Saturday, 13 February 2016

Parish Council Report

Report from Parish Council Meeting held on 9th February 2016

Nocton Park Development

Debbie Wilson (a former Chair of Nocton Parish Council and a resident of Nocton Park) addressed the Parish Council, prior to the start of its meeting, and outlined to councillors a number of serious problems she said were being experienced by residents as a consequence of the ongoing work associated with the last phase of the Peter Sowerby housing development, including the widening of Wegberg Road.  The situation had clearly reached crisis point.  Residents had expected the work to be completed within six years but so far it had taken eleven.

At present, there appeared to be only two men working on Wegberg Road, the approach to the last phase of the new houses in this area.  No regard was being given to access to residents’ homes, which was resulting in people being unable to use their driveways and having to park some distance away and make their way to their front doors through various hazards – mud, broken paving and large pieces of equipment.  For the elderly, disabled and pregnant residents this was proving very difficult and stressful.  Despite repeated requests to the developer to give at least some notice of how long and when a household was to be inconvenienced, this appeared not to be happening.   NKDC and Highways appeared unable to help as, of course, was the Parish Council which had no powers to intervene.  However, the Chair said that he would raise the matter with NKDC as he, and other councillors, were meeting with its Planning Department about another matter the following week.  He assured Ms Wilson and the residents of Nocton Park that he would explain the strength of feeling on the part of residents and see what, if anything, could be done to alleviate the situation.

Our PCSO was also present at the meeting and agreed to meet with Ms Wilson and the residents to see if the police could assist in mediating with the developer as, apparently, he had done previously with other developments.

Youth Club

Councillor Kania reported that numbers were still rather on the low side and it appeared that the information that the club was up and running again had not filtered through to everyone.  An additional volunteer from the University has come forward to help once a month.  However, volunteer help (even if only now and again) is always needed.

Parish Council Budget 2016/17

The Parish Council set its budget for the coming financial year, increasing its expenditure by some £3,000 (to £17,870) largely as a result of taking over responsibility for funding the Youth Club and the need to make further provision to cover the financial and legal costs, etc for getting the new Village Hall project off the ground.  The effect on a Band D Council Tax payer will be an increase of just over 60p per month but even so, we will still have one of the lowest precepts in the area for villages of a similar size to us.  For more details on how the Parish Council plans to spend your money, please see the budget report on our website.

Nocton Village Hall Redevelopment

A Sub committee of the Parish Council is to be set up to drive this project forward, thus avoiding the need to wait for full Parish Council approval to decide on relatively minor and other routine issues.  This Sub-committee (Councillors Williams, Kaye and Jones) will meet in public and have the power to make decisions on issues relating to the delivery of the project (e.g. legal and financial), with a small budget agreed monthly for incidental and necessary expenditure.

This Sub-committee may appoint advisers to provide professional and other specialist support but they will not have a vote.  The first meeting will take place on Monday, 22nd February at 6pm in the Village Hall.

Councillor Williams then gave a short resume of the report prepared for the Parish Council:
  • After meetings with Community Links and LALC (Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils), it became apparent that the Parish Council needed to negotiate quite a few hoops and hurdles.  It was proposed that advice be taken from a VAT expert and also that a solicitor is approached to make sure that the complexities of the original British Fields conveyance and searches of the title deeds etc were properly dealt with and resolved.
  • Visits were also made to two village halls: Cranwell and North Kyme, both of which were Parish Council owned and run by Village Hall Management Committees, as we are in Nocton.  Much useful information has been gleaned, including pitfalls!  North Kyme, in particular, is not too dissimilar from what is planned for Nocton and its Village Hall/Social Club covers virtually the same footprint as ours.
  • Since the Big Lottery is now “post code” led (Nocton do not qualify) and big community grants are no longer available from the Co-op it has been necessary to look at different sources for grants to fund the project.  The whole amount can be raised by the Parish Council by a loan from the Public Works Loan Board and repaid over a period of up to 50 years by a small addition to the precept.  This money would then be available, when and if needed, although other funding will be aggressively sought.  Having this loan in place should also encourage other funders.  Other village fund raising events are still a must, as it is most important that the residents are seen to be involved – this is taken into consideration in all funding applications.

It goes without saying that no final decisions will be made without first informing residents and, given the implications for the precept no application to the Public Works Loan Board will be made without the backing of residents.

Nocton Hall

The Parish Council has learnt that discussions have taken place between NKDC, LEDA and Historic England regarding the Hall as the developer continues its work on its planning application for a development on this site.  The PC was not involved in these discussions so the Chair, Vice-chair and Councillor Jones are to meet with NKDC for a full update on the current position.  They will also explore the implications of seeking a “de-listing” of the Hall since it appears from the recent consultations over the Neighbourhood Plan that there no longer seems to be a wish by residents to preserve the building as a ruin at all costs – especially if this could result in significantly fewer houses being built on the site.  It was also noted that the way forward under Options Appraisal, which we had all signed up to, was now some four years old and the figures considerably out-of-date.  Given residents’ overwhelming opposition to a large development on this site, NKDC will be asked to advise on how this can best be reflected in the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.

Village Keeper

To assist our village keeper with his tasks, a special barrow is to be purchased making it easier for him to keep our village tidy and litter free.

Village Entrances

The Parish Council agreed to the erection of two white picket panels at the entrance to the village on Wellhead Lane.  It is hoped that making the entrance look like a gateway will highlight the approach to the village and, hopefully, deter cars from speeding.  This will be monitored and if successful, repeated at the other entrances to the village.  Highways are to be informed and the work to commence as soon as possible.

Sheepwash Times

This excellent publication does not at present include Nocton, however since the loss of our Doodle, it has been far harder to let residents know what is happening in the village.  Councillors Kania and Kaye are to discuss with the publisher to see what the cost would be to distribute the magazine in Nocton.  If possible outside funding will be applied for to enable the publication to be delivered to the village.

Date of Next Meeting:  Tuesday. 8 March at 7.00pm

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Councillor MaryAnn Williams

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