BELSTONE PARISH COUNCIL
Parish Clerk Report for 7th September 2021
Please note that I have not yet completed the Finance training, so I apologise if there are any mistakes.
The balance in the Current Account at 30th July 2021 was £1,741.63.
The balance in the Business Reserve Account at 30th July 2021 was £1,642.81. One penny of interest is received on this account each month.
The August statement has not yet been received, and there is no internet banking for this account.
The payments out for the first quarter (to 30th June) are detailed in the First Quarter Budget (attached). The payroll payment is for last year, and the salary was Kate’s final payment.
Since then, the only payment has been my SLCC membership of £72.
The 2nd instalment of the Precept is due at the end of September.
Change of Bank Account
I am not happy with the Nat West arrangements which make it very difficult to do internet banking. Both the banks below can provide a service where the clerk can set up a payment, and two signatories can be notified to authorise it, all done online. This will save money in postage and stationery, and time to get cheques signed. I have done some research and other council clerks have recommended the following two options:
- Unity Trust Bank – About Us – Business Banking With Impact – Unity Trust Bank (or attached document for Michael). This has the advantage that it is an ethical bank, contributing to communities and with high levels of customer satisfaction. There is a small charge of £9 a month. They do not currently have a savings account.
- Lloyds Bank Treasurer’s Account –They do not charge a monthly fee. They also have a local branch at the moment, although I would be unlikely to use it!
- I have investigated some other accounts for the savings (e.g. Nationwide, CCLA (Churches, Charities and Local Authorities) Investment Management Limited), but any that give a higher interest usually require at least £5,000 or £10,000 to remain in there, which is not suitable for the Parish Council Business Reserve. Lloyds do provide a savings account with no minimum. It pays the ridiculous amount of 0.01% interest, which is the same as our current savings account with Nat West.
For the October meeting. I am researching some options for Internal Auditors. The Internal Auditor should have been appointed at the Annual Parish Council Meeting, it is one of the lawful duties of the Council. I have contacted a lady who does the internal audit for South Zeal Village Hall, but she doesn’t want to do anything outside South Zeal. I have also approached an Internal Auditing Solutions company, but would imagine that they will be too expensive. I have also asked my SLCC mentor. I will also approach West Devon Borough Council, as apparently principal local authorities sometimes provide this service. Any other suggestions would be welcome.
I have notified Payroll at South West Devon that we no longer require their services, but have not yet set up the HMRC tools.
As well as the last meeting’s agenda and minutes. I have posted one article about the Taw Marsh planning decision and one about a road closure. These have been received well.
I have made sure that the reports which formed part of the Annual Parish Meeting now have links from the minutes, so that they are a complete record and are in an accessible format. PDFs are not considered accessible, so they need to be re-formatted to go directly on the web page. I have also started working on the Employment Policies, but they require some reformatting to ensure that they appear in an accessible format. So, I have paused the policies until I have less correspondence to deal with!
On researching whether there was any guidance on what should appear on the website, I discovered that there is a legal requirement to have a Publicity Plan in a specified format which details where documents can be found. I will create this when I have time.
Access to Telephones in the Village
The email from Jo Robison mentioned at the last meeting suggested that the Parish Council should lobby BT and Ofcom to seek a workable solution to the problem of no emergency access in a Power Cut. I have researched this matter, and my understanding is that, although Ofcom sets the rules about this, it is not the correct authority to approach initially about this matter. Although Ofcom will monitor disputes, and they set the rules and guidance, customers should attempt to sort it out with their provider and then there is an independent dispute service to approach.
I am hoping to speak with Ian Soloman who had the initial problem with no emergency access. I do not have his email at the moment, and have not written yet.
There was also some concern about the effect of a long power cut on the defibrillator. I have checked with Mel Pike who organised the last defibrillator training, and she says that it has a battery which will hold enough power to use it. A power cut should not affect it, and the battery is checked monthly.
However, I feel that a move by the Parish Council to explain the situation more fully should be the first action on this problem. I have attached an article which I have written to appear on the Village website and on the Parish Council Noticeboard. Please read it thoroughly to ensure that I am not giving any incorrect advice.
The Commoners are not happy with the idea of large rocks on the edge of the green, which could be rolled down the hill. They suggested extending the kerbing, which was in fact the original 15th June resolution from the Parish Council, but accidentally turned into rocks in my letter to the Commoners on 21st July. The Commoners have indicated that they would be happy to supply fixing materials and labour if the kerbing could be supplied.
Although concrete kerbing is only £10 per metre, apparently Ian Brooker is sure it has to be granite. Granite would be more expensive, but there is some available on eBay for a fairly low price if we can collect it from Wiltshire! I am sure that some of our members would be much better at me in sourcing these things, but I did find Dartmoor Granite (https://www.dartmoorgranite.co.uk/) at Whiddon Down.
Jenny Gibbons suggested applying to the Locality Budget which our Devon County Councillor holds, which funds projects by local groups https://www.devon.gov.uk/democracy/councillors-nav/locality-budgets/. If we applied in conjunction with the Commoners’ Association then we might have more success.
We would probably need some evidence of the sort of parking which is causing a problem, Jenny has just managed to get some good shots. The one without the cars shows a drain cover about which we’re not sure what to do! We might be able to get some advice through our County Councillor if we apply for his locality budget.
There may also be a problem that stopping them parking here may cause problems at the far end of the Green near Birchy Lake.
- I have emailed Peter Grubb regarding the car park layout, he was happy to help us with it, but was unhappy with the scale of the drawing. Chris Walpole kindly changed the scale to 1:500. When I forwarded this to Peter Grubb, he said that because it was in a jpeg format it wasn’t ideal, but he would see what he could do. That was 16th August.
- I chased Ink Print for their quote for the A-Frames, which they have finally sent on 27th August, £79 + VAT. This is cheaper than the online one, so I have asked them to go ahead and send us an invoice.
It was mentioned after the last meeting that there was concern about unauthorised development at Rew Meadow, and that it should be discussed at the next meeting. Although I can find nothing in the minutes about it, there was a planning application for Rew Meadow on 8th October 2020, which was granted on 3rd December 2020. Kate had some correspondence with DNPA regarding the fact that she hadn’t received the original notification, although DNPA insisted that it was sent. Details can be found here – https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/living-and-working/planning/db-links/application-details?AppNo=0490%2F20
I have completed two modules of the Introduction to Local Council Administration (ILCA) on ‘Introduction and Core Roles’ and ‘Community’.
Invitation from Village Hall Chairman
‘A bit of a do’ on 18th September is seen as an opportunity to get together after Covid. Not only would this be an opportunity to get to know new members of the village, but we could also use it for other interaction with the community, such as a display of information about what we do, or short questionnaires to find out what people know about us, or giving out leaflets about the Parish Council. These are all ideas which came from my ‘Community’ training module.
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022
The seventieth anniversary of the Queen’s Accession is being celebrated next year. Although the jubilee year will start in February, the main celebrations will be taking place on the special four-day Bank Holiday Weekend, 2nd – 5th June 2022. Councils are being encouraged to celebrate in 3 ways:
Plant a Tree – https://devonalc.org.uk/news/the-queens-green-canopy-marking-the-platinum-jubilee/ Please note, because the best planting season is in the autumn, we are encouraged to plant from October 2021. There are schemes to provide free trees, which can be researched later. It would need to be planted on Common land, so the Lord of the Manor will need to be involved.
Lighting the beacons – 2nd June 2022 – https://devonalc.org.uk/news/lighting-the-beacons-for-the-queens-platinum-jubilee/
Big Jubilee Lunch – 5th June 2022 – https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/blog/the-big-jubilee-lunch
I understand that the Commoners’ Association usually organises lighting the beacon, and that the Big Jubilee Lunch would probably be something that the Village Hall Committee would do, so perhaps we should concentrate on the tree planting.
I understand that Michael Reddaway has obtained some quotes for removing the ash tree outside the Methodist Chapel, so that work is in hand. There has been a suggestion that the stump could perhaps be turned into a table.
It is strongly recommended that Ash Trees are replaced by planting a new tree. Apparently aspen, alder, field maple, sycamore, birch, rowan, oak and disease resistant elm are all good choices. Perhaps we should tie this in with the Jubilee planting?
I was interested to learn that the Parish Council has the right to issue Dog Control Orders (Bye Laws) for specific areas of land, appoint dog wardens and issue fixed penalty notices against people who break the bye laws.
However, I think that given the nature of the land in question this would be totally unenforceable!
I understand that the Council has discussed these matters before, so I’m a bit late in joining in, but could we put up more notices asking people to take their bags home?
Do we know if it’s locals or tourists who are doing it?
Perhaps spreading information such as:
Unfortunately, many poop bags that claim to be earth-friendly or biodegradable don’t actually break down within a year, and some never degrade at all. … For example, PoopBags.com no longer includes the term “biodegradable” on their packaging, even though their poop bags are USDA certified biobased and made from plants.
Other Completed Actions
Copies of all letters and emails will be available to view at the meeting.
- I have responded to the National Bus Strategy Consultation.
- I have responded to the Plan for West Devon Consultation and written an email to them to emphasise our points.
- I have joined the Society for Local Council Clerks and made contact with my mentor in Newton Abbot.
- I have written an article for the Beacon Magazine describing the Parish Council and some of our recent actions.
- I have written to Nat West Bank (again) to change the address.
- I have circulated various other correspondence, including a request to leave a car in the car park, the response regarding the Taw Marsh application and an email about dog poo bags!
- I have contacted Devon County Council Highways Department because the road closure of which they notified us is to clean a cattle grid which has already been cleared! Rona Gundry and Paul Boyce emailed me regarding this.