Minutes of the Meeting of the Parish Council

held on Monday 7 October 2019

at Stocksfield Community Centre

Present:         Ms M Hunt (Chair), Mr C Liddle, Mr D Parke, Mr M Parker, Professor R Thompson, Dr P Vickers.

Mr N Spencer (Clerk to the Council).

Apologies:     Mrs J Furniss, Mrs H Rae, Mrs J Robson.


Also present: Mrs A Dale (County Councillor), Mr J Robinson (Courant).

The Chair opened the meeting at 7.30pm and welcomed those present.

19/10/119 Declarations of Interest

Dr Vickers declared an interest in the item relating to the website as it concerned his employer.

19/10/120 Public Participation

Land west of Guessburn

Mr Parker said that the final cut of the footpaths crossing the above land appears not to have been undertaken yet and access is becoming difficult. The Clerk AGREED to contact Allendale Estates.                                                                                          Action: Clerk


19/10/121 County Councillor update

Mrs Dale updated about hedgerows adjacent to private land; work on the fords; verges on Lead Road which she has asked to be cut; British Horse Society signs which she asked for any suggestions for their locations; the poppy group; potential additional funding towards defibrillators; and highway projects which are delayed due to staffing shortages (A695, New Ridley Road, New Ridley and Painshawfield estate). Mrs Dale also discussed the flooding after heavy rainfall which occurs on New Ridley Road and the need for new or improved gullies. This features as a priority in her submission to Northumberland County Council’s (NCC) Local Transport Plan (LTP) Programme 2020-2021 and she highlighted the potential for the Council to lend its support through the LTP. The Chair clarified Mrs Dale’s existing LTP priorities. The Chair thanked Mrs Dale for her update.

19/10/122 Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 September 2019

It was AGREED that the minutes of the meeting held on 2 September 2019 were a true and accurate record (proposed Dr Vickers, seconded Mr Parker).

19/10/123 Matters Arising

  1. a) Fireworks and Bonfire Event 2019

The Clerk reported that Stocksfield Cricket Club has now finalised the costs for staging this event and has concluded that it is not viable. The club apologises for the relatively late notification but listed the many requirements that would, in the event of inclement weather, almost certainly result in significant financial loss to the club, irrespective of the Council’s proposed contribution.

  1. b) Local Transport Plan (LTP) Programme 2020-21

The Chair reminded members that the Council’s two priorities had been decided at the last meeting and that support for an additional matter proposed by Mrs Dale had been agreed. Members discussed the flooding referred to by Mrs Dale and, after discussion, it was AGREED to amend the Council’s priorities to include ‘The replacement of existing or provision of new drainage and/or gullies on New Ridley Road/Apperley Road/Batt House Road/ Meadowfield Road as appropriate in order to alleviate the flooding that occurs after heavy rain’.                                                                                                                           Action: Clerk

Mrs Dale then left the meeting.

19/10/124 Finance

  1. a) Approval of September payments

It was AGREED that the payments for September be approved as detailed in the previously circulated schedule (proposed Mr Parke, seconded Dr Vickers) and the summary of receipts and payments for the month was noted.

b)Budget monitoring to 30 September 2019

The Clerk said that budget monitoring had identified an administrative error which had caused an additional £360 to be notified to NCC as precept. This represents an additional £0.27 for the year on the council tax for a Band D dwelling. He recommended that once the budget for 2020/21 had been agreed, the resulting precept should be reduced by £360 to offset the error. Members discussed the additional authorised spending on bins and seats and the further costs associated with the verge at the relocated seat at New Ridley. It was AGREED to vire £1502 to the Environment budget from contingency funds, to increase the Environment budget by £1650 using reserves in the General Fund and to remove the anticipated £60 income in the Communications budget. Members also asked the Clerk to write to Mr A Conley of DW and EE Conley at New Ridley to thank him for the work he has undertaken for community benefit without charge.                                                                                   Action: Clerk

19/10/125 Parish Council Representatives

6th Annual Town and Parish Council Conference 3 October 2019

The Clerk attended this conference and his report had been previously circulated. After discussion it was AGREED to invite Mr R Murfin, the Director of Planning at NCC, to attend a future meeting of the Council.

19/10/126 Advisory Groups

  1. a) General Governance Advisory Group (GGAG)
  2. i) Notes of GGAG meeting 16/09/19

Members noted the previously circulated notes.

  1. ii) Tree inspection procedures

Members noted the report of the Clerk and the quotation for work from a local contractor. After discussion it was AGREED to instruct the contractor in accordance with the terms of the report.

                                                                                                            Action: Clerk

iii) Donation requests

Members discussed two requests for donations and AGREED to donate £100 to Sport Tynedale and £100 to Northumberland Age UK, both using powers under Sec 137 Local Government Act 1972.                                                                        Action: Clerk

  1. iv) Arrangements for Annual Parish Meeting (APM)

After discussion it was AGREED that the current practice of holding the APM immediately before the annual meeting of the Council in May each year should continue and that the County Councillor should be afforded an opportunity to submit a written report provided the matters raised relate to Stocksfield.                                                                 DISCHARGED

  1. v) Remembrance Service 2019 arrangement

The Clerk declared a personal interest in this item. The Chair confirmed that NCC has arranged a full closure of the A695 on 10 November and referred to recent difficulties in securing the services of a bugler at the service. After discussion it was AGREED to pay travel expenses as a minimum and to ask neighbouring local councils whether a payment is made to buglers at their respective services.                                                                              Action: Clerk

  1. vi) Climate Action

The Chair referred to correspondence from Friends of the Earth which described various activities councils may consider to champion the cause of climate change. Members considered that the principles contained in the letter were in keeping with some of the objectives in the Council’s draft plan but that it was not appropriate for the Council to establish itself as a Climate Change Action Group. Any local residents are able to establish such a group and to apply for funding to the Council to support their activities. It was AGREED to publicise this matter in the next Council newsletter.                                                                   Action: Clerk


  1. b) Planning Advisory Group (PAG)

Members noted the planning report and the delegated authorities used as set out below.


The Rowans,

21 Painshawfield Rd

Variation of condition 2

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Scargill, 44 Cadehill Rd

Sycamore - fell and replant with oak

No comment

Note use of delegated powers

  1. c) Rights of Way and Environment Advisory Group

Dr Vickers highlighted the rude health of Stocksfield Burn and the poor condition of the bridleway from Old Ridley. The latter is being monitored by NCC. Members noted the notes of the meeting held on 9 September 2019

19/10/127 Affordable Housing and Planning Obligations – consultation from NCC

Members discussed the previously circulated document and concluded that the Council is not in a position to comment on the scoping exercise but looks forward to receiving the draft documents in due course.                                                                        Action: Clerk


19/10/128 Council website project

Dr Vickers described the potential for students at Northumbria University to undertake prototyping exercises to investigate the feasibility of an automated system that scans websites for local events and places them on the Council’s website. There are minimal costs (restricted to travelling in the event that students need to meet councillors or the Clerk) and no requirement for access to the Council’s website. In the event that the proposal is successful, a standard disclaimer will need to be signed which clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of those involved. After discussion it was AGREED to offer the proposal as a project to the University and that Dr Vickers should liaise as appropriate. Dr Vickers reminded members that there is no guarantee that the project would be accepted by students or that any resulting system (to which the Council would hold the intellectual property rights) would work satisfactorily.                                                                                                                                 Action: Dr Vickers

19/10/129 Parish Council Plan Group

The Chair referred to the previously circulated draft of the plan. After discussion it was AGREED that the document needed to be redrafted to reduce its length and there should be greater focus on the themes. It was further AGREED that a future draft should be considered at a separate meeting of the Council to ensure that members are able to examine and give views on the detailed actions.                                           Action: Parish Council Plan Group


19/10/130 Grass cutting – verges and estates

The Clerk referred to a previously circulated draft contract for the above services. He reminded members that the decision had been made at the last meeting to award the contract for the grass cutting of verges to NCC without competition. The revised contract now includes grass cutting on estates, a service which is provided by NCC and part of which is to be subject of recharge. Members APPROVED the revised document and AGREED that, in all other respects, the decision of the Council at the last meeting is unaffected. Action: Clerk


19/10/131 High visibility vests

The Clerk referred to a previously circulated report and after discussion it was AGREED to purchase six high visibility vests of varying sizes, embroidered with the Council’s name, for use by volunteers and/or councillors as appropriate.                 Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

19/10/132 Any other business

Foot bridge over Stocksfield Burn at Kate’s Plain

The Clerk reminded members that the rebuild cost of the foot bridge is needed for insurance purposes and NCC has reduced its proposed fee for this purpose. The matter is one in respect of which the Chair and Clerk are able to use existing delegated authority to approve once negotiations are complete.


Sports Field Improvements

The Clerk informed members that Allendale Estates (through its land agents) has responded favourably to the outline proposals to improve the sports fields and a meeting with the design consultants is to be arranged.                                               Action: Clerk             DISCHARGED

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

The Chair referred to a recently circulated update from CPRE in Northumberland which included a number of interesting items. She asked the Clerk to circulate the update to members of the Council’s Rights of Way and Environment Advisory Group. Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


19/10/133 Date of next meeting

Monday 4 November 2019.

The Chair thanked those in attendance and closed the meeting at 9.03pm.