Minutes of the Meeting of the Parish Council held on Tuesday 6 December 2022 at Stocksfield Community Centre


Present:         Mr J Harrison (Chair), Mr C Liddle, Mr M Parker, Mrs K Pollock, Professor P Vickers.

Mr N Spencer (Clerk to the Council).


Apologies:     Miss A Brooks, Mrs A Dale, Mr T Hills.

Also present: Mrs V Argent, Mr F Balloch, Mr A Brown, Mr C Catnach, Mrs A Nicholson,

                                    Mr F Whiteley and Mr D Williams.

The Chair opened the meeting at 7.32pm and welcomed those present.


22/12/156 Apologies for absence

It was AGREED to authorise the absences of Ms Brooks and Mr Hills.


22/12/157 Declarations of Interest

Mrs Pollock declared an interest in items connected with Stocksfield Cricket Club.


22/12/158 Public Participation

Highfield Energy Park

Mrs Nicholson introduced herself and three other residents who, like many others, will be affected by the proposal to build a solar energy park near Whittonstall, with an associated battery storage facility and connection to the national grid near Apperley Dene in Stocksfield. Despite supporting the principle of renewable energy, the residents highlighted a number of concerns including: the impact on the environment at both locations, particularly in the event of accident; loss of agricultural land; damage to archaeological heritage; and pressure on the road network. It was said that the developer has no previous experience of developing a solar power facility and the capacity of the national grid at the point of connection cannot accommodate the power to be produced by the proposed solar panels. Northumberland County Council does not require a full environmental impact assessment of the project at the point of submission of the planning application. After discussion the Chair thanked the group of residents for attending the meeting and raising their concerns. He said that the Council is unable to make a judgement on the proposal until it has sight of the planning application which is yet to be submitted.


22/12/159 Stocksfield Cricket Club: acquisition of land

Stocksfield Cricket Club (SCC) had written to the Council in January 2022 with a request to acquire additional land around the clubhouse from the Council for development of the building. After an in-principle decision of the Council in March 2022, discussions with SCC ensued and advice from the Council’s solicitor was received. This resulted in a resolution of the Council in July 2022 and the current ‘subject to contract’ offer to SCC. Mr Catnach and Mr Balloch, on behalf of SCC, outlined the history of the club, the developments since the 1990s and the work routinely undertaken by the club at the sports fields. The club was disappointed with the current offer which would involve the surrender of its existing freehold interest in return for the creation of a long-term lease for the area the club needs to develop the clubhouse. An alternative arrangement was suggested which involved the extension of restrictions upon the land. Councillors were unable to give a view on the matter without more detail and further legal advice. Mr Catnach agreed to arrange for the club’s legal adviser to write to the Council and its solicitor with formal proposals which the club hopes will meet the requirements of the Council.


22/12/160 County Councillor update

Mrs Dale was not in attendance.


22/12/161 Minutes of the meeting held on 1 November 2022

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


22/12/162 Matters Arising

Hedgerows and pavement obstruction

The matter was deferred to the next meeting.


22/12/163 Finance

a) Approval of payments in November 2022

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

b) Budget monitoring

Councillors noted the previously circulated budget monitoring report and AGREED (proposed Mr Parker, seconded Prof Vickers) to vire £1250 from contingency funds to employment.                                                                                                                        Action: Clerk

c) Bank reconciliations

Councillors noted that Mr Parker had verified the bank reconciliations to 30/06/22 and 30/09/22.


22/12/164 Planning Advisory Group

a) Planning applications

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


Land east of 295 New Ridley Rd

Retrospective: erection of two wooden huts on field

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Woodlands, Ridley Mill Road

Create new garages at lower ground level, altered driveway, landscaping, glazed extension, extended terrace, lower ground floor gym and external seating/fireplace

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Ashleigh, 26 Cade Hill Rd

Stepped extension to rear (retrospective)

No comment

Note use of delegated powers


Solbakken, 289 New Ridley Rd

Erection of front porch and two dormer windows. Change of windows from white to grey

No comment

Note use of delegated powers

b) Broomhaugh and Riding Parish Council: draft Neighbourhood Plan

Mr Parker said that the above-mentioned document had been circulated to the Parish Council for comment. After discussion it was AGREED to make no comment.   Action: Clerk


22/12/165 Grant Applications

a) Stocksfield 2nd Brownies

Mr Liddle declared an interest in this item. After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Mr Parker, seconded Prof Vickers) to make a grant of £160 for the purchase of craft equipment and badges.                                                                                                            Action: Clerk

b) Stocksfield Striders

After discussion it was AGREED (proposed Prof Vickers, seconded Mr Liddle) to make a grant of £500 towards the purchase of a changing tent.                                      Action: Clerk


22/12/166 Contracts for services 2023/26

Following the closure of the formal tender process, the Chair and the Clerk had opened tenders received which had been detailed in the previously circulated confidential report. After discussion it was AGREED as follows:

a) Sports fields grass cutting

To award the contract to Stocksfield Cricket Club (proposed Prof Vickers, seconded Mr Liddle).

b) Play areas grass cutting

To award the contract to Northumberland County Council (NCC).

c) Estates and verges additional grass cutting

To accept the charges proposed by NCC.

d) Litter bin emptying on Parish Council land

To accept the charges proposed by NCC.                                                     Action: Clerk


22/12/167 Defibrillators: update and power supply issues

The Clerk referred to a previously circulated report which updated on the work to identify potential additional locations to instal defibrillators. The power to the three defibrillator cabinets at Ridley Mill, Hindley and Broomley is provided through metered supplies by Eon Next and the contract is due to expire in January 2023. There will be a significant increase in the daily standing charge which makes up the majority of the costs if metered supplies remain in place. The Clerk has been liaising with Northern Powergrid in an attempt to secure unmetered supplies to defibrillator cabinets. The benefits will be significantly reduced annual charges and associated administrative costs. There is a potential that a one-off charge to remove the meter of £140 per cabinet may be levied by Eon Next should unmetered connections proceed. After discussion it was AGREED to

  • note the report of the Clerk
  • agree to progress unmetered connections and
  • delegate authority to the Clerk, in liaison with the Chair, to enter into an agreement with NPG in respect of unmetered connections and with an energy supplier in respect of supplies to those connections. Action: Clerk

After a question from Mr Liddle, the Clerk AGREED to provide data showing the number of incidents where the North East Ambulance Service has passed location and access codes for cabinets to callers.                                                                            Action: Clerk


22/12/168 Parish Council Representatives

Stocksfield Cricket Club – acquisition of additional land.

The meeting of the Chair and the Clerk with officers of the club had been updated at item 22/12/159 above.


22/12/169 Tree survey 2021/22

The Clerk reminded councillors that an annual survey of all trees on the Council’s land is undertaken by an arboricultural consultant. The survey undertaken in November 2021 revealed no safety related issues but the presentation of the report to the Council was delayed by circumstances beyond the control of the Council. The reports of the survey for 2022/23, which had been completed in November 2022, had also been received since the publication of the agenda. It was AGREED to note the report from 2021/22 and consider it at a future meeting in light of the report for 2022/23.                                                     Action: Clerk


22/12/170 Review of Council Policies and Procedures

After discussion it was AGREED to make no amendments to the following policies and procedures and to review each further in December 2024: Disciplinary Procedure; Grievance Procedure; and Vexatious Communications Policy                      Action: Clerk DISCHARGED


22/12/171 Northumberland County Council Consultations regarding Gambling Policy Statement and Street Trading

After discussion it was AGREED to make no comment in respect of either consultation.


22/12/172 Budget and precept 2023/24

Councillors discussed the amended draft budget for 2023/24 which had been previously circulated. It was AGREED to include £2,500 as contingency funds and to set the budget (prior to precept) as set out below:

  Receipts (£) Payments (£)
Employment   22178
Administration   8295
Environment 750 39750
Communications   5680
Sport Facilities 3043 16325
Play Facilities   7790
Community Support   6200
Contingency   2500
  3793 108718

After further discussion it was AGREED to use reserves of £2,500 towards the budget for 2023/24 and to set the precept for the year at £102,425.                   Action: Clerk


22/12/173 Any other urgent business

Letters of thanks

The Clerk reported having received letters of thanks from Tynedale Hospice and Sport Tynedale for previous donations.


22/12/174 Date and time of next meeting

It was AGREED to rearrange the date of the next meeting to 7.30pm on Tuesday 10 January 2023.


The Chair thanked those present for attending and closed the meeting at 9.03pm.