Hoe and Worthing Villages: Norfolk
Draft minutes of meeting held on 12 October 2017
Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting
Trevor Wood (Chairman), Albert Stagles, Philip and Rosemary Cane, Adam Flack, Celia Daniel, Carl and Glenys Watling, Alan Hughes, David and Val Knight, Roger Thorneley, Ralph and Suzanne Stephan, Simon and Sally Brock, Ivan Mayes, Tracey Green, Des and Penny Humberston, Philip and Margaret Barrett, Mike Mullins, Sue and Dick Malt, Robert Richmond and Krystyna Stroulger.
Apologies were received from Danny Danson, Jenny Tuckwell, Sally Kimmis, Philip Stroulger and Richard Crisp.
After welcoming everyone to the meeting, in particular Robert Richmond, District Councillor, as a guest, the Chairman began by thanking Simon Brock for his contribution to Parish Meetings during his time as scribe and welcomed Sally Dearing to the position.
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
It was agreed that ‘matters arising from the minutes’, which for some time has been dealt with in the Chairman’s Report, would no longer be a separate item on the agenda, that ‘any other business’ would only be allowed at the discretion of the Chairman and it would usually comprise something of urgency arising immediately before the meeting.
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 May 2017, available on the Hoe and Worthing website and also displayed on the walls of the village hall for this evening were proposed for adoption. Sue Malt noted a correction to the Treasurer’s Report which should read ‘Swanton Morley’s Patients Participation Group’ and not ‘Elmham’s’, as had been recorded in the draft minutes. This was duly noted.
Carl Watling proposed that the minutes were a true record of the meeting, seconded by Dick Malt. There was a show of hands of 10 who had been present at the previous meeting and agreed with the proposal. Therefore the minutes were adopted.
3. Treasurer’s Report
The Treasurer circulated her report to the meeting. There were two points of note regarding insurance; insurance of the hall and Parish insurance. The hall insurance for last year and also for this year have both fallen within this financial year so the amount shown in the accounts would appear to be double.
With regard to the Parish insurance, the Chairman explained that he has subscribed to a national association for Parish Councils for advice to ensure that all Parish matters comply with best practice. The association have advised the Chairman to take out Professional Indemnity Insurance and this insurance includes Public Liability for events. Unlike the Church insurance, this new Public Liability insurance policy is not restricted just to events taking place in the diocese owned premises approved by the parochial church council. The Chairman explained that, following recent events, he had been left in a vulnerable position and at risk of being sued personally since a Parish Meeting is not a body corporate and cannot, as such, be sued.
It was further noted that no payment had been made to the Church until October and therefore this payment will fall within the next financial year.
James Keith proposed that payments to the two Churches and the three designated charities (Citizens Advice Bureau, Elmham First Responders and Air Ambulance) should continue. This was seconded by Roger Thorneley. There was one abstention but unanimous.
The Treasurer felt that there would be no reason to increase the precept. Sue Malt proposed that it should be left as it is and Dick Malt seconded this proposal. Unanimous.
4. Church Report
Celia Daniel gave her report on St Mary’s Church at Worthing. She said that an appeal had been sent out to all Worthing residents following the demise of the Church’s lawnmower. The lawnmower was being replaced at a cost of £670 and that the residents of Worthing had raised £290 towards this. She thanked everyone for their donations.
Celia said that the Church would be taking part in the Samaritan’s ‘Operation Shoebox’ this Christmas.
5. Reports from Local Groups
Dick Malt said that the fencing has now finished and that the bracken has been flattened again. Dick is now chasing up the Wildlife Trust to agree what animals are suitable for the Common. It was thought maybe Dartmoor ponies.
Village Hall Management Group
Sue Malt gave a report on behalf of the Village Hall Management Group. The current hire rate of £5 per hour still appears to be covering the electric costs, septic tank emptying and insurance. The total contribution towards the parish funds is £664.
5.3 Community Events
Carl Watling spoke on behalf of the newly formed Events Committee. He explained that events will initially be self funding and on a small scale. The first event is a Quiz that will be held on Friday 20 October. Adam Flack is organising a family ramble between the Christmas and New Year period. Carl said that the events for 2018 may be more ambitious and a Village Fete will be organised for next summer. The Events Committee would also like to organise more talks of interest and, to this end, Carl asked if anyone would be prepared to host a talk.
The Chairman thanked Dick and Sue Malt and Carl Watling for their contributions. There were no questions.
6. Chairman’s Report
The Chairman suggested that, once again, he would provide a written Chairman’s Report to accompany the minutes of this meeting. However, one point he wished to draw to the attention of the meeting was the Breckland Council’s Local Plan which will define planning policy for the whole Breckland area during the next 20 years.
The Chairman circulated a copy of Policy HOU 05 – Small Villages and Hamlets Outside of Settlement Boundaries, detailing the planning permissions outside of settlement boundaries and listing the criteria that should be met before planning can be approved. One criteria is that an application demonstrates that it has appropriate local support. This will elevate the future parish contribution from an advisory status to having a substantial input in the decision-making process.
A Planning Policy for Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting has been drawn up, approved by the Parish planning volunteers and was recommended for adoption at the meeting. The document outlines the procedure for Hoe and Worthing to consider planning applications and has been available on the website and displayed on the wall of the village hall this evening. The Chairman highlighted one amendment to the policy. In the rare circumstance that a meeting has to be called, it has to be openly advertised and the Chairman has three days to call a meeting. However, if a meeting is for a single issue, ie Planning, the notice period has to be seven days.
The Policy was proposed by James Keith and seconded by Roger Thorneley.
The Chairman referred to the previous meeting where he had outlined that he had been unable to prevent the unlawful holding of covert un-minuted meetings and erroneous claims to be authorised to represent the parish meeting on planning issues; as a result he had brought the matter to the notice of the Parish Meeting to resolve.
He reported on the steps he had taken since the meeting to afford some protection to the Parish Meeting reputation and to himself which had included consulting an organisation advising Parish Councils and paying for membership, taking out Professional Indemnity insurance and consulting with the district council’s advisors. As a result of the advice he had received, he provided those concerned with written notice regarding previous and future conduct. The Chairman informed the meeting that the Vice Chairman resigned his position but remained a member of the parish planning committee.
The Chairman underscored that his position was one requiring him to be responsible and accountable to the Parish Meeting for all things he did on the meeting’s behalf and to ensure he was authorised to do so. Recent actions however had often taken away control of several things entrusted to the Chairman, been against agreed and legal practice, were entirely unauthorised and without responsibility or accountability, placing an intolerable burden of extra work and exposure on the Chairman, whilst creating a great deal of stress and uncertainty for him and his family. He had no confidence that he could continue to fill the role of Chairman from such a vulnerable position in the future.
James Keith thanked the Chairman for his loyalty and diligence to the Parish and said he should never have been put in this untenable position. He proposed a show of support for the Chairman, seconded by Simon Brock. This was unanimous
Roger Thorneley was given an opportunity to reply to the comments and he said that he had acted in good faith, even if he may not have followed protocol. He said that he has always admired the Chairman and shown his support. David Knights asked if we could now move on from this situation. However, Sue Malt reiterated the seriousness of the situation for the Chairman. James Keith proposed that Roger Thorneley stand down from his position on the Planning Sub Committee, to allow the Chairman to continue in his role with confidence. This was seconded by Margaret Barrett. 14 in favour and 2 against. Roger Thorneley resigned.
The next meeting will be held on 16 May 2018.