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Minutes of Thakeham Parish Council Meeting – Monday 17 October 2016, Thakeham Village Hall
Meeting opened: 7.30 p.m.
Present: Mr A Hunt Mrs C Hounslow Mr E Linnell,
Mr D MacEachern Ms F McConnachie Mr N Prince
Mr D Scott Kerr Mr J Smith Mr R Taylor
In attendance Cllr D Jenkins District Council
Mr O Richards Clerk to the Council
Members of the public
102. Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Instance, St Clair, Arculus and Blackall.
103. Interests of members
No interests were declared on any of the agenda items below.
104. Minutes of the last meeting
Members approved and signed the minutes of the last meeting of the Parish Council held on 19 September 2016, and noted that the following matter had been actioned under delegated authority since the last meeting: authorisation to proceed with playground maintenance works (6 October 2016)
105. Report on Action Items
201.2 Abingworth stakeholders/assets: proposals for a governance model were due to be discussed further with the Village Hall Trust on 24 October.
247 Monaghan’s Mushrooms’ investments in the Chesswood site. Following HDC discharge of conditions there had been a site visit attended by 6 councillors and 1 member of the public on 29 September.
38.2 Margins of Furze Lane playground: Cllrs Smith, MacEachern were due to meet shortly.
54 Water Lane roundabout S106 highways monies – efforts to progress this had paused while issues reported under item 116 below were progressed, but would be returned-to.
88.4 Donation request re. November bonfire event. Not pursued given insufficient time to make the 2016 Glebe Field event suitable for a wider audience, but this would be revisited in 2017 (Cllr Instance/Clerk).
88.5 Budget Review group meeting. See item 107.3 below.
89.1 Abingworth phase 2 housing mix. A pre-application stage public meeting was now scheduled for Saturday 12 November; to be advertised by TPC newsletter and flyer from the developer.
90. Neighbourhood Plan. Cllrs Hunt & MacEachern had signed the NP examiner’s contract on behalf of TPC.
91. Parish Design Statement – arranging of next group meeting: a November date would be sought, also monitoring NP examination process for possible steers on this issue. (Action: Clerk)
92. Road Safety developments. See item 116 below for progress of ‘safe route to school’ issues. Issues with signposts near. Sprouts Lane on B2139 had been reported.
93. Committee timetable 2017 had been finalised and re-circulated.
98.3 Winter Emergency Plan See item 110 below.
98.4 Reporting of fallen branches by the B2139 at Jackets Hill: done.
98.6 Condition of steps to the Glebe Field reported, but further iteration needed (Action: Clerk/Cllr McConnachie).
106. Correspondence – the following recent correspondence was noted:
HDC Planning - street name for keyworker houses (response agreed by Planning Committee);
Correspondence with West Chiltington PC and HDC around attendance, submissions and S106-related matters for the 25 October appeal hearing regarding DC/15/0193 (8 houses at Threals Lane);
Local Government Boundary Commission consultation re. HDC councillor numbers/warding pattern (see item 113 below).
Exchanges between TNP Steering Group and the NP Examiner (3-10 October). See item 109 below.
The Clerk had responded to contact from the County Times re. work starting on Key Worker Housing;
Government consultation: Local government finance settlement 2017-18. See item 112 below.
107.1 Financial Performance
A report on the current financial year to 30th September 2016 was received. Members noted that the forecast outcome remained on track with budget, with the possibility of an underspend if it eventuates that provision for Neighbourhood Plan costs and/or other professional fees is not needed in this cycle.
A report on current bank balances was tabled and the following items were approved for payment:
C A Blundy: Litter Warden
Greenserve (outdoor maintenance August)
PKF Littlejohn – completion of annual external audit
Gross salaries including PAYE/NI, Clerk’s expenses, pension
107.3 Budget Group update
Reporting on the first (13 October) meeting of the 2017-18 Budget Group, the Chair drew TPC’s attention to several context factors – including the need to gear up for increased activity/responsibility with the delivery of new Abingworth assets, and possible imposition of new capping rules on parish precepts – which were likely to militate towards seeking a further ‘step-change’ precept increase. The Green Spaces identified in the Neighbourhood Plan may, if approved, require some financial support. Cllr Linnell noted that while further work was in hand on the division of future asset management responsibilities between the PC, the Village Hall Trust and HDC, budget planning needed to assume some costs for TPC relating to moving into and managing the new assets by/around the last quarter of the 2017/18 financial year. The group was progressing the cost and income modelling this involved, and budget reporting structures would be updated accordingly. The group also envisaged starting a process of consulting the community and planning for renewal of key items of play equipment at High Bar Lane, with costs likely to fall in 2018/19. The group’s next meeting of 18 November was expected to review a first draft of 2017/18 budget figures, with a view to draft proposals being circulated to TPC in December 2016.
108. Planning – major current developments
The Chair recapped on the recent launch of house sales, and progress of northern site access works. The tour of 29 September had made clear the significant investment that was continuing to go into the Monaghan’s operation. Reporting on recent discussions with the developer, it was flagged that, subject to design finalisation, works to the Monaghan’s entrances included in the Abingworth permissions were expected to go ahead in the near future. The developer was aware of the high priority of traffic calming measures and was due to bring back specific designs for this shortly; he was also aware that average traffic speed data currently being collected was compromised by the presence of temporary signals. Specific terms had recently been agreed with the prospective tenant of the new shop. An initial tranche of surfacing repairs to Furze Common Road were being scheduled for the near future (although the issue of arranging eventual WSCC adoption remained subject to final clarification of S106 matters relating to the Abingworth development. A pre-application event to consult residents about proposed changes to phase 2 housing mix/numbers was now scheduled for Saturday 12 November. This would be publicised by the TPC newsletter and a flyer being organised by the developer.
108.2 Meadowbrook (Crest Nicholson, Water Lane)
Cllr Scott Kerr reported that although house sales continued to lag behind expectations, the first house was now occupied and the developer intended to continue building to complete the permitted development, which was expected to take a further year.
109. Neighbourhood Plan
The Chair reported that the NP Steering Group had been required to respond, in very little time, to a long, technical and searching set of questions from the Examiner. This had involved a significant amount of work and TPC members again thanked Steering Group colleagues for their continued diligence and patience. Members were assured that, although some minor amends had been agreed in response to points made by the Examiner, this had not involved any material changes to key policies within the NP. The Examiner’s final report was anticipated by the end of October.
110. Winter Emergency Safety Plan
Cllr Prince reported that the previous meeting of Environment Committee had, in the process of ratifying the revised Winter Emergency Plan (submitted to WSCC in September), agreed to recommend minor amendments/additions in relation to these issues:
Vulnerable/housebound residents: (a) to add guidance to volunteers involved in snow clearance, to be mindful of this issue and to pro-actively enquire whether residents know of anyone in a housebound situation who may need help; (b) to make clear (via the parish website and communications during such weather incidents) that the parish could be contacted for advice and in some cases direct assistance to residents affected in this way.
Proposed additional salt bin location at the southern Abingworth site entrance. This would serve both the immediate junction and the top end of Furze Common road. In the first instance this bin would be located next to the bus stop, before moving to a final position after further works to this junction.
Council agreed these proposals, subject to obtaining permission for the new salt bin location from the Abingworth contractors. (Action: Clerk)
111. Abingworth assets governance model
The Chair reported on current discussions with the Village Hall Trust, which were focusing on the Trust expanding its role to encompass day-to-day management of the new community assets. This would require drawing-up a business plan, including the financial modelling outlined in item 107.3 above. Expanding the Trust’s role and responsibilities would require further strengthening of its managing group; in the short term by renewed advertising, and in the medium term by looking to new Abingworth residents to take an active role. A meeting was arranged for 24 October to progress this, and Council would be kept updated. (Action: Chair/Clerk)
112. Government consultation re extension of precept capping/referenda rules to all PCs
Having received the Clerk’s report on this issue, Council agreed that the suggestion floated in this consultation, that capping/referendum rules should be extended to all precepting bodies including small parish councils, required a strong negative response. Council agreed to respond to the consultation, and to write to N Herbert MP, as per the draft prepared. (Action: Clerk)
113. Boundary Commission review of HDC warding arrangements
Council noted the background to this review, the reasons why the Commission were minded to recommend adding three extra district level councillors, and the fact that there were no specific changes to ward arrangements to consider at this point. After discussion, Council agreed to respond to the consultation to the effect that an insufficient case had been made for further increasing HDC members. It was unclear how Horsham district compared to other districts in the region in terms of ratio of councillors to residents. It was not obvious that the modest projected increase in district population by 2022 necessitated more councillors. There seemed no reason to expect that this would improve effective decision-making (indeed, there was a concern that the process seemed driven in part by an already over-complex committee structure). In general, at a time of cuts to services, HDC should be trying to avoid adding to its governance overhead costs. (Action: Clerk to draft and send response to this effect.)
114. Autumn newsletter
Council noted and agreed the draft newsletter, subject to adding a call for new members of the Village Hall Trust. (Action: Clerk)
115. Neighbourhood Planning Committee minutes
Council received the minutes of the Neighbourhood Planning Committee meeting held on 26 September 2016.
116. Report from Environment Committee
Cllr Prince flagged the following issues from the Environment Committee’s previous discussions:
In relation to Rights of Way/Safe Routes to School priorities: work was focusing on progressing the most readily deliverable new walking/cycling route from central Thakeham to Storrington, which involves upgrading Strawberry Lane and, critically, a new section of footway on the east side of the B2139 north of Merrywood Lane. It was hoped that the feasibility of the latter proposal would be confirmed at a further meeting on 19 October with the district WSCC Highways manager. This would be followed by liaison with the Abingworth developer regarding funding and timing of the works, and with Mr & Mrs Binnington as the landowners of Strawberry Lane;
Winter Emergency Plan – see conclusions reported under item 110 above;
Greening Thakeham Bench – agreement to progress a revised proposal for a new bench by Woodlands Way;
Abingworth site – agreement to seek further discussions with the developer/contractors regarding the possibility of some amendments/extension of the current planting specifications, including wildflowers;
Concerns relating to traffic speed in High Bar Lane.
117. Reports from Councillors
117.1 Cllr Jenkins flagged HDC’s recent experience of an increasingly challenging legal context for Neighbourhood Plans, including the need to tighten up the underlying evidence base. This gelled with messages from HDC officers prior to commencement of the current NP examination process. The Chair noted that this was one of many instances of PCs being subject to ‘moving goalposts’.
117.2 In response to a query from Cllr Hounslow it was clarified that the current surface of the new east-west bridleway at the Abingworth north entrance was only the underlying hoggin base, and that further layers were due to be added which would make the surface fully suitable for horses.
117.3 Cllr Prince flagged that he had attended a HALC meeting the previous week and that minutes of that meeting were available on request.
117.4 In response to a query from Cllr Linnell it was confirmed that works underway in the field east of the B2139 and north of Merrywood Lane were, so far, progressing in line with permissions given by HDC officers (not all of which were in line with TPC’s expressed advice).
118. Public Participation Session
118.1 Prompted by point 117.4 above, Cllr Jenkins noted that planning rules had been weakened in terms of the local authority’s power to scrutinise the business plans that underpin new developments of this sort.
118.2 Referring to the Winter Plan (item 110 above) Cllr Jenkins flagged that he was willing to lend a generator to TPC – an offer that Council gratefully accepted (Action: Clerk to liaise with Cllr Jenkins).
118.3 Mr T Binnington confirmed that fence repairs and drainage issues relating to the field adjacent to Woodland Way had now been addressed.
118.4 A member of the public resident in Rother Close reported, as a neighbour of the Meadowbrook (Crest Nicholson) development, problems relating to unacceptable levels of noise, dust, exhaust fumes and bad language. It was agreed that the PC would seek to assist in a mediating role (Action: Cllr Scott-Kerr, Clerk).
119. Chairman’s Announcements
There were none.
120. Any other business for noting or inclusion on a future agenda
There was none.
Date of next meeting: Monday 21 November 2016 at 7.30 p.m.
Meeting closed: 8.40 p.m. there was a concern that the process seemed driven in part by an already over-complex committee structure). In general, at a time of cuts to services, HDC should be trying to avoid adding to its governance overhead costs. (Action: Clerk to draft and send response to this effect.)
In relation to Rights of Way/Safe Routes to School priorities: work was focusing on progressing the most readily deliverable new walking/cycling route from central Thakeham to Storrington, which involves upgrading Strawberry Lane and, critically, a new section of footway on the east side of the B2139 north of Merrywood Lane. It was hoped that the feasibility of the latter proposal would be confirmed at a further meeting on 19 October with the district WSCC Highways manager. This would be followed by liaison with the Abingworth developer regarding funding and timing of the works, and with Mr & Mrs Binnington as t