Public Participation – Cllr Adam Brown sent the following report.
NCC will meet twice this month: on 14th February to discuss the next phase of plans to establish two new unitary authorities in the county, and on 21st February to discuss the 2019/20 budget. On the 14th February Council will also debate a motion put forward by me which seeks to formalise NCC’s opposition to the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges near Blisworth and Milton Malsor. In that motion I highlight the severe impact on nearby villages and the brilliant work by local activists in opposing the scheme. Having discussed the matter with colleagues within the Conservative group I am optimistic that the motion will be passed and a strong message will be sent to the planning inspectorate and the Secretary of State for Transport.
In terms of budgetary matters, our leadership team is increasingly optimistic that we will end this financial year on budget or with a moderate underspend. As a member of the Scrutiny & Overview Committee I have been part of the team analysing next year’s budget and we have highlighted a number of areas of concern, most notably: the desire for continued subsidy of youth groups which allows them to use school premises in Northamptonshire; an instruction to Cabinet for NCC to be more aggressive in its approach to procurement in order to realise over £1m of savings; the importance that additional spending on social care services be sufficient to meet the anticipated demand.
Next year’s budget currently does not account for the recent government decision to allow NCC to increase Council tax by 2% in addition to the 2.99% permitted by the Secretary of State. I have argued that should we accept that additional 2% rise then the money must be used to reinstate services that the public have clearly told us they wish to retain such as enhanced winter gritting. Whilst the 2% would raise approximately £6m, much of that money would need to be put into reserves to allow for potential pressures on statutory services. Of course NCC has previously been criticised for failing to raise council tax, and whilst we remain one of the lowest areas for council tax in the whole of England in the midst of ongoing financial pressure it would be irresponsible to pass up the opportunity to strengthen the County Council’s revenue raising ability.
Alwyne Wilson introduced herself as the new chair of the Village Hall.
Bliss Close maintenance issues
Tom Dodd spoke about problems experienced by residents of Bliss Close with the maintenance of the public spaces, or buffer zones. Residents ware paying a considerable amount for maintenance which they do not feel is being carried properly or with any reference to the costs they are incurring. Any requests to see the contracts are rebuffed, and it seemed that the agreements were in perpetuity with no right to appeal or withdraw. He was concerned to know what had passed between Council and the developers on this issue. It was felt that safety issues were a concern of the Parish Council, even if other issues were not. Cllr PG reported that there were similar maintenance contracts in place in Bugbrooke, but that they were being properly handled. It was suggested that there might be breach of contract. It was felt that at this stage the issue did not involve the Parish Council, as the Council referred to in the House deeds was almost certainly South Northants Council. Such maintenance contracts were becoming common and similar conflicts were arising all over the country, and causing concern in Government. SC felt this was not an issue for Council, and AW felt the residents would have to take legal advice. The Clerk was instructed to write express concerns on safety issues, and the Chair expressed sympathy and support on behalf of Council.
Rent night took place on Jan 24th. All but 8 rents collected. SC suggested a reminder letter at the end of the month. AW suggested setting up online payments with monthly instalments.
It was reported that information was still being received in the form of postal votes for preferred future building sites. SNC were looking for 25 – 59 new houses. It was felt the village would be more comfortable with 25 – 29,
and felt that that community led housing and self-build should be explored.
This is a perennial problem and Councillors felt there was more on the Green than was usual and were disappointed. A new Dog Bin has been installed on Church Lane and it is hoped that this might help with the river area. This problem has been further highlighted by contact with David Banner who farms the field on the other side of the pedestrian bridge. This maintained as a traditional style water meadow and as such it represents a valuable amenity and environment. Mr Banner is disappointed that many dog owners let their dogs run free and foul freely. He would ask that dog walkers keep to the paths and that they keep their dogs on their leads at least until they have “done their business” and that this be bagged and removed. While there are often not sheep in the meadow, the grazing of sheep is an integral part of the meadow’s management. Dog faeces can contain a parasite that causes sheep to abort and can also kill them. He would be most grateful if dog walkers could remember this.
It has now been established that there will be no District or Parish elections in 2019 with the onset of the unitary council imminent.
Roads and Pavements
The installation of a 20mph speed limit was raised. This was felt to be an aspiration for next year, although it could be applied for under NHB.
Parishioners are reminded that anyone can report a pothole or other highways problem online to the Streetdoctor service, and this can refer to problems outside the village too. Alternatively, phone 0300 126 1000 and ask for Streetdoctor
The annual “Spring Clean” would be taking place on March 30th/31st.
The Clerk had contacted Matthew Clarke at Keir/Highways who was still searching for a quote for a finger post for the church. He had also advised that renovation of the direction sign on the green would probably cost £1500.
Parish Council Notes by the Clerk; Guy Ravine February 2019
For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.