Minutes 24 September 2019 - Extra Ordinary meeting NPC

PRESENT: Councillors: J Evans (Chairman), J Siddall (Vice Chairman), Mrs A White, J Downs, P McNeill, D Newsam, Mrs C Appleton, J Radcliffe, Mrs J Clayton, P Jenkinson, C Higham
In attendance: Mrs D Locker (Clerk) and 14 members of the public
Councillors not present:  Councillor A Henderson 
The meeting opened at 6.30pm
The Chairman announced that a special meeting had been called to re-consider the decision made by Council, at the last meeting held on 10 September 2019, in respect of proposals for the Bill Bailey’s Playing field. He advised that whilst generally a 15 minute public session would be held, he would first deal with some standing items and then take the opportunity to work through the reasons for calling the Extra Ordinary meeting.
115/19. To resolve to recieve apologies and accept reasons for absence
Councillor A Henderson
It was proposed, seconded and resolved to accept the apologies of absence, received. Unanimous
116/19. Disclosure of pecuniary interests in accordance with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 and to consider any requests for dispensations. None received
The Chairman advised:
  • There had been time pressures, at the last meeting and in hindsight Council should have called an Extra Ordinary meeting to consider the Bill Bailey Playing field item;
  • Immediately after the last meeting on 10 September 2019, five Councillors submitted a request for the decision to be put aside and for it to be revisited due to procedural issues having been identified; the Chairman subsequently called an Extra Ordinary meeting;
  • He had felt unable to give his comments, at the last meeting, due to a complaint having been received against the Council about the Bill Bailey proposals.  This had now been investigated and a response given; consequently, he now felt able to continue with his discussion about the proposals; 
  • Following the last meeting, correspondence had also been submitted to Council alleging that there had been pre-determination or bias, by Councillors relating to the decision made about siting of equipment at the Bill Bailey site;
  • When making decisions, Councillors need to look at all resident’s views not just those of a few.  It was also normal to express different opinions and in his view no pre-determination had occurred, in this respect.
  • The Chairman concluded that once the introduction was finalised: 
  • The meeting would be opened up to hear from members of the public;  
  • Representatives from the Working Group would provide feedback about the site options developed during the last three years and provide any associated recommendations;
  • Comments would then be received from Councillors;
  • He would provide a final summary and ask Councillors to vote on motions received.
At 6.38pm it was proposed, seconded and resolved to suspend Standing Orders to allow Council to hear from members of the public. Unanimous
Public Forum
Resident 1 – Stated that she spoke on behalf of some local residents:
  • Who supported the option for the new equipment to be installed to the front of the site and felt it best for all concerned e.g. young people, residents and the safer position as parents could be in the centre and have a birds eye view – but if sited at the upper tier, parents wouldn’t be able to see so well;
  • They felt that whilst the additional cost was discussed at previous meetings, they felt that best value doesn’t always mean going for the cheapest option;
  • The resident expressed concern at some of the language used at the last meeting e.g. ‘self-serving’ which they took to be a derogative term; that whilst they are looking at their own quality of life they are also looking for the ‘win win’ where residents co-exist with others using the park with the least impact on residents;
  • Requested that the new equipment be sited at the front of the park, furthest away from all residents and felt that young people wouldn’t care if equipment was sited at upper or lower tier
  • Suggested that Council could explore opportunities to make savings e.g. felt there was no need for of the fencing for the bump in the ground and should negotiate with suppliers or do fund raising for an additional bench.  
  • Advised that the upper tier & bank is well used by children & spectators – also as an over spill for parents and universally.
Resident 2 – stated he lived near the park and felt the upper tier to be the perfect place for the new equipment and there is also high fencing in this area.
Resident 3 – advised that he had been a local resident for 21 years and recognises the need for an older childrens’ play area.
  • He confirmed that since the Parish Council meeting, held in November 2018, a number of residents have raised concerns about the proposals, primarily about noise and anti-social behaviour;
  • Advised the he felt the need to recognise the noise impact after school, in holidays and evenings when larger groups of children can be noisy and that residents are anxious that their lives, in their gardens, will be affected (if the play area sited in upper tier).
  • Stated that when groups of children congregate only 20 to 25 meters away from your garden it makes residents fearful; also the screening doesn’t make it easier – screening can make it worse.
  • Stated he felt that there will be natural migration of people up the park (parents & children), if the equipment is sited at the upper tiers.
  • Advised that another resident had done some sound recordings and as a resident and taxpayer he would be fearful to see the equipment removed later, (due to noise).
At 6.54pm it was proposed, seconded and resolved to resume Standing Order and re-open the meeting. Unanimous
117/19. To revisit the decision to install additional play equipment on the upper tier of Bill Baileys playing field.
The Chairman advised Council that he had joined the Parish Council 20 years ago and during that time had not seen so much concerted effort, by a few residents, for such opposition.  He stated that some may say that those that choose to live near a recreation ground should expect it being used as such.  Noise concerns are not necessarily associated with the equipment but noise from the children; however the equipment will be in place for a long time so it needs to be sited in the right place.  Mindful that this is a community amenity surrounded by houses, Council also need to consider all users of the field including: children, footballers, dog walkers and the impact of proposals on them too.  Cost should not necessarily be the determining factor when factoring in the associated cost, over a number of years.  The Chairman concluded that everyone seems on board with the plans at Bill Bailey’s – Council just need to now consider the best place for the installation of the equipment.
Councillor Newsam, as lead Councillor on the Working Group advised that after the last meeting it was realised that not all Councillors had the opportunity to consider, fully, all three of the equipment layout options.  He briefly discussed the six individual pieces of equipment and set out the three options considered by the Working Group:
Option 1: - 
  • Featured all of the equipment sited on the upper tier.  
  • The old fence would be removed;
  • Several equipment layouts had been considered within this option;
  • This option would be sited the closest to residents;
  • Older children would need to go through the small play area gate – to access the equipment.
Option 2: 
  • Whilst most of the equipment would be sited at the upper tier, with this option;
  • The largest piece of equipment – Kielder Fort, would be sited to the side of the play equipment, sited at the front of the site.

Option 3: 

  • This option had all equipment sited on the lower tier alongside the existing play equipment;
  • Younger children would need to access existing play equipment via the new equipment area;
  • Residents at Scothern Rd and The Dene would not directly face on to the new play area;
  • There would be two separate fenced areas – thereby separating younger and older children, at play;
  • This site would be closer to the Scothern Road and may reduce the potential for ASB;
  • Option 3 would leave the upper tier available for any future plans or proposals for the site.
  • This option would use some of the existing main play area (e.g. may impact the football area) and the existing bench would need relocating.
  • Fencing would be installed at the bank to prevent children running down into the Zip wire run area.
  • The cost would be more expensive – due to the provision of extra fencing.
Councillor Higham, provided feedback also as a member of the Working Group.  He advised that he had not been in attendance at the previous meeting (10/9/19) and his written feedback had not been considered, by Council, at that time.  He confirmed:
  • That since joining the Council, in May 2019, he had received many emails about the Bill Bailey proposals.  However, he had been saddened by some of the comments received about the young people of the village which he considered somewhat insulting and his view was that the village and parents should be proud of their young people (in the village).
  • When he first looked at the well-established proposals for siting of the new equipment at the upper tier it seemed to him, the right option.  However, after personal discussion with some residents he began to think about what other plans were or could be put in place, for the whole Bill Bailey site, particularly as the football pitch appears under-utilised and there are potential options for providing additional seating. Other options could include provision of wi-fi at the upper tier and provision of picnic tables and these could give a positive reason for using the park.
  • On this basis he now felt that siting the equipment at the lower tier seems the most appropriate option and that the Council should continue to look at developing plans for the future use of the whole of the Bill Bailey site.
Feedback received from Councillors:
Councillor Siddall: requested clarity about the siting of the new equipment (for option 3) in relation to the main entrance, at Scothern Road.
Councillor Newsam: confirmed that he had spoken with child minders who pick up children and take them to the play area and recognised that if a child goes up to the upper tier they could lose sight of them.  Scouts and Leaders stay on the lower tier so they are together.  Option 3 would see fencing provided as the equipment would be closer to the road and this option is also most accessible to disabled children.  He confirmed that his view is that option 3 (lower tier) is the best option, that it is safer and better for children and their minders.
Councillor Higham: confirmed option 3 (lower tier) as his preference as it offered greater flexibility when considering other potential opportunities for development of the site.
Councillor Mrs Appleton: advised that she had heard people express worry about the location of the gate, parking in the layby and potential for children to run across the road. To her words associated with the Bill Bailey site had been – free entertainment and enjoyable, but now having read the paperwork and having heard comments, her thoughts now that come to mind about the site are – negative attitude, strong views and unwanted.  Younger people learn from older children and older ones look after the younger ones.  Her preference would be for option 2 as she still held some concerns about the proximity of the road and gate and the visual side.
Following a request, by the Chairman, for any further comments.
Councillor Newsam: advised that fencing should be provided for option 3.
Councillor Mrs White: advised that she would support any initiative for young people as there used to be 2 youth clubs in the village and now none.
Councillor McNeill: confirmed his understanding for consideration of option 2, but he was not supportive of option 3.  In respect of concerns of ASB at Bill Baileys – he raised these are not currently reported to the Police.  He also advised that he had not been happy with the tone of some emails circulated and was sorry to hear that people felt that he raised his voice and were offended by this, at the last meeting. 
The Chairman advised that the Working Group’s recommendation would be proposed as a motion.  There followed a request for a recorded vote.
It was proposed, seconded and resolved that siting of the play equipment be on the lower tier, alongside the existing play area (as set out at option 3) For: Councillors Higham, Newsam, Siddall, Evans, Radcliffe, Jenkinson, Appleton, Clayton; Against: Councillor McNeill; Abstentions: Councillors Mrs White, Downs.
The Chairman conveyed his particular thanks to Councillors Higham and Newsam for their contribution on the Working Group and that now this matter has come to a conclusion, Council can now continue with arrangements for manufacture and installation of the equipment, at the site.  Councillor Siddall also stated that having now decided where the new equipment will be placed, the Working Group will need to consider further the issues and concerns associated with layby parking and safety of young people who potentially could run across the road.
118/19. Councillor Reports/Future agenda items. None
119/19.  Date of next meeting. The Chairman requested that the next meeting of the Parish Council be changed to Tuesday 15 October, 2019 at 7.30pm at the Small Hall, The Old School, Mill Hill, Nettleham.
120/19. To resolve whether to move into closed session and exclude the public and press in accordanc with the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings Act 1960) due to the sensitive nature of the business to be discussed 
No items were considered
The meeting closed at 7.33pm