Minutes of Council Meeting held on 8th April 2021

Virtual meeting held via Zoom at 7 p.m.

   Present:  Cllrs J.Preece

J Bernard

Mrs.A. Bernard












   Also In Attendance:    Mrs.L.Florence (Clerk)

Cllr.J.McMahon – County Councillor   (left the meeting after the public participation.

6 members of the Public

   Public Participation:

                Flooding on Washbrook Lane  – Mrs.L.Baker resident of Washbrook Lane raised the long standing problem relating to flooding on Washbrook Lane and her frustration that despite many contacts being made nothing was being done to resolve the problem which has got progressively worse and has now caused a pothole to appear at the bottom of her drive.  She felt let down as despite an offer of someone from Highways coming out to look at the problem no one has discussed this with her face to face.   The Chairman reported that the Parish Council are aware of this problem and have reported on to Highways who are responsible as the Parish Council do not have any authority to investigate. Some discussion ensued on what was thought to be the issue as it was suggested that the cause of the problem was a spring located underneath the road.   Cllr J.Newbury said this problem has been ongoing for a long time and that he  had recently taken up this issue to try and progress the matter as he felt the County Council had not got to grips with the problem and on contacting them there was some reference that this problem was a Water Board matter but it appears that no one seems to be taking responsibility.   It does need to be looked at by a specialist engineer to take this matter forward and find a resolution to the problem.


Cllr.Mrs.S.Harding said that she had observed the ‘bubbling’ of the water on this stretch of road and had taken photos which had been forwarded on.


County Councillor McMahon told Mrs Baker that if she would let him know the problems encountered and the details of her contact with Highways he would look into the matter.


New Cemetery – Mrs.H.Monte-Godfrey enquired about the long term delay in the development of the new cemetery.  She was very frustrated as this had now been going on for many years and her concern is that the churchyard at St.James Church is now full and that there will be nowhere for other burials.   The Chairman commented that he felt it was somewhat unfair to say about the number of years it has taken as this is a big project for the Parish Council and as such a project of this type does take time.   The Parish Council have been committed to deliver this project but there have been a number of barriers, which had not been envisaged, that have prolonged this.    It was confirmed that the Parish Council do have money ringfenced for the purchase of the land and have reinvested this during this delay to enable to obtain a better rate of interest.  It would not be prudent to use public money to proceed to purchase the land without confirmation of the legal matters and funding available otherwise we would be left with a piece of land that we could not develop for the purpose it was meant for.


The meeting was told that we are now in legal proceedings to obtain a Deed of Easement which is required to enable us to use the access pathway from the current Churchyard to the new cemetery site and this itself has been a lengthy process.  Cllr.Holder stated that the Parish Council have employed Consultants to support us through the stages of the project and we are now at the point to proceed to obtain a loan through the Public Loans Board for a sum in the region of £277k to enable us to implement the project. This application for a loan would be in principle at this stage as we cannot borrow money without any guarantees that the cemetery can proceed.  We have good communication with the landowner and the agreement to purchase the land is still in place.   Mrs.J.Woodman questioned why the Church itself had not been proactive in taking forward a new burial provision as there is an income generated for the Church.   Cllr.Holder confirmed that nobody has the duty in the UK to provide burial spaces.  It should be noted that if the Ministry for Communities does not approve the loan then the Parish Council would not have the funds to proceed and the only option then would be for burials to take place at the new District cemetery to the north of the village.


The Chairman stated that he understood residents frustrations regarding the new cemetery and that this will be further discussed as an agenda item later in the meeting should those members of the public wish to stay for that item they would be welcome.


Public Participation:  Closed at 19.33 p.m.


051/2021   Apologies

              There were no apologies.


052/2021    Declarations of Interest were receive from:

Member Interest Reason
Cllr Mrs.Z.Stretton Planning  applications

Agenda Item 10 (a)

Member of District Council Planning Committee
Cllr Mrs.D.Todd Planning applications

Agenda Item 10 (a)

Member of District Council Planning Committee


     053/2021   Minutes of Meeting held on 17th March 2021

     The minutes of the meeting held on the 17th March 2021 were agreed as a true and accurate




      Proposed: Cllr.D.Bilbie

      Seconded: Cllr.Mrs.Z.Stretton


     Matters Arising from the Minutes

    Page 1 –  Advertising sign on A5  –  The Chairman has not followed this up but will take this up and report back.


054/2021  Police  Report

A written Police report had been circulated to Councillors prior to the meeting.The Chairman    referred the meeting to the contents of the report.  (copy of report is attached to Minute copy)


055/2021   District Council Local Plan Preferred Options Consultation

               A report had been circulated to the March meeting and Councillors were asked to consider the

Parish Council response to the consultation.   A discussion ensued on the contents of the report which had been written by J.Heminsley, Consultant on behalf of the Parish Council.  It was acknowledged that the report had been very well written and had been able to focus Councillors thoughts on the issues for the village. Cllr.Fereday referred to the formal park being located on the ‘Mount’ would be a good idea to be included in the Plan and may offer an opportunity for bungalows for the elderly to be located nearby.  Councillors agreed for the recommendations in the report,  with some minor amendments, to be submitted as our response to the Consultation.  The final submission to be circulated to Councillors for approval.


The Clerk reported that a meeting with Officers of the District Council was taking place tomorrow to further discuss the Neighbourhood Plan and how this links in with the Local Plan. This follows a letter from the Steering Group of the Neighbourhood Plan to influence the  decisions that may affect the village.


It was resolved:                    

To accept the recommendations contained in the report and for minor amendments to be made prior to submission. Clerk to finalise the response and circulate to all Councillors before submitting to the District Council at the end of April.


     056/2021   Cema Upgrade 

                          It was reported that the scheme for the upgrade of the Cema is on schedule.  Cllr Mrs.S.Harding said that there was a working group meeting next week and that the Council were liaising with a company in relation to the artwork for the project.                   


057/2021   Grove Colliery

There is nothing to report regarding this item but will remain on agendas for the future.


058/2021   Community Award and Youth Endeavour Award

During the Covid pandemic these awards were suspended for 2020.  The Chairman asked

Councillors whether this Award should proceed for this year. Some discussion ensued that

groups were still not meeting and although the restrictions are due to be lifted it is unclear when

these groups will commence again and therefore it would be difficult to receive nominations.

It was agreed to recommence the Awards in 2022.


It was resolved:

            To suspend the Awards for 2021 and to recommence them again in 2022.


059/2021   Reports from Councillors

                    Newsletter –   Cllr. Mrs.S.Harding reported that a good news item from the circulation of the

newsletter had been received that contact had been made from a resident who had read the

newsletter and wanted to make a donation to the Dementia Charity which amounted to £420.

This sum had been directed to MASE who deliver dementia awareness sessions but Cllr Harding

felt it was good that the articles contained in the newsletter are read and some positive outcome

from it.


  060/2021    Reports from Committees

  • Planning
No of Planning Application Address of proposed application


Proposal Comments by Parish
Planning Committee
CH/21/0100 10 Lakeside Drive

Norton Canes

Demolition of Porch, Single storey flat roof front extension No objections
CH/21/0116 Durapipe Site 2

Walsall Road

Norton Canes

Variation of Condition No., 3 of planning permission CH/12/0403 to alter opening hours to 24 hours from Monday-Saturday and 06.00 to 22.00 on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Strongly object to this planning application due to the detrimental impact for local residents living in close proximity. Request for this application to be heard by full Planning Committee at District.
CH/21/0019 24 Castlecroft

Norton Canes

Amended Plans – first floor side extension two storey rear extension and new porch


Permission granted
CH/21/0040 Stokes Lane

Norton Canes

To develop the land not in accordance with approved plans but in accordance with plan JMD-60-67 (Larger amenity block) Permission granted with conditions
CH/20/398 Lime Lane Kennels

Lime Lane

Demolition of existing kennel buildings and erection of 3 detached bungalows and associated works Permission granted


Discussion ensued on planning application CH/21/0116 as Cllr.Mrs.Z.Stretton raised the point

about the previous application for this site and whether the hours at that time had

been agreed for 24/7 operation.


Cllr.Mrs.D.Todd confirmed that the District Council are still not undertaking site visits on applications

and that photos are still submitted as part of the process.


  •   Projects Committee


Cllr Mrs. A.Bernard said that plans are progressing on outstanding projects that are being considered.   A full report had been presented at the March Council meeting so there had been no real change since that meeting.


Traffic Island on Norton Hall Lane  – the County Council had decided, despite the Parish

Council requesting that grey shale be used to cover the island, that tarmac of this area would be the preferred option.  This work has now been completed and whilst it is an improvement, the overall vision of the island is quite sparse and not welcoming when entering the village.   The issue of whether the Parish Council take over this island under licence and maintain it in the future to include some kind of feature to be put on the island needs to be further discussed at Projects Committee.  Cllr Mrs.Bernard told Councillors that the only reservation she would have about taking over the maintenance of the island would be should the tarmac begin to break up this could be quite costly to the Council in terms of repair or replacement.


It was resolved:

That the consideration of the Parish Council taking over this island under Licence and to explore what kind of feature should be considered at the next Projects Committee and reported back to full Council.


BKV it has been announced that the competition for 2021 will not take place in the usual way due to the Covid 19 restrictions.   The organisers have decided to encourage villages/towns to take part in a different competition whereby photographs and videos of the village can be taken and submitted online.  Discussion ensued as to whether we should consider entering this year.  We are already planning tasks that would normally happen as part of BKV such as summer plants, cleaning of bus shelters, litter picking etc as we see this as a benefit for those living in the village and we feel this focuses uso n the presentation of the village.   There was some concern about how the videos could be used which could be over emphasised and not give a true picture which the usual judging process allows.  It was agreed to decline the entry for 2021 but confirm that we would wish to take part in the BKV for 2022.  We have already agreed to ask residents for their photos of their gardens so that these may be displayed in the September newsletter.


Welcome Signs  – Cllr.Mrs.A.Bernard told the meeting that this project needs to be revisited as there are some complications with regard to the locations suggested. It was agreed that this would discussed as an agenda item at the next Projects Committee and recommendations be brought back to full Council.


It was resolved:


That the Welcome Signs be further discussed and recommendations be     brought back to full Council for approval.          .


Dog Poo Dispensers  – it was reported that 3 dog poo dispensers have now been installed on 3 sites in the village and have received positive feedback from residents as being a good idea to try and address the problems being encountered around the village.


  • Audit and Governance Committee

      Cllr.J.Bernard informed the meeting that there were no financial matters to report.  The    Clerk confirmed that the Annual Return paperwork for financial year 2020/21 had now been received which will be completed and put before full Council at a future meeting for approval.


061/2021    Neighbourhood Plan

No update but work is ongoing with the topic groups and the Consultants are moving forward     with meetings with other bodies to engage with the Plan.


    062/2021   Highways

                         No issues to report as it was pointed out that only 2 weeks had elapsed since the last Council meeting and matters raised then were still being followed up.


    063/2021   New Cemetery


A number of reports had been circulated to Councillors prior to the meeting for consideration and decision to be made in relation to the loan application.   Whilst there has been a long delay involving legal proceedings relating to the Deed of Easement we do need to move forward in submitting a loan application in principle to provide confidence to the Council that we will be able to fund the project going forward.   The Clerk confirmed that she had spoken to the surveyor providing the advice re the Deed of Easement to the Church that day and had asked for this matter to be expedited . The landowner has been kept informed at all stages and has been very patient.  There is no risk to the offer of the land being withdrawn.


Councillors attention was drawn to the contents of the Reports which the Consultants had worked extremely hard on to ensure that Councillors have all the relevant information required to make a decision.    The reports are required to apply for the loan.  The costs analysis report was discussed and Councillors informed that there are some assumptions made in terms of expenditure in the report as at this present time we are unable to know exact figures for example we do not know the internal design of the cemetery yet and so it is difficult to assess what this cost would be.   There may be some alterations to these going forward when the project is further on.  It should be noted that included in the analysis there is expenditure that we have had to make to be able to get to this point for example the testing of the land, arboreal reports etc which if the loan is approved could be put back into cemetery funds.   It was confirmed that the Council have for a long time ringfenced the sum of £45k for the purchase of the land but no legal proceedings have commenced with this purchase yet as it would not be good use of public money should the loan decision not be favourable.  The amount of the loan estimated would be £277k over 30 years.


The draft precept for 22/23 had been prepared to include the repayments for the loan of £277k and a lot of work has gone into this document to demonstrate that the Council can meet the costs of loan without increase in the precept tax base.  This has been achieved by reviewing each budget criteria heading and looking at where savings can be made but also included in this is an increase in council tax base calculation relating to new homes in the village.  The District Council have provided advice relating to these figures.  Councillors are told that this is an indicative budget and are not asked to approve this as a budget for 22/23 it is purely a precept to show that the loan repayments can be met from the precept without any increase to parishioners.


Cllr.Holder pointed out that in the costs analysis a couple of items have been included relating to a 5 year maintenance cost and 5 year administration figure.  The eligibility of these costs has yet to be discussed with Government and may have to be changed if approval not given.  It should be noted that there would be an income generated from the new cemetery when it was open.


Councillors were asked to consider the reports circulated and the explanations given relating to the contents of the report to enable the consultants to make a loan application for the new cemetery.  Cllr.K.Fereday stated that he felt it was a brilliant report that enabled councillors to have a full understanding relating to the new cemetery project.  Cllr.Wilkinson said that whilst this has been a long time getting to this stage he is happy to support the recommendations.  Cllr Mrs.Z.Stretton said that she had been involved with the new cemetery from the very beginning and is happy to support the recommendations.


Cllr.Mrs.S.Harding asked whether when looking at the design of the cemetery that artwork is considered and that he Parish Council logo is included.


It was resolved:


                            To approve the actions listed in the report in the Decisions Required of Council column and to authorise the Clerk after consulting with the Chair of the Council to act as necessary to implement the decisions in order to progress the new cemetery project.


                            To seek the approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to apply for a PWLB loan of £277,500 over the borrowing term of 30 years for the new cemetery project.


                            To authorise the Clerk to act as necessary to submit the loan application to the Staffordshire Parish Council’s association and to the Department for Communities and Local Government; and after consulting with the Chair of the Council to make minor amendments to the loan application.


064/2021   Chairman’s Announcements & Correspondence

                   To note the correspondence that was circulated prior to the meeting.


 065/2021    Authorisation of Accounts

The schedule of payments for April was circulated to Councillors prior to the meeting.  As the meeting was scheduled early the information relating to salaries and pension contributions was not available due to the HMRC Paye system not being open until after the 5th April for entries in the new financial year. It was agreed that when the figures are known that the schedule of payments be updated and put before Audit and Governance Committee for approval.  A copy of the schedule will then be circulated to all Councillors.


Action:    Clerk to update the Schedule of Payments once the information relating to      salaries and pensions is known.   Updated schedule to be circulated to all members of the Council.


Proposed:    Cllr.Mrs.Z.Stretton

             Cllr. D.Bilbie


        066/2021  Date of next meeting Annual Parish Meeting – Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 6.30 p.m.

                                        Annual Meeting – Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 7.30  p.m.


        067/2021   Items for Information and Future Agenda     

                           Any items for the agenda for next meeting should be sent to the Clerk by 12th May.

                             The meeting closed at 8.33 p.m


SIGNED: ………………………………………………………………………   Dated : …………………………………………………..