HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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MINUTES OF FULL COUNCIL MEETING
15th January 2018
Held at
Queen's Hall, Chipping Hill, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 2BY

 

 Membership:

Councillor Mrs S Diver Chairman   Apologies
Councillor Mr Andy Munday Vice Chairman Present
Counvillor Mrs J Allen   Apologies
Councillor Mrs S Dingle   Present
Councillor C Fox   Apologies
Councillor D Gronland   Apologies
Councillor D Hume   Present
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 - Mr R Marshall, Ms H Woolf, Ms Lisa Hinman, Mr M Fincken

                                          Mr G Farrow, Mr and Mrs R Smith, Mr P Schwier,

                                          Alex Gidden (Press)

                                         Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)

                                         Julia Smith (Minute Clerk)         

Cllr Munday, Vice Chairman, took the Chair for the meeting.

407. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE. Apologies had been received from Cllr Mrs Diver due to ill health; Cllr Mrs Allen due to ill health, Cllr Fox due to pressure of work, Cllr Gronland due to ill health.  Acceptance of apologies moved by Cllr Mrs Pell and unanimously accepted.

408. DECLARATION OF INTERESTS: Cllr Hume Declared NPI Agenda Item 3b as member of Braintree DC - Partner with N.Essex Parking Partnership; NPI Agenda item 5-Planning. 17/02268/FUL as Agent and one objector known.  17/02287/LBC as Agent is known.  NPI Agenda item 9 as Halstead TC representative attending meetings of H4C.

Cllr Mrs J Pell Declared NPI for Agenda item 3b as member of Braintree DC - Partner with N.Essex Parking Partnership.  PI Agenda item 5-Planning. 17/02268/FUL as this is adjacent to family member’s property; NPI 17/02273/FUL as neighbour is known.  Also NPI for Agenda item 9 as member of H4C Committee.  Cllr Munday Declared NPI Agenda item 5-Planning 17/02268/FUL and 17/02287/LBC as Agent and objector are known.

409. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME:

Item 3a. Mr Malcolm Fincken said that he was pleased to see some progress over bringing the footbridge from Bridge Street to Chapel Street Car Park into ownership of the Town Council.  Chairman noted the Agenda item regarding this matter and said that there had been some movement and progress although ownership of the bridge is still with Crown Estates.  Mr Fincken spoke about reports for agenda items at Council meetings and asked why they are not published online; he felt that for transparency they should all be shared with the public.  Chairman said that this would be taken on board; Town Clerk said that reports are always available at the Town Council Office where public can ask to see them and that copies are available at all Town Council meetings.  Clerk noted that there is no obligation to publish reports online.  Councillors noted that there is nothing to hide and publishing reports would be a service to constituents; it was agreed, however, that anything of a sensitive nature or reports containing pecuniary matters would not be published as they may be discussed in private session at meetings.

Mr Bob Marshall spoke about planning application at 41 Broton Drive and said that as owner of Halstead Glass for 29 years he had purchased the property to continue with the success story of his company that had 40 employees and considerable assets and was expanding needing more room.  He felt that some incorrect statements about the property had been made and noted that he wanted to stay on the Broton Estate in his property that he had cleared and made secure.  He said that he had evidence to support his claim and appreciated the chance to speak to Councillors on this matter.

Item 3b. Presentation by Lisa Hinman, Area Manager of North Essex Parking Partnership.

Ms Hinman said that prior to 2011 on-street parking was managed by separate boroughs and councils throughout the Essex region but a financial deficit meant that different arrangements had to be made.  In April of 2011 two new Parking Partnerships were established - North and South Essex.  Halstead falls within North Essex which region stretches from Harlow/Epping to the Tendring Peninsula.  There is joint membership from each area in the region with County member representation.  The NEPP is responsible for making and enforcing parking restrictions in such areas as yellow lines (double and single), resident permit zones, dropped kerbs, obstruction and schools.  The ParkSafe initiative has had good success particularly near to schools and in bus clearways.  The enforcement process was explained as was the means of challenging tickets issued.

Ms Hinman was thanked for her presentation, and left copies which can be viewed in Town Council Office.

410. MINUTES  To approve the minutes of the meeting on 18th December 2017.   Minutes had been circulated and Proposal to adopt was put forward by Cllr Mrs Pell and seconded by Cllr Radley.  Minutes adopted unanimously.

411. PLANNING APPLICATIONS   Cllr Hume took the Chair for this item.

17/02287/LBC - Premaberg House, 22-24 High Street, Halstead, Essex, CO9 2AP - The parapet wall around the top of the bay has a large number of bricks with blown faces which have been made good in cement and sand.  This section of wall is also unstable.  Proposal is to carefully remove the copings for re-use, take down the 8 courses of wall and re-build.  Cllr Hume said he could see no objections to this application and Cllr Mrs Pell moved that on grounds of safety Halstead TC has no objection to this application.  Cllr Warren seconded this motion and it was carried unanimously.

17/02273/FUL - Lyndale, Tidings Hill, Halstead, CO9 1BQ. Erection of detached 3 bedroom dwelling, revised from that previously approved (ref. 15/01534/FUL). Cllr Hume noted that Halstead TC had raised no objections to previous application.  Cllr Mrs Pell said that pre-application advice had been taken and it was noted that the application was for two properties with one access point.  Motion that Council raised no objections to this application was proposed by Cllr Mrs Pell and seconded by Cllr Mrs Sutton.  Motion was carried unanimously.

Cllr Mrs Pell left the meeting at this point.

17/02268/FUL - Land adjacent 41 Broton Drive, Halstead, Essex, Retention of the use of land from parking area to part parking area/part storage together with the erection of security fence/gates.  Cllr Hume noted that much of this application deals with legal matters and is therefore out of the remit of Halstead Town Council.  He noted that the application is retrospective and that Councillors had listened to the comments by applicant regarding history of the land.  Councillors asked about provision of fire exits from the estate.  Cllr Munday proposed that standing orders be set aside for 5 minutes so that Mr Marshall could give answers.  Motion seconded by Cllr Radley and carried unanimously. Councillors  were assured that there is adequate provision for egress from the Broton Estate in emergencies. After further discussions Cllr Munday moved that Council has no objections to this application providing that fire exits are maintained.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Warren and carried unanimously.

Cllr Munday moved Council back into session and this proposal was seconded by Cllr Hume and carried unanimously.

Cllr Mrs Pell returned to the meeting.

Cllr Munday resumed Chair of the meeting.

412. MAYOR'S APPOINTMENT AND ANNOUNCEMENTS. 
Cllr Munday noted that attendance at Maldon Town Council Civic Service would be by the Vice Chairman and urged all Councillors to attend the Opening of History Museum at Queen's Hall on 3rd February.  Report was noted.

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

7a Finance. Cllr Radley talked through the report which, he said, was on track mainly due to move to Queen's Hall and it was hoped to show a surplus which would mean that earmarked reserves which were at a low level could be topped up at the end of the year.  Cllr Radley noted that the date for Internal Audit was now fixed for 16th April. Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of the report.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn and carried unanimously.

7b. & 7b(a) Payments to be approved.  Cllr Radley noted purchase of new fire alarm panel at Queen's Hall at cost of £1000 inclusive of VAT and the final payments of Christmas lights to be made and are within budget provision.  Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of the reports and this was seconded by Cllr Mrs Pell.  Proposal carried unanimously.

7c. Car Park Charges 2018/2019.  to include parking charges, cost of permits and number of permits available. 

(A) The list of current and proposed charges was available and Cllr Mrs Pell asked if there would be costs for revision of car park order.  It was agreed that there would be costs for this and for changes in machines and signage, which had been accounted for in the budget.  Cllr Radley explained the proposed changes to charges and times.  Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of the increase to parking charges and this was seconded by Cllr Mrs Dingle.  Proposal carried unanimously.

(B) The increase for Permit charges was discussed and Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of the increase to charges for parking permits and this was seconded by Cllr Mrs Sutton.  Proposal was carried unanimously.

(C) Proposal to provide 9 parking spaces for permits in Chapel Street Car Park was discussed.  Cllr Radley said that the obvious spaces to be put to this use would be the 9 spaces on the right hand side of the car park, against the wall.  Cllr Mrs Pell asked if these spaces would be guaranteed and it was agreed that they should be signed as such.  The higher cost of these spaces was queried and it was said that the additional cost would reflect the fact that this is town centre parking.  Cllr Radley proposed the release of 9 parking permits for Chapel Street @ £300 each per year and that signage will be reviewed for dedicated parking with a study of feasibility of the proposed location.   Proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Sutton and carried unanimously.

7d.  Queens Hall Hire Charges.  Cllr Radley said that after investigations it had been decided that existing charges were appropriate but that after discussion it was proposed that the current 50% rate for set-up and clear down should be given only for the first hour at the commencement of the booking.  It was also proposed that the current charge for use of kitchen be removed as kitchen was now integral with the hall and therefore should be free of charge.  Cllr Radley proposed that the Council approves the removal of the 50% rate for clearing up and the charge for kitchen use for bookings made from 1 April 2018.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Warren and carried unanimously.

7e.  Budget and Precept 2018/2019 and Long Term Financial Plan.  Cllr Radley noted the 50% reduction in Localism Grant for 2018/19 and further reduction to zero for 19/20.  Some additional charges as listed above will help to mitigate the loss to Halstead TC but it would be necessary to increase the precept by 2% which would mean minimal cost to residents.  Cllr Sutton queried the forecast provision for Environment and it was explained that this would be for tree surgery in the Churchyard and repairs to Church clock.  The possible provision for Special Police would be discussed in detail at future meetings but it was prudent to make this provision.  Cllr Mrs Pell noted that provision for cost of election of £8000 seemed to be too low but it was said that the previous election for all Town Councillors cost £6000 so the estimate was thought to be prudent.  Cllr Radley moved that Finance Committee (all Councillors) accept the report as written and take the proposal to Full Council to approve the provision for Precept 2018/19.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Dingle and carried unanimously.

7f.  Reconciliation.  Cllr Radley noted that all accounts for December have now been reconciled as the report provided.  Cllr Radley thanked the Clerk and Staff for their work which gives confidence in Council Accounts.  Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of the reconciliation, proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Sutton and carried unanimously.

Cllr Munday resumed Chair of the meeting

414.  Approval of Precept.  Report was before Council and acceptance was proposed by Cllr Munday.  Proposal seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn and carried unanimously.

415.  COMMUNITY  HALL REPORT Cllr Mrs Pell said that the proposed meeting with Essex CC/Braintree DC had not yet taken place due to unforeseen circumstances and a further meeting would be arranged.  Report was noted.

416.  YOUTH REPORT Cllr Mrs Penn said that an arranged meeting with Sue Hughes had not taken place but Cllr Penn had spent time at the Resource Centre and was pleased to see 30-40 youngsters meeting there.  Cllr Mrs Penn had spoken with Ann Thrussle and it was hoped that some redecoration at the Resource Centre will be effected over the Easter Holiday.  Cllr Mrs Penn noted that several young people meet at the Church event and at the Youth Bus each week.  Cllr Munday commented on this positive report.  Report noted.

417. TOWN  PLAN.  Cllr Radley reported that Colchester Technical College had offered some IT support for work on the Plan as a student project and this was unanimously welcomed.  Cllr Mrs Pell asked that when meetings take place Councillors be informed of outcome with some brief notes and not have to learn details via social media.   Cllr Radley said that as yet no meeting had taken place but that notes could certainly be emailed round.  Cllr Mrs Penn said that some notes had already been received and Cllr Mrs Pell said that she had heard reports of meeting regarding education over social media before she had heard from fellow Councillors.  Cllr Radley pointed out that notice of those meetings had been given at the meeting on 18 December. Cllr Munday made the point that Councillors should have prior knowledge of any reports being lodged on social media.  Report noted.

418.  DISTRICT  COUNCILLORS'  REPORT.  Cllr Munday stated that it had been made known that the next District Councillors' Report would be at the Annual Town Meeting and that in future this item should be deleted from Halstead TC agenda.  Cllr Munday felt that a brief report from District Councillors on district business would be helpful, particularly anything that might be relevant to Halstead.  Cllr Mrs Pell made the point that if District Councillors were expected to report monthly then County Councillor should also be asked to give a report.  Cllr Munday said that it would be unfortunate if Town Councillors had to find out details of District business via social media and felt that a brief report each month would be interesting and helpful.  Cllr Hume said that it would be unhelpful if at agenda item each month there was 'nothing to report' but was willing for the item to remain in case there was a need to report anything relevant to Halstead.  Cllr Munday proposed that the item 'District Councillors' Report' remain on monthly Town Council Agenda and that District Councillors report anything relevant to Halstead.  Proposal seconded by Cllr Warren and adopted by unanimous vote.

419  Request for Yellow Lines at Acorn Avenue.  The earlier presentation had noted that parking on double yellow lines would attract parking penalties and it was noted that this would be the case even for residents/visitors of Acorn Avenue.  It was said that parking in this area had been difficult for many years and that due to works at the care home staff are now parking in the Avenue rather than at the care home premises.  It was agreed that there was no easy answer to the difficulties of residents, and Cllr Dingle suggested that a letter be written to the staff of the care home to ask for co-operation.  It was pointed out that a letter has already been written with no successful outcome.  Permit parking was suggested, but it was not known if this would be accepted by all residents and indeed if it would solve the present difficulties.   Similar issues had been raised in several areas of the town and parking was perceived to be difficult in many areas.  Cllr Penn said that any safety issues should be reported to Police.  Cllr Mrs Pell proposed that residents of Acorn Avenue be informed of rights to request Parking Permit status and that the Care Home be contacted by letter to say that any request for parking permits by residents would be supported by Town Council.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Radley and adopted by unanimous vote

 420.  Facebook page for Halstead Town Council.   It was said that there are not enough resources to manage a Facebook page within the Town Council Office and that staff could not answer complaints/comments on behalf of Councillors without prior permissions which would not be satisfactory when social media relies on instant replies.  Cllr Mrs Pell said that at a recent District Council meeting Witham had given details of a 'closed' Facebook page that is used to promote events, etc.  Cllr Munday gave details on how this can be achieved and it was felt that Halstead TC could learn from best practice of other Councils.  Cllr Warren said that the Town needs to be marketed as widely as possible and that if a closed page can be set up, with a link to the Town Council web site this should be achieved.  Cllr Munday proposed that Council should move forward with a Town Council Facebook page that is closed and consult with Witham TC on how best this can be achieved.  This page to be used to give out information only and to advertise upcoming events.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn and carried unanimously.

421.  Improvements to street lighting.  Cllr Warren said that he had received several complaints about the new LED street lighting which was perceived to be not powerful enough and therefore compromised safety.  He wondered if the current fittings are sufficiently good to support LED lighting and asked if Clerk can investigate.  Other Councillors also reported complaints and comments and Cllr Munday proposed that Clerk be asked to write to Essex CC Highways to enquire about the proposals to move to LED lighting and if the current fittings are sufficiently good to take new lamps.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Sutton and carried by unanimous vote.

422.  Modular stage for Queen's Hall.  Following comments at previous Council meeting Clerk had investigated a modular stage with different formation that would be higher and therefore more acceptable.  Additional cost would be £300 which was felt to be in order.  Stage will be purchased using CIF grant of £1700 with additional money from Council capital reserves.  Purchase of stage with these revised specifications at cost quoted was proposed by Cllr Radley, seconded by Cllr Dingle and carried by unanimous vote. 

423.  Empire car wash lease.  Report was before Council with request from partners at the Car Wash at Empire Theatre that lease be transferred to active partner;  new lease-holder to pay all legal costs.    Cllr Pell proposed that Council transfer lease to active partner provided that assurance is given by existing lease-holder that this is desirable.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Hume and passed by unanimous vote.

424.  Request for 'no through road sign' Request had been received from resident of Slough Farm Road for support in request that 'no through road' sign be erected at junction of Slough Farm Road and Beridge Road.  Discussions took place and Cllr Munday proposed that Halstead Town Council give support for a sign of this nature.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Sutton and carried by unanimous vote.

425.  Update on footbridge.  Cllr Munday reported a meeting on 8th January 2018 which was constructive.  Greenfields PH will probably remove the knotweed infestation and Essex CC will support a move by Halstead TC to take ownership provided that funding is in place.  Sainsbury's have been asked for some contribution but no reply has yet been received.  ECC Highways estimate cost of repair to be about £47,000 for repairs that will last about 15 years.  Local Highways Panel will meet on 18th January and a request for funding will be made, Braintree District Councillors will also be asked to contribute.  There will need to be some local fund raising and the ECC Local Services Fund will be explored.  Cllr Munday proposed that funding be sought from Local Highways Panel to take this project forward and proposal was seconded by Cllr Warren.  Motion was carried by unanimous vote.

Cllr Munday then proposed that a working group within Halstead TC be set up to look at funding and explore the way forward.  All findings to be brought back to Full Council for decisions.  Cllr Mrs Pell proposed a working group comprising Cllrs Munday as chair, Mrs Penn, Warren, Radley and Mrs Sutton to explore funding and co-ordinate plans to bring back to Council.  Cllr Warren seconded this proposal and it was carried with 1 abstention.

426.  Desktop microphones.  Cllr Munday explained that he had asked for this item to be added to agenda as it was apparent that acoustics were difficult in the Hall at present.  Cllr Radley said that Clerk is exploring ways of adding sound deadening material to the walls of the hall and noted that public places had been moved nearer to the Councillors seats at this meeting.  Other Councillors agreed that it was not the right time to purchase microphones; Cllr Warren said that recent proposal to purchase  a PA system might mean that equipment was incompatible. Further discussion took place which led Cllr Munday to propose that standing orders be extended by five minutes to effect resolution of this matter.  Extension was seconded by Cllr Mrs Pell and carried by unanimous vote.

Cllr Pell said that when District Council met at the Queen's Hall in previous years microphones had been used but agreed that noise reduction should be trialed before any further purchases are made.  Cllr Pell noted that the microphone system at Braintree DC had recently been replaced and wondered if the older system was available for further use.

Cllr Mrs Penn proposed that no purchase of microphones should be made until the sound deadening had been fitted but that cost of such a system should be explored and Braintree DC should be contacted to see if they had second hand equipment available.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Dingle and carried by unanimous vote.

427.  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'There were no confidential matters to discuss

There being no other business meeting was closed at  9.31pm.

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