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


Present:         Mr J Harrison (Chair), Mrs A Dale, Mr T Hills, Mr C Liddle, Mr M Parker, Professor P Vickers.

Mr N Spencer (Clerk to the Council).


Apologies:     Miss A Brooks, Mrs K Pollock.


The Chair opened the meeting at 7.30pm and welcomed those present.


22/11/134 Apologies for absence

It was AGREED to authorise the absences of Ms Brooks and Mrs Pollock.


22/11/135 Declarations of Interest



22/11/136 Public Participation



22/11/137 County Councillor update

Mrs Dale updated councillors about a number of issues. Members asked questions in relation to fibre broadband rollout, in particular the apparent delays in works being completed. The Chair thanked Mrs Dale for the update.


22/11/138 Minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2022

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Parker, seconded Prof Vickers) that the previously circulated minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2022 were a true and accurate record.


22/11/139 Matters Arising

Fibre broadband was considered in the County Councillor’s update above and the Chair AGREED to Mrs Dale’s request that councillors consider hedgerows later in the meeting.


22/11/140 Finance

a) Approval of payments in September and October 2022

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills, seconded Prof Vickers) to approve the payments for September and October 2022, as detailed in the previously circulated schedule.

b) Budget monitoring

Councillors noted the previously circulated budget monitoring report.


22/11/141 General Governance Advisory Group (GGAG)

a) Notes of the GGAG meeting held on 22/09/22

Councillors received the notes of the GGAG.

b) Draft budget 2023/24

After discussion it was AGREED to note the draft budget and consider the budget at the next meeting.                                                                                                    Action: Clerk

c) Grass cutting and litter collection contract renewals 2023/2026

The Clerk referred to a previously circulated report. In particular he referred to the problems that would be experienced if the contracts in respect of grass cutting of verges/estates and litter bin emptying were not awarded to Northumberland County Council (NCC) because a significant aspect of the work is already undertaken by NCC without charge.

After discussion it was AGREED to

  • approve the draft contracts for services as circulated
  • approve the tender process for grass cutting of the sports fields and play areas, commencing 2/11/22 and closing at 9am on 28/11/22 with subsequent consideration of submitted tenders at the next meeting of the Council
  • award the contracts in respect of grass cutting of verges/estates and litter bin emptying to NCC without competition, subject to a satisfactory charge for services, on the grounds of the difficulty in co-ordination of work otherwise, and to suspend paragraph 11.7 of Financial Regulations.                                                              

Action: Clerk

d) Smaller Authorities Audit Arrangements (SAAA)

Councillors noted that the date to opt out of the arrangements for SAAA had passed.

e) Donations

It was AGREED to award donations as follows: Sport Tynedale (£150) and Tynedale Hospice (£300) under Sec 137 Local Government Act 1974.             Action: Clerk DISCHARGED

f) Speed surveys

Councillors noted the report of the Clerk in relation to the results of speed surveys undertaken by NCC.                                                                                                  DISCHARGED

g) Membership of GGAG

It was AGREED to make no amendments to the current membership.       DISCHARGED


22/11/142 Planning Advisory Group

Members noted the planning report and the delegated powers used as set out below:


Mickley Bank Farm

Retrospective Application for the erection of storage sheds

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Beersel 68 Meadowfield Rd

Tree Preservation Order: T1 Scots pine – fell, T2 Ash – fell, G1 line of Holly – remove stems

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Nene Cottage

13 Meadowfield Rd

Construction of new two storey, three-bedroom dwelling.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


West Oak Farm


Creation of small extension for provision of a porch and utility.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Wytchwood, 11 Painshawfield Rd

Application to fell 28 trees with appropriate replanting.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Northwold, 152 New Ridley Road

Remove in-filled former veranda extension to rear to create new veranda linking to raised seating area and direct garden access. Timber cladding to side and rear extensions.

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Land to west of 3 Apperley Road

Erection of a residential dwelling with associated landscaping and infrastructure

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


22/11/142 Rights of Way and Environment Advisory Group (RoWEAG)

Councillors received the notes of the meeting of the RoWEAG held on 26/09/22 and Prof Vickers outlined key issues, particularly the work of the Friends of Stocksfield Community Woodland.


22/11/143 Climate Change

The Chair referred to the resignation from the Council of Lindsey Joy who had been the Council’s lead on climate change matters. After discussion it was AGREED that all members would be equally responsible for climate change issues.


22/11/144 Parish Council Representatives

Highfield Energy Park

The Clerk reported that, with the Chair, Mr Parker and Mr Hills, he had attended a remote meeting with representatives of Exagen, a renewable energy developer. Exagen is in the process of consulting about the development of a solar energy system which would have solar panels located within Shotley Low Quarter Parish Council’s area (near Highfield Grange). A battery storage system that connects to the grid would be located in Stocksfield Parish Council’s area, within the Green Belt at Lynn Burn near Kipperlynn. No planning application has been made at this stage and members noted the update.

Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership - AGM

Prof Vickers had been unable to attend the meeting and minutes will be circulated in due course.

East Tynedale Town and Parish Councils’ Forum

The Chair reported that he had attended a meeting of the above forum which was attended by a Highways Officer from NCC. Speeding and parking issues were discussed, including difficulties experienced by elderly or disabled residents crossing New Ridley Road at Branch End to access the Post Office. Mrs Dale said that NCC is looking at the situation specifically outside Boots Chemist and, more generally, at Branch End. Members noted the update.


22/11/145 Sports Fields playing surface

The Clerk referred to a previously circulated report relating to intrusion of tree roots into the playing surface of certain sports pitches. Immediate action had been taken to address safety related matters using delegated powers which had been reported to the previous meeting. After discussion it was AGREED to

  • the treatment of the roots of the poplar tree on the northern boundary by root grinding and the subsequent reinstatement of the surface by the Grounds Services Contractor
  • the removal of the line of cherry trees on the eastern boundary
  • regard the work as an extension to an existing contract with Tyne Valley Woodlands under paragraph 11.1 (iv) of Financial Regulations and
  • reconsider the need to replant the eastern boundary once the cherry trees are removed.                                                               Action: Clerk


22/11/146 NE43 News – December 2022 edition

The Clerk said that in view of the urgent requirement to reserve a delivery slot for the above edition of NE43 News, delegated powers had been used in consultation with the Chair to contract with Accent Distribution to deliver NE43 News on 02/12/22. After further discussion it was AGREED (proposed Chair, seconded Mr Parker) to use the same company for the June 2023 edition and then review the matter.                               Action: Clerk


22/11/147 Members Allowances Policy

After discussion it was AGREED to make no amendments to the policy and to review it further in November 2024.                                                                    Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


22/11/148 Royal British Legion (RBL) - donation

The Chair said that the RBL provides the Council with a wreath for the Remembrance Service and it was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills, seconded Mr Liddle) to make a donation of £250 to RBL under Sec 137 Local Government Act 1974.               Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


22/11/149 Northumberland Warm Spaces and Places

The Chair referred to previous documents relating to the above NCC initiative with specific reference to the Tuesday Club at Stocksfield Community Centre. After discussion it was AGREED that no further action was necessary.                                      DISCHARGED


22/11/150 Northumberland Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

The Chair referred to a previously circulated consultation document from NCC regarding the above and a ‘call for sites’ to identify potentially suitable location for pitches. Councillors were unable to identify any such sites and it was AGREED to make no response.  DISCHARGED


22/11/151 Team event

The Chair reminded councillors that, at a Council meeting in April 2022, approval had been given to hold a team event which was to be organised and facilitated by Lindsey Joy who has since resigned from the Council. After discussion, it was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills) that the event should not take place.                                                                              DISCHARGED


22/11/152 Any other urgent business



22/11/153 Date of next meeting

Tuesday 6 December 2022

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills, seconded Mr Parker) to exclude the press and public from the meeting under the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act 1960 to consider the following items due to the confidential nature of the business.


22/11/154 Invasive species

Prof Vickers referred to previous decisions of the Council and to discussions at meetings of the RoWEAG which identify four locations where the invasive plant, Himalayan balsam, was or remains an issue. Two locations (one being the Council’s sports fields) have been subject of action to address the problem but the plant has been spreading along Stocksfield Burn in recent years, causing additional work by the River Watch section of the RoWEAG.

It was AGREED (proposed Mr Hills, seconded Mr Parker) to suspend paragraph 2.18 of Standing Orders relating to the duration of meetings. Prof Vickers then left the meeting.

After discussion it was AGREED to write to one of the landowners concerned and to take no further action in relation to a second.                                            Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


22/11/155 Hedgerows

Councillors discussed the continuing problems of hedgerows causing obstructions across roads and pavements. Mrs Dale reported about her actions in her role as County Councillor with representatives of the Painshawfield Estate Committee and officers of NCC to tackle the problem. After questions from Mr Hills, Mrs Dale AGREED to provide a report to the Council on the subject. The Chair asked if the report could be provided by December 2022.                                                                                                Action: Mrs Dale

The Chair thanked members for attending and closed the meeting at 9.54pm.