Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held in the Old Village Hall
on Wednesday 11 December 2002 at 7.30pm

Members present:


Mr R Abraham

Mrs R Bratt

Mrs S Hyde

Mr R James

Dr J McCabe

Mrs D Morison

Mr C Pettit

Mr G Saunders

Miss C Westgarth

Dr M Wright (Chairman)

In attendance: District Councillor S Harangozo, County Councillor R Martlew, Mrs G Stoehr (Clerk) four members of the public, and PC C Bradley (for part of the meeting).

Present by special invitation Mr A Weiss, Comberton Tennis Club Captain.

1. Apologies

Members: Mr M Bennett, Ms J Wakelin and Dr C Chambers.

2. To approve the minutes of 13 November

On a proposition by Miss Westgarth, seconded by Mr James the minutes were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chairman.

3. Matters arising from the meeting not included elsewhere on this agenda
3.1 Annual Review of the Clerk's terms and conditions

Following Miss Westgarth's report the proposition by Mrs Morison, seconded by Mrs Bratt it was unanimously resolved that:

a) The Clerk's hours be increased from 10 hours to 12 hours average per week and if there are any significant projects creating extra work then hours will be agreed with the Chairman. The chairman would then report to the monthly PC meeting.

b) The Clerk should continue to monitor and record the hours worked, as a way of justifying the deferral of requests.

c) She should give advice to parishioners up and including the 12 hours allocation of her contract.

d) The clerk is empowered to defer a request if the allocation of hours has been used.

e) The above is subject to review after 12 months.

f) An ex-gratia payment of £200 be made to the Clerk in recognition of extra hours worked.

The Clerk thanked the Council.

It was also agreed that to save both time and monthly mileage costs visiting the bank the Clerk could stop operating a petty cash account and pay into the Lloyds account £100.

It was also noted at the Clerk's request that:

a) Some of the Clerk's work is sub-contracted via LGS Services (the Clerk's company)

b) All stationery which is bought through LGS Services will be charged at cost plus VAT (which can be reclaimed). This has the benefit of bulk discounts and free delivery.

3.2 Freedom of Information Act

On a proposition by Mrs Bratt, seconded by Miss Westgarth the Model Policy for Parish Councils was adopted by resolution of Comberton Parish Council and it was agreed that copies of Parish Council records and documents as available be charged at cost and so as to keep administrative costs to a minimum invoices be issued only for any amounts above £1.

3.3 Highway signs and roundels - report on the meeting with Mr David Lines

Miss Westgarth reported that she along with the Chairman and Ms Wakelin had met with Mr Lines at his request to discuss in person the issues agreed recently by the Parish Council. Mr Lines had agreed to the following:

a) to move the traffic sign at Swaynes Lane/ South Street - junction and bend sign (one sign) on the southern approach to Swaynes Lane Farm

b) to investigate the moving of the 30mph sign on Royston Lane to incorporate Fox's Bridge Farm as this road is heavily used by horses, walkers and farm vehicles

c) to investigate the moving of the 30mph signs on Barton Road to include Horizon park.

3.3.1 Concern was expressed at the problems resulting from the new cyclepath along St Neots Road, in particular the marked cycle path on the opposite side of the road and the poor positioning of bollards on the southern side of the road just before the left turning into Long Road. Councillor Martlew offered to look into these and report back to the next meeting.

3.3.2 Mrs Morison's report on the Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee is to be circulated for information.

3.4 Memorial words

Following the recent consultation two residents had written with their preference for words. On a proposition by Miss Westgarth, seconded by Dr McCabe it was agreed that this matter be carried forward to the February meeting to allow time for further consultation.

3.5 Traffic calming for Hines Lane consultation

Following the consultation with residents in Hines Lane it was noted that seven residents had written opposing any traffic calming measures, three had supported measures being introduced and that two had no preference. It was also noted that two residents had not replied. Given the result of the consultation it was agreed that no further decision was necessary.

3.6 West Street bus shelter consultation

In response to the consultation with residents most likely to be affected by the introduction of a bus shelter in West Street near the existing stop outside 66 West Street it was noted that all but three had supported the introduction of a shelter. The oppositions were mainly due to problems with poor visibility when exiting driveways and the bus stop being opposite the junction with Kentings. It was noted that it had been suggested that a better location would be closer to the college perhaps near 72 West Street and that two residents had questioned the Parish Council's expenditure for a new shelter.

It was noted that £2,000 was already brought forward from last year and held in the reserves towards a new shelter and that up to £1,000 may be available from a County Council grant.

On a proposition by the Chairman, seconded by Miss Westgarth it was agreed to arrange a site meeting with the County Council, bus company and Police to discuss this matter further before a final decision is taken.

3.7 Grasscutting and village maintenance

It was noted that there had been recent problems with Herald's invoicing and pricing structure and that the contract should continue to be monitored next year.

3.8 Other

3.8.1 Sensory Garden

It was reported that quotations are in the process of being obtained.

3.8.2 The Causeway refurbishment

An invoice had been received from Mr Beamiss for work undertaken to date. On a proposition by Mr James, seconded by Mrs Bratt it was agreed to hold payment of the invoice until the work to the whole of the Causeway was satisfactorily completed.

3.8.3 Christmas lights event

Permission to use the Nursery Playground and building had been received.

4. Finance

4.1 To receive the financial report and to approve the payment of bills(appended 1 to these minutes)

On a proposition by Mrs Morison, seconded by Dr McCabe, the expenditure as listed in the financial report and monthly financial statement excluding the payment to Mr Beamiss as agreed under item 3.8.2 was unanimously approved.

4.1.1 It was noted that a six monthly check on the accounts had now been completed by the Internal Auditor who had confirmed that all was in order.

4.1.2 £236.88 was received from the ex-Pavilion Management Committee. Mr Saunders and Mr Abraham were asked to let the Clerk have details of contacts and recreation ground bookings so that the clubs could be invoiced at current rates.

4.2 To consider the first draft of the budget for FY 2003-2004 including requests for financial support

The budget report (appended 2 to these minutes) showing income and expenditure against budget to date and draft figures based on past history and existing contracts was received and considered.

Requests for financial support had been received from:

Comberton Village Institute Trustees for a new village hall - £60,000 spread over three years

Comberton Mobile Warden Scheme - £2,500

St Mary's Parochial Church Council for upkeep of the churchyard- £750

Contact - £700

A letter was received and noted from the Finances and Resources Department regarding Local Government Finance Act 1992 Parish Precepts showing the estimated tax base for all parishes and an explanation as to how the Council tax base is calculated.

On a proposition by Mr James, seconded by Mrs Morison it was agreed that given the expected forthcoming recommendations from the Parish Plan, Tim Wall's Recreation and Sport Report, the requests for financial support from village groups including the Village Hall funding request and other large items needed for the next three to five years the next meeting in January be devoted to discussing a longer-term Budget and urgent matters only.

5. To consider matters arising from reports

5.1 County Councillor

Councillor Martlew reported on that the Government had agreed to introduce the area cost adjustment for Cambridgeshire and that this was good news.

5.2 District Councillor

Councillor Harangozo reported the District Council had resolution to oppose the further development of Stansted Airport and on proposed changes to extend recycling to include cardboard and composting materials.

5.2.1 Councillor Harangozo was asked to request a clearance of leaves from the highway and footpaths in the village.

5.2.2 The Chairman reported on the forthcoming two-page spread focusing on Comberton in the District Council's magazine.

On a proposition by the Chairman PC Bradley was welcomed and invited to address the meeting.

PC Bradley reported on the recent Neighbourhood Watch meeting, recent shed and home burglaries and petrol siphoning incidents.

Concern was expressed at hare coursing in Comberton which had already been reported to the Police. PC Bradley explained that this was a problem throughout the district and reports would continue to be followed up.

It was noted that Neighbourhood Watch had been successful in assisting the Police apprehend a rogue roofer.

Part of item 5.2 was taken at this point.

8 Postal deliveries and green box collections

It was noted that complaints had been received regarding the change to the green box collection day. The District Council had sent its apologies that only some residents had received notification in the District Council magazine and had arranged for an article to be placed in the next Contact and on the village notice board.

5.3 Planning update(reports 1)

Mrs Bratt's report on the applications considered by the Planning Committee since the last Council meeting was received and considered.

It was also reported that the District Council had now approved applications for 26 Swaynes Lane and 25 Barrons Way and that 225 Barton Road was being held up due to the S106 Agreement requirement.

A letter was received from the District Council saying that they were looking into the Parish Council's complaint on the breach to the planning approval at 8 West Street.

5.4 Tree Group(2)

The Group's report was received and considered. On a proposition by the Chairman, seconded by Mr James it was agreed that the Tree Warden could attend the Tree Council meetings in Norfolk and reclaim his out of pocket travelling expenses.

5.4.1 On a proposition by Mrs Morison, seconded by Mr Abraham Mr Oakes was contracted to carry out works to the oak tree on the recreation ground southern boundary at a cost of £380.

5.4.2 It was noted that the pond water appeared clearer. It was agreed that the notices could now be taken down.

5.4.3 The Tree Group were asked to look at the large tree near the Bowls Club and to make a recommendation to the next meeting.

5.5 Village Action Plan

The Groups report(3) was received and noted.

5.6 Other

5.6.1 Minor Appointed Governor report

Mrs Morison's report(4) was received and noted.

6. Recreation ground and pavilion including

6.1 Extension

On a proposition by the Chairman it was agreed to carry this item forward to the end of the meeting.

6.2 Skateboard ramps including Dr Hughes letter from the last meeting (regarding support and money already raised)

In response to Dr Hughes letter received at the last meeting the proposition by Mrs Morison, seconded by Mr Pettit that the Parish Council accept the raised funds and put in the youth facilities fund awaiting the results of the youth consultation.

6.3 Tennis courts

The Chairman declared an interest in this item as President of the Tennis Club and this item was chaired by Miss Westgarth.

Mr Andy Weiss the Tennis Club Captain was welcomed to the meeting. Mr Weiss explained that the bid for the all weather courts at the Village College had been successful and that the Club would start using the new courts at the end of 2003. It was noted that the Tennis Club would like to continue using the courts on the recreation ground and once the new courts at CVC were available had considered perhaps a split membership system whereby members could opt to use either just the CVC courts or CVC and the recreation ground courts.

It was agreed that no decision was required at this meeting and that this matter would be carried forward to a later meeting.

6.4 Handy person appointment

Mrs Bratt reported that the selection group had met and had advertised the post both in Contact and at the job centre and that the closing date for applications was on 14 December. Interviews would be scheduled for the following week and a report on any appointment brought to the next meeting.

7. Village Halls including

7.1 New Lease approval

The draft five-year lease as prepared by the Council's solicitor was received. A letter dated 6 December from Mr Black, Chairman of the Village Institute Trustees was received saying that the five year extension of the existing lease and trust deed was unfortunately not acceptable to the Trustees because 'in the absence of a long lease any funds that the Village Institute Trustees expend on repairing the village hall whereby the state of repair and condition of the hall is bettered beyond the minimum required to make it usable is likely to be regarded by the Charity Commission as a breach of trust.

An extension of the existing village hall lease of only five years would clearly not satisfy this requirement and is therefore not acceptable to the Village Institute Trustees'.

On a proposition by Mr James, seconded by Mrs Bratt it was agreed that a reply be sent explaining that as it was expected that a new village hall would be built within the next couple of years the five-year lease was just to cover the interim period until the village hall is demolished and a new hall is built. It was not expected, given the proposal for a new hall, that any expenditure for items with a longer life than five-year would be required.

7.2 Village Hall representative report

Mr Saunders reported on his attendance at a recent Trustees' meeting and also resigned as the Parish Council's Village Hall representative.

7.3 New Village Hall representatives report(6)

A copy of the approved Village Hall Steering Committee minutes dated 14 October was received and noted.

Dr McCabe reported that she had been concerned at the delay keeping the Parish Council informed if only approved Committee minutes could be circulated and that it had now been agreed that the Committee's minutes would be circulated clearly marked as draft. She also reported that a design brief had been discussed with the architect which would be firstly discussed informally with the District Council Planning Department and then with both the Trustees and the Parish Council. On a proposition by the Chairman it was agreed that an extra-ordinary meeting could be convened if necessary.

8. Postal deliveries and green box collections

Concern was expressed at the poor postal delivery service to the village when deliveries had recently been delayed by up to four days. On a proposition by Mrs Morison, seconded by Mr Abraham it was agreed that a letter of complaint be sent to Royal Mail asking what standard of services Comberton could expect.

Green box collections taken earlier under item 5.2.

9. To consider matters arising out of correspondence/communications received since the last meeting

9.1 A letter from the Bowls Club dated 5 December was received and considered. It was noted that way marking was currently being considered by the Focus Group and that this would be considered further. It was also noted that the Bowls Club was identified on the village maps and that the notice on the barrier had disappeared.

On a proposition by Miss Westgarth, seconded by Mr Abraham it was agreed that extra key for the recreation ground car park should be cut and given to the Bowls Club.

9.2 East of England Development Agency (EEDA)

Details of a competition to win broadband for the village had been received. On a proposition by Mr James, seconded by Mrs Bratt it was agreed that this should be a community driven project and that details should be given to Mr Elleray. It was noted that an information poster had been put up on the village notice board already.

10. Urgent matters brought forward with the Chairman’s consent

Concern was expressed that school busses had been seen speeding through the village and one driver from 'Burtons' was seen driving whilst talking on a mobile phone'. On a proposition by Miss Westgarth, seconded by Dr Wright it was agreed that a letter of complaint be sent to the Village College and the County Council.

6.1 (Recreation ground) Extension

At 9.52pm the Chairman proposed that in accordance with S1(2) of the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act 1960 in view of the confidential nature of business to be transacted under this agenda item, i.e. an offer is to be made for the purchase of land, it is advisable (in the public interest that the Public be temporarily excluded from this meeting and they are herewith instructed to withdraw.

A report from the District Valuer was received and considered. On a proposition by Mr James, seconded by Mrs Bratt it was agreed that this contents of this letter from the District Surveyor be kept confidential until the negotiations with Messrs Topham and Banks was concluded.

On a proposition by Mr James it was delegated to the Chairman and Vice-Chair to agree the details of the Parish Council's offer as recorded in the confidential minute (appended 3 to these minutes) with Messrs Topham and Banks and report when concluded.

It was also agreed that the Parish Council's solicitor be instructed to represent the Parish Council in this matter as and when necessary.

The Chairman declared the meeting reopened to the public at 10.02pm.

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 10.03pm.

Signed ……………………………Chairman ……………………date.