September 2020 minutes


Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 1st September 2020 via zoom.

Present: Cllr Audrey Bott, Cllr Linda Middleton, Cllr Geoff Trotter, Cllr Ian Salmon, Cllr Barbara Nurse, Cllr Diane Russell, Cllr Harold Holder, Cllr Duncan Grant, Cllr Michael Denny, Cllr Sebastian Bowen, Parish Clerk Ms Emma Lewis .

4 members of the public were present, 3 members were present for items 1-7 and 1 member was present for the whole of the meeting.

Item 10.5 was discussed after item 5.2, but is recorded in numerical order in the minutes.

1. Apologies for absence: Apologies were received and accepted from Cllr Daniels.
2. Declarations of interest: Cllrs Russell and Nurse made declarations of non-pecuniary interest in item 10.2.
3. Public Participation
3.1 Report from Ward Councillor: The railings on the turn at Bircher have now been repaired. The Lord Lieutenant Lady Darnley will retire on the 5th September and is being succeeded in the role by Sir Edward Harley.
3.2 Report from West Mercia Police: No report had been received, but residents were reminded to stay vigilant for the number of scams relating to track and trace which are currently in operation.
3.3 Views of local residents on Parish matters: Residents indicated that they were interested in hearing the update on the proposed yellow line scheme by the church and stated their opposition to the scheme. Another resident raised an issue relating to parish council agendas and awareness within the parish of parish council business. These issues, and suggestions, were discussed under the substantive agenda item 7.
4. Minutes of Parish Council meeting held on 7th July 2020: The minutes were agreed as a correct record and will be signed after the meeting.
5. Finance
5.1 Financial statement to date: The finance statement was agreed, the current account has a balance of £26,616.91 and the reserve account has a balance of £15,087.55.
5.2 Cheques: Cheques were signed as follows – Clerk wages £567.31, HMRC £2.40, HALC (website hosting) £66.00, SLCC (annual membership – split with Shobdon Parish Council) £80.50.
6. Planning
6.1 Core Strategy review and national planning developments: Herefordshire Council have started the process of reviewing and updating their Core Strategy, and have also started a review of the Herefordshire Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) (which was previously known as the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment). As part of this, Herefordshire Council have issued a call for sites across the county which owners/agents wish to be considered as part of this assessment. They have also asked all parish councils who have, or are developing, a neighbourhood development plan to share their site assessment work with them. It was emphasised that this work will have no impact on the NDP until the Core Strategy has been approved, after which it is likely that the NDP will need to be reviewed.
There has also been a white paper consultation on “Planning for the Future” which at present appears to suggest that, whilst neighbourhood plan will remain, these will be focused on design guidance rather than site allocation. The Parish Council agreed to respond to the consultation on the white paper, and write to the local MP, to ask that the position of community neighbourhood development plans in any new planning system be defended and secured.
6.2 Update on current planning applications/matters: The Clerk had been contacted by the agent in relation to the application for a new dwelling in the land at Bircher Hall (P201611/F). The current application has been withdrawn and a meeting was being requested to explore the options available to find a way forward. The Clerk had confirmed the Parish Council position that they do not discuss planning applications until they are formally submitted for comment and that the key requirements for any planning application are set out in the adopted Neighbourhood Development Plan.
The Parish Council had been unable to comment on the planning application for a new dwelling in the grounds of Rose Bank Cottage in Lucton ( Ref 200627/200626) as the consultation period fell straight after the March meeting, just as lockdown started when all Parish Council meetings were cancelled. As a decision on the application has not yet been made, it was agreed that the Clerk would contact the planning officer to ask whether the Parish Council could still comment on the application.
7. Format of Parish Council Agendas: A full and wide-ranging discussion was held around the subjects of Parish Council agendas and how the Parish Council can raise awareness of its work across the parish. It was reiterated that agendas are made available online and on notice boards and clearly state items to be discussed, and that residents are always welcome to attend meetings and raise issues (as may residents have done). Parish Council agendas are required to include all items for discussion and be published 3 working days in advance of meetings and it was reiterated that these cannot be published any earlier than this, as items (particularly planning) often come through at the last minute, and if it’s not included on the agenda, it cannot be discussed. It was also restated that the Parish Council consider all items they discuss to be of importance to the community. The Clerk has started posting notice of parish council meetings on the Yarpole community facebook page and also writes an article for the Parishioner each month summarising discussions from each meeting. It was suggested that, as the Parishioner article has a print deadline on the 10th of the month, and is therefore available before draft minutes are produced, the Clerk look to put this article on the Parish Council website, and link to this on facebook, so there is a slightly quicker availability of information.
8. Herefordshire Payphone Consultation: The Parish Council agreed that they objected to the proposed removal of any of the phone boxes in the parish. The parish has a high population of elderly residents, and a very poor mobile signal – which makes the provision of phone boxes essential in case of emergency.
9. Community field: The community field working group met with the consultant from Red Kite on the 18th August, and discussed plans for the field based on the results of the community field survey. Two quotes had been received for the topographical survey of the field, which Red Kite require for their plans, and it was agreed to accept the quote from Battlefield Land Surveys (proposed by Cllr Denny and Seconded by Cllr Salmon and agreed unanimously.)
10. Updates and action
10.1 Lucton & Bircher Matters: The pipe at the ford in Lucton has been unblocked, but work still needs to be done to restore the tarmac. There is a large boulder in the road at the ford, which is currently covering a large and dangerous dip in the road; Cllr Bowen will ask the locality steward to look into this. It was noted that the legal process is continuing over repairs to Knoll Cottage.

10.2 Parish Hall: The parish hall committee met in August and the hall re-opened on the 31st August; works on the garden are progressing well. The Parish Council solicitor has enquired whether local searches are required before contracts are drawn up for the transfer of the additional land. It was agreed that the Clerk will check if the parish hall had any searches done when the land was transferred to them, and if these were not undertaken, then the Parish Council solicitor will be asked to undertake these before contracts are drawn up.
10.3 PROW and Lengthsman: The resignation of the Footpath Officer was noted, and thanks recorded to Peter Greer who has agreed to step back into the role on a temporary basis until March 20201. The Parish Council will be looking to recruit a team to take on the role and it was agreed that the Clerk will produce a poster advertising the role to go in the Parishioner and up on notice boards. It was agreed that the lengthsman will be asked to clean the phone box.
10.4 COVID 19: There were no issues to report.
10.5 Traffic Schemes: ADL (the traffic consultants working for Herefordshire Council) received an overwhelming majority of objections to the proposed scheme during the Formal Consultation process (22 out of 24 responses were objections), and will be proceeding to write an Objection Report to the Council recommending that the scheme be ceased as a result of this. Concerns about parking at the junctions in the area, and how this can cause dangerous obstructions to traffic, have been raised at Parish Council meetings by residents dating back to 2009. The Parish Council supported the yellow line scheme as a proportionate response to address the problem, knowing that the scheme would go through a full public consultation so that residents would have the opportunity to have their say on the proposals before any scheme could be finalised (as noted in my article in the April Parishioner). The Parish Council agreed that they were content that as a result of the public consultation the proposed scheme would not proceed.
11. Items for next agenda: Replacement of Yarpole signs at the turn into Bircher.
12. Date of Next meetings: Tuesday 6th October, Tuesday 3rd November