Minutes of the Meeting of the Parish Council held on Tuesday 1 March 2022 at Stocksfield Community Centre


Present:         Ms M Hunt (Chair), Miss A Brooks, Mr C Chance, Mrs A Dale, Mr J Harrison, Mr T Hills, Mrs L Joy, Mr C Liddle, Mr M Parker, Mrs K Pollock, Professor P Vickers.

Mr N Spencer (Clerk to the Council).


Apologies:     Mr J Lapping.

The Chair opened the meeting at 7.33pm and welcomed those present. It was AGREED to authorise the absence of Mr Lapping.


22/3/19 Declarations of Interest

Mrs Dale declared an interest in all planning matters and a personal but non-prejudicial interest in items relating to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.


22/3/20 Physical meetings: Covid-19 risk assessment

Members AGREED the previously circulated Covid-19 risk assessment.


22/3/21 Public Participation

B6309 at the junction with Lead Road at Apperley Dene

A resident had contacted the Clerk further to the discussion at the Council meeting in December 2021 (minute 21/12/166) and the recent fatal road traffic collision at the above location, asking for further information about the plans of Northumberland County Council (NCC) to increase road safety. Mrs Dale (as a county councillor) said that NCC’s Local Transport Plan (LTP) had approved funding for junction improvements and work to assess the needs of the junction is progressing.

Pedestrian crossing on A695 at Branch End

Mr Harrison said that the pedestrian crossing at the above location had been out of action for some time. The Clerk AGREED to contact NCC.                                         Action: Clerk


22/3/22 County Councillor update

Mrs Dale had provided a written update. In particular she referred to NCC’s budget, the LTP which made no provision for Stocksfield other than at Apperley Dene (see previous item 22/3/21), and electric vehicle charging points. Mr Liddle expressed disappointment that the pedestrian crossing for Birches Nook that would provide added security and an incentive for children to walk to school had been rejected. The Chair said that the Climate Change Emergency Advisory Group had been asked to look at electric vehicle charging points.


22/3/23 Minutes of the meeting held on 1 February 2022

It was AGREED (proposed Mrs Pollock, seconded Prof Vickers) that the previously circulated minutes of the meeting held on 1 February 2022 were a true and accurate record.


22/3/24 Matters Arising

a) Fallen tree adjacent Stocksfield Burn

The Clerk reported that the fallen trees had not been removed and that residents have today expressed concern to the Council’s grounds services contractor about safety issues. He added that he was awaiting a response from NCC’s Area Countryside Officer.

b) Civil Emergencies – contingency planning

The Clerk informed members of a planned remote meeting on 2 March 2022 to discuss this issue which three members had indicated they will attend.                    Action: Clerk

c) Planning processes in respect of Burnside Yard

The Clerk has repeated the Council’s request to the Director of Planning but no reply has been received.

d) Notes of the Climate Change Emergency Advisory Group meeting held on 12/01/22

Mr Chance said that the last meeting of the group was not held but that the Climate Change Community Event is now proposed to be held on Saturday 14 May 2022, hosted and promoted by Broomley First School.

e) Climate Change Community Consultation Event

Mrs Dale said that she had been unable to provide a written report for the meeting and briefly outlined the intention of the group to hold an event on 14 May 2022. She said that she is now in possession of a report. After discussion it was AGREED IN PRINCIPLE (proposed Mrs Joy, seconded Mr Liddle) to hold the consultative event between 10am and 2pm on 14 May 2022 at Broomley First School, conditional on a detailed budget and information about the event being presented to the next Council meeting.                      Action: Mr Chance, Mrs Dale, Mrs Joy


22/3/25 Finance

a) Approval of February 2022 payments

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Harrison, seconded Miss Brooks) to approve the payments for February 2022 as detailed in the previously circulated schedule and the summary of receipts and payments for the months was noted.

b) Budget monitoring to 28/02/22

The budget monitoring report was noted.


22/3/26 General Governance Advisory Group (GGAG)

a) Notes of the GGAG meeting held on 14/02/22

Members received the notes of the GGAG.

b) Advisory groups and standing orders

The Chair said that the previously circulated report of the Clerk had been discussed and GGAG recommended that the matter should be considered by the Council. The Clerk summarised the recommendations and Mr Chance referred to a previously circulated discussion document relating to the same matter. After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Mrs Joy, seconded Mrs Pollock) to

  • Insert a new section 10 of Standing Orders to govern the creation of committees (see Appendix A) with subsequent sections renumbered and a new paragraph 3.8 relating to the review of committees at the annual meeting (see also Appendix A)
  • Approve the establishment of the Planning Committee, its terms of reference (see Appendix B) and appoint Mr Parker (as Chair), Prof Vickers and Miss Brooks to the Committee
  • Remove references to delegated powers of the Planning Advisory Group (PAG) from the policy document ‘Advisory Groups’ (see Appendix C)
  • Insert a new paragraph 1.7 to amend the advisory group policy regarding the attendance of councillors at meetings (see Appendix D) and amend the membership of GGAG to the Chair and three other councillors
  • Amend the membership of PAG to four councillors to reflect the composition of the Planning Committee
  • Amend the maximum membership by councillors of advisory groups as follows:
    • Communications – four councillors,
    • Rights of Way and Environment – four councillors,
    • Climate Change Emergency – four councillors
  • Amend the terms of reference of the Communications Advisory Group (see Appendix E)
  • Create a new policy governing the creation of committees relating to a Staffing Committee and Appeal Panel (see Appendix F), and remove section seven from the Advisory Group Policy.
  • Delete paragraphs 3.3 and 3.4 of Standing Orders and renumber subsequent paras
  • ask GGAG to consider the need to create additional advisory groups.       

where in this resolution any reference to an appendix is a reference to the relevant appendix of the report of the Clerk.

Action: Chair, Clerk

 c) Land owned by the Council at the sports fields

Mrs Pollock declared an interest as a member of Stocksfield Cricket Club (SCC). The Chair referred to a request from SCC for the Council to consider transferring ownership of an area of land at the western sports field (also known as the Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields) to SCC in order to allow the development of the clubhouse and associated grounds maintenance facilities. The Clerk outlined the legal position in respect of the disposal of land owned by the Council. After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Prof Vickers, seconded Mrs Dale) to instruct the Council’s solicitors to register the Council’s current land holding. After further discussion it was AGREED IN PRINCIPLE (proposed Mrs Dale, seconded Mr Hills) to progress the sale of land to SCC, subject to contract, the consent of the National Playing Fields Association, a suitable assessment of the Council’s compliance with The Local Government Act 1972 General Disposal Consent (England) 2003, and the satisfactory negotiation of terms with SCC.                                                                                                                              Action: Clerk


Mrs Joy left the meeting and it was AGREED to suspend paragraph 2.18 of Standing Orders relating to the duration of the meeting.


d) Vehicle Activated Traffic Calming Signs (VATCS)

The Chair referred to a previously circulated report of the Clerk concerning the maintenance of VATCS devices. The sign on the A695 at Birches Nook is not working and no contract exists for its maintenance or repair. After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Mr Harrison, seconded Mr Hills) to renew the Council’s maintenance agreement with SWARCO at ‘silver’ level and to take no action in respect of the broken Unipart sign at Birches Nook. Action: Clerk DISCH

e) Disposal of green waste

The Chair referred to a report of the Clerk and, after discussion, it was AGREED (proposed Prof Vickers, seconded Mr Parker) to prohibit any incineration of material on Parish Council land, and to authorise the construction of recycling/composting bays as outlined in the report of the Clerk.                                                                                                     Action: Clerk DISCH

f) Christmas tree 2022

The Chair referred to previous discussions of the Council and a report of the Clerk. After discussion it was AGREED to approve the purchase of an additional Christmas tree for Branch End in 2022, to approve the purchase of the Christmas lights described in the report of the Clerk, and to agree to accept the offer of a contribution from the proprietor of the fuel station and Spar shop towards the cost of the lights.                                       Action: Clerk DISCH


22/3/27 Planning Advisory Group

a) Planning Report

Members noted the use of delegated authority of the Clerk as outlined below.

 b) Northumberland County Council Local Plan- Inspectors’ Report

Mr Parker updated members on the position of the Local Plan after its approval by inspectors. It is due to be considered and approved by NCC’s Cabinet and Full Council in March 2022.


Land to NE of High Meadow House, Stocksfield

Conversion of redundant agricultural building to provide a single dwelling

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Watch Hill, Lead Rd,


To convert loft into bedroom space

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Hindley Hall Lodge

Hindley Hall

Demolition of lean-to and construction of new two storey extension, demolition of conservatory and construction of single storey extension, double garage and drive

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


22/3/28 Parish Council Information Technology

The Clerk reported that the Council’s version of Microsoft Office (2007) struggles to cope with some of the tasks required and specifically cannot produce accessible documents for conversion to PDF. It was AGREED to purchase Microsoft Office 365 Business Standard.                                                                                                      Action: Clerk DISCH


22/3/29 Parish Council Representatives

There were no representative meetings.


22/3/30 Recruitment of a Clerk to the Parish Council

a) Notice of resignation of the Clerk

Members noted the resignation of the Clerk with effect from 30 April 2022.

b) Job description, person specification and spinal point

Members received the minutes of the Staffing Committee held on 9 February 2022 and noted the revisions made to the above.

c) Timetable for recruitment process

Members noted the timetable for the recruitment process.

d) Clerk’s outstanding time-off in lieu and annual leave

The Clerk declared an interest in this item and, after updating members, left the meeting. Members discussed the implications of the above and the potential for the overlap of staff depending on the outcome of the recruitment process. It was AGREED (proposed Mr Harrison, seconded Mrs Pollock) to authorise the payment of the Clerk’s outstanding time-off and annual leave at the end of the Clerk’s employment in April 2022.             Action: Chair and Clerk


22/3/31 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The Chair invited members to consider whether the Council should recognise the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in any way. Mrs Dale suggested planting an oak tree with a suitable commemorative plaque on the Council’s land. The Clerk AGREED to liaise with the Council’s tree specialist to explore the potential of planting a tree at the sports fields. Action: Clerk


22/3/32 Control of Himalayan balsam

The Chair reminded members that the Council had written to three landowners in 2020 asking that action was taken by them to control the invasive plant Himalayan balsam, where it was growing on their land adjacent to watercourses. The matter was considered at the Council meeting in October 2021 where it was reported that Himalayan balsam remains at all three locations, with no apparent action having been taken by landowners. After discussion it was AGREED to write again to each landowner to ask that they deal with the invasive plant, reinforcing the critical period to deal with the plant and offering advice and possibly assistance from members of the Rights of Way and Environment Advisory Group. Action Clerk


Mrs Dale left the meeting.


22/3/33 Friends of Stocksfield Community Woodland – grant application

The Chair referred to a previously circulated application from the above newly formed group whose purpose is to maintain the areas of the woodland to which the public has permissive access. Members recognised that the work would be undertaken on private land owned by Allendale Estates but differentiated this from previous decisions due to the permissive access of the public. It was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills, seconded Prof Vickers) to award a grant of £500 to the group under Sec 137 Local Government Act 1972.                               Action: Clerk DISCH


Mrs Pollock left the meeting.


22/3/34 Donation requests

After discussion it was AGREED to make donations to the following organisations under Sec 137 Local Government Act 1972:

  • £100 to Northumberland Age UK (proposed Mr Liddle) and
  • £200 to Citizens Advice Northumberland (proposed Mr Harrison).   Action: Clerk DISCH


22/3/35 Public access defibrillators: The Circuit

The Clerk updated members about issues encountered after changes to the management of public access defibrillators. He said that the British Heart Foundation, which provides and maintains ‘The Circuit’ (the management systems linked to ambulance services), has since indicated that the matters the Clerk has raised are being addressed and a further update will be provided at a later meeting.


22/3/36 Any other business

There was no other business


22/3/37 Date of next meeting

Tuesday 5 April 2022.

The Chair then thanked councillors for their attendance and closed the meeting at 10.16pm.