Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Latest Old Buckenham news

November parish council meeting
These notes have been written by the blog editor from the draft minutes and so may contain information that is changed at a later date.
Old Buckenham Parish Council met on Thursday 1 November  in the Village Hall. Those present were councillors Jon Hicks (Vice-chairman, in the chair), Gemma Frost, Steve Milner and Adrian Joel. Also attending were Kerry Talbot (taking minutes in absence of a Clerk) and six members of the public. Apologies for absence were received from councillors Ben Devlin, Andy Nichols and Debbie Callaghan.
The Vice Chair, Jon Hicks, agreed to chair the meeting and councillors decided to postpone the appointment of a new Chairman and Vice Chair until the December meeting to give all councillors the opportunity to vote.
The minutes of the October meeting were approved.
Matters arising from those minutes. Jon Hicks said that a meeting had been arranged for Tuesday 13 November with the head of Chapel Green School and said that the question regarding local community use of the multi-weather surface pitch would be raised. Adrian Joel advised that he held a copy of assets from Breckland Council for future reference and questioned whether the Parish Council wished to add the Village Shop on the Breckland “Right to Bid list” for Community Assets should it be put up for sale. Adrian Joel also said that he had received two cheques from allotment holders and would retain these until all outstanding money had been received.
Public participation relating to agenda items only. A parishioner said the council needs to ensure that the company they choose to provide the defibrillator provides a guarantee and a maintenance contract as there have been reported difficulties around the country with faulty products. Jon Hicks responded and said that the parish council have a company and product in mind and they have the maintenance and guarantees required.
A parishioner said that interest needs to be generated from parishioners to encourage people to join and participate in the parish council meetings. The council needs to actively encourage young people onto the council and suggested that three items were selected that can be delivered within the next three months to demonstrate to the local community the activity and achievements of the parish council. A parishioner said councillors/parishioners from within and outside of the village need to work together as there were concerns that Old Buckenham will not have a parish council. The council needs to regenerate interest from villagers in the council. Jon Hicks replied that most of these issues raised will be addressed in his chairman’s report.
A parishioner said that the council could consider public participation at the end of meetings or as items crop up during the meeting. A parishioner said they were concerned that the parish council was at a low point and should not rush into making decisions. The council seemed to be at a crossroads and should play for time and be prepared to have outside professionals to help until May 2019. They felt that promises are being made and nothing is happening. Decisions need to be made and action taken, otherwise the council will drift. The parishioner sincerely wished the council well.
A parishioner said they were organising another breakfast meeting for residents. They had been unable to engage enough people to undertake the cooking at the current time but will look to organise such a meeting in the future. Another parishioner said they thought minutes for the last two or three years, accounts and budgets would not bear scrutiny. A further parishioner commented on the amount of funds held by the parish council. Adrian Joel responded by stating most of this money was in reserve and ring-fenced for specific projects such as a Neighbourhood Plan and the Play Area. A parishioner said £2000 for a handyman was too expensive and no work appears to have been undertaken. The council needs a short, medium and long term plan and to find a way of engaging with people to get them involved.
Financial matters. Payments agreed included £1050 for clearing brash at Ottomer pond and work on bunds on the Green, £1080 to Mervyn Lambert for work around Ottomer pond, £600 to Suggitt for grass cutting and a total of £149.90 to the Community Car drivers. Jon Hicks is to write to all contractors who worked on the Green to thank them. Steve Milner mentioned lumps of wood and rocks still around the pond and the damage and difficulty this could cause when grass needs cutting. Jon Hicks said that a voluntary Norfolk Community Group have been engaged to clear the remaining debris and this was scheduled for Thursday 29 November, weather permitting.
SAM signage. Steve Milner advised that he is willing to apply for Parish Partnership funding for up to 50% of the costs. The proposal is to move the SAM unit between four locations approved with Norfolk County Council. The units are battery powered and will be managed by volunteers. The units display speed and record data. The costs would be £2800 plus £250 for data collection and £220 for fixings. An observer in the village has reported that cars do slow down when approaching with the units currently in use. They are effective against drivers who normally drive at the speed limit but forget. Rotation of the units is essential as drivers become complacent. Costs of the unit to be funded by Parish Partnership funding plus £1200 from the Parish Council and a £800 donation from village resident. Steve Milner proposed to go ahead with the funding application and for the Parish Council contribution to be put forward at the Precept meeting. Jon Hicks pointed out that although units record vehicle data this cannot be used as a prosecution tool but can be passed to the police to use to determine target areas for their own surveillance. Jon Hicks also said that all councillors had been consulted on this issue and were in agreement. It was agreed to include this project at the precept meeting and for Steve Milner to apply for grant from Parish Partnership Funding
Planning. Parish councillors have been asked by the chairman to view the new applications in advance of the meeting (all planning applications are available for viewing on the Breckland District Council planning portal). There were no new planning applications but Adrian Joel advised that there was one new application recently regarding a menage and grain store – the council is to ask for an extension to allow the parish council to consider it at its next meeting.
Planning decisions by Breckland Council. Asparagus Field, Cake Street. Variation of conditions for new dwelling and attached garage/carport (3PL/2018/1014/VAR). The application has been approved by Breckland.
Highways. Gemma Frost said that concern has been raised over greenery impeding the path up to the school. There has been no decision on who is to take responsibility for the management of this. The school budget has been used previously. It was suggested that village handyman be asked to undertake this work but would need other work to occupy a full day. Steve Milner advised that he would be happy to undertake the work. Jon Hicks said that he would discuss this at the meeting with Chapel Green School. Adrian Joel pointed out that the chevron sign at Sun Corner/Ragmere Road has come down, Jon Hicks will email Highways.
Village Green Working Party. Gemma Frost said the working party have organised a meeting for early November to decide on the next steps for Ottomer Pond and how to involve the community. Spring bulbs need to be planted around the pond and the grass mowed prior to Remembrance Sunday. The Council needs to find a way to communicate the progress and explain the plans for the Green. Most people are pleased with the results of the work around Ottomer Pond. There have been some comments on social media and Jon Hicks will pass a report to Ron Brewer to publish to explain the situation to the local community. There are also to be two follow-up surveys by Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) in the Spring. A parishioner said that NWT was running a course and members of the local community were attending, the course will include how to identify great crested newts.
District Councillor’s report. Breckland Local Plan modifications are in the process of being received from the Government’s independent inspectorate, these will then be reviewed by officers. In the New Year there will be a consultation with residents and parish councils on any amendments by the Inspectorate. The Attleborough SUE is still due to come to planning committee in December. If there are any changes Adrian Joel will keep the council and residents informed. The Parish Council will be able to speak at the planning meeting and Adrian Joel suggests a councillor is appointed to present the view of the Parish Council and the residents.
Chairman’s report. Jon Hicks thanked Kerry Talbot for attending to take the minutes and Donna Oakley for agreeing to take over the financial responsibilities of the council as responsible financial officer (RFO). The Council will vote at the next meeting regarding the appointment of Donna Oakley as RFO. The advertisement for a new Parish Clerk will be placed on the NALC website next month and be published in the village newsletter. Jon Hicks has removed the financial responsibility from the role so it is an administration role in the hope that this makes it more attractive to local residents.
Jon Hicks addressed the issue of involving the local community in council meetings and said that since setting up meetings with the Village Hall Management Committee, the relationship between the two organisations has improved. He would like to set up further meetings to include the Village Green Working Party with a view to organising a meeting inviting the whole village which will hopefully encourage further interest in the Parish Council and village organisations. Jon Hicks also said that he has attempted to engage with pupils at the High School to encourage their participation in a Youth Council and to get involved in activities around the village without success. Even with local companies providing materials for the projects no youth volunteers came forward to participate. He felt communication with local community essential to remove any misconceptions.
Jon Hicks added that he would like to introduce a process to retain councillors for a period of 12 months following any training courses they had attended that had been paid for by the Council. Any new councillors need to attend the introductory courses. He also felt that too much time is wasted at meetings discussing planning applications. The applications were available online and discussion should be the exception in the event of any objections.
Jon Hicks raised the issue of Village Green Working Party (VGWP) budget. Would it be less time consuming if the Council agreed to a limit on individual expenditure so invoices could be paid without being referred to the Council? VGWP reports to the Council each month and this could be included in their report. Process needs to be more flexible and streamlined. The VGWP is to put together a proposal of how this might work ready for the precept meeting so it can be implemented in the next financial year.
Jon Hicks said that the Council needs to look at how to attract more parish councillors. There is a need for a new Village Hall representative and to look at all committee responsibilities at next meeting.
Councillors’ reports. Adrian Joel said that Phil Anderson had been approached for a quote to provide a 20 to 25ft Christmas tree. To erect, stabilise and lights would be £450 plus VAT. Electricity will be provided by way of donation from the Ox & Plough pub. Switching on of the lights to be Sunday 16 December at 4pm. Any social media advertising for events based on the Christmas tree lighting switch-on should include both pubs in the village. Local children will be asked to put their names in a draw to decide who will switch on the lights.
The Precept meeting has been re-arranged for Thursday 13 December, starting at 7pm. Applications for precept money will be open until Friday 30 November. A few applications have already been received and Jon Hicks will provide councillors with a copy of the applications prior to the meeting.
Gemma Frost and Jon Hicks said that they had laptop but needed updates. Adrian Joel to ask New Buckenham Parish Council regarding the grants that they had received for laptops.
Communications via social media. Steve Milner said that he would meet with Gemma Frost to ascertain how to keep the current website up to date. Gemma Frost has created new email addresses for all councillors. Steve Milner will provide these to all councillors and, once received, councillors are asked to use these as their designated email. General email is still in operation for the public. As a result of confidentiality issues, the new email addresses will not have a forward or print function. Steve Milner asked if the website could be placed on the agenda for the next meeting so the council can decide the material/subjects for publication to improve lines of communication with the local community. Steve Milner said he currently uses Facebook but with the ‘no comments’ function activated. Websites can be used to provide feedback and forums for discussion but the Council agreed that Facebook was not the forum for debates. Steve Milner is to organise any subjects on the website forum for discussion.
Defibrillator. As the councillor responsible for this has resigned there is no paperwork trail and the process will start again. Adrian Joel volunteered to take responsibility for implementing the sourcing and purchasing. Jon Hicks pointed out that this expenditure has already been agreed and approved (£2000) and he will ask for an update at the next meeting. It was agreed to look at a second defibrillator in the New Year.
Public participation at meetings. Jon Hicks proposed allowing time for discussions with public by allowing three questions from the public floor at end of meetings. Gemma Frost said she preferred public interaction throughout the meeting as the comments were then relevant. The suggestion of a timer being used to limit length of discussions was put forward. Steve Milner agreed with interaction throughout meeting. Adrian Joel advised that meeting time limit was 10pm. Parish Council meetings are not a public meeting and it would be up to the Chair to control the meeting. Public comments are helpful but must be relevant to agenda items.
Items for the next agenda. These would include the appointment of the RFO, voting for Chair and Vice Chair, to decide what subject matter to publish on the website, agreeing the format of meetings, reviewing of all committees and appointment of a new Village Hall representative, date of the next joint meeting with the Village Hall committee in January 2019 and to consider a three-way meeting between the Village Green Working Party, the Village Hall Management Committee and the Parish Council.
Public participation. A parishioner asked if the Council could consider events as community events, such as incorporating the Christmas lights turn on with food and hospitality. A parishioner asked whether a Welcome Pack for new residents was available and Gemma Frost said that this is being worked on.

The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday 6 December at 7.30pm in Old Buckenham Village Hall.

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