(This meeting preceded the Annual Parish meeting which commenced at 7.30pm)

Present:  Roger Saunders, Chairman; Allan Scott, Vice Chairman; Pauline Squirrell; Wendy Crease; Janice Gant; Brian Hubbard

1 Apologies for Absence:

None were received.

2 Declaration of Pecuniary Interest:

No declarations were made

3 Minutes of Meeting held on Monday 19th January 2015:

Following the addition of an apology for absence from Brian Hubbard, the Minutes were agreed as being a correct record of that meeting.  Proposed:  Mr Scott   Seconded:  Mr Hubbard

4 Matters Arising from the meeting on the 19th January 2015:

a)  Affordable housing:  Mrs Squirrell reported that this was progressing, but was slightly on hold at present as original agent had left.

b)  Village Litter Pick:   This has been fixed for the 11th and 12th April.  Mrs Squirrell had arranged to obtain the necessary equipment from Babergh District Council.  The weekend has been advertised in this month’s Hitcham Life.

5 Councillors’ and Hitcham Community Play Area reports:

These will be given during the Annual Parish meeting which follows.

6 Vehicle Activates Signs and Speed Indicator Devices:

The Clerk reported she had spoken to Nigel Parke of MessageMaker.   He had agreed it would be preferable for us to have solar powered signs.  There were several styles available and he will email full details as soon as possible.  Suggested costs would be £1500 for display board and £600 for the solar unit plus parts and installation.  The Clerk will forward details to Parish Council members for their consideration as soon as they are received.

7 Correspondence:

a)   Code of Transparency:   It had previously been reported that from July 2015 Councils would have to publish all their documents and accounting details.   However, it has now been confirmed that this does not apply to Parish Councils.  They will have to continue to be annually internally and externally audited until further notice.

b)   Community Play Area:  The Clerk was asked to send a ‘thank you’ letter to Simon Squirrell for collecting the chippings recently laid in the Play Area.

Planning Matters:

a)  Rose Cottage, Water Run:  Planning permission to raise the chimney height had been granted.

b)  White House Farm, Wattisham Road:  The request for a change of use from an agricultural building to a dwelling house had been refused due to biodiversity issues.

c)  White Horse Pub:  The Chairman of the White Horse committee would be speaking at the Annual Parish Council to bring everyone up to date with progress. The Parish Council had agreed to pay for the pub valuation.  The preliminary cost, obtained from the valuers, Fleurets, will be approximately £850, payable in advance.  With a further £1750 due if the decision is taken to go ahead and raise funds.

d)  Village Shop:  It is believed the shop is to close on the 31st March with the Post Office remaining and being run by an Agency.  It is not known whether the shop will be leased or rented which would allow it to continue, but it is understood that it is not up for sale.

eMIP near Bildeston:  Discussions are still on-going.

8 Accounts:

The RFO reported that the bank balances shown on the last bank statements were:

Hitcham Parish Council account     £14,598.38

Hitcham Community Area account      £123.45

The Parish Council agreed the following payments:

from Hitcham Parish Council account:

£298.14    Mrs D Neun  –  January-March’14 clerk’s salary £249.90 plus 2014/15 expenses £48.24

£62.60      HMRC 120PW00311648.1512  –  Clerk’s PAYE Jan-March’15

£24.00      SALC  –  Election briefing 21.1.15.  Mrs Neun attended

£198.19     Babergh District Council  –  Litter & dog bin emptying 1.1 – 31.12.14

from Hitcham Community Area account:

£58.66      Babergh District Council  –  Play area inspection 2013/14 (inv. 27.5.14)

£334.44    Wybone Limited  –  2 litter bins for Play Area

The Parish Council agreed to transfer £500 from the Parish Council account to the  Community Area account to ensure balance will cover payments due.

The Council also agreed to increase the Clerk’s annual salary from £1,250 to £1,500.

Proposed:  Mrs Crease.   Seconded:  Mr Scott

9 Election 7th May 2015:

The Clerk had nomination papers for the forthcoming election.   A public notice has yet to be received;  copies of which will need to be displayed around the village.  If more than seven nominations were received by Babergh District Council there would be a Parish election.

Due to the on-going concerns over the White Horse and shop the Clerk hoped that there would be consistency within the Parish Council at least until resolutions have been reached.   However, even though they were both asked to reconsider, Mr Saunders and Ms Gant both indicated that they would not be standing again.

On behalf of the Council, Mr Saunders thanked Ms Gant for all her help over the years especially with the local knowledge she has.

The Council unanimously thanked Mr Saunders for his work and leadership during his time as Chairman.    Mr Saunders thanked his Clerks, past and present, for all the help they had afforded him whilst he had been Chairman.

10 Questions to the Chair:

a)   Village web site:   Mr Scott said he could re-build the Village web site at a cost of £300.   There will be an annual hosting fee of £60.  Proposed:  Mrs Squirrell; Seconded:  Ms Gant.

bDisplay of Minutes:  Only suitable situation is noticeboard inside Village Hall.  They are, however, precede in Hitcham Life every quarter.

11 Date of Next Meeting:

This will be on Monday 11th May 2015 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall.