Minutes of Whitestone Parish Council meeting held at Whitestone Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday,
12th June 2014
Chairman: Councillor Mrs B Bramhall
Councillors: S Heathcote, L Hickman, P Nierop, R Phillips, M Quinn, A Reed
District Councillor P Bromell (left at 9pm)
Mrs P Vaughan, Clerk to the Council
Mrs B Netherway, Mrs S Greenfield. Mr C Hodges, Mrs T Taylor.
Apologies: Councillors Mrs M Belt, Mrs P Fisher, D Munro, County Councillor J Brook
The June Draw for the 100 Club in support of the Parish Hall Development Fund was conducted. The lucky number was 62 belonging to Neil Davies.
39. The Chairman opened the meeting. The minutes of the Parish Council Meetings held on 8th May and 3rd June 2014 having been circulated were taken as read and signed as a true copy by the Chairman with the addition of “livery related parking” to the 3rd June minutes.
40. REPORTS FROM COUNTY COUNCILLOR / DISTRICT COUNCILLOR
40.1 District Councillor Bromell had nothing to report but said that he would make enquiries regarding a query from Cllr Nierop concerning a change in future arrangements for green waste
40.2 County Councillor Brook had sent his apologies and the Clerk read his report to the meeting which included a statement that he remains convinced that the outcomes of various ongoing consultations will lead to very different systems of delivery.
41.1 14/01440/VAR Variation on condition 2 on planning permission 11/00872/FUL (Alterations and extensions to existing dwelling) to amend approved plans to include re-building of annexe, include two velux windows in the roof and an additional window to the front at Heath House. Councillors examined the submission and plans and after discussion there were no objections.
Grant of Conditional Planning
41.2 14/00950/FUL Demolition of existing building and erection of four stables, fodder store and tackroom on land off Bondhouse Lane.
41.3 14/00579/FUL Closure of existing access, change of use of agricultural land to domestic use including formation of new access and driveway and erection of double garage at Hall Farm, Tedburn Road.
41.4 14/00009/REF Appeal against refusal of planning permission No 13/03212 − Outline for dwelling at Rebecca Springs, Nadderwater. Appeal dismissed (Delegated refusal)
42. MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
42.1 Independent Internal Audit
The Clerk reported on the Audit completed by Mr K Abraham on the 29th May as follows “In accordance with testing strategy developed in the Financial Risk Assessment, which continues to be a low audit risk, testing was carried out as appropriate”. It was noted that two items had been brought to the attention of the Clerk regarding the Annual Return to be returned to the Audit Commission and these had been duly amended as appropriate before its submission.
42.2 Whitestone Parish Hall Committee of Management
A request has been received for payment of a £900 contribution towards double glazing to the Parish Hall, which had totalled £1,960.80, as agreed in October 2013 (minute 72.1). The Clerk had informed the Hall Committee of receipt of the grant of £900 from the Electors Fund for the defribrillator to be based at the Parish Hall and it was also requested that this should now be forwarded to them in order that Dr Jane Richards, who has connections with the British Heart Foundation can make the necessary arrangements concerning purchase. The Hall Committee will take the lead in arranging training but it is unlikely this will occur before the Autumn. It was resolved that a cheque for £1,800 should therefore be authorised.
42.3 Cost Reinstatement Valuations for 1 and 2 School Houses
This had now been received from Wilkinson Grant & Co, at a cost of £120, and owing to the revaluations it was noted by them that the insurance cover should be for a sum not less than £180,000 for No 1 and £184,000 for No 2. Came and Company, our Insurance Company had been informed and an additional premium of £248.44 was required for the 2014/15 period of cover. This had been paid as the cover commences on the 1st June 2014.
42.4 School Houses - Report on Public Meeting
Cllr Bramhall addressed the meeting on the proceedings of this meeting. 59 persons had attended including Parish Councillors. Apologies had been received from Cllr Reed.
A report on the Public Meeting was distributed to Parish Councillors − this being in the form of notes as no official minutes were taken.
The aim of meeting was to present the findings of the School Houses Working Group via a presentation and subsequent question and answer session and Cllr Bramhall felt that this aim was achieved.
There were several relevant and significant points that emerged from the question and answer session, some of which showed us, as present and past Parish Council members, to be lacking in knowledge that we as landlords should possess. Cllr Bramhall informed the meeting that she had made efforts to make good those blanks by making enquiries through the Letting Agents and the Secretary of the Devon Association of Local Councils regarding the housing standards and legislation under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Cllr Bramhall had also addressed the question of applying for a loan if it was decided to upgrade the houses and the Council do not have sufficient funds.
Cllr Bramhall stated that “in her view that if there was any consensus from the meeting it was that the School Houses Working Group Report highlighted a potentially major financial problem for us, but the report was not in itself a sufficient basis for a decision to sell but rather emphasised the need to commission a professionally produced set of commercially based accounts which incorporate the results of an independent survey aimed at making us legal and based on the terms of reference produced and agreed by us, the Parish Council as a whole, at this meeting. There was some criticism of the report from Teign Housing Association, unfair in my view, and had we been able to produce a written set of terms of reference endorsed by the Parish Council we could I think have silenced some, not all, of those critics − and I criticise myself in making that statement”.
Cllr Bramhall then invited every Councillor in attendance to give their views on the meeting and this took place with Cllr Nierop responding to criticism regarding the financial calculations that had been included in his report. He stated that he had sought advice regarding this and he had been informed that it is legitimate and correct to base calculations of income/expenditure from the date when properties came under the Parish Council’s ownership or date when the decision was made to retain and let the properties (in 2006) regardless of whether properties were occupied or not.
After lengthy discussion regarding several of the issues raised it was proposed that an Independent Survey should be requested to be undertaken by Teignbridge District Council Housing Services in order to identify any defects/hazards affecting the health and safety of tenants. This proposal was seconded and voted on and passed with one Councillor abstaining.
Cllr Bramhall is to make enquiries regarding the services of a qualified accountant in readiness for when the independent survey has been received.
42.5 Asset Group Membership
Cllr Hickman spoke saying that he wished to resign from this Group and Cllr Nierop added that he was resigning also. The Chairman asked for volunteers willing to fill their places and Cllr Reed agreed to rejoin. Other Councillors not present at this meeting will be asked at the July meeting if they would be willing to serve.
43. MATTERS RAISED BY THE CHAIRMAN
43.1 Cllr Bramhall requested the Clerk to write to Mr David Oakey and thank him for presiding at the Public Meeting and this was reiterated by the Councillors
43.2 An invitation has been received and accepted from Teignbridge District Council for her to attend the Raising of the Armed Forces Flag on Monday, 23rd June.
44.1 School Houses rents for June £1,425 − Letting Agency fees £136.80 (including £22.80 VAT) = £1,288.20
44.2 Teignbridge District Council − Grant from Electors Fund for Defribillator £900.00
44.3 It was reported that the Electrical Inspection Condition Report and repairs at 2 School Houses £560.40 (incl £93.40 VAT) (April Minutes 24.2) had now been carried out and this had been deducted from the rentals.
The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour
44.4 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee (June) £125
44.5 Devon Association of Local Councils − New Councillors Training Course £30.00 (incl £5 VAT)
44.6 Wilkinson Grant Surveyors and Property Consultants £120 (incl £20 VAT)
44.7 Came & Company − Broker Network Ltd (insurance cover) £248.44
44.8 South and West Internal Audit £175
44.9 Clerk’s expenses £56.84
44.10 Frost Fencing − repairs to play area at Crossway Park (April Minutes 24.8) £520.00
45.1The Clerk reported receiving an enquiry from Devon County Council regarding a sand bag policy or procedure within Whitestone. She had replied that she was not aware of any policy and has been informed that if the Parish does want to hold a stock in future contact should be made with Teignbridge District Council regarding this.
45.2Letters of thanks have been received from the Whitestone Gardening Club and the Parochial Church Council for the donations which were received by their associations following the May meeting.
45.3Devon County Council Transport Co-ordination Service had replied following further correspondence regarding the bus service 173 and stated that it is not their policy for the 1853 service to pass through Whitestone and they assume if a bus has been seen it has been when an irregular driver was on the service who was not aware of the different route. It was also stated that given the additional cost of operating via Whitestone they are not prepared to make any alteration to the existing timetable. They ask that if parishioners do see a bus again that it is reported and further enquiries can be made with Dartline.
45,4 Information regarding road closures between 26th May and 31st August on roads past Glebe Farm, St Catherines Cottage to Trillow Corner, road from Twiscombe Corner to Pound Down Corner to enable road repairs were relayed to the meeting.
46.1Cllr Hickman asked if investigation could be made regarding the triangle of grass containing a signpost where the Exeter boundary meets Whitestone. It is very overgrown and the Clerk was requested to ascertain whose responsibility it is to trim the area.
46.2Cllr Phillips said that he had received complaints regarding “dog fouling” in the lanes around Whitestone and hoped that dog owners could be more considerate to walkers about the disposal of this.
46.3Cllr Neirop reported on attending the DALC meeting in May when a representative from the Environment Agency had discussed landfill and recycling issues. He asked if the Clerk could ascertain from Mr Brunt, Neighbourhood Highway Manager for Devon County Council the findings of the drain survey which had been completed in February which had also been an item discussed.
Mr Hodges said that he had been in contact with Cllr Nierop in regard to his concerns over the financial statement which had been made at the Public Meeting regarding School Houses as he felt that calculations should have been made from the date when the houses had been let commercially.
Mrs Taylor praised the Council for taking on board what had been said at the Public Meeting and was pleased that they were looking into the matter in more depth and Mrs Greenfield added her support for this action.
Mrs Greenfield gave the following update on the progress of the Parish Plan Steering Group:− “Matters are ongoing with the web enabling of the questionnaire and it is hoped to conclude this soon”.
The meeting closed at 9.45pm.