2 March 2021 – Minutes of the Barlaston Parish Council Meeting

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Cllr G Jones, Cllr P Fisher, Cllr C Hurst, Cllr D Bentley, Cllr V O’Dunne, Cllr E Philpott, Cllr I Moran, Cllr S Tudor

 Also In attendance:

Mrs K St Leger (Clerk)

7:15 – 7:30    Public Open Forum

Four members of the public were in attendance.

Two issues were raised:

  1. The muck has been removed from the culvert from Old Road to Meadow Road, the big benefit was a camera was inserted into the system, this revealed an unknown inspection hatch which will make clearing of the culvert easier in future. The residents are trying to get a drainage committee together; after 2 years the culvert has finally been cleared. It is important for the Committee to be facilitated by the Parish Council, it was suggested a page be made available on the PC website to record everything we know about drainage in the village. Future residents would then have a fighting chance to understand the systems around Barlaston. Any camera information to be submitted and uploaded.
  1. A request was submitted to ask the Planning Committee to explain their response to the Old Road planning application. It was agreed to add this to the April agenda.

Emma Adams-Elsmore introduced herself as a candidate for the Barlaston West Ward vacancy. She noted the response from the Brookhouse Drive to the submission made by the Parish Council has been positive.

4/133    Barlaston Park and Barlaston West Ward vacancies

Cllr Jones welcomed Julia Dando as the new candidate for the position of Barlaston Park Ward.

Cllr Jones informed the meeting that he had received a resignation letter from Cllr Moran, he tried to persuade her to withdraw this but sadly had to accept it. The Parish Council would like to thank Cllr Moran for her contribution whilst she was on the Council.  The Clerk will inform the Borough Council of the resignation. It was resolved Cllr Jones would arrange flowers from the Chairman’s allowance.

170      Apologies – No apologies were received.

171      Declarations of Interest – Cllr Fisher declared an interest in respect of Planning Committee recommendations.

172      Written applications for dispensations under the Localism Act 2011 – There were no written applications for dispensation.

173      Minutes of the full Council Meeting of 2 February 2021 – It was resolved to accept these as a true record.

174       Matters arising from the meeting of 2 February 2021 and not otherwise on the agenda

It was noted a request had been made for an Environmental Committee Update as it had not sat for 18 months.  This needs to be addressed in light of climate change. This item to be added to the next agenda.

117      Update on (a) the swing gate installation Barlaston Village Hall; (b) the payment of the outstanding Wayleave

The Clerk noted the gates have been installed, there was an issue with the initial installation which meant Sutton Engineering had to take the gates back and attach surface mounted feet rather than fixing these into the ground, although additional works were undertaken they have agreed to keep to the original cost of £1600. The type and number of keys issued will be added on the Village Hall Committee agenda.

The Wayleave has been paid for 2020/2021.  The Wayleave for 2021/2022 is due imminently.  The homeowner has asked for yellow lines to be marked on the entrance to his property to define his area, something which was agreed with by the Village Hall Committee and not the Parish Council.

7          Covid-19 in Barlaston and determine actions: (a) Wedgwood Memorial Bowl Dedication; (b) Dedication of the Clock Tower

Barlaston has been seen as a high-risk area due to the number of spikes of Covid-19; The Clerk has been liaising with the PCSO to undertake patrols during the day and evening to try and curtail the number of people who are breaking COVID-19 rules.

We should be in a position to undertake the dedication of the Clock Tower and Memorial Bowl by the end of May following the latest Government guidelines – Cllr Jones to keep the PC updated with a date from the Borough to ensure he can be in attendance as Mayor before his tenure ends.

22        Neighbourhood Watch schemes – The Clerk requested an update from the PCSO for but no response received to date.  This is something we could look to address as soon as the restrictions are lifted.

35/36    Village Drainage Strategy update

    • Clearance of the culvert from Old Road to 11a Meadow Road – This has been undertaken. A dedicated page will be added to the website showing drainage / culvert information in Barlaston which may prove useful to residents.
    • Flooding on Hartwell Lane – Ref 4226075. Amey advised the report has been inspected and as it is not currently posing a safety issue, the gullies in this location will be cleansed on the next routing visit but will continue to be monitored. Clerk to update Cllr Parry.
    • Flooding on Meaford Road – Ref 4227504. Amey advised the report has been inspected and as it is not currently posing a safety issue, the gullies in this location will be cleansed on the next routing visit but will continue to be monitored. Clerk to update Cllr Parry.
    • Flooding on Station Road – Ref 4227506. Amey have advised the event on the highway you have reported may require serious and immediate attention. It may be necessary for us to divert resources from other urgent and routing highway activities in order to assess/remedy the problem. An email will be issued when progress is made.

Village Green issues:

    • Culvert clearance around The Lea – This has been undertaken.
    • Drainage companies were asked to visit site to make recommendations on resolving the pooling of water on the main green. A Company came out and were looking to put a camera in, however this is not the problem being encountered. Previous herringbone works were undertaken but this could have been damaged due to heavy plant driving over it.
    • Cllr Philpott recommended works on the green wait until Highways clear the blockage under Station Road. Cllr Hurst advised their recommendation was to install a new headwall, which will go under the drive of the Lea, which will up stream from the current position. To determine issues raised with drainage, it was resolved for the Cllrs to meet on Friday 5 March 2021 at the Village Hall car park to visit site and review the issues and possible solutions. Item to be brought back to the April meeting.

63        Location for the memorial bench for Mr Stan Phillips – Cllrs would visit site in conjunction with village drainage issues on 5 March.

64        Former Wedgwood Memorial College update – no further communication has been received from the new owners, it was noted the purchasers needed to be made aware of the Lichfield Plan and Barlaston Neighbourhood Plan with regards to the development of this site.

95        Climate Change – The Clerk had looked at the feasibility of a maze adjacent to the wild play area on the green, the Lengthsman advised the paths needed to be 1m wide with the hedge growth width to be 1.5m wide.  The garden centre recommended Cherry Laurel plants, however concerns were raised as to whether these were poisonous to children.  The issue of annual maintenance and planning was also discussed. It was resolved to add this item to the visit to the green to determine a way forward.

97        Fly tipping issues around Barlaston – Fly tipping has been prevalent around the charity clothing bins; a large amount of black bags were removed from Ivy House Lane by Street Scene, however they would not remove the fly tipping on the Downs Car Park.  It was noted charities are not emptying bins due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Cllr Hurst would tape off the area on the Downs Car Park to ensure the public are aware this is area is closed.

It was noted a car had been abandoned on the Station Road car park, the Clerk advised the car park is under the ownership of West Midlands Rail, she will inform the relevant parties.  This is outside the jurisdiction of the Police as it is private land.

98        Play area design visit (deferred). Cllrs Philpott is taking photographs of play areas for ideas.

121      Public Right of Way issues on Footpath No. 9 – no further update had been received from the County Council on this item.

138      Highways Meeting update including Speed Watch

Mr Norman added to the report issued to the Cllrs. Changes in monitoring criteria are set to change with a return to monitoring after 29 March, the stay at home rule will be in situ until them. The Police are introducing new initiatives, which Mr Norman is reluctant to get involved with as they do not appear to be taking into account the evidence provided by the Speed Watch group.

Meaford Road

Safer Roads Partnership are planning a speed survey to assess the site for camera van enforcement. Apparently, it was intended to be done in December but there were some staffing issues in data collection. It was noted they are not the best at consulting or sharing information. It was also disappointing that they appear not to be taking the data collected by the Parish Speed Indicator Device and the Community Speed Watch Group into account as sufficient evidence.

The camera van is not currently undertaking any enforcement on Meaford Road as they need to record a significant number of vehicles traveling above the posted speed limit for this to be a viable site for the camera van.  Our data provides this information but is not accepted as sufficient evidence.

Mr Norman has explained that the Parish Council, Speed Watch and residents want to create a zero tolerance reputation for the village, particularly on these major entrances to the village and is seeking their help in achieving this. He will update the PC with their response.  It was also noted that Trentham appear to receive support from the Police, which is clearly lacking in Barlaston.

Lakewood Drive

A Highways engineer visited the site to assess the condition of the road. He has advised the condition of the road is bad and would take a significant sum to bring the stretch to an ‘adoptable standard’.  As it is in private ownership (effectively a private road), Cllr Parry advised he very much doubted that any organisation or the residents will be prepared to take it on and therefore there is very little possibility of this being adopted by County Highways. There may be an option to close this section by installing bollards. But he would prefer to undertake some consultation before considering this.  As there are only two entrances into Barlaston Park, this being one of them, this is not an option.

Cllr Bentley updated the PC that the Company noted on the deeds had been in touch with the residents, further update to follow. In the meantime, the residents wanted to know if they could undertake repair works without incurring any liability.

Longton Road

Cllr Parry confirmed that the County Council would undertake a survey to assess the safety concerns of residents on Longton Road and look at possible solutions. He is hoping that this will be completed within a couple of months. It was also noted heavy plant vehicles were using Longton Road from the Wedgwood Estate in breach of the weight restrictions.  Parents were also causing issues by parking on the green.

Station Road – Crossing Patrol

The Clerk is in receipt of a couple of quotations for flashing warning signs, we are also awaiting an update from SCC as they are also looking at the provision of warning signs.  It was noted if we undertake the installation, we will need planning permission and an assessment by County Highways, and possibly a licence to plant.  If County undertook this, they would deal with the costs.  Clerk to chase Cllr Parry for an update.

140      Towpath issues and removal of protective barriers on the bridge by the Plume of Feathers

Canal & River Trust advised bridge 103 is the responsibility of Staffordshire County Council.  The Clerk has reported this.

A resident from Canalside has been liaising with the Canal & River Trust and pushing for updates on the maintenance of the canal towpath. It is disappointing to read the Canal & River Trust advised they did not have this on their schedule as we had worked on a plan before works were terminated due to cables under the towpath.  Hopefully, we will receive an update on when works can be scheduled.

153      Census update – The Community Group are keen to progress with help on this, the Clerk has contacted Mr Cook for further advice but nothing received to date.

160      Parking issues on Broughton Crescent and application for a Parish Council representative on sit on the School of Governors – Cllr Hemming to respond. To be deferred to the next meeting.

162      Footpath clearance in front of the cottages Longton Road

Cllr Fisher has walked along the route, if you face oncoming traffic coming from Wedgwood and pass where the post office was, visibility is very poor. There are two very wide hedges, if you look, several house fences stop approx. 1m from the kerb line, there was hardstanding there.  There are two very wide privet hedges, if cut back to fence line, it would be easy to see oncoming traffic. It appears some of the land which has been landscaped may be tarmac underneath.

The last house has a very wide hedge next to the Village Hall.  The hedge is thick and obscures visibility.

It would be a start in increasing safety on this road if these issues could be addressed. The Clerk has approached Cllr Parry to see what can be done as the powers sit at County level.

Cllr Philpott asked if a personal approach could be made first before County being involved. It was resolved to add this to the meeting on Friday.

165      AEDdonate defribulator works and additional costings

AEDdonate undertook a survey and found the cabinets were rusty and out of date. To replace all the units would cost £4275 + VAT. AEDdonate are undertaking works and supplying the units at cost. Due to the risks, it was resolved to suspend standing orders and approve works.

According to ambulance records, it was noted the defibs were used on the following dates at the following locations:

    • Park Drive on 24:08:2019 / 27:08:2019 / 7:11:2019
    • Ivyhouse Drive 22:10:2019
    • The Beeches 07:11:2020
    • Kitsons 03:02:2020

It shows how important it is to have these devices maintained. The Clerk advised AEDdonate make regular visits to the boxes, they are all linked into the ambulance service. The Clerk to forward the warranty information to the Cllrs.

175      Sewage issues around Flaxman Close

Following a number of calls from Residents in Flaxman Close advising raw sewage was coming up through their gardens, the Clerk liaised with the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water to ensure this issue was resolved as a matter of urgency as it posed a significant health risk to residents.  Works were undertaken and believe this has now been resolved.

It was noted, following a conversation with Severn Trent, that the type of sewer pipe installed on the estate is aged and of poor quality, and may result in further collapsed drains moving forwards.  Unfortunately given the layout of the estate they cannot change the routing of the sewars to resolve the issue.

The Clerk was thanked for her assistance in this matter.

176      Blue Iris update

A number of issues were received with regards to the site on Station Road, including excessive noise during the day; the removal of the hedge contrary to their Planning Application; burning of rubbish left unattended at night and a security light shining into properties.

The issues were reported to Blue Iris, their response is as follows:

‘Hedgerow complaint – this was approved and has been reinstated since last Winter with a typical ‘English’ hedge. Species that were planted include; Hawthorn, Holly, Blackthorn & wild rose. This will be cultivated by ourselves. Planning permission did advise that if we did remove the hedge, we must reinstate it, which we absolutely have. Initially the hedge was cut back but due to the sparseness in between the plants that were left it was agreed as mentioned above that it was ripped out and replanted. Following on from this we actually removed around 3 tons of rubbish and waste that was left from the previous owners that was cleared and disposed of by ourselves. 

Floodlight – The picture has been really helpful to show what this was referring to. We do really apologise about this and it has been noted and will be switched off in the future. If this does happen again, are people able to contact us directly so we know when this has occurred and we can deal with it appropriately internally. 

Bonfires – Again, we have had permission from the council for these fires. We can either do one big fire, or regular fires throughout the same day whichever is suited more to the residents. Again, this would only be done within the working hours. 

Noise Pollution – This would only be within working hours and even then it’s very limited. Our onsite team leave our office depot no later than 7am and are back to our office depot at around 4pm of which they leave their vans and then go home. In regards to the video showing the wood chippings, it is in the middle of the day and doesn’t happen regularly. It probably happened once possibly twice last week and for no longer than 30 minutes.

We always make sure that we are abiding by all guidance and recommendations and we do offer our apologies in regards to the above complaints and we hope that we can all work together to ensure everyone is happy.’

The Clerk will forward the comments on to the complainants.

177      Wildlife injuries following attacks from 3 youths – Due to issues in neighbouring villages reporting similar attacks, the Police are monitoring the situation and residents in Barlaston are also keeping their eyes out and will report sightings accordingly.

178      Nomination of a Superhero – it was resolved not to put any one individual forward due to so many residents having undertaken voluntary duties to aid their neighbours and to single someone out would be wrong. It was resolved to remove the item from the agenda.

179      Marquee by the Plume of Feathers – It is noted the Plume of Feathers have removed the marquee. It was resolved to remove the item from the agenda.

180      Lengthsman’s update and schedule of works

Repair tire track marks on the village green – additional marks have been made and a vehicle had to be retrieved. The Lengthsman has agreed to undertake these works (including the new ruts) at £200. It was resolved to accept this recommendation. The PCSO has been informed of the damage as this could come under criminal damage.

A suggestion was made as to whether we install white posts to prevent people driving on to the green. The Clerk to obtain quotes. It was noted the posts at the end of Longton Road are in a poor state of disrepair. Concerns were raised it could cause problems elsewhere in the village.

181       To note financial matters:

            (a) Financial report and determine meeting date for 2021/2022 budget setting – It was resolved to set a meeting for Tuesday 9 March 2021 to approve the budget.

            (b) to approve bank reconciliation reports – it was resolved to accept these.

            (c) to receive schedule of payments report February 2021

NET VAT Cheque
SPCA procurement training course – Inv SI-21 30.00 0.00 002698
David Ogilvie – Stan’s Memorial Bench – Inv 186168 1016.00 203.20 002699
Urban Vision Training/planning rep 21/33687/FUL-  Inv UVE786-21 787.50 157.50 002700
Nigel Ferguson Annual Maintenance Web Site – Inv 0343 415.00 0.00 002701
K St Leger Salary & Expenses 1012.95 0.00 002702
Staffordshire Pension Fund 310.76 0.00 002703
Sutton Engineering – Swing Gates Village Hall 1600.00 0.00 002704
SPCA annual NALC affiliation 448.00 0.00 02705

The Clerk met with the Internal auditor, he made a few recommendations:

  • Although Financial Information is submitted to Cllrs prior to a Parish Council meeting, he recommended a summary be included with the minutes when these are posted.
  • The amount under Financial Regulations 12.1.j to be increased from £100 to £1,000:

When it is to enter into a contract of less than £60,000 in value for the supply of goods or materials or for the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services as are excepted as set out in paragraph (a) the Clerk or RFO shall obtain 3 quotations (priced descriptions of the proposed supply); where the value is below £3,000 and above £100 the Clerk or RFO shall strive to obtain 3 quotations. 

  • The website was missing the website accessibility statement, which was updated the morning following the meeting.

Cllr Jones raised a question with regards to the Urban Vision payment for training and consultation and asked for clarity on what Standing Orders specified about this level of expenditure.

Cllr Fisher advised he approved the expenditure at the Emergency Planning Meeting on 23 February. The costs involved encompassed Planning Training set for 16 February whereby Urban Vision were asked to use the planning application for the back of Brookhouse Drive as a test case in preparation of the meeting on 23 Feb. During the training session Urban Vision were asked to prepare a submission on behalf of the Parish Council to submit to the Borough to fight this Planning Application.

Cllr O’Dunne advised money had been set aside for consultancy within the budget.

The report from Urban Vision was issued to Cllrs prior to the Emergency Planning Meeting on 23 February, which was attended by full Council with the exception of Cllr Jones who attended a Borough Council meeting.  The Council unanimously resolved to accept the report and submit this to the Borough Council as their submission against the planning application.

Cllr Jones questioned the validity of the expenditure.

The Clerk advised this was undertaken under Financial Regulations 12.1.ii i.e.,

  1. Every contract shall comply with these financial regulations, and no exceptions shall be made otherwise than in an emergency provided that this regulation need not apply to contracts which relate to items (i) to (vi) Below:
  2. for specialist services such as are provided by legal professionals acting in disputes;

Cllr Fisher noted this was an emergency scenario and there were extenuating circumstances as the Borough gave the Parish Council very little time to formulate a response to the planning application, which was the most serious planning issue to hit Barlaston for years.

Cllr Jones advised in terms of authorisation over a certain amount of money the Chairman needs to agree the Parish can spend the money and this was not the case. The Clerk advised the figure the Clerk in conjunction with the Chairman can spend was below £200.

Cllr Fisher advised as Chair of the Planning Committee, we have used the funding in pursuit of the views of the village to express the feelings of the village to Stafford Borough Council, and this cannot be denied.

The invoice from Urban Vision was summarised as Training, this needed to be broken down into training / consultancy for budget spend. It was noted as being custodians of public money, the PC needed to be careful how funds were spent.  The Clerk to request a breakdown from Urban Vision.

182      Risk Assessment update

  • Removal of tree lights on the Christmas tree – The electrician was dealing with this.
  • Policy regarding hedges covering pavements – Cllr Ian Parry to advise how this can be addressed.
  • Procurement – Following a procurement training course attended by the Clerk, the PC need to evaluate how we formulate tenders. The grass cutting tender is due, however due to the annual cost being around £8k-£9k, for a 3 / 4 year tender could see us having to undertake a tender following The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 guidelines.

We need to set the weighting and can include such items as Social / Carbon offsetting.  The Clerk recommends for the grass cutting this year, we undertake a simple one year contract and put it out to 3 local companies who have expressed an interest in applying, this would give us time for go through the formal process for 2022/2023. It was resolved to accept this recommendation.

  • The Clerk requested approval to approach a Company to dispose of confidential waste following document retention guidelines. Cllr Fisher advised he had a contact who could possibly undertake the works.
  • Cllr Bentley noted the post the village sign sat on was split, the Clerk advised this was not a risk given the size of the post, however it was deteriorating due to the water content on the green. The village sign also needed refreshing at some point.

183      Grant application(s) – none received

  • Planning Committee Recommendations

As per planning meeting dated 23 February 2021 and 2 March 2021

185      Items for inclusion in next month’s agenda – see public question time.

186      To note date of next meeting – Due to the Easter weekend the next meeting date is proposed as 13 April 2021

Annual Budget