Councillors Present

Graham Roberts, David Kellett, Jo Powell, Andrew Waite and Clare Pollak together with six villagers.

Item 1

1a. Apologies

Cllr Osborne, Eileen Roberts, Joyce Barber, Peter Pollak and Kenneth Tattersall

1b. Introduction

       The Chairman asked everyone to stand for a minutes silence to remember Emma Cave. 

He then wished everyone a Happy New Year and welcomed those present to the first meeting of 2008.

Item 2

2a. Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 15th November 2007

       The minutes were agreed and signed as a true record.  These were proposed by Cllr Powell and seconded by Cllr Waite.

2b. Matters Arising

       There were no matters arising from the previous minutes.

3.   Declaration of Interest

  1. Cllr Pollak declared that her property adjoins Castle Green.
  2. Cllr Pollak declared an interest in the permissive path across her property.
  3. Cllr Roberts declared that his property adjoins Castle Green and an interest in the underground cabling that would take place in Park Lane.

4.   Setting of budget for 2008/9

       The clerk had circulated a spend to date budget.   Spend for the year was estimated at £8826.00.  The maintenance work on Pocket Park had exceeded spend but a grant from Sulgrave Charities for £1K was received during the year.

       The Chair circulated a working paper which set the precept at the same level as last year with a couple of amendments. 

       Pocket Park Maintenance was increased to £500.00 to allow for more work to be done in this area.     Communication costs were reduced to £60.00 as the flyer is copied free of charge and this allows for the Clerk to receive a payment of £5.00 per month to be put towards her broadband costs.  The clerk does less photocopying now and uses email whenever she can.  Section 137 subscriptions were increased to allow for inflation.  The employee costs were increased to allow for a 2% wage increase and 5% pension allowance.  The Chair then asked the councillors for their views.

       Cllr Pollak felt that mowing costs might increase as there are areas in Castle Green that will need regular cutting.  The path across the Green will need to be kept short and the banks mowed.  Although Philip Daynes has some instructions from the council it was felt that a more detailed schedule should be put together and include Pocket Park.  It was agreed that he does a good job and he should continue for the coming year.  Once the cutting areas have been agreed an ordnance survey map will be shaded and placed on the website for everyone to see.

       Cllr Pollak felt that village maintenance should include long term maintenance for the wall.  Cllr Waite suggested that this section should be divided into three sub sections such as Allotment area, Castle Green and Stocks/Trees etc.  He asked if £200.00 could be put towards the Allotment area as there are trees and ditches to be cleared and fences to be put up to improve the area. The Clerk will contact John Hicks to find out the cost to carry out a Health and Safety Audit on Castle Green.

       Cllr Kellett reminded the meeting that although the flyer was copied free of charge by his wife at present, this would not be the case if she stopped working for her current employer.

       Cllr Powell then proposed that the precept be set at £9588.00, the same level as last year.  This was seconded by Cllr Kellett.  All the councillors voted in favour.

       The budget for 2008/9 was then presented as follows:

Cost Centre


Public Lighting


Village Mowing


Pocket Park  Inspection


Pocket Park Maintenance


Communication (Broadband costs)


Village Maintenance


  1. Allotments


  1. Castle Green


  1. Stocks/Trees


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






       It was agreed that £3K from the Community Fund be moved into the Bank of Ireland reserves to gain interest.  The Clerk would review the balance in the community account again in April once the first precept payment has been paid in.

5.    Update on Underground Cabling

       Cllr Roberts had tried to get an update for this meeting but was unsuccessful. He was able to get an answer to Mr Priors question from the last meeting, why were the cables going to be bundled above outside The Old Stocks in Park Lane and not placed underground.  The reply was because of the cable responsibility that services the rest of the road.

       From the floor, Mr Prior asked why the cables were being put underground and why it just applied to the main road.  Underground cables are more reliable than overhead cables and the Parish Council initiated the enquiries in the first place as there were so many power cuts in the village.

       Cllr Kellett felt it was a half hearted response from Central Networks but the Parish Council could have a battle to change their minds.  Cllr Pollak was concerned that the area by the Old Stocks is the first area that you see when you enter the village.

       Cllr Roberts agreed to send a letter to Central Networks asking them to address the following points:

  1. Extra demand on the system.
  2. To clarify the exact age of the system, is it far older than what is being said.
  3. Why are the cables being placed underground in certain parts and not throughout the village.
  4. The level of consistency in appearance of Conservation Area.

       From the floor Mrs Barrett suggested that a petition is sent from the residents as they pay the bills and have to suffer the power cuts when they happen.

6.   Update on work on Castle Green

        Cllr Pollak gave a progress report on the Castle Green Restoration Project.

An advert has been placed in the January newsletter and it is hoped there will be a response.

Geophysical Survey and Watching Brief Reports
A report has been received from Northants Archaeology.  It did not arrive in time for the Archaeologist Richard Ivens to include in his Watching Brief report on the wall and access path.  It is hoped that both reports will be available to download from the website fairly soon.  Copies can be loaned to anyone who does not  have access to the internet.

The Wall Restoration Project

The Wall

  1. The snag list mentioned in the last report was passed to Rhodes Partnership.  Some of the items have been carried out but many have not.  The mortar used in the hen and chick capping to the wall has started to flake off possibly due to frost damage.   A meeting was held with Cecil Rhodes and they were in agreement about the snags that were not completed.  He also agreed that  the hen & chick was unsatisfactory but he recommended  that it should be left until the Spring when the danger of frost is over.
  2. The Steps which were built to a different design to the drawings were inspected. Cllr’s Waite and Roberts and members of the Castle Green Committee agreed that the design was satisfactory but defects in workmanship were identified.
  3. On 27th November Cllr Pollak was informed that the Director of Underwood and Weston had sacked most of the workmen when he saw the defects on the steps.  These have been put right and the handrails were ready for inspection by Rhodes on 18th December.  Cecil agreed that the projecting ends at the bottom of the steps could be hit by passing cars.
  4. On 21st December, Cllrs Roberts, Waite and Pollak carried out an inspection of the steps and handrails.  Cllrs Waite and Roberts identified some safety concerns which will be raised with Cecil Rhodes.


The second tranche of funding has been received from HLF.  Invoices for £6500 from Underwood and Weston and £2250 from Rhodes Partners were received before Christmas.  This week one was received from Northants Archaeology for £900.  These have not been paid.

Permissive Path

A draft agreement has been drawn up by Lewis Thomas and has been emailed to the Pollak solicitor for his opinion.  It has been suggested that half the cost should be borne by the Parish Council and half by HLF. It is likely to be no more than £100 to £200.   The Parish Council agreed to share the costs as there would be benefits to them such as use of the permissive path and completion of the project.

From the floor Mr Cave felt that all this work was a remarkable achievement and had made a huge difference to the area.  Cllr Pollak thanked him and replied  that although Emma was not able to see the wall be completed, she had seen some of the work that had been taking place to build it.

7.    Update on Pocket Park

Cllr Kellett noted that a small working party did some work in the Pocket Park before Christmas.  The hedge at the front has been cut down.  Cllr Waite noted that this work had made a big difference to the area.   More work would be done in February when the weather starts to improve.

8.    Councillors Reports

Community Speedwatch – Cllr Powell has met with PC John McQuaid. He has suggested three places  in the village for using the speed gun.  In Cllr Powell’s driveway facing up the village, at the Stocks facing both ways and outside Eagles House facing both ways.  10 volunteers are needed and the village will share the gun for 3 out of 6 weeks with another village.  3 people are needed at each place and training will be in house at Northampton for 2 and a half hours just before the gun is available so that the information is not forgotten too quickly.   A notice will be put in the newsletter and on telegraph poles.  Jane Lockwood has volunteered herself to help.

Allotments – Cllr Waite that work is in progress but he had nothing new to report at this meeting.

Footpath on Helmdon Road – Cllr Powell reported the footpath outside her house  as Anglian Water have repaired it, following on from some work carried out in her house, and they have made a very bad job of it.  The Chair agreed to have a look.
9.   Finance Report

The Clerk had circulated a spend to date spreadsheet prior to the meeting.

Cheques for approval

£27.00 to Parish Clerk (in lieu of payment for remembrance flowers)
£528.75 to R & D Landscapes (grass cutting)
£77.62 to ABB Lighting
£151.48 to EON (electric)
£50.00 to Parish Clerk (float)
£205.65 to Parish Clerk (hours)
£21.08 to Parish Clerk (mileage)
£43.66 to BT (fax)

     The cheques were proposed by Cllr Waite and seconded by Cllr Pollak.

10. Update on Planning Applications

There was nothing to report on planning.

11. Correspondence

  1. The Chair had received a letter from Mr and Mrs Mackness of Magpie Road to note they will deliver their last copies of the newsletter in March.  They have been doing this work for seven years and seven months and a huge vote of thanks was given to them. The newsletter is a valuable communication tool that villagers like to read.   A couple of other villagers have put themselves forward as replacements, Janet Smith, Jill and Anthony Barrett and Jane Lockwood. Cllr Pollak will co-ordinate with the volunteers.
  2. A letter was received from Northants County Council giving details of consultation workshops to be held on 10th and 16th January 9.30-12.30.

Item 12 – Open Forum

Mrs Barrett noted that Emma Cave would have liked a bench to be put on Castle Green with a plaque, currently stored in her garage that she saved from another old bench.  Mr Cave asked the cost of the bench and replied he would consider contributing towards it.

Mrs Barrett agreed to tidy up under the baby swings in Pocket Park with a hard broom and hot soapy water.

Mr Prior noted that wall maintenance costs around the churchyard are not high but just small repairs.    Ivy should be trimmed regularly and the pointing may need doing but these jobs should not cost too much.

Mr A Cave asked the councillors if they had any objections to wind farms in the area. In the discussion that followed it was noted that it was a matter that clearly would need planning consent and would require serious consideration by any parties affected. There was some agreement that this method of generating electricity was encouraged by government and the meeting was made aware of a project in Oxfordshire where a local community had undertaken such a project. The councillors asked if more information could be made available. They would be in favour of investigating further as long as it was approached in the right way and a proper consultation was undertaken

Item 13 - Next meeting

13a.    Matters for consideration at the next meeting

          Update on Underground Cabling
          Update on Castle Green Restoration Project
          Grass cutting –  proposals

13b.   Date and time of next meeting

       7th February 2008 at 7.30pm in the Church Hall    

Meeting closed at 9.25pm