MINUTES OF ELTON PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD IN THE HIGHGATE HALL ON TUESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2016 COMMENCING AT 7.30 P.M.
Present: Cllrs Donoyou, Gentry, Holman, Rankmore, Smith and Strowbridge
In attendance: Mrs W Gray Parish Clerk, Mr George (School Governor) and 4 residents
- Apologies for Absence: Parish Cllrs Cummins, Porter and District Cllr R Mathews
- Declaration of Interest: None.
- Sibson Airfield Garden Village Proposal:
A meeting was arranged with Cllr Bull (HDC) and members of Elton and Sibson-cum-Stibbington Parish Councils to reinforce the objections established by the following bodies to the proposals established within the EOI:
- Elton Parish Council
- Sibson cum Stibbington Parish Council
- The Elton Society
- Elton Estates
- Individual residents of the respective villages
Clarify the position of Huntingdon District Council to the EOI given the statements contained within official documents as well as publicity material circulated by the developers, in support of the EOI, which suggested that the process was being lead by HDC – which if correct would represent a conflict of interest for the District Council.
In the light of the clarification, hopefully agree with Cllr Bull action necessary for HDC to distance itself from the position suggested by Larkfleet – it was considered unrealistic that an agreement for the abandonment of the EOI could be achieved at this meeting.
Attended by Cllr Bull, Tim Cummins & Ray Rankmore Elton PC, Margery Beuttell Chair of Sibson cum Stibbington PC and Cllr A Bradshaw Sibson Cum Stibbington PC at the Haycock Hotel on 11th October 2016.
Cllr Rankmore reported the following from the meeting;
Having established that Cllr Bull was familiar with the basis of the PC’s objections to the proposals, contained within the EOI, [already forwarded to HDC], rapidly move on to the role of HDC suggested by the developers within a wide range of material including:
- The EOI
- The Delivery Document
- Briefings, distributed to CCC, The Homes and Communities Agency [central government], the local MP and individual households within Elton, Sibson cum Stibbington [via leaflet drops].
It had been agreed at a pre meeting that Cllr Margery Beuttell would chair the meeting with Cllr Bull.
Cllr Bull responded to the opening welcome by summarising his knowledge of the EOI.
Larkfleet had approached HDC in April 2016 based upon their own/internal analysis of the need for new homes in Huntingdonshire in line with Govt requirements/targets – no need for new homes had been established by HDC in the north of the District. HDC was/is already discharging the requirements laid upon it by the Govt, having established planning for 21k new homes mainly in the South of the District. Elton/Stibbington had never been part of this planning envelope.
Notwithstanding this point, Cllr Bull took the position that the EOI looked interesting and opened the door for the developers to have discussions with central govt on the possibilities in July 2016, emphasising that:
- The project was at an early stage
- Discussions with HDC had only commenced in April
- Community engagement would be” important”
- The council was keen to explore the possibilities
The EOI was therefore submitted to the Homes and Communities Agency on the 28th July 2016 with a covering letter from HDC, to meet the deadline for submission – without any locally led consultation having taken place prior to this date. The points outlined above were confirmed in the covering correspondence issued by HDC. The HDC cabinet was aware of the EOI but as it was at an early stage had not debated it at a full council meeting prior to submission. Informal contact appears to have continued at officer level since the EOI was submitted.
Cllr Cummins probed the position currently held by HDC relating to SGV at the meeting on the basis of the documentation prepared by the developers and promulgated/distributed by them and their agents. The Delivery document submitted to Marsham Street [i.e. the HCA] by Larkfleet states the following in relation to the Governance arrangements relating to the planning, design development and subsequent running of SGV:
- An executive Board will act as sponsor of SGV responsible for brokering delivery – page 41 of said document
- The executive Board will comprise nominated senior/CE/district officers from HDC and Larkfleet Homes
- Below the Executive Board the project will be managed by a steering group comprising senior officers of HDC and key representatives of Larkfleet
Cllr Bull stated that no such agreement has been made. Such an agreement would represent a clear conflict of interest given HDC’s position as the planning authority.
Cllr Cummins made the point that we were merely responding to published materials, claims subsequently made in briefing meetings and notes distributed to households by the developers, stating that the EOI had been submitted by HDC and that the Council had been working with both the land owners and the prospective developers to deliver the development should it go ahead.
Cllr Margery Beuttell presented a notice to this effect, on display at Wansford Post Office, to Cllr Bull for his info. Cllr Bull was aware of these claims but made the point that this was clearly in conflict with HDC’s statutory responsibilities as the planning authority and that there had been no discussion at a full council meeting.
Cllr Rankmore made the point that it would seem appropriate for HDC to issue a clear public statement clarifying their position as the planning authority and distancing themselves from any suggestion that they were leading SGV in any way. Cllr Bull agreed and stated that he would urgently discuss this with HDC’s communications “people” and act appropriately, to ensure that such a communication was developed and issued.
A letter addressed to Cllr Margery Beuttell chair of Sibson cum Stibbington PC, dated 14th October 2016 has been received from Cllr Bull clarifying both his own and HDC’s position with regard to the SGV – however this response is not as strong as that suggested at the meeting – but it probably goes as far as HDC are prepared to go. However the letter clearly states that the actions taken by HDC in ”opening the door” should not be regarded as support for a planning application – should one be developed/ submitted. The PC can therefore be assured that HDC is not leading this project in any way.
Cllr Rankmore expressed the view that these comments need to be incorporated into the briefing documents in development by the 2 PCs [Cllr Cummins has/is developing the draft]. The Comments need to be featured in such a way that the misrepresentation of the HDC by Larkfleet, contained in the EOI and all of their communications material, is clearly obvious, bringing serious doubt in the readers mind to the overall credibility of the EOI. This briefing document must make an impact and as such needs to be produced in such a way that it “stands out” in the same professional way that the SGV document does. This will require funding – which is not currently in the Elton PC budget. Cllr Rankmore recommended that if funding cannot be acquired from other sources, the PC should be prepared to invest in opposing the EOI and subsequent planning application, should one be developed and submitted, given that this is a very major issue. Clearly such expenditure will be brought to the PC before any commitments are made.
Cllr Donoyou proposed the Parish Council set aside necessary funds for producing the briefing leaflet and its distribution, seconded Cllr Smith, all in favour (£3000 our contribution).
The Parish Council may also have to look at an increase in Precept to cover further additional costs – all Cllrs voted in favour.
- Minutes of 20th September 2016:
Cllr Smith proposed, seconded Cllr Gentry that above minutes were signed as a true and accurate record of meeting, all in agreement.
- Matters Arising from above minutes – update:
School Planning Application – Mr George reported difficulty getting project started (temporary classroom should have started ready for opening next week).
Resignation Cllr Owen – Cllr Holman proposed, seconded Cllr Donoyou all in favour that a letter is sent thanking Amanda for her contribution on the Parish Council. Parish Council will look to fill vacancy in due course following HDC procedures.
- YTD/monthly accounts v budget:
Expenditure to date is what is expected. Cllr Rankmore requested that Cllrs report at the November meeting all items to be included in the budget together with anticipated cost etc for preparation of completing request for Precept for 2017/2018. Parish Clerk will send a copy of Accounts to date to all Cllrs.
- Authorisation of Payments:
|K&M Lighting Services – Maint October 2016||£61.15|
|D Knibbs Gardening Services – Final cut for 2016||£566.66|
|Wendy Gray – Salary/Tax October 2016||£300.00|
|Open Spaces Society – Subscription Renewal||£45.00|
Cllrs Donoyou, Rankmore and Smith approved the above invoices for payment.
- Street Lighting:
Parish Clerk has requested quotes from K&M Lighting. Cllr Donoyou will look at completing
Highways Grant application for further monies to support costs for upgrading lights as identified in Skanska report.
- A605 Junction:
Nothing further to report.
No new planning applications.
New Contract for 2017 to 2019 to be agreed – Parish Clerk to convey our thanks to Mr Knibbs for the excellent work he has done to date. Parish Clerk to prepare contract paperwork following Cllrs walk around the village to identify any further works required.
- Trees/Verges and Footpaths:
Iron Bridge – Ongoing
Trees – Cllr Donoyou to look at tree infringing on wall at 3 Back Lane as a matter of urgency.
Cllr Donoyou reported HDC enquired if we wanted to submit scheme for planting but only highway verges is areas available and therefore does not propose to submit a request. Cllr Smith asked if 20/30 hawthorn plants could be considered, Cllr Donoyou will make a request of HDC.
- Parish Noticeboard:
To be considered at a later date.
- Winter Gritting Routes and Village Gritting:
Agreed to join scheme. Parish Clerk to request further info.
No new correspondence received.
- Reports from Councillors:
Cllr Gentry, Local Speedwatch Co-ordinator reported 500 or so vehicles checked, ongoing.
Sheepwalk – CIL (only payable on new properties).
Cllr Rankmore – reminded Cllrs to bring proposals for expenditure to be considered at the November meeting.
Parish Clerk had received a request from the Churchyard Grasscutting team “would the Parish Council consider purchasing a mower or a strimmer for their use”. Parish Clerk to ask for quotes.
- Date of Next Meeting:
Tuesday 15th November 2016
Meeting closed at 9.48 p.m.
Signed: ……………………………… Date: ……………………..