Councillors Present

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

Item 1

1a.  Introduction

         The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. 

1b.  Apologies

         Cllr Osborne, Mrs Barrett, Mr and Mrs Lloyd, Mrs Roberts and Mrs Barber
Item 2

2a.  Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 10th September 2009

     The minutes of the last meeting were agreed and signed as a true record.  These were proposed by Cllr Pollak and seconded by Cllr Waite.

2b.  Matters Arising

Pocket Park – Thanks was given to Mr and Mrs Coverley for starting the clean up of the pond area.  Cllr Osborne has been in contact with Rose Little – Pocket park Co-ordinator, so that a date can be agreed to clear the Pocket Park. George Metcalfe had telephoned Rose Little also to ask for advice on the pond area and cleaning.   Rose has offered to find a date in her diary to come over and give advice in person and look at Pocket Park.

Drains – Cllr Pollak reported the drain outside Nashes yard which smells of sewage.  Both Cllr Waite and the Chair have seen workmen around the area doing a camera survey.  The Clerk to follow up with the Street Doctor.

3.   Declaration of Interest

         Cllr Pollak declared an interest as her land adjoins Castle Green.
         The Chair declared a personal interest as his property is opposite Castle Green.
         Cllr Waite declared an interest in the planning application  at Old Sulgrave Stores.
4.      Councillors Reports

         Community Speedwatch

         Cllr Powell reported that they are half way through the second week of the speed gun period.     Five people have been caught and one is a persistent offender which the police will follow up.  Slow Down boards can be put up between 2nd November to 14th December and 15th February to 29th March 2010.

         The Chair noted he was pleased with the progress but disappointed at the lack of volunteers.
         Castle Green

         Cllr Pollak gave the following update.

         Wall Rebuilding

         The contractors have now completed the repairs to the wall and Martin Sirot-Smith and Cllr Pollak carried out a site inspection on Tuesday 6th October.  They were glad to report that most of the faults had been sorted out and they have not been asked to pay anything.  Martin noted that if they had been faced with this quality of workmanship and finish in October 2007 it would have saved a vast amount of time, trouble and anxiety.

         The Rhodes Partnership has recommended that Practical Completion should be accepted.  This means that they will pay Underwood & Weston all outstanding money, except for a retention of 2.5% which will be held for 6 months.  This will mean any defects that occur as a result of winter frosts can be repaired in the Spring.  The CGC is meeting on Friday 9th October and figures produced by Rhodes and Underwood & Weston will be discussed then.

         Parking outside Spinners Cottages, Magpie Road

         South Northants Homes have confirmed they will be visiting the site shortly with their Design and Build Contractors to get costs before final decisions are made.  If costs meet expectations this is a scheme they would be interested in supporting. This is good news and Cllr Waite will continue to give an update at each meeting.

         Beech Trees on the Green

         Cllr Waite has received a report from Ben Acreman.  He noted the trees are in good condition with dense foliage throughout the crown and no signs of decay around the stems.  Both trees are dense with a small amount of dead wood within the crowns.  The first of the pair as you enter the village  has a twin stem that is poorly formed, this is a sign of a poor union and  a potential weak point in the structure.  He has suggested bracing the tree which would relieve some of the stress on the fork and act as a safety precaution in windy weather.  The cost to brace the tree is approximately £380.00 & VAT.  The trees would benefit from a general crown thin of 15% and all dead wood removed.  There are some low branches over a neighbours hedge which could do with re-shortening and  lifting.  The cost of these works excluding the bracing  would be £550.00 & VAT to include the chipping and removal of all cuttings from site.  Mr Acreman had also looked at the trees outside the church hall and there is one beech tree which is in poor condition and his advice is to remove it.

Cllr Waite felt that to trim the beech trees by 15% would not change the appearance a great deal. George Metcalfe has been very helpful throughout the process.          Cllr Pollak felt that to cut off the lower branches and raise the crown would provide more light under the tree. It would also be a more permanent solution, and save future maintenance costs.  Cllr Kellett noted it was difficult to envisage the end result as the trees dominate the area. The Chair felt the trees are large and dominant and a major feature but not attractive at present.

     Mrs Dyde asked if the nearest neighbours had complained about the tree.  The Chair replied they had requested the Parish Council to look at them and were last trimmed in 2005.  She felt it was not natural for a beech tree to have a higher crown.

         Mr Coverley suggested that Cllr Waite approach the person who cut Colin Woottons tree as he had done a good job.  Cllr Waite advised that he had used Ben Acreman also.  It is hoped that Colin may be able to take a photo now of the trees and amend on his computer to show how they might look with some trimming.

         The trees in the Church Hall car park are not the responsibility of the Parish Council.  Cllr Waite agreed to forward the email to Mr Bates, who is a churchwarden.

         Action:  Cllr Waite to obtain two further quotes for comparison and speak to Ian Lorman at SNC for his advice.  He will ask Ben Acreman to have another look at the trees when he next visits to look at the trees in the Church Hall car park.
         Wheelie Bin for Pocket Park

         A request was made at the last meeting for the council to find out the cost of a new wheelie bin for Pocket Park as the condition and state of the current bin is awful.  SNC cannot sell or provide a bin free or charge to the Parish Council.  The only alternative is to take out a commercial agreement with SNC.  The cost would be £180.00 per year and the bin would be emptied weekly, early on a Tuesday morning.  The bin would have to be wheeled out onto the Highway which Jill Barrett has agreed to do.  Cllr Waite suggested that the bin is removed which would encourage people to take their rubbish home.  Cllr Kellett felt to collect weekly was too frequent and the noise of a dust cart early in the morning might disturb some residents.  Cllr Powell suggested the bin is removed for a trial period. It was felt by all to be a good idea and a laminated sign will be put up to read  ‘Bin has been removed – please take your litter home’.

         Underground Cabling

         Work has stopped at present.  The Chair is to make contact with the Project Manager.
5.     Finance Report

Cllr Pollak spoke about the quality of the grass cutting on Castle Green as it was not to a good standard.  Cllr Waite agreed to send her the agreed cutting specification.  The following payments were then approved and cheques raised accordingly.  They were proposed by Cllr Kellett and seconded by Cllr Waite.


            The Clerk presented the following statement:-
‘The Internal Audit is effective because it is carried out by a person who is completely independent to the Parish Council, has an accountancy background and used to be a Parish Clerk.  Therefore the internal auditor understands the work of the Parish Council and the legal and corporate framework in which it operates.

At each council meeting during the year, the year to date accounts are presented and discussed.  All potential expenditure is formally approved before it is made and all payments are supported by an invoice.  If there is an urgent payment to be made between meetings all councillors are informed by email.  The payment is then recorded and approved at the next meeting.

At the end of the year the accounts are prepared by the RFO and the Annual Return is completed.  It is presented to the council for approval and passed to the Internal Auditor.  He prepares a report and the council review any recommendations that he makes and take appropriate action where necessary.  The Annual Return is sent off the External Auditor.            In our opinion this is a constant review of the effectiveness of the Internal             Audit’.
           This was unanimously approved by the council.

           The Clerk had circulated a risk assessment table which could be used throughout            the year.  This would ensure the council are satisfied that all risks facing them          have been identified and safeguards put in place to protect against those risks. 
           Action:  Cllr Kellett agreed to amend the document.  To be circulated        and       agreed at the next meeting.

     The issue raised was that the council did not review the effectiveness of the       internal audit.  This has now been addressed.

The Parish Council were then able to approve and accept the Annual Return for 2008/9.

6.   Update on Planning Applications

          Four new applications had been received since the last meeting:

External Alterations including refurbishment of shop front and replacement and alteration of doors and windows. Internal alterations including the removal of the existing staircase and some fixtures, the installation of a replacement staircase and the subdivision and alteration of the existing floor plan at ground and first floor levels at Old Sulgrave Stores, School Street (renewal of S/2006/0736/P).
The council has commented on the application but has no objections. 

          A decision notice had been received on one application.
          S/2009/0691/TPO, 1 beech, reduce branch in northern lower crown by 4m at the Old Vicarage.  SNC have approved this.

7.   Correspondence

      A letter was received from Cllr Andrea Leadsom of the South Northants Conservative Party regarding Enertrags proposal to build a wind farm.  She notes that the Conservative policy is to focus on offshore wind and marine parks and for decisions on whether or not planning permission should be granted for smaller scale land based wind turbines to be left firmly in the hands of local planners. 

      Cllr Waite noted that the Action Group have launched a website.  The address is  Cllr Pollak will put this on the noticeboard.

      The Chair advised that the resolution put forward at the last meeting has been accepted by NCALC and will be debated at the AGM on 14th October.  From the floor Mrs Dyde said she thought that SNC had said at the public meeting they would be drawing up a plan.  The Chair replied that nothing has been done to date and it is very worrying. There is no reference to wind farm policies in a recent policy submitted by the West Northants Development Corporation.

8.   Open Forum

          Several residents expressed concern regarding the planning application for Old Sulgrave Stores and the condition of the building which is in a poor state. There is a real desire of planning permission to be granted and work to be started to restore the building.  The Parish Council will engage with the owner on a positive level to see if encouragement can be given to commence work on repairs. Villagers who have concerns were encouraged to write their own letters to SNC as SNC have the final decision.
          Mrs Coverley advised that a clear up of the Pocket Park had been booked for 17th October.  Posters are going to be put up asking if anyone can spare any time on the day to help.  Mr Coverley will take his own strimmer.  He advised the Chair that the Parish Councils strimmer may require special oil which he was willing to collect.
          Action:  The Chair to advise Mr Coverley of the make of the councils strimmer and the Chair to pass gloves used at the last litter pick to Mrs Coverley.

          Mrs Dyde spoke about the financial burden of the street lighting and suggested how the costs could be reduced.  She has been studying the lights and the light outside Southlands Cottage is on all night.  She suggested using a timeswitch or putting a backing on some lights.  The Chair replied that the lights used to be on a timer but were costly to maintain and removed.  There may be a different way of controlling the lights as technology has moved on. 
     Action:  The Chair to investigate with ABB Lighting.

          Mrs Burke advised that her corner posts have been knocked down again.  This would be passed to the Enhancement Gang of MGWSP to look at.     
     Action: The Clerk/Chair to speak to MGWSP when they next visit.

9.      Next meeting

9a.    Matters for consideration at the next meeting

          Update from NCALC AGM.

9b.    Date and time of next meeting

          12th November in the Church Hall at 7.30pm

            Meeting closed at 9.20pm