Councillors Present

Graham Roberts, Jo Powell, Andrew Waite, David Kellett, Clare Pollak (arrived late) and Jane Osborne (arrived late) together with three villagers.

Item 1

1a. Apologies
Emma Cave, Barbara Burke and Eileen Roberts

1b. Introduction
       The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Item 2

2a. Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 12th July 2007
       The minutes were agreed and signed as a true record.  These were proposed by Cllr Powell and seconded by Cllr Kellett.

2b. Matters Arising
       Rubbish bins in Stockwell Lane
       A letter was sent to the Residents of Stockwell Lane by the Clerk and the work has now been done to remove the bins off the main road.  Thanks was given to these residents.  The Clerk is still to chase South Northants Council regarding the excess water seen in the lane.

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.

4.    Councillors Reports
       Pocket Park
       Cllr Osborne and Kellett had visited Pocket Park and identified the springer that needs repositioning.  In their opinion most of the bark in the play area needs replacing although it was only put in a couple of years ago.  The Chair asked if it could be salvaged but it cannot be.  The ground under the swings has eroded away and needs replacing.  Cllr Kellett has obtained prices for proof membrane and bark and it could cost about £1700.00.  It will be cheaper if the village can provide the labour.  A note will be put in the newsletter asking for volunteers.  The Clerk was asked to email Kevin Moore to ask for more information about the movement of the springer and play area in general.  The hedging needs looking at and the pond area needs to be strimmed.  Cllr Kellett and Osborne will try to organise a working party to do these jobs before the winter sets in.

       Village Sign
       Cllr Powell has done a lot of research on the internet and there are many types of village signs made out of lots of different materials. Some are better than others. An estimated cost is £3-5K.  It was felt that the best place for the sign would be to place it by the Stocks. 

       From the floor Mrs Barber asked why a sign was needed.  The Chair replied that an interest had been shown by parishioners, it had been considered previously to mark the Millennium.  The Parish Council are very keen to improve the facilities and assets in the village and this includes the area around the Stocks.  Signs are very traditional in Northamptonshire villages.  Mr Bates felt that the village would look far nicer if the area in front of Spinners Cottages was improved and the cars removed from the road and grass verges.  The Chair agreed there was a need for improvements for parking and had seen a similar scheme in Greatworth. 
       The Parish Council will have to discuss the priorities that are needed to improve the village overall and get pricing for them following which there will be a consultation process to set out the priorities for the next two/three years.   Cllr Waite noted that when thinking about a village sign the council must be mindful of what the sign is for and what it will do for the village.

       Community Speed Update
       Cllr Powell had read details of this in a recent newsletter.  More speed guns are being bought in April and Cllr Powell has suggested she put Sulgrave’s name on the waiting list to borrow them.   She asked if any councillors would be interested in helping to use them in the village and several put their names forwards.  Training should be provided and it will help to provide speeding statistics.

       Possible closure of departments at Horton Hospital
       Cllr Pollak reported that this was the last opportunity to write  another letter in support and stop certain departments being closed at the local hospital.  The Clerk would put a letter together.

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

Access path
        The path was completed in July and villagers have been very complimentary about it, and enjoy using it.  The contractors have been paid 95.5% of their invoice.  Unfortunately the wall contractors damaged the path at the Church Street entrance, but they accepted liability and agreed the path contractors could repair it on their behalf.  A price was obtained, and these repairs have now been carried out.  To prevent similar damage from happening in the future, the Committee decided to ask for extra hardcore to be inserted under the mesh.  There is sufficient funding to cover this.

        The residents of Church Street raised an issue concerning the fencing.  They feel it is unsightly, and would like to plant shrubs to screen it.  This will be discussed by the Management Committee at their next meeting.        Cllr Osborne noted that this should be thought about very carefully as  in ten years time the shrubs would be big and very costly to maintain. 

        There has been an offer to pay for a bench for the Green.  This would be on condition that a memorial plaque could be attached to it.  The Management Committee feel that this would be acceptable and would like to offer the opportunity for another matching bench to be provided if a resident would care to do so.  From the floor Mr Bates asked the cost of a bench and Cllr Pollak replied an estimated cost would be £500.00.  Cllr Powell asked what would happen if several villagers came forward asking to put benches on the green.  They would be agreed on a first come first served basis up to a limit of three.

        Permissive Path
        As reported at the last council meeting, Lewis Thomas has drafted documents,  and they are being considered.  The Open Spaces Society has provided information that it is necessary to register permissive paths with the County Council every 10 years, to prevent them from becoming a Right of Way.  Further progress is expected in the Autumn.

        Geophysical Survey
        This took place as planned on 5th August, and was very much enjoyed by all those who took part.  Some helped with the surveying and others watched and enjoyed the scenery, the beautiful weather, the archaeology display and the company of other villagers.  A report and photographs can be seen on the village website.  The report from Northants Archaeology is expected in due course.

        The Wall Restoration Project
        As reported at the last meeting, Underwood and Weston started work prematurely, decided that the wall could not be restored for the price they had quoted and left the site.  No contract had been signed, and there had been problems with communications between them, the management company Rhodes Partnership and Cllr Pollak.  These problems have continued.  The Parish Council felt that a strong letter should be sent to Underwoods, requesting a site meeting and this message was passed onto the Management Committee.

On 17th July a letter was sent to Rhodes Partnership and copied to Underwoods, setting out the situation as the Committee saw it, the issues to be resolved and clearly stating that the Parish Council and Committee were keen for work to recommence.

        Copies of emails were received over the next few weeks, including a set of figures sent from Underwoods to Rhodes but there was no reply to this letter.  Castle Green Committee members had several meetings over the next few weeks using the figures to try to consider what their options might be and how much contingency money was available.  The figures indicated that £10K extra might be required.

        Cllr Roberts attended one of those meetings with Martin Sirot-Smith and the Pollaks.  Relunctantly it was recognised that the committee had no lever against Underwoods, as the next highest tender was more than £10K greater, a delay would mean an increase in costs.  It was agreed that they should try to get them back on site, and complete the work if at all possible.

        By 8th August the committee heard that Rhodes were disputing Underwood’s figures and that a compromise had been suggested at a site meeting between them.  Rhodes senior partner, Cecil Rhodes, asked to meet the Management Committee and Parish Council representatives to put forward his proposals.  This meeting took place on Sunday 26th August.  There was a full and frank discussion.  Underwoods had wanted to pull out, but Rhodes had persuaded them to continue on the understanding that he would closely monitor the works and reduce costs.  He felt he could manage to do the work on the understanding that there could be flexibility in the price up to a maximum of £3000 plus VAT.  The Castle Green Committee acknowledged that they caught in a cleft stick, and finally accepted Rhodes’ personal undertaking to keep to this figure, without a detailed contract.  If the specifications had been altered then the original contract price could have been increased.

        Underwoods returned to site on 3rd September.

Cllr Waite and Pollak visited the site on Tuesday 11th and a considerable length of wall has been restored.  The Access Steps were being built and the design and materials were discussed with the Site Foreman.  The Archaeologist visited also and was happy with progress.  After the meeting on 11th September, Cllr Waite had a couple of queries.  He asked why smaller stones had been inserted into the wall but was told this is normal practise.  The Chair noted that the steps have been back-filled with gravel and he was not sure if this was the correct thing to do as he is not an expert on building walls.  He felt that as Rhodes Partnership are the Project Managers, they should be allowed to do their job.  Cllr Waite noted that they must look for cost savings and rebates should be on a shared benefit basis.  Cllr Pollak had measured the wall and it was measured to be 138m and not 150m.  There would be 120mtrs rebuild and 30ms repair but the committee are not sure how this will be defined.

Two letters of correspondence were received in relation to the above work. The first was to say how well the work was going.  The second was to complain about the way the contractors parked their vehicles.  Cllr Pollak agreed to speak to the  contractors and the Clerk would reply to the letter of complaint.

The Chair noted that there should be Parish Council representation at any future meetings to help support Cllr Pollak.

  1. Update on Allotment Area

Cllr Waite reported that progress is being made on the allotment area.  A flyer was put in the last newsletter and is displayed on the website.  Two additional people have taken plots and there are just two plots left.   A meeting of users will take place on 21st October.  This will be a get together for users to see how everything is going and exchange ideas etc.  There is still a  need for fresh water and the Chair passed details from Anglian Water to Cllr Waite.

Refund of £30.00 to be given to a previous tenant for an allotment plot

       The Chair noted that a previous tenant last year had paid £30.00 for a plot and then decided he was unable to continue working on it. He felt it showed fairness and goodwill to refund the money back to him.   Cllr Waite replied that some consideration and flexibility should be shown as the allotments are really taking off now.  There are only two spare plots left.  Cllr Powell and Osborne felt it should only be refunded if the villager asked for it back.  There is the whole upkeep of the area to think of now and more money has to be spent on improving boundaries, hedges and ditches in an around the area.  If the money is returned it could set a precedent for future tenants.  It was agreed that once all the plots have been let, the council may feel it is justified to return the funds to the previous tenant.

7.   Approval and Siting of memorials in the village
        At a meeting of the previous council it was agreed they should decide if memorials should be accepted and where they should be set.   A precedent had been set already as there are several benches already in the village.  It was agreed that the best location would be up the Gated Road if anyone should ask in future.

8.   Finance Report

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


  1. To approve new bank signatory

It was agreed that Jo Powell would be a new signatory to replace Ian Cherry who was part of the old council and did not stand for re-election in May.  The appropriate forms would be signed at the end of the meeting and returned to the bank.

Cheques for approval

     £634.50 to R D Landscapes Ltd (three cuts in June/July/August)
     £87.29 to South Northamptonshire Council (election costs for 3rd May ’07)
     £77.62 to ABB Lighting

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

Cllr Waite noted that SNC may be considering sending planning applications via email which would reduce photocopying and postage costs. This would have to be considered by the Parish Council nearer the time as the plans may be quite hard to see.

9.   Update on Planning Applications
       Cllr Waite gave an update on planning.

The following applications have been approved by SNC
S/2007/0794/P  - Single storey rear extension and pitched roof to garage at Little Tow

S/2007/0577/P – Single storey rear extension, garden shed at rear and 1.8 metre iron railings and wrought iron gates at front of Old Wesleyan Chapel, Manor Road.

S/2007/0855/P – Replacement of existing wooden cladding to side dormer window with PVC replacement at 1 Church Street.

S/2007/0680/P – 2 front dormers and 1 rear dormer at Eagles Court, Helmdon Road

The following application was refused by SNC
S/2007/0634/P, Removal of existing conservatory and construction of single storey extension at the Old Stables, Manor Road.

Amended Plans in circulation within PC
S/2007/1674/P & S/2007/1675/LB (amended plans).  Conversion of traditional buildings into three dwellings (revision of S/2005/0883/P). 
Barn 1 – Amended size of utility room window 1 no new slit window.  Creation of ventilation opening at first floor level.  Barn 2 – repositioning of slit windows, new timber gate to enclosed courtyard at Dial House Farm, Magpie Road.  A temporary stop notice was issued on the owners responsible for the barns at Dial House Farm at the beginning of August.  These amendments will sort out the issues that were raised in that stop notice.

10. Correspondence

  1. A letter had been received from SNC as they are undertaking a review to their response to the flooding emergency on 20th July.   SNC are asking which properties  were affected by the flooding, how severe the flooding was, ie were gardens flooded , were properties flooded internally, were there any potential hazards created by the flooding or were there any injuries suffered.  The Clerk will put a note in the next newsletter asking affected residents to respond to her so the Parish Council can compile their response to SNC.
  2. A letter was received from Rodney Henn of Fleet Farm House.  He is still receiving Neighbourhood Watch letters despite not being involved for some years now.  The Clerk will write direct to remove him off the mailing list.

Item 11 – Open Forum

  1. Mr Bates asked if any progress had been made on the next phase of the underground cabling.  The Clerk replied she has not heard from them but will send a letter asking for an update.
  2. The Parish Council will organise a litter pick in October.  The Clerk will email all councillors with available dates and put a note in the newsletter.

Item 12 - Next meeting
12a.    Matters for consideration at the next meeting
          Update on Underground Cabling
          Update on work on Castle Green
          Report from Parish Council of work that needs doing in the village over the next four years.

12b.   Date and time of next meeting
       11th October 2007 at 7.30pm in the Church Hall    

Meeting closed at 9.30pm