STEERING GROUP MEETING
Minutes of the 17th meeting – 27 September 2017
Held in The George Inn Upstairs Meeting Room, Maulden, from 20:00hrs.
Welcome, Introductions and Update
Alan explained the function of this Steering Group ‘Open Forum’ meeting and welcomed everyone.
Alan introduced Lesley Illingworth who has (tentatively) offered to minute the meetings. Steering Group Members approved Lesley to join as Secretary. We went round the table to introduce everyone briefly.
AP welcomed Gianpaolo Mantini (‘GP’) from Clophill’s Neighbourhood Plan team, who was invited to share their experience. [GP contributed throughout the meeting, usefully sharing his experiences of good (and some less-successful!) approaches. His advice and others’ comments are recorded under relevant agenda headings.]
Minutes of last meeting (30/8/17)
The previous minutes were briefly discussed, agreed and signed. [ACTION: Finalised version to be filed on Dropbox.
GP suggested using ‘One Note’ instead of Dropbox as it links to Outlook and can be used to share documents with others. [ACTION: Discuss with Working Group Leaders.]
Matters arising (Actions not on agenda)
Item 1 – New attendees names and contact details still to be added to distribution list. [ACTION: AP/RP]
Item 3.1 – GP offered to provide contacts for Silsoe and Flitton (+ Haynes?) NHP teams, to be invited to a future meeting.
Item 4.1 – AP mentioned that his only copy of the outline ‘Maulden Neighbourhood Plan’ (an incomplete doc, produced only as an example by Sarah Michael) had disappeared after the last meeting. Phil Allen offered to do a re-print if AP sends it to him. [ACTION: AP/SM/PA.]
Item 5.3 – Others who attended the consultation meetings to be contacted. [ACTION: RP/Sec + RB ]
4. Project Plan & Funding
Update on Funding Application
AP/SB explained that although we have been authorised to receive funding and had applied for a total of £6,950k (of the maximum available £9k) – to be spent in the current financial year by commissioning Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) to handle the Survey and the Greensand Trust to carry out the Green Infrastructure Survey – our bank account has not been opened yet, mainly due to holidays and work absences.
It had originally been proposed the NP funds should be held in a ‘sub-account’ under the Parish Council (as suggested by CBC and in common with many other NPs), but our request had been rejected by a majority of Councillors at the last MPC meeting. It was suggested it would be easier for the MNP Steering Group to be in control of our own funds.
GP pointed out it had worked for them and it was not difficult – only one payment in and 2 or 3 out, but the PC’s Clerk would have to apply. PJ and PA said they were inclined to agree that it should be held by the PC after all, and would reconsider this option with other Cllrs.
[ACTION: SB/AP to discuss with SGp Treasurer (SM).]
MNP Project Plan for 2017-18 and beyond [Paper MNP 170830/1]
4.2.1 The draft Plan (timeline and costs) for 2017-18 and beyond needs to be revised with the latest advice and developments. Alan proposed that his paper MNP 170830/1 should be deferred to a meeting of Working Group Leaders, proposed before the next full Steering Group meeting.
[ACTION: AP & WGp Leaders]
MNP Constitution / Roles and Responsibilities. [Paper MNP170830/2]
Alan handed out copies of the Constitution document to members of the Steering Group and reported that he had presented this to MPC at their last meeting. They had raised a number of issues:
‘Interim Parish Plan’ (para 1.1) – Cllrs asked for the term ‘Parish Plan’ to be removed – although the draft said this is something the MNP could “create or assist (the PC) with”, a Parish Plan can only be implemented by a PC. [ACTION: AP]
Councillors involvement – Some councillors had queried their proposed role in ‘liaising’ with NP Working Groups. Alan had explained that the Council and the Steering Group needed to work together, and closer liaison is needed to share information and avoid duplication of effort, eg when approaching key groups and institutions within the village – such as the school.
In view of the tight deadline to spend the funding, more streamlined/speedier liaison is also essential, rather than waiting for the PC meetings to discuss issues.
It Is also important to ensure PC involvement and oversight as the PC is ultimately responsible for submitting the final Plan.
Although several Cllrs are already closely involved in several of our Working Groups (including Roger leading the Environment Group and John Coyle on Infrastructure/Roads), the PC did not discuss or agree nominations for each Group.
Cllrs do not want to be obliged to attend every meeting [although, as Alan has explained, much of the discussion will take place via emails, not at meetings]. Cllrs would prefer their input to be described as ‘Advisory’. It was accepted they can also still attend as an individual, out of personal interest. This issue will be discussed again with Cllrs. [ACTION: PJ & AP],
Bank account (5.4) – The number of signatories required on MNP ‘cheques’ will be discussed with the Bank when the account is opened. [ACTION: SB/SM/AP]
Code of Conduct (6.1) – The need for members of the NP Steering Group and Working Groups to ‘comply’ with the Parish Councillor’s Code of Conduct was felt to be ‘overkill’. This is a formal document which has to be signed, so amend to read to be ‘mindful of the Code….’, It is about respecting others’ views and not being offensive. Individuals should also declare any Conflict of Interest. [ACTION: AP]
Subject to these amendments, the document was agreed. [ACTION: AP to revise draft.]
Alan referred to the associated summary of post-holders and Working Group members. We need to decide how much personal contact info to include (eg phone numbers, email addresses) and how to publicise contact details. Philip J pointed out that Council members are contactable directly and their details are visible on the PC website, etc. [ACTION: AP to send to PJ.]
Clophill Neighbourhood Plan: Sharing experience
Gianpaolo Mantini (GP) shared his experiences of good, ie successful (and some less successful) approaches to the neighbourhood planning processes and achieving development that is acceptable to the village. Clophill also accepted that some additional housing is inevitable, but have similar concerns about its location and the impact of ‘over-development’ in the village.
Guidance – GP recommended the ‘My Community’ online website, where NPs can get advice and share views on project planning. Alan said that MNP’s draft Project Plan was based on the ‘My Community’ model and agreed this was a useful resource for all involved in our Working Groups.
Villager Engagement and Surveys – GP highlighted the need to be specific with data so it can be easily analysed to represent people’s wishes. Questions need to be worded carefully, to avoid giving opportunity for ‘open’ answers. They need to be written to get the information needed, eg preferred areas for development. Alan referred to the Map and CBC’s ‘coloured dots’ we had used to record the preferences of attendees at our ‘Housing Development Consultation’ meeting held in the Village Hall on 3rd April.
GP also recommended using Survey Monkey as they had a very good 24% response rate. They had also used their Parish Council’s Website to involve the Community – all ages, despite the widely-held view that many ‘older’ residents do not use the internet. They found that 95% of people have internet access.
[ACTION: AP/MB: This question should be included in the Survey.]
Alan responded that MNP intend to work with CBC’s NP advisors and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) to develop and finalise the questions for our Village Survey [at no cost].
The Government funding can be used towards data gathering or towards bringing in expertise for surveys, or to write the final Plan. Only ~£2k is left for that part, but the MNP Steering Group had decided to draft the final document to retain input and ownership throughout the process. [CBC fund the Referendum.]
GP stressed that it is important to ensure the final document is acceptable, and it is worth getting help to do that. He also thought that with the Government extending NP funding from April 2018, additional funding will be available – possibly another £9k as the ‘clock will be reset’.
Next step – to write policies. GP advised us to reassess getting an external expert/consultant, who understands all the intricacies involved. These need to be written in easily understood language that stands up to scrutiny.
Relevant ‘Non-policy’ objectives to be considered (and possibly listed in an Annex) include ideas for future development, eg traffic calming, provision of playground equipment, tennis courts, etc. These will also inform Parish Council strategies.
GP cited Navigus as his choice of consultants, as he found them very helpful. Two consultation meetings should be planned. Navigus helped Clophill to produce a 16 page document.
Alan wanted to get the survey out to village and completed in the next 6 months, and we would then complete our Policy documents. However, GP suggested that it is best to start writing policy documents from the onset, and not wait for or worry about receiving and analysing survey data. ‘The data supports the policies but it doesn’t determine them.’ Policies need to be strategy specific – each strategy should have an outline of the context relating to it. Keep it simple. Repetition is unnecessary.
GP also suggested that villagers can be encouraged to communicate and work together on interesting projects that help locally, eg. building cycle paths to aid local commuters (Silsoe and Clophill have discussed a cycle path to Flitwick Station), or updating bus routes to allow for the ‘community that commutes’. The Steering Group is important to identify areas to include in the policy statements.
Phil Allen noted how Clophill’s issues and decisions affect the linear village of Maulden and reinforced the idea of villages working together. Alan said he intended to invite reps from other neighbouring Plan groups to our meetings. [ACTION: GP to provide contacts for Silsoe and Flitton NHP teams.]
Alan concluded by thanking GP for coming and was very encouraged by his comments and advice based on his experiences so far.
5. Working Group Updates
5.1 Housing Consultation – The responses to the questionnaire still to be analysed.
[ACTION: AP to discuss with David Bailey.]
5.2 Review of activities – membership, contacts, ‘As Is’ statements, survey questions
No significant developments, due to holidays, work, etc.
Local Economy/Business WGp – still need someone to lead this Group. Julian Smith kindly agreed to help/support this Group. Stephen Summerfield to be approached too. [ACTION: AP]
5.3 Communications (leaflet, website, banner, etc) – Simon B has been reimbursed by the Parish Council for the cost of printing the leaflets distributed to the Village.
5.4 Action Log – review of outstanding actions [AP’s paper MNP 170830/3] deferred to next Working Group Leaders meeting.
5.5 Working Group Leaders meeting (issues arising) – no meeting held since last Steering Gp.
5.6 Set dates for Working Group and Village Consultation meetings – Also deferred. Alan intends to organise a joint Infrastructure Group meeting with Safer Maulden, Speed Watch and the PC rep, tba in the near future. [ACTION: AP & other WGp Leaders.]
6. What next?
Complete actions as recorded above [ACTION: AP/SB/SM and all Working Group leaders]
Organise Working Group Leaders meeting [ACTION: AP]
Next Steering Group meeting will be held on the last Wednesday in October at 8pm, upstairs in The George, as usual. Julian was thanked for hosting the meetings in The George. Anyone with an interest in development and planning in Maulden are welcome to attend.
The standing agenda item for a report by the PC had been omitted accidentally, but the following were reported on briefly by Cllr Philip Jackson and Cllr Phil Allen respectively:
7.1 Traffic Calming/Match Funding bid
7.1.1 The latest proposal being considered is for a ‘pedestrian crossing’ directly outside the shop + bollards on the corner of George Street, and a continuous path provided to allow safe access to the crossing. See 7.2.1
Branksome – CBC allowed an increase to 6 houses, despite the PC’s objections about unsuitability for the site, dangerous access, inadequate parking, etc. Disappointingly, the developer had not agreed (nor been required’) to help provide a continuous footpath to be built (on the CBC-owned verge) opposite the Shop. This would have provided a continuous safe access to the proposed ‘crossing point’.
Clophill Rd (opposite Burgoines, Hall End) – The PC had objected to the 50 houses unexpectedly requested on this site, for reasons previously given [outside the settlement envelope, unsuitable location and access, etc]. Clophill PC have also objected. At a site meeting, the developers had clearly not considered what they could provide for the village in exchange – other than a few bat and owl boxes!
CBC’s Local Plan – Formal objections have been placed over the number of proposed houses in the village but objections have to be considered by CBC within strict national guidelines (until the NP is in place) so it is anticipated that developers will continue to appeal and look for villages without NPs in place.
The meeting finished at ~21:45hrs.