Minutes of Whitestone Parish Council meeting held at Whitestone Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday, 11th September 2014.Attendance: Chairman − Councillor Mrs B Bramhall
The September Draw for the 100 Club in support of the Parish Hall Development Fund was conducted. The lucky number was 95 belonging to Laurence Blades.
The Chairman opened the meeting.
60. The minutes of the Parish Council Meetings held on 10th July and 7th August 2014 having been circulated were taken as read and signed as a true copy by the Chairman.
61.1 Planning Applications.
Prior to the examination of these applications some discussion took place regarding the Town & Country Planning Act 2014, the document of which had been distributed to Councillors in advance of this meeting. It was agreed that the Chairman would write to Teignbridge District Council Planning Office requesting that the Planning Inspector would attend a meeting open to both Councillors and the general public to explain how the new regulations affect the Parish of Whitestone and their decision making.
61.2 14/01961/NPA Application for Prior Approval under Part 3 MB (a) + (b) and paragraph N of the GPDO for change of use of a barn from agricultural use to a dwelling and building operations at Rowhorne Farm, Nadderwater.
61.3 14/02141/NPA Application for Prior Approval under Part 3 MB (a) + (b) and paragraph N of the GPDO for change of use of a barn from agricultural use to a dwelling and building operations at Rowhorne Farm, Nadderwater.
Both these applications were examined and concerns were raised regarding increased vehicle traffic which would be incurred on the surrounding roads in this country area.
61.4 14/02401/FUL First floor rear extension at Thatchford Cottage, Tedburn Road.
This application was examined and no objections were raised.
61.5 Notification of Variation of Condition following Grant of Conditional Planning Permission
Variation of condition 2 on planning permission 11/00872/FUL (alterations and extensions to existing dwelling) to amend approved plans to include re−building of annex, include two velux windows in the roof and an additional window to the front at Heath House.
Notification of Grant of Conditional Planning Permission
61.6 14/01738/FUL Repositioning of existing access to improve visibility and erection of gates and gates piers at Trelake Farm.
61.7 14/01698/FUL Replacement of roof light at Hillcrest.
62. MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
62.1 Asset Group Report
Cllr Reed submitted a detailed report to all Councillors itemising all work that had been undertaken on School Houses, including work due to be completed during the week commencing 15th September in order to meet the requirements of the Teignbridge District Council Housing Inspector’s report. New Energy Performance certificates have been obtained for both houses:−
1 School Houses − rating rising from 39 to 73
2 School Houses − rating rising from 23 to 69.
It was also reported that the tenant of No 2 School Houses has now signed the Tenancy Agreement.
The tenant in No 1 has requested further heating for the bathroom. This was discussed and agreed that the Asset Group would handle this request.
Cllr Bramhall spoke on the onsite meeting with Managing Agent, the tenant of 2 School Houses, herself and members of the Asset Group. The Chairman is to write to the Letting Agency to express the Council’s dissatisfaction in the manner in which the Letting Agency are managing School Houses.
62.2 School Houses − Presentation and discussion of the Accountant’s Report
The Chairman opened the discussion reminding the Council that the report was commissioned by the Parish Council in July to review the commercial viability of School Houses, with the aim of identifying the houses as assets or liabilities, and the Accountant’s Report had been circulated to all Councillors in a timely manner in readiness for this meeting.
The Report is independent, professional and commercially based and it had been agreed that the Accountant would use his professional judgement in the compilation of the report.
The Chairman thanked the Clerk and the Asset Group for their time and input in providing all the information required by the Accountant in order for this report to be executed.
All Councillors were asked for their views on the report. Several Councillors were complementary about the clarity of the report. Some Councillors felt that they needed more time before making their decision on the future of School Houses. The Chairman reiterated that all the agreed actions had been completed, the Accountant’s statement on the viability of School Houses was clear, and the Council members had had plenty of time to decide the way forward. Cllr Nierop raised questions concerning the accuracy of a few individual figures in the historic figures used by the Accountant. It was agreed that the Clerk meet with Cllr Nierop to resolve the points he made. The Chairman reminded Cllr Nierop that all the historic figures had been audited. Several Councillors expressed concern about the Assets Group’s ability to manage the repair and maintenance load such that it kept within a 10% annual budget. But it was also emphasised by others that now we are managing the houses as commercial assets it must be the case that repair and maintenance costs are held within budget, otherwise, the commercial viability of the houses will once again come into question. It was also expressed by one Councillor that a decision to sell would be final, whereas a decision not to sell could be reviewed in future.
The Chairman then reiterated parts of the report for the benefit of the General Public present. The report showed that during the financial years 2007/2008 to 31 March 2014 i.e. the historic figures, despite the essential upgrading costs of School Houses they still provided over £12k profit for the parish. The Chairman then read from the report highlighting the projected profit over the forthcoming three years.
Following the discussion the Chairman read the final two paragraphs from the Conclusions of the Accountant’s Report. The final paragraph being:− “In view of the work we have undertaken in respect of the historical and forecast income and expenditure accounts, I can conclude that all evidence suggests that the continued letting of the properties would provide a good regular source of income. As such, it would represent a commercially viable asset of the Parish and an effective use of the available capital”.
Concluding the discussion the Chairman said that she knew of no overwhelming need for any major purchases or facility within the parish that demanded the sale of the houses, and there is no indication that selling School Houses and buying new ones would bring in an increase in rental income. Also, it may well be in future years that the properties could be used to fulfil a much needed service or function within the village for the precept payers. Voting to keep the houses would not be a one off decision as voting to sell would be. School Houses will need to be managed to realise the profits and should in future years it not be possible to realise profits and they become a liability, future Parish Councils will have the opportunity to review the situation.
A proposal was then placed by Cllr Reed and seconded by Cllr Belt that the houses should not be sold.
Before the vote an amendment was placed by Cllr Nierop and seconded by Cllr Quinn that provision for properly costed future maintenance be carried out by property professionals before any decision was taken.
The Chairman took the vote on the amendment as set out
For: Cllrs Nierop, Quinn, Heathcote (3)
Against: Cllrs Reed, Phillips, Belt, Fisher, Bramhall (5)
Abstentions: Cllrs Munro and Hickman (2)
The amendment was not carried.
The Chairman then took the vote on the proposal as set out
For: Cllrs Reed, Belt, Bramhall, Phillips, Fisher, Heathcote, Neirop, Quinn, Munro (9)
Abstention: Cllr Hickman (1)
The proposal was carried
After some further discussion It was resolved that the Accountant’s report should not be publicised until the historic figures in question had been clarified.
62.3 Whitestone Parish Hall Committee of Management
62.3.1 A letter had been received from Mr Fisher raising the following points:−
Following the resignation of the previous caretaker for the Hall whose duties also included cleaning the Committee now employs only a cleaner. Therefore costs are reduced and the Council will receive reimbursement of the monies due to them. The Caretaking duties are currently being undertaken free of charge by members of the Committee. The Chairman conveyed the Council’s thanks to those members for their help in this matter.
62.3.2 The Committee of Management had requested that the Council assist in covering the legal fees in recording prescribed rights of access between the Parish Hall and the property known as Quarryfield House, the land being owned by the Haynes Estate. It was agreed that the Council would ask for more details regarding the total cost implications before agreeing to assist with the legal fees and the legal implications it may raise regarding maintenance of the track.
62.3.3 In discussing the above item, concerns were raised that the proposed one way system may raise problems if the new owners of the Haynes Estate choose to use their entrance to access their land but not abide with the proposed one way system. The Parish Hall Management Committee are to be asked for their views on this potential conflict.
62.3.4 It was requested that the Parish Council should renew their donation towards the cost of the Parish Hall Committee joining the Community Council of Devon. It was resolved that a donation of £25 should be made (2 Councillors against, 1 abstention).
62.4 Crossway Park Inspection Report
The Clerk reported that the annual inspection had taken place on 22nd August and distributed copies of the report to Councillors for information. The Asset Group to assess repairs necessary. It was agreed that a booking should be placed with The Play Inspection Company for the 2015 inspection at a guaranteed cost of £59.95.
Cllr Fisher reported loose fixings on the “A” Frame equipment and Cllr Reed said he would investigate.
63. MATTERS RAISED BY THE CHAIRMAN
63.1 Budget preparation will begin in October. The Chairman indicated that in the budget preparation thelevels of reserve that the Council are holding should be reviewed to confirm that they are at appropriate levels. Should it be agreed that the reserves are excessive the Council will need to agree asset purchases or other ways of using the reserves.
63.2 Cllr Bramhall had received information from Parishioners that there had been confusion regarding the locations of fire hydrants within the parish when the Fire Services were called out in July to attend two fires at Nadderwater. As a result the Clerk wrote to the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service requesting information relating to the locations of fire hydrants within the Whitestone Parish. The following is taken from a letter of response from the Station Manager in Exeter:− “I have spoken to all the relevant incident commanders and can confirm and reassure you that at no time during the incident was there any confusion relating to the location or use of the hydrants. There was discussion relating to which would be the best hydrant to use in terms of pressure and location but apart from this all was as expected. Regarding fire hydrants in general, each fire appliance is fitted with a Mobile Data Terminal which has a mapping system that indicates the location and other relevant information for all fire hydrants. The attending crews interrogate this system to find the relevant hydrants for use if for any reason this is not working, though this does not happen very often, crews will contact our Fire Control who have all the relevant information. This is all in addition to the good levels of local knowledge that most crews possess. I hope that this information will provide you with the reassurance that we have the necessary information and knowledge to access any fire hydrants when required.”
The Council agreed that no further action was necessary.
63.3 Cllr Bramhall reported that she and Cllr Hickman had attended the Teignbridge Association of Local Councils meeting on 31st July, the draft minutes of which had been circulated to all Councillors. Cllr Hickman gave further clarification on the changes to Teignbridge District Council’s waste collection service which is scheduled to start in June 2015. Cllrs Bramhall and Hickman are to attend the next meeting on the 25th September.
63.4 The proposal procedure mentioned at the last meeting is ongoing and the draft document will be circulated to all Councillors when it is ready.
63.5 The Chairman again thanked the Clerk for the comprehensive set of information she had supplied to the Accountant to assist with the compilation of their report on School Houses.
64.1 The Clerk submitted updated financial reports to the Councillors in order to help with the formation of the Budget for 2015/16
64.2 School Houses rents for August £1,425 − Letting Agency fees £136.80 (including £22.80 VAT) = £1,288.20
64.3 School Houses rents for September £1,425 − Letting Agency fees £136.80 (including £22.80 VAT) = £1,288.20
64.4 Reimbursement of overpayment to Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee £90.00
The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour.
64.5 ACS Electrical £68.00 + £13.60 VAT = £81.60 (organised by Devon Sales & Lettings)
64.6 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee (September) £95
64.7 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee − hire of room for Parish Plan meeting £7.50
64.8 S McCarthy & Son £800.00
64.9 Play Inspection Company Ltd £59.95 + £11.99 VAT = £71.94
64.10 Clerk’s expenses £61.02
64.11 Staples £31.22 + £6.24 VAT = £37.46
64.12 Stapletons £540.00 + £108 VAT = £648.00
64.13 County Mole and Pest Control £45 + £9 VAT = £54.00
64.14 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee £25.00
65.1 Information received from Mr D Friend regarding Springdale Farm was passed to Councillors and discussed.
65.2 Greentrees Arboricultural Services Ltd − The Clerk has confirmed that work on the trees in the vicinity of the bus shelter which had been quoted at £90 would be carried out on Thursday 16th October.
65.3 Devon Association of Local Councils − Invitation to attend the AGM on Saturday 11th October at Westpoint Conference Centre from 10am to 4pm (two voting delegates) at a cost of £20 per person. Cllr Belt indicated she would like to attend and Cllr Bramhall will confirm with the Clerk if she will be attending so that the necessary booking form can be completed.
65.4 Devon Highways − It is reported that the road between Way Farm to Nadderwater Cross will be closed to through traffic and parking on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th November to allow resurfacing to take place.
66.1 Cllr Fisher reported that Mr Dicker had complained about the dog fouling that had not been cleared at Crossway Park. Parishioners were advised that it is offence which can lead to prosecution.
66.2 The Clerk was requested to investigate the Nadderwater signs that had been ordered and funded by County Councillor Brook
66.3 Discussion took place regarding overgrown hedges throughout the Parish and parishioners were reminded that these could now be cut back in order to provide better visibility for traffic.
66.4 Gully cleaning was also raised by Cllr Nierop
66.5 Cllr Belt reported that arrangements were in hand for the purchase of a de−fribrilator at a cost of £1,600 to be based at the Parish Hall.
Mrs Greenfield gave the following update on the progress of the Parish Plan Steering Group:− “After a break for summer holidays we are currently testing an ‘off−line version’ of the web enabled questionnaire and trying to align the web enabled version with the physical questionnaire that will be delivered to every parish household. This is to ensure that there are essentially no material differences between the on−line version and hard copy version. This will mean that identical data is gathered irrespective of the mechanism of gaining the information. That means that the tools used to analyse the completed questionnaire will operate consistently across web enabled and physical return mechanisms. This process is nearing a close. The next stage will be distributing the actual paper questionnaire and going live on−line.”
The meeting closed at 10.02pm