Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Tuesday 18th December 2007


PRESENT: Chairman - Deputy Mayor Cllr R M M Tisdale

Members - Cllrs Mrs S Collins, Mrs M M Cox, B M Edwards, P Hames, R J Johnson, C K Langton, R H Osborne, S R Robinson, together with 1 parishioner

Apologies were recorded on behalf of the Town Mayor, Cllr A Eastman, Cllrs Mrs P Biggs, Mrs A J Boyle, J Braund, R W A Miller

1. Minutes

The minutes of the Town Council Meeting held 27 th November 2007 were considered. Cllr Hames queried the situation with regard to the Hairdresser in Fore Street being the key-holder for the public toilets and whether he should be offered a small remuneration. In the absence of Cllr Braund it was agreed to discuss this at the next meeting.

Cllr Johnson, with regard to minute 15, pointed out that it was Cllr Robinson who had reported on the new Committee structure at the District Council and the minute was amended. It was RESOLVED to approve and sign the minutes as amended.

(Vote: Unanimous)

2. Minutes of the Finance Advisory Committee

Cllr Edwards present the minutes of the Finance Advisory Committee held 12 th December 2007 and proposed that item 2, dealing with the Staff appraisal, should be considered in Part II at the end of the meeting and it was so RESOLVED.

(Vote: Unanimous)

He advised that the Finance Advisory Committee had looked in detail at the budget for the forthcoming year and had included sums of money to allow for expenditure on items which the Council were considering on environmental works, Northam Burrows and street works. However, upon reflection, he was of the view that insufficient monies were being budgeted for and whilst the Finance Advisory Committee had recommended a precept of £82,000 he now proposed that this be increased to £100,000. Some Members expressed concern on the percentage increase but it was generally agreed that the Council had started from a low base and the percentage figures were somewhat misleading. It was RESOLVED to precept £100,000.

(Vote: 8 For, 1 abst)

Cllr Edwards undertook to prepare a statement which would be made available to the public giving details of the Council's reasons for the precept.

It was further RESOLVED to accept the other recommendations of the Finance Advisory Committee (excluding Staff Appraisal).

(Vote: Unanimous)

3. Town Clerk's Report

(a) Monthly Financial Report The Town Clerk presented the monthly financial report that included payments for this month and it was RESOLVED to accept.

(Vote: Unanimous)

4. Northam Burrows

(a) Clean Sweep and Beyond

The Town Clerk reported that he had arranged a meeting with South West Water for Wednesday 6 th February, however this was not convenient for all Members and a new date of Friday 15 th February 2008 had now been agreed.

(b) Fish Kill

The Town Clerk reported that he had drawn a blank in trying to find a laboratory that would be able to analyse the fish to ascertain the reasons for its death. Cllr Hames undertook to carry out more research.

5. Streetworks and related matters

(a) Dog bin on Bone Hill

The Town Clerk reported that Cllr Braund had received complaints regarding two other dog bins and he was to meet Richard Haste from the District Council to consider what could be done. He undertook to look at the Bone Hill one at the same time. It was RESOLVED to consider this at the next Council meeting.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(b) Response from Road Safety Officer

Members considered a response from Michael Newcombe the Road Safety Officer with regard to the Heywood Road roundabout and those sites that are to have speed detection radars. Members were critical of the Heywood Road roundabout lane change to the extent that insufficient publicity had been given and the warning signs had not been erected in time. There was also concern that cyclists now needed to enter the centre of the carriageway putting them at risk. It was RESOLVED to remind the Road Safety Officer of the proposal to create a cycle path on the eastern footway of Heywood Road which would then ease the problem for cyclists.

(Vote: Unanimous)

It was also RESOLVED to advise the Road Safety Officer that the stretch of the A39 from the Instow junction to the Westward Ho! junction needed consideration, particularly with regard to vehicle speeds. There seemed to be insufficient advanced signage and road markings and as an example Members suggested that the A303 road junctions be considered as a model.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(c) New Bus Shelter Churchill Way

The Town Clerk reported that the County Council were now ready to proceed to build the bus shelter in natural stone with a slate roof as previously requested by the Council. Members expressed their concern with regard to the glass in the windows and would like to see it made more open and to use second hand slates for the roof. The Town Clerk undertook to take these matters up with the County Council. It was RESOLVED to maintain the shelter after it had been completed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(d) Heywood Road Roundabout

Cllr Mrs Cox and the Town Clerk advised the Members on quotations received and appropriate species of trees to plant on the Heywood Road roundabout. It was RESOLVED to plant 4 trees, 2 Cherry (prunus kanzan) and 2 Himalayan Birch. It was RESOLVED to accept the quotation of St John's Nurseries who had quoted £30 each plus £30 each for planting and staking.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(e) Members' items

Cllr Langton expressed concerns with regard to the state of Bay View Road, as an example, as many others were in poor condition, and suggested that a County Officer be invited to a future meeting. Cllr Robinson also raised his concerns on the state of repair of Diddywell Road, Morwenna Park Road and Cornborough Road. It was RESOLVED to write to the County Council to ascertain their planned maintenance programmes for the forthcoming years.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Cllr Johnson reported that the skate park at Appledore and Seize the Moment group had been awarded the grants that they were seeking.

Cllr Edwards reported that with regard to the skate park it was anticipated that work would start in January.

6. Fields in Trust

Members considered an information article from Fields in Trust, previously known as the National Playing Fields Association. The essence of the article was that playing fields and other open spaces and recreation land in general could be protected for the future by the owner entering into a Deed of Dedication with Fields in Trust. It was generally agreed that this was something that should be seriously considered and it was RESOLVED to ask Paul Allen, the Fields Protection Officer, to give a short presentation to Council Members at the next Liaison meeting.

(Vote: Unanimous)

7. Appointments of Members on outside bodies :

Cllr Johnson advised that he had been nominated by the District Council to represent them on the Citizens' Advice Bureau, a position he currently held with the Town Council. It was not appropriate to represent both bodies and he proposed that another Member of the Town Council be asked to be the representative. It was RESOLVED to nominate Cllr Osborne.

(Vote: Unanimous)


8. Staff Appraisal

Members considered the recommendations of the Finance Advisory Committee with regard to the re-grading of the Town Clerk and Clerical Assistant. It was RESOLVED to approve the recommendations on the understanding that should comparison with other local Town Clerks not be commensurate then the Council would reconsider the situation and backdate any payments agreed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

It was also RESOLVED to re-title the post of Clerical Assistant to Assistant Town Clerk and ask the Assistant Town Clerk to attend the odd Planning meeting.

(Vote: Unanimous)

9. Bridge Hall

The Town Clerk advised on the latest situation with regard to the negotiations between the District Valuer and the Valuers acting for the Bridge Trust. He also advised that he was awaiting a response from the District Planning Officers as to whether the Hall would require change of use consent for it to be used as a fee paying Nursery. Members were anxious to press for a resolution of the situation and it was RESOLVED to arrange a meeting between the Valuers, a representative of the Bridge Trust and a representative of the Town Council as early as possible. Cllr Johnson was nominated as the Town Council's representative. In the meantime the Town Clerk was to pursue the planning situation in order to have a definitive position for the Valuers to work from.

(Vote: Unanimous)