Thursday 26th November 2020 7.30pm via Zoom

Councillor(s):  Cllrs: F Schott (FS -Chair), A Vigars (AV), J Chanter (JC), A Chapman (AC), T Gowlland (TG)

County Councillor Mrs Frances Nicholson (FN) & District Councillor Mr Steven Pugsley (SP)

And clerk and responsible finance officer (RFO) – C Hornsby

NB: The EPC met for the first time with Zoom and most of the council called in on their phones which was very successful.

28/20   Questions from the public:  none

29/20   Apologies of Absence: none

30/20   Declarations of notifiable interest: none

31/20   Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting held on 30/07/2020. These were proposed by AV and 2nd by TG as a true and correct record and all agreed. The Chair then signed the minutes.

32/20   Matters arising from the minutes of 30/07/2020:  none

33/20   Business Continuity Motion: Items carried out due to cancellation of September parish council meeting. Invoices: Election 2019 admin fees CHQ No: 264 SW&T DC £100; (CHQ No: 265 VOID due to error) Clerk Pay and exp July/Aug/Sep for pay on 5th Oct £208.18 Mrs C Hornsby CHQ No: 266; (iii) Website upgrade was agreed, Clerk to organise

Report from informal meeting held on Thursday 24th September 2020 

The Exmoor Parish Council meeting was cancelled on Thursday 24th September as it was being held in the Old School, Simonsbath and the councillors wanted to keep within the Rule of Six guidelines. The councillors and clerk met for an informal meeting whilst keeping to CV19 gov guidelines.  Internet meetings have been a problem in the past in this area.

The issue of increased traffic in the village due to CV19 and the dangerous parking on the bend between Pound Cottage and South Molton was raised again. There has been a problem here for many years with vehicles parking on the bend and it has been minuted many times. The parking causes traffic to partially drive on to the oncoming side, at a point when visibility is restricted due to the curve in the road. The EPC are sure that all agree that this is dangerous for not only vehicles but also for horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians. 

The parish council have been in conversation with the National Park and Somerset County Council for many years about this problem area but now with increased visitors to the parish due to CV19, they have decided that something has to be done. The parish council are looking in to creating a barrier at this specific point to deter vehicles parking there. 

34/20   District and County council reports:                FN:  Unitary Authority – in government’s hands; From the 2nd Dec Somerset is in Tier Two of CV19 restrictions; Simonsbath Spring road closure will be a three-day (maybe more) road closure but certainly not the three-week closure as originally proposed. FN has tried to reduce it further but has been unable to.      SP: spoke about national lockdown support grants that are available through Somerset West & Taunton District Council (SW&TDC) . During the period of national restrictions, which started on 5 November 2020, a significant number of businesses have been required to close in order to manage the spread of coronavirus. The grants available are to provide support to those businesses. It does not apply to businesses that have not been required to close due to the national restrictions. For more information please visit:    https://www.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/business-rates/national-lockdown-support-grant/  or contact Cllr Steven Pugsley via SW&TDC

35/20   Community Issues raised due to CV19: none

36/20   Planning 6/14/20/108 Emmetts Grange House. Proposed change of use of land and buildings from agriculture to equestrian to facilitate commercial livery yard and the creation of indoor riding arena to be used in association with proposed livery yard and for general hire. (Amended description) The EPC fully support the above planning application on the following grounds: It accords with RT-D11 on Equestrian Development. It is making full use of what is already there, it will bring business in to the area, it has good access for horse boxes, and the EPC like to support local families who wish to build a business and sustain life on Exmoor at a time when farming has an unknown future.

37/20   Finance:

(i) Bank reconciliation £5714.44

The £500 donation for S&ET has not been banked and RFO advised that as it is now 6 months old, the trust should return the cheque to EPC as they have been unable to open an account due to CV19. When they have an account, a new cheque will be written. All AGREED that this should be done. RFO will keep the records showing the £500 removed. (Bank statement shows £6,244.14)

(ii) Invoices: Zoom meeting for November £14.39 payable to Mrs C Hornsby CHQ no 267; Shared training for the Clerk £10.00 payable to Timberscombe PC CHQ No 268;

Clerk’s pay and expenses: The Chair proposed and AV 2nd that the EPC offer the clerk a jump from SCP Level 10 to SCP Level 14, adding an additional working from home allowance (WA), which works out at 89p / hour, backdated to 1st April 2020. All AGREED. The clerk accepted the offer with thanks.

Therefore: Backdated working from home allowance (WA) £34.72 payable to Mrs C Hornsby CHQ No 269 Back dated salary plus Oct, Nov, Dec at new SCP14 scale plus Oct, Nov, Dev working from home allowance £ 303.00 Payable to Mrs C Hornsby on 5th January 2021  (part will be to HMRC and both CHQ numbers will be detailed in January minutes)

(iii) Budget: The RFO presented the last two years income and expenditure to the EPC. The council had been in profit for the last two years. There was nothing new to budget for in 2021/22 but the EPC must always be prepared for unexpected costs.

(iv) 2021-22 Precept: After considering the figures presented in the budget AV proposed and AC 2nd a 10% increase in the Precept. All AGREED and clerk will apply for the new Precept amount of £3025.00 for 2021/22

38/20   Highways – Further to the discussion in September (see point 33/20) The EPC agreed to place large boulders on the bend to reduce parking. They are unable to place posts at this point as there are BT cables underneath. The EPC will also look at old drinking troughs to be recycled and used as planters. All to go away and source what they can.  

39/20   Parish Maintenance (i) Spray purchase - due to a misplaced receipt TG has donated the weed killer spray to the PC – The EPC thanked her.

40/20   Correspondence: Clerk read a letter of thanks from Rob Wilson North of the ENPA for the kind donations of trees towards the re planting of Ashcombe Gardens. The SW&TDC offered free trees up to the value of £50 to all parish councils and the EPC donated their allocation to the Ashcombe Gardens as they have lost 30% of their tree canopy in the recent necessary felling of diseased Ash Trees.

41/20   Report from Simonsbath & Exmoor Heritage Trust: SP reported that the negotiations for the transfer of White Rock Cottage and The Old School to the Trust from ENPA was at a critical stage. The lease has been drawn up and is being considered by the Trust. TG added that it was very important that the Trust and ENPA work closely together. FS reported that work on the Audience Development was nearing completion.

42/20   Chairman’s Notices: None

43/20   Items for next Agenda: Nothing to add

44/20   Date and time of next meeting: 28th January 2021

Via Zoom or in person at The Old School, Simonsbath depending on CV19 restrictions.

There being no further business the Chair closed the meeting at 8.34pm