Recent meetings

Although you can always find MINUTES of all previous meetings here, below is a full summary of the latest meeting from Andrew Battarbee:

 

Parish Council Meeting, 11 February 2021

Nb this is not the official minutes and it is a personal reflection, not necessarily one with which all councillors would agree.

Our eleventh meeting over Zoom. If you’d told me a year ago we’d be able to operate as a Parish Council by video, I’d have thought you were mad. That we’ve been able to do so is no small achievement. On the other hand, the endless days of Zoom and Teams meetings are supplemented by….a monthly Zoom. And the usual problems are there: the staccato conversations; the random tech glitches; the inability to pursue points in detail; the lack of body language to signal unease, or that we really can move on. 

On the bright side, no one was excluded, no one yelled at the clerk, and no one transmogrified into a talking kitten. And as in all crises, there are winners. Our dog Ivor has learned that if he barks and grumbles during PC meetings, he will be paid off with treats.

As to substance, we found ourselves treading familiar and frustrating paths. As a PC we have few powers of action, and our main role is to represent what we judge to be the community’s needs to higher authorities. Last night, those authorities were largely in computer-says-no mode:

  • We learned that the County Council has rejected a petition asking for speed limits of 20mph within the core of the village and 40mph at Stoke. The arguments seemed to be that there was no evidence of need, and that the current speed limits are “appropriate”.  None of us were terribly impressed by this. Nor, to her credit, was our county councillor Judith Twigg, who has unsuccessfully asked her majority group colleagues to rethink. We’ll keep plugging away
  • No response yet to a letter to Network Rail about the management of the works on the railway line, where contractors have repeatedly stepped out of line with promises given about how the works’ impact on residents will be softened
  • To my mind, outrageous news that the District Council has refused to impose a ban on the sale of portable barbecues, on the basis that there is no evidence that they cause problems. We agreed to send a strongly worded protest, as our peers in ShelbyvilleHathersage have done. Our local district councillor Peter O’Brian is very much in fighting mode on this. Individuals might like to write to the DC leader expressing their concerns (or indeed support for the council’s courage in prioritising the needs of good honest silent majority barbecue sellers over woke obsessions with fire and environmental protection)

We also discussed floods, where the village had another near miss last month. We’re seeking a meeting with the Environment Agency to discuss possible local works to manage down risks. The reality is that funding for flood protection has not kept pace with need, and we would be well down the list for an EA funding. It’s possible we may need to consider significant funding from PC budgets if we want anything done.

We had a presentation from Tom Ricketts from the Hope Valley Climate Action Group about charging points for electric vehicles. We’re only a couple of years away from the tipping point where petrol-only vehicles begin to vanish from manufacturers’ new fleets. In time, the holy grail of light, affordable self-charing batteries will be achieved, but short-run, starting yesterday, charging points are important. We’re going to look at a couple of options for publicly-accessible charging points in the village. Potentially, there are public funds available to support this, if we can crystallise a proposal. Any thoughts from Grindlefordians on this would be welcome.

We discussed the current crop of planning applications: we are not a planning authority, but we are able to make representations over and above those which individuals submit. I won’t comment on specifics, but it might be worth saying a little about our approach. I would say that in general we like to be supportive of proposals that our fellow residents bring forward. We’ll raise issues if there are adverse implications for neighbours or other third parties; or if proposals seem to be out of keeping with the immediate neighbourhood or the village as a whole. This obviously involves some subjectivity, but such judgments do need to be made. 

Happily, there were no such cases last night, but what really winds us up as a council is work done without planning permission, or even in defiance of conditions. In those cases, we will argue very hard for requirements that work be undone.

We also discussed this website. In the manner of such websites, we had a fit of enthusiasm about it last year, and subsequently have failed to follow up. Not good enough. We’ll try to do better.

And also, on the subject of communicating with the village, the current PC noticeboard is on its last legs. We agreed on the purchase of an new one: we eschewed wooden versions with higher purchase and maintenance costs, but we think the one we went for looks nice, and will fit in well.

Our next meeting is on 11 March. Our meetings are, of course, open to the public, at the moment by Zoom. 

And get in touch if you would like to babysit Ivor for the duration.

You can get in touch with us about any of this at grindleparish@gmail.com

Andrew Battarbee

12 February 2021

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