Hoe and Worthing Parish Meeting
Minutes of the AGM held on Wednesday, 14 May 2014.
Trevor Wood, Richard Crisp, James Keith, Senga Thompson, Susan Chapman, Karyn Wood, Mike Chapman, Alan Hughes, Celia Daniel, Ivan Mayes, Dominic Chessum, Susan Brock, Simon Brock, Susan Malt, Lynda Eaglesham, Albert Stagles, James Sayer, Danny Danson, Chris Danson, Margaret Barrett and Adrian Hodge.
Apologies where received from Roger and Jenny Thorneley, David and Val Knight, John and Jenny Tuckwell, Dick Malt, Josie and Ernie Lloyd, Charles Carey and Lynne Hodge.
The chairman, Trevor Wood, opened the meeting by welcoming Robert Richmond, the local ward member for Breckland and Adrian Aubrey-Jones the team vicar for Hoe.
The minutes of the previous AGM of 15th May 2013 were proposed by James Keith as a true record, seconded by Albert Stagles and unanimously agreed by the meeting.
3. Matters Arising
It was decided that these would be covered in the Chairman’s report.
4. Treasurer’s Report
The treasurer, Margaret Barrett, reported that the main variation in expenses from the previous year was due to the Reading Room extension. The expenditure on the roof splaying repair, which was not foreseen, was recouped by not installing the French doors. The electricity costs were up due to the use of builder’s equipment and insurance was up due to the increase size and facilities of the Reading Room. The cost of the two dog bins for Worthing was £325.14 which was partly offset by a contribution of £81.28 from Elmham PCC. Other variations were explained on accompanying printout within the accounts.
The accounts were proposed for approval by James Keith who also thanked Margaret for her work in producing such excellent, clear accounts. The approval was seconded by Susan Brock and agreed unanimously by the meeting.
5. Chairman’s Report
5.1 Dog Bins. Two dog bins have been installed in Worthing. The Chairman used his discretion to authorise the installation of the second one as with the saving that could be made and the contribution from North Elmham the cost for both bins was £243, against £207 quoted for one at the last meeting.
5.2 Worthing Sign. Adrian Hodge updated the meeting on the progress with the village sign. The sign has been dismantled and stored undercover. All parts have been found to be rotten. Oak planks have been kindly donated and Dan Windham, from Hackford Cabinet Makers, very kindly donated 3 hours free of charge to make the new back board. They hoped to salvage some of the oak from the backboard but it appeared to be originally constructed of soft woods rather than hard wood and was mostly rotten. They are presently looking into casting mouldings from resin. Cost of project to date – nil.
5.3 Highways Issues. All hedges belonging to Mrs Borrett have now been cut back.
All other outstanding highway issues have now been completed or are in hand. The pot holes along Mill Lane have only been half completed due to rain. Trevor will chase up highways to ensure the remaining work is completed.
Trevor reported that there had been a big slow down in applications apart from occasional requests for extensions. There has been an application to extend the extensive two story garage at ‘The Hermitage’ on Mill Lane. The previous consent was granted with heavy conditions on noise and environmental considerations. A large number of classic cars are kept on the site and the parish meeting requested all previous conditions are included in the next build.
The application for the 180 acres owned by Basil Todd continues. The application is for a tourist attraction, but the Chairman commented that the application had received more objections than any other application he had been involved in.
Two appeals are to be heard on 3rd June at Breckland District Council, one for the visitor centre and one against the enforcement of the existing metal building.
A full application has been received incorporating all the features that have been completed without consent as well as the visitor centre, camping area etc. The application was heard on 14th April and 12th May but was deferred on both occasions, in the first instance for a site visit and the second because the senior planner present was concerned about additional information provided in the meeting by the applicant. The obstructed bridleway was heard on appeal and now declared a public footpath.
A lot of discussion followed about the application. Planning officers seem to be pushing for approval, yet there is huge local opposition. National planning guidelines have been reduced from some 1500 pages to approximately 60. The planners have consistently taken the view that generating employment for the local rural economy seems to take precedence over environmental protection and very little weight is put on local policies designed to protect river valleys in particular. Local opposition think the benefit to the local economy is totally unsupported but the chief planning officer doesn’t seem to think the applicant needs to show any evidence of need.
The river valley is a protected area but the Environmental Agency has withdrawn their objections. There is concern that if this application gets through then it could set a precedent for development of river valleys, certainly in the Breckland area, the whole Wensum Valley and possibly nationally.
Robert Richmond expressed his concerns and stated that 80 people have written letters of objection but nobody in the planning department seems to be taking any notice. It is also difficult for him to get involved as he does not represent the Billingford Ward.
With the frustration local parishioners are feeling, it was felt that more direct action should be taken. Trevor will consult locally to test the support for this.
5.5. As a result of concern expressed by a parishioner that it was unlawful for the parish meeting to approve grants Trevor had made extensive enquiries. It is quite clear that grants have been properly approved and the provision under which they are made is Section 137 Local Government Act. This only limits payments in as much as they have to be commensurate with the local benefit they provide (i.e. not excessive), not exceed the equivalent (currently) of £7.20 per elector and cannot provide for any single individual.
Given the challenge that was made Trevor suggested that future grants should be indicated in the minutes as having been made under S.137.
6. Reading Room Extension. Soldiers from the army camp helped move some of the originally excavated soil back to form topsoil but the quality of the soil had not been as good as hoped for. James Keith and Simon Brock said that their farm would be able to help move some more top soil to the village hall to help finish grassing the outside area.
Sue Malt’s original idea of celebrating the opening of the reading room had blossomed into a huge success. A working party was created to help action all the ideas. Flyers were sent out detailing the event and also detailing how part of the organised events were planned to raise money for equipping the village hall. The final sum of money raised on the day was £697.
The Chairman read out extracts from Roger Thorneley’s email (which cannot be a proposition in absentia) which expressed concern about whether all the money raised should be spent on the Reading Room. The AGM should vote on how it should be spent. If the hall is hired out, can’t the necessary items be bought quickly before hand? Worthing residents may not feel included and therefore Worthing should receive a proportion of the funds for its 50% input to the precept, for example Worthing’s village sign. The point was discussed by the meeting and there was overall support for the original opening being primarily to raise funds for equipping the new extension and therefore they should be used for that purpose.
It was decided that there should be a management committee set up to manage the expenditure and the overall running of the reading room.
The PCC’s constitutional document detailing how the Reading Room should be managed was circulated.
The church would have been happy to completely hand over the control of the Reading Room to the parish but legally are not allowed to issue a lease, so this agreement was felt the next best option. The parish should elect 8 people to form a management committee but the PCC will have the final say in the running. The insurance of the building remains the same (provided by the church and reimbursed by the parishes). The management committee should draw up proper accounts. Approved hire agreements are to be produced and a register to be kept of any such hires. The reading room must not be used for immoral purposes or to cause public nuisance.
Margaret proposed to accept the agreement. This was seconded by Sue Malt and unanimously agreed by the meeting. There was concern that the agreement should state a maximum of eight on the committee and for the committee to form details of the quorum needed. Adrian Aubrey-Jones stated that the agreement would be amended. Trevor Wood proposed that we accept the agreement with this amendment. This was seconded by Karyn Wood and unanimously accepted by the meeting.
There was a discussion about how the committee will handle the funds and whether it would be more efficient to set up as a charity. It was decided that the committee would look into this.
Committee members from Hoe were Sue Malt, James Keith, Trevor Wood and Simon Brock. Chris Danson was the committee member from Worthing and would find another three members.
7. Election of Officers
Worthing Planning Committee
Roger Thornley, David Knight, Danny Danson, Susan Brock. Proposed Chris Danson, Seconded Adrian Hodge.
Hoe Planning Committee
Dick Malt, Trevor Wood, James Sayer, Simon Brock. Proposed Margaret Barrett, seconded James Keith.
Margaret Barrett. Proposed Trevor Wood, seconded Senga Thomson.
Roger Thorneley. Proposed Adrian Hodge, seconded Susan Brock
Trevor Wood. Proposed Simon Brock, seconded James Keith.
All the above positions were unanimously accepted.
8. Any Other Business
Sue Malt spoke on behalf of Dick Malt to give a report on Hoe Common.
Natural England have awarded a Higher Level Stewardship agreement which is a great result and will help fund the maintenance and improvement of the common for the next 10 years.
The scrub has been cut back to help heather regeneration. The controlled area will be fenced (funded by the HLS agreement) over the coming years and ponies introduced. They will be managed to graze the area helping to reduce bracken and scrub return. Mechanical scraping of the bracken has been undertaken. The gorse cutting was rewarded by the sighting of 8 adders basking in the sun. Sue thanked Glen Stevenson for his excellent help with the legal side of sorting terms with the trustees. Bracken on the trenches (now scheduled as a national monument) needs cutting back. Dick and Danny went on a scythe cutting course. Four scythes have been obtained from the closing Wensum Valley Project. A working party will be needed three times a year to scythe the trenches.
Robert Richmond was available for any questions. He reminded the meeting that grant monies were still available from Breckland. He also answered a query regarding planning.
Trevor Wood offered Sue Malt a big vote of thanks on behalf of the parishes for the fantastic work she had done with the Reading Room opening ceremony. In return, she gave an equally big thank you to Trevor for all his hard work.
9. Date of the next meeting. Wednesday 15th October, 2014