11 May 2021 – Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting

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Cllr G Jones (Chairman), Cllr P Fisher (Vice Chairman), Cllr C Hurst, Cllr D Bentley, Cllr V O’Dunne, Cllr E Philpott, Cllr J Dando, Cllr S Tudor,  Cllr A Hemming 

Also In attendance:

Mrs K St Leger (Clerk)

3 Member of the public

7:15 – 7:30    Public Open Forum

Cllr Jones brought forward item 14 to determine vacancies for Barlaston West Ward from the agenda. Mrs Emma Adams-Elsmore applied for the position with closing date of 19 February. She was asked to leave the room.  The Council unanimously voted to invite Mrs Adams-Elsmore onto the Parish Council, she signed the acceptance of office form and joined the meeting as a Parish Councillor.

The two applicants for the vacancy with the closing date of 12 April 2021 could not make the meeting. This appointment will be determined at the next meeting.

1          Welcome and introductions

The retiring Chairman to welcome those present

2          Barlaston Parish Council/Declaration of Office

Councillors to declare any interests in accordance with the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 in relation to this meeting. No declarations of interest were declared.

3          Apologies – There were no apologies

4          Election of Chair

  • Cllr Jones stood down as Chairman following a 10 year term. Cllr Fisher put his name forward and was unanimously voted in as Chairman. Cllr Fisher and the Parish Council thanked Cllr Jones for the work he had undertaken during his tenure.
  • Cllr Fisher duly signed the Declaration of Office form

It was noted the chain of office needed to be updated with the names of Cllr Philpott and Cllr Jones.

5          Election of Vice Chair – Cllr Bentley was duly elected as Vice Chairman.

6          Formation of working groups were determined as follows:

  • Finance Committee
    • Cllr O’Dunne – Chairman
    • Cllr Jones
    • Cllr Fisher
    • Cllr Philpott
    • Cllr Tudor
    • Cllr Hemming
  • Planning Committee
    • Cllr Fisher – Chairman
    • Cllr Bentley
    • Cllr Tudor
    • Cllr Hemming
    • Cllr Philpott
    • Cllr Adams-Elsmore
  • Environmental Committee
    • Cllr Hurst – Chairman
    • Cllr Dando
    • Cllr Philpott
    • Cllr Tudor
    • Cllr Jones
  • Sole Trustee Representative(s) on the Village Hall Committee
    • Cllr Jones – Chairman
    • Cllr Bentley
  • Joint Playing Fields Committee
    • Cllr Fisher – Chairman
    • Cllr Dando
    • Cllr Tudor
  • Representative on the School of Governors
    • Cllr Hemming
  • Patients Group
    • Cllr Tudor
    • Cllr Dando

It was discussed whether to have a Highways Committee, however it was felt that the current situation worked well and did not require a formal Parish Council committee.

7          Banking arrangements

            Cllr Fisher’s name to be added to the bank signatory group. It was noted that the Clerk, Cllr Philpott, Cllr Jones could now access the bank account. Payments, where feasible, to be made via bank transfer. Figures to be ratified at the monthly meeting, invoices to be signed by two bank signatories for audit purposes.

8          Asset Register

The asset register was approved, the Clerk to publish on the website.

9          Risk Register

The Risk Register dated 31 March 2021 was accepted.  There are a number of items which need to be addressed during 2021/22. The Clerk to facilitate.

10        Date for the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for the Year ending 31 March 2021. The Clerk noted the internal audit for 2020/21 was taking place on 12 May 2021, following the outcome a meeting date will be set.

11        Budget Details for Financial Year 2020/21 – were accepted as a true record.

12        Standing Orders – The existing standing orders were adopted without amendment. Clerk to publish on the website.

13        Financial Regulations

The Clerk requested a figure of £100 be included to facilitate the purchase of office sundries, it was resolved to accept this recommendation. The Standing Orders to be amended accordingly and published on the website.

14        Vacancy for Barlaston West Ward

  • Vacancy Closing date: 12 April 2021 – to be deferred to the next Parish Council meeting.

15        Minutes of the full Council Meeting of 2 March 2021 – it was resolved to accept these.

16        Matters arising from the meeting of 2 March 2021 and not otherwise on the agenda

7          To receive update on Civic Service for Covid-19 commemoration in Barlaston – The Parish Council had received a positive response from the Church Service arranged by Cllr Jones and Cannon Jones.  It was resolved to hold a celebration on the green once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.  The Clerk to inform Cannon Jones accordingly.

Cllr Jones had written to Cannon Jones on behalf of the Parish Council thanking him for his contribution to the successful church service.

22        To receive update on Neighbourhood Watch schemes (deferred)

98        To receive update on play area design visit (deferred)

175       To receive report following Village Green Visit (deferred)

17        Clerk’s Update Report – Appendix A.

  • Lakewood Drive update – the land owners have asked residents to submit information. The Clerk suggested the Parish Council approach JCB to see if they would visit the site with a possibility of trialling their new pot hole machine.
  • The Village Hall committee asked for a deferral of the works to the Hall to enable them to open. It was resolved to accept this recommendation.
  • Wedgwood Memorial College – the Clerk was asked to approach the new owners to cut their hedge back as this is causing a hazard to pedestrians.

18        Planning Report on planning application 21/33687/FUL described as proposed housing development between Brookhouse Drive and Old Road – Appendix B.  Cllr Jones advised the Borough Council should make a recommendation by end of next week.  There had been an update from the Housing Allocation posted on the application advising no further comments made to the Consultant’s response. There is an indication going forward to recommend a refusal to this application.

19        To note financial matters:

            (a) bank reconciliation reports – It was resolved to accept these.

            (b) schedule of payments report March / April 2021 – it was resolved to accept these.

  NET VAT Cheque
Buxus Green, grounds maintenance 530.00 0.00 002706
Buxus Green, repair damage to village green 150.00 0.00 002709
HMRC PAYE / NI contribution 230.69 0.00 002710
K St Leger salary & expenses 995.57 0.00 002712
Staffordshire Pension Fund 310.76 0.00 002713
Ven-A-S Contractors inv 1906 hedge cutting Station Road 100.00 20.00 002714
Barlaston Methodist Church inv 144 – Room rental 650.00 0.00 002715
AED Donate Inv 1577 – replacement of defib cabinets 4275.00 855.00 002717
Perennial Landscapes Inv 3811 – March grass cut 285.00 57.00 002718
Canprint Inv 30879 – Thanksgiving service printing 105.00 0.00 002719
Perennial Landscapes Inv 3836 – Termination of contract 1000.00 200.00 002721
K St Leger salary & expenses 919.99 0.00 002722
Staffordshire Pension Fund 310.76 0.00 002723
Creative Landscapes Inv 11/4/21 205.00 0.00 002725
Buxus Green – sand / stain / repair 12 benches 900.00 0.00 002726


(c) to note AGAR external audit schedule

20        Risk Assessment update and determine actions – To investigate cybercrime and the impact on the Parish Council.

21        Grant application(s)

  • The Canal & River Trust @ £2000 for aggregate to repair towpath (subject to grant not being available). It was resolved to accept this application.
  • Contribution to the maintenance of the graveyard @ £1320. It was resolved to accept this application.
  • The Village Hall Committee @ £600 to cover following:
    • Heat 4 connection @ £500
    • £100 to cover electrical works

It was resolved to accept this application.

  • The Womblers@ £200 for litter picking apparatus. It was resolved to accept this recommendation.

It was noted works had been undertaken to the little chapel, the Clerk advised the Parish Council had not been approached for funding, it was noted under Government legislation the Parish Council cannot contribute to a church building.

22        Planning Committee Recommendations – Planning Application 21/33982/HOU at 34 Park Drive Barlaston described as previous application has been amended – the Parish Council had no objection to this planning application.

23        Items for inclusion in next month’s agenda

  • There is a dead tree on Lime Grove which comes under SARH’s remit.
  • Traffic issues have been reported with motorbikes using Barlaston as a race circuit.
  • Investigate the introduction of a youth council.

24        Annual Parish Meeting – The Chairman resolved to cancel the event due to Covid-19 restrictions.  However, information summarising progress will be published to residents.

25        Date of next meeting Parish Council Meeting – 1 June 2021

Appendix A

Clerks Report April 2021

35/36    Village Drainage Strategy 

A page has been included on the Parish Council website as requested. The site now requires the relevant information uploading.

64        Former Wedgwood Memorial College – I have spoken to the owners of the site and am awaiting a formal response with a view to the Parish Council working with them on the project moving forwards.

97        The abandoned car on the Station Road car park – West Midlands Railways issued a 14 day advisory notice and the vehicle has since been removed.

98        Play area design visit (deferred) – Cllr Philpott has been collating images which will prove useful when the project commences.

138      Highways and Speed Watch update – Information has been circulated; however it is frustrating the Police will not use the data from the SID’s as evidence of speeding, something which Mr Norman is challenging, alongside Cllr Ian Parry. The full information was submitted to Cllrs.

140      Poor condition of the towpath and removal of protective barriers on the bridge by the Plume of Feathers

The County Council have replaced the barriers and made sure the existing barriers are fit for purpose. Their response was immediate and highly appreciated.

Volunteers for the Canal & River Trust have been working along the towpath around the Plume of Feathers.  They have applied for grant funding to commence the repair of the towpath to bring this up to the standard of Stone and Trentham, they won’t know if they have been successful for several weeks.  If funding is not forthcoming, this could delay the project, the Clerk discussed a possible grant to fund any shortfall, which would ensure the continuation of the project.  They advised £2k should cover the cost of the materials.

Volunteers would be required to assist with the project, feedback from residents has been very positive.

160      Parking issues on Broughton Crescent

A resident is interested in volunteering as a walking bus coordinator, we need to understand the liabilities this entails. The County Council will undertake full training.

It would be worth re-visiting the offer of the Parish Council providing Hi-viz vests to the Children should this project be undertaken.

165      AEDdonate donate works – The works have been scheduled, Site information has been provided to AED donate, however we are missing contact information for the boxes which are attached to houses.

175       Crossing Patrol device / Update following Village Green Visit

Quotations received with regards to the Solar Crossing Patrol Device:

Simmonsigns (Yellow sign with a flashing yellow light on each corner)

PULSA4/SMT/SOL/600/Y 2 3,194.18 Solar powered Smart Pulsa 4×4, 710 x 1300mm with Smart Pulsa calendar system. Yellow body with graphics applied (graphics to be confirmed at point of order). 4 bars channel for post fixing. 230vac 50Hz. Comes complete with Solar Panel, battery pack & regulator for mounting to 89mm post @ £3,202.51 each, excluding the post.

Malletite – 12v solar powered ‘Safeway’ signs size 870 x 1530mm with yellow front, black reverse, 4 amber corner flashers. Sign to have reflective face with School Zone at the top then D545 Children Crossing (600mm tri) and Max Speed 20 when lights flash. Sign supplied with 40 watt solar panel and @ £1834 each – Excluding post

We are awaiting confirmation on the progress being made by Cllr Ian Parry to see if this is in hand at County level before we proceed.

We would need Planning Permission and a licence to plant.

Update from Cllr Philpott following Village Green Visit 5 March 2021:

  • Present EP GJ CH ST DB
  • Village hall gates -gates look really good and robust and we all felt that they will do the job well.
  • It was noted that the school gates on the carpark were still open could the school be contacted.
    • The School have been contacted to ensure the gate remains permanently closed and parents are informed this is not a viable access to the school.
  • The village hall looks like it has numerous damp areas on the front, it would benefit buy being rendered all over the front facade, there are small areas where it would need to go along the sides just to keep it looking tidy, it was suggested that a section of approximately 1 meter from the floor would benefit by being painted black as people lean with their feet on the wall when smoking. The texture and colour of the rendering was thought to be keep similar to the house on the corner of the green to keep it in keeping with the area.
  • We spoke to the resident with regards to trimming back his holly hedge and he was happy to do this next time he cuts it as holly is only cut at certain times of the year.
  • A resident complained about people using the old post office lane but others feel that it is being monitored by the school and have been told by the head to ring up straight away if they see anyone driving down the lane.
  • The hedge next to the Duke has been trimmed back and it was clear to walk the pavement.
  • The drainage at the top of the green has now been dealt with but the top of the green by the goal posts and various other parts of the top green need to have a consultation with a drain expert, Cllr Hurst will speak to someone if that is the wish of the Parish Council, the area by the old school tree has a drain problem and Cllr Hurst is looking into this as the water runs on to the footpath which is making the area muddy.
  • The new play site is still very wet and drainage needs to be addressed here as well, also the stream that runs on the side of the green needs attention the bottom of the brook where it should go under the road has been partly unblocked but there is still problem there, we were happy with the area for stans new bench, it was noted that there is no disabled access to the fort area and ramps need to be put in place .The area needs sweeping on a regular basis could this be a job for the Lengthsman? It has been suggested that a maze be constructed on the green but this needs to be addressed once we have the drainage in place.
  • The main road that runs between the greens have many road drains which need to be unblocked by highways.
  • A water main point in the road by the colleges is leaking water, Cllr Hurst is going to contact STWA This was due to be done in the next couple of days

181      Urban Vision invoice – Urban Vision have broken their invoice down into the following:

£262.50 Training

£525 Consultancy.

For information they have attended a further meeting with SBC and supplied additional information in response to the meeting encompassed within this fee.

195      Grass cutting tender

The Clerk issued 5 invitations to tender based on Companies who requested the Parish Council contact them when we tender for works. Only two responses were received. Under Financial Regulations, the Clerk opened the tenders with Cllr O’Dunne, the details were distributed to Councillors for comment.  It was resolved to suspend Standing Orders and accept the two tenders, it was also resolved to undertake the decision making process via email given the time constraints involved.

The successful Company was Buxus Green. The Clerk thanked the other Company for their response and would invite them to re-tender when this contract expires.

It was noted Perennial Landscapes cut the grass in March, although we had terminated their contract in October 2020. However, the tender document did not include an opt-out clause, it was therefore resolved to pay them a severance figure of £1,000 in full and final settlement. 

Appendix B

Planning Chairman’s Report – Planning Application Land Behind Brookhouse Drive and Old Road reference 21/33687/FUL

The Planning Meeting to address this application was scheduled for 23 February 2021.

A Planning Training Course was scheduled for 16 February, a request was made to Urban Vision, the facilitators, to use this application as a template for the course.  This would ensure Councillors were fully ofay with planning law around green belt land.

During the Training Course it became apparent that the Parish Council needed professional assistance to fight this application, Urban Vision were asked to formulate a response accordingly.

At the Planning Meeting the Parish Councillors in attendance resolved to accept the recommendation from Urban Vision.

25 February 2021 the Clerk submitted the report from Urban Vision as the response from the Parish Council.

The draft minutes of the Planning Meeting were uploaded on to the Parish Council website to show the residents what was happening with this application.  The minutes noted:

Planning Application Reference 21/33687/FUL at Land Between Trent Canal and Old Road Barlaston described as Rural Exception Housing Development for the erection of 42 affordable dwellings including access onto Old Road, a SUDS attenuation basin and equipped children’s play area.

It was noted the Parish Council first became aware of the planning application when we received a screening assessment for this site.  Consequently, enquiries revealed the owners had been in consultation with the Borough Council with regards to this site.

The Parish Council put out feelers to gauge the opinion of residents without knowing the scale of the proposed development. Looking into the reasoning for the application, they believed this land could be used for affordable housing which would mean an exemption from conforming to the formal planning process. We approached Urban Vision to advise us with regards the position of Neighbourhood Plan.

In establishing the identity of the prospective developers, a copy of the Neighbourhood Plan was forwarded to them by the Parish Council for consideration on submission of their planning application.  No acknowledgement was received. On receipt of the full application to Stafford Borough Council, it was observed that no consideration had been given to the Neighbourhood Plan. As a consequence, the Parish Council approached Urban Vision as their Planning Consultants for their advice on this omission.

We were advised that there were a number of grounds for objection which are as follows:

  • The development constitutes inappropriate development in the green belt by virtue that it is previously undeveloped land and does not meet the very special circumstances in which development would be allowed.  The proposed development is not compatible with uses considered appropriate in the green belt;
  • The proposed development is outside of the settlement boundary and does not meet the criteria for rural exception. It is contrary to national, Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan policies;
  • The proposed development for a new residential development in this location is contrary to policies H1 and H2 in the Barlaston Neighbourhood Plan July 2019 by virtue that it is development outside of the settlement boundary and not within one of the sites allocated for housing;
  • The scheme comprises a standard suburban layout, rather than a site-specific response to the local context;
  • The scheme harms the character of the area, encroaching into the open countryside; and
  • The proposed development would set a precedent for inappropriate development in the green belt.

They also formulated a letter for consideration which was circulated to the Councillors.  This would be available on the Planning Portal following the submission to the Borough Council.

The Planning Committee were asked to decide if (a) they wished to accept or reject the planning application and (b) if the Councillors wished to approve the submission of the letter from Urban Vision as the Parish Council submission.  The resolution was unanimous to (a) reject the planning application and (b) submit the Urban Vision letter to the Planning Authority as the response from the Parish Council.

Cllr Fisher noted that should Stafford Borough Council pass this application they would be acting unlawfully based on the law as it stands at the moment.

It was noted affordable housing provision had been taken into account on the Wedgwood Memorial Site through the Lichfield Plan, which had been adopted through the Neighbourhood Plan.  It was also noted that Stafford & Rural Homes had planning permission passed for 13 bungalows on Barlaston Park, these would free up family homes to meet the housing need.  They were using information for this development from a survey which was prior to the Neighbourhood Plan.

An ex Cllr gave an overview of the call in process.

The Councillors were asked if they wished for their Borough Councillor representative to call this application in.  An ex Cllr gave an overview of the call in process and recommended the Parish Council take this route.  Cllr Fisher has been in consultation with Urban Vision and their recommendation was not to call it in as this would be the wrong approach. One Cllr abstained from this vote as they were not familiar with the call-in process.  The remainder of the Cllrs resolved to follow the advice of Urban Vision and not to call this in but to follow due process. The resolution was to reject utilising the call-in process.

The Parish Council resolved not to call this application in.

Pressure was exerted to ‘Call this application in’ from residents.

At the Parish Council meeting on 3 March a resident asked for a report on the Procedures undertaken in relation to this application.

Borough Cllr Jones called this in on 10 March 2021 – the wording of the call in was

“To gain an appreciation of what the demand is for 42 affordable homes at this site. Further to understand why the approved application for affordable homes on Barlaston Park has not been progressed”

This does not address the fact that the development is on Green Belt land and was why using the ‘Call In’ process on this application was inappropriate and would leave us in a weak position.

To try and strengthen the position of the Parish Council, myself, the Clerk, Urban Vision and a Senior Planning Officer from the Borough Council held a meeting to discuss this application.  The outcome was for the Clerk to send in a supplementary response detailing the issues raised.  This was submitted on 21 March 2021 as follows:

Further to the email making representation from Barlaston Parish Council dated 25 February 2021, we would wish to add further information which will prove relevant to this planning application:

Spatial Principle 7 (SP7) Supporting the location of new development makes clear that:

“Development in other locations (in settlements or in the countryside) will only be supported where:

  1. i) If located within the Green Belt, it is consistent with national policies for the control of development, and Policy E5;”

The proposed development fails to meet this policy by virtue of being contrary to national planning policy and policy E5 of the local plan in that it is not one of the identified major development sites in the green belt.

Furthermore, as previously set out in the representation dated 19th February 2021 this scheme is contrary to national planning policy by virtue that it constitutes inappropriate development in the green belt.  Paragraph 145 in the NPPF sets out the special circumstances in which development would be supported.

The applicant suggests that the proposed development meets criteria f of paragraph 145.   However, they fail to consider the policies in the Barlaston Neighbourhood Plan, which plan positively for affordable development, through housing site allocations.  Some of which already have been identified as capable of delivering an affordable housing provision for Barlaston.

Criteria f states:

“limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the development plan (including policies for rural exception sites);

The housing need is only evidenced by a survey of a registered social landlord not a Housing Needs Assessment.  Relying on this data only as set out in the methodology statement to provide the evidence is not a robust strategy.

It would be reasonable to expect past and on-going housing evidence at local authority level; latest Government household projections and demographic information from ONS; examination of recent dwelling completions, and extant permissions in the identified area (if any); and the latest SHELAA, as we have sited, which shows that the adjacent site with identical policy constraints is unsuitable and undevelopable.   Each of these sources would help us to understand how the local housing need translates into a numerical range to be provided for, including the type and mix.

Should such evidence be provided it would identify that there are extant planning permissions or commitments within the neighbourhood area that provide housing:

  1. The site of The Limes, part of the former Wedgwood Memorial College, 2.47ha with an approximate Developable Area of 1ha;
  2. The site of Estoril House, part of the former Wedgwood Memorial College, 1.49ha with an approximate Development area of 0.9ha (see attached design guide which was adopted through the Neighbourhood Plan having gone through Reg 14, Reg 16 and Referendum referencing the provision for affordable homes);
  3. The site of Leese’s Garage, Station Road, 0.28ha – Planning Application 05/05028/OUT for the erection of a three storey retirement block providing 24 apartments.  It is also noted that Planning Permission has been granted to S&RH for 13 bungalows on Barlaston Park which have yet to be developed.  The requirement for affordable homes suitable for older people have therefore been met and there is no additional need for Barlaston.

Stafford Borough Council must be satisfied that in light of evidence there is a need for additional affordable housing that would not otherwise be met.  The development proposal is contrary to the policy as there is sufficient land available within the settlement boundary and the site allocations to meet any identified housing need.  There is not sufficient rationale to provide a reason to depart from the policies in the neighbourhood, local plan or national policy.

Attached to this response was a copy of the Lichfield Plan which detailed provision for affordable housing in Barlaston.

A report was submitted from Anna Nevin, Health and Housing Services Group advising the demand for such housing does not reflect the housing need assessment, in fact only 2 household expressed an interest.

28 April 2021 the Parish Council received an update from the consultants quantifying the needs assessment.  This was presented to the Parish Council at the Planning Committee on 5 May 2021.

Mr Russell presented a report from the County Council being the Lead Water Authority, the Clerk advised she had previously worked with the County Council to put pressure on the landowners to install drainage as the houses were at risk of flooding on Brookhouse Drive, this was subsequently undertaken. This may weaken the position of the report, however the Planning Committee agreed to include this in the submission to the LPA.

The Clerk noted there had been a change in the law which was implemented on 21 April 2021 which requires any application on green belt land of 10 houses or more, or houses which are to be built on known flood areas to be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.  It is not clear if this planning application will qualify, however we will push for this to be undertaken.

It is still the intention of the Parish Council to engage with Urban Vision to fight this planning application.