Minutes of the Additional Parish Council meeting held on Wednesday 11th October 2023

Minutes Uploaded on December 5, 2023


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Present: Cllr J. Arkell (Chair), Cllr. A. Bowness, Cllr L. Glazebrook and Cllr R. Theyer.

In attendance:   K. Tilling (Parish Clerk), 3 members of the public.

1. Welcome and Apologies:

Apologies were received from Cllr Morton.

2. Declarations of Interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest required in relation to items on the agenda.

3. To discuss the following planning application and consider a response:

23/00779/FUL: Proposed stables in the garden of Evington Manor at Evington Manor, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill.

Parish Councillors discussed the site history for this address but then focused their comments specifically on the current proposed planning application. The Parish Council considered the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area, flooding and the biodiversity and protected species together with the JCS and TBC policies currently in force to ensure that this proposal met them. There were several inaccuracies with the information supplied by the applicants.  Firstly, the post code. It is not in GL20, it is in GL19. This makes a difference when checking the potential for being in a flood zone.  A drawing refers to the lower end of the area as a bat roost with store and tack room. To date, this has not been approved and therefore this presumption of approval carries no weight.  It also refers to the remainder of the building to be demolished but there is little sign of this being carried out either. The Parish Council have been pushing TBC for a demolition date so that one of the conditions placed on this site is carried out.

For character and appearance, it was felt that this was an inappropriate location for stables partly due to the annual threat of winter flooding but also Councillors felt that there was insufficient land in the lower meadow to sustain livestock.  It was also felt that the actual design and building materials were overkill for a set of stables. It would also result in a building almost the same size as the original if the original footings for the house were to be utilised. It will be extremely visible from the ProW that crosses the site plus views from Wharf Lane and the GWT car park. The conservation officer has confirmed that it does not affect the setting of the Grade II listed building.

Flooding – there is a long history of flooding for the site. It is sited in flood zones two and three and was one of the reasons why a new dwelling on site was given permission to be moved. Retaining any solid building on this site will not help with flooding and the Parish Council are mindful of the negative impact to houses within the area. Another building within the whole site (not just the lower meadow) will have implications for surface water infiltration and run off.

Biodiversity – This site is in a Key Wildlife Site and in close proximity to a Site of Special Scientific Interest.  Some bats are currently living on site, but these could be adequately mitigated or compensated for by building a stand-alone bat roost elsewhere on site.  The proposed solar panels on the roof will presumably provide light for the new part of the building.  Lighting and day to day general activity within the new building will deter the bats from roosting and they will be forced to find alternative accommodation.  It is noted that no ecology report has been included in this application which given the proximity of the ‘suggested’ bat roost is a must.

Parish Councillors agreed that the building and this site is not suitable for housing, and it is also not suitable for stables or any other kind of brick-built building.

Parish Council recommendation – Objection/refuse. Agreed unanimously.

4. To discuss various Highways issues including:

Cllr Theyer and the clerk met with the local Highways Manager on 5th October and a short list of Highways issues were discussed. The meeting was arranged following a mix up by Highways over two incidents that were reported back in August. As a follow up from that meeting the clerk will be sending the Highways Manager a summary of what was agreed and what the Parish Council needs to do for the various aspects

Update on pothole repairs – nothing new to report. A works order has been raised

Update on Church Road Junction – Highways have decided that nothing will be done to this junction without any collision data to support further works to the road lay out.  The Parish Council are considering hiring a temporary speed limit sign. This will monitor vehicle speed.

Update on blocked/damaged drains – Highways are aware.  They appear to be very short on budget this year. The Parish Council are pushing for this to be added to their list of programmed works and prioritised for the next financial year.

Update on landslide information – The local Highways Manager has not been made aware of the current situation.  During his on-site meeting he suggested submitting a Freedom of Information Request to Shire Hall. The clerk will do this. The clerk also raised the resident’s concerns of surface water run off that has become a greater problem since the drainage pipes have been crushed. Whilst carrying out the necessary work on the embankment, the large lorries have damaged the road edges and drainage pipe that ensures all the water drained to the left at the bottom of the lane. Water is currently draining right, towards the houses and the residents are naturally concerned as winter is approaching.

Update on hedge and verge cutting – There are several hedges that are overgrown at Coombe Hill, one has completely blocked a footpath.  These were shown to the Highways Manager who will be writing to those landowners that he considered needed to cut their hedges back.  He was going back to the office to check on the land registry details.

Cllr Theyer asked about verge cutting. GCC currently fund one full verge cut a year plus one visibility cut on high risk areas. GCC currently subcontract this work out.  The Highways Manager briefly explained the grass cutting agreement and promised to send a copy of the paperwork through.  Verges only have to be cut 1 square meter in. Landowners can cut more if they wish the ground outside their property to look tidy. Any person wishing to take on the verge contract needs Public Liability Insurance and to carry out Risk Assessments. There is a formal process and forms etc to complete.  GCC are going to provide the Parish Council with a map showing what is currently contracted to be cut. This would also help the Parish Council know what GCC would be willing to pay for the annual cut and what costs are involved if the Parish Council wish to carry out additional cuts. GCC also offered to help with the Risk Assessment bit.

5. To discuss, approve and adopt the Civility and Respect Pledge.

This is a programme that is being pushed by NALC and GAPTC. By signing the Pledge, The Parish Council is agreeing that the council will treat councillors, clerks, employees, members of the public, and representatives of partner organisations and volunteers with civility and respect in their roles and that it:

  • Has put in place a training programme for councillors and staff
  • Has signed up to the Code of Conduct for councillors
  • Has good governance arrangements in place including staff contracts and a dignity at work policy
  • Will seek professional help at the early stages should civility and respect issues arise
  • Will commit to calling out bullying and harassment if and when it happens
  • Will continue to learn from best practices in the sector and aspire to be a role model/champion council through for example the local Local Council Award Scheme
  • Supports the continued lobbying for change in legislation to support the Civility and Respect Pledge including sanctions for elected members where appropriate

The Clerk having attended some recent training was saddened to hear that many clerks are on the receiving end of harassment, intimidation and abuse but was pleased to report that it was not the case for Leigh Parish Council. It is far more widespread than people think. Parish Councils have a Duty of Care to any employee. There is a lack of sanctions available to Monitoring Officers when people do not behave in an appropriate manner.  Clerks have been advised to log and record all incidents. Parish Councils are being invited to make the pledge and then display it on the noticeboards and website. It is suggested that the pledge is renewed every year at the Annual Meeting so that any new Councillors are fully aware of acceptable behaviour.  Parish Councillors should have a copy of the Good Employers Guide – many Councillors do not realise that they are an employer.  Leigh Parish Council believe that this pledge should be adopted to highlight the current good practice.  Cllr Arkell proposed to adopt the pledge, seconded by Cllr Theyer. All agreed. The Clerk will organise the necessary paperwork and ensure this positive pledge is displayed on the Parish Council website.

6. To discuss the OPCC’s Councillor Advocacy Scheme.

The OPCC’s Engagement Officer has been in contact with all Town and Parish Councils to invite them to join the Councillor Advocacy Scheme This is a new project which aims to create and strengthen relationships between the neighbourhood policing team and local councillors. It will enable a direct line of communication between local councils and their neighbourhood teams as well as the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). The Parish Council have been asked to nominate a representative to become the councillor advocate who will be the representative for the area.

Once nominated the councillor advocate will be entitled to:

  • Attend quarterly meetings with a representative from their local neighbourhood policing team where they will be provided with updates on the work that is going on in the local area as well as an opportunity to raise concerns. There will be 8 meetings to ensure that relevant information is effectively communicated to the advocates for: Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Tewkesbury, North Cotswold, South Cotswold, North of the Forest of Dean and South of the Forest of Dean.
  • A direct link to the OPCC via the councillor engagement officer.
  • A manual which will provide up to date information on the neighbourhood team as well as where and how to report common issues.
  • A quarterly newsletter (as of March 2024) which will provide an overview of work currently being undertaken by Gloucestershire Constabulary.

Cllr Arkell volunteered to attend the first meeting on 26th October 2023. The Clerk will find out the time and venue for this meeting.

7. To discuss the review of Polling Districts and Polling Places

Tewkesbury Borough Council has started a review of its polling districts and places to make sure that they remain fit-for-purpose and continue to meet the needs of voters. The review’s key considerations include where polling stations are sited and how accessible they are. Residents and community groups, together with elected representatives at all levels, are being asked for their feedback on what they think of the current arrangements and any suggestions for alternatives. Views are particularly sought from those with disabilities on the accessibility of the borough’s polling places.

As the new houses continue to grow it becomes more obvious that Coombe Hill will have the greater number of potential voters. This means that the ideal place for the Polling station should be Coombe Hill. Suggestions for possible sites include the Farm shop or the pub car park. There will be many people living within walking distance if the Polling station is at Coombe Hill.  Whatever site is agreed it will need to have car parking

The consultation will run until Friday, 3 November 20238

8. Update on CIL spending proposals

The white name gates/speed reducers have been ordered for The Leigh.  The ones for Coombe Hill also need to be ordered even if they are installed later.  Councillors discussed a bridlepath near the bund with a suggestion of purchasing a few benches that can withstand the floods.  The Parish Council are arranging quotes for notice boards, bus shelters and the purchase of public footpath markers. It was hoped that the markers can be purchased through the GCC ProW Officer and then handed out to landowners to put up.  It has also been suggested that the repairs to Parish footpaths could be co-funded with GCC Highways if this expenditure comes under the permitted CIL rules. Councillors were reminded that there is a finance policy that must be followed when it comes to procuring goods and services.  Councillors were also keen to organise a resident’s meeting for all the new householders in Villards Close.  Parish Council needs to produce a flyer that contains information on the spending of the CIL money. Suggested the 15th of November at the pub but need to speak to Simon about the date and time. Just a simple drinks and nibbles evening. Cllr Bowness wanted further details about spending deadlines. The Clerk will speak to the Responsible Finance Officer

9. To discuss minor issues relating to the two Parish Flood defence schemes.

The new pump for the Leigh Village scheme was funded through the Environment Agency.  There is currently a minor issue over land ownership at the rear of the bund which is being investigated.  The Parish Council have the paperwork for the Village Pond. The Clerk has handed the documents to Cllr Glazebrook for him to have a closer look.

The Wharf Management Committee has been wound up but is going to be regenerated. New residents moving into the Wharf were not made aware of the scheme but have been looking at the plans and information that is on the planning portal. There should be minutes from subcommittee meetings but as these residents are no longer living in the Wharf, the details are no longer available. The new residents are under the impression that the Parish Council would register the bund, but the Parish Council were under the impression that this had all been handed over to the management committee.  Solicitors were instructed to ensure that the details of the scheme were to be added to the title deeds of the houses at the Wharf. This has not happened. The new residents of the Wharf are expecting the Parish Council to remind them of their responsibilities towards the pump working and maintaining the bund, twice a year. The bund has been installed to help protect the 6 houses in the Wharf that could be affected by flooding. It is thought that the new management group will be looking to employ a company that will come on site, carry out regular maintenance checks on the pump and then check everything is ok after there has been a flood. The Clerk will look through old minutes to see if anything was recorded.

The recent landslide in Wharf Lane has also caused surface water run off problems. The large lorries that have travelled up and down the lane during the landslide remedial work have damaged the roadsides and crushed the drainage pipes that ensured that the rainwater flowing down the lane was directed towards the fields on the left. Rainwater now flows heavily down the lane and travels right towards the houses. This concern was raised with the meeting with the Highways Manager on 5th October.

10. Any Other Business.

The various additional items that were discussed have been included under the relevant headings on the agenda/Minutes above

Meeting closed 21.30