19th October 2020, Eardisley Village Hall

Present: Alan Watkins, Phil Bayliss, Chris England, James Forrest, Ken Goodman, Geoff Greenhill, Nancy James, Yvonne King, Terry Morgan, Lewis Price, Sue Prosser, Paul Whittall and Steven Whittall

In Attendance: Ward Councillor Graham Jones    Clerk to the Parish Council, Alison Morgan

Members of the Public: 10

1. Apologies were accepted from Andrew Layton and Clint Welson. Not in Attendance: Tony Raymond

2. No Declarations of Interest or requests for Dispensation were received for this meeting.

3. Open Discussion:

3.1. Ward Councillor Address: A range of items was covered, including possible changes to Herefordshire Council (HC) cabinet structure; a new Chief Executive is being sought as the current incumbent is moving on; funding for repairs and upgrade to Hereford’s swimming pool complex has been approved. A decision is still awaited on the southern bypass. Graham will be joining the council’s Planning Committee (following the sad demise of Cllr Bernard Hunt) and, finally, protection of hedgehogs is being added to planning application criteria.

3.2. Public Participation Period: Topics discussed included the following:

  • ‘Temporary’ traffic lights on A438 near Whitney Toll Bridge. Graham advised funding has been obtained and it is hoped remedial works will be completed this year.
  • Road surface condition and noise, north Eardisley. Gill Summers volunteered to join the Highways Working Group (HWG).
  • Speeding and line of sight issues Willersley. Residents from Willersley asked to join the HWG.
  • Request for Ward Councillor to provide a written report for circulation & publication on the PC’s web site.

4. The Minutes of meetings held on 16th March and 6th July (Annual Meeting) 2020 were APPROVED and duly signed by the Chairman as a true record.

5. Finance & Compliance matters: The Finance & Compliance Working Group (FCWG) presented the following items. The first two quarters’ information was presented concurrently due to lockdown restrictions:

5.1. Financial Reports Q1 & Q2 (Half Year): Draft versions of the reports were made available in advance on the web site; no queries were raised and it was RESOLVED the reports should be adopted and approved versions posted on the web site shortly.

5.2. Monthly Bank Reconciliation Reports: In response to a recommendation from the internal auditor, a new format has been adopted for presenting this information monthly. The report for September 2020 was shown and the layout explained to those present. All the reports were APPROVED and signed by the Chairman and Responsible Finance Officer. Signed versions will be published on the PC’s web site as soon as possible.

5.3. Half Year Budget Tracker 2020-21: The Clerk presented the report as at 30.09.2020. As above, draft versions were made available during lockdown. No further queries were raised and it was RESOLVED to adopt the report and update the web site accordingly. It was noted budget setting for 2021-22 would be considered by the FCWG in advance of the next meeting.

5.4. Zoom Subscription: After discussion, it was agreed the PC should extend its subscription, which would ensure PC meetings could take place, regardless of lockdown restrictions. It was also proving useful for holding working group meetings and saving travel time for those involved in several groups. The Clerk presented a comparison between monthly and annual subscription costs and it was RESOLVED the PC should switch to annual when its grant funding expires in November. The ongoing cost to the PC will be £119.90 per annum, plus VAT. The Clerk is hoping to take advantage of a switching discount that could further reduce the cost.

5.5. Accounting Software Package: After first considering this option 12 months ago, the FWCG recommended the PC should now go ahead with subscription to an on-line accounting package to replace multiple spreadsheets used currently by the Clerk for financial reporting, including VAT and year end documentation. Objections were raised and it was AGREED more time should be allowed for questions to be answered and additional research to be undertaken. Therefore, the item will be rolled forward to the next agenda.

6. Planning matters: The Planning Working Group (PWG) reported the briefing session with HC on neighbourhood planning had moved to 4th November (via Zoom) due to lockdown restrictions.

6.1. ‘Planning for the Future’ Consultation: The PWG recommended the PC should make a collective response to the government consultation, in addition to individual responses councillors may already have submitted. Nancy had previously circulated the working group’s draft response, to which minor revisions were suggested. This proposal was AGREED; Nancy will update the draft and the Clerk will make the submission by the 29th October deadline.

6.2. Planning Application: there is only one active application for consideration at this meeting.

6.2.1. P203247/O – Land at Ramblers Way, Winforton HR3 6EP: Outline application for proposed residential development of 8 dwellings. The PWG had reviewed the latest proposal and determined no substantive changes had been made. The PC’s original objections therefore remained. This view was strongly supported; it was RESOLVED the Clerk should submit objections as per the PC’s original response also taking into consideration points raised by HC’s Planning Officer in their delegated report containing the original refusal decision. Meanwhile, Winforton Councillors undertook to lobby for local support and the Chairman will speak with the Ward Councillor.

6.3. As usual, a round-up of all planning activity can be found on the HC Planning Portal (direct link from EGPC web site): https://eardisleygrouppc.org/planning-applications/

7. The Highways Working Group (HWG) reported on a wide range of topics, including status of the new SID’s, footpaths and road maintenance, noise issues, the junction between Courtlands and the road leading to Courtlands Farm/The Paddocks, road surface issues in Eardisley and the Restricted Byway in Winforton. It was suggested the PC should write to Mr Joe Grice (BBLP) to pass on its thanks for the new SID poles provided free of charge; thanks also to Cllr Yvonne King in this regard. To read the November report in full, please refer to the relevant section on the Highways page on the EGPC web site: https://eardisleygrouppc.org/highways-working-group-reports/ In addition, recommendations were made on the following agenda items:

7.1. Restricted Byway Volunteer Group: It was proposed the PC should formally register its support for the volunteer group, comprising landowners and residents, who have started a community project to undertake clearance of the byway to make it more useable. It was noted the PC may be asked for financial assistance at a future stage and if any of the volunteer works impact the highway, it is likely BBLP/HC will need to be notified. It was requested the group keep the PC informed of progress. These proposals were AGREED.

7.2. TRO Application A438 Whitney on Wye: In response to complaints from residents and businesses on the A438 close to Whitney Toll Bridge and a recent fatality, it was recommended by the HWG a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) should be submitted to HC with the aim of standardising the speed limit to 50mph between the western end of Whitney and the Brilley turn-off. After consideration, this proposal was APPROVED and will be taken forward to the next stage by the HWG which will report back to the PC in due course.

8. Environment Matters:

8.1. Flood Risk & Blocked Waterways in Eardisley: The Clerk has filed on-line issues for each of the following via the HC on-line reporting system and received acknowledgements the problems will be investigated. Cllr Steve Whittall spoke with the landowner regarding the gate and debris causing a blockage upstream thought to be increasing the flood risk at Hobby Lyons bridge; this has now been cleared.

8.1.1. Hobby Lyons Bridge: As above. Pending response from HC.

8.1.2. Central Brook by the bridge: Pending response from HC.

8.1.3. Ditches adjacent to Castle Farm/Castle House: The Chairman wrote to both landowners and has now been assured clearance works will be done between now and the end of the year.

9. Finances: As at 09.10.2020, bank account balances were as follows:

Main Account £14,151.75
No. 2 Account* £10,623.46
Business Saver Account £  3,794.87

9.1. The following items (<£100 delegation, dispensation on green bags or approved previously) paid by the Clerk since the last meeting were ratified:

Payee Description Gross Amount (£) VAT (£)
MCG Davies PROW Maintenance (WO93) 177.00   0.00
MCG Davies Lengthsman Services (WO LM01) 160.00   0.00
MCG Davies PROW Maintenance (WO88 & 94) 250.00   0.00
A Morgan (Clerk) Green Bags Reimbursement 400.00   0.00
Autela Payroll Payroll Services   60.24 10.04
A Morgan (Clerk) Green Bags Reimbursement 400.00   0.00
MCG Davies PROW Maintenance (WO95)   60.00   0.00
A Morgan (Clerk) Green Bags Reimbursement 400.00   0.00
A Morgan (Clerk) Green Bags Reimbursement 400.00   0.00

9.2. It was resolved to pay the following:

Payee Description Gross Amount (£) VAT (£)
A Morgan Clerk Expenses (Jul-Sep 2020)   71.19 12.09
A Morgan SID Peripherals (Reimbursement) 115.66 17.61
CommuniCorp Clerk & Councils Magazine   12.00 0.00

10. Correspondence: The following items were noted and will be circulated via local email noticeboards as appropriate:

10.1. HC Physical Activity Strategy Survey

10.2. HC Talk Covid Community Update

10.3. HC Covid-19 Recovery – Visitor Economy initiative

11. Matters for the Next Agenda – no discussion.

11.1. Accounting Software Package

11.2. 2021-22 Precept Level

11.3. Gigaclear Broadband

12. Employment Matters: The public meeting was closed and a resolution passed to discuss an increase to the Clerk’s hourly rate of pay.

12.1. The proposal to uplift the Clerk’s hourly rate of pay (SCP 17) in line with the negotiated NALC pay settlement was APPROVED. The hourly rate increases from £12.39 to £12.73, backdated to 1st April 2020.

Please send Agenda items for the next meeting to the Clerk by Friday, 27th November, thank you.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, 7th December 2020, 7:30pm, Eardisley Village Hall*

*Should it not be possible to meet in person due to Covid-19 restrictions, the meeting will be held online using Zoom and connection details will be issued closer to the time