Minutes of the REMOTE meeting of the Council held on Tuesday 17th November 2020 at 7.00 p.m.
Cllrs. Blandford (Parish Council Chairman), Cllr Rose (Planning Chairman), Cox, Coxon, Humphrey and Roberts
Cllrs Bolton, Illingworth, Johnson, Marshall (19.10) and Moss (19:27) joined for the parish council meeting.
Also present: Clerks Beccy Macklen and Claudine Feltham.
3 members of the public were present.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies were received and accepted from Cllrs McQuarrie and Wells
DECLARATION OF MEMBERS INTERESTS
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 (Beechbrook Park due to having owned part of the application site
Cllr. Cox declared a personal interest in any matters relating to the allotments by virtue of being an allotment holder’s
Cllr. Illingworth declared a personal interest in any matters related to the St Margaret’s and St Mary’s Churches by virtue of being a member of the PCC.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the REMOTE meeting held on 20th October 2020 were signed by Cllr Blandford as a correct record of the meeting. This was proposed by Cllr Rose and seconded by Cllr Roberts.
Planning applications considered:
Application No: WD/2020/2115/FR
Location: WOODSIDE FARM, A26, HERONS GHYLL, UCKFIELD, TN22 4BU
Description: RETROSPECTIVE APPLICATION FOR THE RETENTION OF VARIOUS
POULTRY/AGRICULTURAL SHEDS AND CONTAINER
Response from Buxted Parish Council to Wealden District Council: no objections, recommend approval.
Location: HAVEN COURT, ETCHINGWOOD LANE, BUXTED, TN22 4PT
Description: TO CHANGE THE USE OF LAND FROM AGRICULTURAL TO MIXED AGRICULTURAL AND PRIVATE EQUESTRIAN. TO CONSTRUCT A STABLE BLOCK AND MANEGE FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY.
Response from Buxted Parish Council to Wealden District Council: do not feel this would be visible to neighbours. No objections recommend approval.
To consider any planning applications received after the publication of this agenda, where the details have been made public on the WDC website: None received
Update on applications previously considered by the parish council, and determined by the district council: None received
Comments on changes to the way in which WDC now notify neighbours on new planning applications
Members of the planning committee are concerned that the new method, whereby neighbour notification letters will not be sent out, will be to the detriment of parishioners, especially those who do not have internet access.
Cllr Galley advised that WDC has decided to make the move to digital solutions where possible. 80% of the district are on the internet, and site notices will be continued to be placed outside of the address.
The WDC system called ‘My Alerts’ is signed up to by 29,000 households so this method is also improving to convey information. The judgement by WDC was that these methods should capture vast majority of people one way or another.
Cllr Coxon raised his concerns that the new system could discriminate older people, who maybe without internet access and who cannot get out and about. Cllr Cox agreed with Cllr Coxon. The small white signs outside of the properties can be easily missed. Members feel this especially relevant given the significant housing plans for the area. Therefore, neighbours should still be notified.
Cllr Humphrey agreed with the above and said he had recently received a notice by post with regards to what waste can be recycled, therefore why can WDC not find the costs to continue to send out neighbour letters.
Cllr Galley commented that recycling had reduced during lockdown and the council therefore sought reinform the public of what can and cannot be recycled. Whether he agrees with the decision or not, it has been made to stop the neighbour’s notification letters.
Cllr Galley advised that WDC Cllr Anne Newton is the lead on this and suggest a letter is written to her to express the concerns.
Cllr Coxon suggested that the parish council take on the role of notifying neighbours. Cllr Rose advised that he was concerned this may not work so well. Cllr Blandford suggest that we write to Cllr Newton in the first place and then monitor this in 6 months’ time, to see whether there have been any complaints
Action: Clerk (BM) to write to Cllr Newton.
Action: Clerk (CF) to look at planning committee areas of responsibility per Cllr.
Action: Cllr Illingworth will also speak to Cllr Newton about these concerns.
Planning responses to WDC
Where we have received what is considered to be a controversial application, and the parish council receive multiple objections from parishioners, whilst the parish council object to the application, should the parish consider adding a comment in their response to WDC along the lines of ‘the parish council strongly object to this application, however, in the event that the district council decide to approve the application then the parish council would like to request that issues (such as traffic, pedestrian access, flooding) are addressed fully’?
Cllr Humphrey commented that by saying this would we be almost adding a compromise from the start?
Cllr Blandford raised her concerns that if we wait then it is too late once the application has been approved without any required conditions.
Cllr Illingworth – agreed with Cllr Blandford otherwise it could be too late.
Cllr Galley – I would have thought that there would be some CIL and a proportion of that would come to the parish council. You can suggest conditions when reply to WDC.
Clerk (BM) comment: it was not so much the financial side, but more planning details like pedestrian access, road safety.
Cllr Roberts – think if we do it needs to be specific to the application. We will, therefore, in principle, add in requests for planning gain which are very specific to the area and which we would not want to spend any CIL monies on but should be paid by the developer?
Cllr Coxon raised his concerns over the ‘caravan’ at Binkys Farm and the response from Planning at WDC. He understands that the maximum height should be 3m and believe that this is higher.
Action: Clerk (BM) to make further enquiries with WDC Planning Enforcement.
Councillor responses to planning applications – gentle nudge
Cllr Rose politely requested that members of the planning committee respond to CF in a timely manner when consulted by on planning applications by email. consultation.
Cllr Rose finished chairing the planning section of the meeting at 1933 hours and Cllr Blandford took over as Chair.
During the planning committee meeting Cllrs Illingworth. Johnson, Bolton, and Moss ‘arrived’.
Cllr Galley reported:
COVID-19 – sadly, todays infection figures are somewhat higher than previous days.
Buxted Primary school crossing – Cllr Galley is in discussion with Ian Johnson of ESCC Highways in relation to safety concerns, but he is not overly hopeful for any changes as a lot of time has been spent in the past trying to find a solution. However, the matter is back on the radar again.
Flooding – exceptional weather has caused flooding all over the parish including at Coopers Green crossroad. This has been raised with highways contractors and officers to see if there is anything else than can be done on top of the work previously carried out which did improve the situation. Cllr. Humphrey commented that the gully pots were blocked and once emptied this solved the problem. Therefore, regular maintenance of the gully pots should be all that is required.
Buxted Railway Station – We have received notification of some improvements at the station which is part of a programme being rolled out across all stations along the line. Buxted station is to receive additional seating, new signage, toilet improvements and refurbishment of the waiting shelter. Cllr. Illingworth expressed disappointment, as we had asked for the bridge to be re-painted (which is being done elsewhere). He has requested that the parish council should respond and ask that the work requested should be considered. Clerk to write to the Community Engagement Officer (Southern and GX) who appears to be co-ordinating the project and our local Community Rail Partnership co-ordinator.
Local Plan – WDC had held a meeting that afternoon and signed off a public consultation document based on shaping the next local plan. Cllr Galley has raised issues regarding housing numbers as he is not convinced that population and growth statistics are entirely correct, and these figures will be the basis of the Government housing targets for the District. However, Government are currently rethinking algorithms, and the south numbers may go down, and numbers in the north may go up. However, Cllr. Galley is very concerned we are building far too many houses overall in the district. The supply could outnumber the need, but this is an ongoing debate.
Cllr. Blandford asked for clarification regarding verge cutting and are all parishes going to have one full verge cut in Autumn? Cllr. Galley confirmed that rural areas will have one full cut in the autumn and just visibility splays in the spring. There is quite a difference of opinion on this, but it will be a trial for the next year. The chairman commented that wildflower verges must be properly maintained, it is not as simple as letting them grow and only cutting once. Cllr. Marshall also commented that visibility splays should be cut in summer not spring. Buxted Parish Council will respond to the consultation document if we receive it.
Cllr Coxon asked if local councils monitor if new builds remain empty and not sold? Cllr. Galley commented that if we allow too much building to go ahead, we will end up with unoccupied properties that cannot be sold. We have approval for 1000 houses at Ridgewood, Uckfield, with 250 having been built but certainly not all sold. Developers will not continue to build if they cannot guarantee they will sell.
Cllr. Illingworth commented that he supports Cllr. Galley’s views on planning. He referred to the SHELAA land allocation document published by WDC, and that the map for Buxted looks bad, but we hope most of the sites would be deemed as unsuitable for development.
We are also back in the joys of lockdown, but we do not have the shielding this time, so there is less demand for people to have help from home.
Budgeting – WDC are currently working on budgeting for the next financial year. Cllrs. Illingworth and Galley have previously been vocal regarding increasing council tax for the sake of it and will again be fighting against this. Within the next few months, he will have much more detail and will be able to update further.
Consideration of financial contributions towards local food bank during COVID outbreak
As Nick at the Buxted Inn (Cllr. Bolton) was offering free meals to children to replace the free school meals that were not being provided by the Govt. during half term, a local resident suggested that the parish council financially support this scheme. Nick was very grateful for the officer but declined as he said it was not too financially onerous. It was suggested therefore that the parish council could instead make a financial contribution to a local food bank via the Section 137 grant scheme.
Members discussed the suggestion but did not agree that a grant should not be awarded to an organisation outside of the parish with no evidence that parishioners would benefit.
Public footpaths: Nothing to report.
Trees on driveway to Buxted Recreation Ground – feedback following meeting:
The chairman and clerk met with the owner from Classic Cars who is concerned about the amount of debris being shed (onto repaired classic cars) from several large oaks along the entrance track to the Buxted Recreation Ground. Most of the trees are an outgrown hedge with a few larger oaks, also once part of a hedgerow. Some probably, 60+ years old, some around 15. A tree survey will be carried out by a tree surgeon to ascertain if they are dangerous and get advice on how the line of trees can be best managed which would include removing unstable limbs and raising the crown and chopping down some of the outgrown hedge. As far as I know this piece of land has not been included in previous tree surveys but will be added to the three yearly tree checks.
Littlewood Lane 5-year maintenance management plan works to be carried removing large tree which the Woodland Trust would like to store of site and sell. Peter to revisit tree guard and upright for bench, next year. The following was received from the Woodland Trust:
Dear Parish Tree Warden, you may already be aware of the pink/yellow/orange dots on trees on the side of the road in your area. These have been put there are part of East Sussex Highway’s rural tree survey across the entire road network of East Sussex, being carried out by a professional arb surveyor, or by one of our team. They indicate trees with faults that have been noted and require remedial works. Trees that are being inspected may be owned by ESH or may be private. We are including in the survey any tree that may impact the highway should it fail. If a tree is privately owned, the owner will be contacted as soon as possible with details of the tree(s) and a timeframe for the work to be completed. The remedial works may be as low-key as severing ivy or removing overhanging limbs. However, if the tree is in a critical condition such as being dead or showing signs of internal decay (fungal fruiting bodies), then the required work may be to remove large sections or entire tree.
Hedges – The chairman met with our grass cutting contractor’s (John Avery) representative to look at hedge cutting general maintenance for Buxted recreation ground and Ionides land. Costs awaited.
The parish council has recently received copies of emails between Speed Watch members and the Police which question the validity of the results and effectiveness of Speedwatch. The correspondence remains ongoing and the parish council will continue to be updated with correspondence.
It was commented that Speedwatch is a very worthy activity but such a shame that is does not appear to have the backup of the Police either in support on site or figures. The council are grateful to the tenacity of the local Speedwatch co-ordinators who keep pursuing this matter.
One of the suggestions from a Speedwatch member was to install ‘village gates’ at either end of Buxted village that provide a visual reminder to slow down as well as marking the edges of the village creating a sense of place and be aesthetically pleasing. The suggested positioning of the gates could be at the Toll Farm triangle to the east of the village and the wide verge leading up to Buxted Primary School to the west of the village. It was agreed to ascertain costs and a design and circulate to all parish council members in addition to gaining the relevant licences from ESCC Highways. It was also suggested that other parishes who have the gates are approached to find out the impact it has on the villages. Signage to be attached to the gates would be discussed later as it was felt important to keep as simple as possible.
Wealden Local Development Framework: see minute 09/11/20 above.
Reading Room renovation survey – report of findings of survey – Responses from the Reading Room Survey
The clerk circulated the results of the Reading Room survey prior to the meeting to all councillors. The chairman commented that the response was exceptionally low and disappointing uptake (3.5% return)
Cllr. Roberts commented that considering the low response rate we should not consider a new hall.
No new ideas were suggested that the PC has not already considered, however one of the most poignant comments was that the Reading Room needs an identity and be clear as to what it provides for the community.
The chairman commented that the parish council has previously sought and gained planning permission for two semi-detached houses on the site, but it was considered that the community gain of providing a venue for parish use outweighs the short term benefit of selling the site for housing.
Members agreed that to set sub-parameters of finance, we need a steer on how we wish to redevelop the building rather than leaving it as purely a financial decision. At the very least we need to improve toilets, provide disabled facilities and new kitchen. It was decided that it was better to have a wish list of the various options together with a ball-park figure and then decide which of all the aspects we wish to do. We need to be reasonably ambitions with what we can do with the current space and make it a community asset.
Following the discussion members agreed to form a working party to discuss the options and then bring the ideas back to full council. Cllrs Johnson, Bolton, Moss, Illingworth, Roberts, Rose, Coxon and Blandford volunteered. What was agreed by all is that we need to maintain it is an asset for the future.
First meeting of the working party would be on 30th November following the arranged Finance Committee.
Following consideration of the above item, all members of the public left the meeting 20:14
Update on High Hurstwood playground renewal:
The clerk had previously circulated three quotes from professional playground designers and a quote received from Andy Camis who has previously undertaken work to the Buxted play area on behalf of the Ionides Trust. Quotes from the professional companies include renewing all play equipment, new rubber flooring under the equipment and new fencing, and are in a range of approximately £30,000 to £40,000. The quote from Andy Camis is to replace the existing climbing frame, leave the swing frames but replace the chains and seats, install a new balance trail, and install new fencing at a cost of £21,940.
All members of the parish council have had time to read the documents sent out and discussions took place. On balance it was considered that Andy Camis’s quote is considered reasonable when looking at the costings of the larger firms. It was therefore unanimously resolved that Andy Camis should be awarded this work.
Cllr. Blandford also commented that it is good to give work to local contractors who have already carried out good work for the council on a related matter.
Station planters – the clerk confirmed that the planters have now been purchased by the Community Railway Partnership and our local volunteer will replant in the spring.
Website redevelopment update
All data has now been transferred to a new site and we are currently awaiting for the website to be renamed at www.buxtedparishcouncil.gov.uk before a full handover and training with the clerk can take place. Comments have been received from councillors who have been consulted and the consensus is that the new website is very much improved. We could also ask our parishioners for photographs of the parish for the website.
No priority Correspondence
(i) payment list for November approved. Proposed by Cllr. Rose and seconded by Cllr. Bolton – Payment Analysis
(ii) bank reconciliations for October 2020 – approved
(iii) RBS reports: EMR, Cash & Investment Reconciliation, Receipts, and payments to date – noted
(iv) accounts summary – noted (see below)
(v) to approve as cost of between £200-£250 to update Claudine’s computer to Windows 10 and clean – agreed
(vi) setting date for Finance Committee – it was agreed that the Finance Committee should take place on Monday 30th November at 7.00pm.
(vii) it was agreed to relook at online banking
Chairs networking virtual: Much better than real one and useful info which included next month considering emergency plan, homeworking safety, smart objectives.
Cllr. Coxon requested any update from the allotment site – the clerk has not received anything but will chase with ESCC.
Gaps in hedged on HH rec – clerk to chase contractor as costs for this work have been agreed.
Planning and Parish Council meetings will be back on schedule for the second Tuesday of each month from December. Members were invited to stay awhile after meeting for virtual Christmas drink
|The meeting closed at 2028 hours.|
|SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER 2020 PARISH COUNCIL MEETING|
|OPENING BALANCE 1ST APRIL 2020||£310,045.00|
|INCOME TO 30TH OCTOBER 2020||£138,698|
|EXPENDITURE TO 30TH OCTOBER 2020||£105,555|
|CLOSING BALANCE ON ACCOUNTS|
|YOUTH COUNCIL ACCOUNT||£545.63|
|BUSINESS RESERVE (HALL) ACCOUNT||£2.68|
|BUSINESS RESERVE (PLAY) ACCOUNT||£51,122.74|
|EAR MARKED RESERVES|
|PLAY AREAS – RENEWAL||£14,850|
|PLAY AREAS – MAINTENANCE||£5,420|
|COMPUTER AND OFFICE EQUIPMENT||£2,500|
|LEGAL AND VALUATION FEES||£5,000|
|PARISH HALL DEVELOPMENT||£9,496.00|
|REPAIRS & RENEWALS (READING ROOM)||£26,500|
|CIL FUNDS||£2,344||RBS TO BE UPDATED TO REFLECT RECENT INCOME OF £8980.88. NEW TOTAL: £11324.88|
|NEW HALL FUNDS||£0|
|PLAY EQUIPMENT OFF SITE||£59,944.60||RBS TO BE UPDATED TO REFLECT RECENT EXPENDITURE £51,122.74|