Summary report of the Parish Council meeting held 17 January 2019
Suffolk County Cllr Lindsay’s written report, circulated before the meeting, highlighted the consultation on cuts to Citizens Advice Bureaus, SCC’s pledge to lead fight against single-use plastics, SCC’s refusal to tackle carbon emissions and the appointment of the new Highways boss. Cllr Morley raised concerns over the positioning of the new SCC Playground Sign on Chapel Road, Great Green. The Clerk was asked to provide details to Cllr Lindsay to challenge Highways. Cllr Webster asked Cllr Lindsay for feedback on SCC’s revised pothole policy. Cllr Lindsay confirmed that feedback from other Parish Councils where potholes had been repaired, had been good.
Babergh District Cllr Arthey confirmed that Babergh’s element of the 2019/20 Council Tax (which is less than 10% of the total) was likely to increase by 3%. SCC were proposing a 5% budget increase and Suffolk Police a 12% increase to their Precept. Cllr Arthey advised that the Local Plan consultation is being delayed until the summer; updated the meeting over Waste and Recycling and explained the composition of the new 2 member Lavenham Ward (Lavenham, Cockfield, Chilton, Great Waldingfield and Little Waldingfield) for which elections would be held on 2nd May 2019.
2019/20 Budget & Precept: This is always a major agenda item in the January meeting, to submit our application to BDC for approval before the end of the month deadline. All expenditure has to be detailed for authority scrutiny.
Reports containing the 2018/19 Budget v Expenditure, 2019/20 draft Budget and proposed 2019/20 Precept required were circulated prior to the meeting. Cllr Southgate and the Clerk explained the figures and answered all questions. Subsequently the budget was approved by all members.
Parish councils have legal obligations and responsibilities across 25 headings which included general improvement of the community.
Typically in the case of Cockfield examples are; Clerk’s Salary, cemetery maintenance, footpath maintenance, Green’s maintenance (those not in private ownership), Trees safety on Great Green and Bruff’s Line, insurances across assets together with public and employers liability, play equipment, dog bin provision / emptying, pavilion upkeep and utilities, election costs, community mini bus, traffic calming measures.
With County policy changes the Parishes are having to fill the gaps with gritting, verge cutting and pavement clearance.
There are also more major initiatives such as Mackenzie Place open space project and Glebe land / allotments, Bruffs line and meadow. Whilst such projects can call upon CIL 123 funding there is always a demand for significant Parish contribution or match funding.
The CIL 123 resource, both BDC and Parish, has defined parameters on use which do not include the general “day to day” operational costs. Therefore, we will continue to explore where this funding can be best placed in new projects.
The Parish Council, maybe unlike other villages, remains forward thinking but not overly ambitious, as such the budget 2019-2020 is essentially limited to an uplift in line with inflation but still delivers those features expected by the residents together with continuous improvements.
Pavilion: Cllr Webster confirmed that only minor amendments are required to the previously circulated 2nd draft of a Standard Parish Council Hire Agreement for the Pavilion, but that further expansion is needed to the ‘guidance for use’. Cllr Southgate confirmed that he had completed the Fire Risk Assessment and would review the general risk assessment
Winter Gritting Arrangements: Given SCC policy change on the provision of “grit heaps” The Clerk was asked to purchase 2 Tonne of grit to be delivered to David Hodge’s farm. Cllr Williams would arrange for distribution to the necessary locations in case of severe weather conditions
Greens Management: Nothing to report.
Local Needs Housing: Cllr Morley is seeking to convene a progress meeting on the MacKenzie Place Development with Orwell Housing, SCC and BMSDC and will submit a further report in due course.
Glebe Land: Cllr Morley advised that discussions were being progressed with solicitors and the Diocese and papers would be presented to the February Parish Council Meeting.
Earls Meadow: Cllr Williams advised that an area of Bruff’s Line had been cleared of vegetation, ready to plant bulbs.
Cemetery: Cllr Turner advised that a Scattering of Ashes ceremony was planned this month.
Parish Footpaths: Nothing to report.
Highways and Emergencies: Cllr Turner advised that VAS batteries may need replacing soon as they are not retaining their charge for more than 2 days.
Cllr Cutting-Keyton advised that she would continue to monitor SCC Highways website as reported problems / potholes etc seem to disappear from the display whilst the issues remain unresolved.
Police/Fire: Cllr Cutting-Keyton reported that Suffolk Police upcoming emphasis is on speeding. Speed checks would be undertaken for 2 weeks commencing 17/01/19. There had been 17 fatal accidents last year in Suffolk. Between January 2018 – September 2018, 108 offending vehicles identified in the villages speed checks.
Play Equipment: Cllr Southgate advised that the bark in the playground area needs de-weeding and the RoSPA report identified maintenance work required to the See Saw.
Village Hall Car Park: The Clerk advised that most options to reduce the slipperiness of the surface of the village car park were not feasible and that major investment would be required when the surface eventually needed replacing. Provision has been made within the 2019/20 budget and will be included within subsequent years’ budgets to generate sufficient reserves to undertake this work when required.
Matters to be brought to the attention of the Council: Cllr Southgate advised that a broad review of Parish Council Standing Orders should be undertaken shortly to ensure the council remain aligned to any process and legislative updates.
Cllr Cutting-Keyton advised that the annual Village Litter Pick was planned for the weekend of the 16th/17th March.
The Parish Council plan to formally unveil the new Village sign on Parsonage Green in the Spring.
District Council and Parish Council Elections will be held on 2nd May.