Minutes of the meeting of Litton Cheney Parish Council
held on Tuesday 9 January 2024


Present: Bill Orchard (Chairman); Quentin Blacke; John Firrell; Sue Hewish; Andy King; Bella Spurrier, Maggie Walsh (Clerk).   Also in attendance Cllr Mark Roberts and 3 Members of the Public


1.    Apologies Andrew Price

2.    Declarations of interest None

3.    Democratic time - A local resident thanked the PC for the work it did.  Did the PC have any information on the proposed access at Bride Valley Wines? The PC replied that Parish Councillors had met the new owner on site to discuss plans for the Vineyard. Dorset Council had determined that a planning application would be required for the new access and any planning application would be subject to public consultation. 

4.    Approval of minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on 14 November 2023 - It was proposed by Cllr Orchard, seconded by Cllr Spurrier and carried unanimously that these be approved.

5.    Matters arising since the previous meeting not part of this agenda The PC were delighted to report that Lucy Beasley had been appointed as Parish Clerk and RFO.  Lucy would replace Maggie Walsh who would retire in March.

6.    Dorset Council overview – Cllr Mark Roberts reported that the Government had cut the target for determining planning applications from 26 to 16 weeks and increased planning application fees by 25%.  DC were in the top 7 in the country for number of planning applications per year.  DC currently anticipated an overspend of £10-12m, this would be met from reserves - most of the overspend arose from increased cost of construction materials. Central Government funding for next year was as anticipated. Next year’s budget was still to be agreed but there would likely be a (just under) 5% increase in Council Tax: this would still result in an overspend of £15m which could be met from reserves with no reduction in services.  DC was fortunate to have healthy reserves but reserves were finite and using them to fund ongoing costs was not sustainable long term: DC aimed to achieve an additional £12m in transformational savings. Cllr Roberts reported that he had been selected as candidate for the Chesil Bank Ward for the forthcoming election.  Savill’s were conducting a review of the 42 DC owned farms.

7.    Finance report and invoices for approval (Clerk and RFO) Budgets were on track with no significant variances other than goal posts and The Queen’s Bench that were funded from reserves, and receipt of CIL. At the time of publishing the agenda, Parish funds stood at £38,197.27. Spend since the previous meeting was £1,566.09 comprising £916.38 employee costs; £500 donation towards upkeep of churchyard; £132 to the Playground Inspection Company for annual inspection; £11.76 clerk’s expenses for 2 x months MS365 subscription; £5,95 clerk’s expenses for paper purchased from Footeprints. Receipts since last meeting was £31.89 interest.

The following invoices were for approval:

Vision ICT website hosting fee


Clerk’s expenses: 2 x MS365 subscription; Amazon print cartridges


Refund Cllr Firrell: Christmas tree lights from UK Christmas World




It was proposed by Cllr Blacke seconded by Cllr King and carried unanimously that these be approved.                                                                                                                      MW


The PC held 2 linked instant access accounts, one of which paid interest.  To make best use of reserves, Cllr Orchard proposed that, subject to banking terms and conditions, the Clerk transfer money between the two accounts to maintain a balance of £2k or 2 month’s forecast spend (whichever is greater) in the Treasurer’s Account.  This was seconded by Cllr Firrell and carried unanimously. 


Cllr Blacke proposed that the bank mandate be updated to include Cllr Orchard (Chair), Cllr Firrell (Vice Chair), Lucy Beasley (new Clerk & RFO) and Maggie Walsh (current Clerk & RFO). This was seconded by Cllr King and carried unanimously.        MW

The Clerk/RFO presented the precept report (appended to online version).  It was proposed by Cllr Firrell, seconded by Cllr Orchard and carried unanimously that the 2024-25 precept be set at £10,800.                                                                         MW

The Clerk/RFO presented the review of reserves (appended to online version). It was proposed by Cllr Orchard, seconded by Cllr Firrell and carried unanimously that the Clerk’s recommendations be approved as set out in the report.                          MW

8.   Councillors’ portfolios:                                                                                        

Planning (Bill Orchard, Chairman): The application to erect a detached garage at Kowhai Cottage (ref P/HOU/2023/05953) had been withdrawn. Fry’s had applied for a Variation of Conditions for the approved dwellings at land off Barges Close (ref P/VOC/2023/072127): the PC had commented under delegated powers, questioning the need for gates.

Highways/Transport (Andrew Price): An abandoned car that had been causing an obstruction had been moved after considerable chasing by the PC.  Nothing to report on a weight limit TRO on Whiteway – this was in the hands of Dorset Council, National Highways and Chris Loder MP.

Agricultural Liaison/Footpaths/Rights of Way/ (Bella Spurrier/Quentin Blacke): the bench at Chalk Pit Lane would be moved to The Snicket and would be replaced by the restored playground bench.

Playground/Playing Field/Allotments (Andy King): All allotment plots were occupied.  Cllr King hoped hedge trimming could take place shortly.  He and the Clerk were discussing how to tackle minor maintenance issues raised in the playground inspection.  AK/MW

The highest risk priority was to remove the 5-a-side goal posts.  Cllr King would chase this. AK

The public footpath at the top of Chilcombe had been ploughed and was impassable.  Cllr Roberts undertook to speak to the landowner at a meeting he already had scheduled.          MR

Village Fabric/Maintenance/BLAP/DAPTC/ Administration & Probity (John Firrell) The Christmas tree had been taken down and removed.  Anna Lovell, formerly of BLAP and whom some may know, had passed away aged 85. The School and LATCH had applied for £15k grant funding for solar panels and possible battery storage at the Community Hall. The PC had been approached by ‘Charging Ahead’, in partnership with DC, about installing an EV charging point in Litton Cheney – there would be no funding or maintenance implications for the PC, and it may generate a small income for the landowner.  Charging points could be installed on public or private land (with the owner’s permission) but it was proving difficult to find a location within the village that would be publicly accessible, without causing an obstruction.        JF

Cllr Firrell would follow up his query to DC about verge cutting as he had not received a reply

Climate Emergency and Environment (Vacant) Cllr Hewish had looked into the Dorset Community Tree Fund.  The application process was quite onerous and required someone with suitable expertise to take the lead and consideration of issues like watering newly planted trees and long-term maintenance. Numerous schemes provided free saplings. The PC would revisit the possibility of securing trees for autumn planting if a suitable volunteer could be found. Cllr Hewish to provide text to Cllr Firrell for the BVN seeking volunteers and suggested locations.                                                                                                                                       SH

9.   New planning applications for consideration at the meeting No new applications for discussion

10.  Correspondence not dealt with as part of the agenda none

11.  Date of next meeting Tuesday 12 March 2024

Meeting closed

Maggie Walsh
Parish Clerk

Appendix 1


Litton Cheney Parish Council 2020-2021 Precept Report 10 January 2022

Summary and Recommendation

Through careful budgeting, there was a small increase to the Precept last year following modest reductions for the previous 3 years, having previously stood at £10,600.  It currently stands at £10,000 for 2023-24. 

However, employee costs (currently around 46% of the budget), recent national pay awards and a replacement Clerk when the current Parish Clerk retires next March, means costs will rise considerably next year. Other outgoings will continue to rise with inflation, and it is not possible to make further savings elsewhere. The increase required to meet the Parish Council’s commitments and continue to make annual contributions to earmarked reserves will likely be unpalatable to Parish Councillors and residents. The RFO therefore recommends reducing the annual contribution to reserves, reinstating them over a 3 year period to stagger the increase in precept.

Based on current commitments, and providing the RFOs recommendation to reduce contributions to reserves is acceptable to Parish Councillors, the Parish Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer (RFO) recommends the PRECEPT be set at £10,800 for 2024- 2025.

Impact of precept on Band D properties

If approved by the Parish Council, the tax base for Litton Cheney would increase from £48.47 in the current year (2023-24) to £52.68 for the year 2024-25 for a Band D house. An increase of £4.21 per year.

Detailed consideration – anticipated receipts and payments

The Parish Council has estimated costs for the next 3 financial years. Table 1 below sets out budget and actual outturn for last year, budgets and estimated outturn for the current year, and forecast budget for next year.  VAT is excluded from projections as the Parish Council reclaims this. 

In preparing these figures, the RFO has allowed for estimated and known inflationary increases.




Table 1


2022-23 actual

2023-24 estimated

2024_25 estimated

2025-26 estimated
















Precept & grant





Allotment fees















Latch contribution to hedge cutting










Donations to community bench fund





Donations to Queens Bench





Donation to info board










Total income


















Employee direct costs





Employee on costs





ROOM HIRE/zoom fees










Village fabric /maintenance










Goal posts





Queen's bench & info board





Info board










Telephone kiosk





Community Bench fund





laptop funded from earmarked reserve










Total Payments










Balance of Income over payments*










net contribution to earmarked reserves





Surplus of income after contributions to reserves





*Replacement slide & climbing wall purchased from reserves



Appendix 2


Review of Reserves                                                                                 


Reserves are held to cushion the impact of uneven cash flow or irregular/unexpected events. The levels of contributions to reserves are calculated based on past experience, life span of assets and estimated replacement costs.  Contributions are made at the year end, subject to funds being available.

During the current financial year £3,624 was spent from general reserves to fund the goal posts and part of the Queen’s Bench installation.  The table below assumes that contributions be made to ear marked reserves on 31 March 2023 as agreed by Parish Councillors at the meeting on 11 January 2023.  This would leave an estimated £3,092 in general reserves.  Whilst less than the recommended 6-12 months of precept, Parish Councillors could vire funds from ear marked reserves into the general reserves should the need arise. 

The RFO therefore proposes contributions are reduced from £1,750 to £800 for the forthcoming year, gradually increasing back to required levels over the subsequent 2 years.  With substantial CIL receipts available to fund capital projects and existing earmarked reserves, the RFO believes existing levels of Parish Council funds provide sufficient flexibility to support this.

Table 2 below details existing levels of reserves, the estimated level at the end of the current financial year and following proposed contributions at the end of 24/25.



Table 2


2022/23 Y/E

2023/24 YE










Net contribution


Net Contribution




Year end balances














Earmarked reserves







Local government reorg/devolutn







Playground equipment







Village fabric/maintenance







Equipment (e.g. Defibrillator, I.T.)







Election costs





















Ring-fenced reserves







Community Bench fund







Playground donation



































General funds



Goal posts & Queen’s bench funded from general reserves