NORTHINGTON PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL
Date: Tuesday, 18th May 2021 Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Northington Village Hall
Present: John Mitchell Chairman
Wendy Simson Clerk
Apologies: Cllr Margot Power
Cllr Jackie Porter
Cllr Russell Gordon-Smith
- Welcome and apologies for absence.
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting, which was being held in person following the changes to Government guidance on 7th May. The Chairman asked whether everyone was comfortable being together and explained that if required a Zoom call could be set up to allow any members to join remotely. The Chairman noted that only Councillors present are able to vote on resolutions. . Those present were happy to continue at the meeting.
The Clerk had received apologies from Cllrs Power and Porter.
- Election of Chairman
The Clerk explained that the Council is required to elect the Chairman each year. Councillor Mitchell confirmed that he was prepared to stand again, and the remaining Councillors confirmed that they did not wish to stand. Councillor Nye proposed Councillor Mitchell and Councillor Jennings seconded the nomination. The full Council voted to approve Councillor Mitchell’s re-election.
- Co-option of Juliet Blanshard to the Parish Council
The Chairman welcomed Juliet to the meeting and thanked her for agreeing to become a Councillor. Juliet said that she was happy to be co-opted and the Councillors approved her appointment.
- Minutes of the last meeting
The Councillors reviewed minutes for the meeting on 16th March 2021 and agreed them as a true representation of the meeting. The Clerk will provide a copy for the Chairman to sign.
- Broadband upgrade
The Chairman asked Councillor Nye to update the Council on the project to bring faster broadband to the village. The email (below) dated 6th May was sent to all residents:
“In January, Bill Wykeham wrote to you all about Northington Parish Council’s (NPC) work towards bringing Gigabit broadband to Northington households.
On offer was the possibility of £1,500 in government voucher funding (BDUK) matched by a further £1,500 from Hampshire County Council (HCC). In spite of this level of subsidy, the additional cost per Northington household was then estimated to be about £1,700.
Central government subsequently decided to split rural broadband rollout into two phases. Northington was placed in phase two, starting on 1 April 2021. In mid April HCC put a hold on further funding, leaving it to the new HCC administration to decide the issue. Were we to lose the HCC money, then the currently estimated cost per household will increase to about £3,200. The prospects for further HCC funds do not look good.
Separately, BDUK also has an initiative to fund and deliver FTTP to 80,000 outlying Hampshire homes with commercial activities starting in June 2021. As an early applicant, there is a glimmer of hope that Northington will be included. Work will go out to tender by suppliers, with contracts awarded early in 2022 and deployment over the following 12 months. This would be a scheme fully funded by central government and not dependent on vouchers. At this moment we cannot tell whether or not we shall be included. This will only be apparent when bidding is complete, and contracts awarded.
Our reading of the current situation suggests that we will probably not be a part of this second round of BDUK deployment.
Ultimately the parish should receive Gigabit broadband as BDUK is tasked with rolling out high speed broadband access in rural areas. The BDUK ‘s wider vision is for gigabit speed to reach 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025.
The Parish Council will continue to engage with Openreach to secure a realistic rather than speculative quotation for deployment and, in concert with other villages, we shall lobby HCC and our county councillors to try to secure the subsidies we need.
Councillor Nye said he had received an email today with maps showing where the cables will run and detailing which will be laid underground. These maps are not accurate and so Councillor Nye and the Chairman will review them before they respond to the email.
The Chairman thanked Councillor Nye for the work he has done so far on this project and asked that the minutes should record these thanks.
- Covid19 update
There have been no reports of Covid19 illness in the community and the move to step 3 of the roadmap has meant that the Woolpack has reopened to customers eating and drinking inside.
- District Councillors Report
Councillor Porter had sent a report, which the Clerk had circulated in advance of the meeting.
- Planning Applications
The Parish Council received an application for Lawn Cottage (21/00945/LIS) for the following work:
- Replacement of plastic rainwater goods with aluminium
- Replacement of casement windows in original lodge with arched mullion windows, as seen in historic photographs and exampled in one remaining original window
- Replacement of wooden casement windows in extension with wooden casement windows with amended bar design
- Replacement of wooden lounge doors with similar but amended bar design
- Replacement of wooden kitchen doors with similar but amended bar design in widened aperture
The Councillors raised no objections to the work.
- Clerk’s financial statement
The Clerk informed Councillors that the year-end accounts had been completed and were included in the paperwork circulated prior to the meeting. The closing balance on the account was £6,516.77 and Paul Clarke has agreed to conduct the internal audit work required.
The Council signed off the Annual Governance Statement as part of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) and the Chairman signed off the completed return. The Clerk had prepared the notices for display in both noticeboards giving the public the opportunity to view the accounts.
Two invoices have been received for payment:
- Hampshire Association of Local Council (HALC) subscription – £170.37
- Insurance – £580.11
The Clerk informed Councillors that the insurance had increased from £352.36 in 2020/21, a 65% increase. The Clerk had questioned this with Came & Co, the broker, and been given the following response:
The insurance market is hardening, bringing increased premiums and tightening of terms. The inevitable long term result of legacy soft market conditions is that claims costs rise compared to premiums, reducing insurers’ underwriting profitability. This can be caused by a number of factors, including; falling investment returns for insurers due to low interest rates, increases in frequency or severity of losses, EU & regulatory intervention deemed to be against the interests of insurers and increased reinsurance costs. Today we are well into the hardening market across most insurance lines, effecting the majority of sectors with Insurance experts predicting conditions will continue throughout 2021, further exacerbated by COVID-19 and other issues. We are, as we have always done, continually reviewing and assessing our insurance provision. When we have concluded this exercise, during the next quarter, we will be making the sector and our clients aware of how we will be launching an improved solution to manage the insurance needs of local councils going forward.
We understand increasing premiums are of concern. Should the council receive alternative terms that appear more competitive, please allow us the opportunity to review in order to ensure policy cover remains as required by your Council, and to further negotiate where possible with our insurers.
The Clerk had attended the HALC conference in 2020 and met a representative from BHIB Councils Insurance, who have been asked for an alternative quote.
Action: Clerk to keep Councillors informed of progress
Action: Clerk to pay HALC membership
- Lengthsman duties
The visits for 2021/22 have been booked in for:
- 19th May
- 28th July
- 10th September
- 13t December
- 14th February
An email has been sent to all residents asking about areas requiring work. The grips on Kite’s Hill are one of the main priorities, as recent heavy rain has almost caused a Keeper’s Cottage to flood .
Councillors Jennings and Blanshard are meeting the Lengthsman at 12:30 on 19th May to look at the work needed, and it was agreed that giving a short list and asking for work to be completed thoroughly was the right approach.
- General Correspondence
The Mayor of Winchester sent an invitation to the Sunday Service at Winchester Cathedral on Sunday 6th June. Councillor White agreed to attend to represent the Parish Council.
- Any other business
The Clerk distributed the Disclosable Pecuniary Interests’ form and asked Councillors to complete and return.
- Date of the next meeting
The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Tuesday 6th July 2021 at 7.00pm
The next Parish Council meeting will be on Tuesday, 20th July 2021 at 7.00 pm.
- Start times for Regular Meetings
Henceforth Regular Meetings will start at 7.00 pm.
The meeting ended at 8.45 pm.
Signed: …………………………………………………………………… (John Mitchell, Chairman)
Dated: 20th July 2021