Minutes of Norley Annual Parish Meeting 10/05/16 7pm Norley C of E School
Councillor Querelle and Cheshire West & Chester Councillor Oultram sent their apologies.
Councillor O’Connor, Councillor Crawford, Councillor Fayle, Councillor Stockton, Councillor Harvey, Councillor Ford, Councillor Sturt and Councillor Wild attended the meeting along with 8 Parishioners.
2. Approval of the Minutes of Norley Annual Parish Meeting of 22/04/15
The minutes of Norley Annual Parish Meeting of 22/04/15 were approved.
3. Councillor O’Connor – Chairman of Norley Parish Council Report
Welcome to the 122nd Annual Parish Meeting. There have been 10 Parish Council Meetings, which includes one meeting specifically for parishioners to discuss Highways issues and concerns. Additionally there was one meeting of Councillors with members of the Highways Departments and one Highways site meeting. There was a Parish Councillor attendance of 71% and parishioners have been present at meetings.
Following three years work the referendum for the Neighbourhood Plan was held on 5th December 2015. Turnout: 20.2% (203 votes out of 1005 possible) Yes: 193
No: 8, Invalid: 2. The majority in favour of the plan being “made” was 95.1%.
At the Cheshire West and Chester cabinet meeting on 5th February 2016 the Neighbourhood Plan was formally ‘made’. The contents of the plan are now being used when the Parish Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council consider planning applications. The Parish Council thank the volunteers who assisted with the preparation of the plan, participated on the steering group and to the parishioners who have responded to the surveys and questionnaires giving their views which assisted in formulating the plan.
There have been 20 planning applications during the last 12 months. During this year building has commenced on School Bank for 14 affordable homes. 6 are for shared ownership and 8 for rent. The second planning application for the Delamere School site was refused and the appeal dismissed. A third planning application for the Delamere School site has recently been submitted.
Norley News continues to keep everyone informed of events in the village and the Parish Council support the Norley News. The Parish Council thank and recognise the excellent work the management team and all volunteers who deliver this welcome newsletter.
Through the New Homes Bonus the Parish Council has financially supported organisations and projects within the village. These include the Norley Wildflower Group, Scouts, Village Hall and the PTFA to assist with the development of the pond area at the school. Unfortunately in February we were informed that Cheshire West
and Chester would no longer be allocating part of the New Homes Bonus into a community fund for Parish Councils, as they have a 57.2 million pound funding gap.
There is an amount of Section 106 money available for ‘play and open space’ within the village. This money should be utilised towards the resurfacing of the children’s play area.
In December Gordon Johnston resigned from the Parish Council. For the past 3 years Gordon has been a dedicated member of the Council during which time he has conducted his duties with diligence and commitment. Thank you Gordon for your service to the Council.
Welcome to Mont Sturt who joined the Parish Council in May and to Ken Fayle in March.
Norley continues to be welcoming and thriving village with many clubs, organisations, and activities. Thank you to the many volunteers who carry out, support and assist with so many tasks and roles, which make Norley such an excellent place to live.
4. Jane Leleu Chairman Joint Norley Community Trust Report
I regret to report that the last year has again been a very frustrating one for the Trust.
Despite further assurances from Scottish Power that the removal of the electricity pole on the Village Hall site was on their schedule of works for the past twelve months, it remains in place. However we have now been told that the budget for the work has been approved. This indicates progress but we shall see.
As I informed the Council last year I had a meeting in early April 2015, together with the Chair of the JNCOT Estates Committee, with CWAC’s Principal Planner and a representative of the legal department to discuss proposals for a section 106 Agreement incorporating the Council’s requirements for safeguarding the interests of the Scout Group following any sale of their headquarters site.
Disappointingly, despite numerous reminders and promises of action from the Council’s legal and planning departments, the expected draft Agreement, upon which the planning applications for both the Village Hall and Crabmill Lane sites submitted in October 2014 are dependant, was not received until March of this year.
The draft has been considered by the JNCOT Trustees, discussed at length at a recent meeting and returned to the Council with a number of suggested amendments.
Once the factual contents of the document have been agreed, the Trustees will need to take legal advice thereon.
Grant applications have again had to be put on hold pending the obtaining of planning permission but successful fundraising has continued throughout the year by JNCOT, the Village Hall sub-committee, the Bowling Club and the Recreation Area sub –Committee including, quiz nights, a Christmas Quiz, stalls at the garden show, book sales and the ever popular car boot sales.
The Village Hall and Recreation Area sub-committees are holding a “Right Royal Do” on the 11th June (3pm-7pm) to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. They hope to make it a whole village event and have already got the 1st Norley Scouts, the WI and the Methodist Church participating.
Any involvement from the Parish Council would be welcome.
The Hall’s Rental income has been maintained at an acceptable level but it has been agreed, after recent increases, to maintain the bowling green rent at the current level for the forthcoming year.
The Recreation Area continues to be well used and much appreciated gaining a”Little Gem” award from Cheshire’s Community Pride.
The RoSPA inspector congratulated the Committee on an” excellent well maintained playground” at last month’s annual inspection, although pointing out that the wetpour is lifting.
I mentioned in my report last year that this was in urgent need of attention and the Recreation Area Committee are working hard to raise funds for this purpose.
A payment of £1,000 has been received by JNCOT from the Parish Council, which was eventually identified as being a payment intended for the Recreation Area Committee, ,out of the New Homes Bonus received by the Parish Council in respect of the new homes being built in Norley.
Unfortunately this appears to have been in lieu of, rather than in addition to, the annual grant of £1,000 previously given to the Recreation Area Committee by the Council in respect of self insurance/ repairs, which has not been received this year
As Deryn has mentioned, the question of the section 106 monies, referred to in my last two reports, has still to be resolved but progress appears to being made.
During the year we have had a change of Treasurer and, sadly, our Secretary, Pauline Coglan, who has served the Trustees extremely well for many years, has resigned as she is leaving the village. We have yet to find a replacement.
The JNCOT AGM is proposed for 18th July when detailed reports will be submitted by the Chairs of the various sub-committees together with the annual accounts and the Treasurers report.
5. Helen Kelly Headmistress Norley C of E School Report – read aloud in Helen’s absence.
In the summer term we had a Dad’s reading afternoon, music concert and leaver’s service. All successful events that involved the whole community. As a school we made sure all children entered the Norley Garden Show. Since the summer we have been successful in gaining our Gold kite mark for sports. We have always been successful in securing silver but this year, thanks to Mr Hoban and the staff we have managed to get the Gold. This proves that as numbers are increasing we are able to take part in more sports competitions and we are more successful in them. We have received our Gold Sports Mark certificate and trophy and they hang proudly in the front entrance now. A group of children from year 6 represented us in the Young Mathematician Competition. This is organised by Explore Learning in Chester and involves teams competing against each other to solve a maths challenge. The judges look at how well the children work as a team and how methodical they are in solving the problem given. I am delighted that they have got through to the next round. This compliments the work we are doing in school to raise the profile of maths and the
work on problem solving and challenge throughout the curriculum. This year we have welcomed Sam Horsburgh our new Teaching Assistant in Key Stage 2. Sam has settled in to school very quickly and is a key member of our team taking on the pastoral role as well as class support and interventions. Ken Worrall is our new site maintenance officer. Ken works 10 hours Monday to Friday and is familiar with the school as her was caretaker here 7 years ago. The school site is being kept clean and presentable. Ken is also working his way through minor repairs and has prioritised the work he does. Rebecca Heathcote, our new teacher in class 3. Rebecca has settled in well and we have implemented our NQT induction to support her. Also welcome to Mrs Julie White, our new school bursar. Again Julie has hit the ground running and has made a significant contribution to the smooth running of the school. Last term we put on lots of events in the run up to Christmas, including the Christmas Plays, a concert at the Cathedral and a Christingle Service. All were supported by our parents and families. We have received a letter from Nick Gibb, Education Minister, congratulating us on 100% of our pupils passing the Year 1 Phonics Screening Test in June 2015 in addition to this there was an article in the Chester Chronicle, naming us as one of only 6 schools in the area where 100% of our pupils reach the age related expected levels in the summer SAT’s tests. Mum’s Lunch was well attended in February and the pupils had a great time sharing a school dinner with them. It is a treat to spend time with the mums in school and lovely for them to see what we get up to. For World Book Day we invited author/illustrator Dunkle Deed into school to work with all the pupils. He started with an assembly and then worked with each class on a different aspect of writing or illustrating. At the end of the day he held a book signing. This was a very successful day with pupils being inspired to write books. We have also taken part in a Prayer Day, organised by Andrea and Rob, our Youth Workers. The theme was ‘Love your Neighbour’ and the pupils had a chance to reflect on and practice this value through a number of different stations set out. As the pupils moved around the church they made clay models, collected ingredients for a ‘Recipe for Love’, watched a short film about giving, donated money to Water Aid and wrote about their hope and dreams. Every class walked up to church and experienced this calm and thoughtful time together. We celebrated ‘Respect Week’ together and are looking forward to ‘Discovery Week’ this term.
Our school is going from strength to strength and we are up to 98 pupils to date. We will lose 9 to high school after the summer and gain 15 reception children in September. Our admission number is 15 per year group, making school full at 105 pupils. Our aim is not to increase numbers but to stay around a steady 100 and ensuring we can provided a quality education for all, keeping our high standards.
In a recent parents questionnaire our families made some lovely comments and suggestions to make us even better!
A few comments that were made include;
Very friendly environment and feeling of community
As always the family environment in school is wonderful
Children know one another and respect one another
Staff are professional and approachable
Staff are engaging with the children and inspiring
At Norley CE Primary School the standards are high and set a good example to the children giving them the best start in life
The school’s ‘open door’ policy is welcoming and shows the school off at its best.
6. Martin Bell Norley Neighbourhood Plan Report
Duration: The Norley Neighbourhood Plan (NNP) held its first Steering Group meeting in April 2012 and the completed Plan was finally “made” in February 2016. Nearly 4 years is a long time to achieve a Neighbourhood Plan for a relatively small area of about 1000 on the electoral register. Some of this duration was caused by the time taken for CWaC to respond, but with the benefit of hindsight about 9 months duration could also have been reduced by ourselves. The key milestones were :
Steering group commenced April 2012 and held monthly meetings until end 2014, then as needed.
Funding obtained from CWaC October 2012
Designated NP status obtained March 2013
Norley Baseline Report completed March 2013
NNP website online February 2013
Draft Vision and Aims agreed and discussed with CWaC Sept 2013
Planning Aid support and Grant Aid from DCLG October 2013
Planning Consultant appointed April 2014
Draft Plan sent to CWaC for informal comment August 2014
Reg 14 consultation completed 31 December 2014
Reg 15 consultation documents submitted to CWaC 15 March 2015
Reg 15 consultation completed June 2015
Examiners Report August 2015
Referendum December 2015
The key areas within our control where the process could be speeded up are:
Earlier appointment of Planning Consultant: we used 6 months trying to move from Vision and Aims statements to draft Policies without professional help, but with guidance from Cheshire Community Action and Planning Aid. This was largely unproductive work.
Consultations: The required presubmission (Reg 14) and submission (Reg 15) consultations were essentially duplicative and this wasteful process cost us about 3 months. In hindsight our consultations were very thorough and some time could possibly have been condensed, saving another 3 months.
Use of Planning Consultant
We would have had difficulty formulating acceptable policies without the expertise of a planning consultant, who also was able to bring direction and focus to our processes.
The best time for us to have started with a consultant was following completion of the draft Vision and Aims statement, ie about the time we received sufficient funding.
Our Stage 1 contract with the consultant ended with the production of a draft Neighbourhood Plan but in reality we needed him for the entirety of the process, and we were fortunate that he was interested and willing to continue advising us through the many discussions with CWaC before and after the Reg 15 consultation and with
the selection of the Examiner and the implementation of the Examiner recommendations.
In addition we used the services of Planning Aid and Cheshire Community Action. Planning Aid provided a health check on our draft Plan. Cheshire Community Action were particularly invaluable for ongoing advice, encouragement and support on consultations at the earlier stages of the process.
Last formal consultation (Reg 15)
After substantial informal discussions with CWaC before, during and after the Reg 14 consultation we were taken aback by some unexpected requests for changes made formally by CWaC at the Reg 15 consultation stage in the summer of 2015. These comments had to be assessed by the Examiner and there was no opportunity for input by ourselves. Where the Examiner agreed with the requested changes from CWaC, they were recommended for adoption into the plan verbatim. This had the effect of diluting and removing local relevance and input and it felt like the Plan was being forcibly altered regardless of local need and views.
We suspect this may have arisen because the Planning Policy Team which liaises with Neighborhood Planning groups cannot easily get full and timely input from other parts of the Planning organization so that it can be discussed before the Reg 15 stage.
We suggest that CWaC should operate on the basis that the Reg 15 Consultation version of the Plan should be agreed in principle between the Neighbourhood Planning Group & CWaC so that there should be ‘no surprises’ to the Group once CWaC’s final comments are made.
Assistance from CWaC
Our experience of the support provided by the Planning Policy team was very positive: they were open, helpful and proactive. Other parts of the Planning organization were less so – in particular they need to offer better access to data they hold and be able to disaggregate to parish level egg number of planning approvals, and their refusal to provide anonymised housing needs data. This needs to be an on-going commitment to help monitor the Plan egg housing approvals /
We suggest that Local Authorities need to respond corporately to any plan and that it is not seen internally within the Council as a ‘’planning project’’ with little relevance
to the wider function and service delivery of the Council.
The Examination process
We welcomed the opportunity to take part in the selection process for an Examiner, but after that our ability to ensure our views were fully understood was minimal. The outcome has been that the local relevance and flavour of the Neighbourhood Plan has been diluted and substituted by excessive and in our view unnecessary conformity
with NPPF and the CWaC Local Plan, and we have been unable to influence the recommendations in any way.
We feel that the Examiners are likely to approach their work from a perspective of absolute conformity with NPPF and the Local Plan, rather than making the more difficult judgments on strategic conformity. As a result the ‘’localism’’ of the plan is lost in the rigid nature of the process and we are sure this is not what was originally intended in the Localism Act.
7. Village Hall Report Councillor Wild.
Another busy year. We have seen ongoing improvements to the fabric of the building – the gent’s toilets refurbishment is largely complete, the ladies’ is underway. We have installed new windows to the committee room and gents, and others will follow to replace the old ones, which were in poor condition. Improvements have been made to the kitchen, including the installation of a good quality water heater.
Refurbishment is a continuing process, with much more to do – to the kitchen, the décor and fire doors of the Hall itself, and to the store room. Like painting the Forth Rail Bridge, this is a job that may never be finished, but significant progress has been made. Progress can be slow at times, but this results from our seeking to get jobs done as cheaply as we can, and our reliance on the time and good will of busy people. I must thank in particular the local geocachers, who repainted our committee room.
We have reviewed our cleaning regime during the year, and feedback on the new arrangements so far has been good.
Fund raising – I am pleased to say we are solvent, with a sum of money set aside for the ongoing improvement works that will pay for a good deal – not all – of what needs to be done. Of course it is never enough, and we will need to continue to fund raise for both our running costs and future works. We are immensely grateful to those, inc. the PC, who have supported us over the years.
We have continued to host a range of activities vital to the life of the village over the year – from social and artistic events to sport, children’s parties, Wednesday Club, Women’s Institute and many others. Again we are grateful for the continuing support from local groups. We have run social events, allowed use of our facilities for cycling events and held car boot sales to raise funds.
We have dipped our toe into the murky waters of arts event promotion this year. We ran a successful music event last autumn, with another due soon. These are labour intensive but rewarding events, which the committee think add considerably to the cultural life of Norley. They also attract people from beyond the village.
The Committee will continue to look for new ways to add to Norley’s offer, and to raise funds at the same time. We need –always –-new members. If anyone is interested in working with us, we would be delighted indeed to hear from you. The Norley News carries an article this month encouraging more engagement from villagers. There is much satisfaction to be gained from working with your neighbours, and making a difference.
A major job for the New Year will be the refurbishment of the Hall floor. This will be expensive, and we have done much preparatory work looking for a solution, and a provider to carry it out. We are not there yet. But we hope to see this work completed in the next few months.
Can I finish by offering my sincere thanks to all those that have served on the Committee, supported us from outside – financially and otherwise, and attended our events. We are lucky to have a lovely old hall like ours – but it is the people involved who really make it work.
8. Common Land Report Councillor Ford
As stated in the regulations of 1960 and granted by government in 1977 any Common Land without an owner were placed under the custodianship of 3 authorities. In 1999 Cambrian Estates claimed they had the right to the Common Land in Norley after they claimed the right of ‘Manor of Norley’. Cambrian Estates then leased it to Western Estate Management who held a meeting in the village hall explaining their intension to charge fees to residents whose vehicles crossed area’s of Common Land in the village. They were not successful and both companies were dissolved in 2011. What we have not realised is although the Parish Council, along with CWAC carried on as custodians it now looks likely that this role may be redundant. The question that needs answering is who owns this land now, as Common Land is a dissolved asset and must now belong to someone? CWAC Legal Team is taking this matter forward. Although the Parish Council will always be responsible for ensuring that only activities allowed on Common Land take place, highlighting any unauthorised use to the relevant authorities. The unauthorised tip at Gazebank is now being dealt with by Environment Crime Department who are going to clear this area and instate no tipping signs. There have been complaints about work being undertaken and possible encroachment on Flaxmere and discussions have taken place with the owner. The Parish Council should take legal advice to ascertain their responsibilities to make some sense of the situation.
9. Open Discussion
Chairman Councillor O’Connor thanked all Parish Council Members and Parishioners for their on-going support
John Leleu asked the Parish Council whether the £1000 that JNCOT had received for the playground was the only funding due from the Parish Council? It was explained that the Play Ground Committee had been informed that if they wished to claim any further funding they should put this request in writing to the Parish Council stipulating what it was for and the Council would consider it.
The meeting finished at 7.50pm
Norley Parish Council.