Draft Minutes of the Annual Meeting Monday 12 May 2014

HOUGHTON PARISH COUNCIL

Draft Minutes of the Annual Meeting held on Monday 12th May 2014 at Houghton Village Hall

Present:Cllr P Page (Chairman), Cllr I Burt (Vice Chair), Cllr A Young, Cllr T Scougall, Cllr C Bradby, Cllr Butler, Mrs B Barker (Clerk to the Council), HCC Cllr Gibson, Mrs R Cardoe, Chairman VHMC and 15 members of the public

24/14Apologies:  were received from Cllr P Kennesion

25/14Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman 

Cllr Philip Page was proposed as Chairman by Cllr Burt, seconded by Cllr Young.  There were no other nominations and the proposal was carried unanimously.  Cllr Burt was proposed as Vice Chairman by Cllr Page, seconded by Cllr Young.  There were no other nominations and the proposal was carried unanimously.

26/14Declarations of Interest/Amendment to Registration of Financial Interests

There were no changes to the record. Cllr Scougall declared an interest in the Solar Farm agenda item. 

27/14Cllr Page proposed the following motion:

That standing order 7e (c) be suspended for the purpose of the meeting (allowing Cllr Scougall to remain in the room whilst discussions took place with regard to the Solar Farm).  This was seconded by Cllr Bradby and carried unanimously.  

28/14  Proposed Solar Farm

The chairman introduced Dr Alexander Arcache and Mr Frank Bohne from Kronos Solar.  Dr Arcache gave a presentation in order to address what he considered to be the main concerns of the Parish.

Size – Why so large?  Varying sizes of solar parks – 11kw, 33kw, 132kw, 400kw.  Kronos initially wanted to build a 33kw solar farm but could not connect into grid.  The 132kw farm can connect to an existing pylon.

Why not brownfield sites?  Many brownfield sites earmarked for housing.  Not financially viable to build on rooftops etc.

Screening – Adequate screening would be a planning condition which Kronos would not breach.

Landowner’s responsibilities.  The landowner rents the site to Kronos and has no other responsibilities.  The maintenance of the site is the sole responsibility of Kronos.

Decommissioning – A ‘decommissioning bond’ would be set up – in essence a pot of money set aside.

The following questions and concerns were put to Dr Arcache:

Q.Why not focus solar on industrial rooftops?

A.The Government is pushing for this but companies will not invest as buildings may not be robust enough and not know whether they would be in place in 25 years.

Q.Is it right that individual companies are set up by Kronos to operate individual sites and what happens if these companies dissolve?

A.Kronos is the Holding Company.  Each Solar Park is run by a subsidiary for tax and legal reasons.  If the company went bust during the construction phase the banks would step in and get a third party to finish construction.  The planning conditions are tied to the land and would be enforced. 

Q.Does the planning permission rest with the land or the developer?

A.The permission lies with the land.  Kronos have secured the right to develop but could sell on.

C.Not all important viewpoints have been considered and the photographs that have been taken are misleading.

A.The viewpoints that have been considered were agreed with TVBC after submission of the pre-planning documentation (Cllr Burt disputed this).  Dr Arcache acknowledged that not all relevant viewpoints had been considered.

C.Marsh Court is a Grade I listed building and the effect on it is considerable.

A.The report by English Heritage confirms there is no negative impact on Marsh Court

C.The Glint and Glare Assessment has not taken into consideration Bossington Airstrip. Ms Fairey commissioned an assessment, the results of which showed there was a danger to pilots.

A.An independent Glint and Glare Assessment was carried out and showed there was no harm.

C.The land is good quality arable land and has been farmed successfully with good yields.

A.A land grading report was carried out with detailed soil analysis which graded the land at 3b.

C.Concerned that there will be run off from the panels which could pollute the land especially as the panels age.

A.The panels are guaranteed for 25 years and there will be no toxic substances.

C.It is likely that there will be harm to local wildlife, particularly bats.

A.An Ecology survey has been carried out showing no negative impact to wildlife.

C.The Test Valley is known for its beauty and tranquillity.  Tourism will be affected significantly

A.Cornwall is dependent on tourism and it has not been shown that the development of solar farms in that area has reduced the number of tourists.

C.The construction of the solar farm will not benefit our economy.  It is likely that the contractors would be foreign workers which would not benefit employment in this area.

A.Kronos will pay taxes in the UK.  The chances are that British contractors would be used.  

Q.With regard to the planting, the planning application refers to 40-60cm whips.  Why can’t 3m high hedging plants be used?

A.We are open to recommendations.

Q.How does the ‘decommissioning bond’ work and is it imposed by the Government?

A.It is not imposed by the Government or TVBC.  An independent valuer estimates the cost of decommissioning the site and sufficient funds are set aside by Kronos in a British Bank account.

Q.What is Kronos’ approach to community benefit.

A.Kronos have made an offer to Houghton and Broughton parishes but both parishes have asked for more.  Negotiations are ongoing. The chairman made it clear that the negotiation team was independent from the council and the community benefit offer had no bearing on the council’s decision.

AT THIS POINT OF THE MEETING, THE COUNCIL ASKED TO SEE SOME OF THE REPORTS SUBMITTED BY KRONOS AND AGREED TO DISCUSS AGAIN AT THE END OF THE MEETING.  

29/14Appointment to committees/outside bodies

a)  Village Hall Management CommitteeCllrs Scougall and Bradby

b)  Test Valley Association of Parish CouncilsCllr Kennesion

c)  Planning committeeWhole council

d)  Flood OfficerCllr Butler

e)  Parish LengthsmanCllr Kennesion

f)   Village Design committeeCllr Page

g)  Playground committeeCllrs Young and Burt

h)  AllotmentsCllr Page

i)   All Saints Church fundraising committeeCllr Burt

30/14Set dates for further meetings:

Bi-monthly meetings – 7/7/14, 1/9/14, 3/11/14, 5/1/15, 2/3/15, Budget meeting 24/11/14.  

Parish Assembly – 13/4/15, Annual meeting – 11/5/15.

31/14Approval of minutes of the meeting held on 03 March 2014

The minutes of the meeting held on 03 March 2014, having been circulated previously, were agreed and signed by the chairman. 

32/14Matters arising from the meeting of 03 March 2014

a)  Bridleway between Houghton Down and Broughton Footpath.  The clerk had received an e mail from Lyndsay Bryers of Cloverfied to say that it is still overgrown.  Cllr Burt confirmed she had contacted the landowner, D Busk, on a number of occasions to request it be cut back. She will contact him again.  

b)  Kissing gate at Church Lane – Cllr Young confirmed HCC had been requested to repair it.

c)  Trees in recreation ground – Cllr Young still waiting for the report.  He will chase.

d)  Developer’s contributions – Clerk confirmed £1870 received by TVBC relating to the planning application for Rosemary Cottage.  The Parish Council has until 2023 to put in a request to use the funds.

33/14Correspondence

The following correspondence had been received and copied to councillors:

HCCHants Minerals & Waste Plan event 5th June 14

HCCInvitation to WW1 Centenary Service in Winchester Cathedral 17/6

Romsey Town MayorQuiz Night July/Aug

HALCMay Update

The following correspondence had been received and was available at the meeting:

TV Assoc  PCsAgenda Meeting 15/5 and survey (Passed to Cllr Kennesion)

TVBCLetter re ‘Flooding Workshop’

CPREAgenda Invitation to AGM 16th May

HCCInvitation to ‘Paths to Partnership’ conference 05 June

Village Hall MCAccounts for Village Hall & Friends of Village Hall Yr end 31/3/14

HALCApril Update and consultation on transparency code for smaller councils

34/14Finance

Bank Balances as per bank statements issued 14 April 14:            

Business Instant Access Account as at 09 April 2014  £8851.02

Treasurer’s Account as at 26 March 2014  £1317.21

The following payments were authorised:

Mrs B Barker March/April Salary      £360.00

Hants Playing Field Assoc  Subs 2014/15               £40.00

Came & Co.  Insurance 1/6/14-31/5/15        £725.40

HCC Street lighting     £ 60.76

The following accounts had been paid and were retrospectively approved:

Mr T Smith – Playground inspections (Chq 668)    £206.00

HALC – subscription 01/4/14-31/03/15 (Chq 669)         £177.00

(Clerk confirmed that £1000 was transferred from Savings Acc to Treasurers acc on 3/3/14 & £1000 on 7/5)

Precept of £3750 had been received since statement balance

Predicated balances when all accounts settled:

Business Instant Access Account 11601.02

Treasurer’s Account     748.05

The council approved the clerk’s salary (£180 per month), and confirmed it was satisfied with the financial risk assessment and internal controls.  The clerk advised that there was no change to the asset register and the council confirmed its approval of the level of insurance.

The Annual Accounts for 2013/14, having been circulated previously, were adopted and signed.  The council approved Section 1(Accounting Statements) and Section 2(Annual Governance Statement) of the Annual Return.  The clerk is would meet with the Internal Auditor on 19th May and the Annual Return and supporting documents would be sent to the External Auditor by the Audit date of 4th June. 

35/14Review Standing Orders and Financial Regulations

Standing Orders and Financial Regulations based on HALC models had been sent to councillors prior to the meeting.  The council resolved to adopt these regulations.  

36/14Planning

The following applications had been received since the March meeting:

13/00669/CLESWheelwrightsCert Lawful use 1st floor offices – Council had no comment

14/00880/FULLS1 Chapelside Cotts. – Garage/fencing/access.  The council objected to the access on safety grounds.    

The owners of the property asked what they could do, given that the parish council had objected.  The chairman advised them to write to TVBC stating their case.   The owners wanted it recorded that they felt that the measurements that the Parish Council used in their letter of objection were not accurate and also an assumption had been made that they would be reversing out of the drive when this was not their intention.   They were also disappointed that their immediate neighbour had not been consulted by the Parish Council. 

37/14Playground Report and Grass Cutting

Cllr Young confirmed he had inspected the playground that day.  The previous grass cutting contractor had resigned and Cllr Young had obtained a quote from a local contractor for £1000 per annum. The council agreed to appoint him. 

38/14Village Hall Report 

The chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee gave the following report:

Boiler, thermostats and radiators went in last summer with the £5K grant from Veolia, thanks to Mike Woodhall,s support + £800 of our own funds. Harvest Supper – First event with the PCC.  Range Cooker delivered.  Fishing Day Auction at The Boot raised £1200.  Lighting overhauled with dimmers and downlighters.  Curtain poles put up.  Gate put in on corner of playground and Stevens Drove (fence and possible hedge to follow).  Porch renovated.  To date 85 named new chairs.

Plans for the future: Approximately £13K of funds altogether.  We would like to do the following:

Renovate the back of the VH.  Existing barriers are very old and need replacing with something secure but attractive & possible patio.  Roof at back also needs replacing possibly with asphalt.  Plants and climbers and troughs with bedding plants all round the front and sides.  Bring the Village Hall up to Hallmark standard and publish Terms and Conditions. Replace floor in kitchen, repair holes in wall and fit cooker.  Obtain quotes for back and kitchen extension and begin to raise money in order to finance the projects if approved.

39/14Village Design Statement

Cllr Page confirmed that this was ongoing. John Hurley had produced a draft layout plan.

40/14Parish Matters – Councillors

Cllr Burt advised parishioners that the ‘Trustees of the Busk Grandchildren Settlement’ had objected to the Local Plan.  The procedure is that the Planning Inspector will decide if the objection needs further investigation and, if so, a hearing will take place (possibly September).

HCC Cllr Gibson advised that he had attended a meeting that day and it was agreed that council tax will be frozen until 2020.  He also confirmed that a major review of public transportation is taking place and it is likely that HCC will move to a completely different operating model. He will keep the council informed

41/14Parish Matters – Parishioners

The clerk had been asked by Philippa Williams to report that the path from the top of Church Lane that runs across the top of the paddock was uneven and dipped in the middle.  Also there were a couple of kerbs across it that causing a possible trip hazard.  Cllr Young had taken a look at it and did not deem it to be a problem.   

42/14Decision on Solar Farm Proposal

The chairman asked for a show of hands from parishioners.  Support – 0, Objections – 3 

The chairman proposed a vote be taken.  This was seconded by the vice chair and carried:

Cllr Burt- Objection.  She explained that, whilst she was in support of renewable energy, the proposed site was not the right choice.  It would be at least 10 years before the screening would be adequate.  There were also a number of issues that had not been addressed, for example the effect on fly-life on the River Test had not been considered.  Also, there would be a loss of good arable land.  50% of it had been farmed successfully by Richard Monk. 

Cllr Bradby – Objection.  She agreed with Cllr Burt that she was In favour of renewable energy in the right place.  This area is a conservation area and an area of outstanding beauty.  As a parish councillor, she felt it was her duty to protect the local environment.  

Cllr Butler – Support.  He explained that, in Europe farmers are encouraged to contribute to renewable energy and the UK should be doing the same.  Agriculture is already subsidised by the E.U. He did not believe there would be an adverse effect on the fly-life of the River Test or any issues with ‘glint and glare’.  He raised a concern that it might be difficult to establish hedging and trees on the soil type.

Cllr Young – Support.  He believed there was a need for renewable energy.  He felt the visual impact would be negligible and also that the development could be easily decommissioned.

The Chairman had the casting vote – Objection.  He believed that the application had been flawed.  Even after 10 years, the Solar Farm would be visible, particularly from the footpath to Broughton.  He could not support the industrialisation of a beautiful area.  

The meeting closed at 9.40pm