Present: Councillors Mrs Walklett (chairman), Mrs Noble, Mrs Dawson, Hesler, Gilson, Reynalds, Rutherford, Devlin, Bridgett; C Miller, two members of the public.
Apologies for absence: Coun Hesler, work commitment.
Declarations of members’ interests: Members were invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or other personal interests they may have had in any of the items of business on the agenda in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
Minutes: The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a true record after the addition of proposer and seconder to forward objection to Planning Application NO 15/03995/FUL.
Community Services: Gardening and winter maintenance.
A possible gardener contract of employment had been discussed between the gardener and Coun Gilson.
Works actioned during the month of December had been leaf, drain and gully clearance. This work is Northumberland County Council’s (NCC) responsibility, but is not being actioned due to a lack of resources.
A full schedule of future work, with estimated costs, is to be drawn up with the gardener. The full council would confirm the work. However, future works cannot be confirmed until the budget for 2016/2017 has been finalised.
In the near future, the parish council needs to create a new village caretaker post, or put gardening works out to tender. Coun Reynalds declared a personal interest.
Regular reports from the gardener would be circulated to all members for discussion at monthly planning and community services committee meetings.
Coun Gilson proposed meeting with gardener to discuss future work, Coun Reynalds seconded, carried. Coun Bridgett suggested keeping to the current system until the end of financial year, then formal tender and job description be drafted for gardening contract for next financial year.
Benches: 73 benches, with approximately 18 being at the end of their useful life. Coun Gilson suggested seats beyond reasonable repair be removed. This item to also be discussed with village gardener as part of the forward plan.
Bins: Several bins around the village are in need of replacement. However, they cannot now be ordered through the county council, the parish council needs to order them itself through Glasdon. Clerk to research and contact all with details.
Fences, posts and railings: Concrete posts outside URC Church, Stephenson Terrace and Haugh is in need of repair, and two white posts near to the rectory (however, these are the responsibility of NCC) have been flattened. Vehicle driver had confirmed to the clerk they were to action repair to the post near to triangle.
Coun Mrs Walklett and the clerk to confirm exact details of posts in need of repair and whether some are the responsibility of NCC.
The corner of the kerb and manhole previously reported to Bill Pringle, of NCC, had not been actioned. The clerk to re-contact. However, NCC had carried out works to cobbles outside of the rectory.
Telephone kiosk outside Jubilee Institute: British Telecom is looking into a replacement kiosk.
Whitton View playpark area: Northumberland Estates had twice been asked to attend the site, with Coun Mrs Walklett checking the site and not being certain whether improvements had been carried out. The dog bin at park was also full, clerk was to contact Bill Pringle at NCC and Northumberland Estates to request an update.
Beggars Rigg project: Proposed flower project regarding a wildlife garden and outdoor musical instruments at Beggars Rigg on greenery towards pathway, with persons able to seek funding. A bid is to be submitted in May and there is a request that the parish council can be included as a supporter of the project, which may lead to it committing to the project financially. It was agreed in principle to support the project.
Fencing/trees near to Whitton View/Armstrong Cottages: Detailed history provided by Coun Reynalds concerning large trees growing on slope and hanging over properties on Whitton View. Bernicia did confirm it owned this land, carried out fence maintenance and cut back several beech trees. However, work had been sub-standard. NCC had expressed grave concern, with Bernicia then agreeing to carry out further work.
The householder at 31, Whitton View, had been complaining about trees since 2012 and contacting NCC on a weekly basis. However, the personnel dealing with the issue had left NCC and the situation had now ground to a halt.
Coun Reynalds proposed that the parish council engage a surgeon to inspect the tree and confirm if works are required. However, Coun Bridgett is to speak to the Tree Officer at NCC.
Flooding and Riverside Access: Residents had reported problems on the riverside regarding flood gates as when they are closed there is technically no access for an emergency vehicle. Potential options for access could be a footpath at the pumping station, a set of wooden steps which would come out at Walby Hill, or creating a hole in the wall backing onto Muckle’s yard, all needing landowners’ permission. The clerk is to initially contact Coun Hesler for advice. Clerk to action.
Forward Plan: To add to forthcoming agendas: February, Haugh public conveniences, Clerk. March: Hanging baskets. Neighbourhood Plan report, Helen.
Details of W/C maintenance included in spend to date. However, there was the possibility a ‘Village Warden’ could oversee W/C cleansing and watering hanging baskets.
Approval of the planning application had been received for the following:
15/03778/FELTPO: Mr B Rogers, Hurley Knowes, Station Road – works to trees protected by TPO.
Correspondence: G Davidson – parking. Coun Walkett read out full email concerning NCC parking proposals and the writer’s personal opinion. The writer had various concerns and wished to get answers to questions regarding rumours that the parish council was to introduce parking restrictions and levy town centre residents. He also asked how many mothers had complained about difficulty crossing the road near to Newcastle House and was suggesting a wall be built around the War Memorial.
He was asking why the parish council had not instigated signage for Haugh parking, and why Coun Gilson is making decisions for the community when his home is up for sale.
G Davidson’s opinion was that the proposals appear flawed and do not meet future needs of the village.
However, it wasn’t only mothers, but elderly persons having difficulty crossing the road.
There are no proposals for the parish council to implement restrictions or charges. The parish council’s opinion on any signs indicating the Haugh parking is that most people would still park in the village, however, some signage would be of use. NCC was to carry out further consultation with residents, however, physical changes were to be implemented first, and then policy changes, which would cover Haugh signage.
Coun Gilson reported that he had spoken personally to Mr Davidson regarding this email.
Northumberland County Council – winter services – snow was expected. Coun Bridgett gave an update of NCC action.
The meeting finished at 8.45pm.