Councillors Present

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

Item 1

1a. Apologies
       Cllr Roberts, Osborne and Moore, Joyce Barber and Mr and Mrs Tattersall

1b. Introduction
       He then welcomed the guest speaker, Kathryn Smith, Rural Office of Northants ACRE.

Item 2

2a. Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 14th September 2006
       The minutes were agreed and signed as a true record.

2b. Matters Arising

     Castle Green
       Cllr Pollak advised that the Guidelines for Use on Castle Green, which was circulated at the last meeting, had now been amended and the final version had been passed to the Parish Clerk for filing.

     Village Website
       The website is now up and running and thanks was given to Colin Wootton on behalf of the Parish Council for his energy and speed with it.  Thanks was also given to Dave Dunlop and Emily Whitehead for all the initial work that they did with the website in the very beginning.

     Light in Towrise
       Cllr Cherry had checked the light in Towrise that was reported to be on permanently.  He found it to be off during the day but will need to check if it is on at night.

       The clerk had obtained details from South Northants Council of what recycling materials are accepted at Farthinghoe and Towcester waste tips.  The details will be put in the next newsletter and on the website for villagers to refer to.
Clean Neighbourhood Act
Helen Hunt of SNC has advised the Clerk that the DEFRA publication she had referred to at the last PC meeting has been ordered but is currently out of stock.  Details have been sent by email but the file is very long with colour pages.

3.   Declaration of Interest
       Cllr Pollak declared that her property adjoins Castle Green.

4.   Guest Speaker
Kathryn Smith (KS) advised that ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is an independent charity and they work with rural communities.  They are one of thirty eight rural councils and have a number of roles to fulfil.  Their main body of work is parish plans and they work with Parish Councils and agencies.  They offer services and provide advice and support.    They have a village hall advisory service which is run by Pam Wilton.  She is able to offer advice on legislation and the new licensing laws connected to village halls.

ACRE provide advice on funding for community projects through a funder finder computer programme.  There is funding for Parish Plans available through DEFRA.  This is a good way to identify local needs through consultation with the community.  It raises awareness of local issues such as post offices, shops and green spaces.

A training service for Clerks is offered at the Hunsbury Hill Centre, where ACRE is based.   The centre can be hired out for parties or weddings which helps to sustain ACRE as they are a charity. ACRE work closely with SNC although South Northants Council do not currently have a rural department.

The main areas of work within ACRE are:
Rural Shops and Services member – Caroline Turner.
Rural Housing – there is no enabler at the moment as there is no funding to fill this position.  They work with the Rural Housing Association.
Rural Transport Officer who sits on Transport LSP, Local Strategic Partnership.

KS spoke about their current projects.  The first is Northants On Wheels which provides advice to young people on how to access employment and further education.  It has been running for two years and ACRE are currently trying to secure funding for the next two years.  The second is Community Speedwatch.  The scheme is aimed at volunteers who train to work a speed camera and monitor the local traffic, however there is a huge waiting list.  The third is Village of the Year Competition which is very successful and  sponsored by Calor.

The Chair asked KS for more information on parish plans.  The previous council had put a lot of work into preparing one sometime ago and then they were advised by Rachel Abbott of ACRE that funding had been withdrawn.  The village is in a critical time of development as new growth will happen soon.  There are lots of young children in the village now and they need to be looked after.  The village is very active but it is proving difficult to get villagers involved, a case of volunteer fatigue.  The shop is in its 3rd year and is trading very successfully.  The Chair had seen a copy of the Parish Plan for Wappenham and he was very impressed.  In their design statement there were thirty different principles but the plan accepted that the village will change over time, and it was vital that it looked after its local heritage.  KS replied it would make sense to agree a Village Design Statement at the same time as working on the parish  plan.  There is funding available until 2008.  To take the plan forward, this council would need to hold an open meeting to get the support of the local community.  Then they would need to complete an application form and submit it to the grant panel for approval.  KS then asked the floor for questions.

Cllr Powell asked about Village of the Year competition.  KS replied that Anne Millar of NALC had the details.

Cllr Pollak asked about rural pathfinder and KS explained it is a new project and in the early stages of development.  It is an exploratory approach to improving delivery of rural services.  ACRE work in partnership with NCC and SNC on this.  During the October half term holiday, ACRE will be in Woodford Halse.  If this is successful, they will take the knowledge to other villages and roll it out there.

Mr Pollak noted that he liked the Wappenham Parish Plan which he had received  a copy of via the CPRE.  The Chair replied that a representative of Wappenham Parish Council would be invited to attend a future council meeting to discuss further.

The Chair asked if the Funder Finder computer programme could be put on a CD for villagers to use.  KS agreed to find out if it was available for general use. The Chair noted that Caroline Turner should visit Sulgrave Community Shop as it is the only one in Northants and is a blueprint for others. He was very surprised that SNC do not have a rural department.  KS replied that at present it is part of the leisure department.  She felt there was a clear need for one.

The Chair noted that the hall in the village is owned by the church.  KS agreed to find out if there is advice available and if there is any access to funding and grants.

The Chair then thanked KS for attending the meeting in  her own time.

5.   Councillors Reports

Central Networks
Cllr Cherry noted that Central Networks are currently in communication with Northants County Council who own the land that they want to use at the bottom of Helmdon Road.  Once this has been sorted out, work will begin.  If this site is not successsful,Cllr Cherry will ensure that the village are consulted before a new site is chosen.
       In a written report, Cllr Roberts had advised the council that a lot of progress has been made so far.  There is interest from other villagers to take on an allotment but not in their current state as the area is very overgrown.  A discussion has taken place with the current holders and it was agreed that roundup would be applied to the site to get rid of the weeds.  Thanks to Roger Cherry as this has now been done.  The area is going to be strimmed and the ground rotivated soon, ready for next year.

Castle Green
Cllr Pollak has submitted a funding application form for Castle Green to Trust for Oxfordshire Environment Ltd. 

They have advised the committee that there is no landfill site within the proposed distance to enable them to qualify for funding.  Cllr Pollak will query this.

Castle Green Registration
Cllr Powell has advised NCC of recent events held on the field.  Both her and the Clerk are awaiting for responses to emails sent to NCC chasing the progress.

Horton Hospital
Cllr Pollak had asked the councillors if a letter of support could be sent in support of the Horton Hospital as the consultation period ends on Friday 13th October.  It was agreed the letter would be sent and Cllr Roberts had  amended the master letter.  The Chair thanked everyone involved for their input.

6.     Pocket Park Inspection Report

        Cllr Pollak first talked about Anglian Water who offer their staff on a release scheme to carry out community projects.  It was agreed that a scheme should be decided first before they are contacted.

Cllr Moore had circulated an email regarding his concerns for Pocket Park and a list of priority jobs that he felt needed to be carried out.  

  1. Improve signage (Need to agree wording on ownership/management)
  2. Rubberised Safety Surface around bars on Adventure Trail - Estimated cost £500
  3. Replace Bark with rubberised Safety Surface around 2 seat spring toy - Estimated cost £500 (Note both above costs could be reduced to £300 with own labour)
  4. Top up bark safety surface. Estimated costs £650 inc VAT. Note existing bark does conform to relevant BS.
  5. Replace chains on swing. Estimated cost £150 each including seat*2 (Guess)

He suggested using some of the Pocket Park money (£750.00) but some should be held in reserve.  He also proposed that the PC apply to the Sulgrave Educational Trust for a grant of £1000.00.

The Chair opened up the discussion by noting that in looking at the recent inspection report, it had highlighted the fact that the Parish Council must start to think differently about the responsibility and maintenance of the park and its play equipment. 
Future budgets should reflect that money that is separately set aside for maintenance of the play area and also the cost of the inspection.  The Chair suggested that this item is kept on the agenda for the rest of the council year.

The top three priorities were agreed in council as follows:

  1. Replace chains on swing, estimated cost £150.00 each
  2. Rubberised safety surface around bars on adventure trail – estimated cost £500
  3. Replace bark with rubberised safety surface around 2 seat spring toy – estimated cost £500 (could be reduced to £300 with own labour).

        Cllr Pollak then proposed the following resolution:

“I propose that Sulgrave Parish Council allocates £700.00 from the separate Pocket Park account towards:

  1. the replacement of chains on the swings
  2. Part contribution towards the replacement by an approved rubberised surface of the safety surface around the bars on the adventure trail.

In addition I propose that Sulgrave Parish Council approaches the trustees of the Sulgrave Educational Trust for a grant of £1000.00 under the ‘Sulgrave Educational Charity’.
This was seconded by Cllr Powell and all the councillors voted in favour.

7.   Finance Report

The following cheques were approved for payment:

  1. £293.75 to Oxford Preservation Services (treatment of bus shelter)
  2. £39.69 to BT (fax bill)
  1. A spreadsheet detailing spend to date and forthcoming expenditure had been circulated to all councillors.   The Chair noted his concerns on the following cost centres.  Insurance - The council need to obtain more professional advice on their insurance cover for next year.  Audit - The audit costs more money now as an internal auditor has to be appointed in addition to the external auditor. Pocket Park - Money should be set aside separately for the maintenance and inspection of Pocket Park. 

Grass Cutting -  is costing more and the council should be pushing for  a higher contribution from Northants County Council. The Clerk would enquire with other villages as to what monetary contribution they receive from NCC.

8.   Update on Planning Applications

The following notification of an older application  had been received from SNC.
S/2006/1055/P, Three front dormers at Eagles Court, Helmdon Road
This has been refused by SNC as it would result in an unsympathetic and incongruous extension that would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the dwelling and wider Conservation Area.
Item 9 – Correspondence

  1. SNC, review of number of council seats.
  2. CPRE details from their website.

Item 10 – Open Forum

  1. Mrs Burke asked if the drain gullies could be cleaned, especially as heavy rain has fallen recently.  The Clerk agreed to fax Atkins Highways.
  2. Mrs Burke noted her disappointment with ACRE and felt the council were not getting good value for money.

Item 11 - Next meeting

11a.  Matters for consideration at the next Parish Council meeting

  1. Continuing action plan for Pocket Park 
  2. Update on Dog Fouling and Clean Neighbourhood Act
  3. How to increase awareness and attendance at Parish Council meetings

11b.  Date and time of next meeting

       Parish Council meeting on 23rd November 2006.
Meeting closed at 9.20pm.