MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 29THAPRIL 2020 BY REMOTE
Present: Cllrs. Robinson (Chair) Bevan, C. O’Meara, B O’Meara, Rees, Hailstone
Clerk: Daphne Robinson
C.C. & B.C. D Reilly, B.C. J Macdonald 2 members of the public
Cllr Robinson announced that sadly due to health issues Cllr Lee had resigned from the parish council. He expressed his thanks for the contributions she had made during her time as a councillor and that she would be missed. On behalf of the council he wished her the very best.
237.Declarations of interest and requests for dispensation on items to be discussed.
As there were no questions from the public the chair continued with the formal meeting.
239.To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 26th February 2020 and the Extraordinary meeting held on 20th April 2020.
It was Proposed by Cllr B. O’Meara, Seconded by Cllr Rees and Resolved to approve the minutes of the meetings held on 26th February 2020 and 20th April 2020. It was agreed that the clerk would sign the copies of minutes during the lockdown.
240.Matters arising from the minutes
The clerk reported a purchase order had been raised for the Christmas Lights for 2020. Nine sets of lights in total which would be installed on the lighting columns on New Road.
241.To receive reports from Borough and County Councillors.
Cllr Macdonald reported that various talks were taking place regarding the railway station and discussing the possibility of increasing the number of trains stopping at Water Orton. The cost of the work to be carried on the car park had now been approved by NWBC. Work was scheduled to start in the Spring but due to Covid-19 this had now been postponed until the Autumn. NWBC would be taking the lead on the work. Spaces would be increased from 51 to 62. The scrub would be cleared and the fencing will be replaced round to the fencing by the bus stop. It was planned that the fencing would continue from the car park entrance to Statis House. The Water Orton Action Group were also working on producing the Heritage Information Board. It was hoped that Cllr Reilly would be able to contribute some funds towards this. Cllr Macdonald advised that the ‘Friendship Benches’ maybe installed on the site where the Christmas Tree had been. Talks were also taking place in providing more friendship benches around the village. Cllr Reilly advised that WCC Highways were in favour of this. Cllr Reilly and Cllr Robinson would walk around the village to consider possible sites and confirm this with highways. The benches would be available from a surplus from Tame Valley Wetlands.
Cllr Reilly reported that the Water Orton Covid-19 Volunteer Group had been set up. Volunteers had been supplied with PPE and have assisted with collecting prescriptions and shopping for the vulnerable. He thanked the clerk for her work in organising the PPE and monitoring the finances for the group. He reported that Green Bin collections would restart on 4th May 2020 and payment for green bin collections had now been deferred until 2021. He explained that talks were ongoing between NWBC and WCC in relation to opening the recycling centres. It was hoped that there would be an announcement of the reopening soon as he acknowledged that fly tipping was on the increase. Cllr Reilly advised that the Buzz service, funded by the parish councils, had been suspended during the lockdown. He said that he would be discussing the possibility of adjusting the routes with the operator before the relaunch.
Cllr Reilly reported on discussions for the Old School site. The school is owned by WCC and the NW Local Plan states that 47 houses could be built on the site. WCC are considering the options of either, selling the land with planning permission to a developer or doing the building themselves. This would be a modular development which NWBC are against. If the land was sold to a developer then it would be possible to include a covenant on the properties prioritising people for the houses that have connections to Water Orton.
Cllr Reilly advised C C highways had produced drawings for a raised kerb island on Minworth Lane/Marsh Lane to prevent HGV’s attempting to drive over Vesey Bridge.
To stop HGV drivers trying to reverse to go back down Marsh Lane, the route will be sign posted to go over the station bridge, turn left past the shops, down New Road, onto Watton Lane back to the A446. On the Minworth side of the bridge, Birmingham Council will build out the kerb and install signage preventing HGV’s going over the bridge into Water Orton. WH Smiths have agreed to do work at their entrance to enable lorries to turn round before they get near to the bridge.
With regards to the parking issues in Water Orton, Cllr Reilly reported that due to the Coronavirus the legislation for NWBC to employ traffic wardens had been delayed. He was hopeful that this legislation would be passed in the not too distant future and discussions could take place to decide what parking restrictions should be implemented.
Cllr Reilly explained that the Scouts were considering a bid to HS2 to improve their facilities. He advised that he had spoken to representatives from the Scouts for them to consider selling the site and relocating to a different site in the village. Cllrs Bevan and Rees commented that it was understood that the Scout site had a covenant on it that it should always be used for the Scouts. This would be investigated.
242.To receive an update on the Neighbourhood Plan
Cllr Bevan reported the Governance Group had now held six meetings and established eight themes. Eight of the volunteers had a theme each to develop ideas A draft document had been compiled for the group members. The next group meeting will include comments from the draft. Mid to end May the updated draft document will be circulated to parish councillors for their comments. Cllr Bevan explained that having met with NWBC, Sue Wilson advised on the level of evidence required and that each target required may not be reached. She advised to focus on housing requirements, i.e. what are the housing requirements in Water Orton? 187 residents had responded on the NP facebook page. Cllr Bevan explained that a paper survey would be available once the lockdown had been lifted. A message in The Bridge and The Coleshill Post would give details on where the survey will be available to collect. Cllr Macdonald suggested that she and Cllr Reilly have some copies to hand out at their surgeries.
243.To report on the parish council response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The clerk reported the Pavilion had been closed since the 20th March. Signs explaining the play equipment should not be used had been displayed and all play equipment had been tapped off.
The clerk advised that a Water Orton Covid-19 Volunteer group had been set up with both borough councillors having put £1000 each. This had been used towards buying PPE for the volunteers and funds for any other requirements to help vulnerable residents. It was working very well with volunteers shopping and collecting medication for the people of Water Orton.
244.To receive an update from the maintenance committee including the playground equipment.
The clerk reported that she and Cllr Chown had met with the managers and authors of the playground equipment report to express their concerns over the inconsistencies of the reports. The outcome of the meeting was that those inspecting the equipment and making the report express their personal opinions rather than following a more formal specification. The managers took on board the concerns of the council that this was not an acceptable procedure.
The welding required on the slide on the playing field had been done.
Cllr Robinson reported quotes had been received for installing railings round the pavilion car park. He advised a new specification would be produced so that the companies could offer like for like quotes.
245.To resolve that John Warren remain as a parish council representative for HS2 meetings and consultations.
Cllr Robinson explained he had spoken with John Warren to discuss how they would move forward with regards HS2 now that the Notice had been served by government to continue the development. Cllr Robinson expressed his sincere thanks and acknowledged the considerable amount of work that John had done so far and confirmed that John was thankful that the parish council were keen to take a more proactive and supportive role in the future. Cllr Robinson advised now the construction had the green light, it was important to work closely with HS2 to ensure that Water Orton were kept informed on all aspects of the development and that John’s knowledge and expertise was fundamental in ensuring this happens.
After some discussion it was agreed to formally resolve that John Warren be the representative to work in partnership with the parish council.
It was Proposed by Cllr Bevan, Seconded by Cllr C O’Meara and Resolved (unanimously) that John Warren be the representative to work in partnership with the parish council.
246.To approve the revised Employees Handbook
The revised handbook draft produced by Croner had been circulated to all councillors prior to the meeting. The HR committee members were making a recommendation that the handbook should be adopted. It was Proposed by Cllr B O’Meara, Secondedby Cllr Hailstone and Resolved to approve the revised Employee Handbook.
247.Update report on HS2
Cllr Robinson advised that, although parliament legislation had given HS2 the power to carry out whatever work necessary for the development, this did not mean that Water Orton should not be consulted and involved in all aspects of the construction effecting the village. Cllr Reilly advised that the Oak tree that had been felled on Coleshill road had been done lawfully. He explained that the Rugby Club had asked for the tree to be retained and on discovering it had been cut down were furious. However, in line with the legislation, the contractors had the power to remove it.
Cllr Reilly advised that there was protection on the hedgerow and trees on Attleboro Lane.
It was reported that two haul roads would eventually be built to take the spoil from boring the tunnel. The compound at Attleboro Lane would be working 24/7 once fully operational. Cllr Robinson explained that HS2 had formulated a presentation on the bridge/viaduct to go over the M42. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the offices were currently closed. Cllr Bevan expressed concerns that the residents would not have the opportunity to comment on the design. Cllr Robinson said that the bridges along the whole of the HS2 route were of a standard design. However, the design of the bridge/viaduct will be unique as it will run from Faraday island, reaches its highest point at Jack O Watton bend then will carry on down towards the tunnel entrance. Cllr Robinson stressed the importance of the parish council interacting with HS2 on behalf of the community and the council would take every opportunity offered to meet and engage with HS2.
a. To agree that during the remote meetings all payments will be made by the clerk and invoices will be signed by the chair once the restrictions due to the lockdown were lifted.
The clerk explained that she would not be signing cheques as almost all payments are made electronically. A list of all payments made between meetings was circulated to councillors. It was Proposed Cllr Bevan, Seconded by Cllr B. O’Meara and Resolved for the clerk to make payments and for invoices to be signed by the chair once the lockdown was lifted.
b. To receive an update on finances
The clerk reported that the first half of the annual precept had been received from NWBC. The accounts for 2019/20 were almost complete. Owing to the lockdown the external auditor, PKF Littlejohn, had revised the dates of when the accounts would need to be submitted to them. The statement of accounts along with an up to date budget for 2020/21 would be circulated to councillors over the next two weeks.
There was no correspondence to report.