Friday, 22 February 2013

Bar Hill Parish Council Meeting Notes

Here are my notes from the Parish Council meeting, apologies if it seems to be a bit rambling!

Unfortunately there were no members of the public present for the open forum, the chair circulated a "Declaration of Interests Flowchart" which was a little out of date but was pretty good and serves as a good guide for when people should declare interests.

The minutes of the previous meeting were quickly approved and we moved on to the main body of the meeting.

3.1 Grass Cutting. The first cut is due towards the end of March. Contract will be signed in first week of March as we have a preferred provider.
3.2 Tree Management. Grant application approved by leader of SCDC, we have £3,000 left in budget but it is looking like that will me spent by the end of next month.
3.3 Midas Care Ltd. This is becoming problematic; despite occupying one of our buildings there is still no legal lease in place. They have been Visited by the chair and vice chair. But apart fro raising some additional works that need doing there was no marked progress towards signing a lease. It is possible they are holding out to purchase the building, as this had been discussed previously however there was no desire amongst Councillors to sell it. The Parish Council needs the lease for auditing purposes. This has been ongoing for years. It was agreed that we would pass the matter on to the Parish Councils' Solicitors.
3.4 The Farmhouse. More interest in farmhouse, agents are pursuing another potential tenant.

4 General Correspondence
This item on the agenda covers any correspondence the Parish Council has received in the last month that isn't covered under another agenda item.

Highlighting a few issues; Cambridgeshire Future Transport was criticised by one Councillor for the removal of bus subsidies. There was a brief debate but as Bar Hill is quite well served by buses (both from Stagecoach and Whippet) the majority of Councillors were not keen for the council to do something formerly. It is worth point out that scrapping Cambridgeshire Future Transport was part of the Liberal Democrats alternative budget for Cambridgeshire County Council which was rejected by the administration earlier in the week.

The draining of the village green was discussed, a company is proposing we spend £800 attempting to alleviate the problem. Apparently surrounding villages have this done annually. We need to look at this but it's not sure how can proceed. A Councillor stated that other villages have the work done annually to maintain their greens, a debate ensued regarding whether or not the those villages charge cricket and football teams to use the grounds which was inconclusive (as, it seems, none of those involved had done their research). Flooding is a big issue, but its very unclear exactly what we should do about it. We have spent £13k within the last 15 years on this and it demonstrably hasn't worked. It was agreed we would ask the person currently working with us on the stream to look at the drainage issues on the village green. It was agreed that a rolling programme was necessary. There was no appetite for charging people to use the green.

Gritting was raised. I raised former Cambridge MP David Howarths views on people being sued for clearing snow! Which I will attempt to setup into an annual recurring blog post on this issue as I'm pretty certain it's not going to go away.

5 Clerks Financial Report
5.1 Approval of Works. Nothing outstanding (everything has gone out, or waiting for quotes to come in).
5.2 Possible update on office equipment. Taken with 5.3
5.3 Future employment of a second clerk in the Parish Council office. We have had a second clerk who came in and did an excellent job while our current clerk was away on sick leave. We discussed improving the office situation so two people could share the office for a prolonged period of time. The Council agreed to spend up to £500. I agreed to do a work area assessment, as I've had the training. We also agreed to employ a second clerk (for 4 hours a week) for the next month to provide additional capacity.

CAPALC to be contacted by the clerk regarding what we do regarding "emergency cover" and "long term cover" if needed. We will develop a policy regarding long term sickness depending on what CAPALC/LGSS come back with. This will be an agenda item for future meetings.
5.4 Approval of Canalbs Ltd to carry on with internal audit for 2013/14. Not really any choice (by that I mean the alternative is costly and time consuming and provides no obvious benefits): consequently approved.
5.5 Tree management programme - tenders received. The bridal way seems to need work, a few years ago we partnered with the County Council - £1,000 each - to get significant work done on this path. A Councillor raised the fact that trees which are obscuring lamp posts need seeing to, tenders have been sent out, and quotes should be in for next month.

Three tenders received; £480, £560, or £1,500. The £560 tender (K Fergusons Ltd) was selected, the work will start later in the year and will report back to our November meeting (the tender is just to generate a report on work that needs doing in targeted areas).
5.6 Training course for new Councillors
£35 per person at the Glebe in Sutton. Monday 4th March at 7pm. We discussed have a course locally, Leigh is going to investigate surrounding Councils and see if there is any interest in all of us clubbing together and getting them to come here (or hereabouts) and give the course.
5.7 Approval of accounts and payment of cheques for February. This was approved.

6 Chairman's Report
6.1 Discuss the role of Parish Councillors. Chair politely reminded everyone what Councillors can and cannot do but more importantly what we *should not* do so as not to put ourselves at risk while we are fulfilling our duty as a Parish Councillor.
6.2 Discuss Charitable Donations by the Parish Council. Unanimously the Council agreed that all future applications for funds will need to be accompanied by a form and a copy of the organisations accounts.

A further item was raised regarding the what to do with our surplus and a proposal to fully fund a fence around the village green patio. This was contentious as it's not clear that the Village Hall needs the money (last year it was making £2,000 a month, this has dropped by half to £1,000 - these figures are *profit*) but no firm figures were available. One councillor voted against and I abstained on this vote as there was not information, particularly financial, to reach a view one way or another on whether or not we should do this. All other Councillors voted in favour. There was a brief discussion based on whether or not the way Councillors voted should be recorded (on the basis "people would be interested") but this was not agreed. Hence I've only identified my vote (abstaining) and not the other Councillor who voted against.
6.3 Expenditure of The Willows income. We agreed to leave it for a while and see what the village green drainage survey came back with.
6.4 Salt bins and future gritting requirements. We agreed to spend some money on branding our grit bins as we've had 3 stolen. Apparently they've very useful on allotments, as beer coolers, for transporting drugs, etc.
6.5 Use of village facilities - village green. There was no real discussion (as our 2-hour meeting had gone past the 3 hour stage!)

7 Committee Reports
A. Planning.
B. Environment Committee.
Neither of these committees presented anything memorable.

8 Other Reports
A. Cambridgeshire County Council.
B. South Cambridgeshire District Council.
C. Any other reports.
The Tesco 24-hour alcohol license extension is not being opposed by the police, apparently Tesco have added an additional security guard (making it 2) in the overnight slot to ensure that there are no incidents. The Council requested that crime be monitored in the car park.

South Cambs has been suffering a lot of graffiti, Bar Hill has not been touched yet - hopefully it will stay this way.

All quiet at the skate park - but PCSO did mention how cold it is outside at the moment!

A request was raised at the neighbourhood panel to move lorries on if they park at Tesco roundabout. Lorries parked on the ring road will be moved on, and lorries parked on the industrial estate are only an issue if the businesses complain. Photographs of incidents can be useful.