September’s Parish Council meeting had something of a late-summer-holiday air – there was very little business to transact, with no new planning applications and no County Council planning decisions to report. Our Clerk, Robin Turner, was absent on holiday, as was Councillor Simon Coy, our Financial Officer, so the Financial Report was held over to the October meeting. County Councillor Chris Batters and PCSO Andrea Crocker also sent their apologies for absence.
We approved the payment of two cheques – £17.96 to the Cartridge Shop for printer supplies, and £120 to our auditors Grant Thornton. Our audits are usually free because our turnover doesn’t reach a certain threshold, but this year we handled £10,000 on its way from the Kerriers solar farm fund to the Village Hall, so we had to pay.
Councillor Cubitt gave a report on the new Transparency Code for smaller authorities, which will affect Withiel Parish Council; the Audit Commission has been abolished and new procedures are in place. We don’t handle enough money to require an annual Assurance Review, but we must post all our financial transactions for public review for 30 days, which must include the first ten working days of July, on a free-to-access website, and the public can ask questions. The website will probably be withiel.com. Implementation of this is being discussed with the Clerk on his return; he has already been briefed by the Cornwall Association of Local Councils.
Councillor Cubitt also reported on his contacts with other small authorities on the subject of winter gritting, and produced a map showing that Cornwall Council has no intention of gritting any road in Withiel Parish. Councillor Malone agreed to contact a private gritting contractor suggested by Councillor Harper, although the latter warned that his services may be too expensive for Withiel. The Chairman Councillor Shearer said that Luxulyan kept salt bins topped up, with a County Council notice warning that users did so at their own risk. Councillor Cubitt said that Laneast Parish had a highly-developed plan which involved buying a salt spinner and snowplough to be mounted on the vehicles of volunteer farmers. Councillor Malone agreed to pursue them to establish the cost.
Under correspondence, Councillor Shearer said she’d had a hand-written letter from our MP, Scott Mann, dated the day after our last meeting, thanking us for inviting him and pledging his support.
She also reported on an approach from the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) who want to establish contact with Withiel Parish Council to find out if there is any interest in the building of a locally run, locally funded wind farm at Scotland Corner above Rosenannon. WREN wants to take over an application from a commercial company which has been refused, but needs community engagement from all the surrounding parishes to do so. Councillor Malone said there should be no more wind farms around Withiel. Councillor Shearer said he might not represent all views in the Parish if there was a beneficial reduction in the cost of electricity supplies, and that the Scotland Corner wind farm had been turned down by only one vote at the County Council. Councillor Kirkby said the Parish Council had opposed this wind farm when it was a commercial project, and nothing had changed. Councillor Nott Bower suggested the Council ask WREN for a business plan to test the viability of the project before any meeting.
The next meeting is on October 7th; all are welcome.