Minutes of meeting held 11th September 2013 in the Supper Room, Gosforth Public Hall - 7.30pm
Present : Messrs. Gray, Jacob, McKinley (Chairman), Norman, Rae, Walton, Wright; Mrs Gallery-Strong.
Mrs Cornall was present as a member of the public and at The Chairman’s invitation contributed to the discussion on the No 6 bus service (Item 3).
1. Apologies: Dr Hutson: Mr Ancell, Mr Parker
2. Declarations of interest . None
3. Chairman's opening remarks. The Chairman said he would take Item 7a first and introduced Mr Clarkson who was attending to hear the response of the Parish Council to the County Council’s Flood report and also to get some feedback on the No 6 bus service following the meeting with County Council officers on 22 nd August.
Following discussion it was agreed that The Clerk should provide Mr Clarkson with a copy of the response to the CCC Flooding report which highlighted the Parish Council’s disappointment with the quality and content of the report and the lack of engagement by County Council officers. Mr Clarkson would then arrange to meet the relevant officer to discuss the report.
Similarly, regarding the bus service, a letter for Mr Clarkson would be generated highlighting the lack of progress and information since August 22 nd and also including evidence obtained by Mrs Cornall of the shortcomings of the present service. Mr Clarkson would use this letter to follow the issues up with the relevant officers.
Note: Copies of both responses are attached to the end of these minutes.
4. Minutes of the previous meeting held on 14th August 2013. These were approved (Proposed Mr Wright, seconded Mr Norman)
5. Actions arising from the minutes.
1. Produce list of local businesses.
Action ongoing. Action – Dr Hutson, Mr Norman, Mr Ancell.
2. Discuss with the Carpark Group the provision of a new Tourism Board. Action - Mr Wright.
Action complete – Board would be replaced in the next few days.
3. Discuss carpark land ownership issues with Copeland solicitor. Action – The Clerk
Action ongoing – Further discussions had taken place with Mrs Unsworth and Copeland BC solicitor had been informed of the outcome. Until the land ownership issues were settled there was likely to be no progress. The matter was in the hands of Copeland BC.
4. Draft ideas for public communication. Action – Mr Walton
5. Deal with non-paying advertisers. Action – Mr McKinley, The Clerk
Action ongoing – Contact had been made with some individuals (there had been two payments) and further reminders had been sent out to the rest. The Chairman and The Clerk planned to re-assess the situation in a couple of weeks time and if necessary pay relevant visits.
6. Obtain copy of Coniston PC planning checklist and ascertain details of planning training. Action – Mr McKinley.
Action ongoing – The Chairman tabled the checklist which would be circulated for comment and potential adoption. The issue of planning training had yet to be resolved.
7. Get list of properties with Local Occupancy conditions attached from both Planning Authorities. Action – The Clerk.
Action complete – The Clerk tabled a list. There were some doubts as to whether it was complete and he was asked to check and also get a definition of Local Occupancy.
8. Respond to The Clerk with comments on Flooding Report. Action complete – See Item 3 above. Action – All members.
9. Investigate overgrowth on Whitecroft and Kell Bank Lane. Action ongoing. Action – The Clerk.
6. Financial matters
a) Monthly financial report. This was approved (Proposed Mr Wright, seconded Mrs Gallery-Strong).
b) Finance Committee minutes – 29 th August. Mrs Gallery-Strong tabled the minutes and gave a summary of what had been covered. After discussion of the budget overview provided by The Clerk it was concluded that it was unlikely that budget requirements for the financial year would be exceeded.
The Financial Regulations had been reviewed and considered fit for purpose although The Clerk was clarifying with CALC the use of BACS transfers. The Clerk had in place an auditable procedure to cover such transfers but it was considered prudent to seek guidance on its legality in case it was ever challenged.
Mrs Gallery-Strong said that she had secured funding for a follow-up celebration event for the Play Area (referred to at the July meeting) and suggested that it could be organised via a Parish Council Advisory Committee. She already had volunteer councillors and members of the public offers of assistance. This was agreed; The Clerk would make any financial arrangements.
Items c) and d) below also arose from the meeting.
c) Finance Committee membership. A vacancy existed on the committee due to Mr Norman becoming Vice-chairman of the council and following contact from Mrs Gallery-Strong Mr Parker had agreed to join. There was no dissent.
d) Resolution from Finance Committee:
Resolution FC 1/8/2013: That having examined the national recommendations for pay increases to Civil Service personnel, the committee recommends that the council approves an increase in The Clerk’s rate of pay from £9.253 to £9.345 /hour to be effected as from 1 st April 2013.
This was approved unanimously (Proposed Mr Jacob, seconded Mr Gray).
e) Budget requirements for 2014-15 . The Clerk said that he had put this item on the agenda to remind members that the Finance Committee would be meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the budget for 2014-15 and that they should put forward any suggestions for inclusion.
7 .Main Business
Flooding report. See Item 3 above.
Footpath to Boonwood. There had been no feedback from members, or from Mr Hosfield, who had expressed an interest. The item would be placed on the next agenda.
8. Representative's reports.
a) Cycleway. Mr Gray said that the last scheduled meeting had to be cancelled and was to be reconvened in a couple of weeks time. The Chairman suggested that it was important to ascertain the state of the planning process as well as the financial situation. It was noted that Government had recently made available a substantial sum of money specifically for cycleway improvements but this appeared to be directed towards towns and cities and not rural areas.
9. Planning Matters
a) Extension at 82 Meadowfield. This had been approved by LDNPA.
b) No 51 Fell View Park – New front and back porches. The Clerk had passed the papers to Mr Gray who had visited the area and spoken to neighbours (who raised no objections). He had been unable to meet the owner of No 51 but had left a note saying that he had tried to contact him and that the matter would be discussed by the Parish Council at its next meeting and that he was at liberty to attend if he wished. There were no objections from the council.
Mrs Cornall – Provided a detailed note giving her experience over a period of several days of use of the new bus service. These would be included within the letter to be generated for Mr Clarkson (Ref Item 3 above).
Mrs Ostle – The Clerk read out a letter from Mrs Ostle requesting a gate to be provided on the Bl eng Forest access lane. The Clerk was asked to acknowledge the letter and to pass it on to LDNPA for any subsequent action.
CALC - Minutes of (Copeland) Executive meeting of 4 th September. This would be copied to all members.
Robinsons – Information on HMRC activities. Passed to Mr Stewart for assessment.
Copeland BC – Request for information on land ownership at Denton Park. The Clerk had responded with relevant information but suspected that this was a delaying tactic to avoid taking action to investigate the source of flooding.
E-on – Smart meters. An offer had been made to fit smart meters which, after discussion with Mr Norman, had been agreed to for the Toilets. Details for the Public Hall were passed to Mr Jacob.
Flag magazine. Put on circulation.
Cumbria County Council – Offer of free electric blanket testing. The Clerk said he had put posters on the notice boards and informed What’s On.
Sellafield - Strategy meeting. The Clerk said that the representatives of those Parish Councils adjoining the Sellafield site had been invited. He and The Chairman would attend.
CALC – Notice of a new Code of Practice on CCTV. The Clerk would obtain a copy for assessment.
Sellafield – Notice of survey. Notice was given that a survey into people’s eating habits in the area would be undertaken by the Food Standards Agency.
Gareth Browning - An offer was made to present an update on Bleng Forest activities. He would be invited to the October meeting.
Mrs Murray (5 Denton Park) – Reporting the flooded state of the entrance and enquiring about progress. The Clerk had replied giving a full explanation of the reasons for no apparent action and also clarifying why different parts of the village were subject to differing grass-cutting regimes.
ACT – Newsletter. Forwarded to all members.
CALC – AGM. Notice that this would be held at Rheged on 9 th November. The Chairman and The Clerk would attend.
11 Public Participation. None.
12 Questions Councillors wish to raise.
Mr Jacob – Said that the maintenance (4-yearly) fee for the Public Hall stairlift was now due. It was agreed that the Parish Council would handle the invoice to enable any VAT to be claimed.
Mrs Gallery-Strong – Said that she now had a number of Emergency Action leaflets and would make them available. She also said that any feedback she had received on the newsletter was favourable but had received numerous complaints about parking particularly in the vicinity of the Bakery and enquired what enforcement action could be taken. The Clerk said he could contact the Community Police Officer and also PS Young who had offered to assist. Mr Walton said that he had read recently that some Parish Councillors were receiving training for use of Speed Cameras and questioned the use of that route. The Clerk said that he thought it was St Bees PC that was involved and would find out details.
13 In Camera. None.
There being no other business the meeting was closed at 9.22pm.
Mr N Clarkson
Ref Flood Investigation Report No 26 – Gosforth.
Dear Mr Clarkson
Thank you for making a copy of the report available. The Parish Council has now discussed the report and asked me to respond on its behalf.
I have to say that I am extremely disappointed with the report as issued and the way the investigation team has dealt with the Parish Council. As you are aware I joined with you in accompanying the team soon after the event and was effective in providing some detailed information and introducing some of the individual people to the team who had been affected by the flooding.
The team visit was cut short due to time commitments, having in effect covered New Mill, Blennerhazel Lane and the area around the Square, Meadowfield, and Denton Park. It was known at the time that there had been further flooding at Ellerslie and Wellington and the team promised to make arrangements to visit these areas later and inform me in advance. I received no contact and I am unsure whether the team ever visited those parts of the village.
During the discussions at the time of the visit you, on several occasions, reminded the County Council officer (I think it was Mr White) that any reports should be passed on to the Parish Council for comment before publication. That didn’t happen. I in turn said that what the Parish Council would wish to see in the report was:
An explanation of what had happened and where;
What the basic causes were;
Identification of any shortcomings on the water discharge system eg. Inadequate sizing of culverts, pinch points etc;
What was going to be done to prevent a recurrence;
Detailed identification of who was responsible for the upkeep of the different parts of the water discharge network.
While some of these points have been dealt with (and in the case of points 1&2, very thoroughly) there is a lack of detailed information elsewhere. Point 5 is particularly relevant as referring to ‘Riparian Owners’ in general will not help the Parish Council in dealing with ongoing issues with residents.
The report is labelled as a Flood Investigation report of Gosforth. It is no such thing, being neither complete for the village or indeed the parish. Information on New Mill, Ellerslie or Wellington is not included. In the case of Ellerslie this beggars belief as at the public meeting set up by the County Council in April several residents of Ellerslie drew the officers’ attention to this discrepancy. The Parish Council is aware that at all three locations some work has been carried out since the flooding event of 2012, probably because the highways in those areas were affected, but they should be included within the report.
In the list of recommendations the first action listed is on residents to consider whether flood protection is expedient. That may seem obvious but in many cases residents may need some guidance on what could or even should be done. For instance at the rear of Denton Park some residents have built walls as a barrier to the existing drainage ditch overflowing. The consequence of that is that while the individual may gain some protection it causes additional problems for others. These matters need both individual and group analysis to be dealt with thoroughly.
Second on the list is an action on riparian owners to establish a maintenance regime. Once again guidance may be necessary and those sections of the drainage system need the individual and/or the group owners identifying.
Within actions placed on other bodies there are several references to a forum for dialogue with landowners and residents. While welcoming this approach it is unclear how this will be accomplished and co-ordinated. In the ‘Next Steps’ section the identification of the County Council as the Leading Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is welcomed but it is unclear how it intends to take forward those actions which are not placed on any specific Risk Management Authority. The Parish Council views itself as a stakeholder in this matter and would be willing to play its part in facilitating the process.
I trust you will find the above comments useful in your forthcoming discussions.
D A Polhill
Clerk - on behalf of Gosforth Parish Council
Date: 12th September 2013
PS. I have been asked by Ponsonby Parish Council to remind you that no flood report whatsoever has been passed to them for either information or comment. As you are aware Calderbridge and its surrounding area was also badly affected by the same storm event that caused the problems in Gosforth. New Mill beck is the boundary between the parishes of Gosforth and Ponsonby and properties in both parishes as well as the A595 highway were affected.
Mr N Clarkson
Ref. No 6 Bus Service
Dear Mr Clarkson
Thank you for so promptly arranging the meeting with County Council officers on 22 nd August, the notes of which I have received from Suzanne Cooper. The first five actions were placed on Mark Hodgkiss and as far as I am aware there has been no progress – at least I have not been informed if there has.
As you are aware, the matter of the bus service was aired again at the Parish Council meeting last Wednesday, 11 th September. Mrs Cornall, who was present at the meeting on 22 nd August and made a significant contribution to the debate by virtue of her being a frequent user of the service, made the Parish Council aware of her experience of using the service since the changes on 1 st September.
The following points were detailed:
Monday, 2 nd September – The bus which was due to leave Tesco at 14.07 actually arrived at 13.42.
Tuesday, 3 rd September – The (08.15) bus bypassed Moor Row with the result that a passenger who had walked nearly a mile to Moor Row to enable them to travel to Gosforth was left high and dry.
Tuesday, 3 rd September - A passenger at Tesco was unable to get on the 13.42 bus as the driver stopped, opened and closed the doors, and drove off. The passenger got another service as far as Egremont and then had to contact the social car service to enable her to get to Gosforth.
Tuesday, 3 rd September – The driver on the 14.07 service had to be directed by an elderly passenger for the whole of the journey back to Seascale.
Friday, 6 th September – The 07.52 bus did not go via the Hospital. There have been numerous reports that this was not a lone situation; going via the Hospital, although scheduled on the time-table, appears to be at the drivers’ discretion or knowledge of the route.
Saturday, 8 th September – A repeat performance of the experience of Tuesday, 3 rd September, the driver again having to be directed along the route.
Frustrated by the above event Mrs Cornall tried to contact Stagecoach using the number given on the time-table. The responder replied that he had no idea where Gosforth was and hence no information. On being asked for a contact number for either the Barrow or Workington offices he said that he did not have that information either. Eventually via Directory Enquiries Mrs Cornall was able to contact the Workington office where she explained the situation. She was told that she would receive a letter of explanation. To date none has been received.
Today, Friday, 13 th September – The 11.09 bus broke down at Duke Street, the access steps/floor would not lower. The driver, who should be commended for his concern for the passengers (all elderly), contacted his manager who advised getting the passengers off the bus and waiting for a replacement to be sent out, presumably from Lillyhall. The driver objected to that, and was then told to flag down and effectively commandeer the next minibus. This happened to be destined for Mirehouse but nevertheless the driver complied and that bus was taken over for the onward though late-arriving journey to Gosforth. Obviously the Gosforth passengers were relieved; what the Mirehouse passengers thought is unknown, but it begs the question of both the state of maintenance of the buses (which was highlighted at the August meeting) and the ability of the company to manage breakdown situations.
Note: Feedback from passengers is that breakdowns for a variety of causes occur at frequent intervals. Also from feedback is again something which was discussed at the August meeting, namely that Beckermet children are frequently not taken into the village but dropped off at Blackbeck roundabout. This particular issue needs urgent attention with winter approaching. The dangers to the children are all too obvious and one would not want to see any of them injured as a consequence. Neither should the County Council run the risk of legal action due to the failure of one of its contractors to comply with its contractual obligations. The only winner then would be lawyers.
I have no doubt that other passengers would have additional comments to make but I think you would agree that the above is evidence that as well as the shortcomings in the service which were highlighted at the August 22 nd meeting, in particular the re-scheduling which has made the service less passenger-friendly than before, the new service leaves a lot to be desired and is unacceptable as it stands. As for Stagecoach customer service, the example of Mrs Cornall’s experience speaks for itself. If local offices exist why not put those contact numbers on the time-tables rather than have people going through call-centres for information which can only be dealt with locally.
I trust the above will assist you in your discussions with the relevant Dept.
D A Polhill
Clerk - on behalf of Gosforth Parish Council
Date: 13th September 2013