DRAFT Minutes of Town Council Meeting 9 November 2020

17th November 2020

HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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DRAFT MINUTES OF TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
9 November  2020 at  19:15
Held at
Queens Hall, Chipping Hill, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 2BY 

This meeting was conducted Virtually by Zoom

 Membership:

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

Also in attendance: Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)                             

146.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE  Cllr Smith sent her apologies due to work commitments,

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

147.  DECLARATION OF INTERESTS:  Cllr  Pell  declared NPI  item 5 20/01647/FUL ( and BDC is an interested party in Eastlight community homes) , and objectors are known to her, 20/01713/HH and 20/01714/LBC, as agent is known, item 7 NPI as a member of CSGMC, and one of the owners of Cralin is known to her, items 8 and 17 as a member of H4C.  Cllr Munday declared NPI  item 5, as he is a member of BDC planning committee, and item 7b(a) as he recommended the welder, item 12 because of his role in planning. Cllr Radley declared NPI item 5 20/01647/FUL as a member of BDC ( and BDC is an interested party in Eastlight community homes). Cllr Hume declared NPI item 5 20/01647/FUL as a member of BDC (and BDC is an interested party in Eastlight community homes) , 20/01713/HH and 20/01714/LBC, as agent is known, item 7b NPI as a member of CSGMC, item 7d NPI as partner is a volunteer at Halstead Foodbank. Cllr  Warren declared NPI items.7b and 7b(a) as a member of CSGMC. Cllr Claydon declared NPI items.7b and 7b(a) as a member of CSGMC. Cllr Dingle declared NPI item 5 20/01647/FUL as her niece lives in her old house in Cherry Tree Close.

148.  PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

Cllr Warren asked the following question as a member of the public in Public Question Time:

I have been approached by a member of the public who is also involved with Halstead in Bloom.  Carol Critchley has asked me to ask if there is anything we can do as a council to get the owner of Townsford Mill to make good the exterior?  The Mill represents the Town’s heritage and is a listed building.  It is being allowed to fall into a state of disrepair and is beginning to look very bad.  As it is an important landmark for the Town, and a historic building, it deserves to be maintained.   Also when the pandemic has passed and we want to encourage visitors to the Town, the Mill will provide an important focus point.  

Carol has already contacted ECC and they have replied, stating a procedure which can be followed to try and get a listed building maintained.  

Cllr Warren proposed that HTC inform BDC planning enforcement of this issue, and state that they have the support of the 4 BDC councillors in this matter. This was seconded by Cllr Claydon and unanimously agreed.

149.  MINUTES – To approve the minutes of the Town Council Meeting held on 12 October 2020,.  Minutes had been circulated and proposal to adopt minutes was put forward by Cllr Radley, seconded by Cllr  Warren and agreed with 8 in favour and 3 abstentions.

150.  PLANNING  COMMITTEE

Cllr Hume took the Chair for this part of the meeting, as Chair of planning. Cllr Munday left the meeting.

20/01625/ELD – 25 Oak Road, Halstead, CO9 1LS – Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use – Loft conversion with a rear dormer with a new staircase access to the loft.
Cllr Gronland proposed no objection, seconded by Cllr Atkinson, and agreed unanimously.

20/01633/HH – 34 Conies Road, Halstead, CO9 1BB – Retrospective application to change garage roof to mono pitch roof.
Cllr Caulfield proposed no objection, seconded by Cllr Gronland and agreed unanimously.

20/01647/FUL – Land East of, Cherry Tree Close, Halstead – Erection of 22 No. Dwellings and the construction of access road and 50 car spaces
Cllr Gronland proposed objection to this application on grounds of overdevelopment, insufficient parking, the width of the road, potential danger to residents from large construction traffic. The demands on the town’s infrastructure and parking have increased since this was first brought to Council, and in the intervening period  the road has become busier. This proposal was seconded by Cllr Caulfield, with 9 in favour and 1 abstention.

20/01713/HH & 20/01714/LBC – 17 Head Street, Halstead, Essex – Replacement of rear roof sheeting (plastic) and failing structural timbers and replacement with oak truss feature and tiles finish to match existing rear of the property.
Cllr Dingle proposed no objection, seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

20/01781/DAC & 18/01112/LBC – 59-61 High Street, Halstead, Essex – Application for approval of details as reserved by condition 4 of approved application 18/01112/LBC.
Cllr Pell proposed no objection to this application, seconded by Cllr Warren and unanimously agreed.

b) Review of Scheme of Delegation and Proposals for member engagement
Cllr Fincken stated that he was very concerned at what appeared to be an undemocratic change in the way planning is handled at the town and parish council level. Under the suggested scheme, the Town Council would have fewer opportunities to influence decisions, and a lot would be done in secret with the Chair and Vicechair of planning, who would have too much power. The public would also be excluded from decision-making. Cllr Pell agreed and said that there was a danger in thinking that planning matters should be talked through with developers. Cllr Caulfield pointed out that although this was said to be only for developments of up to 9 houses, a lot of developments of 9 houses would be able to go through on the nod without consultation. Cllr Warren also saw the scheme as an erosion of democracy. Cllr Radley said that even now only 8% of planning goes through committee, so this percentage would be even further reduced by the suggested scheme. Councillors emphasised the need for Town councillors to go to District planning meetings in order to defend the opinions expressed at Town Council. They requested that HTC be given more notice of planning meetings. Cllr Hume said that the scheme would remove any role which HTC currently holds in planning, and that HTC should object on grounds of loss of democracy.

Cllr Radley took back the Chair of the meeting, and Cllr Munday returned to the meeting.  

151.  MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS

Cllr Pell made a statement on the death of Mike Hawes, Clerk to HTC 1988 – 1996. He had been a kind and likeable man who had served the town well. Cllr Pell had been invited to the funeral. It was agreed that the Town Clerk would prepare a letter to the family for the Chairman to sign.

Cllr Radley reported that he had attended the Remembrance Sunday minimal event and laid a wreath in the Public Gardens, while Cllr Gronland had done the same at the war memorial at St Andrews church. A closed event lights switch on is planned for 28 November in the Public Gardens. He had also received an invitation to an online awards evening at Ramsey Academy, which he will attend.

Cllr Radley handed the chair to Cllr Claydon

152.  FINANCE COMMITTEE. Cllr Claydon took the chair as Chair of Finance.

a) To approve the Monthly finance report
It was agreed that HTC is currently doing well in managing the loss of income by taking extreme care with expenditure. Care must now be taken to ensure that any further losses are managed prudently to avoid a larger shortfall by the end of the year.
Cllr Warren proposed acceptance of the report. This was seconded by Cllr Hume and agreed unanimously.

b) To approve the List of payments
Cllr  Caulfield proposed approval of the List of payments. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

c) To approve the Bank Reconciliation
Delegated authority was given to Cllr Claydon and the Town Clerk to manage the bank accounts and savings to ensure that HTC doesn’t exceed the FSCS for one bank.
Cllr Warren proposed approval of Bank reconciliation, subject to a correction in the Barclays current account Sage balance. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

d) To consider a proposal by the Chairman to donate £1000 to his chosen charity, the Foodbank
Cllr Radley explained that he found himself in a very unusual and unprecedented situation where he was unable probably for the rest of this year as Mayor to raise any funds through civic events. He proposed to make this payment before the end of the calendar year.  In the 2019/20 year £1500 had been spent on civic receptions associated with those fundraising events and this year it will be zero.
Cllr  Fincken proposed that £1000 should be paid from the Civic budget to the Foodbank, seconded by Cllr Pell with 10 in favour and 1 against.

Cllr Munday said that he would like to present the cheque for the £2490 raised during his year as Mayor to the Day Care Centre. It was pointed out that such a presentation could not be made during the pandemic, but that the funds could be transferred to the Day Care Centre’s account immediately and a presentation done at a later date.

Cllr Claydon proposed, seconded by Cllr Munday that the monies be transferred immediately, and that Cllr Munday would have a photo opportunity with an oversized cheque in due course.

e) To approve the cancellation of rent for the Empire Theatre for November 2020.
Cllr  Gronland proposed a further rent holiday for November for the Empire. This was seconded by Cllr Dingle and agreed unanimously

Cllr Claydon handed the Chair back to Cllr Radley.

Cllr Warren commented that it was very difficult for Cllr Claydon to conduct the Finance Committee meeting without being able to see all councillors on screen. It was agreed that he could borrow the HTC laptop once a month for that purpose.

153.  COMMUNITY HALL. 

Cllr Pell proposed and Cllr Radley seconded that this item be deferred to the private session. This was unanimously agreed.

154.  DISTRICT  COUNCILLORS.

Cllr Pell reported that she had continued to attend weekly Leaders’ meetings, and Cabinet, and a meeting on Horizon120. She had also attended a member development session, and the community development group. and a session on Agile working in a Covid world. She had laid a wreath in the Public Gardens as a past chairman of BDC. She had given her BDC Councillor’s grant to the Salvation Army to help them to supply Christmas meals to those in need. She had also raised £2750 from charitable donations towards this cause. She is part of a team working on a mental health pack for Councillors.

Cllr Hume reported that he had attended member development, and Corporate governance meetings, and had laid a wreath at the War memorial for BDC. He joined BDC councillors to discuss plans for Halstead town centre. He would be attending the meeting on 12 November to discuss the constitution and the delegation scheme.       

Cllr Radley reported that he had attended a Developing Democracy group meeting, and the member development session. He would be attending the Town Centre regeneration meeting on 10 November, and would chair his first meeting in his new role on the Performance Management Board on 18 November at BDC.

Cllr Munday had sent a written report.

Reports were noted

155.  To receive reports from Champions

Police
Cllr Warren reported that, following requests from residents, and backed by the police, the police champions were looking into restarting a speedwatch scheme in Halstead. An administrator had already come forward to help, and others are interested in volunteering to help, although there is currently a training backlog so HTC could not start this until 2021.

Cllr Munday reported that the speedwatch signs, some hi-vis jackets and the gun are stored at his house, and are still current technology, although the gun would have to be recalibrated.

Cllr Warren proposed that the project of restarting the speedwatch scheme should go forward as a budget recommendation, including the current estimate of the cost of the equipment. It would come back to council for approval if the money were needed to be spent later. Cllr Gronland seconded this proposal, and it was unanimously agreed.

Surgery
Cllr Gronland had contacted Kerry Harding, Director of Estates for mid and South Essex CCG. The surgery has submitted an “expression of interest” application and is expected to work with the CCG on increasing clinical room capacity at the surgery

Open spaces and environment
Cllr Fincken reported that the Environment Agency had carried out good improvements to the river beside the Causeway. It was requested that the Town Clerk should write to the River improvement group to thank them for their hard work and persistence with the Environment Agency, and to Guy Cooper at the Environment Agency, who had made things happen, in spite of there being no budget for the improvement of the river.

Education champions reported that they had held conversations with schools, who said that they were coping as long as no further responsibilities were put upon them.

Tourism
Cllr Pell reported that nothing can be done currently on the tourism front.

Champions reports were noted

156.  FOOTBRIDGE UPDATE.

Cllr Munday had provided a comprehensive report on progress in the repairs to the Riverside bridge. It was recognised that good progress is being made. Cllr Caulfield said that Cllr Munday and the team should be thanked for their good work on the bridge.

The report was noted.

Cllr Munday left the meeting.

157.  TO DEBATE HTC’S CONCERNS WITH THE OVERALL IMPACT OF EXCESSIVE HOUSING GROWTH UPON THE TOWN’S INFRASTRUCTURE

A report had been prepared by Cllrs Atkinson and Gronland. Cllr Gronland is seeking a stronger position for HTC in the face of planning applications, and Cllr Atkinson is concerned to protect Open Spaces. They had consulted with Jan Stobart for more information on Neighbourhood plans, as things have changed considerably since earlier discussions with Hatfield Peverel and Great Dunmow. Jan Stobart reported that preparing a Neighbourhood Plan is now easier, and that grants of up to £27,000 and technical data packs are now available. Cllr Atkinson stated that she understands that this is a massive task, but she is prepared to take the lead.

Cllr Claydon proposed the extension of Standing Orders until close of business, seconded by Cllr Radley and unanimously agreed.

Cllr Fincken said that the situation has changed since HTC decided not to pursue a Neighbourhood Plan further in autumn 2019. The plans recently to take local councils out of planning decisions need to be fought with every weapon in the armoury. Cllr Warren said he was also in support of the idea. Cllr Caulfield said that grants would not be given for this purpose if Neighbourhood plans were thought to be useless, and having one would at least allow HTC to control where development takes place. Cllr Hume said that he felt that further investigation was necessary. Cllr Radley said that HTC’s concerns are mainly around the infrastructure – highways, schools and the surgery. The Neighbourhood plan would not solve these problems, nor would it stop speculative development. Most councils have had to engage paid people to do the work. He suggested that more groundwork was necessary and that those championing the idea should bring it to the budget review for consideration.

Cllr Fincken proposed that more research should be done to establish the costs, and a proposal should be submitted for debate at the budget seminar. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland. 9 voted in favour with 1 abstention.

158.  TO PROPOSE A REGULAR NEWSLETTER PRODUCED BY THE COUNCIL FOR THE COMMUNITY

The idea for a newsletter had also been put forward by St Andrews church, and they should be included in the production of the newsletter.

Cllr Gronland proposed that HTC should produce a quarterly newsletter, seconded by Cllr Claydon, and agreed unanimously

159.  TO CONSIDER WHAT ROLE HTC SHOULD PLAY IN RESPONSE TO RESIDENTS’ REQUESTS ON PARKING ISSUES

Cllr Gronland and the Town Clerk had been inundated with complaints about parking around Halstead.

Cllr Gronland proposed that HTC takes on an advisory role using its recently gained knowledge from NEPP to advise and signpost residents in how they can apply for parking restrictions and manage parking issues. The Town Clerk will do further research to prepare a detailed document to provide information for residents on action to be taken in relation to different parking needs. This was seconded by Cllr Claydon, and agreed unanimously.

Cllr Dingle left the meeting as she had no power left.

160.  TO NOTE MINUTES OF EVENTS WORKING GROUP MEETING HELD ON 28 OCTOBER 2020

Cllr Pell   proposed, seconded by Cllr Claydon that the Events working group minutes be noted, and this was unanimously agreed.

161.  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”.

The exclusion of the public and the press was proposed by Cllr Radley and seconded by Cllr Fincken, and unanimously agreed.

Cllr Atkinson left the meeting as she was feeling unwell.

PRIVATE SESSION

162.  HALSTEAD COMMUNITY CENTRE PROJECT

An update was made on the Halstead Community Centre.

163.  STAFF MATTER

A staff matter was discussed.

There was no further business.  Meeting closed at 22.17

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