Present: Councillors T Butcher (Chairman), A Jeffrey, C Butler, F Worth and R Butler
In attendance: P Thompson (Clerk) and Councillor V Von Celsing
Apologies: Councillor A Dick
Declaration of Interests:
The Clerk confirmed that the Councillors present held dispensations to discuss the budget and precept for 2016/17 under item 14 of the agenda.
Councillor Trudi Butcher advised that she had an interest in the proposed new kitchen at St Clements Cottage to be discussed under item 10 of the agenda.
The Minutes of the last ordinary meeting of the Council were approved and signed by the Chairman.
The Clerk confirmed that West Berkshire Council (WBC) would not remove trees to improve sight lines at the entrance to bridleway 22, leading to Casey Fields Farm, as they believed that the trees were safe and not causing a hazard.
Extraordinary meeting of 16 November 2015:
The Minutes of this meeting were approved and signed by the Chairman.
District Councillor’s report:
District Councillor Virginia Von Celsing advised the meeting that there would be significantly reduced funding from central government for 2016/17 which is bound to affect services to the community for that year. It was therefore likely that there would be an increase in council tax in accordance with government guidelines, including the additional percentage to support adult and child care, as well as cuts to other services. The matter was being raised with the local MP as it was felt that many rural councils including WBC were receiving a lower level of support from central government compared to their urban counterparts.
The Clerk advised that Councillor Alex Dick had confirmed that he had no matters to report prior to the meeting.
The Clerk was asked to report recent flooding by The Fleece and Feathers and Willow Tree Cottage, both on the Aldworth Road, and on Dog Lane to WBC.
Footpaths and byways:
The Clerk was asked to report the fallen “footpath” sign post, by Noakes Hill Cottage, to WBC.
Councillor Trudi Butcher confirmed that she had reported the broken gate on footpath 23 to WBC.
Planning Applications update:
15/01353 Fly fishing facility and underground rifle range at the Shooting School, Tomb Farm. Awaiting decision from WBC.
15/02207 Replace fowl processing building with a larger facility and parking area at Casey Fields Farm. Awaiting decision from WBC.
15/02342 Partial demolition of existing dwelling and erection of side and rear extensions, at Straight Ash. Approved by WBC.
15/02650 Barn conversion into 4 bedroom dwelling at Pyt House. Letter of support submitted, awaiting decision from WBC.
15/02627 Install staircase and replace equipment room at NATS site, Haw Farm. “No objections” submitted and approved by WBC.
Proposed new kitchen at St Clements Cottage:
Councillor Trudi Butcher produced plans of the proposed alterations to her Grade 2 listed property and explained the reasons for the alterations. These plans would be submitted to WBC later in the month after which the Parish Council will be asked for its observations.
Trees on Flowers Piece:
The Clerk confirmed that neither Arbocare nor Tom Negus had submitted quotations despite asking for and receiving plans of the site and details of the work required. It was agreed that Michael Cairns should be asked to complete the work in accordance with the quotation that he had supplied to ART. The Clerk was asked to mention that the work should be completed by 31 March 2016.
The Clerk confirmed that the necessary repairs, other than painting, had been carried out by Wicksteed Leisure in accordance with their report. It was agreed that ART should be responsible for carrying out the repainting of the equipment.
The Councillors expressed their satisfaction with the final outcome. The Clerk advised that the builders had received many positive comments, both from residents and visitors passing by car, whilst completing the building.
The Clerk presented his financial report and payments schedule to the meeting. He explained that there would be an overspend in the region of £700 for the year to 31 March 2016, assuming that the tree maintenance costs were paid before that date. This would need to be recouped from the precept for 2016/17. Reserves at 31 March 2016 were likely to total £4,950, including an election reserve of £200.
Payments were authorised as follows:
Scofell Landscapes Ltd £132.60 Grass cutting for November
Wicksteed Leisure Ltd £1,268.02 Playground repairs
P Thompson £253.40 Net salary for December and January
P Thompson £42.05 Clerk’s expenses
HM Revenue & Customs £2.60 PAYE on Clerk’s salary
Section 137 donations of £30 and £20 were authorised to West Berkshire Countryside Society and Berkshire County Blind Society, respectively.
The Clerk recorded that the payment of ££7,695.60 to Tailormade Building Solutions Ltd on 22 December 2016, for the bus shelter, had also been authorised by Councillors via email.
Precept for 2016/17:
The Clerk presented his revised budget for 2016/17 and explained the basis for his amended calculations. He suggested that reserves at 31 March 2017 would total ££6,000 including an election reserve of £400. This would be in line with recommended practice. The budget was formally approved and the precept set at £6,680.
Audit arrangements for 2017/18:
The Clerk advised that the National Association of Local Councils have suggested that smaller councils such as ours would still need to appoint an auditor to deal with any financial matters raised by parishioners. There may be a small fee of up to £100 to cover the cost of this service which had been included in the budget as it will be payable by 31 March 2017 and cover a five year period.
Any other business:
The Chairman read out correspondence from a visitor to the parish concerning aircraft noise, traffic and the creeping development at Casey Fields Farm. The points were discussed and the Clerk was asked to write a reply.
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 8.36 p.m.
The next meeting will convene at 7.00 p.m. on Monday, 7 March 2016.