Whitwell Parish Council Meeting – 10th August 2011

1. Apologies

  • Cllr. Maiden
  • Cllr. Ellis
  • Cllr. Burdett
  • Cllr. Kerr

As Cllr. Maiden was unable to attend this meant that Cllr. Frow was chair of the meeting.  The meeting proceeded with Cllr. Frow explaining some changes that had been made to the meeting format, these changes are:

  • District & County Councillors as well as Police representatives to sit in the public “gallery” rather than around the table
  • Anyone who declares an interest in an agenda item other than in either of the two open forums must leave the room and not return until the item is dealt with

Both of these changes have been made to fall in line with current best practice for council meetings and help with the council obtaining “Quality Council” status (more of which later).

2. 15 Minute Open Forum

2.1 – County Councillor

Cllr. Mills asked Cllr. Stevenson if there had been any progress with the promised hand-rail and tactile paving on the corner of High Street and Worksop Road – Cllr. Stevenson responded that it had been authorised previously for this year’s budget, but has now regrettably been ‘put back’ due to budget cuts.  It was then asked if just the hand-rail could be done as this would be of most benefit in the bad weather, Cllr. Stevenson thought this unlikely as once a scheme is submitted the council do not like splitting them in to multiple parts.  If there is money left at the end of the year there is a possibility it may go ahead.

A member of the public asked if anything could be done outside of the butchers to prevent people who drive along the pavement instead of giving way to on-coming vehicles.  He has seen multiple vehicles do this, many without slowing down and thought that this was likely to lead to an accident due to the very close proximity to the gateways of the houses on Welbeck Street.  Unfortunately Cllr. Stevenson thought DCC (Derbyshire District Council) would be unlikely to place any bollards there (similar to outside the newsagents and Co-op) as they do not favour them at the moment.

Cllr. Stevenson then proceeded to provide his report:

  • Lorries: A site meeting with DCC was cancelled at the last minute and he is now trying to get this re-arranged. Similarly a Police and VOSA operation has had to be re-scheduled.  Cllr. Webster asked if DCC were aware that the roads the lorries are using through the village are either C or unclassified roads – the B6043 forms a loop with the A619 down High Street and then turns along Worksop Road and are therefore wholly unsuitable for numbers of heavy goods vehicles.
  • Winter maintenance: We were informed that a report has been published after representatives of DCC travelled to North Yorkshire to see how they deal with winter conditions.  The report recommends cutting the number of gritters from 47 to possibly 25.  Cllr. Stevenson expressed concern (as did members of the public) over what problems this may cause considering the issues last winter for our area.  It was also noted that part of the report recommends paying local farmers a one off payment of up to £200 to help clear local roads.  Cllr. Webster asked if the unions had been consulted as previously when this had been tried the unions were not happy with other people doing their members’ work.
  • Street lighting: There is a consultation taking place on street lighting and proposals to turn off some lights.  Cllr. Stevenson is opposed to this as he believes the most likely areas to have them turned off will probably be those that need them the most – such as in areas of older persons residences i.e. They don’t go out at night so they don’t need the lighting.  All agreed that this would be a mistake.   A member of the public then asked if Christmas lights were appropriate if the street lights themselves were not turned on.

2.2 – Police

  • The police were asked if they were aware of a party that had occurred recently of 14-15 year olds and that someone had been buying them alcohol.  The police said they were aware and had a good idea of whom it was that had been purchasing it for them.
  • CAN (Community Action Network) Rangers – A member of the public felt we are not getting good value from them, and asked the police to pass on reports of areas that need looking at as the rangers informed him that they had not been told of these issues.
  • The Clerk informed the police that members of the public had suggested that patrols in Whitwell had decreased recently, the police assured him that this was not the case.

The police then provided their report on activities happening in the area:

  • Creswell: Dispersal orders have been issued in Creswell for moving on groups of youths and had been very effective – unfortunately they have dispersed to Whitwell.  Cllr. Mills asked what is being done to tackle the problems and not just treat the symptoms i.e. moving them on.  The police informed the meeting that various activities have taken place to engage the youth population such as 5-a-side football, boxing, tennis and rugby amongst others.  This has had some success in engaging with them and trying to educate them, although there is some way to go.
  • It was reported that the police are still struggling to engage with members of the community and that the Safer Neighbourhood surgeries and meetings are poorly attended.  A member of the public suggested that this could be due to the times of the surgeries (5PM-6PM).
  • The crime figures were reported for July, a total of 17 crimes:
    • 4 assaults (mainly domestic)
    • 4 criminal damage (2 at Whitwell Park, 1 Spring Street and 1 Doles Lane)
    • 1 warrant execution resulting in an arrest for possession of a Class B drug
    • 1 vehicle theft
    • 1 theft from vehicle
    • 3 thefts – 1 dwelling (power tools from an empty house) and 2 shop-lifting

2.3 – District and Parish Councillors

  • A member of public expressed concern about the amount of litter around the village as well as litter bins being full and that he had tried to contact Cllr. Webster about this but hadn’t been able to get hold of him.  Cllr. Webster informed the meeting that Bolsover District Council (BDC) only empty the bins once a week and that currently there is a recruitment freeze in place so a replacement litter picker cannot be recruited.  Cllr. Webster told the meeting that he has repeatedly raised this with BDC and will continue to do so, but that unfortunately his hands are tied on the matter.
  • Thackers Garage: BDC were in the process of applying to the Land Registry so that they can sell the land and reclaim monies owed to them.  This has been placed on hold as the owner of the land has people interested in purchasing it and the outcome of this is being awaited.
  • Cllr. Mills brought to the attention of the meeting that 2012 is the year of the Diamond Jubilee and wondered if the Parish Council could organise not just the Village Gala but a whole week of events involving the various groups in the village and if there would potentially be funding from DCC and BDC for such an event.  It was suggested that this should be an agenda item for the next meeting.
  • Cllr. Mills raised the issue of Cllr. Kerr’s latest newsletter, which inaccurately stated that Hodthorpe & Belph Parish Council (H&BPC), Whitwell Parish Council (WPC) and Whitwell Against Alkane (WAA) had formed a liaison committee with Alkane Energy in relation to their planned development on Southfield Lane – only H&BPC have agreed to this, with WPC and WAA refusing to join.  Cllr. Stevenson remarked that it would be highly unusual to form a liaison committee before planning is granted and it would normally happen to work with residents to come to an acceptable outcome if planning were granted.  Both WPC and WAA have stated in the past that the aim is to get planning refused.  A letter from DCC had been received on the issue of the liaison committee.

3. Resumption of Standing Orders

4. Matters Arising from Item 2

  • It was proposed that WPC write to BDC to back up Cllr. Webster in his efforts to secure an appointment of a street cleaner for Whitwell.
  • CAN rangers are aware of the issues, as they have been informed many times verbally by the handymen.  It was suggested that the concerns were put in writing to them asking for evidence of visits made and what is being done in Whitwell to address concerns.

5. Approval of the Minutes of the Last Meeting

The minutes were approved.

6. Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Last Meeting

  • Cllr. Mills reported that she had attended the BDC meeting on 20th July as a member of the public.  Cllr. Mills asserted that Q6 from Cllr. Kerr’s newsletter was not applicable as she was made to feel most welcome along with other members of the public whilst using the said room.
  • Cllr. Webster has asked Cllr. Maiden if he would speak to his neighbour about a vehicle to move the stone chippings up to Bakestone Moor allotments.
  • Cllr. Munro enquired if there had been any correspondence in relation to the decision made regarding cemetery fees for those outside of the parish – specifically within the Hodthorpe & Belph Parish.  The Clerk informed Cllr. Munro that there was.

7. Quality Council Accreditation

The issue of obtaining Quality Status for the Parish Council was discussed, focusing mainly on the requirements:

  • Clerk must hold relevant qualifications – the deputy Clerk is undertaking those qualifications and has already undertaken the work which has been submitted.
  • All councillors must be elected – complete.
  • Regular meetings must be held – complete.
  • Communication & Engagement – the Parish newsletter will need to be published quarterly and other forms of engagement are being worked on.
  • Website – complete (although it is still being improved).
  • 9 of 17 discretionary requirements must also be met – this was believed to be complete for the most part, or already underway.

It was proposed and agreed that a date of September 2012 should be the target for obtaining Quality Status, rather than April 2013.

8. Cemetery Contract

This item was deferred to Item 18 (confidential business).

9. Approval/Rejection of Non-Standard Memorial in Cemetery

The item was discussed and all agreed that it was no different to some others already present and should be approved.  The issue of memorials being placed in straight lines and generally better “organised” (for want of a better word on our part) for management of the grounds was also discussed and Cllr. Webster informed that the issue had been dealt with for future memorials.

10. Bakestone Moor Community Hall

Cllr. Frow was concerned that the hall had been passed to the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC) in a relatively poor state of repair and along with management worried that its budget could not meet the needs of the most urgent repairs to the structure of the building.  Cllr. Frow thought these should have been handled before the building was handed over and that the Parish Council should meet the bill for the repairs.  It was agreed that this should be the case and that the areas of priority (especially the roof and guttering) should be identified.

Cllr. Webster stated that there has always been an informal agreement in place that the Parish Council would not let the CCMC run in to financial difficulties.

11. Accounts for Payment and Approval

Cllrs. Mills & Webster signed the cheques for payment.  The Clerk remarked that the newly appointed councillors still could not sign the cheques as he was waiting for signature forms from 2 councillors – all councillors have to provide a signature, even re-elected ones.  No mention was made of which councillors had not provided their form, newly or re-elected.

12. Financial Reports

The Clerk reported that he was happy with all budget heads, but that there was an item to deal with in correspondence in relation to one budget item – that of recreation facilities, as he felt he could not approve the payment by himself.

13. Correspondence

The Clerk apologised for not having a list with him of correspondence that did not need councillors attention, but did provide the file and a summary, most of which was circulars.  There were a small number of items of correspondence to deal with:

  • Nomination of a candidate for the Executive Committee of the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils, the choices were Cllr. Stuart Maiden of Whitwell or Cllr. Karl Reid of Clowne.  Cllr. Mills commented that in the past she had voted Cllr. Reid, and would have no problem with either being supported as WPC only has one vote.  Cllr. Frow stated that she thought we ought to support a member of our own Parish Council, this was proposed and agreed.
  • Elmton with Creswell Parish Council were requesting support from WPC in asking Network Rail not to scrap the Sunday service on the Robin Hood line.  All councillors agreed this would be bad for the area and that support should be given – but suggested the letter should be written to East Midlands Trains who run the service, rather than Network Rail who manage the tracks.
  • A letter from Lafarge had been received asking which of 3 proposals for a barrier/gate on the Tommy Moor Lane bridleway. The options were discussed and all felt option 3 was the best choice even though it would require permission from DCC.  The options were:
    1. To keep open
    2. A Chiltern bridal gate
    3. A horse stile and motorbike inhibitor
  • A quote had been received for the replacement of a 4m x 1m section of play area surfacing that had been vandalised under the swings at the Welbeck Street recreation ground (which resulted in the swings having to be removed for safety reasons).  The quote was for £953.  The issue was discussed with regards to the budget as it would push the budget head in to the red but it was felt that it must be replaced as it is the children that will suffer if it is not and that the vandals cannot be seen to be winning and the play area fall in to disrepair. Cllr. Webster remarked that since the play equipment was installed many years ago over £200,000 has been spent on repairs due to vandalism.  Cllr. Munro suggested an article in the Parish Council newsletter be written highlighting the damage and the repair cost, and asking parents if they know where their 12-18 year olds are in an evening and what they are doing.  
  • A letter was received from a member of the public asking for WPC to support his request to DCC to have a restriction placed on Whitwell so that HGVs may not enter or pass through the village between the hours of 7PM and 7AM.  The issue was discussed and it was felt that at the current point in time it could be counter-productive for WPC to support this at the moment.  There are evidence gathering operations in place with the police and VOSA, so that WPC can try and convince DCC that there is a problem that needs solving.
  • BDC wrote a letter asking for comments and thoughts on their new housing plan which would see 6000 new houses built in Bolsover between 2011 and 2031, an annualised rate of 300 houses.  The proposal was agreed to reply and recommend the only site in the area, the old colliery site for housing (under H&BPC).  Cllr. Webster remarked that he has been trying for 10 years to get the Welbeck Estate to do something with the site, even persuading Severn Trent Water to build a new water treatment plant to cope with 500 extra properties so that it could be built upon.

14. Planning Matters

  • A notification was received that Alkane Energy had been granted retrospective planning permission for the importation and use of natural gas on their Southfield Lane site.  All present appeared disheartened by this news.
  • An application for a window in the gable end of a property in the conservation area was received, there were no objections as long as all applicable criteria and rules were met/followed for the conservation area.

15. Progress Reports

Cllr. Munro reported on a meeting of the committee formed to investigate funding that may be available for projects within the parish.  From this meeting a pilot questionnaire was produced and given to all present at the meeting to gain their feedback on it.  The purpose of the questionnaire is to help identify priorities within the parish for projects, this will then be used to help decide which projects need investigating, and what funding is required – and to prove to the funding bodies that this is what the people of Whitwell Parish want.  The items on the questionnaire were those gathered from feedback at the Whitwell Gala (although personally we didn’t see anyone asking for ideas).

Cllr. Mills asked why we needed the questions on Gender, Age and Ethnic background, to which Cllr. Munro stated that these were required by all the funding bodies – presumably for equality reasons.

Cllr. Mills also noted that there was nothing stopping one individual making copies and filling in several with their chosen project ideas.  It was suggested that they should possibly be individually numbered so that if one were to be copied several times then it could be spotted – they have to remain anonymous.

Cllr. Frow then read out an email from Cllr. Maiden about discussions that had taken place with Notts Sports – whom specialise in multi-surface/purpose recreation areas, such as those used for 5-a-side football, basketball, netball, tennis, etc.  They are going to put forward some ideas of what could possibly be done on the Welbeck Street recreation ground.  It was also noted that Notts Sports also works with other companies that deal in recreation areas for younger children.

Comment was made that if the play equipment was seen to be more up to date then it might reduce the chances of vandalism.

Cllr. Frow provided a brief report on the Summer Play Scheme, feedback so far has been very good – so much so that one user of the scheme has written to the local papers to praise the staff, the scheme and Parish Council.

16. Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place at 7PM on Wednesday 14th September 2011.  Cllrs. Munro and Raspin gave their apologies for the next meeting.

17. 15 Minute Open Forum

  • A member of the public queried an item from last month’s spending with regards to Poop-Scoop bags (available for free, from the Community Centre) and was told the item covered the bags as well as a payment for CAN Rangers.  It was highlighted that most people do not know these bags are available.
  • A member of public brought the Planning For Real® public consultation process to the attention of Cllr. Munro asking if it had been looked in to as a way to gain public feedback as it had proved popular where they previously lived.  Cllr. Munro confirmed he will look into it.
  • A member of public queried what age the pilot questionnaire was aimed at, as it seemed more suited to younger generations.  Cllr. Munro remarked that a number of items including the fitness suite are suitable for older generations but perhaps the skateboarding isn’t.  The same member of the public asked if some councillors could speak up a bit as well.
  • A member of the public asked in relation to the Tommy Moor Lane stile/gate if those with disabilities had been considered.  The councillors could not answer definitively but did say that DCC Highways would be involved and should be well aware of all relevant legislation on such matters.
  • A member of the public asked if much higher fencing had been considered around the play equipment on the recreation grounds, which could be locked at night and opened in a morning as the short term expense of doing so could have long term benefits in reduced costs from vandalism.  Cllr. Webster informed that the play equipment did used to be in a “stockade” but it was taken down due to fears of people hiding behind it – although newer ones do not have this issue due to the semi-open nature of their construction.  Cllr. Frow said it could be something that could be built in to any future funding bid for new equipment.  Cllr. Munro agreed it should be looked in to.  The same member of the public also enquired about insurance against vandalism, noting that it might be quite costly but could be worth looking in to.  The Clerk thought that insurance was a short term gain on the budget but long term would be a drain.

The public meeting closed so that confidential matters could be discussed.

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