Minutes of the Clavering Parish Council Meeting held on Monday 10th February 2020 at 7:30pm in Clavering Christian Centre.
Present – Councillors Stephanie Gill (Chairman), Rob Clayton, Richard Carter, Nigel Cook, Rebecca Stanford, Michael Patmore, Brian Barrow, Ron Couchman, and Jessica Ashbridge (Clerk)
6 members of the public were in attendance, District Councillor Oliver and County Councillor Gooding. Meeting commenced at 7:30pm.
1. Chairmanwelcome–TheChairmanthankedparishionersforclearingupstormdamage,andCllrsforclearing damage caused by previous high winds. The Chairman reminded those attending that parishioners should not
interrupt the meeting by calling out during items under discussion.Apologiesforabsence–ApologieswereacceptedfromCllrRyan,whohadtransportdifficulties.P:CllrGill,S:Cllr Cook, 7 in fav.
Cllr Clayton declared a personal and prejudicial interest in UTT/19/3056/OP 9.2, as friends with the neighbour, and a pecuniary interest in 21, Clerk’s report, if elements of it were to be discussed, as they related to his property. Cllr Carter declared a personal and prejudicial interest in 10, Oxley’s Close, as there is a family connection. Cllrs Cook and Stanford expressed a personal and prejudicial interest in 9.1, UTT/20/0140/HHF as friends with the owner. Cllr Gill declared a personal and prejudicial interest in 9.1, UTT/20/0052/HHF as friends with the owner.
Cllr Patmore arrived.
A parishioner spoke on behalf of Hands of Clavering, expressing his delight that the appeal for properties behind the school had been dismissed, and thanking CPC and the community for their support. HoC AGM Date 24th February at Christian Centre. He also spoke on behalf of Speed Watch, on Pelham Road, 8 cars out of 125 were speeding at over 44mph, between 3-4pm. Two new volunteers have come forwards, and there is a new site approved by Essex Police outside The Cricketers to use. All new volunteers need training, even if they have volunteered in the past. Cllr Gill thanked the parishioner.
A parishioner directed a question to the Clerk, who had no knowledge of the situation, as it had taken place during a confidential meeting of the Standards Board. Cllr Gill requested that the parishioner put his question in writing.
A parishioner apologised for interrupting the January meeting when the budget was being discussed. He asked whether the Standards Board report was public – the Clerk responded that it would be on the UDC website the day after the meeting, and was an agenda item.
A parishioner spoke about the works that had been carried out at the copse on Stickling Green, and asked for permission to cut more of the ivy at the base of the trees, as it was difficult to determine which had died. He had carried out CPC’s Health and Safety training, so Cllr Gill thanked him for volunteering to carry out the work, and instructed to Clerk to send an email granting permission, requesting a range of dates were provided for insurance purposes.
A parishioner left the meeting.
The minutes of the Clavering Parish Council meeting held on 13th January 2020 were approved. The draft minutes had had cheque numbers in the wrong order, but these had been corrected.
The in-camera report of Clavering Parish Council meeting held on 13th January 2020 was received.DistrictandCountyCouncillorsReports–CllrOliverdeliveredhisreport,CllrGoodingdeliveredhisreportlaterinthe meeting, when he arrived.
UDC Standards Board – A report was read out by the Clerk on recent findings of UDC’s Standards Board after an investigation into alleged breaches by Cllr Couchman of the Adopted Code of Conduct, and also the Panel’s decision as to the actions and training to be undertaken by Cllr Couchman. It was noted that the Panel’s recommendations to CPC itself concerned matters that had already been addressed since the start of investigations in 2018 and the UDC Monitoring Officer considered this complete. Full report and link to the UDC Standards Board Panel’s draft minutes appended. Apology–CllrCouchmanhandedalettertotheClerkatthestartofthemeeting.Hereadthisletterout(letterB),the second of two letters – the first had been received by post (Letter A). Both letters appended. Cllr Gill commented that she had not done as he stated in the letter, the Clerk had contacted the Monitoring Officer.Planning–CllrsStanfordandCookleftthemeetingduringthediscussionofUTT/20/0140/HHF,CllrGillleftthe meeting during the discussion of UTT/20/0052/HHF.
9.1 To be discussed:
Planning Reference Address Proposal Decision
Roast Farm Langley Road Clavering Saffron Walden Essex CB11 4SQ
Proposed two storey side extension (revised scheme to approved UTT/17/0266/HHF and UTT/17/0267/LB)
Awaiting decisionComment below
Pleasant View Hill Green Clatterbury Lane Clavering Saffron Walden Essex CB11 4QS
First floor rear extension and cladding to all walls above brickwork.
Greengages Sheepcote Green Sheepcote Green Lane Clavering, Essex CB11 4SJ
Single storey side extension
17 Eldridge Close Clavering Saffron Walden Essex CB11 4FZ
Erection of two storey side extension
UTT/20/0202/HHF – The comment was made that the two story side extension included a kitchen and a bathroom and is not an annexe as included in their own wording. An annexe has to be subsidiary to the main building i.e. cannot have both a bathroom and a kitchen. All in fav of commenting.
Planning Reference Address Proposal Decision
Deers Green, Robin Hill Cock Lane
Section 73A Retrospective application for change of use of annexe to
Awaiting decision (24.01.2020)
Land West Of Stortford Road
Technical Details pursuant to Planning in Principle ref UTT/18/3326/PIP for the erection 8 dwellings
Awaiting decision (10.01.2020)
Yeomans Cottage, Wicken Road
Demolition of existing garage and sheds, and construction of timber framed
Land Adj. To Stevens Farm Wicken Road Clavering Essex
Outline application with all matters reserved except access for the erection of 1 no. dwelling
Awaiting decision (07.02.2020)
9.3 To discuss any other planning applications received subsequent to the agenda being published and/ or shown on the Uttlesford District Council website up until 3pm on the day of the meeting. - UTT/20/0275/HHF Double storey rear extension, 14 Skeins Way Clavering, comments need to be submitted by 12th March, so this will be discussed at the next meeting.
9.4 Appeal – A report was received from the planning inspectorate dismissing the appeal for the houses behind the school.
Cllr Carter left the meeting.
10. Oxley’s Close Speed Reduction Meeting – Recommendations that had been made following the meeting on October 28th were discussed. Speed reduction on Oxley’s Close, 20 is plenty signs could be applied for to the Highways Panel, but it is not enforceable, it was determined Cllrs Gill and Stanford should set up a Working Party to canvas the residents of Oxley’s Close, and ask the children at the school to produce designs for the signs.
Cllr Carter returned to the meeting.
The speed limit anomaly was discussed, it was determined that the Clerk should chase Highways, and ask the Highways Panel about the broken VAS sign. Cllr Couchman was brought to order and reminded again that a Parish Council can not purchase a VAS sign, only Highways have the authority to do so.
11. Green Waste – Resolution to determine whether to sign up for Green Waste Collection for 2020/21 for 10 collections. Predicted cost with 3% increase £700. Current budget: £660. If Langley pay their share CPC are
covered. If Langley choose not to pay next year, then CPC underbudgeted by £40, the amount can be taken from
reserves. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Clayton, Abstain: 1, 7 in fav.
12. Defibrillator to be sited at the south-west part of the village: The Clerk asked the Cllrs to help contact
electricians, as none had responded to the voicemails/ emails that had been left by the Clerk. It was requested that they contact the Clerk, so that the specifications could be sent out.
Council Policies for review: Dignity at Work/Bullying and Harassment Policy, it was determined to consult with EALC, whether to add a libellous/slanderous/or harassment example, and to postpone until the next meeting. Disciplinary and Grievance Policy – it was decided to postpone this policy too, and to amend Staffing Committee to Employment Committee.
EALC Chief Executive Joy Darby’s Retirement – It was determined that a donation towards Joy Darby’s retirement gifts should be made to EALC of £30 – power to spend – Chairman’s Allowance – Local Government Act 1972, ss 15(5) and 34(5). Cllr Couchman was brought to order after raising donations for the Church again. He was reminded that Parish Councils do not have the Power to give money to the Church based on the Local Government Act 1894, and that Joy Darby has been petitioning NALC to get this ‘grey’ area resolved. Note: The power to spend suggested in the meeting was LGA 1972 s137, however the Clerk has since learnt that the Chairman’s Allowance is more fitting, as it is benefitting an individual not the community. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Carter, All in fav.
Training – It was determined that Cllr Cook does GDPR online training, the course is £14. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Stanford, Abstain: 1, 7 in fav, and Cllr Gill attends CIF training (free) P: Cllr Clayton, S: Cllr Barrow, Abstain: 1, 7 in fav and retrospectively attends Unauthorised Encampments training (free). P: Cllr Stanford, S: Cllr Cook, Abstain: 1, 7 in fav.
Cllr Oliver left the meeting.
Clavering Churches Council – Request for CPC to clean and repaint the signpost on the triangle on the Pelham Road, and for Cllr Carter to trim the tree which is obscuring the signpost. The land belongs to Highways, and the tree – a flowering red chestnut – has a TPO, it was determined that the Clerk should ask the Highways Rangers to intervene.
Cllr Gooding arrived, and delivered his report.
Spring Litter Pick – It was determined to carry out the Spring Litter Picks on 28th March, 4th April, and on 3rd May
before VE Weekend, 10.15am safety briefing and 10.30am start.
VE Weekend - A report was received. The Village Hall and Jubilee Field may join together and host traditional
Insurance – The Clerk had contacted several insurance brokers, and had been advised that until the Legal Dispute
has been resolved, that insurance companies would be unwilling to provide quotes, and that it was best to wait. A parishioner had raised concerns about the new oak saplings planted on Hill Green, as they are 10m from the property, advice received from Came and Company, was that as they were replacing very large trees, and would take a long time to grow, therefore there was no insurance risk.
20.1 Allotments – Cllr Patmore handed the Clerk money from plot holders. One plot has been given up, it will be
20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5
offered to existing allotment holders. Jubilee Field – A report was received.
Byways and Footpaths - None.
Website and Email – A report was received.
Newsletter – It was determined to use Copycats for future newsletter printing, as their quote was the cheapest, they are also a Care and Wellbeing Company. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Cook, All in fav.
Village Green Working Party – A report was received, maps can be scanned on a home scanner, therefore a company will not need to be paid to carry out the work.
Village Sign Working Party – A report was received; the Clerk is to apply for a CIF grant for funding.
UALC – A report was received. All Parish Councils put forwards to Local Highways Transport. Cllr Gill responded to Cllr Couchman that although she is on the UALC board she cannot promote CPC’s LHP requests as although a UALC member is on the LHP Panel, he acts for the benefit of all PCs not just those on the panel.
20.9 Passenger Transport – Next meeting 19th March.
21 Clerks report - General correspondence and monthly report received.
22 Risk Assessment Book - Cllr Carter had cleared the fallen tree at the triangle at the Mills.
23.1 To approve cheques - Approval of the Clerk’s additional hours. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Carter, All in fav. To approve all other cheques - £14 contribution for SLCC membership will come from the Clerk’s other Council. P: Cllr Clayton, S: Cllr Cook, All in fav.
23.2 Asset Register and Insurance Values Review – It was determined to adjust the asset register and insurance values based on the values provided by Came and Company. The premium would remain unchanged for the remainder of the policy and increase slightly in June. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Stanford, All in fav.
23.3 Bank Mandate – Update – Cllr Cook added as a bank signatory, and Cllr Patmore removed as a signatory. 23.4 Saffron Walden Building Society – A report was received. Proposal: That Clavering PC open a One Year Fixed Rate Bond with Saffron Building Society (Saffron Walden Branch) currently paying 1.55%pa., and that the funds to open this are taken from the Clavering PC's Corporate Maturity Account, and that the signatories on the new account are those on the existing Corporate Maturity Account ie Cllrs Barrow, Stanford and Gill. It was determined to invest £5,000 and review as the year goes on. P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Carter, All in fav.
23.5 PKF Littlejohn – It was advised that a formal audit challenge and investigation of CPC’s 2018/19 accounts has been requested by a parishioner. It is expected that the costs involved will be covered by the precept raise last year. It is down to parishioners to stand the costs via the precept.
Balance at NatWest Bank 3rd Feb 2020
Balance of Clerk’s Expenses Account 3rd Jan 2020
£10 £18.30 £46.27
£523.68 £9,189.17 £53.73
Clerk’s Expenses Account 16.01.2020 18.01.2020
14.01.2020 15.01.2020 Total
Total of Cheques to be paid
After above Cheques
Clerk’s Expenses Printer Ink Clerk’s Expenses Adobe Acrobat
Mobile phone top up Stamps
Christian Centre rent – January 13th Meeting
Clerk’s Expenses Account top up
UDC Green Waste – 2019, 8 collections
Clerk’s Expenses – mileage EALC 27th Janury CiLCA training,
Additional hours – 13.25 CiLCA, audit challenge, dispute. Parking EALC
£22.50 £134.62 £2.40
Total of Outstanding Cheques
24 Items for next agenda:
Jubilee Field grass cutting Charities
Trees on Stickling Green Copse
Parishioners and Cllr Gooding left the meeting.
Under the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 and in accordance with 3d pursuant to Standing Order 11, it is resolved that the Public are excluded from any discussion on this item as it concerns a dispute.
P: Cllr Gill, S: Cllr Clayton, Against: Cllr Couchman; Cllrs in favour – Gill, Clayton, Carter, Cook, Stanford, Patmore, and Barrow.
An update was received.
The meeting was closed at 9.26pm.
Date of next meeting: Monday 9th March 2020.
Letter of Apology from Cllr Couchman A:
Dear Ms Ashbridge
Apology regarding disclosure of confidential information
At a parish council meeting in February 2018 I made an apology in these terms:
At a Parish Council meeting on 13 November from which the public had been excluded, a report was given regarding the behaviour of parishioner. Given the confidential nature of the item I cannot go into further detail in open session. I spoke to the parishioner concerned thinking that this would help to stop the alleged behaviour. I should not have spoken to the parishioner, as the report should have been regarded as confidential. I would like to apologise to the Parishioners of Clavering and to the individuals concerned unreservedly.
I now wish to apologise also to the Parish Council unreservedly for this. Yours sincerely,
R. A. Couchman
Letter of Apology from Cllr Couchman B:
10th February, 2020
To Clavering Parish Clerk.
Dear Mrs Ashbridge,
Apology regarding disclosure of confidential information.
Further to my letter to you via Uttlesford District Council Monitoring Officer, which was specifically agreed in detail by the Standards Panel.
The Monitoring Officer has been contacted by Councillor Gill asking that the panel decision letter be altered to include the word Clerk.
Accordingly I ask that you insert the word "including the Clerk" in the last but one sentence after the words, "the individuals" in the minuted version of my letter.
R. A. Couchman
Decision of the Extraordinary Standards Committee, Uttlesford District Council held on 21 January 2020 Chaired by Cllr S Barker
1. We find that Cllr Couchman has failed to declare a personal interest relating to Part 2 of the Councillors Code of Conduct relating to Clavering Parish Council. We determine that Cllr Couchman must undertake Governance training on declarations of interest and code of conduct matters within an agreed timescale.
2. We find that Cllr Couchman has disclosed confidential information in relation to a matter concerning the clerk, also in breach of Part 2 of the Councillors Code of Conduct and further determine that the letter of apology from Cllr Couchman previously issued by him should be expanded to include an apology to the Parish Council and is sent within 14 days. Should this not be done within 14 days then Cllr Couchman will be subject to a formal censure.
3. In response to the matter involving the alleged disclosure of information in relation to a dispute between Clavering Parish Council and third parties, we find there is not sufficient evidence to find against Cllr Couchman.
4. In making our decision, we acknowledge the long service of Cllr Couchman
5. These findings will be reported to the Clavering Parish Council, who we believe would benefit from further training in matters of governance.
Link to the Standards Board Hearing 21st January 2020 minutes:
Signed..................................................................................................................................................................9th March 2020 Cllr S. M. Gill