• Minutes of the 16 August Meeting

    September 22nd, 2017 by Stan Pilling in General News ·Meeting Minutes

    RUSHEN PARISH COMMISSIONERS
    Minutes of the Monthly Board Meeting
    Held 7pm Wednesday 16th August 2017 at Ballafesson Hall

    Present: Mr P Gunn (Chairman), Mr P Vernon, Mr D Radcliffe, Mr S Pilling
    Apologies: Mr J Young
    The Commissioners formally acknowledged their understanding and support of the reasons for Mr Young’s absences from the July and August meetings.
    In attendance: The Clerk.

    1. MINUTES: The Minutes of the Meeting held on Wednesday 19th July 2017 were approved and signed by the Chairman, having been proposed by Mr Radcliffe and seconded by Mr Vernon.

    2. MATTERS ARISING.
    a) Allotments Committee – the Clerk had spoken to Port St Mary Commissioners and will follow up with the PSM Clerk before the next meeting.
    b) DoI/Local Authority Issues – The DoI had acknowledged the Chairman’s letter.
    c) Dandara – access to their compound – Dandara acknowledged receipt of the license from the Commissioners but were still to agree an S109 with the Department of Infrastructure.
    d) Street Lighting – LED maintenance costs – Clerk to report to next meeting.
    e) Dog Byelaws – Clerk to report to next meeting.
    f) CCTV – Clerk has made contact with PC Midghall and a meeting will be arranged prior to the next meeting.
    g) Dog bins – the Clerk reported on an offer made by Braddan Commissioners’ Deputy Clerk.
    Braddan Commissioners have had great success and noticed a marked reduction in dog fouling by providing bag dispensers at hot spot locations. If Rushen Parish Commissioners wished, Braddan were offering to loan a spare bag dispenser for a trial period. The Commissioners agreed to accept Braddan’s offer and would trial the dispenser by the bin next to the phone box at top of Fairy Hill.
    h) Risk Assessment, Health and Safety – the Clerk proposed the following formal terms of reference which were supported by the Commissioners.

    1. Review and maintain the Authority’s Health and Safety Policy.
    2. Review and maintain a “Hazard Register”, in relation to the Authority’s activities.
    3. Review the Authority’s risk assessments in relation to its activities, identify any areas where further risk assessments are necessary and develop new risk assessments where necessary.
    4. Assist in the development of site specific risk assessments, method statements and safe systems of work, as required by the client’s operations.
    5. Review health and safety training needs and provide basic training and talks for relevant persons.
    6. Visit the Authority’s work sites and undertake site Health and Safety audits.
    7. Represent the Authority in relation to dealings with the IoM Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate (HSWI) and any other third parties.
    8. Provide Health and Safety advice, as required.
    9. Produce documentation tailored to specific needs.
    10. Issue periodical updates on Health and Safety legislation and associated issues.
    11. Provide general help and advice on IoM Health and Safety at Work Management Regulations and other Health and Safety compliance issues.

    i) Wall partially collapsed on Castletown Road – the Clerk had spoken to the land owner who had agreed to take action.
    j) Port Erin Commissioners – proposed boundary extension – the Clerk reported that he had been informed that this may be advertised shortly. It was agreed that the Clerk would work with the former Clerk to develop a case which fully expressed the Commissioners’ position. It was agreed that a separate strategy meeting would be held once the draft case was complete.
    k) Parking Area at rear of Reayrt y Cronk. The pole and sign were now fitted in the garden of number 4.
    l) Manx Bard invitation – the Clerk will be attending.
    m) Sage accountancy software – the Clerk reported that he is still checking how best to purchase this but will buy the package prior to the next meeting.
    n) Imogen Wild, STEP Student, Waste Management Unit – the Clerk had passed on contact details as agreed at the last meeting.
    o) High level policy on means testing – the Commissioners agreed not to submit a response.
    p) Bushy’s Brewery – the Clerk reported that he had written to Martin Brunnschweiler offering him use of the Ballakilley fields if he wants it for Bushy’s TT events next year.
    q) Ballafesson playing fields – in relation to the proposal to knock down the hut an offer had been received from Mr Young. It was agreed that Mr Young could keep the blocks if he demolished the hut and left the site in a good and safe condition. It may be necessary to get a contractor in to remove the concrete base.
    r) Dogs in the Ballafesson Playing Field at 8pm. The Commissioners agreed to check this and report back to the next meeting.
    s) Tidy up area in front of Ballafesson Playing Field’s sign – the Clerk had reported this to Steve Booth who agreed to complete the work.
    t) Clerk to write to land owner regarding cutting the green at Cregneash – the clerk reported that the land owner had apparently cut the green themselves.

    3. SOUTHERN CIVIC AMENITY SITE – Mr Pilling reported that the next meeting would take place the following evening. The agenda would include discussion on whether a Board or Committee structure would be best for managing the site in the future. The Clerk had received the following advice from the Department of Infrastructure in relation to this matter:

    The formal process of dissolving the board is a fairly simple process. An order under section 7 of the Local Government Act 1985 would be required to dissolve the Board; however, before any Order is made, the Department is required to consult with every local authority affected by the proposed order, i.e. the constituent authorities of the Civic Amenity Board. Once the Order has been made, the Order would need to be approved by Tynwald for it to come into effect.

    Despite the above, before any dissolution could take place, there would need to be discussion between the constituent authorities regarding who takes on ownership of the civic amenity site and its employees. There may be other issues that may need to be resolved before any dissolution and they may need to be included in any dissolution Order.

    In order to establish a new committee, a Committee would need to be formed under sections 17 and 18 of the Local Government Act 1985.

    It should be noted that a joint board is a body corporate and, thus, a legal entity, and this helps ensure that proper legal safeguards are in place. This is especially relevant to, for example a Civic Amenity Site, where there are practical operational issues for which proper provision needs to be made – employment of staff, obtaining public liability cover, creation of bank accounts, entering into contracts etc. As bodies corporate, joint Boards can also own/lease land.

    Joint committees do not have the same legal standing and are primarily designed as a way of allowing members from different Local Authorities to join together to discuss policy issues or to allow for methods of joint discharge of functions in relatively simple and straightforward situations. As a joint committee is not a body corporate, all of the local authorities which are members of it would have to be parties to any contract which the committee entered into and, similarly, they would all have responsibility for any actions of the committee which gave rise to any loss or damage to a third party.

    However, under a committee there would need to be agreement that one of the local authorities would operate the site and with it taking all the responsibility which that would entail, including entering into all the necessary contracts, and then to enter into a Memoranda of Understanding with the other local authorities, which were members of the committee, regarding the basis on which it would accept waste from their residents.

    4. MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION – the Chairman reported that Minister Harmer was at the last meeting. There had been little discussed of particular relevance to Rushen and no discussion of plans for further reform. Discussion had mainly centred on the Richmond Hill Committee.
    The Chairman advised that training sessions were being organised by the Municipal Association. The next of these sessions will be on Tuesday 19 September 2017 at the Onchan Community Hub starting at 6.30p.m. This will look at a range of topics related to human resources matters including: contracts of engagement, disciplinary matters, conflicts of interest. and difficult or unusual scenarios encountered which might be of wider interest. It was agreed that the Chairman and Clerk would attend.
    There was to be no August meeting.
    5. SOUTHERN SWIMMING POOL AUTHORITY – Mr Radcliffe reported that there had been little of great importance discussed. Fuel costs were significantly down though thanks to a new boiler and a new pool cover.
    There was to be no August meeting.
    6. MARASHEN CRESCENT – Mr Radcliffe reported that there had been no meeting this month.
    7. SOUTHERN HEALTHCARE COMMITTEE – nothing to report
    8. MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE – nothing to report
    9. ROAD MAINTENANCE AND GRASS CUTTING – the Clerk reported that Steve Booth had begun the second spraying of weeds. The Clerk that following his instruction, Jones Services Limited had swept from Carrick Bay View to Ballafesson and Ballakillowey to the Four Roads as it was looking untidy. The Clerk reported that several blocked gulleys have been cleaned out recently.

    10. RESPONSIBLE FINANCE OFFICER’S REPORT.
    The Clerk reported the revenue received and accounts for payment received since the last meeting. The monthly payments were approved by the Board.

    C] OTHER MATTERS
    a) Rating Objections – a rating review had been agreed for a property in Bradda View, Ballakillowey
    b) Rates Valuation 2nd Supplemental List – a new list had been received with effect from 1st August 2017 stating the Gross value as £167,895 and the Rateable value as £146,086.
    c) Change of address – the Clerk had submitted a letter to IoM Bank requesting a change, to the new Commissioners address, for all the Commissioners’ and Thousla Cross Trust’s accounts.
    d) Online banking – Clerk reported that he had explored the possibility for the Commissioners to move to online banking.
    The Clerk recommended that the Commissioners move the eQ online banking system which would allow the Clerk and one Commissioner to approve online payments and all the Commissioners and the Clerk to see, in real time, the balances in each account. This option was available to the Commissioners at no monthly cost due to the relatively low number of transaction on the Commissioners’ accounts and no set up costs if the Clerk could manage without any training on how to use the system. If training was required, then a charge of £100 would be made. The Commissioners supported the Clerk’s recommendation after it had been proposed by Mr Vernon and seconded by Mr Radcliffe.
    The Clerk further recommended that the housing accounts be merged with general accounts. The Commissioners asked the Clerk to check that there were no legal or policy impediments to doing this and report back to the next meeting.
    Finally the Clerk recommended that the Commissioners move £50,000 from their Corporate Diamond Reserve Account to a 35 days notice account. This new account currently offers an interest rate of 0.5%, substantially more than the 0.01% offered on the reserve accounts. There is a minimum £25,000 deposit in this account. The Commissioners agreed to support this recommendation after it was proposed by Mr Radcliffe and seconded by Mr Pilling.

    11. FINANCIAL SITUATION
    Balance on last statements July/August 2017
    General ‘rates’ account 1,000.00 Liquidity Manager (rates) 156,746.97 Rent account 22,244.43
    Housing account 2,598.76

    12. CORRESPONDENCE
    a) DoI letter on Freedom of Information – the Chairman and Clerk received a letter from Stephen Willoughby dated 20th July 2017. In response to this very helpful prompt the Commissioners agreed the following in relation responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2015.

    The Commissioners do not currently have a robust system for records management but the Clerk will ensure that there will be one in place in time for the 1st January 2018 when the Commissioners become subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2015.

    The Commissioners routinely publish the minutes of their monthly meeting online and will ensure that as much information as possible is in those minutes.

    The Commissioners will be identifying an appropriate form on which requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2015 can be submitted. The Commissioners agreed that the Clerk should write to Mr Willoughby asking if a template for a suggested form is available for the Commissioners to use. The Commissioners will make the agreed form available on their website prior to 1st January 2018.

    The Commissioners agreed the following internal framework to deal with FoI requests within 20 days. The Clerk will initially consider the request, collect the information requested and draft a response. The Chairman will then consider and approve or send back to the Clerk for revision as appropriate, the draft response. The Chairman will forward the draft response to the other Commissioners if he feels that it is politically contentious. Once agreed, the response will be sent in the Clerk’s name to the person requesting the information.

    The Commissioners asked the Clerk to ask Mr Willoughby if, due to the the fact that the Commissioners only have one employee, would the absence of the Clerk on ill health or annual leave be a sufficient reason for a full response not to be made within 20 working days.

    While some Commissioners have undertaken training provided by the Government on the Freedom of Information Act 2015 it was agreed that more training would be helpful. The Clerk and some of the Commissioners agreed that they would like to receive training in relation to the planned government training in exemptions on the 22nd and 23rd November, and the suggested training on mock requests including feedback from those who have been engaged in the FoI process since 2016.
    b) Invitation to the Enthronement of new Bishop – the Chairman agreed to attend.
    c) Invitation to CRHS Annual Awards – the Chairman agreed to attend.
    d) Invitation to Battle of Britain Concert and Church Service – none of the Commissioners were available so the Clerk was requested to pass on their apologies.
    e) Invitation to Onchan Civic Service – none of the Commissioners were available so the Clerk was requested to pass on their apologies.
    f) Rossborough Insurance Policy Documents – the documents were reviewed by the Commissioners.
    g) Overgrown hedge – Viking Hill and Christeen’s Way – it was agreed that the Clerk should write to the owner requesting the hedge in question be trimmed.
    h) Overgrown hedge – Mill Road – it was agreed that the Clerk should write to the owner requesting the hedge in question be trimmed. Mr Pilling suggested that the Commissioners need a formal policy on hedge trimming. It was agreed that the Clerk should formulate such a policy once he had had time to experience the issues which occur from time to time.
    i) End to End Walk (Temporary Closure) Notice – this was noted.
    j) Thanks from PE Beach Festival – this was noted.
    k) Consultation on ending State Pension “contracting out” – this was noted.
    l) Consultation on proposed pension freedoms – this was noted.
    m) Consultation on changes to the requirement for notice in advance of voluntary land registrations – this was noted.
    n) Consultation on the proposed provisions of the draft National Health and Care Service General Scheme – this was noted.
    o) Consultation on the proposed provisions of the draft National Health and Care Service Charter – this was noted.
    p) Consultation on encouraging active travel on the Isle of Man – this was noted.
    q) Consultation on proposed changes to work permit controls – this was noted.
    r) Consultation on proposed Central Registry Bill – this was noted.
    s) The Southern Chronicle deadline for editorial, diary items, etc.., is August 20th – this was noted.
    13. PLANNING MATTERS
    A] Planning Applications:
    a) 17/00774/B Mines Cottage, Ballakilpheric Road. Nicola McDowell. Erection of timber stable block – The Commissioners were content to support this application.

    B] Planning Approvals – the following were noted.
    a) 17/00619/B The White House Mount Gawne Road. Mrs Morag Clark. Alterations, installation of an additional window and amendments to existing windows to dwelling. Decision – Head of Development Management. Issued 21st July 2017.
    b) 17/00634/B The Nook Croit E Caley. Mr Trevor Patterson. Erection of a rear extension. Decision – Head of Development Management. Issued 21st July 2017.
    c) 17/00620/B Field 411363 & Part Field 411361 Glendown Farm Truggan Road. Mr Derek & Mrs Jane Cain
Use of two tourist accommodation huts instead of approved glamping pods (retrospective).
 Decision – Planning Committee. Issued 11th August 2017.

    C] Planning Refusals – None

    D] Completion Certificates – the following were noted.
    a) 16/07539/DOM 11, Bradda View Grove, Ballakillowey. Hartford Homes. Issued 21st July 2017.
    b) 16/07519/DOM 12, Bradda View Grove, Ballakillowey. Hartford Homes. Issued 2nd August 2017.
    E] Planning appeals – None

    F] Other Planning Matters
    a) Letter to Minister Boot MHK – the Commissioners considered the following letter received expressing Minister Boot’s thoughts in relation to the composition of the planning committee:

    At present we are as far as I am aware the only jurisdiction within the Great Britain gambit that has an appointed planning committee with those appointments lasting for normally five years.
    I find this an anomaly as I believe transparency and democracy should be part of the primary planning process.
    At present local authorities are able to express an opinion to the planning department which can and should be taken into consideration, but when applications are escalated to the next level, the planning committee then democracy using elected member vanishes from the system until the Minister or a delegated member gets involved as the final arbiter of appeals if indeed one is made.
    The finality of the process is a petition of doleance which is there to examine correct process.
    Yes the planning committee system has improved over the years and now incorporates the ability for applicants and objectors to speak.
    My envisagement, and this is a personal opinion and not one expressed on behalf of the Department or Council of Ministers, is that a system that requires each constituency, in other words the local authorities within that constituency, to come together and nominate an elected member of the Commissioners to serve on the planning committee with a deputy for whatever period those local authorities deemed appropriate would seem a way around this. This would comprise a committee of 12 local authority representatives from around the island that would remove bias in consideration of applications. The Chair could, as now, be an MHK nominated and confirmed from my department. The Chair would retain a casting vote.
    This would put the onus on local authorities to nominate an elected member. In the Douglas area where you have a number of constituencies it may well be that your authority would be tasked with nominating more than one member of the committee based on the wards within the constituencies. However, in most constituencies the local authorities within are fairly well defined with the constituency boundaries.
    This would tend to relate more to the composition and quantity of local authority planning committees for instance in the UK. An essential part of this process would be that adequate training be given to new members as and when they are appointed.
    Some would argue that a committee of 12 is too many, I would counter that by saying that a committee of 12 allows a broad representation from around the Island and would therefore dilute the effect of local issues colouring the decision making process.
    Additionally local authorities could refresh the membership of the committee maybe on an annual basis or at least review the same rather than the set five year term we have at present.
    An alternative for this would be for the planning committee comprised of MHKs, there are 12 constituencies and 12 MHK’s could be appointed, that once again would dilute local bias.
    These are my ideas and I am simply trying to get a feel for whether or not local authorities would be interested in changing the present system and participating in a new one.

    While applauding the Minister’s desire to see greater involvement in the planning process the Commissioners felt that there were many complications and conflicts with his proposals which would make them very difficult to implement.
    The Commissioners felt that the decisions of the planning committee should be based on an interpretation of how an application measured against planning law and policy. The Commissioners wondered how a local authority member for a particular Keys constituency, as suggested by the Minister, could resolve the potential conflict between their own stated political views, the views of their authority, possible conflicting views of authorities within their region, and having to make decisions based on Tynwald approved policy and legislation.
    The Commissioners agreed that there was an important place for local democracy in the planning process but felt that should be in agreeing area plans and planning policy, rather than making decisions on individual planning applications, after the policy and law on which applications should be judged have already been agreed.
    The Commissioners noted the irony that their views and those of their local MHKs had largely been ignored in the production of the Area Plan for the South and wished that there had been a stronger desire by government at that time for local views to be taken seriously.
    The Commissioners agreed that the Clerk should draft a response to the above effect, for the Chairman’s consideration and signature when he was content with the response.

    b) Reply from Tim Baker MHK – the Commissioners considered the response of Mr Baker to Chairman’s letter of 20th July regarding the loss of visibility of planning applications since their advertisement in the IoM Courier had ceased in October 2014. The Commissioners were disappointed that Mr Baker was unwilling to revert to the previous system, but the Commissioners were encouraged that Mr Baker was looking to use updated technology to improve awareness of planning applications in particular areas.

    14. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
    a) Camper Van in the Howe Car Park – the Clerk had requested that a Notice of Intention to Remove an Abandoned Vehicle had been placed on the camper van. This resulted in the owner requesting that they be given time to have the vehicle re-taxed and then sold. The Commissioners agreed that a delay of two months was acceptable after which the vehicle should be removed.
    b) Void in back garden of No. 3 Reayrt y Chronk – whilst attempting to site the pole for the private parking sign at the back of this garden a substantial void was discovered. At the request of the Clerk, the site was visited by Alasdair Slack, a Department of Infrastructure structural Engineer. He concluded that the best solution would be to remove the turf and top soil, undertake a further investigation of what had been uncovered, and then fill the void with stone and soil and re-turf, assuming that no other remedial work was identified as necessary. It was agreed that the Clerk would seek prices for the work to be undertaken and proceed with the most cost effective quote.
    c) Hedges on the Rocky Road – the Commissioners agreed that the hedges should be trimmed as far as the final house on Bradda side of the Rocky Road. The Clerk was asked to instruct the Commissioners’ hedge trimming contractor accordingly.
    d) Post Redirect – the Clerk had arranged a redirection for all post from the old to the new Commissioners’ address. The redirect was in place for three months and started on 29th July.
    e) Rushen Burial Ground Authority – The boundary plan still needs to be corrected at the Registry – the Chairman and Clerk will endeavour to do this as soon as time allows.
    f) Planning application for pedestrian entrances to both the Church Field and the Barracks Field off Ballafesson Road – it was agreed to put these on hold pending the outcome of discussions with Southern Nomads in relation to the Ballakilley Playing Fields.

    15. DATE OF NEXT MEETING – Wednesday 20th September 2017 – Mr Vernon passed on his apologies in advance.