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Kirknewton Parish Council
Minutes of a meeting held on Tuesday, 14th October 2014,
in the Village Hall
Present: Cllrs. Edward Brown, Steve Marriott, Andy and Helen Blowers,
John Lloyd, Kaye Aisthorpe, County Cllr. Anthony Murray, and
Clerk Angela Hallam-Baker.
In attendance: Jean Davidson, Robert and Derek Whitten (Westnewton Estate)
and 4 parishioners.
1. Apologies for absence were received from PC Mark Lynn (Northumbria Police).
2. Police Report:
PC Lynn had left a message that there were no local crimes to report.
3. The minutes of the meeting held on 16th September 2014 were agreed and signed.
4. Matters arising from the minutes:
5. Footpaths on Westnewton Estate and Gorse Clearance:
Jean Davidson and Robert and Derek Whitten kindly attended the meeting to answer questions.
Firstly, they stated that normally a bull in a field where there is a public footpath does not pose any problem. Only docile bulls, with cows, would be put in such fields.
Secondly, it was explained that the gate across the track from Post Office Lane had been put there to prevent walkers falling into a deep hole caused by flooding. Since the river is still volatile, this had not been filled in, nor has the original fencing been replaced – two fields have in fact been made into one. The gate, which NCC Highways have agreed may be left there permanently, is not locked, and walkers are able to go through, although the track does not lead anywhere. The stile in the fence before reaching the gate is still there and this leads the footpath across the field to the bridge on to Lanton land. These explanations were accepted by the Parish Council. It was also pointed out that the ditches are cleared by NCC regularly.
Gorse clearance: there had obviously been misunderstanding between the National Park Authority, Natural England, Westnewton Estate, and the Parish Council. Jean Davidson and the Whittens had taken exception to the way in which the matter had been reported in the minutes of the PC meeting held on 16th September. It was, however, explained that this had been taken directly from an email from Gill Thompson of the National Park Authority dated 21st August 2014.
Robert Whitten said that they had received no communication from NNPA or Natural England by this date, and when they were contacted on 26th August, they immediately stopped the gorse clearance.
Jean stated that the content of the letter should not have been made public. The PC agreed that, had it been marked “private & confidential”, it would not have been minuted, and apologised for this error. However, Cllr. Murray agreed to look into the matter with the NNPA.
Westnewton Estate queried the anxiety by the Vicar and the Parish Council that the clearance of the gorse could cause flooding in the churchyard and the properties at the bottom of the hill. They stated that the aerial photograph did not show the topography accurately and that the slope is not as steep as this portrays. They also stated that there is a track, a wood and a wall between the denuded hillside and the course of the churchyard burn.
The Chairman stated that the clearance had not been done according to the specification, but Steve Pullan of Natural England had apparently said the instructions had not been clear. A bulldozer had been used which had taken out the roots of the gorse leaving a bare area. The Wittens said the operation had been stopped as soon as they learnt that the instructions were “incorrect”. The Parish Council stated that it was not averse to the gorse being “pruned”, provided it was done less severely.
Cllr. Marriott said that he thought the gorse was to be removed around the Iron Age fort on the top of the hill, and that the gorse further down had been planted many years ago to prevent run off of water.
Jean considered that these matters were to do with farming and not the Parish Council, but it was pointed that anything which affects or might affect the Parish needs to be addressed by the members on behalf of the residents.
Finally, Jean stated that the hedges along Post Office Lane are cut by the Estate every year in October, one side one year, and the other side the next. The Whittens stated that they had permission from the NNPA to burn the cut gorse.
The Chairman wound up the discussion with apologies to Westnewton Estate and the Whittens for misunderstandings, and hoped the cordial relationship between them and the Parish Council would not be damaged. Any further problems relating to the land in the Parish would be addressed initially to the Estate.
Resident, Pat Edwards, wished to express his appreciation to the Estate and the Whittens for their help and co-operation during flooding and heavy snow in previous years.
The clerk raised the question of the “Footpath Closed” sign by the gate at Westnewton on to the path crossing the bridge to Lanton. This had been there for some time, and she assumed it was due to the damage to the bridge. Jean said the bridge had been repaired a while ago, and the reason for the notice was that the bridge at Reedsford was down . This is mentioned on the notice, but it does not indicate that the path is open towards Lanton Mill and Crook House.
6. Financial Report:
Transactions since the last meeting: Income: Precept – 2nd half - £350.00;
Expenditure: Clerk’s half-yearly fee and expenses - £148.69;
Current bank balance: £718.78.
The audited accounts were re-presented to the Parish Council and agreed. There were no reports from the auditors arising from the accounts.
7. County Councillor’s Report:
Cllr. Murray had attended the Glendale area and Neighbourhood Planning meeting held on 13th October. David English had outlined what a Neighbourhood Plan entailed and stated that funding would be available in excess of £9,000 for a single parish, or the same amount for several parishes combined.
Agreement would need to be reached by all the parishes wishing to participate in a Neighbourhood Plan, but Wooler would be the likely place to set up businesses, build houses, etc. The Plan would run over 15 years; it could be updated, but this would cost nearly as much. Cllr. Murray stated that in his opinion, a Neighbourhood Plan would not be advantageous, and that the conversion of Wooler Police Station, when vacated by the Police, would be a more cost-effective way of spending money. This is a listed building and would provide ample space for, say, office pods, as the Cheviot Centre is now running out of space for these.
The Police would be shortly moving into the Cheviot Centre and they had been allocated two parking spaces in the car park.
9. Any other business: none.
10. Date of next meeting: Tuesday, 18th November 2014, at 2.00pm in the Village Hall.