November Parish Council report

Damage to the bridge at Ruthern once again exercised Withiel Parish Council at its November meeting. It has been proposed everyone who has an interest in, or authority over the bridge, should attend a meeting at the site; it should draw quite a crowd. The centre of the bridge forms the boundary between three parishes, Lanivet, St Breock and Withiel, while the County Council and an extraordinary array of NGOs like English Nature have a say over what can be done there. The Chairman, Councillor Shearer, said action had to be taken – the bridge had been hit half a dozen times in recent years, and repairs had cost us all tens of thousands of pounds. We can’t go on doing the same old thing, and expecting a different result.

Attending the November meeting were councillors Shearer, Harper, Cubitt, Coy, Malone and Nott-Bower and eight members of the public. Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Kirkby, County Councillor Chris Batters and PCSO Andrea Crocker.

From the public gallery, Ann Martyn attended to measure the public appetite for a memorial bench to her late husband Ivan, who was born and raised in Withiel and was largely responsible for many amenities and improvements in the village, including the Village Hall. The Council expressed unanimous support for the idea, which will be raised at the next meeting of the Playing Fields Committee, which runs the Village Hall.

Jenny Pentland lamented the state of some of the road signs in the Parish – there are none at all directing people to Withielgoose, and others are overgrown and dirty. Councillor Shearer said that as part of the Neighbourhood Plan, Mervyn Davey had made a complete photographic survey of our road signs as a prelude to improving their condition and reinstating signs where they are lacking.

The Council voted to approve one planning application and oppose another. It supported a proposed extension at Kerriers after the applicant’s planning consultant explained it was necessary to allow someone who was born in the parish to provide care to another family member. After a detailed discussion, an application for a new-build in Churchtown was unanimously opposed, partly on the grounds of the detrimental effect it would have on neighbours.

Under finance, the council approved the payment of £50 in fees for planning conferences and £20 for the Parish Remembrance Day wreath. The financial officer, Councillor Coy, updated the financial situation, saying that we seemed to be on target to end the financial year with a small surplus, after reserves had been brought up to the recommended level.

In the absence of PCSO Crocker, Councillor Shearer read a brief crime report which concerned reports of motorcycles on footpaths, which is being dealt with, and a third-hand report of an assault. Councillor Shearer also read a report from Chris Batters which asked members of the public to email him when shipping containers were placed on the old A30 and other roads, preferably with supporting photographs. She also reported on the recent Bodmin Community Network meeting, where cuts in policing were under discussion; the County Council planning department is also facing a further 33 percent cut. The meeting also covered Neighbourhood Plans and affordable housing – the County Plan is expected next year, although there have been many delays.

Councillor Malone gave an update on the situation with the Neighbourhood Plan; two meetings have been held on the subject of housing. The emphasis is on finding housing for people already living in the parish. Last year’s survey identified nine expanding families who would require housing, but whose members may have to look for it outside the parish. Approaches are being made to ascertain whether Housing Associations might be brought into Withiel. Ideas on the conversion of holiday lets to year-round rental were running into insurmountable obstacles.

There was a discussion of Criminal Records Bureau checks for parish councillors, which have been requested by the County Council. Some councillors thought it an unwarranted intrusion for no useful purpose; others thought it harmless. The debate will be carried on at the next meeting on December 2, starting at 7:15; all are welcome.

*An Extraordinary Parish Council meeting was held on November 11 to hear two requests for support for grant applications to Cornwall Council for Section 106 money. The Parish Council voted by 5-1 to back a request for £3,000 for a curtain system for the Village Hall, and unanimously to support an application for £1,400 from Withiel News & Views to buy publishing equipment for the Parish magazine.