Seven members of the public joined Councillors Kirkby, Coy, Shearer, Harper and Malone for the May 7th meeting of Withiel Parish Council, which commenced five minutes after the AGM had ended. Also present was PCSO Linda Thomas; apologies were received from Councillor Nott Bower.
We had to begin by electing a new Chairman; Councillor Malone proposed that Sue Kirkby continue in the role, Councillor Shearer seconded and the motion was unanimously carried. It was decided to postpone the appointment of a Deputy Chairman and allocation of responsibilities to councillors until the new Clerk is in place.
Sarah Newton is one of two candidates for co-option to the council; she stood to say she’d like to be considered as she wished to be proactive about the affairs of the parish. Born in Ruthern, she has worked in the NHS for 28 years, involved in emergency planning, and believed her skill-set and contacts from that role could be useful to the council and the people of Withiel.
Councillor Shearer reported that we have a new footbridge over the Ruthern at Tregawne; she proposed that a letter of thanks go to Cormac and the County Council. Councillor Malone said Councillor Shearer should be congratulated for her tenacity in pursuing the matter after the original bridge was washed away; we had at first been told there could be no replacement until 2016 at the earliest. Tony Liddicoat asked whether anybody used the bridge; Councillor Malone said he knew many people who used it, and it had been badly missed by people at Lawellan. Henry Harper said the money should have been spent on roads.
The Honorary Clerk reported that the footpaths maintenance contract had been awarded to Sam Chapman, at a cost of £400.
Under finance, the council approved the virement of funds from the savings on the clerk’s salary to other budget headings, with £530 to maintenance and repairs, £83 to playing fields to cover the extra rent we paid, and £27.60 to subscriptions. Councillor Malone proposed that we reappoint the same auditor we used last year on the same terms; unanimously approved.
Two cheques were signed – one for £404 for insurance, one for the annual donation of £250 to News & Views. The Chairman sought approval for the payment of the £130 rent on the Village Hall for council meetings; unanimously approved.
Under neighbourhood planning, the Chairman has compiled a survey to gauge the Parish’s thoughts on future development; councillors were given copies of her proposed questionnaire and asked to make their thoughts known at the next meeting. It can then be distributed with News & Views, and collected by councillors.
Councillor Shearer reported on a meeting of Bodmin Community Network Panel at Blisland attended by herself, Councillor Kirkby and Councillor Malone. The issue of most interest was the mobile library service, which is under cost-cutting pressure. The vans stop at 650 points in Cornwall for about ten minutes each, and fewer than 2,000 people use the service at a cost of £600 per user per year. In Withiel, an average of 1.85 people visit the van each fortnight. Alternative methods of distributing books are under consideration, including making them available in the Village Hall or by post from an online catalogue. Tony Liddicoat said that when the Council took over the phone box it was suggested that it be fitted with shelves and used as a lending library; he agreed to ascertain the status of the box.
After the Chairman declared the meeting closed to the public, councillors considered the appointment of a Clerk, and the co-option of a councillor to fill the current vacancy. It was agreed to invite the six applicants for the post of Clerk to interviews later in the month. On co-option, councillors thought it gratifying that we had two such strong candidates willing to participate. Given the qualifications of the two candidates it was unanimously agreed to offer the vacancy to David Cubitt because he had stood for election in 2013 and had lost on the toss of a coin. The Chairman agreed to speak to Sarah Newton, encouraging her to maintain her interest and to apply for future vacancies. – Pat Malone