Minutes of the Meeting of the Parish Council held remotely on Tuesday 4 May 2021


Present:         Ms M Hunt (Chair), Mr C Chance, Mrs J Furniss, Mr T Hills, Mrs L Joy, Mr C Liddle, Mr D Parke, Mr M Parker, Mrs K Pollock, Dr P Vickers.

Mr N Spencer (Clerk to the Council).


Apologies:     None.

Also present: Mr C Chance (initially as a resident)

The Chair opened the meeting at 7.39pm and welcomed councillors to the remote meeting which was being ‘live-streamed’ on the Council’s Facebook page. She apologised that the meeting was starting late due to technical difficulties with ‘live-streaming’. The Chair also reminded members of the Council’s newly adopted Code of Conduct and the need for individual councillors to initiate leaving the meeting when their personal circumstances dictated.


21/5/64 Declarations of Interest

Mrs Joy declared a personal interest in the item relating to the coronavirus community fund and Dr Vickers in matters relating to the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP).


21/5/65 Co-option of Mr C Chance

It was AGREED to co-opt Mr Chance to the Council and to permit Mr Chance to complete and deliver a declaration of acceptance of office before the date of the next meeting of the Council. The Chair welcomed Mr Chance as a member of the Parish Council, noting that he has, like others, been elected unopposed to serve as a councillor after the pending election.

                                                                                                Action: Clerk and Mr Chance


21/5/66 Public Participation

There were no items of public participation.


21/5/67 County Councillor update

Mrs Dale had provided a written update which had been previously circulated to members. There were no questions and members noted the report.


21/5/68 Minutes of the Meeting held on 12 April 2021

It was AGREED (proposed Mrs Pollock, seconded Mrs Furniss) that the previously circulated minutes of the meeting held on 12 April 2021 were a true and accurate record.


21/5/69 Matters Arising

a) Defibrillators

The Clerk said that Northern Powergrid is to return to Broomley on 12 May to locate the terminated power cables having failed to trace them on previous visits. All other defibrillators have been installed.

b) Business support grants

The Chair referred to previous decisions of the Council to apply for Covid-19 related business support grants and the Clerk provided information about a ‘Covid-19 Restart Grant’ for which the Council has been informed it may be eligible to apply. It was AGREED that an application should be made.                                                                                        Action: Clerk


21/5/70 Advisory and other representative groups – review of terms of reference

The terms of reference of the following advisory groups were considered and were not amended: General Governance; Planning; Rights of Way and Environment; and Communications. Terms of reference for the Staffing Committee, Appeal Panel and Sports Field User Group were also considered and not amended. The Chair referred to the developing work around climate change and the potential to appoint a ‘lead’ councillor. Mr Chance added that he is particularly interested in this field and identified the potential for a dedicated climate change group, comprised of councillors and other interested parties or experts to consider policy, practice and actions within the village. The Chair welcomed the comments and said that the work to develop a Parish Council Plan had clear links to this area. She added that the Plan would need to be revisited in light of the new Council and that recommendations in respect of climate change should be brought to a future meeting.                                 Action: Clerk


21/5/71 Finance

a) Approval of April payments

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

Mr Liddle left the meeting.

b) Schedule of recurring payments 2021/22

Members AGREED (proposed Mr Parke, seconded Mr Parker) to approve the schedule of recurring payments as circulated.

c) Report of the Internal Auditor 2020/21

The Chair referred to the report of the Internal Auditor contained within page 3 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) which was previously circulated. Members AGREED to receive the report and that no further action was necessary

d) Statement of receipts and payments 2020/21

It was AGREED (proposed Dr Vickers, seconded Mrs Joy) to approve the statement of receipts and payments for 2020/21.

e) Annual Governance Statement 2020/21

The Chair pointed out that the Annual Governance Statement was contained within section 2 of the AGAR and had been previously circulated. It was AGREED (proposed Mr Parke, seconded Dr Vickers) to approve the Annual Governance Statement 2020/21.

f) Annual Accounting Statements 2020/21

The Chair referred to the Annual Accounting Statements at Section 3 of the previously circulated AGAR and it was AGREED (proposed Mr Parker, seconded Mrs Pollock) to approve the Accounting Statements.

g) Explanation of significant variances

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Parke, seconded Mrs Furniss) to approve the previously circulated explanation of variances.

h) Existing arrangements for internal audit

The Chair referred to a report of the Clerk which provided an assessment of the current arrangements for internal audit. Members noted the report.

i) Appointment of Internal Auditor 2021/22

It was AGREED to appoint Mrs M Weatherley as Internal Auditor for 2021/22.

Mr Liddle returned to the meeting.


21/5/72 General Governance Advisory Group (GGAG)

a) Notes of the meeting held on 26/04/21

Members noted the previously circulated notes.

b) Future meetings of the Council

The Chair said that this matter had been brought back to the Council in light of the changing circumstances. The Clerk updated members on the declaratory judgement of the High Court that meetings of local councils after 6 May could not lawfully be held remotely, and on the risk assessment process needed to hold indoor meetings. The annual meeting of the Council is scheduled for 19 May 2021 and must be held to comply with legislation. The Council had already agreed to limit the agenda to shorten the meeting and reduce risk. Other physical meetings during the current period of restrictions need to be necessary and Covid-19 secure. After discussion about the challenges of ‘live-streaming’ from the community centre hall, it was AGREED (proposed Dr Vickers, seconded Mr Hills) not to ‘live-stream’ the annual meeting but to consider the future ‘live-streaming’ of physical meetings of the Council at a later date. The dates of future meetings of the Council will be determined at the annual meeting.                                                                                                                                        Action: Clerk

 c) Bank reconciliation (year-end) to 31/03/21

Mr Parke had verified the bank reconciliation.

d) Coronavirus community fund applications

Mrs Joy had declared a personal interest as an affiliate of ‘Singing Mamas Choir’ and addressed members in respect of that application.

Mrs Joy then left the meeting.

Stocksfield Tennis Club’s application was for the repair of damaged fencing and Singing Mamas Choir CIC had applied to fund the provision of support to pregnant mothers and those with new-born children in Stocksfield through ‘led group singing’. The Chair referred to the discussions at the GGAG which regarded both applications as worthy causes.

After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Dr Vickers, seconded Mrs Pollock) to award a grant of £2,000 to Stocksfield Tennis Club, award a grant of £1,230 to Singing Mamas CIC and vire £1,230 from the community support grant budget for that purpose.            Action: Clerk

Mrs Joy returned to the meeting.

e) Hindley St Margaret’s Burial Board

After discussion it was AGREED to award a grant of £1700 to the Burial Board. Action: Clerk

f) Subscriptions

Dr Vickers left the meeting having declared an interest as a member of TVCRP.

After discussion it was AGREED to renew subscriptions to Northumberland Association of Local Councils (£608.17), Northumberland and Newcastle Society (£35) and TVCRP (£10).

                                                                                                                        Action: Clerk

Dr Vickers returned to the meeting.

g) Sports fields improvements

The Chair referred to a report of the Clerk outlining options in respect of the project to improve the sports fields which included a potential need for a legal charge to be applied to an area of land owned by Allendale Estates. It was AGREED to pay the reasonable costs up to £650 for Allendale Estates to secure legal advice in respect of the charge.              Action: Clerk

h) Seat at Ladywell, New Ridley Road

The Council had previously approved the installation of a seat on the verge at Ladywell on New Ridley Road. Due to the requirement for the work to be completed by an accredited contractor the proposal had become prohibitively expensive. It was AGREED that the previously approved site is unsuitable and, as an alternative location nearby could not be identified, the work would not proceed.                                                                                   Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

i) Provision of allotments

The Chair reported that a resident had contacted the Council and asked if the Council would consider providing allotments for community use. After discussion it was AGREED to take no immediate action due to the existing uses of land owned by the Council and unavailability of other land but to keep the position under review.

j) Broomley School – ancillary use of the sports fields

The Chair outlined the potential to allow Broomley First School to use the north east corner of the eastern sports field in connection with the outdoor education of pupils. After discussion it was AGREED to permit the use and to install additional fencing with suitable access points to delineate the area.                                                             Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

k) Local authority remote meetings: call for evidence

The Chair referred to the government’s call for evidence in respect of remote meetings and it was AGREED to respond as previously circulated.                     Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

l) Email and internet policy

It was AGREED to republish the Email and internet policy without amendment and to review it in May 2022.                                                                               Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

m) Grit bins

Further information is still awaited from Northumberland County Council.


21/5/73 Planning Advisory Group (PAG)

Planning report

Members noted the planning report and the delegated decisions made as outlined below:


104 New Ridley Road

Change existing flat roof on front two storey extension to pitched roof.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


The Old Orchard, 21 Meadowfield Rd

Rear/side extension and formation of terraced areas and canopy. New roof and rendering.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Mickley Bank Farm

Resubmission - Retrospective: Rebuilding of storage sheds

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


21/5/74 Stocksfield sports field: Café pilot – access by residents with dogs

Mrs Pollock declared an interest as a member of the cricket club. The Chair referred to the pending pilot of a café at Stocksfield Cricket Club and after discussion it was AGREED to vary the prohibition of dogs from the sports fields so that residents could visit the café with a dog provided that dogs remain on leads at all times, dogs are restricted to a defined area near the car park and dog owners remove any dog faeces. It was further AGREED that staff from the cricket club should manage the situation and that the club’s committee can rescind the permission should the situation become unmanageable.         Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


21/5/75 Parish Council Representatives

There were no representative meetings.


21/5/76 Any other urgent business

Councillors who are standing down

The Chair said that this is the last meeting to be attended by Mr Parke and Mrs Furniss as both are standing down from the Council at the end of this term of office. She paid tribute to their contributions over many years and thanked them for their support and commitment to the residents of Stocksfield.

Letters of thanks

The Clerk said that letters of thanks for donations and grants had been received from Hindley St Margaret’s Burial Board, the Tanga Club and the Dr Syntax Leek Club.


21/5/77 Date of next meeting

Wednesday 19 May 2021(annual meeting)


It was resolved (proposed Dr Vickers, seconded Mr Parke) under the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act 1960 to exclude the press and members of the public to consider the following item.


21/5/78 Defibrillator equipment

The Chair updated members about recent correspondence to and from the North East Ambulance Service. It was AGREED to receive a further update in due course.


The Chair thanked councillors for their attendance and closed the meeting at 9.20pm.