Town Council Meeting 14 October 2015 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 14 OCTOBER 2015

Present: Councillor C Rawlings (in the Chair)

Councillors Mrs J Butcher, Mrs C Caisley, R Dodd, Mrs C Greenwell, Mrs L Noble, R G Ramsay, A Shanley, Mrs E Thompson and A Varley

Public Question Time
The following question was put to the Town Council by Mrs J Dakers:
“Could/should the Town Council put pressure on Northumberland County Council to complete a full traffic and car parking availability survey or could/should the Town Council carry this out themselves before someone is seriously injured or even killed by this ongoing situation? I have been raising my concerns for years now and I am tired of being ignored quite frankly by Northumberland County Council and the Highways Agency whose responsibility this is”.

In addition to the question, Mrs Dakers had supplied relevant supplementary information as well as a folder of photographs which detailed some of the problems being experienced.

Mrs Dakers indicated that she had contacted the Government Minister for Transport who had replied to her and made various suggestions about actions that could be taken however, he had pointed out that this was the responsibility of the Highways Authority.

The Mayor thanked Mrs Dakers for the amount of information she had provided and the work that had gone into producing this.
He stated that the Town Council had some Committees and Working Parties one of which dealt with highways related issues. He assured Mrs Dakers that her issues would be examined and discussed by the Highways Working Party.
The Town Council was concerned about speeding in Ponteland and were in the process of installing additional speed indicator signs (SIDS) and vehicle activated signs (VAS). A new SID was to be positioned on North Road. Following discussions with the Town Council, there had been certain changes to car parking in two of the nearby car parks which had introduced time limited parking in red bays.

The Mayor assured Mrs Dakers that the information she had provided would be considered by the Highways Working Party but he did remind her that this was not within the Town Council’s remit although PTC would do what it could to raise these issues with the County Council.

Mrs Dakers asked if the Town Council could exert any influence with the Police to deal with parking on the pavements which was going to cause a serious accident if not dealt with. She referred to a recent accident on North Road and shared her concerns that someone would lose their life if this was not dealt with.
Mrs Dakers was thanked for her attendance and left the meeting.
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CHAIRMAN DATE

100. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mrs S Johnson.

101. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 9 SEPTEMBER 2015

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 9 September 2015 were confirmed
and signed by the Mayor.

102. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Councillor Cowey declared an interest in item 118 (ii) and took no part in the discussion.

103. MATTERS ARISING

(i) Minute 87(i) Grant to Rotary Club of Ponteland
A letter of thanks received from the Rotary Club had been circulated to Councillors.

104. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of meetings held on 8 and 22 September 2015 were circulated for information.

In relation to item 3 of the minutes of the 22 September it was reported that a response to the query relating to Meadow Court had not been received.

Councillor Dodd asked for details of instances where no response had been received as he had had similar complaints from other parish councils.

The Chairman of the Planning Committee reported that it seemed likely that NCC were going to stop sending out paper copies of applications. This would have resource implications for the Council and it was anticipated that a report would be presented to the November Council Meeting.

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

105. GRANTS
(i) Tynedale Hospice at Home
A grant application had been received from the above organisation towards the annual running costs of providing care in the home for all Tynedale area residents

Members asked if it would be possible to have more up to date accounts before arriving at a decision on this item.

RESOLVED – Consideration of the item be deferred to the next meeting pending receipt of 2014-15 accounts.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

106. PROJECTS REPORT

A report relating to the above had been circulated.

Councillors were informed that the contract relating to the abutments at bridge number two in the Park had been completed.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted.

107. ANNUAL AUDIT RETURN 2014-15

It was reported that the completed annual audit return had been received from the Council’s external auditors BDO Stoy Hayward together with an issues report that had been previously circulated to Councillors. The Annual Return and issues report had been on display for 14 days in accordance with Regulations and it was also on the Town Council’s website.

The issue was that the Auditors felt the Council may not have taken the level of reserves held by the Authority into account when calculating the precept figure.

The Council had agreed a report in May 2015 relating to year end budget provisions and reserves and a statement was included within the report which set out that the Council was working towards having 6 months operating expenses within its General Reserve. It was noted at that time that PTC was some £44,000 short of that target.

The action required by the Council was to examine the level of all reserves during the budget process and take these into consideration when setting the precept.

RESOLVED –The Annual Return and issues report be accepted and the Council agree to the suggestion that consideration of all of its budget reserves would be carried out during the budget process.

108. CCTV POLICY

Councillors were informed that the Surveillance Camera Commissioner had issued guidance on procedures to be observed by operators of CCTV systems.
This required a policy to be formulated, written procedures and an annual evaluation to be carried out. The latter document required the consideration of some 70 points and whilst some preliminary answers had been provided, further information was required. This would involve meetings with the police and the installers of the equipment.

A draft policy relating to the above had been circulated. The supporting documentation as outlined above would be submitted for information and confirmation as soon as possible.

In response to a query it was stated that a written record of daily checks that the system was working was being kept.
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CHAIRMAN DATE

108. CCTV POLICY (Continued)

RESOLVED –
(i) The draft policy be approved.
(ii) Note that written procedures and evaluation would be submitted
to the Council for information as soon as practicable.

109. PTC WEBSITE

A report relating to certain enhancements required for the website had been circulated.
Additional pages and links were necessary to provide for the documents and links that the transparency legislation demands should be included.
Discussions had been held with Cian PR, the website designers and a quotation in the sum of £600 had been received. This also included a sum of £200 to provide a calendar facility to improve the operation of the popular “What’s on” information. Councillors were informed that this sum had already been included within the budget for 2015-16.
RESOLVED – The quotation as set out above be approved and the work authorised in the sum of £600. It was noted that £200 was already included within the budget for calendar facility reducing the additional cost to £400.

110. CHANGES TO BUS SERVICE 74

A report relating to the above had been circulated.
This related to changes to the route 74 bus service, namely the withdrawal of evening services to Newcastle on Friday to Sunday inclusive. This was meant to be operational from 8 October however NCC had delayed this until December.

County Councillor Mrs Jones was in discussions with the other local councils affected by this change to see if they could make a contribution to keeping the service operational. Details of the possible costs involved if the same provider of the service was used were included within the report.
NCC had also offered to assist with the tendering process if the Council was minded to proceed with retaining all or part of the service. This meant that various options such as a minibus service linking to the Metro could also be examined.
It was noted that the usage in Ponteland was very low.
Some concern was expressed at the possible lack of this service to Ponteland which would affect younger residents who travelled to Newcastle in the evenings.

RESOLVED – The report be noted at the present time and a further report would be presented once additional information was available.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

111. NCC HOMELESSNESS STRATEGY

The County Council was presently consulting on a Homelessness Strategy which outlined the Council’s plans to reduce and prevent homelessness by tackling the main causes and improving access to both permanent and temporary accommodation.
A link to the consultation was sent to Councillors on 29 September and Members were asked if they wished to formulate a response.

Councillors Mrs Noble and Adam Shanley agreed to co-ordinate a draft response on behalf of the Council.

RESOLVED – That a draft response be formulated by Councillors Mrs Noble and Shanley which would be forwarded to NCC by the deadline date.

112. REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS/FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

Councillors were informed that an annual review of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations was required.

It was proposed that a small sub group be set up to review the documents and a report would be submitted to a future meeting within this financial year in order to comply with the relevant regulations.

RESOLVED – A Working Group comprising of the Mayor, Councillor Mrs Caisley and Councillor Ramsay be established to review Standing Orders and Financial Regulations and a report be submitted to a future meeting before the end of the financial year.

113. CEMETERY COMMITTEE

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 7 September 2015 had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes be approved.

114. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 11 September 2015 had been circulated.
The following recommendation was put forward for approval:
(i) Historic Mileage Signs Members agreed that it was a great improvement. A suggestion for replacement of a ‘missing’ milepost outside of the village was unpopular as the post would be a complete replica or an original historic sign. Members agreed to recommend that no further expenditure be made on milepost installations.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

114. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY(Continued)

Some Councillors were not in favour of the recommendation and queried whether this related to any expenditure on mileage signs or just replicas.
The Clerk reported that some grant funding was available towards expenditure on these items.

RESOLVED – That the item relating to expenditure on historic mileage signs be referred back to the Highways Working Party in November for further discussion.

115. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY
Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 14 September 2015 had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes and the following recommendation be agreed:
Guardians Court Play Area
(i) Seat – The Clerk suggested that the seat should be replaced with recycled plastic which would reduce the need for maintenance. There was a seat in stock and the Working Party recommended the replacement of the seat as suggested.
(ii) Asphalt area – The Working Party agreed this should be power washed by an external company.
(iii) Grassed areas – Members agreed these areas should be replaced
with gravel chippings.
(iv) Impact absorbing surface – This was showing signs of detaching from the tarmac. The Clerk reported that this had been highlighted during a recent inspection by the Council’s insurers. It was suggested that this should be monitored for the next two to three years and it was agreed to include the replacement within the asset replacement fund.
(v) Timber gate – Replacement of this gate had previously been agreed and this work was in progress.
(vi) Equipment – There were two springers at the play area. The report suggested that these items should be repaired and cleaned. However, the Working Party recommended that prices be obtained for replacement for approval at the October Town Council meeting.
Information regarding prices was incomplete and it was agreed this
would be re-examined by the Working Party who would report back to
the Council.
(vii) Railings – It was agreed that the railings should be re-painted by the Town Council’s contractors.
(viii) Stone walls – It was suggested that a builder should be asked to look at the walls and re-point where necessary and make a detailed survey of the cracks. The Working Party recommended that they should also be cleaned.
(ix) Brick walls – The Working Party recommended that the brick walls be cleaned and also that a price be obtained to replace the damaged bricks.
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CHAIRMAN DATE
115. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY (Continued)

(x) External entrance area – The Working Party felt that NCC should be asked to carry out any repairs to the footpath outside of the timber gates. It was agreed that the weeds would be removed by PTC contractors.
It was hoped that the above works with the exclusion of items (ii) and (vi)
could be achieved within the sum of £1000.

116. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Dodd asked for information from the Council about responses to planning issues which he would take up with the relevant officers.
He reported that the Core Strategy Pre-Submission Draft was out for consultation from 14 October to 25 November. There was a drop-in session planned for the Memorial Hall, Ponteland on 7 November when there would be information on display regarding the education and leisure proposals.
He also stated that he continued to have discussions with officers regarding the car parks at the back of Merton Way. There were some cars which were parked there on a permanent basis.
He also reported that the decision on the proposed move of County Hall to Ashington would be made soon.

117. MAYOR’S REPORT
(i) Mayor’s Diary
The Mayor had submitted details of his diary engagements for September 2015.

118. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Minutes of meetings held on 27 August and 24 September had been circulated.
Draft notes of a meeting of the Core Strategy Sub Group held on 11 September were also supplied for information.

Councillor Rawlings had already circulated a number of amendments to the notes of the meeting of the Core Strategy Sub Group to Councillors.

Councillor Mrs Noble asked for clarification as to whether the Housing Sub Group was on hold as there appeared to be conflicting information contained within two sets of minutes of the PNPSG.

Clarification on this point would be sought.

(ii) Memorial Hall Management Committee
Councillor Mrs Butcher submitted a report relating to her attendance at the above meeting held on 24 September 2015

Note – Councillor P Cowey had declared a personal interest in this item and took no part in the discussion.
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CHAIRMAN DATE
119. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET REPORT/

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £41,318.42 and the transfer of this sum from the Council’s Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for September 2015 was also approved together with a budget report for the same period.
RESOLVED – The reports be approved.

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CHAIRMAN

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DATE

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