SPC minutes – October 2020


Serving Little Aston, Shenstone, Stonnall, Shenstone Wood End, Lynn, Parish Council Office 25C Main Street Shenstone WS14 OLZ
Tel: 01543 481 947
e-mail: <admin@shenstone-staffs.gov.uk >
web: www.shenstone-staffs.gov.uk

Approved Minutes from virtual meeting of Full Council held on 13th October 2020 via Zoom at 7:15pm

Meeting held under regulations made in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

*Note from David Salter, chair of S.P.C “Item 71 (below) was reviewed at the SPC meeting of December 8th 2020”

61 Register of members in attendance:

Cllrs David Salter; Sheila Beilby; John Branch; Nicola Macdonald; Gail Nicholls; Kelly Harrison; Neil Perry; David Thompson; Stuart Jones; Nick Smith, Nicki Gobran & Lesley Edgley.

County Cllr David Smith. Clerk: Shirley O’Mara. Member of the public: Mrs Debbra Pastel and Mrs Jane Arnstein.

62 Acceptance of apologies.

Cllrs Val Neale & Mick Cox. District Cllrs Elizabeth Hassell & Joseph Powell.

63 Public Participation.

Item 78 pulled forward.

Mrs Pastel wished to draw the attention of Council to the recent communication from the Solicitors representing the landowners of the land of the Diamond Jubilee Allotments. This states that the owners are willing to consider terms for a new lease in Jan 2022. Contact will be made with us in Jan 2021.

As this leaves less than 12 months Mrs Pastel sought assurance that, although her understanding is that the owners remain keen, Council would be willing to look at alternative land options should this be necessary. Council were unanimous in their agreement that this would be the case though an increase in rent was likely.

Mrs Pastel agreed but the Committee have been keeping costs low doing only fence repairs.

Item 76. Mrs Jane Arnstein gave an overview of the “Adopt a Station” initiative which she has seen in action at Coseley Station. It is a lovely idea and an opportunity to make the most of a lovely feature building in the village. She has had 3 responses of support so far and is seeking opinion of the Council. Cllr Perry asked what was required and said there could be some cynicism due to the issues with West Midlands Railway (WMR) and parking. Cllr Edgley had mentioned this initiative back in March but received a poor response. Cllr Jones said he thought it was a terrific idea and he would provide what personal support he could.

County Cllr Smith said that from past experience with WMR he doubted that they would even respond but he thought it was a super idea to make the Station more attractive. Cllr Edgley questioned finance contribution from WMR & Mrs Arnstein said there were funding streams available.

Cllr Macdonald queried the level of adoption and Mrs Arnstein confirmed level two was in mind.

The Clerk suggested an item on the initiative in the forthcoming Parish magazine and this was widely approved.

Cllr Jones reiterated his support and advised Mrs Arnstein to not be put off by

County Cllr Smith’s reservations- it is a project good for the community, good for wildlife and could encourage more visitors to Shenstone.

64 Declarations of interest. Members should consider whether they should partake in any discussion or vote on matters on the agenda unless they have a dispensation:

Cllrs Beilby & Nicholls have a non pecuniary interest in item 3 under Finance- Stonnall Playing Fields.

65 To accept and confirm minutes of the last Full Council meeting on Tuesday 8th September 2020:

Signed and approved.

66 Clerk’s update on outstanding issues from last meeting:

The Clerk has had no communications from BT regarding Doctors Lane.

Despite chasing, there has been no response from Staffordshire Legal Services re our outstanding costs.

No information has been supplied from Darryl Godden re road safety banners.

67 To receive reports from District and County Councillors:

County Cllr Smith said progress is being made with the Shenstone traffic order with Holm View Close removed from the plans after objections. If problems occur there later the traffic order can be re-opened. There is still no response from WM Trains re the station parking order or Blake Street crossing discussions.

Traffic measures on the A5127 & Carters field Lane are still on schedule for end 2020/early 2021.

Re flooding in Main Street, Stonnall ,Cllr Smith said the combined surface water drainage and sewage system has been sorted out but he is not confident it is resolved permanently. This is because Severn Trent Water (STW) had said that a new mains line needing laying but now they are saying it was just a cracked pipe.

Cllr Smith is appalled at the attitude of STW.

The flooding in Newick Avenue, Little Aston has been successfully resolved. Surface water drainage pipes that were not on any records from the post WW2 period have been fed into by new developers not realising the capacity.

There has been significant progress at Shire Oak Quarry with a Quarry Liaison meeting soon as well as a drone filming live footage planned.

Cllr Smith also congratulated everyone on the work at the culvert on Stonnall Playing Fields.

Cllr Branch mentioned yet another car accident at the junction of St Johns Hill & Birmingham Road with residents commenting on the unsuitability of the speed sign location.

68 Resignation of Cllr Darryl Godden and vacancy arising.

Cllr Godden’s resignation was accepted. There have been no requests for an election received so a vacancy notice for co-option will be prepared & appear in the Parish newsletter.

69 Finance

Financial Transactions spreadsheet

Recommendations from Finance, Legal, Health & Safety Meeting Sept 23rd:

  • The Committee voted unanimously to accept the proposal to transfer the BT account to a new BT Halo Offer

with a saving of £975.60 over two years.

Resolution: Council voted unanimously to approve.

  • The Committee voted unanimously to wait until the spring to make a purchase of a tree to replace one removed in Main Street, Stonnall.

Resolution: Council voted unanimously to approve.

  • The Committee voted unanimously to purchase two new bins on the play area in Stonnall following the inspection report.

Resolution: Council voted unanimously to approve.

  • The Committee voted unanimously to purchase an Eibe Snake Swing for Little Aston Recreation Ground following the latest playground inspection. The complete assembly is£2644.23 inc del + VAT. Total £3173.0

Resolution: Council voted unanimously to approve

  • The Committee also made a recommendation regarding the future of Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Building- covered under item 71.

Report from External Auditors.

The Clerk read Section 3 of the External Auditors Report 2019/20.

Financial transactions were shared for approval and an update of the latest

financial position as at 13th Oct 2020 made given:

Nat West Current Account £905.00 Nat West Business Reserve £53,310.00

Nat West Liquidity Account ( ring fenced funds for Stonnall Community Facility,

Revised Neighbourhood Plans, professional fees) £162,159.30. Unity Account

£155,528.76. Total £371,903.27

70 Planning.

Approve planning applications received in last month and update on any objections/ developments. Planning applications list for October 2020

The Clerk updated Council on communication with Alistair Bishop at Staffs County Council re the Shenstone Station traffic order. Cllrs Perry & Edgley had identified an error on the map showing the proposed lines which showed a break in lines outside the station. This has now been amended and an update for the newsletter approved.

Cllr Thompson reminded Council that we need to be agile with a second potential appeal if displacement is an issue.

Planning re-applications are being made following our successful objections which need to be monitored as does the 20/00821 application of a storage building in Cartersfield Lane- potential for future change of use application.

71 Update from Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Working Group.

Feedback from all virtual meetings and recommendations.

Cllr Thompson briefed Council on the actions and recommendations of the Working Party (attached).
The Committee voted unanimously to decline the offer from Staffs County Council and recommend the development of Stonnall Village Hall to offer all users of current Community facilities access on one site.

A long detailed discussion then took place and an email from Cllr Mick Cox read detailing his views and objection to the recommendation as well as his opinion that it should be rejected. Cllr Beilby expressed concern that lettings at the Village Hall would not increase enough to justify the proposed expenditure even with current SY&CC bookings moving over. Both Cllrs Jones & Thompson said that we could not know that.

Cllr Edgley stated that she felt very strongly that the money held for any potential re-build was for the benefit of the whole Parish and that questions could be asked if such a big investment was made in one building of which Council are only custodian trustees. At the very least, legal advice should be sought on that issue before further decisions are made. She agreed with Cllr Cox that if the money was not used for the benefit of the whole Parish it should be given back.

Cllr Beilby stated that she did not want to see such a large amount of money spent on the village hall.

Cllr Jones reminded Council that the findings of the working party showed clear evidence that there was no need for a second community building so look to improve what is already there- which resulted in the unanimous working party resolution. The SYCC rebuild was not a viable proposition and the Village Hall proposal was viable, justifiable and realistic. Not using the monies held indicates abject failure. It was also not yet clear how much money would be needed- it could be huge, it could be scaled down- but that we should find out.

Cllr Macdonald stated that Cllr Cox’s email had inaccurate assertions in that the monies were originally for a new cemetery benefitting the whole Parish, that the SYCC benefits the whole Parish but the Village Hall only Stonnall. This is incorrect- only Stonnall residents use the SYCC. Cllr Nicholls agreed also asking why the SY&CC Committee had not done their own investigations into replacement buildings. She stated that it might be a well-loved building for some sections of the community but it is not universally well loved, especially by a whole generation whose views have been coloured by the refusal to allow “Little Fishes” Pre-School use. An architect with vision is needed.

Cllr Gobran complimented the efforts of the Working Party and said that Council should come to an agreement on how the monies are spent- perhaps looking at all assets Parish wide inc village halls. There are many other opportunities we could consider with a thorough assessment. Cllr Thompson agreed.

We have obligations to other buildings and need to look at the distribution of demand and supply; we have clear responsibilities to our residents and need to be thorough. Future meeting to assess these needs.

Cllr Beilby suggested that architects could perhaps look at the SYCC as well- that the hall is probably not used because it is old, cold and unattractive.

Cllr Perry said that the Village Hall refurbishment is a big big call and a like for like building at the SYCC should be investigated. Cllr Nicholls said this is what has been done. Cllr Perry said that whilst improvements at the Village Hall the monies should be shared across the whole Parish and queried the rush to spend the money.

The Clerk explained the detail behind ring fenced funds and that we cannot continue to hold what equates to almost our entire precept without a clear

71 looked at already and her research does exactly this. Cllr Perry felt that Council were rushing in to spending the money and questioned why this was. The Clerk explained the concern expressed by our Auditor at the size of earmarked funds and that to continue to carry forward what equates to almost our entire Precept without a clear plan of expenditure and a demonstrable plan of intent could not happen.

Cllr Gobran suggested a way forward would be engaging the Community to ask for their feedback on what they feel needs improving with surveys.

Cllr Edgley asked for progress on the management agreements for our assets.

This info is currently with Staffs Legal Sevices.

She reiterated that she is not uncomfortable with spending the monies- just not all in one place, look at where it is necessary.

Cllr Jones said we should remember why we are doing this and the conclusion that the SYCC does not have a future without having a replacement or so much money spent on it that is not justifiable. Viability has been looked at and the Committee came to a unanimous decision that the SYCC is simply not practical so the improvements to the Village hall would compensate Stonnall for its loss. The investigations into this should at least be followed through. Cllr Nicholls agreed.

A vote was then taken on the recommendations in two parts:

  1. To reject the offer from Staffs County Council to purchase the land for £1.00. 9 votes in agreement, 1 abstention & 1 disagree.

  2. To accept to move to the next stage of investigation re the potential development of the Village Hall”. Unanimous.

Cllr Thompson summed up by saying that he will be meeting the Chairman of the SY&CC Centre tomorrow where he will hopefully be able to engage him in planning next steps.

72 Remembrance Sunday- update on Shenstone Cenotaph service.

Due to the ongoing impact of Covid 19 and the decision by Lichfield District Council to not grant road closure notices, this years’ service at the Cenotaph will be much reduced. There will no parade and no laying of wreaths by community groups.

Rev Liz will lead a small service with the Chairman laying all wreaths on behalf of everyone. Bells will be rung from St John the Baptist Church to mark the end of the two minute silence which residents will be encouraged to mark on their doorsteps in a similar way to “Clap for Carers”. Children of the village are being asked to make and paint poppies for display throughout the village.

All details will be in the Parish Newsletter.

73 Stonnall Playing Fields Flood Defence work.

The work to the resident’s fences has been completed very satisfactorily.

Traditional Fabrications start work on the railings tomorrow and a quote for £1840 + VAT received from S&G Construction for the soil retaining work received. This has been approved by Staffs CC. Work on this will start in a few weeks.

74 Shenstone Village Hall- consideration of a request to assist with the purchase of specialist chairs.

Cllr Jones detailed an application to purchase plastic chairs for use at the Village Hall enabling them to accommodate after school club children during Covid. The chairs would be able to be wiped down. Cllr Edgley wanted to know what the chairs would be used for once Covid is over & Cllr Jones said he thought the Hall hoped the children would stay. Cllr Beilby queried why the Committee were asking for a grant at all looking at their bank statements. Cllr Salter made the offer of using plastic chairs currently in storage at Little Aston Recreation Ground.

Cllr Jones will investigate this with the committee & feedback.

75 Stonnall Speedwatch.

Agenda item requested by Cllr Neale but not in attendance. No action.

76 Risk Assessment Training.

Cllrs Perry & Smith had both made the suggestion that our Lengthsman partake in risk assessment training. RESOLUTION: Council unanimously support the expenditure of approx. £75.00 to train accordingly.

77 Adopt a Station Initiative.

Covered under public participation

78 .gov emails & general email security.

Following significant problems with the .gov addresses it was decided to not continue with the trial. Cllr Salter thought the security issues could be linked to Zoom. Cllr Edgley said she had issues before.

79 Diamond Jubilee Allotments- renewal of lease.

Covered under public participation.

80 Compare Zoom or Microsoft Teams for future virtual meetings.

Cllr Thompson said Team are extremely secure and Cllr Gobran agreed.

It was agreed to do some research.

On the subject of communications, Cllr Perry suggested that Council purchase some I-pads to assist Councillors who may experience difficulties with virtual meetings.

This was put to a vote. RESOLUTION: 1 vote in favour, 10 against. No purchases will be made.

81 Date of next virtual meeting: Tuesday 10th November 2020 at 7.15pm