Parish Council Minutes 12 November 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the Council held in Five Ash Down Village Hall on Tuesday 12th November 2019 at 7.30p.m.



Cllrs. Blandford (Chairman), Bolton, Cox, Hoggan, Humphrey, Illingworth (WDC), Johnson, McQuarrie, Marshall, Roberts, Rose and Wells.

Also present: ESCC Cllr. Galley and Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.



4. A local resident raised two subjects:


As the founder and owner of the BPEC group, now into its 18th year, he hoped everyone received a copy of the briefing paper with regards migrating BPEC to groups.oi and he is happy to answer any questions as the matter comes up on the agenda. The transfer to groups.oi should go ahead this week if funding approved by the parish council. All new members to the group are welcome and the clerks were asked to forward copies of BPEC news to all members of the PC. It was clarified that the grant would be a one-off cost to migrate.


Secondly, as manager of St Mary’s church hall, for information on 28th October notice was received from Stepping Stones Pre-School that the Buxted element of the pre-school will be closing. This is due to the drop-in children numbers and ESCC stopping the Early Years Entitlement for the Buxted site. The sister preschool in Maresfield will be continuing and will absorb the Buxted children. St Mary’s Church will be looking for other groups to use the hall. The clerk mentioned that the parish council have allocated a £1,000 grant to the preschool which will be re-assess near the time of presentation.




Apologies received and accepted from Cllrs Cox, Moss and Wells





All councillors declared a personal interest in any matters relating to the Ionides Trust by virtue of the parish council being managing agents of the site.


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.


Cllrs. Rose and Illingworth declared a personal interest in matters relating to the new community hall by virtue of being parish council representatives on the BCHT


Cllr. Rose declared a personal interest in any matters relating to Crusader Vehicles by virtue of owning a business adjacent to the site.




The minutes of the meeting held on 8th October 2019 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record of the meeting.




Cllr. Galley reported that Cabinet met that morning and it has transpired that the County Council are being awarded with an extra £22 million from Government in the next financial year, therefore there is likely to be and underspend this year and a surplus for next year. So, some savings could be deferred, so the situation is easing a little.


Flooding has been an issue so Cllr. Galley has been watching this situation and reported that the drain outside Binkeys Farm should be cleared within five days. Other areas of recent flooding was at the T-junction at the end of the A272 with the A267 which was heavily flooded with cars breaking down in the water.


The increasing size of the potholes on the A272 between the traffic lights and the Budletts roundabout were also mentioned. Please could Cllr. Galley re-report this to highways


Latest from WDC, is that because of the general election and purdah, it would not be receiving any feedback for the Government Inspector on the Local Plan.







Mobile Phone Coverage: It was noted that Cllr. Standley (Leader – WDC) has a meeting with MP Nus Ghani and discussed mobile phone coverage in the area, but no feedback has been provided to WDC Cllrs.


There has however been a 5G consultation and it is thought that a Government interim report will be received in the new year.


Public footpaths: Nothing to report.


Trees: Reports from triannual assessment of trees owned by the parish council – recommended action – The clerk updated that three of four reports have been received from the tree consultants. Some minor work to the trees is recommended and the clerk will engage a contractor and liaise with them with regards applying to WDC with regards works to completing the Tree Preservation Order works application forms. As and when all reports are received the clerk would repeat this process arranging any works necessary. Any significant works would be reported to councillors. The tree inspection of the recreation land recommends remedial work, if Ash die back should occur in this location. Therefore, this piece of land will be added to the triannual inspection and closely monitored for any sign of die back, with special regard to the ash limb growing through an oak near the zip wire. An effort will be made to ascertain the ownership of some of the trees on the southern and eastern boundaries. The eastern boundary is the back-garden boundary of Framfield Road, the southern is the boundary behind the clubhouse. In the past the parish council has carried out work to trees that were considered dangerous. Trees on the recreation ground at High Hurstwood to be added to the triannual checks. The chairman, as Parish Tree Warden, to make intermittent checks on the trees to ascertain if any additional works should be carried out.


Road Safety: Feedback following Speed Watch suggestions and consideration of criteria to install and purchase a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) – Following the previous meeting the clerk clarified with Highways the required criteria for the provision of a VAS which appears to be quite convoluted. The clerk then met with the clerk to Maresfield Parish Council to establish a timeline and estimated costs of providing a VAS. The priority would be to obtain two licences per location from Highways costing £57.20 and £380 per licence per site (or 10% of total costs if over £3,000). These licences would have to be submitted to Highways with the following information:


  • Method statement for fixing and installation of devices
  • Risk Assessment Report/Wind loading report
  • Details, dimensions and illustration of the devices
  • Details regarding length of time device is to be located
  • Copy of public liability cover of £10 million


Once a licence(s) has been provided by Highways, we would then need to establish what, if any services are under each site. This would mean contacting gas, electricity, BT, Virgin Media, and water authorities. The company that installs the ground works for removable poles (Ground Screw) will require this information. Once this has been done, removable poles can be installed on each site and SWARCO would then be able to install the VAS signs. Although the clerk does not have a cost for the installation of the poles, the VAS sign is £2,700.


Members discussed the pro’s and cons of the devices but there was real concern that given that they are not permanent, there is no concrete evidence that the speeding of traffic is slowed down.


It was therefore agreed to wait and monitor the effectiveness the impact that the VAS signs have in Maresfield over the forthcoming months prior to a decision on if they are appropriate for Buxted. The clerk should also have a discussion with speed watch volunteers as to where the signs should be situated should the PC wish to move forward with the project. Clerk to also gain overall costs from Maresfield parish council.


Update on cutting back of verge between Coopers Green and Buxted School – ESCC have acknowledged the council’s agreement to go ahead with the works, which should be scheduled for early 2020. The chairman and clerk will be meeting a representative from ESCC the following week to confirm details of the project.


Wealden Local Development Framework: See minute 04/11/19 above.


Property issues: Consideration of installation of Buxted Bonfire Society container to the rear of the Football Club – The bonfire society approached the football club to ask if a container could be situated behind the clubhouse for storage. On the assumption that no flammable objects will be stored there is no objection to the container.


Allotments: Two councillors marked up a number of trees within the allotment area, selecting those which could have lower branches removed without any detrimental effect. Where ‘topping out’ was required to reduce shading over allotment sites the parish tree warden suggested that a tree surgeon surveys those trees to ascertain whether this was a viable action or not. The contact name of our tree surgeon will be forwarded onto the allotment society to see whether they wish to engage his services. The lower branches have already been removed.


Communications Matters: Website: Nothing to report.




P1 Homer Cox – request for financial assistance of approx. £170 to migrate BPEC to Members agreed to fund the migration as BPEC is a widely used information group within the village.


Standing Orders were suspended to confirmation that a cheque would be raised at the next PC meeting to cover the cost of the migration.





Finance Committee 6th November 2019 – The chairman of the Finance Committee provided a resume of the Finance Committee. As reported at the meeting, the parish council are almost on budget half-way through the year. Looking at potential expenditure for next year we are looking at approximately an increase of £12,000 for the financial year 2020/21 which is a mixture of committed grant expenditure and £2,500-£3,000 future grant expenditure. We are also assuming that there will be a salary increase which the PC has no control over as this is nationally set. We are also having a larger expenditure or grass cutting and maintenance. We currently have, in real terms, about £120,000 of general (backup) reserves which is slightly over the annual costs. We are advised by the external auditors that we should have six months to a years’ running costs, so we are now at the top end of that. As we didn’t wish to restrict expenditure the following recommendation was proposed:


  • a 2% increase to the parish council. This would be an increase of £2060 and would bring the precept amount to £105,091


Proposed by Cllr. Rose and seconded by Cllr. Coxon, it was resolved to raise the precept by 2% to £105 for the financial year 2020/21.




i)    Payments: On the proposal of Cllr. Roberts seconded by Cllr. Rose, payments totalling £5,337.19 covered by cheque numbers 4401 and 4416 were approved.

ii)     Bank reconciliations: The clerk had circulated completed reconciliations for October which were signed




No other meetings




Cllr. McQuarrie reported that she had attended the WDC First Aid training which was extremely informative and would recommend attendance if another opportunity arose. Following a question, it was clarified that the defibrillator pads and battery expiry dates are checked regularly.




Request to purchase new vacuum cleaner for caretaker of Reading Room at a cost of £100 – Agreed.



Exempt Session under Schedule 12 of the Local Gov Act 1972 due to matters relating to Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the authority.



  The meeting closed at 8.16p.m.



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