Town Council meeting February 12 2014 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 12 FEBRUARY 2014

Present: Councillor P Cowey (in the Chair)

Councillors Mrs J Butcher, Mrs C Caisley, R Dodd, Mrs S Johnson, Mrs L Noble,
R G Ramsay, C Rawlings, A Shanley and Mrs E Thompson.

Public Question Time
There were four questions submitted by Mr A Varley. Replies to the questions appear after each one in turn.
1) My question for the December 2013 meeting was remitted until after the meeting about response to the NCC Core Strategy. I was unaware that remission required me to raise it again at the January meeting of PTC and the deadline for questions was missed. I, therefore, resubmit the nub of my question and would be pleased for a collective and individual response. The question was:

“I was heartened by the overwhelming wishes of the residents. whom you represent, to resist NCC’s opportunistic attempt to increase hugely the number of residents but I need to be assured by councillors, both collectively and individually, as we were after the previous consultation events, that PTC will faithfully represent the wishes of the local residents in response to NCC’s draft plan. I would, therefore, ask each individual councillor to confirm their opposition to NCC’s housing proposals.”

Reply – As Mr Varley will recall there was a Special Town Council meeting to discuss the NCC Core Strategy where the whole document was discussed and each question voted on. The Town Council unanimously came to a number of opinions and objected to a number of questions including the NCC housing proposals.
If Mr Varley wished to canvass each Councillor in turn outside of this meeting he was at liberty to do so. However, at a full Council meeting it was not protocol to canvass individual members.

2) This question is for those councillors on the highways committee.
a) When can I expect the advisory speed sign, situated on Cheviot View, to start to work?
b) I have not seen the van which photographs speeding vehicles operating on Cheviot View in recent times. Is there any reason why it is not deployed in this area?

Reply – The Town Council was in the process of sorting out the problems with the speed indicator sign. The Company came out last week however some parts are required.

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Public Question Time (continued)
The company had been asked to pick up the units and fit the replacement parts so hopefully the signs should be in operation soon.

It was not within the Town Council’s control to decide where/when or even if a Police camera van should be on photographic traffic control. The Clerk would be asked to raise these concerns with the Police and it may be helpful if Mr Varley contacted them as well.

3) At a previous PTC meeting, it was revealed that Councillors Cowey & Ramsay had ‘drifted’ onto the committee of Ponteland Community Trust and had assumed positions on that entity as PTC representatives. It was further revealed that this undemocratic self-election had been effected without any reference to PTC. Have either or both of these councillors yet resigned these appointments and, if not, when do they intend to do so thus allowing the two spaces reserved for PTC reps to be filled in a democratic manner?

Reply – This matter was the subject of a confidential report which would be discussed in closed session later in the meeting.

4) At another PTC meeting, an offer was made by a councillor to try to obtain the services of persons serving community service orders to assist with work being undertaken by volunteers on the old railway line through Darras Hall. The offer was declined with a dismissive wave of the hand by Councillor Ramsay, whom I presume was acting as unelected chair of the Footpaths Working Group. I ask Councillor Ramsay to explain why the offer was turned down.

Reply – The above matter was also the subject of a confidential report which would be considered in closed session later tonight.
If it appears that the Council dismissed the suggestion it was probably due to the fact that the Council had used the service previously with little success. In fact a meeting had since been held with the Probation Service with a view to possibly trying out the service again.

190. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs C Greenwell and Mrs S Lewis.

191. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Councillors Cowey and Ramsay declared a personal interest in Minute 212 and took no part in the voting or discussion other than for points of information.

192. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 13 JANUARY 2014

The minutes of the Council Meeting held on 13 January 2014 were confirmed and signed by the Mayor subject to an amendment to Minute 185(iv) – change the word
‘March’ to ‘February’.
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193. MATTERS ARISING

There were no matters arising.
194. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of meetings held on 7 and 28 January 2014 were circulated for information.

(ii) Report on recent planning decisions
There was nothing to report.

Note – Councillor R Dodd took no part in any discussion or voting in respect of Minute 194 above.

195. GRANT APPLICATIONS

(i) Castle Morpeth Disability Association
An application had been received from Castle Morpeth Disability Association for a grant of £150 towards providing a handyman service for disabled and disadvantaged people. They assisted one to two people in the Ponteland area on a weekly basis.

RESOLVED – A grant of £150 be approved.

196. PROJECTS REPORT
A report relating to progress of current projects had been circulated.
In relation to the Street Map paper copies, it was reported that comments received by Councillors had been considered and a further proof was being prepared for final comment prior to being printed.

With regard to the Skate Park it was reported that the facility had been opened following some temporary repairs being carried out by the Council’s contractors. A date was still awaited from the installer as to when he would be carrying out the necessary repairs identified by ROSPA.

ROSPA had proposed that a teen shelter and some seating should be provided.
The Police were not in favour of the teen shelter idea although they had no problems with the provision of seating.
It was proposed to provide two simple bench seats at a cost of £144 each plus ground fixing plates at a cost of £16 plus delivery.

RESOLVED –
(i) The report be received.
(ii) The Council agree the purchase of the seating for the skate park
in the sum of £320 plus delivery.

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197. COATES GREEN FOOTPATH

The Town Council had agreed to carry out repairs to the above footpath as part of its project list for the current year. This had been a matter of concern for some years and it was considered appropriate to carry out a full refurbishment. It was stated that the works would be phased as much as possible to retain walking routes and access to St. Mary’s Church.
Tenders for the work had been received and details of the quotes received were reported.

RESOLVED – The Council accept the lowest quote in the sum of £14,812.

198. PARKINGANDTRAFFICPROBLEMS – MEADOWFIELD INDUSTRIAL ESTATE

A report was presented which outlined that Councillor Richard Dodd was in discussions with the County Council regarding the parking and traffic issues in Ponteland.
The problems on Meadowfield Industrial Estate were becoming a major issue due to parking of heavy articulated lorries on the roadside and the recent commencement of construction at the former Auction Mart site. As this was the route to the Health Centre it was widely used and a solution to the problem was being sought.
Options for the introduction of some short stay spaces were also being examined for the Thornhill Road car park and the one behind the Merton Way shops. Various plans were circulated showing the options available.

RESOLVED – The information be noted and a further report be presented in due course.

199. REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS/FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

Councillors were reminded that a group was established at the November Council meeting tasked with carrying out a review of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.
The Group met on 3 February and made various recommendations for the amendment of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.

These amendments were set out within a report that was circulated.

RESOLVED – The report be approved and the documents be amended accordingly and provided to each Councillor.

200. REPRESENTATIVES ON COMMITTEES/WORKING PARTIES AND OUTSIDE BODIES

A report was presented regarding membership of certain Committees, Working Parties and Outside Bodies.

There was currently a vacancy on the Planning Committee and the Highways Working Party due to the resignation of former Councillor Rob Punton
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200. REPRESENTATIVES ON COMMITTEES/WORKING PARTIES AND OUTSIDE BODIES (Continued)

There were difficulties of obtaining a quorum for the Highways Working Party.
It was felt that the Planning Committee membership was manageable at the current time but this could be reviewed if necessary.

There was also membership of two outside bodies that required confirmation by the Council. These were:
(i) Ponteland Youth Strategy Group – Councillors P Cowey and
Mrs S Johnson
(ii) Ageing Well Group – Councillor Mrs C Greenwell

RESOLVED –
(i) Approve the appointment of Councillor Mrs E Thompson as a first
reserve for the Highways Working Party.
(ii) Confirm the appointments to the two Outside Bodies as set out above.

201. ROTARY CLUB OF PONTELAND

(i) Permission to use Park for Duck Race and request for toilet provision.
Letters had been received from Ponteland Rotary Club for permission to use the Park for the Duck Race to be held on Sunday 31 August 2014. They also asked if the Council would consider providing the toilets for the event.

RESOLVED – The requests be approved.

(ii) Rotary proposals for 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2014.
The Rotary Club had also written to the Council regarding their 50th Anniversary celebrations this year.
They had asked if the Council would accept the planting of a Yew tree at a location to be decided in honour of their Anniversary.

They had also mentioned the possibility of the use of a new path surfacing that had been developed that trapped UV light and glowed in the dark. It was stated that this was very much in the experimental stages but the Council would watch developments with interest.

Finally various ideas for future projects were put to the Town Council for consideration possibly at a later date. The Councillors favoured the idea of a wishing well, a sundial and lights mounted on the road bridge adjacent to the Diamond.

RESOLVED – That the offer of a Yew tree in honour of the Club’s 50th
Anniversary be approved and the remaining items within the report be noted.

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202. PONTELAND PARK – CLEARING OF DITCH

A report was submitted relating to the above issue.
The area adjacent to the Scout Hut area and the Memorial trees had been subject to poor drainage for some time. Discussions had been held with a land drainage contractor who had suggested clearing the ditch adjacent to this area which may assist the problem. If this failed the installation of land drains may be necessary.
Both Northumberland County Council and the Environment Agency had been approached regarding this work and had stated that they were happy for the ditch to be cleared.

RESOLVED – Approve the above mentioned work to be carried out at a cost of £912.

203. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting held on 15 January 2014 had been circulated.
There were no recommendations.
The Minutes were received.

(i) Report re bus shelter outside Golf Club

The above meeting had discussed the bus shelter outside of the Golf Club and queried the advertising revenue and who benefitted from this income.

The former Parish Council had entered into an agreement with Clear Channel to provide the shelter and carry out cleaning and maintenance in exchange for the advertising revenue.

The agreement was due to expire in May 2014. A meeting had been held with the Development Manager from the Company who had indicated that they would be willing to extend the contract until 30 June 2016. They would then review the provision in Ponteland in the context of ongoing shelter provision in the wider Newcastle area. They would then either extend the contract again or gift the shelter to the Town Council who would then be responsible for maintenance and cleaning.

The company also agreed to provide a display case in the shelter for use by the Council for community information which should be useful for residents in that area.

RESOLVED – Agree the extension of the contract with Clear Channel until 30 June 2016 at which time, the situation would be reviewed.

204. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting held on 27 January 2014 had been circulated.
RESOLVED – The following recommendations be approved:
(i) Recycled Tubs/Barrels
The 30 tubs at the locations outlined be replaced immediately (or when the planting was changed) and the remaining 27 be evaluated next year in January 2015.

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204. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY (Continued)

(ii) Request for Litter/Dog waste bin opposite to Street Houses
The request be approved and a bin be situated at the above location. NCC had confirmed their agreement to emptying the bin.

205. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Dodd reported that the County Council was currently finalising their budget and this would include the introduction of free parking in market towns council owned car parks (subject to approval from the relevant parish or town council) from 31 May and the introduction of travel charges for post 16 students.

A query was raised regarding the digging up of the football pitch and when the drainage work was likely to be carried out.

Councillor Dodd agreed to raise this at the Leisure Centre User Group meeting.

206. MAYOR’S REPORT

(i) Prestwick Cemetery
The Mayor reported that ownership of the Cemetery had now been transferred to the Town Council.

207. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
There were no minutes available for circulation.

(ii) Richard Coates Educational Foundation
A report from Councillor Mrs Greenwell regarding her attendance at the above meeting held on 21 January 2014 had been circulated.

208. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET REPORT

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £43677.57 and the transfer of this sum from the Councils Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for January 2014 was also approved. A monthly income and expenditure review report showing amounts received and expended against each main budget heading was accepted.

RESOLVED – The reports as presented be accepted.

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209. CAPITAL ASSET REPLACEMENT

A report relating to the above issue had been circulated.
The report set out the basis for the asset fund replacement and the amount included in the approved budget for 2014-15.

The amount included within the Council’s budget for the forthcoming year was £24,000. Details of the items that required replacement were set out within the report. This included the CCTV system, street furniture for floral displays and miscellaneous equipment.

Councillors asked that due regard be taken in relation to the improvements in technology for replacement of items such as the projector and office camera.

RESOLVED – The report be approved and the information be noted.

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DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2014 AT 6.45 P.M. AT TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES