Minutes 23/11/2018

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Minutes of the Sesswick Community Council meeting, held at the Robinwood Activity Centre on Friday 23rd November 2018 at 6pm

 

Present

  Name Capacity Attendance
1 Cllr J. F. Hurst Chair All items
2 Cllr S. H. Rowland Vice- Chair All items
3 Cllr E. P. Griffiths   All items bar 18/81
4 Cllr R. J. Jones   All items
5 Cllr D. Williams   All items
6 I M Griffiths Clerk and responsible financial officer All items
7 A Police Community Support Officer from North Wales Police, covering Sesswick   18/69
8- 10 Three members of the public   All items

 

Note: for reasons of confidentiality, only community council members’ and employees’ names are given in the minutes

 

18/67   Apologies for absence

1          Cllr F. Williams

2          Cllr J. D. Pritchard

3          A community agent covering Sesswick

NB       Cllr C. A. Stead- leave of absence until March 2019

 

18/68   Declarations of interest

  Name Agenda item Nature Explanation
1 Cllr E. P. Griffiths 18/81 Personal and prejudicial Member has a close association with the clerk

 

The Police Community Support Officer arrived at the meeting

 

18/69   Policing matters

1          The following matters had arisen between 21st September 2018 and 23rd November 2018

A         One instance of anti- social behaviour/ harassment between family members, which has since been resolved

B          A burglary from a business premises on Sesswick Way, where a large amount of electrical cable was stolen

C          A break-in from the same property on Sesswick Way, where tools and machinery were taken from an on- site container. With no in- situ CCTV, there is currently no avenues of investigation

D         Cries for help were heard by children at the activity centre on Bangor Road. This was attributed to inappropriate larks from a new resident in the young people’s home on Kiln Lane. Advice has been given to the individual and staff at the home have dealt with the issue

E          A hit- and- run road- traffic- collision, with damage inflicted on a car parked outside a property in Cross Lanes. With no witnesses or CCTV to hand, there are no further lines of enquiry open.

F          Two cases of drink driving. Both were arrested at the scene and have since been charged

2          Members expressed their concern over the increased prevalence of dog fouling and discarded poo bags in the community, especially the area around Holt Road (especially Nant Clwyd Park and the verge approaching Transco). The clerk was instructed to convey these sentiments to the county council and petition for a more regular and visible inspection of the village

3          The PCSO offered to visit an elderly resident for reassurance, following reports of their land being trespassed by strangers.

 

The PCSO left the meeting

 

18/70   Planning applications to consider

A         P/2018/0955, P/2018/0956 & P/2018/0957: application for the removal of condition no. 14 of planning permission P/2014/0781 to allow the processing in the region of 1,000,000 birds per week. Maelor Foods Ltd, Pickhill Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0UE

1          Due to the large amount to information to digest, it was unanimously agreed that standing 76.3 be invoked for this application. The council’s submission will therefore be sent to the local planning authority after this meeting, and recorded in the January 2019 minutes.

2          Members reiterated their firm opposition to the proposals.

 

18/71   Unpleasant odours in the community

1          Further reports of strong smells had been lodged with Natural Resources Wales on the afternoon of 10th October 2018 and the morning of 17th October 2018

2          Natural Resources Wales advised on 2nd November there had been an issue with effluent treatment at the site. New equipment to rectify this issue was purchased in October 2018, which should be operational very soon.

3          The clerk stated that Natural Resources Wales’ contact details continue to be displayed on the community council’s notice boards and website, and they should be the first point of contact for these concerns.

 

18/72   Community agent update

The representative from the Rainbow Centre was unable to attend this meeting, so will be invited to come to the January 2019 forum.

 

18/73   Confirmation of minutes from 21st September 2018 meeting

The minutes, as presented, were taken as a true record.

 

18/74   Matters arising

1          18/52.2 (theft of high- value cars)– a fresh instance was noted at the edge of Marchwiel

2          18/55.3 (grass- cutting on the Sesswick Way roundabout)– Cllr Pritchard was continuing to press for this area to be included in the county council’s regular schedule of work

3          18/55.4 (Tree Preservation Order by Pickhill Lane/ A525 junction)– investigations into this with the Wildlife Trust are ongoing

4          18/55.5 (potholes)– some have been filled, but others remain unrepaired. The item on Bangor Road near to Pickhill Lane now requires urgent attention

5          18/61 (146 service)– the bus company have since advised that they cannot accommodate the suggested timetabling changes

 

18/75   County councillor report

Cllr Pritchard was not present to provide an update

 

18/76   Planning applications presented before the county council planning committee

A          P/2017/1032, P/2017/1037 & P/2017/1038: application for the removal of condition no. 14 of planning permission P/2014/0781 to allow the processing in the region of 1,000,000 birds per week. Maelor Foods Ltd, Pickhill Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0UE

The application had been refused by the local planning authority. “The proposals would result in a significant increase in HGV movements to the detriment of highway safety and the amenity of the occupiers of nearby properties thus being in conflict with policy GDP1d and f of the Wrexham Unitary Development Plan”

B          Erection of five detached dwellings including means of access and associated works. Land at Bedwell Road, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0TR

This application had been granted by Wrexham County Borough Council

C          P/2018/0591: Change of use from transport logistics depot (sui generis) to use ancillary to established neighbouring poultry processing facility. Lloyd Fraser Transport, Pickhill Lane, Cross Lanes, Wrexham LL13 0UE

The application had been granted by the local planning authority

 

18/77   Environmental work

1          The promised Welsh daffodils have now been planted on the Sesswick Way roundabout.

2          Unfortunately, it now seems unlikely the community council will not be able to secure bird boxes for Cross Lanes, given all such items have been allocated elsewhere.

3          The council’s previous contact at the North Wales Wildlife Trust will be leaving the organisation shortly. Cllr Rowland had conveyed members’ gratitude for the work the officer had facilitated.

4          Councillors noted the Trust’s offer to present on their “living landscapes” project at a future community council meeting. The clerk was instructed to obtain more information on this programme once a new officer for this area has been appointed.

 

18/78   Woodland area adjacent to Lower Bedwell Bridge on Bedwell Road, Cross Lanes

1          Cllr Pritchard had been contacted in October 2018 stating this land had been purchased with the intention of keeping pigs and chickens, and vegetation was already being cut down

2          These comments were passed to the county council planning and arboreal protection officers, who placed a six- month preservation order to prevent inappropriate management practices.

3          The clerk was instructed to pass on councillors’ very strong support for the permanent imposition of Tree Preservation Order TPO WCBC 290/ 2018 at the above location This site has a high level of amenity value and must be protected.

 

18/79   Reports from other meetings and activities

A         Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales Review of Electoral Arrangements for Wrexham County Borough on 11th October 2018 (clerk)

This was a kick- off meeting, with the aim for each area to have broadly the same number of electors for the 2022 county council elections..

B          One Voice Wales “Information Management (including GDPR)” training on 11th October 2018 (clerk)

Attendance was confirmed

C          Community litter- pick 15th October 2018 (Cllrs Hurst, Rowland, Pritchard, Jones, a number of residents and staff from the Cooperative Store)

1          In total, 35 bags of litter were collected from Bedwell Road, Pickhill Lane and Sesswick Way, and it was hoped this event can be repeated once the verges have been cut.

2          Thanks had been passed on already to the Coop, the on- duty PCSO , Keep Wales Tidy and Wrexham County Borough Council

D         Any other meetings attended

No further items were noted

 

18/80   Responses to consultation documents

1          To determine submissions to the following

A         Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales draft annual report for 2019/ 2020

The clerk was instructed to make the below comments

1          In relation to determinant 37, this council wishes to have point 13.9 guaranteed, so individual members have the right to opt out of receiving the £150 annual payment

2          This proposal for all community councillors to receive £150 per annum has the potential to increase costs significantly for smaller councils (by 30%+ in our specific case if everyone accepted the payments). This would result in noticeably higher precepts which would be electorally unacceptable to the local electorate given there would be no corresponding improvements in service delivery from such settlements.

 

B          Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales’ review of Electoral Arrangements for Wrexham County Borough

The clerk was instructed the submit the following remarks, to be appended also to the county council’s response

1          The current Marchwiel ward, containing the whole of Marchwiel, Sesswick and Erbistock and Eyton provides for excellent democratic representation at county council level and should not be altered. Cross Lanes has close scholastic and ecclesiastical associations with Marchwiel and have been linked together for many years. Erbistock and Eyton, like Cross Lanes, are small rural communities and have many common interests. The ward is of a suitable size be covered by one councillor. Furthermore, the projected size of the Marchwiel ward is extremely close to that recommended by the Commission.

2          Given that the current arrangement works so well and cannot be bettered, any decoupling of Sesswick to join another neighbouring community would have a detrimental impact. With the river Dee forming a natural barrier, Bangor- On- Dee has always orientated far more towards Overton and the other villages within Maelor Saesneg/ Flintshire Detached than to Sesswick in the former Denbighshire/ Maelor Cymraeg. Abenbury is more urban and industrial in nature than the predominantly- agricultural Sesswick and there exists wider socio- economic variations between the two communities. Isycoed has deeper associations with Holt and the villages on the outskirts of the county town than with Sesswick.

3          We call on the commission to consider the wider links between different villages when performing this review. Geographical proximity and road connections between communities does not automatically entail that they can be agreeably grouped together.

4          In the current financial climate where Wrexham County Borough Council has to find several million pounds of cuts every year and the budget is exceptionally tight, we feel that now is not the right time to have three additional county councillors. It would be preferable to work around the current 52- member council.

5          We support the exclusive use of single- member wards as they strengthen local democracy and accountability.

 

2          To note the responses made under standing order 76.3

A         Wrexham County Borough Council’s Wrexham Rights of Way Improvement Plan consultation

1          Members agreed overall with the structure and findings of the report, but feel that realising the aims may be a tall order given the cuts being made to the relevant departments

2          It was felt that the publication of a maps of public rights- of- way for each community should be a higher priority, given the report acknowledges that more frequent use of footpaths help reduce overgrowing vegetation. This would also greatly improve local knowledge on the walks available in the immediate area. There are some maps on the county council website but these relate to the most popular routes only

3          We are concerned by the funding and staff cuts to the public rights-of- way team at WCBC. They are the experts in their field and their work has great benefit given efforts to improve access to the countryside and improve overall fitness levels.

4          It is appreciated that community councils have a role to play in escalating issues over footpaths in their areas, but members do not feel they are well- placed or trained to carry out some of the tasks (eg clearing vegetation) which seems to be implicitly being delegated to them.

5          The burden of keeping rights- of- way open and used cannot be placed on small community councils which have large areas of countryside within their boundaries. Footpaths and rights-of-way need to be maintained by trained county council staff

6          If there are no champions to be found within small communities, who then takes responsibility for general upkeep and maintenance? Are the footpaths left to become overgrown and disused by default?

 

Cllr Griffiths left the meeting

 

18/81   Presentation and approval of clerical timesheets

A         September 2018 (12 hours)

The claim was approved

B          October 2018 (8.5 hours)

The claim was approved

 

Cllr Griffiths returned to the meeting

 

18/82   Finance

A         To note items paid since the 21st September 2018 meeting

  Cheque Date signed Recipient Purpose Amount Empowering legislation Prior council approval
1 000697 11/10/2018 Scottish Power Q3 2018 street lighting electricity £48.26 Section 3, 1957 Parish Councils Act 18/63.C2
2 000698 22/10/2018 AVOW Clerk salary 1/5/2018-31/7/2018 & payroll admin fee (£15) £327.17 Section 112, 1972 Local Government Act 18/63.C3 & C4
3 000699 22/10/2018 One Voice Wales Clerk Information management course fee £40.00 Section 111, 1972 Local Government Act 18/65.2

 

B          To approve items for payment where the invoice was received after the agenda was issued

No such items had been received

 

C          To approve items for payment where it is anticipated settlement will fall due before the next meeting

The below items were approved

  Recipient Purpose Approximate Amount Empowering legislation
1 Scottish Power Q4 2018 street lighting electricity £50.00 Section 3, 1957 Parish Councils Act
2 Wrexham County Borough Council Q4 2018 street lighting maintenance £40.00 Section 3, 1957 Parish Councils Act
3 AVOW Clerk salary 1/8/2018-31/10/2018 £260.00 Section 112, 1972 Local Government Act
4 AVOW Clerk payroll admin fee £15.00 Section 112, 1972 Local Government Act

 

D         To review the bank and petty cash reconciliations and balances held as at 29th September 2018

The reconciliation, showing a total position of £7,113.61 (£2,000.00 of which being restricted for the purchase of play equipment) was approved and independently reviewed by Cllr Jones.

E          To discuss and approve the budget monitoring report as at 29th September 2018

The report was approved without comment

F          To discuss and approve the proposed budget for the period 1st April 2019- 31st March 2020

The budget was approved without comment

G         To accept the Responsible Financial Officer’s recommendation that the precept for the year ending 31st March 2020 be set at £3,000.00 (no change from 2018/ 2019)

It was resolved to set the 2019/ 2020 at £3,000.00

 

18/83   Annual return for the year ended 31st March 2018 (8.05pm)

A         To note the audit’s conclusion and to receive the external auditor’s report

Sesswick Community Council has been issued with a qualified audit report, with other matters to bring to the council’s attention, quoted verbatim below:

1          “Notice of Appointment of Date for the Exercise of Electors’ Rights 

Regulations 16, 17 and 22 of the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014 set out the procedures to be followed for the exercise of electors’ rights under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004.

We note that the Notice of Appointment of Date for the Exercise of Electors’ Rights commenced on 15th June 2018, this is before the Council approved the Accounting statements and Annual Governance Statement on 22nd June 2018. Regulation stipulates that any rights of objections, inspection and questioning of the external auditor may only be exercised within a single period of 20 working days. However, due to the approval by Council occurring after the commencement date, the Council has not met the requirements of Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014. Therefore, we feel that the response to Assertion 4 should be “No” per the Annual Governance Statement on the Annual Return.

In future years, the Council must ensure that the Annual Return is approved by the Council before the Notice of Appointment of Date for the Exercise of Electors’ Rights period commences in order to comply with the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014.

 

Additionally, during our review we identified some other matters that we wish to draw to the Council’s attention which do not affect our audit opinion but should be addressed by the Council.

2          High level of reserves

We note that the Council holds a high level of general reserves, approximately 1.4 times the annual precept for 2017/ 2018.

We understand that the Council has earmarked funds however the Council specific spending plans have yet to be decided.

We would remind the Council that there are restrictions on the expenditure of capital income and any planned spending must be within the Council’s powers.

The Council should consider the level of general reserves required and consider taking steps to reduce the level of reserves in future years if it considers it necessary.”

 

B          To agree a response to the points raised by the auditor and to complete the feedback questionnaire

1          Members noted the requirement to have the Annual Return approved by the community council prior to the commencement of the “Notice of Appointment of Date for the Exercise of Electors’ Rights period”. The clerk will ensure the meeting for this purpose will be appropriately convened in future years.

2          Similarly, councillors acknowledged the comments made regarding the relatively high level of reserves as at 31st March 2018

3          The Responsible Financial Officer felt that the judgement reached in the report was overly harsh, and it was agreed that the below observations be given in the feedback questionnaire to Grant Thornton in Cardiff (acting on behalf of the Auditor General for Wales

A         Members’ and officials reading of the aforementioned regulations did not identify the need for the Annual Return to be approved prior to becoming available for public inspection. For clarity, the guidance notes accompanying the Annual Return could have been more explicit in this regard.

B          The RFO would have provided the auditor with the council’s five- year projection showing how the reserves are predicted to fall over the period, had this been subsequently requested. Such documentation was not part of the original data request.

C          The prior year audit had been conducted by Grant Thornton in Bristol who had contacted the clerk prior to the final report being issued when clarification was needed. No such liaison took place in 2017/ 2018 to allow the council the opportunity to provide more information before the qualified audit opinion was given

 

C          To confirm that the “Notice of Conclusion of Audit” has been advertised as required

1          The clerk advised that the said notice has been displayed on the notice boards and website from 28th September 2018 until 19th November 2018 inclusive.

2          Details on electors’ rights on viewing the annual report and auditor reports will remain on the council website ad infinitum

 

18/84   Policy for publishing minutes

1          So records of council meetings are made available publicly as soon as possible rather than waiting for formal ratification at the next meeting in two months’ time, it was agreed to implement the following process with immediate effect:

A         The clerk will email the draft minutes to all councillors once completed as per contract

B          Members will then have a seven- day window to provide feedback

C          Once the amended minutes are ratified by the Chair, the clerk will display the minutes (marked as “draft”) on the community council notice boards and website

D         The minutes will then be formally put to members for approval at the next council meeting.

E          The draft minutes on the website will be replaced by the final version.

 

18/85   Date for March 2019 meeting

As the clerk is unable to attend on 22nd March 2019, all concurred this forum be moved one week forward to 15th March 2019

 

18/86   Date of next meeting

Friday 18th January 2019

 

 

 

 

The meeting ended at 7.05pm

 

 

 

Approved by council: 18th January 2019 (minute: 18/91)