PCC Minutes - September 2015

A meeting of the Parochial Church Council of St. Mary’s Barnard Castle with Whorlton was held on Monday 14th September 2015 at 7.30pm in the vestry.

1. Present

Alec Harding, Keith & Margaret Miles, Dave Bailey, Frances & Robert Stenlake, Malcolm Makepeace, John Emerson, Astley Fenwick, Joan Kemp Ambler, Sue Peat, Jean Tallentire, Ann Woodward, Belinda Thompson, John Rawlins

2. Apologies

David Walker, Gordon & Sue Long, Louise Hosey

3. Declarations of interest


4. Items for Any Other Business (urgent items only will be considered)


5. Safeguarding

The PCC supports Beverley Pilcher in acting as choir director and her application for DBS clearance necessary for this role

6. Minutes of the PCC meeting held 20th July 2015

With one small change these were agreed and signed

7. Matters arising

a) Barnard Castle Church:

i) Pews: Nixons have been carrying out the work on the longer pews. It was noted that should these pews need to be moved they should be de-coupled to prevent any damage to the dowels that hold their two parts together. The wardens were asked to mark the floor of the nave so that the positioning of all the pews might be more readily ascertained.

ii) Church Floodlighting: the replacement fittings have now been installed.

iii) The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair: The PCC agreed the following minute unanimously.

This PCC will apply for Faculty permission to carry out roof repairs and external drainage work as per the schedule of works dated 23.6.15 presented by Mr Chris Cotton (Purcell) and subsequent revisions dated 6th August. Finance for the work will come from the Listed Places of Worship Grant scheme, donations from The Friends of St. Mary’s and individuals with the balance from PCC funds as agreed previously by the PCC.

The church architect has informed us that the tender documents are about to be issued. These include the changes to the original scheme proposed that have been required by the DAC. Once the tenders return we will see whether additional costs will be involved.

iv) Barnard Castle Heating: there are still ongoing problems with one of the boilers showing a continual fault. This was not been helped by a minor act of vandalism (switching a control switch in the church toilet) that affected the boiler. Our consultant is in correspondence with the relevant firms to track down the source of the problems.

v) Church Cottage: progress of sale: the vicar reported that a phone call from Addisons just before the meeting had brought the news that our purchasers have withdrawn their interest. The property has attracted considerable interest and will go back on the market. The property may be listed (Grade 2): this is being checked.

b) Whorlton

Churchyard wall & moles: Repairs to the wall were reported at the last meeting. A local ‘mole catcher’ had offered their services free of charge and was at work.

Bench: a replacement bench has been installed next to the church path – kindly purchased by members of the Richardson and Long families. The vicar will write to thank them

8. Fabric matters

a) Trees at Whorlton: Ann Woodward reported that another of the churchyard trees had dropped some branches (narrowly missing headstones: no damage was caused). As a result, the tree surgeons have provided an informal report on the state of the trees: 5 need attention. One of these needs felling. Ann felt that the cost (£800) could be found from donations were the PCC to agree to carrying out the work. The PCC agreed that the work needed doing as the trees were posing a danger both to property and to those using the churchyard. The vicar will begin the process of seeking the necessary permissions.

b) Church Car Park at Barnard Castle: the PCC noted (and place on file) the response of our Insurers following a query about a local compensation claim at a Village Hall. John Emerson will bring a risk assessment of the car park to the next PCC meeting.

“The PCC have a duty of care to everyone who use the car park, even those who do not seek permission. We would ask that a Risk Assessment is regularly conducted to ensure that the area is ‘fit for purpose’ so no potholes, no slip or trip hazards etc.”

9. Church music

The vicar reported on the meeting with choir members. Discussion followed in which it was noted that:

  • The church needs a regular organist
  • Though keen to offer their gifts choir members have commitments beyond the church that make regular attendance difficult
  • There are some practical issues (chalice rota, position of the choir) that militate against a full choir being able to sing at services
  • Beverley Pilcher is willing to help lead the choir for the time being but the choir need to regain some confidence

It was decided to advertise for a new church organist to play at services. The vicar will revisit the job description and contract. In the interim BCS might have some young organists who might offer cover. Joan Johnson had send details of a possible candidate. An advertisement will be placed in the RSCM magazine (and website). A long term challenge to address would be to train any pianists in the rudiments of playing the organ.

10. Mission: (Prayer-Presence- Proclamation- Persuasion)

Dementia awareness in the parish: The Vicar informed the PCC of the Alzheimer’s Society event to take place in the Parish hall on September 18th about Barnard Castle becoming a Dementia Friendly Town.

Churches Together in Barnard Castle was encouraging member churches to conduct an audit of their activities to see how they might become dementia friendly. It was decided to seek someone to conduct this audit through the parish news sheet.

11. Finance

a) Finance report: Robert Stenlake reported that our participation in the Energy Basket would result in a decrease in gas unit costs and standing charges art Barnard Castle along with a 50% reduction in the electricity standing charge. At Whorlton he predicted costs to be fairly static.

b) Stewardship report: the stewardship group will meet soon to discuss the PCCs financial controls. It will also begin thinking about a stewardship drive in 2016.

12. Committee and group reports

i. FunSoc – a number of ideas from those submitted to the PCCs last meeting were discussed as possibilities for 2016: John Emerson will pursue a toy auction at Green Lane School; the suggestion of a 1940s event in June met with warm approval as did a Victorian Evening (at Whorlton) and a Car Boot Sale (late May Bank Holiday)

ii. Communications Group: no report

iii. Shared Ministry Development Team: The vicar reported that two members of the SMDT have stepped down from the group. Replacements are being sought. An event proposed for September 12th (Parachuting Teddies) had been postponed once safety matters had been considered (for humans and teddies). There had, however been a number of people visiting the bell tower on this day. Some concern was raised about members of the public being allowed onto the church roof.

13. AOB

Refugees John Emerson encouraged members of the PCC to investigate how they might support the refugees coming to the UK and further afield: he was, himself involved with the NE solidarity group for Calais. The vicar will include a list of possible charities seeking support in the newsletter.

In passing it was noted that 9 volunteers from the churches in the town have been trained to help revitalise the local Credit Union.

14. Date of next meetings

October 19th; November 23rd

15. Prayer

The vicar led the PCC in prayers for the Feast of the Holy Cross

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