Minutes of Council Meeting held on 15th July 2020 Virtual meeting held via Zoom

Present: Cllrs J.Preece














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

4 members of the Public


Public Participation: 

Pothole on junction of Jerome Road/Walsall Road  –  Mrs.J.Woodman raised the matter of the pothole on the junction of Jerome road/Walsall Road which had caused serious damage to the wheel of her car.  She has reported this to the County Council and will be making a claim.  The meeting was informed that this has been an ongoing problem for sometime and has been on the schedule of works that is discussed at the regular Highways Meetings. This relates to a camber which Highways have advised would need a traffic management system in place and that the issue is around funding.  It is so bad now that there will be a serious accident particularly for cycles/motorcycles.  Some discussion about how reporting of issues relating to potholes etc is carried out. Cllr Preece said that the Staffs County Council Highways was a good site to report any issues.  Residents could use the village newsletter as a mechanism to raise problems which may affect other residents who could then be signposted to reporting matters.  This would then add to the data captured by the Highways Dept to look at priority areas. Cllr Mrs Harding said that there would be a much greater public response if the articles were highlighted by residents themselves in the Newsletter rather than it just been Parish Council led.


Discussion ensued on this matter and Councillors agreed immediate action was required and that a temporary solution would not be acceptable and that full resurface of the road was required.  County Councillor J McMahon should be involved in finding a resolution to this matter.


Action:       Clerk to write to Highways Dept and County Councillor J.McMahon asking that this area  be given priority for a full repair highlighting our concerns that a temporary repair would not be appropriate.


Drugs at rear of Co-op –  Mr.R.Knowles raised concerns relating to the continued problems with drugs at the car park at the rear of the Co-op.  This has been a problem which has been raised with the Police.   The Police have been involved in monitoring the area but this needs to be raised again.


Action:        Clerk to report the matter to the Police and request further monitoring of this area.


                     Water Problems Long Lane/Stokes Lane  – Mrs.J.Bullock reported water problems running from a brook on the Chasewater estate at the back of Jerome school leading to Long Lane and Stokes Lane that ends in a ditch.  She asked if this could be reported to be looked into.


Action:       Clerk to contact Highways Dept to report the problem.


                     Maintenance of pathway on Lime Lane – Cllr Wilkinson reported that the pathway from the Turf Island up to the Caravan park on Lime Lane is in a poor state due the overgrownbushes/ hedgerow.  It was noted that the Highways Dept do not now have Neighbourhood Teams who used to undertake this type of work and the parish council do not now have the Community Payback resource who have in the past carried out this type of work.


Action:       Clerk to contact Highways to request that maintenance of Lime Lane be looked into.


                     Public Participation closed 7.25 p.m.          


 218/2020    Apologies

                    Apologies were received from County Councillor J.McMahon


 219/2020    Declarations of Interest


Cllr.Mrs.Z.Stretton                     Planning Applications             Member of District Council Planning Committee

Agenda item 6(a)

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

Agenda item 6(a)


220/2020  Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 17th June 2020

The Minutes of the Council meeting on the 17th June 2020 were agreed as a true and accurate record.


  Proposed:    Cllr. Mrs.S.Harding

  Seconded:   Cllr.  M.Holder


 Matters Arising from the Minutes

Page 1 –  attendees Council meeting on 17th June  –  amended Cllr. M.Stretton was in attendance but this was not recorded


Page 1 – Norton Hall Meadow –  it was reported that Persimmon Homes have agreed to fund a lectern style notice board to recognise the history relating to the old Manor House.  Mr.R.Knowles from the Historical Society is supplying the information relating to the content of the board.  A map has been provided by Persimmon for us to locate where on the play area the lectern should be located.


Page 1  – Bridges Road  – County Councillor J.McMahon had been asked to look into the condition of then path along Bridges Road.  It was reported that Cllr.McMahon is looking into this matter.


Page 2  – Hedgerow on Church Road by the Cema – Cllr.Mrs.S.Harding said that Peter Scholes at the District Council has been informed of this and there is a plan to cut this hedgerow back.


 221/2020    Police Report

No Police report was available.  It was reported that an email has been sent to Chief Inspector Rebecca Hines highlighting the concerns for local policing and lack of engagement with Parish Council meetings.



    222/2020    Reports from Councillors:

Potholes – Cllr.Bilbie informed the meeting that he had reported potholes on both the strip on Blakeney Way at the junction with Norton Hall Lane and also Red Lion Lane and is concerned that the response from Highways is that this is not classed as urgent.


Action:   Clerk to raise this with Highways Dept.


Cllr.Bilbie also raised the matter of the state of the island by the new housing development on Norton Hall Lane.  Cllr.Mrs.S.Harding said that she had observed a roadsweeper in the village but it did not appear to be picking anything up.


Action:    Clerk to raise issue of condition of the road by new development with Richard Sunter to ascertain if a wheelwash was in operation.


Banners for 72nd Birthday NHS  – Cllr.Mrs Harding referred to the banners for the 72nd Birthday for NHS that had been put up on the Cema and also at the Community Centre.  In terms of how long these banners should remain in place, Cllr Harding said that advice was that the birthday celebration was for the whole of 2020 but it is anticipated that the life of the banners would not last until the end of the year.  Plans for taking them down will therefore be as and when they appear to be worn.  The Banners have also been changed to include the word Keyworkers.


Dementia Alliance Meetings –  Cllr.Mrs.Harding said that she is attending regular Zoom meetings of the Dementia Alliance group meetings and gave some feedback of the issues discussed.


Euro garage site on A5 –  Cllr.Preece informed the meeting that he was aware that there have been a number of complaints about getting on and off this site in a safe way and had queried this issue with the Highways Agency.  It appears from the information received that the Highways Agency had been asked to take certain steps in order to reduce the problems and it that this was never carried out.  This has been raised with the Planning Dept at the District Council and further information is now awaited.


Parking outside Jerome School – there is some illegal parking outside Jerome School on Chapel Street and Cllr.J.Peece has raised this with the Cabinet member.


223/2020   Reports from Committees 


Planning – a schedule report of planning applications for July had been circulated with Councillors papers a copy of which is attached to the minute book.  One application in particular raised concern relating to Change of Use of land from provision of Stables to a Residential Gypsy/Traveller site on Stokes Lane.  This does sit within the Heath Hayes border but due to the close proximity of the site to Norton Canes, the Parish Council have been consulted  The Parish Council have commented previously that if the planned stables site became a residential site then we would strongly object.   It is noted that as soon as the permission for the stables was granted that caravans and a mobile home appeared on this site which was in breach of the planning conditions.  Enforcement proceedings by the District Council had been initiated but had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   During this period the applicant submitted the additional application for the residential gypsy/traveller site.   The meeting was informed that the Planning Committee of the Parish Council strongly objected to this application and engaged with a planning expert to assist in submitting our objections.  We have requested that a Parish Council representative should speak at the District Planning Committee and that a site visit shouldb e included when considering the application.  The enforcement process cannot be taken forward until this new application is determined.  It was acknowledged by Councillors that this is a very emotive subject for the general public who had already voiced their anger that the applicant was attempting to get this application via the ‘back door’ when others have to follow the laws that are in place.     Cllr.J.Newbury referred to an Emergency Stop Notice that could be imposed.




No meeting of this Committee has taken place.  The Clerk reported that the location of the new Welcome sign is being looked at as previously reported the Highways Agency have not agreed to the original location.  The Clerk had contacted the Turf Pub to ascertain if they would be in agreement to locate the sign on the small area or grass verge which would have been ideal as it was directly access coming into the village.  The response from the Company managing the pub chain was no.   The location will now be located on the grass verge on the left hand side coming into the village from the A5 just before the old Durapipe factory.  Highways Dept are currently advising if there are any underground services that may affect installation.  Once this is resolved the sign will be installed as it has already been delivered.

Audit & Governance

No meeting of this Committee has taken place.  A meeting will be scheduled end of July/early August as there are a number of agenda items that this Committee need to discuss.

Action:               Clerk to arrange an Audit and governance Committee meeting end of July/early August.

224/2020   Covid-19 Plans for re-opening of Parish Office and Council Meeting

A report was circulated to Councillors prior to the meeting making suggestions re the opening of the Parish Office and commencement of face to face Council meting. is suggested that the Parish Office will re-open from the 3rd August and also the resuming of Council Meetings.   The report referred to government guidelines which were required to be followed.

Opening of Parish Office– discussion ensued on the re-opening of the Parish Office for face to face contact with general public as from the 3rd August.. The discussion referred to the steps that were required to be taken and acknowledgement that as an employer the Parish Council had a duty of care to its employees The Clerk has been working at home during the ‘lockdown’ period and whilst it has been business as usual, the face to face contact with the general public has not happened.  The Government are stating that they are now keen to encourage businesses to commence working again and Cllr.Mrs. A.Bernard felt that this would include the Parish Office.  The Clerk is classed as a ‘sheilded’  due to a medical condition and the risks involved in opening of the office need to be considered.  Cllrs. Wilkinson, Mrs.Z. Stretton and Mrs.S.Harding shared some concern about the protection of the Clerk and Cllr.Wilkinson strongly felt that the virus was still out there, that the Parish office should remain closed and the Clerk continue to work at home.  The Clerk informed the meeting that due to the small office environment and the fact that she worked alone then the risks were small if some measures were put in place  It was suggested for a short period an appointment system could be put in place so that the Clerk was able to monitor who would be visiting at time which would reduce the footfall coming into the office.

The main problem that will be encountered when opening the office is the use of public toilets.  The Clerk stated that NALC had recommended nationally that public toilets be opened as soon as possible to encourage people to come into areas to promote the economy.   However, the public toilets at the parish office would pose a problem in terms of managing the risk if they were to be open.  Cllr.K.Fereday stated that he felt that the re-opening of public toilets should not happen.  It was noted that there are toilets located in subway which can be used and also if and when the library opens, there are toilets in that building .Cllr. Mrs.S.Harding felt that we would not be criticised for following the guidelines as currently public toilets in the District are not open.

Cllr.M.Holder suggested that the insurance company should be contacted to ascertain if there were any guidelines or advice relating to any pre-conditions in respect of opening the office

Council Meetings – the clerk had prepared a report relating to the holding of face to face Council meetings.  Discussion ensued on the risks involved which had been outlined in the report and whether Councillors felt confident in attending meetings.  The large room at the Community Centre had provisionally been booked for the August Council meeting and the Clerk was liaising with the Centre re their risks assessments that will be in place as hirers.   There is guidance from NALC regarding what steps Parish Councils should take to ensure social distancing was adhered to at meetings  These included such things as staggering the times of people attending, ensuring seating is not face to face, appropriate hand wash/gels available, consideration about wearing of masks, paperless meeting.  Cllr Holder stated that Councillors would need to be clear about the parameters before attending meetings.

Action:       Clerk to contact the insurance company re any risks that are needed to be taken in terms     of our insurance.   Also to look into risk assessments for venues for meeting and provide Councillors with clear parameters for attending meetings.

225/2020   New Cemetery

                       The Clerk gave an update on the new cemetery.  Solicitors have been appointed to deal with a Deed of Easement relating to the access pathway from the existing churchyard to the new cemetery site. It had been agreed that this was the best course of action to ensure the long term future of the new cemetery as this pathway was the only available access.  The Faculty application can be applied for once the Deed of Easement is concluded.

Cllr.M.Holder told the meeting that it should be noted there is still a considerable undertaking with this project.  Information has been received from the Public Loans Board relating to a loan to finance the project.  This is a very long and complicated process and does require the permission from the Government via the Staffordshire Parish Council’s Association.  A lot of evidence is required to be submitted with any application relating for example, if the public support an increase of the Precept to fund the project together with a business case.  There is information available as a consultation exercise was taken some years ago together with a public meeting which outlined the plans and the issues involved for the new cemetery.  We can demonstrate that this information is available but it may be viewed that it is somewhat out of date and would have to be re-visited.

Cllr.K.Fereday queried the minutes of the new cemetery working group dated 15th June whereby it referred to a company called Up the Garden Path being involved and questioned whether this was correct procedure as he felt that this kind of project would need to go out to tender.  The Clerk confirmed that this Company had been asked to do a site visit initially to give advice about the design as they had been involved in the new cemetery at Penkridge. The Clerk confirmed that the project would be going out to tender and that Staffordshire County Council have offered support to the Parish Council in this exercise.

226/2020   Neighbourhood Plan

It was reported that work on the Neighbourhood Plan has not progressed during ‘lockdown’ due to the fact that engaging with local groups and attendance at meetings could not take place,  It is now important that we take this forward and a meeting arranged in August.  During this period the contract with Creative Souls for the PR/Marketing element of the Plan has been suspended until such time they can commence their work. This is being reviewed and monitored.

  227/2020   Chairman’s Announcement

                 Incoming and Outgoing post which had previously been circulated was noted.


  228/2020   Authorisation of Accounts


               A schedule of accounts for payment in July had been circulated to Councillors prior to the meeting which

were noted and authorised.


                      Proposed:  Cllr.J.Bernard

                      Seconded: Cllr.M.Holder


    229/2020  Date of Next Meeting –  Wednesday 19th August  2020 at 7 p.m. Arrangements for venue or Zoom   meeting to be confirmed.      


    230/2020  Items for Information and Future Agenda     


                    The meeting closed at 8.25 p.m.


 SIGNED…………………………………………………….………  DATED………………………………………..……