Town Council Meeting 11 February 2015 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 11 FEBRUARY 2015

Present: Councillor C Rawlings (in the Chair)

Councillors Mrs J Butcher, Mrs C Caisley, R Dodd, Mrs C Greenwell, Mrs S Johnson, Mrs L Noble, R Ramsay, A Shanley, A Varley and Mrs E Thompson.
Public question

A question was received from Mrs Anne Campbell as follows:
“I am hoping the issue of firework displays in the village centre can be discussed at the Council meeting on 11 February.
Residents are concerned about exceptionally loud repeated explosions which are extremely alarming and as someone who has experienced the noise this year I can describe them as frightening and alarming and very unsettling.
I do not live alone nor have pets but many residents do. We have to get used to firecrackers and also bangs during the recent decade but these other noises are on another level.”
Mrs Campbell had also submitted an earlier query regarding the location of the firework display.

The Mayor thanked Mrs Campbell for her questions and explained about the Council’s Standing Orders which precluded discussion of the issue at the meeting.
He stated that the firework display was held on private land at the back of Rialtos. The event was organised by local businesses. The town council was asked by the owner of the Diamond Inn if they would contribute towards the cost of the event and a grant of £250 had been agreed.

It was pointed out that the Town Council contributes to several events in Ponteland during the course of the year where an event is popular with the community. It was estimated that the numbers attending the fireworks display were in the range of 400 – 1000 people although one estimate was over 1000 and so the event has broad appeal.

Mrs Campbell was asked to take the following points into consideration; many towns and cities celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks. There are for instance local displays in Newcastle and Northumberland. The display at the Rialto is an annual event that attracts the community. It could be said that by holding an organised event for the community, there were fewer smaller events with their random timings, locations, possible health and safety issues and noises.
Regarding the duration of the event, it is understood that it was less than half an hour and although fireworks make noise, firework displays are of short duration and are commonly held at the turn of the year.

Finally, the Mayor reiterated that this was not a Town Council event – it was privately organised and held on private land. The Council would however bear Mrs Campbell’s comments in mind and advise the owners of the event of these concerns if they contacted PTC.
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185. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence

The Mayor informed Councillors of the sad death of Mr John Anderson who had previously held the post of Parish Clerk for a number of years.

186. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 14 JANUARY 2015

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 14 January 2015 were confirmed
and signed by the Mayor.

187. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest.

188. MATTERS ARISING

(i) Minute 171(I) Letter of thanks from Darras Hall Estate Committee
It was reported that a letter of thanks had been received from the Darras Hall Estate Committee in respect of the grant awarded at the last meeting.
(ii) Minute 172 Request to continue support to Ponteland Hopper Bus
A letter of thanks had been received from Councillor Mrs Veronica Jones in respect of the grant awarded at the last meeting that would greatly assist towards the continuation of the service.

189. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of the meeting held on 13 and 27 January had been circulated for information.

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

(iii) DCLG Consultation document on building more homes on Brownfield Sites
The above consultation document had been circulated to Councillors for consideration. Comments were required by 11 March 2015.
Councillors were asked to read the document and submit any comments to the Clerk. The Mayor and the Clerk would then prepare an appropriate response to the paper.

RESOLVED – Comments be forwarded to the Clerk and the submission of a response is delegated to the Mayor and the Clerk.

(iv) Possible changes to the NCC Planning system
It was reported that NCC were proposing changes to the Planning system that appeared to weaken the role of parish and town councils. Various exchanges of e mail and other information had been circulated regarding this issue.

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189. PLANNING (Continued)

The Chairman of the Council’s Planning Committee was attending a presentation at County Hall on 17 February and would report back. The Clerk and the Mayor would be preparing a response and Councillors were asked to submit their views as soon as possible to meet the 19 February deadline.
Reference was made to the letter from Stannington Parish Council sent to NCC in response to the consultation that had raised some excellent points.

RESOLVED – That comments be forwarded to the Clerk and the submission of a response be delegated to the Mayor and the Clerk.

190. PROJECTS REPORT

A report was presented for consideration.

It was stated that the relevant information regarding Deeds etc had been forwarded to the Town Council’s Solicitor in an attempt to make progress regarding the completion of this survey. A meeting would be arranged between the Clerk and the Solicitor in due course.

RESOLVED – The report be noted.

191. REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS/FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

Councillors were reminded that a group had been established at the October Council meeting tasked with carrying out a review of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.
The Group had met on 2 February and made various recommendations for amendment to the Standing Orders and Financial Regulations for consideration by the Council.

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

It was noted that the review of the Terms of Reference for the Council’s two Committees, Planning and Cemetery still required examination. Terms of Reference in respect of Highways and Environment Working Parties still had to be compiled. These would be reported to Council at a later date.

RESOLVED –

(i) Approve the amendments to Standing Orders and Financial Regulations as set out within the report. A copy of these documents would be circulated to each Councillor.
(ii) Note that the examination of the Terms of Reference as outlined above would be carried out in due course and a further report would be submitted to Council.

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192. INTERIM INTERNAL AUDIT

A copy of a letter received from the Council’s Internal Auditor following completion of the interim audit had been circulated. Some minor queries had been raised as set out within the report. These related to the way in which the year-end transfer of sums had been handled and also an issue relating to VAT on petty cash.

The Clerk reported on the action taken in relation to both issues and Members were asked to note the information.

RESOLVED – The report be noted.

193. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 16 January 2015 had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes and the following recommendations were approved:-

(i) NCC Replacement Street Lighting Project
An article be placed in the Pont News & Views asking residents to suggest locations that might benefit from the installation of additional street lighting.

194. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 19 January 2015 had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes and the following recommendations were approved:-

(i) Informal path into Waitrose
The installation of a fence on the Park side to close up the gap between Waitrose car park and the Park was agreed.

(ii) Park
(a) Agree that all bin replacements in the Park be of a dual purpose nature and the style as shown to Members be agreed as it is more suited to a park environment.
(b) Recommend the replacement of bins at Dunsgreen, the Lions
Seat and at the Millennium bridge and agree the removal of the existing open bin beside the Field of Hope.
(c) Agree that quotations be sought for the thinning of the copse
at the Millennium bridge.
(c) Note the various minor works to be carried out.

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194. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY (Continued)

(iii) Callerton Lane play area and Skate Park
(a) The Clerk is asked to send a further letter to the skate park contractor giving him a timescale to carry out the painting of the ramps following which an alternative quote be sought. The letter would be checked by the Council’s Solicitor prior to sending.
(b) The moving of the entrance to the skate park nearer to the play area entrance be delayed pending the outcome of the involvement of the NCC Public Protection Unit.
(c) The picnic bench be re-stained.
(d) Note the proposal to have a time clock for automatic closing to be installed pending a power supply for CCTV being installed.
(e) Information on the metal plate to be installed to the picnic tables be considered at a future meeting.
(f) Recommend the Council to approve the installation of soft play materials around the smaller items of play equipment and prices be sought and that this work proceed subject to prices received.
(g) Recommend that an estimate be sought for installation of soft play materials around the large climbing frame in 2016.
(h) Recommend the installation of a ‘Tidy Bear’ litter bin in Callerton Lane play area.

(iv) Tree survey on PTC owned land outside of the park

(a) Note that action was being taken to fell dangerous trees as outlined within the tree management report and that a full proposal for tree management and replacement with prices would be submitted to the Working Party in due course.
(b) Agree that the Council adopt a policy whereby felled trees are re placed by one or two trees in the same location wherever possible. It was noted that there was currently no budget provision for this and detailed information relating to tree type and location would be required.
(c) Agree to recommend a policy to the Council to retain the
green spaces in PTC ownership in perpetuity for the benefit and enjoyment of residents.
(d) Agree to adopt a policy of 2 yearly inspections of trees with the first
Inspection to be carried out in winter 2016-17.

(v) Lighting to Pele Tower
(a) The Council agree to go ahead with a new Distribution board and
photo cell at a cost of £590.
(b) Consider the suggestion of installing LED lights etc at a cost of £690 in the financial year 2016-17.

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195. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Richard Dodd reported on ongoing abuse of the car parks at the back of Merton Way. It was hoped that the necessary Parking Orders would be in operation soon which would stop this unauthorised use by businesses.

He reported that the County Council would be approving a 2 year budget on 25 February and he reported on the various proposals included within the budget document.

Consultation was currently underway regarding subsidised bus routes which would affect some of the services in Ponteland. This information had previously been circulated to Councillors.

196. MAYOR’S REPORT

(i) Mayor’s Diary – January 2015
The Mayor had submitted details of his diary engagements for January.

(ii) Birney Hill Appeal

Members were reminded that the above Inquiry closed on 29 January 2015.
The Planning Inspector would now write his report, submit it to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol and then it would be sent to DCLG in London.
It was reported that a decision was expected on or before the 29 June 2015.
The Council had registered to receive a copy of the decision in due course.

(iii) NALC Employment Initiative
The Mayor had attended a meeting in Morpeth on 27 January where consideration of NALC possibly extending its services to offer employment advice had been discussed.

197. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Minutes of meetings held on 16 December 2014 had been circulated for information. Concerns regarding the suggestion that the group consider that a proposal for housing should not be included in the Neighbourhood Plan was noted.
(ii) Richard Coates Education Foundation
Councillor Mrs C Greenwell reported on her attendance at the above mentioned meeting.
(iii) Ponteland Memorial Hall
Councillor Mrs J Butcher reported her attendance at recent meeting of the Memorial Hall Executive Committee. She also made reference to the fact that Councillor Adam Shanley had recently secured a grant of £5000 in his role as Treasurer.

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198. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET UPDATE

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £ 22,421.79 and the transfer of this sum from the Council’s Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for January 2015 and a monthly income and expenditure review report showing amounts received and expended against each main budget heading was also approved.

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CHAIRMAN

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DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 2015 AT 6.45 P.M. AT THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES