Wretton Parish Council Meeting July

1317/08/2020
MINUTES OF WRETTON PARISH COUNCIL VIRTUAL MEETING
HELD ON JULY 6TH 2020
Present: Cllr David Llewellyn – Chairman,
Cllr Martyn Cann, Cllr Ian Mack, Cllr Peter Garnett, Cllr Mandy Peake, Cllr Paul Williams.
1. Apologies for Absence accepted from:
Apologies received from Cllr Mick Peake.
Apologies also received from Borough Councillor Colin Sampson and County Councillor
Martin Storey.
2. No declarations of Interest made
3. The minutes of the virtual meeting held on 04.05.20 were agreed as a true
record. Minutes will be signed once the Council can meet physically.
4. Reports (including updates from matters raised at the meeting on 04.05.20)
4.1 Chairman’s Report
• Cllr Mack reported that he has checked the defibrillator and that all is fine following
possible use with it but it is suggested that lighting around the phone box could be
improved so that it is easier to see the keypad. Cllr. Cann offered to investigate
installation of LED lighting in the phone box later in the year when the nights begin
to pull in.
• Dog fouling continues to be a problem especially in certain areas as previously
reported.
4.2 Clerk’s Report
• Correspondence received continues to be shared with Councillors.
• The Parish Council has been invited to comment on the review of the planning
‘sifting panel’ and a response will be drafted to be submitted.
4.3 Risk Assessment Update
The play area the in village has been locked during the Covid lockdown and will remain
shut for the present time. This will be reviewed at the next Parish Council meeting but the
equipment will need to be checked before the play area is re-opened.
5. Accounts were presented and accepted for payment.
Cheques for approval of payment
Clerk’s salary £118.44
K & M Lighting Services x2 (streetlight maintenance) £38.64
Software annual 356 licence £59.99
CGM grass cutting (April/May inc. cutting of footpaths) £531.00
Norfolk Association of Local Councils subs £121.87
Internal Audit £123.25
Fasthosts domain renewal £25.18
HMRC PAYE £44.40
2317/08/2020
Finance – @ 29th March 2020:
Current Account £9577.18
Business Premium Account £3467.15
6. Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2019/20
6.1 The Report from the Internal Auditor was accepted and Section 1 of the Annual
Governance Statement 2019/20 was signed by the Chairman.
Actions will be taken to address the points raised in the Internal Auditor’s Report:
• The Clerk will be provided with equipment to undertake work if needed
• Electronic storage of documents will be progressed. Cllr. Llewellyn will produce a
proposal for use of Drop Box.
• Depreciation of assets will be considered as felt appropriate once guidance has been
checked.
6.2 Section 2 of the Annual Governance Statement 2019/20 was accepted and signed by
the Chairman.
6.3 Declaration made that Wretton Parish Council is exempt from the requirement for a
limited assurance review (External Audit) with the Certificate of Exemption was signed by
the Chairman.
7. Low Road speed limit
Concerns have been raised regarding vehicles parking along Low Road and causing
obstruction of the Highway. Visibility is also being hampered pulling out from Church Road
as vehicles are parked outside the Old Red Lion. It is believed there is a license in place to
cultivate the land but it is thought parking is not permitted. This will be checked with
Highways again.
The Parish Council has made enquiries regarding whether the speed limit along Low Road
can be lowered, but has been informed that Norfolk County Council Highways would not
support a reduction in the speed limit as the road and environment does not meet the
criteria laid down in the current speed management strategy and the accident history is
good.
Highways will be approached again to request what the speed management strategy
actually states and the Police will be contacted regarding hazards created by parking along
Low Road.
8. Planning Applications:
No application received for consultation
9. Other Reports – for information only:
• Cllr. Williams has no update on filling in the ‘pond’ on Wretton Green as the
Environment Agency is only responding to emergency situations since lockdown.
Noted that there has been criticism on Facebook that the pond area is very
overgrown and looks a mess.
• It was reported that the West Dereham Road has flooded during heavy rain and it
appears that the grups and verge are higher than the road surface and thus water
cannot get away.
3317/08/2020
• Concern was raised that a caravan which is being lived in is located at the Old
Gatehouse and other caravans are being used as accommodation in Cromer Road.
• Councillors will continue to monitor the re-instatement of the hedge in Chequers
Road as a condition of re-instatement is that the hedge must be replanted again if
the plants fail.
Public Participation – No members of the public present
Chairman’s Signature……………………………………… Date……………

Thoughts from the Borough Council

I thought I’d have a discussion on car parking, but as I write it is impossible to look at this in isolation and I’m afraid I have ended up spelling out a vision for King’s Lynn!! I say this as this gives you a chance to turn to the next page.
This is in one sense mainly a Kings Lynn matter, as the bulk of the paid car parking spaces are there. Our Council operates MOST of these, and in addition there are pay and display sites in Heacham, Hunstanton and one in Burnham Market. The council seems quite good at organising car parking as it also manages other sites throughout Norfolk, including at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. However, we all use many of these car parks so it is a Borough wide issue too. (The Council also supplies related CCTV services to some sites, both in the Borough and in Norfolk.).
For the Council this is the major income earner. The profits from this are used to support Council services, and as there have been relentless cuts on grants to all councils, increasing revenue and cutting costs have been necessary to balance the books. There are broadly speaking two bases of charge – annual season ticket or daily park. The season ticket is £400, so that’s around £1.70 per working day and the dailies are £2.80 (before 10 am) and £3.60 after 10 am. The (relatively) cheap parking is seen to support footfall for the high street in King’s Lynn, and the perceived poor property values and challenges of building mean that the numerous scattered small parking places around the city do not represent lost building opportunities.
But the world is changing, and many are questioning whether this historical model is really fit for purpose. King’s Lynn was changing before the Crisis, as indeed are many English towns. Simply, our shopping habits are changing. We use online more, and home deliveries are growing. For us in the rural areas, I would love to see this allow for the return of village shops. A tall order maybe, but I do note from the Plunkett Foundation that over 90% of community owned local shops have survived … their business model is perhaps more in tune with the times than traditional retailers. For Towns such as King’s Lynn it is important to recognise where the future lies and guide the town to that place. We should never forget that throughout its life King’s Lynn has always changed. From being medieval England’s largest port, through being a leading Hanseatic trading town, an industrial and food processing centre to a leading retail centre. This all matters to us in the rural areas as King’s Lynn is important for jobs, services, local government and business, as well culture and leisure. In normal timers King’s Lynn has been doing a reasonable job of rebuilding itself, with many events and leisure attractions.
So, let me spell out a vision, and as ever I love feedback! Firstly, I believe that our Council has a duty to promote healthy lifestyles, so more active travel and less car use. I would like to see much greater availability of public transport, with more regular bus services running later in the day so you can go out to King’s Lynn by bus and get a bus back. As we shift to electric cars (so I’m told) air quality will improve, but the main driver for this will be reduced car use in the town. But our love affair with the car is not over quite yet. There is a lot of funding available for developing bus routes, lets apply for a chunk of this.
So, secondly, let’s look again at Park and Ride. As I said above the low level of parking fees make this economically challenging, and many in the council do not want to change their old car parking model. It made money, and they believe will continue to do so. But take the cars out of town and provide excellent transport from out of town car parks will make for a more attractive town. As I said before, we need to consider our commercial services as a Council not just for their ability to create revenue, but also for their ability to promote healthier lifestyles. I believe a large Park and ride to the north will greatly improve access to the hospital. But the big idea is to look to create a new railway station SOUTH of Kings Lynn, where huge tracts of new housing are planned. Many of these new jobs will be servicing the tech companies of Cambridge, so I expect that home working will need to be supplemented by good communications to Cambridge (and London). A railway station here would serve areas to the East, West and South of Kings Lynn. This unparalleled growth of King’s Lynn will, as one of my colleagues said, allow the town to develop into a City, and that will benefit us all.
I believe that the Council by freeing up the inner-city carparks will be able to release land for imaginative use in the town, and such sites as Boal’s Quay will become available for high quality riverside developments. I would love to see the Market Place freed from being just a large parking lot to a focal point for an exciting nightlife, and other smaller sites be freed for development.
So what has this got do with us in the sticks? We need jobs, access to good health services, education and leisure and if our Borough town becomes forward looking then we will be the winners. Next month I’d like to write about the road network here in this corner of SW Norfolk, and if you have any views I would love to hear them
Thank you for reading my thoughts!

Continue reading

Ron’s Rambles

 

Working from Home
The Corona virus has forced people to work from home where possible and modern developments in communications have shown that, in many cases, it is quite possible to do this successfully. Some employers have reported a significant increase in productivity as a result. If it can be done successfully with the need for trips into the office greatly reduced, one can only regard it as a good thing. The government, however, is urging employers to get employees back into the offices, apparently to help the economy in the town and city centres. As one home worker wrote in a letter to the paper; “I have been working at home for several months, and it has been very successful. Now, it seems I am being urged to go back to commuting, which means a trip to the station, a wait on the cold platform for a train that may or may not come, standing in a crowded carriage with increased risk of infection with a virus, then walking in the rain to the office. An overall time of about an hour. There would be a similar journey in reverse, to get home. I am urged to do this just so that I can buy a coffee and a sandwich in the town”.
The virus might well have accelerated a change in lifestyle that was going to happen anyway. It could lead to less crowded trains, less pollution from cars and less congestion in the towns. Surely it can’t be bad. Perhaps the towns will have to adjust to a new normal.
The High Speed Train
I have never thought that the high-speed-train was worth the cost and disruption. The justification for it is being progressively diminished by the developments in communications and the increase in home working. More and more it is looking like a vanity project for the politicians. Of course, they are boasting that it will create twenty-thousand jobs, but these are jobs being paid for by the government i.e. the tax-payer. If we are going to spend that much to help employment, there must be far better ways.
A Level Results
What a shambles.
I felt rather sorry for the people at Ofqual. The government was worried about grade inflation, they knew that teachers were aware that their predicted results greatly influenced the offers of university places for their students and, not willing to spoil their students’ chances, they would err on the side of generosity. Ofqual were requested to produce a computer model for determining the results such that they were within 2% of previous years. I assume, they successfully produced a model that did just that.
Then came the howls of protest. Whilst the model produced the result requested it did not allow for individual variations. It appeared to put youngsters from deprived areas at a disadvantage. The model included allowance for the geographical area, based on previous results for that area, but this could be seen as somewhat arbitrary and automatically condemned students from poorer backgrounds, which was clearly unacceptable.
The government then had no choice but to accept the teachers’ predicted results. As a consequence, this year there has been a 25% increase in the numbers with higher grades, just what the government was afraid of, but really there was nothing else they could do.
Ofqual got a lot of stick for doing exactly what they were asked to do. It is quite likely, if it had been a normal year and the students had taken the exams, the overall result would have been close to what the model predicted. But when looking at individual results they could have been quite different
Brexit
Brexit is back in the news again. As I have said before on these pages, the decision to leave the EU is a disastrous one. The damage to our economy could be ameliorated, to some extent, if we do a good deal. The way the negotiating is going, however, the possibility of leaving with no deal is beginning to look real. Is that what the Brexiteers want to see? Can they really be so stupid as to seriously damage our trade with the EU, which is more than 50% of all our overseas trade? The Europeans will suffer also, but to a lesser extent, they will blame the UK for the failure of the negotiations and will give no quarter in future deals. There is now a real danger that Boris and his Brexiteers may well bring about the break-up of the United Kingdom and the impoverishment of England. It is time to put a stop to this patriotic jingoism and look at the real world.
Kier Starmer
The lefties in the Labour Party are accusing Kier Starmer of being too ‘right-wing’, an ‘establishment stooge’, and they are doing what they can to undermine him. When will they learn that a very left-wing Labour Party does not win elections? There have been eight Labour victories since the second world war, seven of them were won by Tony Blair and Harold Wilson, the eighth was by Clem Attlee.
But before they stand a chance of winning an election, they have got to win back the Scots, and good luck with that.
Chris Grayling
Many of you will remember the mistakes made by Chris Grayling, possibly the best one was giving a shipping contract to a firm with no ships.
A new chairman was required for the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee. Boris wanted Chris Grayling for the job. Why? He had no prior knowledge or experience in the field of security and not a clue about intelligence. Perhaps it was because Boris felt able to manipulate him and thereby control the committee indirectly. Members of the committee were horrified. They were keen to see Dr Julian Lewis in the role, he had a wide experience of defence and security and had been a security adviser. They worked quietly with him, behind the scenes, to ensure that he would be elected chairman. Boris was so annoyed that he had the Whip withdrawn from Dr Lewis. Makes you wonder, does he want the best man for the job, or a puppet where he holds
Ron Watts

The Ever Changing Seasons

 

I have been watching the progress of the harvest as we enter Autumn and the ever-changing landscape. In the fields around home the grain is in and the fields ploughed; further afield as I journey around the countryside there are pumpkins growing in the fields around Christchurch and Three Holes, a magical sight invoking memories of Harvest Festivals with pumpkins and gourds decorating the churches with lights shining out from the larger ones with crosses cut in the sides. The seasons come and go, just as they have for millennia: they are unaware of the pandemic raging around the world, the joys and the tragedies that affect us all as we journey through life.
Our Creator God, like the seasons, is ever present. He watches and abides alongside us, through the good and the bad times; the times of want and the times of plenty and as we face yet another wave of infection from this dreadful disease I recall the words of Christ:
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Continue reading