MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF OULTON PARISH COUNCIL held at Oulton Congregational Chapel on Tuesday 27th September 2016
- Present: Mr Paul Killingback, Mr G Peck, Ms S Harrison, Mrs S Mather, Ms A Shaw, Ms N Poole, Mr A Nash.
Apologies: Clerk to the council: Mrs J. H. Rogers.
Minutes at the meeting were taken by Mrs S Mather.
Mr Paul Killingback requested that Vice-Chair Mr G Peck chair the meeting. Also in attendance: Councillor Steven Riley & Councillor David Harrison.
- Declarations of Interest: Ms S Harrison, Mr G Peck, Mr A Nash & Mrs S Mather declared a non-prejudicial interest in item 5 as members of the National Trust.
- Minutes of the last meeting held on 2nd August were approved and signed.
- Matters Arising: The potential loss of Oulton’s Polling Station was discussed. It was feared that, even though Oulton’s percentage turnout has been very high at recent elections, staffing costs might be used as a reason to close it. The PC felt that this was not in the interests of fostering democracy and was yet another loss of a rural service. Cllr Riley volunteered that many local villages had nothing like the turnouts at Oulton and so it was agreed to write to the Head of Democratic Services protesting at the potential loss of our polling station and offering to host the polling of other nearby villages, if it were absolutely necessary to reduce costs.
Councillor David Harrison said there was nothing particular to report from County Hall and left the meeting.
Councillor Steven Riley reported that the devolution debate was still ongoing, and he offered to support the cause at BDC of keeping the polling station open.
- Planning Application number 20161485:
Applicant: The National Trust: – Installation of five Pay & Display Machines in the Main car park at Blickling Hall (to replace existing) and new machines in Fisherman’s, Buck’s Common and Woodgate car parks: It was discussed and agreed that OPC would object to the machines in the three outlying car parks on the grounds that these smaller, informal car parks are mostly used by local people walking or jogging, with or without dogs, and that pay machines may well provoke avoidance parking. This would be particularly dangerous if cars started to park on the wide grassed areas at the junction of New Road with B1354. These areas had been created several years ago, at the request of the Parish Council, expressly to gain better visibility at what is a notoriously dangerous junction. The passing places along New Road could also become opportunistic parking areas and the introduction of the new multi-use tracks on the Blickling estate will be likely to produce an increase in parked cars.
It was also noted with regret that (although not a planning consideration) the introduction of pay-to-park in these informal car parks – used almost exclusively by local people – would fly sadly in the face of the historical significance of Buck’s (sometimes called “Oulton”) Common where in days gone by the inhabitants of Oulton not only walked freely but had wooding rights.
It was agreed to invite Helen Bailey from The National Trust to attend the next PC meeting to discuss.
- Financial Matters: Bills: 2 cheques made out to Norse for a total of £334.44, to cover the annual cycle of cutting grass at the playground.
Mr A Nash and Ms N Poole said the Box Day finances were not quite ready and will be discussed at the next meeting.
Mr A Nash also proposed that the Parish Council consider additional funding for Box Day by applying for a grant from ‘Celebrate England’ through the National Lottery. He suggested this would be a way of covering the costs of an enhanced photo update of the parish and other items to be decided. It was agreed in principle to apply, if it was thought that the PC were eligible.
- Footpaths: The public rights of way were discussed and members were asked about the current state of the footpaths in their part of the parish. It was agreed that the majority were in a reasonable state but some have not been walked for a while. It was agreed that in particular the footpath from New Road across to the Long Hollands wood should be walked soon by Ms Shaw & Mrs Mather as Ms Harrison observed that one stretch of it is currently impassable. It was also noted that there were some signs that needed attention. Ms Shaw volunteered to organise a Parish Footpath Walk next early spring, as “paths are made by walking” and several new residents in the parish may be unaware of their exact whereabouts.
- Parish Partnership: Mrs S Mather, on behalf of the PC, had looked into the type and cost of ‘village gates’, with a view perhaps to installing them at either end of Oulton Street in an attempt to reduce traffic speeds. Edgefield has these gates and, from their Parish Council minutes, it appears that the project cost them £1700. This was 50% of the full cost, the rest being paid by Norfolk County Council. Mr G Peck said he had heard of other villages where they had speed monitors installed on loan to see how they worked. If successful in reducing speed, then the Parish Councils had approached local companies for sponsorship to help towards 50% of the £3000 total cost, the other 50% being met by Norfolk County Council. This idea was a possibility but it was felt that the village gates were a better option. At present, funding is an issue, this could be done by fund raising, and this will be reviewed at a later date.
- Any Other Business:
(i) Solarcentury have recently submitted a non-material amendment to their biodiversity management plan for the Solar Park: App. No. 20161612. This statement appears in their application form:
“Please state why you wish to make this amendment:
Following tests after construction, our electrical contractor has recommended that no livestock or animals with small padded feet be allowed within the Park due to the potential risks from the plant. Consequentially, the additional option of managing grassland via vehicular cutting must be incorporated within the biodiversity management plan as an alternative to grazing.”
Councillors expressed their disappointment and surprise, since much store had been set by sheep-grazing during the Planning Committee meeting, with many BDC councillors feeling that this was an important argument – put forward both by the landowner, Mr M. Harrold and by Solarcentury – to mitigate the loss of good agricultural land. The loss of good agricultural land was exactly the point at issue. It was proposed that Mr Harrold be contacted to explain precisely why it had been discovered so late in the day that sheep would be at risk from the plant and also to provide the PC with an update regarding the Community Fund.
(ii) Mr G Peck will attend the SNAP meeting in January.
(iii) Thefts: It was with sadness that it was reported that Oulton Street had been targeted by thieves in the early hours of Friday 23rd September and two households lost items from outbuildings. It was agreed that an email be sent to all residents informing them of the need to keep outbuildings secure.
(iv) Pot Holes: It was agreed to ask the Clerk to report potholes on Spinks Lane and to remind Highways of the urgent need to repair the holes reported previously at the junction of New Road with the Blickling-Saxthorpe road.
(v) Mrs N Poole submitted a letter of resignation with immediate effect; this was read out by Mr Peck. All present were sad to see her go and thanked her for all her work during her time as a Parish Councillor. Amongst many other things, the PC will struggle to replace her sterling work on the PC website.
- NEXT MEETING: Tuesday 8th November 8pm
Mr G Peck submitted his apologies in advance.