HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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MINUTES OF FULL COUNCIL MEETING
16th October 2017
Held at
Mill House, The Causeway, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 1ET

 

 Membership:

Councillor Mrs S Diver Chairman   Present
Councillor Mr Andy Munday Vice Chairman Present
Counvillor Mrs J Allen   Present
Councillor Mrs S Dingle   Apologies
Councillor C Fox   Apologies
Councillor D Gronland   Present
Councillor D Hume   Apologies
Councillor Mrs J A Pell   Present
Councillor Mrs E Penn   Present
Councillor M Radley   Present
Councillor Mrs J Sutton   Present
Councillor G Warren   Present

Also in attendance: Public -  Alex Gidden (Press); Ms Helen Woolf, Mr Ian Tinton; Mr Lister;

                                          Ms Claire Wynn; Mr Tony Bishop; Mr Mark Sweeting

                                          Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)

                                          Julia Smith (Minute Clerk)               

340.. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE received from Cllr Mrs Dingle as unwell, Cllr Hume as unwell and Cllr Fox as unwell.  Cllr Mrs Diver moved acceptance of these apologies and this was seconded by Cllr Munday.  Motion carried by unanimous vote.  Cllr Mrs Pell gave an update on the health of Cllr Hume who at present is in home isolation as he will be attending hospital shortly and must keep clear of infection.  Cllr Mrs Diver said that it had been suggested that Cllr Mrs Sutton act as back up to the Vice Chair of Planning during Cllr Hume's absence but Cllr Pell said she was happy to carry on with consulting digitally with Cllr Hume for the time being but would ask for assistance if necessary.

341. DECLARATION OF INTERESTS: Cllr Mrs J Pell Declared NPI for the following Agenda items:  Agenda Item 5 - Planning: 17/01665/REM as member of BDC that has connections with Greenfields who have proposed properties at the site.  Agenda item 7b as Chairman of Courtauld Sports Ground Management Committee.  Agenda item 5b as member of BDC. Agenda item 7d as Day Centre and TAPS are recipients of donations from Halstead Road Runners. Agenda item 7b(a) as member of Halstead Hospital League of Friends.  Agenda item 8 as Chairman of H4C. Agenda item 12 as member of BDC. Agenda item 14 as member of BDC. . Cllr Gronland declared NPI - Agenda item 13 as son lives in Trinity Road.  Cllr Mrs J Allen declared NPI for the following Agenda items. Agenda item 5 - Planning 17/01665/REM as member of BDC that has connections with Greenfields who have proposed properties at the site. Agenda item 5b as member of BDC. Agenda item 12 as member of BDC. Agenda item 14 as member of BDC  Cllr Mrs E Penn declared NPI for Agenda item 5 - Planning 17/01665/REM as member of H21C who have objected to this development.  Cllr  Radley declared NPI Agenda item 5. Planning 17/01691/FUL as Agent is known. NPI Agenda item 7b as Agent is known.  Cllr Munday declared NPI. Agenda item 5. Planning 17/01691/FUL as Agent is known. NPI Agenda item 7b as member of Courtauld Sports Ground Management Committee.  Cllr Mrs S Diver declared PI Agenda item 7b as recipient of payment and NPI as member of Courtauld Sports Ground Management Committee.  NPI Agenda item 7b(a) as expenses for attending Witham evening Quiz. NPI Agenda item 13 as lives near to Trinity Road.

342. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME: a)  Ms Helen Woolf spoke as resident of Stanley Road and felt that the junction with Beridge Road is very dangerous and needs parking restrictions.  Ms Woolf spoke as member of the Halstead 21st Century Group regarding the recently published Local Heritage List and noted with approval that many Courtauld buildings in Halstead had been listed, although there are more to be added.  It was noted that Halstead Public Gardens had been included but that the picnic area was not included.  There had been reassurance in May, before the Housing Trajectory was published, that this area was not identified for development but a recent Freedom of Information request revealed that the former Senior Citizens area and the picnic area could be areas for development.  It was noted that the current Asset of the Community status for the picnic area will expire in 2021.  Ms Woolf concluded by saying that Halstead Public Gardens had been nominated for Best UK Park, voting opens shortly.

Cllr Mrs Pell asked which BDC Officer had given information about the picnic area; she will investigate as this is contrary to information she had been given.

Ms Claire Wynn spoke as resident of Hedingham Road and noted the speed of cars travelling in this area and felt there is potential for accidents.  The lack of signage was noted, and it was said that the illuminated sign has not worked for some time (it has, apparently, been hit by a large vehicle).  Ms Wynn said she and other residents are concerned at the hazardous situation and had concerns about potential for injury.

Mr Lister spoke about the mini-roundabout at Kings Road junction with Trinity Street which was causing traffic blockages at present.  It was said that this was a subject for future discussion.  Mr Lister said that he is a resident of Windmill Road and is very disappointed with the condition of footpaths and roads in this area.  One drain has been blocked for 2 years and after requests to BDC a road sweeper attended at 7am meaning that it was impossible to clean the area due to parked cars.  Mr Lister felt that Windmill Road is a forgotten area.  Mr Lister also spoke about the condition of the river and river bank through Halstead.  He felt that the banks are seriously deteriorating and asked that the MP for Halstead be asked to get involved.  Mr Lister asked if the flood-risk dam near to Box Mill is maintained and why erosion of the banks is not managed.  Mr Lister asked if a public meeting could be called with Environment Agency attendance to discuss the whole matter of the River Colne through Halstead.

Cllr Mrs Diver assured Mr Lister that Halstead TC are in touch with the Environment Agency but to date there have been no replies to queries. 

Mr Ian Tinton said he was confused by a recent article in Halstead Gazette about the Mill Gates and noted that the river bed is silting up.  He noted that banks that should be kept moist are drying out and said that some piling had been done further up river and asked about E.A. budget for bank maintenance. Cllr Gronland explained the position about the Mill Gates and the new owner of The Mill.

Cllr Munday said that the matter had been, and will continue to be, discussed at length with the Environment Agency.

Mr Mark Sweeting spoke as resident of Oak Road and voiced concerns about changes to plans for Phase B of the work particularly regarding traffic and trees in the area.  He said that the proposed changes were drastic with additional properties proposed and reduction to allotment land.  He was concerned about the density of housing and also the loss of privacy for himself and his neighbour.  Mr Sweeting said that he had met with BDC Planning Officer and had sent details to Cllr Pell.  He asked for the support of Halstead TC in objecting to the new proposals.  Cllr Mrs Diver said that Council is aware of the scale of proposed changes and felt that the objections raised are not unreasonable.

343. MINUTES To approve the minutes of the meeting on 18th September 2017.  Minutes had been circulated and were adopted by majority vote with 2 abstentions.

344. PLANNING APPLICATIONS In Cllr Hume's absence Vice Chair of Planning, Cllr Mrs Pell took the Chair for this part of the meeting.

17/01665/REM - Land south of Oak Road, Halstead, Essex - Application for approval of reserved matters (layout, scale, appearance and landscaping in relation to outline application permission 14/01580/OUT at Oak Road {east}, Halstead, for the development of 100 new dwellings with 30% affordable housing together with new allotments and public open space, drainage attenuation and associated infrastructure).

Cllr Pell said she had talked with residents and BDC Officers about this application and felt it would be necessary to speak with the developer - David Wilson Homes.  This is a substantial change to original plan and layout and residents, including Mr Sweeting and Mr Bishop who were present, were concerned about the new design. Cllr Pell read extracts from letters from residents to Planning Officer about the changes.  Reduction in allotment land and the new plans for flats and houses close to the boundaries of existing properties - one of which was built in the 1800s - were of great concern.  Although the original plans/design were acceptable the changes were not, and the fact that some hedgerows on another part of the site had been taken out (apparently a Highways stipulation) gave no confidence to the statement that hedgerows and trees on this part of the site would be retained.  Cllr Pell said that plans showed trees being taken out in order to erect street lighting and this was not acceptable.  Cllr Pell said that there had been no travel plan, which was a previous comment from Halstead TC and noted that BT poles had been erected rather than cables run underground which was against original Halstead TC requests.  Access to the site had not been improved and at present there was no news about Quiet Lane status for part of Oak Road.  No signs banning HGV access had been erected and no signage had been put up at the Tidings Hill/Oak Road junction as had been requested.  Cllr Pell said it was of concern that all the social housing allocation was in one area where this should have been integrated throughout the site and the number of affordable homes shown on plans was queried.  Cllr Pell noted that no consultation letter had been sent to either Mr Bishop or Mr Sweeting which was contrary to policy.  Cllr Pell complimented BDC Officer Neil Jones who had communicated with residents and it was said that residents had no objections to the original plans but had great concerns about the changes.  Cllr Gronland asked if Braintree DC Councillors could take these concerns to BDC Planning Office; this was agreed. 

Cllr Mrs Pell proposed that Council had no objection to the development per se but would appreciate the developer co-operating with residents on all the voiced concerns about proposed changes.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Mrs Diver and carried with one abstention.

17/01691/FUL - 29 Sloe Hill, Halstead, CO9 1JT. Erection of replacement of conservatory with single storey rear extension. 

Cllr Mrs Pell proposed no objection to this application.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried by unanimous vote.

17/01170/FUL - 7-11 Fourth Avenue, Bluebridge Industrial Estate, Halstead, Essex.  Erection of two storey office extension.

Cllr Mrs Pell proposed no objection to this application which would bring more employment to Halstead.  Proposed was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried by unanimous vote.

Application 17/01743/FUL proposed loft conversion and roof extension at 31 Colne Road, Halstead, CO9 2HT was not discussed as details had not been circulated in time for Councillors to research the application.

5b) HTC ATTENDANCE AT BDC PLANNING MEETINGS.

Cllr Mrs Diver noted that she and two other Councillors had attended Planning meetings at BDC and urged other Councillors to attend future meetings and to speak on behalf of Halstead residents.   Cllr Mrs Pell said that there are protocols for Planning and that not all applications go to the Committee, even if there are objections, but are decided by Officers who are professionals.  She asked that if attendance by Halstead Councillors is thought desirable Chair and Vice Chair of Planning be advised and that if attendance by them is not possible then Town Clerk to nominate a Councillor to attend.  Cllr Diver said that she felt it important that Halstead residents are represented, particularly on proposed large developments and Cllr Warren asked if there should be a nominated person to attend all planning meetings.  Cllr Mrs Pell felt that this was not necessary; an Agenda is published prior to each Committee meeting so Chair/Vice Chair can evaluate the necessity for attendance.  Cllr Mrs Penn felt that it was important to research and quote policy numbers for any voiced objections to give weight to arguments and Cllr Mrs Pell felt that there is already a policy in place for Halstead's objections to be heard.

Cllr Mrs Diver resumed Chair of the meeting.

345. MAYOR'S APPOINTMENT AND ANNOUNCEMENTS. 
Cllr Mrs Diver noted at busy time for civic duties and noted that pupils from Richard de Clare School would be attending Town Council office on Thursday 19th October from 1.30pm for about an hour and asked any Councillor who is able to attend.  Report was noted.

346.  FINANCE. Cllr Radley Chair of Finance took the Chair for this part of the meeting.

7a Finance. Cllr Radley noted the different format of reports which were now printed directly from SAGE software and this new format was given universal approval. 

Cllr Radley noted the HMRC account in credit as previous payments were in advance so payment for next month is deferred.  It was noted that budget is forecast to be achieved for year to end.  It was noted that there is a perceived risk of falling car park receipts due to opening of new supermarket in the town but this would be monitored. It was noted that the cost of recent by-election had depleted the earmarked reserves budget which is now very low.  Cost to Capital Reserves was due to expenditure at Queen's Hall.  Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of this report and this was seconded by Cllr Gronland.  Motion carried by unanimous vote.

7b. & 7b(a) Payments to be approved.  It was noted that two deposit returns of a similar nature had been recorded and Cllr Radley said this would be checked.  Cllr Mrs Sutton queried the amount of Glowsticks ordered but it was said that this was a similar number to the previous year.  400 wax torches had been ordered with some in stock from last year.  Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of these reports. This proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn and carried by unanimous vote.

7c. External Audit. Cllr Radley noted this significant milestone and thanked staff for their hard work.  Cllr Mrs Pell proposed approval of the report and this was seconded by Cllr Mrs Diver.  Proposal carried by unanimous vote.

7d.  Request from Halstead Road Runners to pay for the Halstead Marathon toilets in 2018.  Cllr Radley noted that there is no budget provision for this and said that provision could be made for next year with payment in May/June 2018.  Cllr Mrs Pell said that at each marathon there were notices posted that toilets were provided by Halstead Town Council and it was generally agreed that this was excellent publicity for Town Council community working.  It was said that competitors take part in this marathon from all parts of the country and abroad and it was felt that this was cheap advertising for the Council.  Cllr Gronland asked if it would be better to just give money to charities rather than to the Road Runners who would then give profits to Charity but it was felt that Town Council's donation would help to raise more money for charity than Council could give.  Much discussion took place and it was agreed that Road Runners would need to know decision soon in order to plan their expenditure and therefore charges for next May.

Town Clerk said that she felt it important that the way grants are awarded should be reviewed and that each application should not be looked at in isolation but grants should be awarded at a set time each year.  It was agreed that this might be a plan for the future, but it was said that for the present year a grant of £500 only had been made - £2000 is set aside each year for grant applications.  Any unspent grant money cannot be carried forward to the next year.  After more discussion it was Proposed by Cllr Pell that £500 be awarded to Halstead Road Runners for provision of toilets at 2018 marathon, money to be awarded from 2017/18 grant fund.  This proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried with one abstention.

Cllr Mrs Diver resumed Chair of the meeting and proposed that Agenda items 11, 13, 14 and 19 be taken at this point as members of the public present were awaiting discussions on these points.   Proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried unanimously.

347.  REQUEST FOR KEEP CLEAR SIGNS AT THE JUNCTION BETWEEN STANLEY ROAD AND BERIDGE ROAD.  Cllr Gronland noted that more Highways issues are being raised at present - parking, speeding, signage, etc. and advised Council that meetings would be taking place shortly to discuss.  He felt that Halstead was being bullied into various proposals and said that the Town's voice needs to be heard.

It was noted that residents are asking for KEEP CLEAR  signs at the junction and Cllr Gronland proposed that BDC should be asked to approve this and pass to ECC Highways.  Cllr Mrs Pell seconded this proposal which was carried by unanimous vote.

348.  APPLICATION FOR A NO PARKING ZONE IN TRINITY ROAD.    

Support for this application was proposed by Cllr Mrs Diver and seconded by Cllr Munday.  Proposal was carried by unanimous vote.

349.  REQUEST FOR SUPPORT FOR COMPLAINT TO PLANNING AT BDC.

Cllr Mrs Pell said that this was an issue for ECC Highways and asked that Clerk should submit to them.  Cllr Gronland proposed that Clerk make representation to ECC Highways on this matter.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Diver and carried by unanimous vote.

350.  REQUEST FOR WARNINGS AND VEHICLE SPEED ALERTS ON HEDINGHAM ROAD.   It was noted that various letters had been received from residents and from the Homes of Rest Trust about traffic in this area.  Results of a previous speed survey had shown average speed of 30mph which was deemed acceptable.  Cllr Gronland said he had written to ECC Highways about this stretch of road where there were residential properties, a hospital and the Homes of Rest and where the road had sharp bends and no traffic calming measures.  Proposals had the support of Halstead's County Councillor and Cllr Munday noted the poor road layout and the verge parking in the area.  Cllr Mrs Allen proposed support of this request and proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday.  Proposal carried by unanimous vote.

 351.  COMMUNITY HALL  Cllr Mrs Pell said that there was nothing to report at present other than that Committee is trying to sort out some grants.  Cllr Mrs Diver said that the Clerk had been in touch with Brian Day by email, and that he had responded saying that he would be in touch soon.  Report was noted.

352.  YOUTH.  Cllr Mrs Penn reported a meeting with ECC Youth Worker who is trying to start a project of refurbishments at Halstead Youth Centre which Cllr Penn will support and give assistance where possible.   Report was noted.

353.  DISTRICT  COUNCILLORS. 

Cllr Mrs Allen reported attendance at BDC Full Council meeting and also at a Cabinet meeting.  Licensing Committee meeting had been cancelled.  Cllr Mrs Allen will attend a funding fair in the near future and will attend a Joint Executive Team meeting as Chair of Grants Committee.  Cllr Mrs Pell reported attendance at the Tourism Group where there had been presentations by Museum Services and the Head of Economic Development and Planning Policy.   Committee was evidence gathering at present.  There has been an Extra Ordinary Cabinet meeting where implementation of business rate relief schemes was agreed.  A new Group had been formed to look at skills of members.  The North Essex Garden Communities group had appointed a Group Managing Director, Richard Bayley, and this would promote joint working.  A report on Council Tax collection as at end of August was given: 49.66% of Council Tax had been collected (a sum of £41.40million).  Business rates collected amounted to 49.17% (a sum of £21.31million).  A statement of accounts 2015/16 had been received - BDC are one of the best performing Councils in the Country.

A12 route is still awaited - now projected to be received November/December.

A120 route - ECC will announce route in November. 

Report on Regeneration of Halstead is still being worked on.

Halstead Cemetery has planned an additional 220 plots in the cremation section - enough to satisfy needs for the next 10/15 years.

Pool pods for disabled swimmers have been installed at Halstead Leisure Centre

A Community Governance Review public consultation has now been completed and committee will meet soon to discuss.  Regarding the Oak Road development only three comments had been received.(two for bringing into Halstead and one for remaining with Greenstead Green) and since the end of Consultation Halstead TC comments regarding the development at Sudbury Road have been received and will be noted.

Regarding the Chapel Hill Development it has been agreed that this will go to Planning Committee as it is a departure from Policy and will be heard in November/December - Fiona Bradley to be thanked for her work to bring this to committee.   Report was noted.

354.  BRAINTREE DISTRICT COMPACT PRINCIPLES.  Report was noted

355. COMMUNITY  FRIDGE  UPDATE

Cllr Mrs Allen queried why this matter was on Agenda as it appeared that a Charity had been set up, without consultation,  and so the Community Fridge was not now a Council matter.

Cllr Mrs Sutton said that she and Cllr Allen had not been consulted and it was noted that other Councillors had not been a party to decisions.  Town Clerk apologised and said that advice had been to set up a charity to take the project forward and to apply for grants with 3 Councillors and Town Clerk being trustees of the charity.  Cllr Mrs Sutton said that all 12 Councillors should be working together on Town Projects and it was queried what address had been given for the Charity, and where monies would be dealt with.

Much discussion took place about the project and about the way forward and it was eventually agreed that an apology be made to the whole Council and that in future the Community Fridge scheme be administered by the Charity  with no Council involvement at all.  Report was noted.

356.  SICKNESS AND  ABSENCE  POLICY

Town Clerk noted that at present there is no Halstead TC policy on sickness and absence in place and that such a policy is needed so that it can be enforced.  Cllr Pell noted that policies used to be in place and wondered why they have been lost.  Cllr Radley queried the target absence of 10 days and felt that this should be a percentage and not a stated figure of days.  Cllr Warren said that 10 days is a usual target and discussions took place.

Cllr Mrs Diver  Proposed that  Policy be adopted with a pro rata number of days added as some staff work part-time.  This was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried by 7 votes for proposal, 1 abstention and 1 vote against proposal.

357. TRAINING  AND  DEVELOPMENT  POLICY.

Cllr Mrs Pell felt that training and development should be relevant to services provided and that first aid training should be available but not compulsory.  Cllr Pell proposed that policy be adopted and this was seconded by Cllr Munday.  Proposal was adopted by unanimous vote.

358.  REQUEST FROM THE ORGANISERS OF THE CHRISTMAS FAYRE.

Request had been made for Council to allow free parking all day in the Town's car parks.  It was noted that in 2016 free parking had been from 10am and gave 6 free passes for stall holders in Butler Road car park from 8.00 to 10.00am.  Cllr Mrs Diver proposed that parking arrangements be the same as for previous year and this was seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn.  Proposal was adopted by unanimous vote.

359.  EXCLUSION  OF  PUBLIC  AND  PRESS.  To give consideration to adopting the following resolution: 'that in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted and pursuant to the provisions of section 1(2)- of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, as amended, the public and the press be temporarily excluded from the meeting'

360.  CONTRACTS  REGARDING  QUEEN'S  HALL UPDATE.

Town Clerk reported that Office section of the building was now almost complete with move being planned for end of October.  Various works are now almost complete and approval is needed for final payments to be made.  Cllr Mrs Pell asked who would be moving equipment, papers, etc. and was told that the Community Service Team had offered this service free of charge.  It was said that most of the paperwork was stored in boxes but that confidential papers would be carried by Council staff as would computer equipment.

Cllr Radley reviewed the costs and noted that there had been some expense over the original budget due to unforeseen issues with damp and location of toilets.  New boiler for heating the hall was also required but had not been included in budget.  After questions by Cllr Warren it was said that overspend was about £10,000 but that costs had been minimised where possible.  Local contractors had been used and Town Clerk and Council Staff had made great efforts to effect speedy and efficient conclusion to necessary work.  Cllr Pell asked if the tree which had previously been seen as a hazard to the building had been removed, and it was said that no tree had been identified as a possible hazard.

It was said that the History Museum had been given leave to stay at Mill House until Christmas at no extra rental cost.  Halstead Town Council would pay no rent after 31st October and Cllr Mrs Diver requested approval that Council write to the Landlord thanking him for his help in this matter.  This received unanimous approval.  There was unanimous approval for additional expenditure on works to renovate and reform part of Queen's Hall to office accommodation.

Cllr Mrs Diver said that this project had been a great success with hirers of the Hall voicing approval of the hall and the kitchen.  Cllr Diver suggested all Councillors view the Hall.

There being no other business meeting was closed at 9.17pm.

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