Town Council meeting June 12th 2013 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 12 JUNE 2013

Present:  Councillor P Cowey (in the Chair)

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

Public Questions

Mrs Campbell put the following question:

“The Town Council have plans to relocate at the Memorial Hall in the future. Will the new accommodation consider as urgent the installation of vastly improved acoustics, both in the new accommodation and the hall itself?”

The Mayor replied that it was by no means certain that the Council will move to the Memorial Hall.  There were still a number of factors to consider and negotiate with costs being a major consideration which were an unknown factor at this time however, if the project did proceed then the acoustics would be considered.

The Memorial Hall was the responsibility of the Trustees and therefore these comments would be passed onto them.

Mrs Campbell referred to a meeting she had attended at the Hall recently organised by Northumberland County Council who had commented upon the very poor acoustics.

The Mayor reiterated that these comments would be passed onto the Hall Trustees.

22.        APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence

23.       DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest.

24.       MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 15 MAY 2013

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 15 May 2013 were confirmed

and signed by the Mayor.

25.       MATTERS ARISING

There were no matters arising from the previous Town Council meeting.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

26.       PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee

Minutes of meetings held on 7 and 22 May were circulated for information.

The Chairman of the Planning Committee reported that information had been received from the County Council in relation to the Settlement Audit which was in the process of being completed.

It was agreed that this would be circulated to all Councillors for comments.

(ii) Report on recent planning decisions

There was nothing to report.

(iii) Draft letter to DHEC

The Planning Committee at its meeting on 7 May had agreed that a letter be drafted for submission to the Darras Hall Estate Committee in relation to improved communications in respect of planning issues.

RESOLVED – The draft letter as submitted be sent to the Darras Hall Estate Committee.

27. GRANT APPLICATIONS

(i)         Holy Saviour Church, Milbourne

An application had been received from the HolySaviourChurch requesting a grant towards the grounds maintenance costs at the Churchyard.

RESOLVED – A grant of £300 be approved.

28. PROJECTS REPORT

(i).        West Road easy entrance

The planning application is currently out for comment from the public and statutory consultees.

(ii)        Memorial Hall

This item was to be discussed in item 30 for which a separate report was attached.

(iii)       Bridge Re-design

This work is complete

(iv)      River Bank Repairs

The contract has been let to W L Straughans & Son and they have indicated they will commence work in July after Party and Music in the Park.

(v)       Street Information signs

It was reported that progress continued to fill advertising space on the reverse of the map.

(vi)      Skate Park

Arrangements were in hand to have the noise survey carried out now that the children had returned to school after the half term break.

(vii)     Statue at Coates Green

No further progress as yet.

(viii)    Character Appraisal

There is nothing further to report on this item at present.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

28. PROJECTS REPORT (Continued)

(ix)      Park path lighting project

NCC had produced a set of drawings for this work that met the Town Councils brief and prices for the work would be sought.  This may be on a phased basis depending upon costs.

(x)       War Memorial

Further enquiries are still being made as to how to progress this project at a reasonable cost.

(xi)      Land Survey

This item was still in the hands of the Council’s Solicitor

(xii)     Repairs to brick walls at Waitrose Bridge

This work is complete.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted

29.       ANNUAL AUDIT OF ACCOUNTS 2012/13

A copy of the Annual Audit return for 2012/13 had been circulated to Councillors together with the Income and Expenditure Account for the year ended 31 March 2013.

Councillors were asked to review Section 1 – the statement of accounts to confirm their approval of the entries in each box.  The Council were also asked to approve Section 2 – the Statement of Assurance to confirm their approval of the measures in place.  The Council’s Internal Auditor had carried out his audit and completed his section of the Annual Return.  A copy of his report was supplied and there were no issues to draw to the attention of the Council.

RESOLVED –

(i)         Section 1 of the Annual Return be approved.

(ii)        Section 2 of the Annual Return had been discussed and completed and

was approved.

(iii)       The report of the Internal Auditor be approved.

Members wished to record their appreciation to the staff for all their efforts in preparing the Annual Return for submission to the external auditors.

30.       MEMORIAL HALL PROJECT

A report in relation to the above had been circulated.

The report set out the general background to this project and the outline of the proposed scheme.

The current situation was also outlined.  Planning permission for the new offices had been approved and discussions had been held with the Solicitor and the Memorial Hall Trustees over a suitable agreement which was in hand.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

30.       MEMORIAL HALL PROJECT(Continued)

Preliminary discussions had also been held in relation to the methods for obtaining a loan to finance the work however more detailed costs of the works were needed before submitting the loan application to the Northumberland Association of Local Councils (NALC) and then the relevant Government department.

Details of the loan procedure to be followed were also reported together with information relating to possible precept restrictions.

The report recommended approval to proceed to the preparation of the final design and pre-tender stage of the scheme and approve the costs involved in incurring such expenditure.

Various Councillors requested additional time to enable alternatives to be examined and it was agreed that a further report would be submitted to the Council in September following an investigation of what other premises were available that met the necessary requirements of additional space etc.

It was agreed that Councillors Mrs Greenwell and Mrs Noble would examine any alternative premises that were available that met the necessary criteria the Council required in terms of location and size.

RESOLVED – Consideration of this matter be deferred until September allowing time for the Councillors named above to examine any available alternatives that met the necessary criteria.

31.       MILLENIUM BRIDGE CLEANING

A report in relation to the above had been circulated.

The Council had been seeking quotes for painting and cleaning of the Millennium Bridge.  The quotes received were felt to be too high and a report was considered which outlined the results of a recent inspection.  This showed that there was a need for immediate cleaning work and it was also necessary to clear the concrete of algae and the like.

RESOLVED –

(i)         The cleaning of the bearing shelf and concrete abutments be carried

out this year and that no chemicals would be used in this work.

(ii)        Approval be obtained from the EA if necessary.

(iii)       That G & B Engineering be asked to carry out this work on a

day rate basis and that Standing Orders be suspended in respect

of obtaining two further quotations.

32.       FOX COVERT LANE EMBANKMENT MONITORING

A report in relation to the above had been circulated.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

32.       FOX COVERT LANE EMBANKMENT MONITORING (Continued)

Concerns had been raised about the stability of the slope above the river wall at Fox Covert Lane.

An inspection had been carried by the Council’s consulting engineers and no obvious sign of movement could be observed however in view of the concerns raised it was suggested that a monitoring system be established, initially at six monthly intervals.

RESOLVED – The expenditure of £2350 to carry out the work this year be approved and the possibility of incurring additional expenditure in future years for this purpose be noted.

33.       COMMUNITY NEWSLETTERS

A report in relation to the above had been circulated.

Councillors were reminded that the Government had introduced a recommended Code but now planned to make this mandatory.

The Council registered their objections to a proposal relating to community newsletters like Pont News and Views which would mean that it could no longer be published.

RESOLVED –

(i)         The Council object to the proposal to make the code mandatory for

Parish and Town Councils since it would preclude the continuation

of the local monthly newsletter which was an excellent means

of promoting community cohesion.

(ii)        The Council support the action being taken by NALC in order to

object to such curtailment of local authority and community

communications.

(iii)       Authorise the issue of letters of objection to the proposal and

seek the support of the local MP and through letters in newspapers

including PNV, the support of the local community.

(iv)       Agree to raise the Council’s objections to the proposals directly with

the Government Minister and the Prime Minister.

(v)        Request support for the Council’s objections from local organisations

including the Ponteland Community Partnership, Civic Society,

Rotary and Lions as well as the local County Councillors.

34.       TOWN COUNCIL WEBSITE

All Councillors were invited to submit their comments and ideas to the Clerk as to how the Town Council website might be improved; both for visitors using the site and staff updating the same.  Comments were required by Friday

21 June.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

35.       CIVIC SERVICE

Councillors were reminded that it had been necessary to postpone the Civic Service scheduled for 19 May due to low attendance figures.  This had partly been due to the proximity to the elections and also clashes with other Ponteland events.

A report was presented by the Deputy Mayor requesting the Council to consider various options in relation to the event which included, continuing with the service in its present form, have a church service with afternoon tea, hold only a Church service or cancel altogether.  It was suggested that the event be cancelled which would result in a budget saving.

An amendment was proposed which proposed a Church Service only on a date in September.

RESOLVED – The Civic Service be cancelled.

Note – Councillor Ramsay asked that his vote against the resolution above be recorded.

36.       MEETING DATE TO FINALISE OUTSTANDING 2013-14 WISHLIST PROPOSALS

Councillors agreed to hold a meeting to discuss the above on 8th July 2013 at 6.30pm at the Town Council Offices.

The Clerk reminded Councillors that the only item outstanding on the list was the issue of allowances for Councillors.  The remainder of the items had been or were in the process of being actioned.

37.  HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 16 May 2013 had been circulated.

There were no recommendations however the Council was requested to endorse the decision relating to the refusal to support the decision relating to a request for a pedestrian crossing near Sainsburys on Main Street.

RESOLVED – The minutes be accepted and the decision outlined above be endorsed.

38. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY

There had not been a meeting of the Working Party.

39. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Peter Jackson reported that following the elections there was a new administration at the County Council and he assured the Council that he and his colleagues would be working hard to ensure Ponteland received a fair share of services from the County Council.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

39. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT|(Continued)

The next few months would be a busy time with the Core Strategy and with certain planning applications being considered in July/August time.   He agreed to keep the Council informed about when these meetings were being held.

Councillor Jackson also reported that discussions were ongoing in relation to the crossing control at the Darras Hall First School and an advert was to be placed in Pont News and Views for a part time post to carry out this work.

He also mentioned the situation regarding parking at Brewery Lane and it was reported that this would be on the agenda for the next Highways Working Party in June.

Councillor Mrs Jones reported that she still had an interest in the Ageing Well project and she reported on the ‘Step into Spring’ event held in Ponteland recently that had been well attended.

She also reported that the local County Councillors were allocating some of their allowance towards a new 14 seater bus with disabled access for use as the Hopper bus but also to be used by schools etc.

40.       MAYOR’S REPORT

(i)         Party in the Park

This event had been held on Sunday 9 June with record attendances.

(ii)        PTC Bowls Match

It was reported that the annual Bowls match between the Town Council and the Ponteland Bowling Club on the evening of Friday 14 June and Councillors would be invited to attend with partners.

(iii)       Music in the Park

Councillors were informed that the Music in the Park event would be held on the afternoon of Sunday 30 June and they would be asked to come and assist with setting up etc.

(iv)      Litterpick

A litter pick would be held on Saturday 13 July from 10-12 (meeting at the Memorial Hall).  This had been arranged prior to the summer judging for Northumbria in Bloom which was scheduled for Thursday 18 July at 10.00 a.m.  Councillors were asked to attend and assist if at all possible.

(v)       Exhibition of War Memorabilia

The Mayor reported on an idea he had for a display at the Memorial Hall the week before Remembrance Sunday in 2014 for families to display their medals and memorabilia of their relatives who fought in any conflict starting from the First World War.  It was hoped this could be open to the public and it would also be very interesting for the schools.

41. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

(i)         Neighbourhood Plan Group

Minutes of a meeting of the above held on 4 June had been circulated.

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CHAIRMAN                                                                  DATE

41. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS (Continued)

(ii)        Ponteland Community Partnership Minutes

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the PCP held on 15 May 2013 had been circulated.

(iii)       Ponteland Business Network

The Mayor reported that he had been invited to attend meetings of the above.

He reported on a meeting he had attended held on 6 June when representatives of the developers who were interested in this area had been in attendance, one of whom had given a presentation on the planning process.

Representatives of the Business Network would be asked to join some of the sub groups on the Neighbourhood Plan Group and this would be discussed at their next meeting to be held on 20 June.

(iv)      Ponteland Path Users Group – completed condition surveys

A report relating to progress on the above had been circulated.

(v)       Airport Consultative Committee

Councillor Mrs J Butcher reported on her attendance at a meeting of the above held on 29 May 2013.

42. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET UPDATE/

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £33,557.51 and the transfer of this sum from the Councils Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for May 2013 was also approved.

A monthly expenditure review report showing amounts expended against each main budget heading was accepted.

RESOLVED – The reports be accepted.

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CHAIRMAN

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DATE

DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 10 JULY 2013 AT 6.45 P.M. AT TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES