RUSHEN PARISH COMMISSIONERS
Meeting held 7pm Wed. 14th December, 2011 at Ballafesson Hall.
Present: Mr D Cain (Chairman), Mr P Vernon (Vice-Chairman), Mr A Tinkler, Mr P Gunn, Mr D Radcliffe.
The Clerk, Mrs G Kelly, was in attendance.
The date of the meeting had been changed as the Chairman was to attend a reception at Government House – also 21st was so near to Christmas.
The Minutes of the Meeting held Wednesday 16th November 2011, having previously been circulated, were taken as read. Mr Cain requested a part of the draft be removed – 8. Correspondence b) Consultation questionnaire – Recreational Use of the Island’s Reservoirs. The second paragraph to be removed with the exception of the last sentence – ‘the Clerk was to send a general reply supporting some of the uses of the reservoirs. It was agreed that this be removed. The Clerk would reprint the page. The Minutes were then approved for signing.
2. MATTERS ARISING:
a) Southern Area Plan
This had been reconvened on 21st November at Legislative Buildings, Douglas – notification received but as it did not involve any areas in Rushen there was no need for RPC to attend. The formal closing of the Inquiry was to take place on 5th January and would only last 30 minutes. There was no requirement for RPC to attend this either.
b) DoI/Local Authority Issues
Local Elections Legislation LA Election Thursday 26th April 2012. There was to be a Training workshop, which the Clerk was attending to refresh her memory re any new election rules, to be held on Thursday 16th February.
Members’ Interests. Letter from Deputy Clerk of Tynwald’s Office and had been sent to both the Clerk and Chairman. Members had been given a copy with the meeting agenda.
Select Committee on Local Authorities: Members’ Interests (Petition for Redress of Grievance). ‘On 15th November 2011 Tynwald debated the petition for redress of grievance of Mr Joseph Rae Hamilton and agreed the following resolution: That a select committee of three Members be appointed with powers to take written and oral evidence pursuant to sections 3 and 4 of the Tynwald Proceedings Act 1876, as amended, to consider the Petition of Grievance of Mr Joseph Hamilton presented at St John’s on 5th July 2011 in relation to declarations of interest by members of local authorities. The Members appointed by Tynwald were Mr Graham Cregeen MHK, Mr Richard Ronan MHK and Mr Juan Turner MLC. The Committee has elected Mr Ronan as its chair.
The Committee would be grateful if your local authority could please submit by Friday 6th January 2012 answers to the following questions:
1) Is the authority aware of the recommendation of the Select Committee on the Affairs of Braddan Commissioners, approved by Tynwald in June 2009, that the register of interests by each local authority should be made available for public inspection?
2) Is the authority aware of the ‘Corporate Governance Principles and Code of Conduct’ issued by the Department of Local Government and the Environment in July 2009 which recommends that authorities comply with the June 2009 resolution in addition to the statutory requirements?
3) Is the authority’s register open to public inspection by the public?
4) If so, is it available online?
5) If not, has the authority considered opening its register to the public, and for what reason has it decided not to do this?
6) Would the authority like to make any comments or put forward any proposals in response to the issue identified in the prayer of Mr Hamilton’s petition?
The Committee will assume that the authority is content for any submission it makes to be published unless otherwise indicated.’
This was discussed and Members were satisfied that they could answer ‘yes’ to questions 1,2 and 3. With regard to question 4 – they did not think that it should be put online as, if anyone was really interested, they could come to the Office or a Meeting and read it as it is open to the public. It was RPC’s understanding that, should a Member declare an interest, they could make no further comment in the meeting with regard to that subject. The Clerk was to point this out and ask if it was correct. The Clerk was to reply to the letter within the time limit.
Members’Declaration of Interests – The Clerk reminded everyone that RPC’s book was on the table at every meeting and available for any updates members wished to enter. She had reminded Mr Cain and Mr Radcliffe that they should now put in an entry that they were both on the Rushen Endowments Committee as some of the proceeds of the Concert in February were to be given to that. They both updated their entries accordingly.
Rate Arrears – Treasury Rates Section was to be reminded that they must consult with RPC before writing off any debts.
c) Waste Management and Refuse Collection
Disposal Costs at the EFW – letter from DoI stating that, following a review of waste charges, the Minister and Department Members had approved an increase in the tipping charges for domestic waste at the EFW and Wright’s Pit North – increasing from £30.74 to £35 per tonne for domestic waste as from 1st April 2012. Commercial waste would remain at £106 per tonne.
Bad debts – Mr Tinkler was contacting the debtor. The Clerk had brought along details of a debt, which was from 2007 onwards, of a resident in Ballafesson. She had thought they had moved as there had been no reply from them but they were still on the most recent voters list. A letter was to be sent by recorded delivery asking for payment.
Ballagawne Road project. This was not finished yet but was nearing completion. The Clerk had asked Ian Gilbertson about the trees which were obscuring some of the lights. She had written to the owner of the property to ask if he would give permission for the trees to be cut back.
e) High Hedges - reported in private session.
f) Traffic matters and DoI.
The Clerk had written to Mr David Cretney, Minister, re some of the items below: A reply had been received from Mr Thompson, Chief Executive:- ‘Thank you for your letter dated 29th November addressed to the Minister outlining the Commissioners concerns about various matters relating to the activities of the Highways Division. I am disappointed that you have felt it necessary to write in this manner and have asked the Director of Highways to respond to you as quickly and as fully as possible. Should you have any further concerns on this or any other matters, my email address and telephone numbers are provided for your convenience on this letter and I trust you will not hesitate to make contact with me should you feel it necessary. It was unclear whether Mr Cretney had asked for this reply to be sent.
The Clerk and Mr Vernon had attended the Traffic Meeting that morning and reported the following-
Ballafesson Road – speed roundels. Still to be done. Has to be hot dry weather before it can be done so that the epoxy will sent properly. It would therefore be the following year before it would be done.
Ballachurry Corner – standing water. The work had been done but there was water still lying on other side of road.
Plantation Hill. – Danger to pedestrians, etc on hill. Nothing further.
Speeding on Howe Road. Nothing further.
Civic Amenity Site lines and signs. Still waiting for the lines.
The Level/Croit-e-Caley. The speed of traffic. More speed counts to come. They would consider narrowing the road in places but that would take away car parking.
Glen Chass – sharp corner & turning circle. Cul de Sac sign. There had been a mix up regarding the sign but they would now get it put up.
Shore Road – speed. Nothing further.
Glen Chass Road – narrow corner. Nothing further.
Kerbstones at Ballnahowe Nothing further.
Ballakillowey Roundabout. Nothing at present.
Cregneash – safety of pedestrians coming to and from the car park to look at the Village. The DoI Officer was meeting with the Properties Division of DoI, owners of the car park, to discuss the way forward.
Mr Cain had organised a contractor to cut the hedge near the entrance, whilst he had been doing some work for him. This had helped with visibility coming out of the car park. There had been bits of hedge on the road and, due to the windy weather, it had blown across the road to the house opposite. The owner had been angry about this and Mr Vernon had gone up to tidy it up. Mr Cain had spoken with the owner. Mr Cain said that he would now get David Cooil to cut the hedge when he was cutting the plot belonging to Hillcrest.
The Meeting had to be cancelled due to bereavement.
Seat at The Chasms – There was nothing further on this.
h) Litter, beach cleans, dog fouling, etc
Dog bin on the traffic sign on the Ballachurry side of the new roundabout. Mr Radcliffe was still to do this.
Signs –price for five or ten of the wooden signs. The Clerk reported that DEFA were not making any more signs – their machine had broken and they were not going to fix it. The Clerk was to contact the Workshop for the Disabled to see if they could make some.
Beach Cleans – Michelle Heywood and the Parents group from Scoill Phurt le Moirrey – had been to Fleshwick again on 4/12 and collected 3 bags of rubbish from the beach and banks plus some pallets. It was agreed that a cheque for £30 should be sent.
i) Ballafesson Playing Field, Car Park at The Howe, Signs
The shed. Nothing further.
Swing – the Clerk had been unable to find the suggested swings on the Wicksteed web site. Mr Radcliffe offered to look at it and find suitable ones.
j) Web Site. Mr Vernon was keeping this updated and was thanked for doing this.
k) Southern Civic Amenity Site.
Email received from the Clerk of the Amenity Site Board. She said that the amounts for the Local Authority contributions would probably be increasing by 10% for the forthcoming year. This was due to £9,000 for the increase in tipping costs plus £12,000 for a new digger.
The Clerk queried the amount for the digger and Mr Cain explained that this was ‘per annum’
l) Municipal Association
Mr Gunn reported that it had been a quiet meeting. There had been a report from the Richmond Hill Committee and it had been decided to keep that Committee going.
l) Southern Swimming Pool
Mr Radcliffe reported that there had been a few staff issues. The new Pool Manager had started work and it was expected that any problems would be sorted out.
There were no meetings due in the following month.
n) Southern Healthcare Committee
Mr Vernon would be attending the next meeting, which would be held on 1st March.
p) Rushen Ambulance
Mr Tinkler had spoken to Joyce Corlett. She had retired earlier in the year and there was a new Secretary whose name he would find out.
q) MNH Nothing furher.
r) Risk Assessment
There were no new risks to be entered in the Register.
s) Land in front of Hillcrest, Cregneash nothing at present.
t) Golden Jubilee Trust There was nothing further at present.
u) Unsightly buildings and land
Email (forwarded to Members 1/12) from Phil Gawne, MHK – forwarding an email he received from Mr Richmond. Mr Gawne asked ‘where’s this up to?’
The Clerk had replied to his email with the information to date and pointing out that there were some errors in Mr Richmond’s letter. She read out the reply she had sent and it was agreed that there need not be anything further sent at present.
v) Sloc Sites & Seats, etc.
Chasms path – seat and plaque. There had been nothing further from Mr Wilkins or anyone else involved.
w) Croit-e-Caley Green – bench and tree.
Stone – this was not ready yet.
x) Agricultural Rating
The list which the Clerk had brought to the November meeting for discussion was to be sent to Mr O.Hanlon, Valuations Officer for the Rating Section, to look at.
y) Grass Cutting
The advert had been in Examiner, Courier and Southern Chronicle. It had also somehow been put on a Jobs website by IOM Newspapers – Jobstoday and the Clerk had been receiving emails from people in various places outside the Island, including Poland, Romania, South Africa and UK. There seemed to have been a misunderstanding that it was a ‘job’ rather than a ‘contractor’ required. There had also been applications from people on the Island thinking it was a ‘job’.
It was agreed that the information should be sent out to all applicants for the Contract in the period between Christmas and New Year.
z) Newsletter Mr Radcliffe had this in hand.
ab) Rushen & Arbory – possible sharing of services. Nothing further at present.
Ac) Disaster Recovery Plan
The Clerk of the Amenity Site had been in touch with the Clerk to give her information on what they do with regard Data storage. The Clerk had contacted both firms which she had suggested and had some information. She thought that Wi-Manx was probably the most suitable and would make further inquiries.
Ae) Ballagawne Road – bus shelter.
Mr Vernon and Mr Radcliffe had looked at the bus stop near the roundabout with a view to the possibility of putting hard-standing or a bus shelter there. They thought it would be feasible to put in a concrete base – shelter size – but it would have to be built up at the back, in the field. Mr Radcliffe had spoken to the land owner, Mr S Clucas, and he had been agreeable to this providing it was fenced off in the field. Mr Vernon had also mentioned it at the Traffic Meeting which he and the Clerk had attended that morning and had said that RPC were thinking of doing this work. Mr Vernon and Mr Radcliffe were to get a price for digging this out. There would also be block work involved in building up the back.
Ballachurry Bus Shelter - The Clerk reported that Colas did not sell Perspex. Mr Radcliffe said that he needed to get some Perspex and he would look into this – he thought that it was possible that Sign Sense may have it in stock.
Af) Winter Concert/talk
Ballafesson Hall had been provisionally booked for 3rd and 10th February. Mr Cain had spoken to Mr Robinson who could do the talk on either evening and sent an email to Mr Kneale, who was on holiday and so had not yet replied. Mr Robinson requested that RPC write to MNH telling them that he was giving the talk and using his slides. Mr Radcliffe had spoken with Isobel Kinley who had agreed to provide some catering.
Ag) Hedge at Garthcote & others.
These were to be kept under review for action should the need arise.
ah) consultation – Draft Planning Policy Statement – Replacement and extension of Dwellings in the Countryside.
Nothing further on this.
ai) Castletown Commissoners – sharing services.
A date for the meeting couldn’t be agreed on – and they asked for suggestions for a date for in the New Year. Members felt it would be better for them to name a date and Members would attend if they could.
Ak) Zero rated properties
The list of zero-rated properties had included Level Inn House, which had been occupied for several years and should not have been zero rated. The Clerk was to inform the Rating Division and have this rectified.
al) New Youth Committee. Nothing further on this.
am) Christmas Tree.
Mr Cain and Mr Radcliffe had erected this. It had been reported to the Clerk that the lights were not working. Mr Vernon was to look at it the following morning.
an) Rushen MHKs.
The Clerk asked for confirmation that it would be the January Meeting that they were invited to. This was agreed and the Clerk asked for items to be put on the agenda for them to discuss with RPC. It was agreed that local government housing, zero rating, derelict buildings and the ‘Low Cost Community Hall’ could be topics for discussion.
ao) Southern Chronicle.
An advert had been in the Southern Chronicle regarding the Grass Cutting Contract. Cost would be about £20.
ap) Planning Committee.
The Clerk had replied that she and/or Mr Radcliffe (if plans were particularly contentious) could attend Planning Committee meetings. She pointed out that they would not be permitted to speak, just observe.
aq) List of past Chairman.
The Clerk had completed a list (emailed to Members on 18/11)) as far as she could go from the Minute books which were either in the possession of RPC or the one which was in her possession (the first one). That was 85 out of the 111 years. Mr Vernon had contacted the Museum Library who were going to see what they could find and he would also go to the I-Museum to do some research himself.
ar) Memorial to wartime plane crash. – which had happened late morning Sat. 14th April 1945 – above the Chasms.
Mr Tinkler and the Clerk had been to talk to Mr Ramsden of the Aviation Museum at Ronaldsway. He was to mention it to his committee on and their meeting in December and would do the wording for the plaque. He had also contacted people in America. A site meeting would be needed at some time to see where the plaque should go. The Clerk had written to Mr Watterson, the owner of the field and he had given written permission. He said that he would like to attend any dedication ceremony. Mr Tinkler had written a short article for The Southern Chronicle and there would be a longer one in the February issue once more information was available.
Mr Tinkler mentioned funding for this and said that it could be funded by both RPC and the Aviation Museum.
as) Christmas Meal. Mr Cain had organised this for 7th January at the Shore Hotel.
RESPONSIBLE FINANCE OFFICER’S REPORT.
This can be read at the office of the Commissioners.
a) 3rd Supplemental List and Rateable Value of the Parish.
The total required to calculate the Estimates for the year was RV £123,261. This was the RV minus agricultural hereditaments (farmland) which are only charged a water charge and therefore do not increase the rateable income.
b) Changes to public sector rents and allowances.
Letter from Hon. Chris Robertshaw, Minister for Social Care. (emailed to Members 2/12 and copy enclosed with agendas). The Department of Social Care had reviewed the housing deficiency arrangement and the level of rent and the maintenance and administration allowances retained by the Local Authorities. The Council of Ministers had approved that the annual increase in public sector rents with effect from 1st April 2012 would be 10%. The rent point value therefore increased from 1.0621 to 1.1683.
The changes to the allowances were:
a) The maintenance allowance would increase to the current monetary value as at 2011/12 plus 5.9% increase for inflation.
b) The administration allowance to remain the same as the monetary value for 2011/12 with no increase for inflation.
c) The community allowance paid to Sheltered Housing Authorities will increase to the current monetary value for 2011/12 plus 5.9% for inflation.
‘The decision to increase the rent by above inflation has been taken to help to address the rapidly increasing levels of deficiency payments made by the Department to Local Housing Authorities. Current levels of Housing Deficiency are approximately £7 million and were projected to rise to over £18 million by 2016 if decisive action is not taken. This level of growth in expenditure cannot continue to be sustained by the taxpayer. I believe that further changes to Government’s funding of affordable housing will be necessary to ensure current and future generations can access affordable housing at a cost that is affordable to both the individuals affected and the taxpayer. To that end, my Department commenced a Housing Review earlier this year to consider the Island’s future housing needs, the relevant issues and the options available to address them. I am pleased to confirm my Department will publish this information and commence consultation in the New Year. As a key stakeholder in the sector I look forward to hearing your views. I hope that together we can create a more sustainable cost-effective and efficient public housing policy for future generations. Given the scale of the proposed rent increase it is likely to generate comment and discussion both within Local Authorities, in Tynwald and in public. In view of this I enclose a news release on this matter which is embargoed until 10am tomorrow (Friday) to ensure all Local Authorities have the opportunity to read my letter first before hearing of these changes in the media. I respectfully request that you do not talk to the media until that time.’
Note:- RPC didn’t receive this until 10am on the Friday – the same time as the embargo lifted (also received by post later that same day).
The News release: mentioned that the rent was increasing by 10% the decision being taken due to the cost to the taxpayer – around £7m this year – due to the shortfall of rental income against annual housing costs. Over the past decade the Manx Government had invested more than £250m in improving the Island’s public sector housing stock such that the housing was better than ever before. However rents had not kept pace with rising costs hence the need for this rise now. The average rent rise for general housing would be less than £7 per week, with an increase of about £7 per week for a typical 3 bed house currently paying £70 per week. The average rise for sheltered housing would be £2 40 per week. Households on income-related benefits – a quarter of the total – would be largely unaffected. Public sector housing was a vital part of the Island’s housing stock, helping to provide thousands of families, older people and others in our community with affordable, high-quality homes. ‘It is vital that this remains the case. However, the costs to the taxpayer of the existing housing stock have risen rapidly in recent years and are forecast to continue to do so. This rent rise is an essential first step to address the issue of providing affordable housing at a sustainable cost. All of the evidence shows we must act now to ensure current and future generations can access the affordable housing they need at a cost to tenants and taxpayer that is both affordable and sustainable….’
Included with the above was a table of public sector rents compared to private sector rents on the Island …. E.g. a 3 bedroomed house in public sector would be £368 per calendar month; private sector would be £1,000 pcm – a difference of 36.8%.
The increases were noted.
c) Calf of Man Shearwater Recovery Project.
Letter from MNH re the ‘important wildlife conservation project that is to take place on the Calf of Man this winter. MNH has a unique opportunity to increase the prospects for Manx Shearwaters returning to breed on the Calf in significant numbers by working in partnership with other Island and UK organisations’ They were hoping for a complete eradication of the rats on the Calf. Currently they put bait down on a seasonal basis but they still remain a threat to the Shearwaters. FERA (UK Food and Environment Research Unit) had offered technical expertise and practical help of its field operatives free of charge to MNH to enable the project to go ahead at considerably reduced cost to MNH. In addition the RSPB had offered a significant financial contribution to the project, making it feasible for MNH Trustees to meet the remaining costs. The baiting phase would be carried out in winter. They would be issuing a press release. Should the Commissioners have any further queries or concerns please contact the Director.
There was support for this from RPC.
d) Rushen Burial Ground Accounts.
The Burial Ground Accounts for the year ending December 2010 had been received and noted.
e) Isle of Man Water and Sewerage Authority.
Received – Annual Report and Accounts. Noted.
f) MEA – Ready to Go Natural
Leaflet received ‘for information’ the MEA has completed construction of its new transmission system to deliver natural gas to the North, South and West of the Island. Noted.
g) Road Transport Licensing Committee.
Applications, Decisions and Notices. Noted.
h) Tax Relief for Letting a Room in your home, etc consultation.
Income Tax Division has published documents setting out the feedback on the two consultation. Email copied to Members 7/12. Noted.
i) Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations 2012.
Email from Government House (copied to Members 7/12) They were asking for an update regarding any special arrangements being made to celebrate the Jubilee. They asked to let them know as soon as possible so that the Working Group could have an overview of how the Isle of Man as a whole would be celebrating. The celebration weekend was to be based on the precedent set for the IOM Golden Jubilee celebrations by having an extra bank holiday on Friday 6 July 2012 (the day after Tynwald Day) and leave the Spring Bank Holiday in its traditional slot (In UK the Spring Bank Holiday in late May will be moved to Monday 4th June and an additional Jubilee bank holiday will be held on Tuesday 5th June).
They understand that RPC may have had a communication from Mr Bruno Peek OBE regarding taking part in a Beacon event – lighting beacons across the UK and the globe on 4th June. Plans regarding the IOM are being considered by the Working Group – they would like to know if RPC have corresponded with Mr Peek to advise him that RPC intends taking part.
The Clerk said that she could not remember any such communication regarding the beacon and had informed Government House of this.
RPC were to hold a Children’s Sports on Tynwald Day in the Playing Field.
j) consultation – Changes to the Weeds Act (1957)
Email received from DEFA ( received and copied to Members that day) The full document could be viewed at www.gov.im/lib/docs/daff//weedsactconsultation.pdf. Views by 27th January 2012.
Issues. Every year complaints are received by DEFA and DoI re injurious weeds in roadside verges. ‘the Act is, in part, unenforceable: Section 1 State: ‘that it is an offence to allow any of the listed species to ‘remain uncut or undestroyed by 1st Aug, or before this date is already in flower.’…. This has a number of repercussions – if followed correctly the Act would result in the extermination of the listed species which would be unethical (except giant hogweed) – all native species have a role in the functioning of health ecosystems. Members of the public frequently complain about the presence of weeds, especially Cushag in gardens, brownfield sites and hedgebanks where no agricultural problem is apparent. This takes up significant officer time where no meaningful actions can be taken, reducing the time that can be spent on infestations which are a real risk to agricultural areas, particularly those with horses. Section 2 of the Act permits the Dept. to issue a notice on landowners to cut or destroy injurious weeks within a specified time. This is easier to enforce and is only carried out where there is a significant infestation that will affect agricultural land. Focusing on the use of notices under Section 2 would achieve he required reduction of risk to animals on agricultural land. For comparison, the UK weeds Act does not have an equivalent to our Section 1 but functions solely on text similar to our Section 2. If section 1 was removed from the Act it would no longer be an offence to harbour listed species on the Weeds Act, unless a notice has been issued by DEFA. This would remove the duty to eliminate these species from the Island – a duty that is in itself both unachievable and contrary to sound environmental practise and convention. Peter McEvoy.
Members had not had much time to read this but the main feeling was that Members would not like it to be used as an excuse for DoI to leave weeds growing at the edge of roads. It was still their responsibility to deal with them
9. PLANNING APPLICATIONS
a) 11/1656. The Retreat, Surby Road, Surby. Mr & Mrs P Kneen. Proposed roof alterations; retrospective permission for solar panels to south elevation.
10. PLANNING APPROVALS
a) 11/1493. Copcut Elm, Ballagale Close, Surby. Mr P West. Erection of conservatory porch. Decision – Director of Planning. Issued 7/12/11.
11. PLANNING REFUSALS none.
12. PLANNING APPEALS
a) 11/0709. Woodville, Castletown Road. Mr J Hill. Alterations, erection of extension and installation of replacement windows.
The Appeal has been refused and the original decision i.e. to refuse permission still stands. The Inspector’s conclusions state that ‘1.7 In light of the above, I conclude that the proposed extension would have a materially adverse effect on living conditions at Savona, and it would have a harmful visual impact as viewed by the public. The Planning Authority’s decision to refuse the application should therefore be confirmed. Inspector – Ruth Mackenzie. Issued 8th December 2011.
13. COMPLETION CERTIFICATES none.
14. OTHER PLANNING MATTERS none.
15. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
a) Mr Gunn was asked how his wife Jane was recovering after her recent illness. He said she was doing well. He was asked to convey Members good wishes to her and to thank her for making cakes for the meetings.
b) Hole in Road.
Mr Cain had asked the Clerk to report some damage near Cregneash. She had erroneously understood this to be a hole in the road near the Telecom box on the road to Ballnahowe. This was, in fact, a broken box – possibly Manx Telecom – and was on the Howe Road just be the start of the footpath going over Meayll Hill. The error was corrected when dealing with the Minutes at the January Meeting. The Clerk was deal with this.
16. DATE OF NEXT MEETING Wed 18th January 2012.
The Meeting then went into Private Session.