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Minutes of a Meeting of Gotham Parish Council (06/12/16)

The Meeting commenced with a one Minute silence in memory of retired Gotham Parish Councillor Roger Holland, GPC Chairman from 1990-1993.

Present: G.Hutter, (Vice-Chairman),  J.P.Anderson,   J.M.F.Royce,  B.J.Walker, P.Bower,  H.Taylor,  M.Wilkins. A.Clayworth, G.May.

16/244: Election of Chairman: Nomination: G.Hutter to stand as Chairman until the May Annual Meeting 2017.  PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce SECONDED: A.Clayworth. Vote: All in favour. G.Hutter accepted the position of Chairman and signed the Declaration of Acceptance.

16/245: Election of Vice-Chairman: Nomination: B.J.Walker to stand as Vice-Chairman until the May Annual Meeting 2017. PROPOSED: G.Hutter SECONDED: J.P.Anderson. Vote: All in favour. B.J.Walker accepted the position of Vice-Chairman.

Apologies: D.Bexon, C.Dabell, County Councillor, A.Brown, Borough Councillor, S.Matthews.

16/246: Acceptance of Apologies:

PROPOSED:  J.P.Anderson    SECONDED:  J.M.F.Royce. Vote: All in favour.

16/247: Declaration of Interest: Memorial Hall Trustees in any business pertaining to the Memorial Hall.

16/248: Minutes of the previous meeting:

Resolved: That the previously circulated Minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on the 2nd November, 2016, be accepted and signed as a true record of the business transacted, with the following amendment:

16/240: Chairman’s Report: re-write first sentence as follows: The Chairman reported, her reason for seeking assistance from the Monitoring Officer was due to the conduct of two Councillors’ who had since resigned from the Parish Council. 16/235: : Well House: re-word second sentence: ‘The slats were recycled plastic’.

Acceptance of Minutes: PROPOSED: B.J.Walker SECONDED: G.Hutter. Vote: All in favour.

Progress: 16/231: The Clerk reported all Gotham News advertisements are paid up to date.

16/237: Councillors J.M.F.Royce, B.J.Walker, P.Bower, C.Dabell, G.Hutter, M.Wilkins, D.Bexon attended the Remembrance Day Parade and Service Councillor Walker laid the wreath on behalf of GPC. Also in attendance were the Deputy Lieutenant, the Mayor’s representative and East Leake Councillors

16/249: Two Casual Vacancies – Co-option of new Councillor:

The Chairman had received a letter of application from Mrs. R.Webster for the position of Councillor as a result of the casual vacancy due to the resignation of G.Holbrook.

PROPOSAL: Acceptance of Mrs. R. Webster’s application for the position of Councillor on GPC.

PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson  SECONDED: P.Bower. Vote: All in favour.

One casual vacancy remains. The Clerk to advertise more widely.

16/250:  Finance: Monthly Payments and Receipts:

PROPOSAL: Acceptance of Payment and Receipts.

PROPOSED: J.M.F.Royce  SECONDED: B.J.Walker Vote: All in favour.

a) Formal acceptance of the Recreation Ground/GPC mowing contract  2017/18. – £1,150.

JP Anderson and PR Dines had drafted a new mowing contract which was tabled for acceptance at the January meeting.

PROPOSAL: Acceptance of the Recreation Ground/GPC mowing contract for 2017/18 – £1,150.

PROPOSED: J.P.Anderson SECONDED: B.J.Walker Vote: All in favour.

b) Recreation Ground Budget £7,588.

PROPOSED: G.May SECONDED: M.Wilkins Vote: Eight in favour, one abstention.

The Clerk confirmed, E. Perrell does not mow the bank, adjacent to the car park. This area is mown by Horizon Contractors.

c) Chairman’s allowance – payment to date to retired Chairman – £58.33

PROPOSAL: To pay the retired Chairman the allowance of £58.33 owed for one month.

PROPOSED: M.Wilkins SECONDED: P.Bower. Vote: Eight in favour, one abstention.The Trustees had passed on an invoice for part payment for the hire of the p.a. system for the Service of Remembrance held in the Memorial Hall on the 13th November, 2016.

PROPOSAL: GPC to pay the whole cost of the p.a. system hire i.e. £216, as promised by the recently retired Chairman.

PROPOSED: B.J.Walker SECONDED: J.P.Anderson. Vote: eight in favour, one against.

The next Finance Meeting to be held on the 31st  January, 2017 at 7.30 p.m.

16/251: Chairman of Planning and Development Committee: (J.P.Anderson)

J.P.Anderson reported no planning application received for Clifton Pastures. Three plans had been submitted for a total of thirty new houses in Barton in Fabis. GPC are not consultees but had registered an objection on the grounds of traffic problems, extra load on school places and other community facilities. A letter had been received from M.King of Midland Rural Housing re the possibility of part of the glebe land by the allotments owned by the Diocese of Southwell being available for affordable housing in Gotham.The land behind the former RBL site still in negotiation but held up by the poor access road/ransom strip. The Government’s Autumn Statement may have announced legislation to help with financial considerations to assist this type of affordable housing development. The ongoing building work behind the NET 2 site at Clifton is the foundation for an industrial estate.

16/252: Planning Applications Received: Nil.

16/253: Planning Decisions Received:.

16/12: (ref: 16/02053/FUL)  10 Hill Rd   – Dormer window to front.    GRANTED

16/13: (ref:16/02308/FUL) 8 St.Andrew Close – Single storey side extension. GRANTED

16/254: Report by Vice-Chairman of the Environment Committee:

The last Environment meeting took place on the 15th November,  2016 chaired by C.Dabell.

Christmas Tree: The Christmas tree had been successfully erected on the 2nd December 2016 with a well attended lighting up ceremony.

The Well House: The two bench seats will be delivered to Howick’s Farm. The price is higher due to the cast iron support in the middle of each bench.

Cemetery Graves: No response from Gotham News request for family members to come forward re their wishes for grave maintenance.

Heritage Day: G.Hutter reported, the two First Aiders who attended Heritage Day, received a donation of £20 each in favour of East Leake Owl Sanctuary and South Notts First Responders (G.Whitehead). In comparison to other villages’ donations this amount seemed derisory. It was, therefore, PROPOSED by M.Wilkins, SECONDED by P.Bower that an additional donation of £50 to should be added in favour of South Notts First Responders, via G.Whitehead, at next month’s meeting. Vote: Six in favour, three against.

16/255: Memorial Hall Report: G.Hutter reported a problem with scruffy play equipment. A decision is to be made on whether or not the Trustees will continue the play equipment maintenance which costs a substantial sum on money. The NCC Small improvement grant will be applied for in 2017/18. J.P.Anderson suggested a village survey be conducted to gauge the amount of support for the purchase of new play equipment. A Working Party could be formed with representatives from GPC, Memorial Hall Trustees and parents of young children. G.Hutter to report GPC’s ideas to the next meeting of the Trustees.

16/256: Flooding: Nottm. City Transport repairing the blocked drain at the back of their depot. An A1 sized map of drainage ditches is required to work out a plan of action and to carry out a survey on all culverts owned by NCT. The tenant of the Diocese land will be partly responsible for paying for ditch clearance. A new ditch might be required as the land behind the New Rectory is overgrown and difficult to access to dig out the existing ditch. A Flood Committee to be set up to report findings to GPC. G.May volunteered to join as GPC representative. Two parishioners had lodged their interest in helping form a Committee. A quote to be obtained for the building of small wall of sandbags opposite to the culvert exit into the Railway Walk ditch. The mesh at the drain exit was removed by a representative from B.T. A. Howick to replace mesh at the head of the culvert with railings. This will not block with leaves as easily as mesh and serve to prevent badgers entering the drainage pipe. NCC to be asked to inspect the village drains. J.M.F.Royce to inform County Councillor A. Brown of progress to date. P.Bower reported he had initially reported blocked drains to the Council in June, 2016. The Clerk to write to M.Simes informing her of the probable new ditch leading from Leake Road to her field. The extra surge of water resulting in the renewed NCT culvert and ditch might cause flooding to her field if her drain cannot cope with extra water.

16/257: Revised Standing Orders: J.P.Anderson, P.R.Dines, B.J.Walker and J.M.F.Royce had revised the GPC Standing Orders, in conjunction with NALC Model Standing Orders.  A copy was circulated to all Councillors who are invited to peruse them and report their findings to the next meeting. Included in the document are the following items:

Financial Regulations, Code of Conduct, Email Protocol, Memorandum of Understanding between GPC and Memorial Hall/Recreation Ground Trustees, Trustees of Memorial Hall/Recreationg Ground/GPC Mowing Contract.

A letter of thanks to be sent to P.R.Dines for her work on the Standing Orders document.

16/258: Clerk’s Appraisal: Date to be arranged in January, 2017.
G Hutter suggested that a small committee should carry out appraisal as this is in the guidelines set out by NALC.

PROPOSAL: Extension of meeting beyond 9.30 p.m. to complete the Agenda.

PROPOSED: G.Hutter SECONDED: J.P.Anderson. Vote: All in favour.

16/259: Policing Matters/Vandalism::

November crime figures circulated by B.J.Walker. No crime reported in Gotham.

16/260: Gotham News and Media:

J.P.Anderson had worked alongside M.J.Sheppard to edit the November edition of Gotham News. Distribution was also undertaken by J.P.Anderson. Thanks recorded to M.J.Sheppard for his hard work on Gotham News. The printer, S.Douglas has retired so a replacement to be sought.

Next copy – March 2017. J.P.Anderson to review the delivery round. Gotham News Editorial Team: J.P.Anderson (delivery) B.J.Walker, H.Trobridge (proof readers). M.Wilkins, photography,G.Hutter (advertising).

16/261: Chairman’s Report: Nil to report.

16/262: Clerk’s Report: A thank you note had been received from Mrs. J. Moss for her gift from GPC on her 100th birthday.

16/263: Matters to Report:

B.J.Walker asked the Clerk to remind D.Healey to sweep leaves from outside the old Post Office.

A.Clayworth reported continued problem of dog mess on pavements. Signs could be displayed on every lamp post.

Clerk to enquire if NCC or RBC  produce standard dog fouling signage. Perhaps stage a Day of Action.

H.Taylor reported Police and RBC had been notified of problem of drug dealing on Hill Road.

J.P.Anderson called for another GPC representative to serve on the Sports Arena Committee. G.Hutter volunteered. A meeting is unlikely before the Council AGM in May.’A meeting may be held in May, 2017.

H.Taylor had asked the Gotham Surgery to advertise his offer to help patient’s access their prescription order online.

J.P.Anderson tendered his apologies for absence at the January, 2017 GPC meeting.

16/264: Date of Next Meeting: The next Meeting will be held on Tuesday, 3rd January, 2017 at 7.30 p.m.

Meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

Gotham Library Volunteers Wanted

GOTHAM LIBRARY VOLUNTEERS WANTED

Inspire Culture, Learning and Libraries, who are contracted to deliver library services by Nottinghamshire County Council, are looking at different ways to provide sustainable library services. This includes setting up partnerships with community groups and schools across the county. The Gotham Memorial Hall Trustees are looking for interested volunteers to help maintain the current opening times and potentially increase opening times in the future. So, if you would like to gain some work experience or meet new people and love books, we would be interested in hearing from you. Volunteering duties may include shelving books, keeping the library presentable and helping customers in the library. Inspire will offer full training and for those interested, the opportunity to work towards our volunteering certificate.

Please contact Mrs. Pat Dines on 01159830582 or email patriciadines@sky.com or Eric Perrell on 0115 9749023 or email ericperrell6@gmail.com for further details.

First Contact Signposting Scheme

If you’re 60 or over First Contact gets you help from lots of organisations when you complete one simple checklist.
First Contact gets you advice on:

• Preventing falls
• Home safety and security
• Repairs, adaptations and specialist equipment
• Energy saving improvements to keep you warm and reduce bills
• Housing advice
• Claiming benefits
• Local activities and groups
• Community transport schemes.
• Fire prevention advice

Complete the checklist and you’ll be contacted by people who can help. They may offer a home visit, but will always contact you first (always ask for their ID).

The scheme is a partnership of key agencies and organisations including the police, fire service, NHS, Borough councils, voluntary sector, and operates in a number of areas of Nottinghamshire including Gedling.

” Mr D, of West Bridgford, was really impressed and said that it provided him with a lot of help and useful information. ” First Contact user

Below is a link to the Rushcliffe Community and Voluntary Service website for more information on First Contact:-

http://www.rushcliffecvs.org.uk/projects-projects-72/first-contact-signposting-scheme.html

To complete a checklist call Nottinghamshire County Council on 0300 500 8080 or do it online at

https://secure.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/doitonline/first-contact-map/

Karl Stirland – Assistant First Contact Co-ordinator South Notts – firstcontact@rushcliffecvs.org.uk

First Contact is managed by Rushcliffe Community and Voluntary Service in South Nottinghamshire and run by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The Public Consultation – Q & A

The recent public consultation on the Council Tax threw up some questions that are best answered here.  Geoff Clarke of the Parish Council and Pat Dines from the Gotham Community Hub Ltd answer the main issues that were raised.

Are the Parish Council exceeding their authority to propose such a Council Tax rise?

GC: No. Parish Councils have the power to raise their Council Tax levy as they think fit. Moreover, they are not capped unlike District or County Councils. The level of your Council Tax is shown on your annual Council Tax bill. You are not able to pick and choose what you pay for and what you don’t. Adjusting the precept is what Parish Councils everywhere do annually. Ultimately Parish Councils like all councils are responsible to their electorate at the ballot box.

Were GPC acting illegally in trying to raise the Council Tax in this way and were they possibly corrupt in doing so?

GC: Parish Councils are advised to behave in exactly the way GPC did on this occasion and seek a public consultation for a particular rise such as this. They were acting in the village’s interest and were certainly not corrupt. As explained above they could have imposed this rise without consulting at all.

The plans for the shop and cafe were the wrong idea: wouldn’t the site be better developed to provide starter homes or sheltered housing for the elderly?

GC: I don’t think anyone would argue that there is a need for just this type of housing in Gotham: indeed the housing survey that is reported on elsewhere in Gotham News makes that point.  However this type of housing does not come about on the free market as developers will seek to maximise their return on the land and will always choose ‘market’ housing. With the Royal British Legion seeking market value for the site the only way that this type of social housing could have been achieved was, seemingly perversely, to support the Hub idea. Then the land would have been in village ownership and any housing in the future could have been planned based on local need.

PD: The conception of the Community Hub evolved from the Gotham Annual Parish Meeting held 28th April 2015 when 81 attendees voted “This Meeting believes the British Legion Site should be developed in such a way that will benefit our village and recognise that an enlarged village shop and post office is vital to the village community”.

This proposal was again endorsed at a Public Meeting on 4th June. Other uses were explored ie bungalows for the elderly but the minimum area required was 1.5 hectares for such a project. The British Legion site at 0.24 hectares is considerably less than this. The first flyer delivered to all households brought no further suggestions from the public.

As Individuals were involved in both the Parish Council and GCHL were they therefore too close?

GC: It is not unusual in a village of the size of Gotham that individuals will be involved in more than one of the voluntary organisations. This is recognised by Parish Councils and there is a strict Code of Conduct that all Councillors sign on taking office that involves making appropriate Declarations of Interest and specifies conduct such as leaving the room when matters are discussed. The two Councillors who were involved on the Hub Management Committee strictly adhered to this Code of Conduct and were not present in the room and did not vote in matters concerning the Hub. For members of the public to assert that there was anything improper in the behaviour of the two councillors privately is one thing: to assert this in an anonymous flyer pushed through doors with no evidence to back it up is in the opinion of some both cowardly and disgraceful.

PD: The Parish Council need to be involved and work closely with all major village projects to be an effective council. They were in a better position to nominate the site ‘an Asset of Community Value’ to halt the early sale of the site and give the Hub Steering Group time to seek assistance and advice in particular from the Plunkett Foundation. The ‘flyer’ indicating ‘vested interest of a few’ was deeply offensive to all endeavouring to obtain and safe guard this valuable asset for Gotham Village.

Is it not morally or ethically wrong to make investment in the project compulsory when a voluntary way is available?

GC: This is probably the key question in this debate and many well argued responses made the case that it was wrong. The Council took a different view that the provision of the Hub facility was part of village infrastructure that should be contributed by everyone in the same way that everyone pays for the dog bins even when they do not own a dog.

PD: The money raised by the Precept was vital to the initial investment but the eventual profits would have been put back into village via the Parish Council.

Was it right for the Parish Council to have expended costs on meetings, posters and the other literature some of which was of high quality with no accountability?

GC: All the literature and Hub costs were met by the Hub themselves and not by the Parish Council.

PD: The materials were funded either by a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Trust or from donations from individuals. Nor were any costs incurred from Parish Council funds for meetings held either for the Public or Steering Group as these were held mainly in the Memorial Hall, free of charge, deemed by the Trustees to be for the public benefit.

Would raising the Council Tax have meant that the general public would be forced into subsidising private businesses?

GC: I can understand why this seems to be the case. Members who voluntarily invest in the Hub would have received an interest payment: those contributing compulsorily via the Council Tax would not. Also the public would be seen to help the tenants of the building run profitable businesses and make money. However the tenants would have been there because the villagers at public meetings said that they would be providing the facilities that they wanted.

PD: They tenancy agreements would have been at market rates. Excess income from the Hub can only be spent on the community of Gotham and is not paid out to members/share holders. A modest interest is paid out to members that is comparable to equivalent investment such as Building Society savings accounts. The whole principle of a Community Benefit Society like the Hub is for the benefit of the whole community and not for the members who invest.

Why was no mention of the possible Council Tax rise made at the public Share Launch meeting on 28th January?

GC: At the time of the Share Launch the Council believed that an ‘on lend’ arrangement could be made that meant the Hub would meet the loan costs and nothing would fall on the precept. We had been advised by bodies set up to help us that that would be true. Subsequent to the meeting of the 28th this turned out to be wrong and the Council made the decision then to seek to raise the precept instead.

Does the village really need a larger shop or another cafe?

PD: The Hub Management Committee were guided in the first instance by the business plans of the potential tenants and encouraged by the support of the villagers at public meetings. Visits to other Hub developments showed that these developments work and that the market for cafes is flourishing. The majority vote at the Public Meetings was in favour of a larger shop and the amount of financial input from local residents reflected this.

After several sites were visited by the Hub Steering Group to gather ideas, the Community Café was to be a separate tenancy and would incorporate initiatives to encourage more visitors to the area ie hikers/cyclists. Wall displays of local artists, of which Gotham abounds, local History archive storage/exhibitions. Encouragement to young entrepreneurs wishing to advertise their own products/designs ie wedding/party goods/jewellery/xmas goods and increase local part-time employment. The Memorial Hall is not suitable for all of these issues as it is closed except for bookings whereas users of the shop and café, other than locals would be able to access these.

Why was there no mention in the literature of the Spar shop owners investing?

PD: The Spar shop owners would have been faced with a significant investment of their own in refitting the premises. That was a significant risk for them and they ultimately felt the risk was too great. The Hub business was first and foremost about owning the site.

Why do we not house a visitor/information centre in the library?

GC: That is a matter for the County Council who run the library service. It is only open for very limited hours.

Could the Memorial Hall coffee shop extend their hours, then cafe would not be needed?

PD: The Memorial Hall Coffee Shop is now in its 6th year and is operated by four teams of 4/5 volunteers (including Trustees) on a rota basis. We have a small list of reserve volunteers for cover. To operate one extra session would require a further 20 extra volunteers. All profits are for further refurbishment and long term investment for the Hall. Due to the enormous efforts of Trustees/Volunteers past and present it does not require financial assistance from the precept.

Now it has been extended, surely the present shop and Post Office is adequate?

PD: If the present shop/post office closes the village will have no alternative site. Had this move to the Royal British Legion site been accomplished the Hub committee would be able to seek new tenants.