Councillors Present

Ken Christy,  Clare Pollak, Ian Cherry and Jo Powell, together with five villagers.

Item 1

1a. Apologies
       Cllrs Roberts and Moore, Mr Tattersall and Eileen Roberts

Item 2

2a. Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 23rd November 2006
       The minutes were agreed and signed as a true record.

2b. Matters Arising

     Local Policing
The Chair noted that this was an area of concern at the last council meeting.  A letter dated 10th January was sent to the Northants Police Authority noting the uneasiness of the community. The letter went on to say that there have been a number of burglaries but not a huge response from the police force.  The council will wait to see what reply they get.

3.   Declaration of Interest
       Cllr Pollak declared that her property adjoins Castle Green.
       Cllr Cherry declared that his farm adjoins Dial House farmyard.

4.    Setting of Budget 2007/8
       The clerk had emailed a proposed budget figure for the coming year which did not show an increase from the previous year. Several cost centres had been increased and others reduced.  Highlighted were the following, the clerks salary has increased by 5% to support her ongoing work and training.  Costs for Pocket Park have been separated between maintenance and inspection costs.  Postage and fax costs can be reduced as email is used more now.  Audit costs have been increased to allow for the cost of an external auditor which is a legal requirement now.

       Cllr Cherry queried that the copying of the newsletter has still not been paid for sometime. 

       The Clerk replied that this money has not been spent but set aside and carried forward each month on the spend spreadsheet that is circulated before each meeting.

       Cllr Moore queried the grass cutting costs and whether it would stay within budget as the weather seasons are changing.  The Clerk had already emailed the councillors to advise that grass cutting was within the budget this year.  A contribution of £417.00 will be received from NCC soon and £560.00 has been re-imbursed from the Parochial Church Council for the cutting of the churchyard.

       The budget for 2007/8 was then presented as follows:

Cost Centre


Public Lighting


Village Mowing


Pocket Park  Inspection


Pocket Park Maintenance


Travel Tokens


Communication (Newsletter/Flyers for mtgs)


Village Maintenance


Church Hall Hire


Church Clock Maintenance


Section 137 - Subscriptions




Employee Costs (Salary/Travel)


General Admin (Postage/Copying/Fax)




Sub Total


+ 50% of the total annuity payment of Public Works Loan for Community Shop and Post Office


Level of Spend






The Chair proposed that the precept level for 2007/8 be set at £9588.00.  This was seconded by Cllr Powell.  All the remaining councillors voted in favour of this proposal.  The Chair then advised the villagers present that the precept had decreased by £12.00 this year.  A report would be put in the next newsletter.  It is hoped that the council will be able to transfer £1250.00 back into the Burial Ground Fund in March once all the yearly expenditure has been agreed.


Central Networks
       In a letter to the Clerk, Central Networks have confirmed the new site for the electricity transformer. The original site was owned by Northants County Council and they demanded a lot of money from Central Networks. The new site, which is free of charge, is in front of the Anglian Water pumping station at the bottom of Helmdon Road on the public highway.   They propose the work will take place in 2007.

       In a second letter from Central Networks, they advise that four of the poles support street lighting brackets.  As the Parish Council are responsible for lighting in the area, it will be their responsibility  to provide the replacement columns.  Central Networks will provide the electrical system to the column free of charge provided the column is placed within three metres of the original bracket position or a mains underground electricity cable.  Cllr Cherry will check this information as previously the poles with street lights have been left.  At some future date the Parish Council will have to look at replacing all the lamp standards in the village and may have to take out a Public Works Loan to pay for it.

       Castle Green Registration
       Cllr Powell has written a piece for the next newsletter and website.  Thanks was given to her for all her work.

       The following details were supplied in a written report.
       Cleaning of Drain Gullies
Cllr Roberts has walked around the village to look at the drains.  The drains in Little Street, opposite Rectory Farm and at the corner of Manor Road are choked with mud and leaf litter.  The drains in Church Street and Park Lane have a lot of leaf litter. The gullies in Towrise are also choked with leaf litter.  Atkins have advised that the drains are due to be cleared in February 2007 but the Clerk will check this is correct.

Grass Cutting
       In a further written report from Cllr Roberts, he advised the following.  He  has received a quote from Philip Daynes which is within the proposed budget and asked for the council’s acceptance to it.  Cllr Cherry proposed the council use Philip Daynes and this was seconded by Cllr Pollak.  All the councillors voted in favour.  Philip still has to return to cut the long grass in the churchyard which will be done within the current budget. 
       Cllr Pollak noted that the Castle Green committee are meeting on 12th January and they will draw a plan of Castle Green to show what grass needs cutting there.
       Allotment area
       The roundup has reduced the  long grass and weeds and Cllr Roberts asked if £200.00 could be set aside from the maintenance fund for the work to be carried out in February/March time.  He then suggested that the ground is marked into six allotments and villagers are sought to see who wants to take one on at £30.00 per annum.  The income can be used to provide a water standpipe in year 1 and then form a fund in subsequent years to further improve the area.  Cllr Powell noted that there may not be six people in the village who want allotments.  The Chair agreed this was a good point but as the council were coming to the end of their elected term (four years) they should try one more time to improve the area.   There is one tenant left currently but two people have been actively asking about allotments very recently.  The Chair proposed that this money is spent and this was seconded by Cllr Cherry.  All the councillors voted in favour.

       Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005
       The Chair noted he had now received the hard paperback copy from DEFRA which would be circulated to all councillors.  The main area of concern for this council will be the dog control orders.  Dogs can be banned from Pocket Park which is a children’s play area.  The Clerk would arrange a meeting with Helen Hunt of South Northants Council to discuss this further.

6.    Approval of Parish Council Equal Opportunities/Health and Safety Policies for Castle Green funding
Cllr Pollak noted she had three points to discuss.  An application has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery for £46K and a decision is due at the end of February.  The landfill tax application was refused.  The Castle Green Committee are now looking to submit an application to the Voluntary Sector Support Unit of Northants County Council and the deadline for applications is 31st January.

Points 1 and 2 - Part of that application includes submitting an Equal Opportunities Policy and Health and Safety Policy.  The Clerk had circulated an Equal Opportunities Policy prior to the meeting. Cllr Pollak proposed that this was adopted and this was seconded by Cllr Powell.  The Chair signed and dated the policy.

Point 3 - A Health and Safety policy must be agreed by the end of January to be submitted with the same application to NCC.  Cllr Pollak suggested that an introductory remit is typed with details of a risk assessment on all assets owned by the Parish Council.  The Chair replied that this policy would have to be brought to the next council meeting in February and the councillors will vote retrospectively.  Cllr Pollak will check with NCC to ask if it has to be submitted by the end of January.

The third point concerned VAT and whether the Castle Green Committee can claim it back via the Parish Council.  This matter has come to light as Cllr Pollak is completing the NCC funding form. She had already informed the Heritage Lottery Fund that the committee was unable to reclaim VAT, as she had assumed that the Parish Council could not do this.  She recently discovered that the council was able to recover VAT for their own work, and therefore had been attempting to clarify the situation with Customs and Excise.  The Chair replied  that this is not within the remit of the Parish Council.  It is not Parish Council’s money and must be kept separate.  The Parish Council are responsible for managing the asset but the committee  are raising funds to make improvements on behalf of the village.  Cllr Pollak referred to the Castle Green Terms of Reference, which she believed stated that the Castle Green Committee would report to the Parish Council.  The Chair then referred back to old meeting minutes when it had been agreed the Castle Green committee would report back to the village at each Annual Assembly and have their own separate bank account.  The Chair remembered attending the Castle Green committee meetings and members clearly stating that they did not want this money put into parish funds.  The clerk will ask the Audit Commission for their advice.  Cllr Pollak will put on the new NCC form that she is currently taking advice on this matter.   If the Castle Green Committee are able to claim back VAT, it will go back to the grant funder.

7.   Update on Action Plan  for Pocket Park/Play Area
        This will be carried forward to the next meeting as Cllr Moore was absent from the meeting due to work commitments.  The Clerk has received prices for the Pocket Park signs and will email them to Cllr Moore.

8.     Finance Report

The following cheques were approved for payment:

£100.00 – Sulgrave Parochial Church Council (maintenance of church clock)
£73.41 – ABB Lighting
£40.64 – BT Fax Bill

9.    Planning Applications
The council had received one new application to consider since the last meeting.

S/2006/1674/P and S/2006/1675/LB – Conversion of traditional buildings into three dwellings and construction of two new dwellings (revision of S/2005/0883/P) at Dial House Farm, Magpie Road.  The plans had been circulated to councillors prior to the meeting and they were put out on a table for the villagers to see at this meeting.  Four councillors objected to the application.  It was then agreed the council would object for the following reasons:  There is not enough detail for the 2 new houses.  The glazed lantern in the roof of Barn 1 spoils the look of a traditional building and completely ignores the advice given by South Northants Council on conversion of rural buildings.  Plots 8 & 9 have increased in size by another storey and will overlook Dial House Farm.

The council had received information on an older application.
S/2006/1426/AG, Grain Drier and cleaning equipment at Dial House Farm.  Cllr Cherry noted that this had been accepted by SNC.

Item 10 - Correspondence

Item 11 – Open Forum

Mr Pollak confirmed that any funding coming to the Castle Green Project was exclusively allocated to that project and in no way would be included in Parish Council funds. 

Furthermore, funding Agencies tightly define what the money can be spent on, so any VAT recovered would have to be returned to the relevant funding body.  There was absolutely no expectations that VAT monies could be retained.

Item 12 - Next meeting
12a. Matters for consideration at the next Parish Council meeting

12b. Date and time of next meeting
       Parish Council meeting on 22nd February 2007
Meeting closed at 9.10pm