been set for Monday 14th May.
Buxted High Street drainage update: An email from ESCC Highways has confirmed that the Head Steward has now advised that the camera investigation identified a displaced joint in the drainage system, which requires repairing to restore correct function. This repair has been added to Highways schedule of larger drainage schemes, with the works intended to be completed in July.
Ionides Trust: The relevant notification for the management of the land has been sent to the Charities Commission. Hopefully next month we will have a Trust meeting at the end of the parish council and chair is offering briefing separately, to any councillors who wish to know about the history and current problems that the Trust must deal with, a site visit would also be useful. TBA
New community hall: An update on the hall will be provided at the Annual Assembly the following evening.
Defibrillators: Steve Holmes has advised that the refurbishment of the FAD box will commence imminently.
Wealden Local Development Framework – Local Plan: See minute 08/05/18 above
Consideration of quotes to relocate water pipe on the allotment track: Following on from the previous meeting, the clerk sourced a second quote for works to protect the water pipe at the entrance to the allotments. The first quote received was to relocate the pipe around the back of the trees and lag as much as possible to protect from the frost. The quote for these works is £473.87 for one day plus materials and £320.00 if works go into the second day.
A second quote has been received which suggests renewing 7 meters of water supply pipe, connect to water company stop cock and trench up the driveway around the tree, insert water pipe in ducting to avoid damage, connect to existing pipe in the bank, make good all disturbed work. The quote for this work would be £575.00.
Following discussion, the clerk was asked to have further discussions with the second contractor to establish what pipe protection will be in place given that lorries will drive over that part of the track and confirm how will the track be reinstated following the work. Councillors were happy with the costs quotes so final awarding of job can be decided on email
Damage to Reading Room front wall update and consideration of quote to bollard car park: A second quote for the repair of the front wall has been forwarded to the insurance company. A third quote is being sourced as the two received so far are quite significantly different.
A quote has been received to place bollards to the front of the Reading Room to enable users of the hall to be guaranteed parking spaces whilst still providing some parking for those using the local facilities. It is felt that it has been necessary to consider this action due to the number of people who regularly use the parking facilities as a private driveway. On the evening of the meeting, a verbal quote was received to install 9 bollards along the frontage of the Reading Room car park which would include concreting them in and bolts to allow the bollards to be dropped when the Reading Room is in use. The total of the quote including all materials and labour is £900.00.
Councillors were happy with the progress made but wish to see exactly what the bollards look like prior to deciding next month.
Communications Matters: Website: Nothing to report.
P1 Residents of Five Ash Down – Request for the Parish Council to consider traffic calming measures in Court Lane, Five Ash Down: refer to road safety under outstanding matters
P2 Local Residents – Anti social behaviour in Gordon Road: no details but some councillors are aware
Finance Committee mid term meeting set prior to main parish council meeting on 12th June
Property Committee set for prior to main parish council meeting in July.
i) Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Cox, seconded by Cllr. Roberts, payments totalling £22,945.24 covered by cheque numbers 4119 and 4135 were approved. Significant payment was £14,677 fee for the architect for hall being paid out of SECTION 106 funds. The only other significant expenditure is the annual insurance.
ii) Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed a reconciliation for February which were signed
No other meetings.
The council should actively search for a solicitor to represent them. The chairman would not recommend Dawson and Hart for any new business. Should we return to Ian Hedley, the recommendation of SALC and another clerk at Lingfield, uses him as he is familiar with local council business. There was also a suggestion from Cllr. Illingworth to use a local firm that has experience in local council business. It was decided to further investigate the local firm.
|The meeting closed at 9.05 p.m. and went into closed session.|