Minutes of the Town Council Meeting 10 January 2022

19th January 2022

HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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MINUTES OF TOWN COUNCIL MEETING

PUBLIC SESSION MINUTES

10 January 2022: at  19:15
Held at
Queens Hall, Chipping Hill, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 2BY 

 Membership:

Councillor M Radley Chairman   Present
Councillor D Gronland Vice Chairman Present 
Councillor Miss J Atkinson   Present
Councillor P Caulfield   Apologies
Councillor P Claydon   Apologies
Councillor Mrs S Dingle   Apologies
Councillor M Fincken   Present
Councillor D Hume   Apologies
Councillor A Munday   Apologies
Councillor Mrs J A Pell   Present
Councillor Miss L Smith   Apologies
Councillor G Warren   Present

Also in attendance:  Linda de Frates Julia Smith, Helen Wolf, Ian Tinton,  Cllr Chris Siddall

                                   Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)

178.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE  . Cllr Dingle, Cllr Claydon and Cllr Hume sent their apologies due to ill health. Cllr Caulfield sent his apologies as he had had possible contact with a Covid case. Cllr Munday sent his apologies for personal reasons, and Cllr Smith sent her apologies due to work commitments.

Cllr Gronland proposed acceptance of these apologies, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

179.  DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS:

 Cllr  Pell  declared NPI item 5b as a member of BDC, 7b and 7b(a) as member of CSGMC, BDC and H4C, item 13 as a member of BDC, and item 14 as Vice-chair of the Halstead Hospital League of Friends.  Cllr Warren declared NPI item 7b as a member of CSGMC. Cllr Radley declared NPI item 7b(a) and 5b as a member of BDC.

180.  PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

a)  Public questions

Helen Wolf asked whether HTC had managed to find a tree warden, and also said that Halstead 21st century group were very keen to have blue plaques in the town.

The Clerk responded that there was indeed a new Tree Warden, Paul Starling, and that Nicola Murphy at BDC had said that it was very likely that blue plaques could be included in the town centre regeneration project.

Julia Smith addressed the meeting in her role as Treasurer of Halstead in Bloom.

Halstead in Bloom discussed the way forward for Halstead in Bloom and to that effect an extraordinary meeting was called for Thursday 6 January. 

The first question determined was that Halstead in Bloom volunteer team are keen to continue, but with some scaling down of activities.  It was recognised that fund raising will need to continue, and the team is keen to continue with planting and maintaining floral displays, albeit with some areas being put to sustainable plants rather than bedding.  At the AGM deputies will be appointed for Responsible Officers and team members will take on additional responsibilities. Cllr Radley has kindly offered some assistance with preparation of end of year accounts.

However, the decision was taken that HiB will not enter the Town into the Anglia in Bloom campaign in 2022.  The team felt that this causes too much stress and that preparing for judges’ tours is very hard work.  They said they are not prepared to go out at six o’clock in the morning to sweep paths and roads where judges will be walking as has been the case previously.  They don’t feel able to clean road signs that have become dirty and in some cases illegible through neglect.  They cannot be stressed by seeing plants suffering from lack of water and having to go out with car boots filled with milk bottles to ensure that displays are maintained.  They are not prepared to get down on hands and knees to remove weeds from pavements and gutters.  They have said that it would be difficult, probably impossible, to show judges the floral displays created without those judges seeing the neglect on buildings, especially iconic areas that are suffering from neglect and decay.

HiB signed a formal Partnership Agreement with Essex County Council, Braintree District Council and Halstead Town Council, and have checked that they will still fulfil their stated responsibilities.  A decision on 2023 and subsequent entries will be taken as appropriate.

Cllr Radley thanked Julia and the HiB team for all the work they had done for the town and said that the council should consider if there is any way in which HTC could help and support HIB in the future.

Cllr Fincken suggested that the points raised by Julia should be discussed at the February Council meeting.

Ian Tinton mentioned that a number of streetlights in Bridge Street and Parsonage Street are not working and asked the Clerk to report this. He also asked that Highways be asked to advise private landowners to clear the ditch on Mount Hill.

He also reported that he is planning a review of the Land East of the High Street, as well as continuing with his work on flooding and drains.

b)  Cllr Chris Siddall began his report by stating that there are many issues relating to planning applications and the road network, particularly as there was no long-term plan for Halstead, and a bypass is needed.

On Covid he said that the Essex case rate was currently 1800 per 100,000 of population and that this was causing a lot of staff absence.

He also reported that ECC has developed a grant system for tackling projects dealing with climate change. Funds of up to £20k per project are available until March 2023. There is also a project aimed at levelling up in Essex, to focus on those areas suffering from deprivation.

The Budget is still awaiting approval but there will be an increase in Council tax.

Cllr Pell thanked Cllr Siddall for putting pressure on Highways to attend to issues. He replied that issues should always be reported.

181.  MINUTES To approve the minutes of the Town Council Meeting held on 15 December 2021.  Minutes had been circulated and proposal to adopt public session minutes of 15 December 2021 was put forward by Cllr  Fincken,  and seconded by Cllr Atkinson, with 5 in favour and 1 abstention.         

182.  PLANNING  APPLICATIONS

There were no planning applications to discuss.

Cllr Pell led discussions for this part of the meeting.

The Clerk had prepared a summary of the Local Plan main modifications.

Cllr Atkinson proposed, seconded by Cllr Warren, that authority be delegated to Cllrs Hume and Pell and the Town Clerk to make some additions to the summary prepared by the Clerk, ready for sending in before the deadline of 24 January. Cllr Atkinson would send her modifications to the Town Clerk, and the final version would be forwarded to all Councillors before submission.   

183.  MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS

Cllr Radley said that the Civic service on 3 April was so far the only event in his diary, although he and Cllr Gronland had also received an invitation to visit Blackthorns Nursing Home.

184.  FINANCE Cllr Gronland led the discussions for this part of the meeting

a)  To approve the income and expenditure report for December 2021.

Cllr Gronland said that all looked fine with the accounts and proposed approval of the income and expenditure report, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

b)To approve the List of payments and supplementary payments to be made in January

Cllr Radley commented that 30% of the carpark transactions in December had been by card, showing clearly that there was a demand for this.

Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the lists of payments, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

c)  To approve the Bank reconciliation

Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the reconciliation, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

d)  To consider increasing car park charges

 Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the increases in car parking charges and per the report, seconded by Cllr Fincken. There were 5 in favour and 1 against.

e)  To approve budget and precept

Cllr Radley commented that the Leader of BDC, Cllr Butland, had said that awarding the Council Tax Collection Fund rebate was voluntary on the part of BDC. He had in a meeting with him expressed his dismay and dissatisfaction at the arbitrary proposals to cease paying the Collection fund to Parish and Town councils. It was agreed that Cllr Gronland would report this dissatisfaction to BALC, and that the Town Clerk would write to Cllr Butland regarding his proposals.

Cllr Gronland proposed,  seconded by Cllr Warren that the Budget and Precept should be approved. This was unanimously agreed.

f)  To consider buying 3 lightweight noticeboards

Cllr Gronland proposed, seconded by Cllr Fincken, that HTC should purchase 3 new lightweight noticeboards, but that the future of the existing noticeboards should be considered as part of the BDC town regeneration plan, and this was unanimously agreed.

g)  To update the financial regulations

Cllr Pell proposed, seconded by Cllr Gronland, that the updated Financial Regulations should be approved. This was unanimously agreed.

185.  To receive reports from District Councillors

Cllr Radley reported that he had chaired the Performance management scrutiny committee on 5 January 2022, when all BDC councillors had had the opportunity to scrutinise the budget proposals. The following highlights were proposed:

  • To strengthen planning enforcement by increasing the number in the team from 4 to 9
  • To add resources to support the climate strategy
  • To add resources to support the cycling strategy
  • To cut the councillor grant scheme from £1500 to £1000 but to allow carry over of underspent grants for the current year
  • To allocate £55k to the Halstead Leisure Centre to refurbish the changing rooms
  • To increase council tax by 2.6%
  • To stop the redistribution of the Council Tax Collection fund surplus back to Town and Parish Councils.

The government’s funding decision would be made on 13 January. The BDC budget would be signed off by council on 21 February 2022

Cllr Pell said that Cllr Radley had conducted the meeting in a very fair and professional way. She said that she had attended the Empire Theatre with Cllr Radley, as they had both made contributions to the Dementia Friendly cinema at the Empire from their councillor grants.

Cllr Warren asked whether there had been any response from planning enforcement about the illuminated signs displayed by 3 shops in the lower High St. The Clerk will chase this up.

Reports were noted

186.  To receive reports from Champions

Surgery – further problems with phoning in to the surgery were reported.

The Clerk was asked to follow up the request to Planning for S106 figures

Police – Cllr Warren will pursue the idea that vandalism in the toilets should be treated as a civil matter, as stated by the police.

Open Spaces – a further meeting between Cllrs Fincken and Atkinson and the Town Clerk is planned

A further meeting is planned with Nicola Murphy and Neil Jones.

There is cycle path clearance on 15 January.

Tourism – an events group meeting is planned for 17/1/22. Cllr Pell said that she was looking for better provision for children in Summer Fun activities.

Reports were noted

187.  To review the Capability and Conduct policy

Cllr Atkinson proposed approval of the updated Capability and conduct policy, seconded by Cllr Pell and unanimously approved.

188.  To review the Safeguarding policy

Cllr Fincken proposed approval of the updated Safeguarding policy, seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

189.  To review the Sickness and absence policy

Cllr Radley proposed approval of the updated Sickness and absence policy, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

190.  To review the Action Plan

Cllr Radley proposed that the updated Action Plan be approved, subject to the following amendments:

  • That where items have been achieved, they should be left in the plan but designated “complete”
  • That the item on the bridge should be kept live as there was still work to be done on the footings
  • That the idea of a parking masterplan be removed
  • That the speedwatch should be removed from the plan but kept as something HTC wishes to do long term
  • That the idea of Councillor surgeries should be removed
  • That the volunteer force should be further developed
  • That the budget for climate change should be added
  • That the climate change section should be strengthened

The Clerk will make these amendments

Cllr Gronland seconded this proposal and it was unanimously agreed.

191.  To consider a request for support from Halstead Hospital League of Friends

Cllr Radley proposed that the Clerk should write a letter to Dr Symington expressing the support of HTC in maintaining a bedded facility in the town, and secondly invite him to meet with a small group of councillors to consider further action.

Cllr Gronland seconded this. There were 5 in favour and 1 abstention.

192.  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 being no further business, the meeting closed at  21:00

Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)                             

 

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