Whitwell Parish Council Meeting – 8th February 2012

For the sake of clarity: These are not official minutes of the Whitwell Parish Council.  These are notes taken and produced by Whitwell.info for the benefit of the community so that you may see the discussions and reasons around the decisions made, not just that a decision was made on your behalf as a resident.  Whilst we strive to make them 100% accurate, mistakes do unfortunately happen – If you spot a mistake, please let us know so that we may correct it as soon as possible.

We recommend that you read these notes in conjunction with the Whtiwell Parish Council meeting minutes when they become available from the Community Centre or on the Parish Council Website.

In Attendance

  • Cllr. Julie Burdett
  • Cllr. Scott Ellis
  • Cllr. Sandy Frow
  • Cllr. Stuart Maiden (Chair)
  • Cllr. Viv Mills
  • Cllr. Tom Munro
  • Cllr. Jeanne Raspin
  • Cllr. George Webster
  • Barry Woodcock (Clerk)
  • Cllr. Duncan Kerr
  • Cllr. Ken Stevenson
  • Mr Alastair Morley (Guest speaker)
  • PC Taylor
  • 12 members of the public

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. 15 Minute Open Forum

2.1 County Councillor

Cllr. Stevenson explained that the budget for the county council is massive and there is no rise in council tax.  A £7m government grant is being taken but Cllr. Stevenson stated he does not know how far it will go in the £1bn. budget.  Due to the cuts there will be massive job losses: 600 in 2012/13 up to 2000 by 2015.  The grant doesn’t cover the savings as £2m needs to be saved up to year 2015/16 and this could go up more.  This will result in compulsory redundancies.

Cllr. Stevenson stated that the latest savings include £2m from the highways department who cover pot-holes and gritting; and ~£800,000 from the youth service.  A consultation is going around the county about what to do.  Cllr. Stevenson warned that any recovery will be slow growth and they will be getting rid of youth workers or want other businesses to take them over.  There is a big campaign against it and young people want a better service not cuts.  It was stated in a report that only 28% of youth are taking up the service but Cllr. Stevenson believes that this isn’t bad however for the Arkwright meeting the figure was revised to 6% reflecting that the figures were an orchestrated script for the consultation period.  Cllr. Stevenson explained that there is no plan B if the consultation goes against the planned action.

In addition £1.5m has been cut on elderly day care service and those people provided with their own budget which will be spent privately instead.

Cllr. Stevenson’s party was asked what would have been their alternative budget and in their first year in opposition one was put forward.  They thought it was good but failed on the vote.  Since then they have not put one through but will put one through in the election year 2013 that will best support Derbyshire.

In terms of the capital budget there is £1m for the big society which is grants for local organisations to spend on community projects.  This amount will not go far in Derbyshire especially when £300,000 of the budget is going on dredging Cromford Canal.  Cllr. Stevenson believes this could be better spent helping more people.  All of Cllr. Stevenson’s party voted against the revenue budget and went with the capital budget with the two reservations: youth service and elderly day care service.

The report on high vehicles was discussed at a Cabinet meeting.  Cabinet Officer Spencer agreed that Cllr. Stevenson could attend and he was given the opportunity to speak.  He put forward all of the issues in the report and that were discussed at the site visit.  The Cabinet were “poo-pooing” the issues.  They claimed that changing the bridges would be too expensive and the signage has been checked and is as it should be.  Traffic lights had been suggested for High Street but Cllr. Stevenson had been told before the meeting that these would cost more than the £20,000 to place a sign on the M1 stating there is a block on the A619, take the A57 instead.  The Cabinet did not go with the ideas.  For a one-way system to be put in place a roundabout would be needed and it would affect the other routes.  There was a suggestion of a speed limit change to make it 20mph but that would need restriction to make it work such as speed humps.  Additionally, vehicle activated signs were an option.  Cllr. Stevenson noted that these were going to be installed in the village previously but they were not put up.

Cllr. Stevenson wanted the condition of the highway to be improved, activated road signs and a sign on the M1 as sat-navs direct people to the A619.   However, foreign drivers would still use sat-nav and they do not always read the signs on the A619.  The cabinet went with the recommendation to include the steep section of High Street in a future maintenance scheme (2013) and installation of the activated sign.  In response, Cllr. Stevenson emailed Cllr. Spenser stating that the whole of High Street needs resurfacing especially the section from The Square to the church, mainly because of the high lorries carrying animals and effluent.  Cllr. Spenser’s response was that the request is technical in nature and will be submitted for consideration by the relevant team.  Cllr. Stevenson stated that he tried and the Cabinet listened.

A member of the public queried the position on youth clubs stating that as an OAP they were disgusted about it.  The DCC councillors are old, who is speaking for the young people?  The member of the public stated that halving expenses would keep them open.  Who had offered to do this?  Cllr. Stevenson replied that the councillors are shouting for the service and the young people are too, but it is Cabinet members who have a set agenda.  The member of the public stated that councillors need to think back to when they were young and had youth centres.  Cllr. Stevenson responded on the point of expenses that the leader of his party had been granted 45% of the council leaders salary and she had refused it while others are not getting pay increases.

One member of the public pointed out that joined up thinking is needed – last week the roads were gritted and the following day the road sweeper came round.  Cllr. Stevenson stated that it is DCC and BDC thinking that needs to be reviewed.  Cllr. Maiden highlighted that at least the grids would not be getting blocked up with the grit.

A member of the public referred back to the Cabinet comments on the road signs – the road signs are different and the conversion is wrong.  He asked how that can be adequate.  Another member of the public stated that this had been raised and they had been told there is a formula.  Cllr. Munro responded that it is ridiculous, a farce and that no formula is needed to round up/down when it is a simple calculation between feet/inches and meters.  Cllr. Stevenson agreed that it is nonsense.

Another member of the public acknowledged that trucks seem trivial against the youth and elderly cuts but stated that he is disappointed.  Cllr. Stephenson who presented the report starts with a negative and then tries to support it.  The report contains spurious claims and states that numbers have reduced when a letter states it has increased.  Cllr. Stephenson is about everything that they cannot do and not what they can actually do.  The member of the public stated that the man from VOSA was good and was going to have a go.  Another member of the public asked how Cllr. Stephenson can be removed from office; Cllr. Stevenson responded, through maladministration.  Cllr. Maiden suggested he be one of the job cuts!  Cllr. Stevenson stated that all arguments from the site visit were put in to the report but all but two were put-down.  Cllr. Stevenson wanted signage on the M1.

A member of the public asked what if the public raise the money for signage?  Cllr. Stevenson stated that they could get the Highways Agency to sanction it and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough to OK it as they deal with the A57.  However the Rotherham council want to do work at Todwick due to it being an accident black spot.  A member of the public pointed out in the report that Rotherham council had no objection.  Cllr. Stevenson stated that in the meeting the council had concerns around Todwick/Anston as there has been a high number of accidents and so they want to do work to reduce it.  Since the meeting Rotherham council have stated they have got to find an alternative route for traffic whilst they do the work – Whitwell!  Cllr. Stevenson wants to press the “powers that be” to avoid this.

Cllr. Webster had checked on the footpath from Welbeck Street to the Recreation Ground and it belongs to DCC.  Cllr. Stevenson acknowledged that it is in a poor state and he will put it through.

2.2 Police

There were 14 crimes during January:

  • 4 violence
  • 1 criminal damage
  • 6 thefts
  • 3 burglaries (dwelling and non-dwelling)

A member of the public raised concern that during the Junior Players in the last few weeks it has been dreadful outside the Community Centre.  If the youths are asked to leave they give abuse.  The children have even been threatened and so ask to be escorted to the toilets.  The youths were kicking the door which had been locked to keep them out.  It was opened to let the History Group in and locked again.  They were then hitting at the door.  At night there is only one person working at the Community Centre – it should be two people.  Something needs to be done.

Cllr. Frow added that the youths are doing damage and are throwing drinks about in reception.  Staff are frightened.  Last night there was at least 20 youths heading towards the Community Centre but if complaints were made and came to anything it would be their word against the adults’ and in today’s society it would be the children’s word that was taken.  The youths have been banging on the Council chamber door, in the foyer and car park.  It is on CCTV what they are doing.  Cllr. Frow acknowledged that there are no facilities for the youths but added that the council is working on this but they need money.  In the meantime people will stop using the Centre.  Tuesday is a busy night with people arriving between 6pm and 6:40pm.  Once people are in the rooms at 7pm the youths return and it starts.  Cllr. Frow did call the police and a PCSO from Clowne came.

The member of the public explained that the Junior players are aged 7-15 and they are scared.  The Junior Player leaders can go out to say something but get threatened; they are concerned that they will lose people.

PC Taylor acknowledged that there has been a problem for a while with a particular group.  The police have stepped up patrols and include the Community Centre.  Nuisance letters have been sent to the relevant parents informing them that their children have been involved in more than one incident and that this could lead to an ASBO.   A second lot of letters have now gone out.  When two letters have been sent to the same person the next stage is an ASBO.  Cllr. Frow argued that ASBOs are regarded as badges of honour.

PC Taylor continued that the police have been able to identify most of the youths on the CCTV.  The Community Centre Manager has put up a notice to stop people coming in if they are not using the centre and stating that no scooters etc. are permitted.  PC Taylor believes that there is one person who is the main instigator.  All of the youths will be visited in the coming week with a view to taking them to the police station.  The next stage is ASBO.  The police now have a signed-up vehicle that they can bring down but they need to identify the youths and see what they are doing.  The police will make arrests if seen at the time.

Cllr. Frow commented that the youths had been riding their bikes on the memorial last night.

Cllr. Raspin asked if they were Whitwell children.  PC Taylor responded that most of them were last night.

Cllr. Maiden asked what recourse the public has if the youths get an ASBO – do they get to know who they are?  PC Taylor stated that they can issue a leaflet showing who has got an ASBO and why.  Also people can ring the police if the youths are in the Community Centre and they will be arrested for breaching the ASBO.  They may then be warned and the ASBO extended.  She added that somebody had been publicised by leaflet in Creswell.

A member of the public asked what the point is if the ASBO will just be extended if it is breached.  PC Taylor explained that she is not sure if they will go to court straightaway or if it is a ‘two strikes’ approach.  Cllr. Mills stated that she is aware of someone in another part of the country who breached their ASBO 19 times before being taken to court.  PC Taylor reiterated that the approach is sending letters followed by an ASBO.  Cllr. Frow stated that we have just got to put up with it as the police do not phase the youths.  PC Taylor stated that people need to ring when it is happening and the police will deal with it.  Cllr. Frow stated that we do not want to end up like Creswell with nothing in the evenings at the centre because of the anti-social behaviour ruining it.

PC Taylor stated that they are trying to encourage Ozbox to take the trouble-makers off the street.  She confirmed that if members of the public are in fear they can ring 999, if it is a general report they should dial 101.

2.3 District and Parish Councillors

A member of the public highlighted that the Fox Road sign is missing at the junction with Welbeck Street.  Cllr. Webster made a note of this.  Cllr. Maiden suggested it could have been taken for scrap.

Another member of the public asked when the new Green street sign would be put up.  Cllr. Webster stated that it should be going up next week.

Following discussions at the last meeting, a member of the public wanted to highlight that they had observed the street cleaners clearing dog dirt on Welbeck Street.  Cllrs. Webster and Munro confirmed that they had also complained about mess.  Cllr. Munro added that he had complained about the section Holmefield Road to Welbeck Street and got a reference number.  Cllr. Webster reiterated that if the council find out who it is they will be dealt with.  Action that has been taken will be included in the next newsletter.

Cllr. Kerr informed the meeting that BDC are considering a 9% increase in social housing rents which is high.  Cllr. Webster responded that it is the government to blame as they have said the figure has to be at housing association levels.  Cllr. Kerr highlighted that it is only guidance from the government not an instruction and continued that it is unacceptable for low income people to pay high rent increases.  Cllr. Webster agreed.  Cllr. Kerr stated that the council need to consider this next week.

Cllr. Maiden referred to Cllr. Kerr: at the Alkane meeting last week there was a woman who was in discussion with H&BPC about use of the land, what was it?  Cllr. Kerr explained that if they want to sell the land for a low price, H&BPC could buy it.  They would be happy to share it with WPC.  Cllr. Kerr believes that it should be owned by local people as they have the best connections for users and know best what is wanted.  The site is being re-valued by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) and H&BPC are waiting to see the outcome.  Cllr. Maiden explained that he has stated in previous Alkane meetings that WPC want to know about buying the land.   He asked that Cllr. Kerr keep them up to date and in writing for record purposes.  Cllr. Kerr agreed.

A member of the public asked what RFO stands for: Responsible Financial Officer as it was missing from the list of abbreviations used, as was WPC.

Cllr. Maiden asked if there would be any objection to suspending orders at agenda item 9 so that a member of the public could put forward his proposal.  There were no objections.

3. Resumption of Standing Orders

  • Moved

4. Matters Arising from Item 2

Cllr. Stevenson left the meeting.

Cllr. Munro asked if WPC should be requesting a copy of the report from Cllr. Stevenson as WPC is a very interested party.  He added that WPC should be on the distribution list and be able to respond.  Cllr. Maiden agreed.

Cllr. Frow was concerned about staff safety and said that they cannot deal with the problems at the Community Centre now.  Cllr. Maiden agreed that it is not their responsibility as WPC are their employers.  Cllr. Frow continued saying that people are frightened and that WPC owes the staff a duty of care.  Cllr. Frow stated that WPC should offer them protection.  Cllr. Munro suspected that there should be bodies that WPC can consult to get proper advice on how to deal with the problems.  He added that given the budget WPC cannot increase the supervision.  The first call should be to get professional advice to support the staff. 

Cllr. Mills  stated that she did not what WPC can do – only the police and CAM rangers can do anything.  Cllr. Maiden suggested that WPC look into the options.  Cllr. Munro stated that the Community Centre Manager should be asked to contact the Safety Officer.

Cllr. Mills asked the clerk if records are kept of communications with the police and their responses.  Cllr. Maiden stated that the Community Centre Manager keeps a record of the calls.  Cllr. Mills suggested that this may give them more backing if they have a record of what the police did.  Cllr. Frow stated that last night they were offered an officer and a PCSO from Clowne arrived who did not know anyone and had to leave because of an incident.  Cllr. Kerr stated that the police were at the H&BPC meeting at the time.

5. Approval of the Minutes of the Last Meeting

The clerk had an amendment to the minutes.  On page 2, item 7 the value of £184,005 had been missed out after “precept is now”.

There were no other amendments and the minutes were agreed as a record of the meeting.

6. Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Last Meeting

  • (2.4.1) Cllr. Frow asked Cllr. Webster if anything had been done about the land.  Cllr. Webster confirmed that he had been with officers to look at it and it was agreed that money would be put into next year’s budget for it.  The plan is to tidy it, put the coping stones back and re-plant.
  • (4) Cllr. Mills asked if the clerk had done anything about item 4.  Cllr. Munro stated that he was surprised that they were inviting the fire service adding that it should be a public forum not a WPC meeting.  Cllr. Maiden stated that it is part of the minutes and Cllr. Mills stated that she has no objection to an open meeting.  Cllr. Maiden suggested that it could be a special meeting.  Cllr. Munro proposed that there is a well-publicised special meeting with free gifts to encourage people to come – he suggested perhaps the annual Parish Council meeting.  Cllr. Mills stated that it would need to be soon as the fire service will get booked up.
  • Cllr. Mills asked if the clerk had written to BDC about the choice lettings.  He had not, Cllr. Munro asked what would he be writing about as it is not clear in the minutes.  Cllr. Maiden responded “what you asked for”.
  • (6.13.1) Cllr. Munro asked Cllr. Webster if there was any update for 6.13.1.  Cllr. Webster stated that he could not give the information at the time but can now confirm that a bankruptcy notice has been served and BDC are waiting for action on it.

7. Training – Statement of Intent

The clerk explained that in view of getting Quality Status by September it is necessary to have a Statement of Intent for staff and councillor training.  Cllr. Maiden asked if anybody had any issues with this, there were none.  He asked if there were any objections, again there were none.  Cllr. Munro moved the action.  The statement was therefore approved on 8 February 2012.

8. Provision of Grit Bins

Cllr. Munro stated that the clerk may have taken action to apply for grit bins for year 2012/13.  He believed that it may have been done.  The clerk stated that he had put in a bid for two bins on the sites proposed.  Cllr. Maiden asked where in the minutes does it state that it is the WPC policy to apply for the bins?  Cllr. Mills confirmed that it did not.  Cllr. Maiden continued that it was a suggestion and asked if the council wants to apply and pay the costs.  DCC will provide one bin free and will fill it the first time for free, afterwards it would be down to WPC to pay for and organise.  He asked if the council wants WPC to pay for something that is DCC’s obligation to provide and that people pay their council tax for them to provide.  He also added that there has been a petition in the Community Centre against the cuts and ask that by asking for a bin, WPC is actually supporting these cuts.  There is a cost of £75 per fill and recently it has been put on people’s drives and footpaths rather than the roads.  Cllr. Maiden stated that he cannot agree to take on another council’s obligations.  Cllr. Maiden proposed that WPC do not go down that route.

Cllr. Burdett asked that if there is a need for more, could WPC ask DCC for another bin that they maintain?  Cllr. Maiden stated that WPC has done and DCC objected due to money.  He added that people have asked for extra bins but not in the areas suggested at the previous discussion.  Cllr. Raspin stated that she thought they had to be where they could cause obstruction if a vehicle was stuck.  Cllr. Maiden stated that he is not aware of the criteria and highlighted that the bins are not in the worst areas now, for example Bakestone Moor.  It is DCC’s job and if the criteria apply they should be there.  Cllr. Ellis asked that if WPC take up the free bin, are they signing up to be responsible for it?  Cllr. Maiden confirmed, yes but added that he is against the idea as they get abused.  He raised the question after last week’s snow would WPC refill the bin now for next week’s snow? 

Cllr. Burdett asked if WPC would become responsible for the bins in the future with the community changes.  Cllr. Webster did not know.  Cllr. Burdett suggested that WPC take advantage of the free bin to avoid paying for one in the future. 

Cllr. Maiden reminded the council that there is a proposal in.  Cllr. Munro stated that there are criteria set out in the DCC pdf for requests and asked why they are there if DCC did not think it was valid use of BDC and parish council budgets?  It is a safety issue and that is why the two areas were suggested.  He added that DCC are cutting back, it was heard at the meeting tonight, and the bins will not be supported.  He did however accept the arguments that people will use the grit inappropriately.  Cllr. Burdett stated that she is inclined to take anything that DCC offer.  Cllr. Maiden responded: “and then pay £75 for each fill every time it snows?”  Cllr. Raspin suggested that WPC agreed to fill the bin once a year.  Cllr. Mills asked what the point in an empty bin is.  Cllr. Webster asked what WPC would tell the areas without a bin, that they are paying taxes for other people?

Cllr. Maiden returned to the proposal.  Cllrs. Maiden, Webster and Mills were in favour; Cllrs. Burdett, Raspin, Ellis and Munro were against.  Cllr. Frow abstained.  The proposal was defeated – WPC will be asking for the bins.

Cllr. Munro proposed that the criteria are forwarded to the clerk and WPC apply for bins in the 2012/13 budget and include it in the budget meeting.  Agreed.

9. Audio Recording of Meetings

Cllr. Webster moved that WPC came out of standing orders for this item.

A member of the public explained that the idea of recording meetings was raised in July last year when he was on holiday.   He explained that recording meetings is standard at district and council meetings and an audio recording would give a fuller and more accurate record of the meeting.  Further research suggests that it may help with the Quality Status based on two guides from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

It would help to inform the public who are currently only informed by those attending.  The minutes are brief and give no intent behind the decisions. 

The member of the public continued that in a letter dated 23 February 2011, Bob Niell MP requested transparency and public access to bloggers and “citizen journalists” as Whitwell gets no press from the established media, only from those who live in the village and provide such news.

The member of public stated that many of the councillors will have seen the notes put together and gave out copies.  He highlighted that they could be wrong and recording could help to avoid any mistakes.

The member of public suggested that WPC could record the meetings but there would be a cost.  The equipment however is less than £100 and could be saved from the website budget which is three times more than it needs to be.  Alternatively the member of the public could record the meeting and give a copy to WPC with a written agreement providing safeguards.  He provided a copy of a draft agreement.

Cllr. Munro asked that if that is the case, will the whole recording be put up on the website without editing?  The member of the public stated it could.  On his website there would be a full transcript and the full recording bookmarked for each section.  Agreement item 6 – if using a clip, clearer provide a link to the full recording.

Cllr. Maiden asked if there were any questions.  The clerk responded that it is a recognised practice that minutes record the decisions made and are not verbatim.  The member of public agreed but stated that even in comparison to the brief minutes of Creswell and Clowne councils those of WPC are very brief.  The clerk stated that he is aware that some town and parish councils record meetings but they destroy them after the minutes are made.  Cllr. Webster stated that BDC keep the recordings for 12 months.

Cllr. Frow stated that she is concerned about who records the meeting and stated that it should be WPC’s own recording.

Cllr. Mills sated that there is no option.  It would help blind people who cannot read the meeting minutes but could listen to the tape.

Cllr. Maiden stated that all the paperwork was on the table.  He proposed that WPC obtain the equipment to record and make it available to the public.  Cllr. Munro stated that WPC would need to say how they would be made available.  Cllr. Maiden responded: through the website.  He suggested an alternative proposal: To resolve to obtain equipment to audio record the meetings and make it available on the website.  Cllr. Munro stated that in normal circumstances the minutes are not made available until they are approved so would the recording need to be available a month on?  The member of the public asked why a recording would need approval?  Cllr. Munro explained that he was trying to be water-tight legally.  The member of the public responded that he agreed but that the minutes are an interpretation.  Cllr. Maiden stated that the minutes would still record the actions.  First WPC need to agree if they are going to do the recording and then look at the details.  Cllr. Munro responded that they need to know the details before voting for example how it would be managed.

The clerk stated that Cllr. Munro mentioned managing the recordings and stated that they cannot if it is available to the public.  Cllr. Munro stated the issue is when it is available to the public.  Cllr. Maiden stated there would be copyright.

Cllr. Mills asked the members of the public present if they would feel intimidated by the meeting being recorded, the answer from all present including Cllr. Kerr had no objections and were in favour of it happening.

The members of the public stated that why would they hold back because of a recording; the recording would show the here & now; once something has been said it’s been said; if going back on something it would need to be talked about at the next meeting – if it was said it would need to be backed up.  A member of the public stated that they wonder if there is an interest.  Another member of the public said that there may be people who cannot attend the meetings. 

The proposing member of the public stated that 30-40 people read the notes on his website.  Cllr. Frow confirmed that she had been asked where the notes could be found.  A member of the public asked where the finance would come from.  Cllr. Maiden reiterated it was in the notes provided that it could come from the website budget.

Cllr. Burdett stated she had concern that when something exists as a recording it is there for people who can edit anything.  Not everybody is a good speaker or articulate and it may make people reluctant to speak because of how they speak.  People can approach the councillors at anytime to discuss things.  Cllr. Raspin agreed that people could feel uncomfortable and concerned that what they say does not come across well or how they intend it to.  She stated that phone numbers and email addresses are available if people want to ask about decisions etc.  Cllr. Maiden stated that it is the ethos that councils should be transparent.  He thinks that recording is the most transparent and gives the what and why.  Everyone would be able to understand the debate.

The proposing member of the public stated that, not wishing to offend the councillors, they are not getting any younger and so future councils will not necessarily know why the decisions were made.  Cllr. Frow asked how long the recordings should be kept for.  A member of the public suggested 12 months.  Cllr. Munro stated that is what BDC do but it was not decided for WPC.  Member of the public asked how long the paper records are kept for, they are kept forever.

A member of the public asked what if people do not have internet access.  Cllr. Maiden stated that there is access in the library with staff to help.  There would not be a hardcopy of the recording.  The clerk re-iterated that people would still get the minutes.  The member of the public stated that they would want to know more be voting (if they were in a position to do so).

Cllr. Maiden stated that there is a proposal which had been seconded and no amendments were given.  A member of the public asked if the proposal stated “in its entirety”.  The clerk repeated the proposal.  The member of the public said it should state in its entirety.  This was agreed.  A member of public asked if would include non-confidential business only?  Cllr. Maiden stated that the decisions on confidential business are released to the public.  Cllr. Kerr stated that whilst the confidential items were part of the meeting they often contain details that relate to members of the public/staff that should not be disclosed at that moment in time.

Cllr. Maiden stated if people disagree with what is agreed in meetings they may turn up.  A member of the public stated that it is discussions and not decisions that get debate flowing.

The meeting returned to standing orders and the proposal was voted on.  Cllrs. Mills, Webster and Maiden were in favour; Cllrs. Frow, Munro, Burdett, Raspin and Ellis were against.

10. Accounts for Approval and Payment

The cheques were approved and signed.

11. Financial Reports

There were no issues or concerns to report.

12. Correspondence

Cllr. Munro asked what the “healthy future for transport” was and if they want a response or if it is a waste of time.  There was no discussion.

There was a leaflet about keeping Derbyshire roads in a good state of repair.

There was an email from VOSA who attended the early morning meeting.  They will allocate two days in March for an enforcement officer to gather evidence in an unmarked car to assess the vehicles and if they are legal or not.  VOSA will then contact those illegal vehicles to advise them of this.  They would also contact the legal vehicles asking them to look for an alternative.  They will also contact Derbyshire road policing.  The officer is aware that a Monday is good and asked for another suitable day.  Cllr. Maiden stated that the councillors should think about it and then get back to VOSA.  In the letter it suggests that WPC do another 24 hour survey.  The clerk stated it was not in the email.  The response will be that WPC will get back to VOSA.

Matt Bennett has asked if a charity day can be held on the recreation ground on 6th May 10AM-6PM.  He would need the gate keys and the event will include games and a bar.  Licensed security would be present.  There will be no charge and Mr Bennett will sort out the paperwork.  The charities will be Bluebell Hospice and one other.  The clerk stated that it was held last year.  The councillors agreed they have no objection as long as it is held in line with the relevant requirements.

There was correspondence from DCC regarding the proposal for changes to the youth services.  The 10 week consultation began on Monday 9 January and the closing date is Sunday 18 March.  Cllr. Maiden suggested that it is an agenda item for the next meeting and a formal response be sent.  It was agreed.

There was an additional letter regarding the youth service that says the same thing and gave dates for meetings, four of which have past.  The next meetings will be on 24 February at County Hall and 25 February at Erewash.  Cllr. Maiden stated it should be included in the agenda-ed item.

Mr Robinson of Milton Keynes paid a recent visit to the cemetery and found that renovation to a memorial stone was needed.  He was shocked at the prices given: £75 to clean and restore the stone paid to the council; and £175 for a new stone.  He stated that he found these prices surprising and asked if there was any room for negotiation and what the purpose of the money was.  The clerk had responded on the use of the money.  Mr Robinson also asked if more remains could be added to his parents’ grave.  Cllr. Maiden stated that there are two issues, the first being the stone on the grave of Mr Robinson’s parents.  Cllr. Maiden did not recall any fees for renovation or replacement.  There is a charge for the first stone and adding names to it.  The clerk responded that there is an added complication in that it is a headstone in the cremation area and the policy now is to only have desktop (flat) stones.  He advised Mr Robinson.  Cllr. Maiden had no objections to the headstone being cleaned with no charge.  He was not however sure about a new one as it would need to be a desktop stone where a headstone had been.  Cllr. Maiden would prefer Mr Robinson to have it renovated at no charge.  Cllr. Munro agreed that it would be in keeping.

Cllr. Maiden stated that there is the second problem of whether others can be put under the stone.  He asked if the stone would need to be changed and if it is physically possible to do it.  The caskets are 2 feet square in area and they would need to be moved down to add others – would this be exhumation?  The clerk responded that it would.  Cllr. Munro said that it needs to be reported back.  Cllr. Maiden stated that WPC need to be definitive that it is not physically possible.  The WPC response would therefore be that Mr Robinson could renovate the stone at no cost but other relatives would have to be put in another area of the cemetery with the agreement of the joint committee.  Reasons would have to be given.

A further letter related to the youth service meetings.  The schedule has been amended and there will be a meeting on 15 February in Buxton.

13. Planning Matters

Cllr. Webster declared an interest and left the room.

There was an application from DCC for a piece of plant at the Whitwell works – a Mr Bowman for Steetley.   Cllr. Frow asked if she needed to declare an interest as she sites on the panel for Steetly but as she does so on behalf of WPC she did not need to do so.  Cllr. Maiden stated he had no objections as it would prolong the use of the site and support employment.  Cllr. Munro moved that there were no objections.

The clerk had received three applications for the same thing but at different sites from BT Openreach.  The applications were for equipment cabinets at 20 Hangar Hill, 6 Smithfield Lane and on the green opposite 1 Worksop Road.  It was stated that the cabinets are already there so these would be replacements.  Cllr. Kerr broke standing orders to highlight that they are for additional cabinets not replacement ones.  All councillors then reviewed the plans.

Cllr. Mills stated that they would need to consider the handrails as they were put there for health & safety reasons.  All were reasonably happy and acknowledged that there would be better broadband.

There was an application for an extension and alteration to stables at 1 Hillside Close.  Cllr. Frow asked if it is the property that had the bungalow extended, Cllr. Maiden confirmed that it is.  Cllr. Frow asked if she should declare an interest but other councillors agreed that she lives far enough away.  The property is not in the conservation area.  There were no objections.

There was an application for the construction of an extension to the front of 55 Bakestone Moor.  It would be two storeys and a single storey extension.  There were no objections.

Cllr. Webster returned to the meeting.

14. Progress Reports

Cllr. Frow stated that the advert for new playscheme staff had gone out and there were 10 replies.  Norma sent out the form and all have the relevant qualifications.  Interview dates have been set.  For Easter there should be a full staff.  The clerk stated that the Playscheme is £400 over budget and that the advert had cost £450 and is considered a consumable.  Cllr. Frow stated that she thought it would come from the WPC advertising budget.  She added that the playscheme will find the money and overall they are on track.

Cllr. Munro attended the second BDC local liaison group who were spoken to by Eric Thompson, Chief Executive of the Two Shires Credit Union which services Bassetlaw and BDC.  They want to encourage councils to offer a facility for Two Shires Credit Union to have a collecting point in the village.  Cllr. Munro had got leaflets for all and requested that it is put on the agenda of the next meeting and invite Eric Thompson to give a presentation to consider if it would be possible.  Cllr. Webster highlighted that there had been one in the past that Dennis Reynolds ran.

Cllr. Maiden asked if could be April and not March as the agenda is looking full.  Cllr. Munro responded that this would be OK but at a time in society where there is a lot of lending there are doorstep lenders in the village now who have extortionate rates unlike the Credit Unions.  He stated that WPC need to act quickly to help people.

Cllr. Frow asked to give a quick update on the initiative and fundraising.  They have identified funding streams that are accessible and are acting on what the youth are looking for.  The initiatives and Funding Group are meeting regularly and identified where the need is in the village and the streams of funding.  They have contacted the relevant people.   A MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area!) would be the best use.  The Group are having meetings to agree and put together a bid to take to the funders.  They are on course but it is time consuming.

Cllr. Ellis stated that at the last meeting it was agreed to include Whitwell Forward and he had spoken to Wayne who agreed to join.  Cllr. Frow stated that Whitwell Forward may be able to get other funding that is not available to WPC.  Cllr. Maiden confirmed that they are looking at Bakestone Moor as well as the recreation ground – wherever it is needed in the village.

Cllr. Maiden explained that WPC and H&BPC agreed on the creation of a Joint Cemetery Committee (JCC)to run the cemetery for WPC.  The idea was that as Hodthorpe & Belph residents are not part of Whitwell Parish would pay double the cost.  The Joint Management Committee means that H&BPC pay a proportional amount of the maintenance costs and residents pay the standard rate and not the double charge.  The Committee is made up of four councillors from WPC and two from H&BPC.  The first meeting will be in May when they are elected at the May Parish Council meeting.  However, the Joint Management Committee will be running from 1 April 2012.

15. Date of the Next Meeting

14th March 2012

16. 15 Minute Open Forum

A member of the public asked about the grit bins – how do WPC inform DCC that the bins need filling?  Cllr. Maiden responded that they just wait for them to do it and do not know when that will be.  DCC will fill the bins when asked under the scheme.  The member of the public responded that a record should be kept of when the bins are filled.

A member of the public stated that with regards to BT, as at the end of January people should be able to get an upgrade to 24 meg if they talk to their service provider. Also Sky broadband is now available in the village as part of Sky’s low cost bundle packages.

A member of the public (the proposing member) stated that they were highly disappointed on the decision about recording the meetings despite the government letter.  Another member of the public was also highly disappointed that WPC felt threatened by the public being able to scrutinise their performance.  Westminster is televised.  Cllr. Munro stated that they had a debate and it is at an end.  Cllr. Raspin stated that it is the problem of WPC not owning the recording.  Cllr. Webster questioned what they would do if they climbed the ladder to BDC where the meetings are recorded.  Cllr. Raspin responded that she would deal with that if she went up the ladder.

A ember of the public stated that they are an ex-police officer and listened to the discussions.  He explained that he thinks the council is going wrong in that they need to contact he divisional commander and keep a record of the call outs.  The PC is doing her best but the council needs the divisional commander to come in and take action.  The clerk stated that he has only emailed the local commanders and that contacting the divisional commander has not done any good in the past.  A member of the public stated they had identified and reported a car with no tax but had not luck.  He contacted the commander and got an apology the next day for action not being taken.

Member of the public:  Cllr. Munro said that WPC should see DCC document about the proposal for the trucks.  The member of the public was going to ask if WPC could respond.  It was agreed that WPC need to.

17. Resolution to Exclude Members of the Public

  • Moved

Rock Against Alkane 2

Set a date in your diary to rock!  It’s time for Rack Against Alkane 2 on 31st March 2012 at Whitwell Community Centre.

After the fantastic success of the original Rack Against Alkane it’d time to dust of your dancing shoes and show Alkane Energy that we don’t want their stench in our village.

Door open at 7PM with the first band on stage at 7:30PM, entry is £3 and the bar will be open until late.

This year will see performances from:

  • Cold Gin
  • Midnight Riot
  • Six Inch Subs
  • Behind the Blind
  • Casper & the Fleas

As well as Matt Scott’s “The Drumming Workshop” which proved to be a fantastic hit last time around.

The event is also listed on Facebook where you can go to keep up to date with the latest news.

Whitwell Against Alkane

Updated Website

We've been needing to update the design of the webite for some time now and to upgrade to the latest version of the software we run – and finally we've done it!

We hope you like the new design and that it's easier for you to find the information you're looking for.

There are bound to be a few glitches (We know everyone's Facebook comments aren't showing for example) so if you do find any we apologise and ask that you let us know so we can fix them.

Thanks.

Whitwell Parish Council Meeting – 11th January 2012

For the sake of clarity: These are not official minutes of the Whitwell Parish Council.  These are notes taken and produced by Whitwell.info for the benefit of the community so that you may see the discussions and reasons around the decisions made, not just that a decision was made on your behalf as a resident.  Whilst we strive to make them 100% accurate, mistakes do unfortunately happen – If you spot a mistake, please let us know so that we may correct it as soon as possible.

We recommend that you read these notes in conjunction with the Whtiwell Parish Council meeting minutes when they become available from the Community Centre or on the Parish Council Website.

In Attendance

  • Cllr. Julie Burdett
  • Cllr. Scott Ellis
  • Cllr. Sandy Frow
  • Cllr. Stuart Maiden (Chair)
  • Cllr. Viv Mills
  • Cllr. Tom Munro
  • Cllr. Jeanne Raspin
  • Cllr. George Webster
  • Barry Woodcock (Clerk)
  • Cllr. Duncan Kerr
  • Cllr. Ken Stevenson
  • Mr Alastair Morley (Guest speaker)
  • PCSO Katie Lee
  • 14 members of the public

1. Apologies

There were no apologies.

2. 15 Minute Open Forum

2.1 Alastair Morely – DCC Community Rail Officer

Alastair Morley is the Community Rail offer at Derbyshire County Council (DCC) came and explained the Community Rail Partnership.  20 years ago the Derwent Valley Community Rail Partnership was set up with work done to promote services and improve the stations.  DCC now want other parts of the county to do the same.  Mr Morley is looking at issues and trying to get more people using the railways.  He is working with Network Rail, DCC and passengers.

Of the attendees at the meeting there were six people who use the Robin Hood line and one who uses it daily.  The Robin Hood Line (RHL) re-opened in stages during the 1990s with government funding.  East Midlands Trains (EMT) run the service and are responsible for the platforms, ramps and bridge.  The non-public land is owned by Network Rail.

Of the services run from Whitwell, 31% of passengers travel to Mansfield, 23% to Nottingham and 16% to Worksop.  6% travel to Shirebrook and the rest to other stations in small numbers.  Mr Morley gets figures from East Midlands every four weeks.

In 2010/11 (the year runs April – March) there were 21000 passengers from Whitwell, up 6% since 2006/7.  Up to 10th December 2011 there was an increase in passengers and it is expected there will have been 24000 by the end of March.  DCC wants to see an increase in awareness in the local community of the service.

There is an hourly service Monday to Saturday.  The Sunday service was introduced on a trial basis in 2008 with council funding (Nottingham CC 90% and DCC 10%).  It was hoped there would be sufficient use for DETR to pick up the cost as it does for the weekday service.  However passenger figures were low and the cost was £214000 with the usage cost of £10.58 per passenger.  In contrast the bus subsidy costs £1.25 per person.  There was a consultation and a survey of passengers as well as a quality impact assessment.  A bus replacement was put but it was not used well.  As a result NCC cut their funding and trains only ran to Mansfield Woodhouse at an average cost of £50 per passenger to run to Worksop.

With regards to the station, last year the first noticeable improvements were made since it opened 15 years ago.  New shelters were installed, new signage, repainting and the scrolling timetables were replaced with real-time screens.  There are also automated announcements which should announce delays.  There are also induction loops for the hard of hearing.

The station is unstaffed and is some distance from where EMT operate from.  They send cleaners once or twice a week.

EMT want local people to get involved by becoming station adopters.  Station adopters are the “eyes and ears”.  If they notice something they can report it.  In other stations there are small teams who report issues and look after planting boxes, paintings by local groups and they have taken over embankment areas and cared for them, for example by landscaping them.

Mr Morley had forms for people who were interested in joining the scheme to complete.  Users will be able to say what problems there are including service problems.  There was a postcard campaign with local artists to get feedback on the service and DCC are looking to re-introduce it.  They are also considering putting up banners.  DCC worked with local schools for artwork and murals.  In Matlock Bath the painting the groups did was part of the Town in Bloom and got recognition for East midlands in Bloom.

Adopters can be individuals or groups.

Mr Morley noted an area of land by the station car park where the houses finish is very untidy.  It appears to be part of the railway land.  Mr Morley asked who owns it.  Cllr. Webster stated that Chapman Brothers at Chesterfield had offered it to WPC but he did not know if Terry Robinson had accepted it.  Mr Morley suggested it could be included in the plan.

Mr Morley had brought with him timetable books which DCC are producing and should be available in the library.  Mr Morley wants to put up local timetable displays in the community using bus-stop style display cases.  They include information on fares and the time to the different stations.  He wants them to be located in central points (the WPC stated “good idea”) and will put in a bid to purchase the cases.  In Whitwell Mr Morley suggested The Square by the signpost for the station; by The Co-Op (Spring Hill road sign); and the Community Centre noticeboard.  Cllr. Mills suggested Bakestone Moor outside the Friendship Hall.  Cllr. Rasping suggested the Health Centre.  Mr Morley stated they could produce smaller versions also for indoor locations.

A member of the public stated on a website may be helpful as it had taken over an hour to find the timetable.  The sign was passed around the attendees.

Mr Morley would also like to involve schools as DCC do school trips near Nottingham and Derby.  Train travel is cost effective for schools as, unlike with coach travel, only seats used are paid for.  In addition groups of 10+ get 26% discount.  Information leaflets have been produced in Matlock for schools informing them of the fares and places that the schools can visit near to the stations.  There is a lot of space on the trains during the day.

Mr Morley asked for ideas and issues from attendees.  A member of the public stated the train would be used more if the train companies had joined up time-tabling.  RHL is good but there is an hour wait in Worksop for the Sheffield train each morning.  Northern have only recently increased the service to four carriages from two overcrowded ones.  The 7:05 train arrives in Worksop at 7:08 but has to wait outside the station for the Sheffield train to leave – the train people are most likely to want to catch.  Many people drive to Kiveton to catch the train or to Halfway to use the tram.  Going the other way however you can be in London in 2.5 hours when going through Nottingham which is very good.  Mr Morley responded that some work has been done with the connections but that it does need to be looked at.

Another member of the public stated that more people go to Sheffield from Whitwell.  He uses the train a lot and did use the Sunday service but now goes to Chesterfield to get the train now.  His wife commutes daily between Whitwell and Hucknall but has to go to Worksop to get a monthly season ticket as it is not available on the train, online or at the stations.  A lot of people in the village originate in Sheffield and Rotherham and so travel there socially and for work.

Cllr. Stevenson responded regarding the Sunday service stating that with the current austerity DCC cannot pay £50 per passenger to run the service.  If the suggested project generates more passengers they could look at bringing the service back.  From a political view, Cllr. Stevenson wants to get World Heritage Status for Creswell Crags which would increase the use of Whitwell and Creswell stations.  He acknowledged it is a walk but can be done and there is always the option to bring back the service.  At the moment it can be quicker to use the bus to Creswell.  In addition, he joked, can Whitwell have their train station building back? It is currently in Butterly.

Mr Morley asked PSCO Lee if there was a crime problem around the station.  She responded that there is good CCTV with two cameras so any issues are dealt with quickly.  There have been no issues other than thefts on the line which were dealt with by the British Transport Police.

Cllr. Mills asked if Mr Morley had any influence on repairs as there have been problems in the past including getting lights replaced.  Mr Morley responded “I think I do”!  He added that he can send the problems directly to the person who deals with them.

Cllr. Mills then asked if the Adopt a Station scheme has any funds.  Mr Morley stated that the projects need to get funding.  At the moment they have no budget.  The Head of Stations has been in place for about one year and the other staff have been working with the communities.  They will “chip-in” to make things happen.  In Matlock Bath there have also been Community Days where local people got together with the Head Office in Nottingham to do a blitz on the projects.

Mr Morley is trying to get DCC to become a member of the national Rail Communities Organisation which will help to get funding.  One of Mr Morley’s jobs is to get money and resources together.

Cllr. Raspin stated this is a project which could “grow and grow” with groups applying for their own funding.  She asked if there is any training for volunteers, for example young people, which could be shown on CVs.  Mr Morley said that there is no training programme but confirmed they do have to do Health & Safety training.  He has worked with unemployed groups in the past. 

A member of the public stated that there are two platforms like bus stops but no station building.  He raised concern that the platforms would not be wide enough for planters and that they would restrict the width, risking safety.  Realistically there could only be a couple of planters installed.  Mr Morley responded that that is why he mentioned the piece of land by the station.  There are areas by the ramps which have been improved.  Access to them would need to be sorted however.  He added that at some stations there are only two planters.

Cllr. Maiden stated that it is good to hear things can be done and that there is a way to get things done through Mr Morley.  People can now be reasonably convinced that something can be done.

A member of the public said that they had raised things of interest to the police which were passed to the British Transport Police a few days later.  He added that because of the problem of copper theft between Whitwell and Creswell people are driving to Woodhouse for the train instead.  Additionally, Nottinghamshire County and City councillors get tax-free loans to purchase annual tickets through their salary.  Mr Morley suggested he could look into this for DCC.

Another member of the public asked if the information was in electronic form anywhere for use on websites to publicise it.  Mr Morley agreed to email this to him.  Cllr. Mills stated that WPC and the Community Centre have websites which could be used.  Mr Morley suggested that the WPC newsletter could be used; Cllr. Maiden agreed that this could be accommodated.

A member of the public asked if any communication had taken place in Hodthorpe who have a different parish council but also use the station.  Mr Morley stated that he had sent letters to each parish with a station and had not “picked-up” that Hodthorpe are separate.  Cllr. Munro stated it would be worth Mr Morley contacting H&BPC.

Mr Morley had brought with him a copy of the station adoption agreement which people should send back to him if they are interested.  It included his contact details.

Cllr. Maiden thanked Mr Morley on behalf of WPC stating that he hopes Mr Morley gets assistance from the parish.

Two members of the public left the meeting.

2.2 County Councillors

Cllr. Stevenson highlighted that over the Christmas period Derbyshire Fire Service were called out to two fatalities; one in Whaley Thornes and the other in Eckington where somebody had been microwaving mince pies.  Mr Stevenson wants to encourage everyone to have home fire safety checks as in the fires mentioned the alarms had not worked.  There was also an incident in the High Peak the day before the meeting.  Cllr. Maiden asked how people can get the checks.  Cllr. Stevenson responded that people should call the fire & rescue head quarters who will contact the local station, 01332 771221.

Cllr. Stevenson explained that there was a Cabinet Report prior to the council meeting about cuts including the Youth Service.  The Leader put questions to the cabinet but got nowhere.  It was raised at the Council meeting but it didn’t seem to make any difference.  Barry Lewis who is in charge of the KYA proposed that the council no longer directly deliver services for teenagers and close the youth centres and mobile services.  There was a mobile service within Whitwell to help police and there is a youth centre in Creswell which they are looking to close.  Mr Morely added that the properties are being sold off.  Cllr. Stevenson is now trying to get a petition a petition signed to present to the council.  At the debate a 19 year old girl attended and went away to come back with the idea for a petition.   Cllr. Stevenson is using this petition and stressed that we need the youth service.

A member of the public asked about the pavement by The Green which is a trip hazard.  He queried if it had been taken up with the developers.  Cllr. Stevenson stated it has been taken up with them and is with the developers to sort but he will chase the issue.

Cllr. Munro stated that at the budget meeting it was suggested that WPC set aside money to replace grit in the free bins.  He was told that WPC have to pay.  Cllr. Stevenson stated that the Snow Warden scheme, which DCC put forward and is not being taken up by BDC or WPC, allows a bin to be purchased for £250.  There is a separate agreement where an application can be made to DCC for a bin to be put in the place it is needed.  The first fill of this bin will be free and re-fills paid for by parish councils.  BDC and Creswell are doing this.  Cllr. Munro suggested that two sites would benefit – the top of Spring Hill and where Southfield Lane meets Bakestone Moor; he added that there used to be a bin there.  Cllr. Mills asked how much the bins are to fill.   Cllr. Stevenson stated it is not always worth asked DCC to fill and so would cost around £75 privately.

A member of the public asked if Whitwell is on the Olympic Torch route.  It was confirmed that it isn’t but Bolsover is.

2.3 Police

PCSO Lee provided the crime figures for December:

  • Burglary: 3
  • Violence: 6 (3 were at the same address)
  • Criminal Damage: 5
  • Theft: 2

Four of the theft and criminal damage were at the Crags.

At a previous meeting it was mentioned that Stephen Priest had been arrested for burglary.  PCSO Leestated that he has now been charged with another 10 burglaries and has been sentenced to three years.  A person in Whitwell has also been charged for intent to supply cannabis.

A member of the public complained about people parking on pavements.  There is somebody on Middlegate Field Drive who does this daily and has a plant that protrudes on to the pavement and these are becoming a danger.  PCSO Lee confirmed that if the vehicle is obstructing the pavement it is an obstruction and that the police can take action.  Cllr. Frow added that where The Dicken joins Scotland Street there is a white van that parks on the wrong side of the road about 10 feet from the junction.  This means that people cannot use the correct side of the road and has resulted in some near misses.  In addition there is now a red car in front of the van parked on the grass.  PCSO Lee stated that she has been down there but the van wasn’t there at the time.  She will try again.

Mr Morley left the meeting.

2.4 District and Parish Councillors

Cllr. Ellis asked Cllr. Webster if he took up the issue of the land at the top of New Street being untidy.  Cllr. Webster agreed he will do this again.  Cllr. Ellis added that the capping stones are also untidy; Cllr. Webster will also take this up.

A member of the public addressed Cllr. Webster regarding the footpath from Welbeck Street to the Recreation Ground.  The member of the public had been told that BDC are responsible for this.  Cllr. Webster stated that they are only responsible for the piece by the flats on Holmefield Lane.  He will check the plans and confirm with the parish clerk if WPC are responsible.

A member of the public stated that before the election there was talk about a regeneration fund for the villages.  Cllr. Munro explained that a group has been set up to seek funding and the questionnaires were sent out for villagers to state their priorities which will be used for the funding.  The council has budgeted for partnership funding.  Cllr. Frow added that to get funding there has to be a project confirmed with a proven need, hence the questionnaire.  It is a drawn out process.  Cllr. Frow added that some members of WPC have been to seminars about making applications.

Cllr. Kerr explained that BDC are changing the procedure for choosing council housing to Choice Lettings with Assigned bands.  There are four bands which depend on need.  The properties are advertised on the website and in the Clowne contact centre where people make a bid for a property in their band.  The incentive is to chase the properties and not use the list.    Cllr. Kerr suggested that WPC request a weekly email from the Clowne Contact Centre to advertise the properties in the Community Centre.  In time it will be possible to get housing association and private landlord properties in this way too.  Cllr. Webster added that people can also apply for Bassetlaw Housing and letters have been sent to those currently affected.

A member of the public stated that the agenda for the meeting on the website was dated 15/12/11 and had 19 items unlike the agenda provided in the meeting.  The councillors responded that they also have 19 items but this was because some numbers had been missed out.  The member of the public also requested that the recording of meetings is added to the agenda for the next meeting as it is now 6 months since this was last discussed.  Cllr. Maiden agreed.  The member of the public stated that in his notes of the last meeting there were 6 sides for item 1 but only a paragraph was put on the minutes giving very little information about what was discussed.

More members of the public left the meeting.

3. Resumption of Standing Orders

  • Moved

4. Matters Arising from Item 2

Cllr. Webster stated that he will see the officer about the land next to the station the day after the meeting.

Cllr. Mills asked if the Fire Safety Officer could be invited to a meeting to discuss the checks.  Cllr. Maiden agreed.

Cllr. Munro suggested that the Choice Lettings could be displayed in the Health Centre, Community Centre and library.  WPC could offer space in the Community Centre and ask BDC to request Clowne Contact Centre to provide displays.  This was agreed.

5. Approval of the Minutes of the Last Meeting

There were no amendments and Cllr. Webster moved that the minutes were a true record of the meeting.

6. Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Last Meeting

  • (2.3.1) Cllr. Munro stated that two days ago he saw the concrete roof and cannot see how it is safe or what is holding it up.  Cllr. Maiden stated that with the BDC assurances WPC has no liability in the event of an incident.  Cllr. Mills asked if there had been a letter regarding the HGVs.  The clerk confirmed there would be in Correspondence.
  • (7) Cllr. Munro asked if this was in Correspondence – yes.
  • (10) Cllr. Munro stated that he would not be available and asked if it could be deferred to the 25th.  Cllr. Maiden agreed.

7. Approval of the minutes of the Budget Meeting of the Parish Council held on 4 January 2012 and approval of the precept for 2012/13.

The Clerk apologised to the council.  The current contract has a further year to run and that it runs out in March.  Therefore in the budget agreed last week there is insufficient funds to pay for the current contract and plants anywhere else.  The value for item 5c should be £6,218 not £5,000.  The clerk asked if the WPC want to review the rest of the budget to save money elsewhere as the increase makes the precept £184,005. Cllr. Maiden asked if the council wanted to add extra to the budget or alter it.

Cllr. Frow proposed to add it on as the budget had been discussed thoroughly.

Cllr. Mills suggested that it be taken of the new projects fund however Cllr. Frow stated that there are concerns within the parish about projects and that the money can be used to apply funding.

Cllr. Munro asked how changing the budget would affect the rates.  For Band D the increase would be 80p per month or £9.60 per year.  Cllr. Munro suggested it should be absorbed as the charge is miniscule compared to what was agreed.  Cllr. Mills added that an increase anyway would not be good in the current climate.

Cllr. Munro seconded the proposal to add the extra to the budget.  Cllr. Mills proposed an amendment to take £1,000 from the New Projects budget head and avoid increasing the council tax any more than it already had been.  The amendment was defeated and the original proposal was accepted.  The precept will increase to £184,005.

Cllr. Maiden asked if there were any other changes to the minutes.  Cllr. Munro stated concern that there was no reference to the issue about setting aside £100 miscellaneous funds to fill the free grit bin.  There was no reference in the minutes that the discussion had taken place and it should be after item 3.10 even though after debate the motion was defeated.  The clerk stated that if the proposal was withdrawn there was no official decision to record.  Cllr. Munro argued that it means that he cannot discuss it in matters arising as in the meeting tonight attendees had heard that the meeting was mislead over the matter.  Cllr. Maiden requested that a paragraph be added.  Cllr. Munro stated that there should be a new 3.11 item – it was proposed for a budget head for grit at £100 to replenish bins provided at no cost by DCC.  Cllr. Mills responded that it should be “could be provided” and not “are provided”.

Cllr. Frow moved that the minutes were approved.

Cllr. Maiden stated that there was no agenda item for matters arising from these minutes.  Cllr. Munro asked that this be an agenda item at the next meeting.

8/12. Accounts for Approval and Payment

Cllrs. Webster and Munro signed the cheques.

9/13. Financial Reports

The only item likely to be up slightly is for Playscheme but this has been known for some time.

10/14. Correspondence

There were no comments about the list of correspondence.

  • The Clerk explained that an email has been received from H&BPC stating that they welcome the suggestion for a joint cemetery committee and want to discuss one item.  A date for a meeting was set with WPC and Cllr. Kerr for 1 February at 7pm.
  • A letter was received from VOSA just before Christmas.  It was agreed in a phone call that Mr David Grabbel will come out to look at the problem.  It was agreed to raise the suggestion and see if others would like to attend.  Cllr.  Munro suggested asking Mr Grabbel to be present 7am to 12pm to see the variation through the day however Cllr. Maiden responded that 7am would be too late.  Cllr. Maiden suggested a 6am start on Monday 16th January or 23rd January on the High Street by the George Inn.
  • An email had been received from BDC stating that a draft infrastructure study and delivery plan are available on the website.  Cllr. Maiden asked if views and consideration had been requested.  The clerk stated it is to review and confirm the accuracy.  Cllr. Maiden stated that everyone look at WPC and issues be referred to the clerk.

Cllr. Munro stated he will be attending the liaison meeting on Monday.

11/15. Planning Matters

Cllr. Webster declared an interest and left the room.

  • 27 Jubilee Road – extension to first floor rear. No objections.
  • DCC proposal for application for a sewage monitoring kiosk.  No objections.

Cllr. Webster returned to the meeting.

12/16. Progress Reports

Cllr. Frow has sent out letters to see who can work over Easter at the playscheme.  She will place an advert if more people are needed.  Cllr. Frow stated that they will definitely need two new people.

13/17. Date of the Next Meeting

8th February 2012.

14/18. 15 Minute Open Forum

A member of the public stated that they are not available on 16th January for the traffic visit but would like to attend.  Cllr. Munro suggested 23rd January which was agreed.

A member of the public asked if there was an update on the old Thackers site.  Cllr. Webster stated that it was in the papers this week.  It has got to go to the council before he can say anymore.  In four weeks time he should be able to give more information.

Cllr. Stevenson sated that the grit bins need to be applied for and a bid put in for next year.  Cllr. Stevenson will email the contact details to the clerk.  Cllr. Raspin asked when the money is allocated.  Cllr. Stevenson responded before winter.

A member of the public queried the budget for the website stating that if it is just for the hosting it is 3-4 times more than it needs to be.  Cllr. Maiden will investigate this further.

A member of the public stated that it has been raised before but Severn Trent has been lumped the allotment and cemetery together in item 11 of the meeting.  He has asked for them to be shown separately but they haven’t.

A member of the public asked if there would be a grit bin on Holmefield Road – No, they will be where the elderly are.

15/19. Resolution to Exclude Members of the Public

Moved

No Audio Recording of Parish Council Meetings

Correction: Unfortunately we published Cllr. Frow’s vote wrong when this was first published.  Cllr. Frow did not abstain.  Perhaps we need to video record the meetings instead, then we can avoid this problem in the future? :)

Well we tried, and unfortunately failed to get Whitwell Parish Council meetings recorded.  We offered up several options:

  1. Do nothing
  2. We record them and provide them to the council, with a legally binding agreement on how we will use the recordings.  You can see a copy of the draft agreement, Clause 6 is the one of main interest.
  3. The parish council records them and makes them available in whole to the public. (We even worked out where in the budget the money could be saved from to pay for it!)

A proposal was formulated around option 2 and formally voted upon, “that Whitwell Parish Council precure the equipment to record the meetings themselves and make them available to the public in full.”

The votes were as follows:

  • Cllr. J Burdett – Against
  • Cllr. S Ellis – Against
  • Cllr. S Frow – Against
  • Cllr. J Raspin – Against
  • Cllr. S Maiden – For
  • Cllr. V Mills – For
  • Cllr. T Munro – Against
  • Cllr. G Webster – For

Cllr. Kerr was also in favour of the audio recording of meetings, but as he is one of our elected district councillors and not a parish councillor he was unable to vote on the matter.

Amongst the points and concerns raised were:

  • That some members of the council and public are not very articulate and would not want to make themselves look foolish as the recording would be a permanent record once released to the public.
    • Neither are some members of the public, myself included as I stumbled a bit through my arguments.
  • That if parishioners wished to engage with the council and the meetings then they are free to attend the public meetings and that councillors have their phone numbers & email addresses on the parish council website if they want to discuss an issue with them.
    • Presumably this means then that because there is a public gallery in the House of Commons that BBC Parliament should be scrapped?  We’re not talking the same level of decision making of course – but arguably the decisions the parish council take affect people more directly than those in parliament.
  • That members of the public may be put off from raising points if they are recorded:
    • This was put to the 8 members of the public still present and not a single objection was raised, in fact all members were in favour of the recordings being made.
  • There was concern over how long the recordings would be kept for after it was mentioned that the recordings would provide an invaluable tool for future parish councillors in say 10 years time so they could hear exactly why a decision was made – Some faces were aghast at the thought of them being kept for that long, stating that it sounded “sinister”.
    • Council minutes are currently kept indefinitely.

There was no suggestion of further discussion to see how it could be made to work for all parties – unfortunately this is democracy in action, which means we now have to wait six months until we can raise the issue again.

The case we presented for the recording of meetings was based around a letter from Bob Neill MP the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government with regards to access to and recording of council meetings, some highlights from the letter include:

“In short transparency and openness should be the underlying principle behind everything councils do and in this digital age it is right that we modernise our approach to public access, recognising the contribution to transparency and democratic debate that social media and similar tools can make.”

“Bloggers, tweeters, residents with their own websites [my emphasis] and users of Facebook and YouTube are increasingly a part of the modern world, blurring the lines between professional journalists and the public.”

“The public should rightly expect that elected representatives who have put themselves up for public office be prepared for their decisions to be as transparent as possible and welcome a direct line of communication to their electorate.”

Cllr. Maiden (Chair of the council) commented that there was nothing more transparent than a recording of the meeting.

We also used documents from the National Association of Local Councils related to Quality Status – which is something Whitwell Parish Council is hoping to achieve by September 2012, some of the quotes we used:

“In order to thrive, democracies need active, involved, informed and engaged citizens.”

“Good communications and community involvement is critical to earning and maintaining the good will of the community you serve.”

“As statutory public bodies councils should be embracing modern communication methods to engage with their communities.”

You can find our full argument below as a PDF along with all other documents we used.

What we would like to have seen (other than allowing us to take recordings) given that members of the public stated they were in favour of meetings being recorded is the item being tabled for more debate and investigation, unfortunately it was flat out rejected rather than an amended proposal being put forward.  Many of the points raised were reasonable points and questions that needed to be asked, most of which had already been addressed in my information pack, those that weren’t were ones that could have been finalised once it was agreed to record the meetings – such as how long to keep recordings for, how quickly to make them available etc.

We believe in open, transparent governance, free from party politics, where every member of the parish can be informed of discussions made and decisions taken in their name without having to attend long meetings at often inconvenient times.  We will be continuing our efforts to get meetings recorded and freely available for all to listen to.

This may seem like an un-important issue to many, but whilst the official council minutes continue to provide the least possible information we (other than attending in person) are currently the most detailed source of information available on the happenings of Whitwell Parish Council and we’d like to make sure our information is at all times 100% accurate.

Reasons Why Parish Council Meetings Should Be Recorded

Department for Communities and Local Government Letter

Draft Recording Agreement

NALC Guidance Notes – Democracy and Citizenship

NALC Guidance Notes – Communication and Community Engagement

Half Way To Next Gen Broadband

UPDATED

It looks like that whilst we weren’t paying attention BT Openreach changed their ready-for-service (RFS) date for their 21st Century Network (21CN) for Whitwell to the end of January 2012.  What this means is that you should now be able to get up-to 24Mbit/s internet instead of just basic up-to 8Mbit/s internet from any ISP not just the likes of TalkTalk.  If you want faster access you may also have to talk to your ISP, as not all will upgrade you automatically to faster services – even though their faster services are the same price.

We’ve also noticed that the full Sky Broadband is now available on the Whitwell exchange as well – So if you’ve got Sky TV you can get their free/cheap broadband as well.

The RFS date for the much faster FTTC products (What BT Retail calls Infinity) is still set for June 2012.

Update

At the Whitwell Parish Council meetings on 8th February 2012 three planning applications for additional BT Openreach street cabinets was put before the council (They were in the conservation area, so planning consent is required) and the council raised no objections to them going ahead – So it looks like things really are moving ahead for June this time.

Whitwell Parish Council Meeting – February 2012

The February 2012 meeting of Whitwell Parish Council will take place at 7PM on Wednesday 8th February in the Community Centre.

As usual you can find the agenda on the Whitwell Parish Council website.  Items of note include items 7 (Training), 8 (Grit bins) and 9 (Recording of meetings).  Item 9 being ourselves bringing up the subject of recording parish council meetings for all to access.