Meeting of Whittington Parish Council at 7:30PM on Tuesday 28th September 2021 at Whittington Community Hall, Church Lane, Whittington, WR5 2RQ
Present: Steve Burrows, Steve Brooker, Katie Lambeth-Mansell, Jenny Knights
In attendance: David Hunter-Miller (Clerk), Rob Adams (District Councillor), David Chestney (Whittington Community Hall Committee), members of the public
1. Apologies for absence
Apologies were noted from Rob Stepniewski and Susan MacLeod.
It was noted that Dan Bayliss had resigned from the Parish Council and the vacancy notices had been posted accordingly.
2. Declarations of Interest
Steve Brooker declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in all items pertaining to Whittington Community Hall.
A dispensation had previously been granted to Steve Brooker to allow participation and voting on all matters pertaining to Whittington Community Hall.
4. Open Session
The meeting was adjourned for the open session.
4.1. District Councillor
Rob Adams provided a report as follows:
• Thanks were extended for the invite to open Whittington’s new Community Hall.
• An update was given on the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) and the extended timescales for implementation (due to come into fruition October 2023).
• All car parks in Wychavon now have cash-free payment options.
• The carbon reduction plan is under continuous review.
• Evesham’s new 3G football pitch had been opened.
• The Community Legacy Grant scheme had been extended with a fourth round of applications now being considered.
4.2. County Councillor
Linda Robinson provided a report as follows:
Latest Coronavirus update
The infection rate in our district continues to rise and currently 394 new cases were recorded up to September 22nd. This has risen by 39% in the last 7 days (information correct as of 10th September 2021). The Worcestershire rate, however, remains below the England & West Midlands average.
Public Health continues to monitor the situation particularly with the return of our children to schools. Vaccinations are expected to start soon for 12 to 16-year-olds and booster Pfizer jabs have started to be given to over 50’s plus younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and care workers at least six months after their second jab.
The Deputy Chief medical officer for England says the aim is to enhance the waning immunity given by the two original jabs, and prevent hospitals being over whelmed with patients during the autumn and winter. Health experts have predicted a resurgence in flu and other respiratory infections, on top of the Coronavirus pandemic as restrictions on social mixing are removed.
Worcester City in conjunction with local GP’s have announced the imminent opening of a mass flu vaccination site at Worcester race course modelled on the existing Coronavirus vaccination centres to ensure as many eligible patients and those over 50 can access their free flu jab.
Communications will focus on continuing to encourage people to get vaccinated whilst reminding people of the basic precautions they can take to protect themselves and others.
There were 34 patients in Worcestershire’s acute hospitals at the end of last week with four deaths announced over the weekend. In total there have been 911 Covid related deaths in County hospitals during the pandemic This is a better picture than elsewhere in the country where bed capacity is beginning to become a concern as we head into winter. Nationally there are about 900 Covid related hospital admissions a day.
Afghanistan Resettlement Scheme
There are 2 schemes relating to Afghan resettlement to the UK:
1. The Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) for Locally Employed Staff (LES) in Afghanistan. This scheme is designed to support those Afghan nationals who have worked with our forces e.g., interpreters. This scheme was launched in April 2021. 30 families are planned to come to our county with the first arriving in Worcester this week and two more expected soon in Wychavon and Malvern Hills imminently.
2. The Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). This was the scheme that was announced last week and which is designed to welcome 5,000 vulnerable Afghans into the UK in the first year of the scheme and 20,000 over the longer term. Further guidance on this scheme is still awaited. 250 are scheduled to come to WCC in the next five years with the first arriving shortly.
Locally, the current Afghan resettlement scheme is being co-ordinated by Worcestershire County Council and this will be the same for ACRS. The County Council will work closely with the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership who are delivering this programme for the West Midlands on behalf of the Government. The County Council will consider wider support arrangements for Afghan arrivals, co-ordinate financial support from Government and donations from communities.
As non-housing stock councils we are working with our housing association partners and private landlords to identify accommodation. Commitment has been sought from both Platform and Rooftop to begin to identify suitable family sized accommodation within our districts that could be appropriate, and both have responded positively to these requests. In addition, we will be working with voluntary groups in due course to help them with their work supporting new arrivals and getting access to funding.
The following article was published last week in the Droitwich Standard which I thought might be of interest.
‘The county’s grass cutting programme has finished for the year with more than 8,000 km of grass being chopped – the equivalent distance from Worcestershire to Brazil.
The county has more than 6million metres of rural verges and in excess of 320,000m2 of central reservations in place across the county.
A new cutting regime has been in place since 2016, which helps to keep roads visible for motorists but also provides a safe space for wildlife too.
The council changed the way it cut grass on central reservations last year, cutting less to make the area more friendly and protected for pollinators.
When the visibility splays and road junctions are cut back, only one metre or two metres of grass is now cut back from the carriageway, leaving significant uncut areas available for wildlife.
Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “Although our primary duty with regards to roadside verges is one of safety, we have made a pledge to support the recovery of pollinator populations within Worcestershire and this includes the way we now manage the sites.
‘’There are 37 roadside verge Nature Reserves designated for rare or special species and habitats across our county and all sites now receive a bespoke approach to ensure protected or rare species are fully considered when it comes to maintenance.”
Worcestershire County Council has become pollinator friendly to promote the protection of pollinating insects and their habitat.
Dual carriageway verges offer important linear networks for pollinators. Often referred to as ‘Bee Lines’, they connect previously isolated areas of ecological interest.
During the summer months, the roadsides grow very quickly and there is a statutory duty to maintain them and to make sure the road network is safe.
However, the changes implemented over the past six years have seen significant improvement to biodiversity opportunities on Worcestershire’s network.’
Another clue that summer is nearly over is a request I received today that on the 15th October WCC’s Winter Service will be launched. They are currently programming the refill of the County’s grit bins so if you have any that are damaged so long as they are in regular use, they will replace them. Your clerk can then report them plus any that need re filling.
Finally the County Council’s cabinet have approved a public consultation on proposals to change age ranges at a number of schools feeding into the Pershore area with a view to moving from three-tier to a two-tier system.
4.3. Whittington C of E Primary School
The school has been open since the beginning of term with no cases of Covid identified with staff or students. A cautious approach has been maintained with regard to Covid precautions at the school.
4.4. Whittington Church
The church was still open and maintaining suitable Covid precautions. The new single storey building (planning application 20/00790/FUL) has gone out for tender.
4.5. Brethren Church
No report was available.
4.6. Whittington Community Hall
An update was received under item 8.
4.7. Public participation
A parishioner raised concerns regarding the condition of some of the allotment plots (item 12.2). A suggestion was made to increase access to some of the plots, as some plots only had access on one or two sides. A further suggestion was made to consider outsourcing the management of the allotment site to Worcester City Council as it was understood that they had a number of active sites with a large waiting list.
The meeting resumed following the open session.
5. To consider and adopt the minutes from the Parish Council meetings on the 18th August 2021
It was resolved to adopt the minutes as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chair.
6. Progress reports
6.1. Councillor vacancies
It was noted that there was one vacancy on the Parish Council and the legal notices had been posted with an expiry date of 11th October 2021; following this the vacancy would be advertised for co-option. Applications would be encouraged from Wildmore and Whittington Walk areas to increase representation of these areas on the Parish Council.
6.2. Whittington Walk
An update was received as follows:
• A contribution to Smart Water kits for residents was still under review.
• Provision of a Parish Council noticeboard was still under review.
• Phase 3B does not currently have planning approval but it was anticipated that this would include conditions to supply dog fouling/waste bins.
• A resident had raised concerns regarding a private road across the site as that had been previously maintained at the landowner’s expense.
6.3. Flooding, Church Lane
It was noted that Worcestershire County Council had responded and were reviewing the issue in partnership with Severn Trent Water. A site meeting had been arranged and councillors would endeavour to attend.
7.1. Cllr Rob Adams: Norton and Whittington Ward Walk.
The above ward walk was noted and councillors would endeavour to attend.
7.2. Worcestershire CALC: Latest training schedule.
The above training schedules were noted.
7.3. Worcestershire CALC: Speeding survey.
It was resolved to complete and return the survey.
7.4. Wychavon District Council: Consultation on Revised Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005.
The above consultation was noted.
7.5. Wychavon District Council: Local List Supplementary Planning Document Consultation.
It was resolved to respond in support to the consultation.
7.6. Wychavon District Council: Invite to ‘Vibrant Villages’ event, 6PM on 21st October 2021 via ‘Zoom’.
The above invite was noted.
7.7. Wychavon District Council: Invite to Housing Needs Survey Workshops (various dates).
The above invite was noted.
7.8. Police: Consultation on draft Safer West Mercia Plan.
The above consultation was noted.
7.9. Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire: The Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative.
The above initiative was noted.
8. Community Hall Project
8.1. To receive an update
An update was received as follows:
• The Community Hall opening day had been a great success.
• A number of regular bookings were now in the diary.
• The grass turf had been laid and the decorative planting and landscaping had been started. The carved stone artwork was on order and would be installed when ready.
• An acoustic report had been commissioned to review measures for increasing the acoustic performance of the hall and it was anticipated that the solutions could be funded via available S106 funding (item 8.3).
• The ‘what’s on’ page on the Community Hall Website would be updated to show events and classes.
• A pedestrian gate would be installed to afford access to the proposed defibrillator.
8.2. Finance and budget expenditure: To receive an update.
A report had been received regarding revisions to the landscaping contract. It was resolved to approve the revisions to the contract and the associated additional costs; the total cost is now £10,937.00 (excluding VAT) which includes one year’s maintenance provision.
8.3. S106 funding: To receive an update.
A possible £24,838.70 S106 community buildings contribution was available, specifically earmarked for improvements that would provide additional capacity to the Community Hall. It was resolved to submit quotes to Wychavon District Council relating to security and acoustic improvements for consideration and approval.
8.4. Statement of Final Account: To approve and sign the Statement of Final Account (£776,724.55 excluding VAT).
It was resolved to approve the final statement of account totalling £776,724.55 and this was duly signed.
9.1. SWDP / Parkway Development: To receive an update.
It was noted that the SWDP Local Parishes Committee were due to meet with the SWDP Planning Team in October.
9.2. S106 priority list: To consider a priority list for potential future S106 contributions.
It was resolved to defer discussion on this until a future meeting.
10. Parish matters for discussion/decision
10.1. Notice board: To consider a notice board for the new Community Hall.
It was resolved to defer discussion on this until a future meeting.
10.2. Insurance: To review insurance cover and the renewal invitation from Came & Company.
The insurance cover was reviewed and it was resolved to approve the renewal invitation from Came & Company (item 13.4.4)
10.3. Smart Water: To consider and approve the purchase of Smart Water kits for parishioners.
It was resolved to approve an application to the Police under their Smart Water scheme. To achieve the required scheme coverage (80% of the parish) 471 kits would be required at a cost to the Parish Council of £2,516.48.
11. Lengthsman Scheme
11.1. To receive an update
Strimming and vegetation cutting had been undertaken and the allotment paths had been sprayed.
The Parish Council’s Vehicular Activated Sign (VAS) was not working; it was resolved to take the sign down so that it could be assessed for possible repair.
11.2. Work schedule
No items were requested.
12.1. To receive an update
It was noted that the Clerk had written to a number of tenants to request that their allotment plots be brought in line with the Terms and Conditions. One allotment holder had been served with a tenancy termination notice. It was noted that the overall condition of the site had since improved.
12.2. Allotment maintenance: To consider concerns and suggestions raised by parishioners regarding the condition of the allotment site.
A suggestion was received to plant hedges around the border to increase the attractiveness of the site. It was felt that this would not be a workable solution because hedges could overshadow some of the plots, they would require ongoing maintenance and would encroach onto the paths.
A further suggestion was made to consider outsourcing the management of the allotment site to Worcester City Council as it was understood that they had a number of active sites with a large waiting list; enquiries would be made accordingly.
If outsourcing the management of the site was not feasible consideration would be given to increasing access to some of the more ‘landlocked’ allotment plots to make them more viable to tenants. This might be achievable within the constraints of the current site by reducing the number of plots.
13.1. External audit
It was noted that the External Audit had concluded with no matters arising and all relevant legislation and regulatory requirements having been met.
13.2. Budget expenditure
It was resolved to approve the budget expenditure.
13.3. Bank reconciliation
It was resolved to approve the bank reconciliation.
13.4.1. David Hunter-Miller (salary and expenses): £886.81
13.4.2. HMRC (PAYE): £207.90
13.4.3. Worcestershire County Council Pension Fund: £319.52
13.4.4. Came & Company (insurance): £562.19
13.4.5. PKF Littlejohn LLP (external audit): £1,560.00
13.4.6. Home Farm Nurseries (Pinvin) Ltd (Community Hall project): £6019.10
It was resolved to settle the above invoices and cheques were duly signed.
14. Councillors’ reports and items for the next agenda
It was resolved to add the following items to the next agenda:
• S106 priority list
• Notice board (Berkeley Close area)
• Smart Water (update)
It was resolved to report the damaged grit bin at the junction of Berkeley Close to Worcestershire County Council. It was noted that the bin is used regularly.
15. Date of the next meeting
The next scheduled meeting is at 7:30PM on Tuesday 26th October 2021.
A resolution was passed to exclude members of the public due to the confidential nature of the following items.
16. Clerk’s contract: To review the Clerk’s working from home allowance in accordance with the latest HMRC guidance.
It was resolved to approve an increase in the Clerk’s working from home allowance to £26.00 per month with immediate effect.
The meeting closed at 10:15PM.