Full Council Meeting Minutes 18th December 2017

18th December 2017



18th December 2017
Held at
Queen’s Hall, Chipping Hill, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 2BY



Councillor Mrs S Diver Chairman   Present
Councillor Mr Andy Munday Vice Chairman Present
Councillor Mrs J Allen   Present
Councillor Mrs S Dingle   Present
Councillor C Fox   Present
Councillor D Gronland   Present
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 Ian Tinton;  Mr and Mrs P Henerley; Mr and Mrs D Malley;

                                           Mrs T Ward; Mr Lister; Mr and Mrs G Willis; Mr Richard

                                           Hartwell; Ms A Jay; Mr H. Kulhman; Mr M Fincken; Ms H Rose;

                                           Dr. Kreis-Alsayed; Mr and Mrs Root.

                                           Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)

                                           Julia Smith (Minute Clerk)                                         

386.. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE. All Councillors present. No absence apologies

387. DECLARATION OF INTERESTS: Cllr Mrs J Pell Declared NPI for Agenda item 3b as speaker lives next door to a close relative.  Also NPI for Agenda item 8 as member of H4C Committee.  Cllr Mrs Allen Declared NPI for Agenda item 7e as member of Braintree DC. Cllr Radley Declared PI at Agenda item 7b as recipient of payment listed.

Cllr Mrs Pell asked for vote on proposal that items 3b and 3c be taken before item 3a to allow for public to ask questions. Proposal was seconded by Cllr Gronland and carried by unanimous vote. 


Item 3b. Presentation by Dr. Kreis-Alsayad and Mr Hartwell regarding Halstead Doctor’s Surgery.  Dr Kreis thanked Council for allowing time for explanations about the problems currently being faced and noted that with three major developments planned for the Town the Surgery would be under increasing pressure with workforce numbers and also with space to house additional practice rooms. She noted that the Surgery building has two floors with the upper floor housing admin at present.  It would be possible to make additional consultation rooms on the upper floor if a lift could be installed but that this was not within financial budget for the time being.   Dr Kreis noted that current lease has 6/7 years to run so decisions on alterations to the building would need a further lease to be negotiated and Partners were not prepared to take this step if building would not be fit for purpose in future.  The Partners are aware of some Section 106 money identified for the surgery but said that this money would not be made available as a loan by NHS England/Clinical Commissioning Group until it had been paid.  A Business Loan could be sought, but was unlikely to be successful until the lease could be secured – a ‘catch 22’ situation.  Dr Kreis noted that Halstead was one of the largest surgeries in Essex, and in answer to a question by Mr Root said that many other towns had difficulties.  Mr Root asked if the Walk-In Centre in Colchester was due for closure, and was told that it will close, and this will inevitably put extra pressure on GPs in Halstead.  Mrs Tracy Ward asked about the Section 106 money and was told that £200,000 was identified for the Surgery but that there was a time line for release of this cash which was paid to NHS England/CCG.  Mrs Ward said that NHS England must be accountable for the overload at the Surgery and asked Dr. Kreis how the workforce would be managed.  Dr Kreis, in reply, said the Practice was certain that more staff could be engaged if the room was available for additional work spaces.  Mr Malley noted that it was not always easy to recruit staff in Essex for various reasons, but asked if the Practice could support additional finance if more staff were engaged.  It was said that with additional patients expected there would be sufficient funds for more staff.  Cllr Mrs Pell spoke as Chairman of Halstead Hospital League of Friends and said that there may be funding available for building alterations from Colchester Catalysts and said she would pass on details.  Cllr Mrs Pell agreed that there are difficulties with release of cash by NHS England and that the Secretary of State for Health had been contacted on this matter.  Cllr Mrs Pell pointed out that the new Community Hub planned for Halstead might offer solutions to space for some clinics.  In answer to questions from Cllr Mrs Julia Allen, Dr.Kreis said that there is now a wide range of clinical skills at the Surgery and as a training practice it is often possible to recruit GPs who have trained at the  Halstead surgery.  She felt that adding an additional 6/8 rooms at the Surgery would give future proofing of 10/15 years. Cllr Mrs Diver asked what can be done about non-attendance for appointments and was told that hopefully this had been addressed with the new triage system for appointment booking.  Dr. Kreis and Mr Hartwell were thanked for their presentation and were assured of Council support for their plans to get additional funding.

Item 3c.  Presentation by Sue Hughes, District Youth and Community Commissioner.

Ms Hughes gave an update on Youth Services for the Town and said that, due to lack of attendance at Thursday youth group at the Resource Centre young people had been asked for their views and there was now a Youth Group meeting on Monday evenings, 7pm-9pm at Halstead Resource Centre.  The Youth Bus came to Halstead, Butler Road Car Park, each Friday evening from 7pm-10pm and there was also a Revolution Group meeting at the Resource Centre on Wednesday evenings with 9 volunteers attending. It was said that there is good attendance at all these meetings. An attempt had been made to resurrect the Youth Council but young people had said that a Youth Forum would be more appropriate.  It was hoped to engage youth via social media and a meeting will be held on 8th January to take this further. It was said that young people are working to redecorate rooms at the Resource Centre and are taking ownership of the facilities provided.  Volunteers to assist will be welcomed, and support from Halstead TC will be appreciated.

Cllr Mrs Pell proposed that meeting should now revert to session.  Motion seconded by Cllr Munday and carried by unanimous vote.

item 3a. Public Question Time.  Mr Lister noted a large hole in footpath that has been reported but has not yet been repaired; he felt that there could be a serious accident here.  Mr Lister also asked about the River Colne and was assured that Council is putting as much pressure on Environment Agency as possible and have asked the MP for Halstead, Mr James Cleverley to get involved.  Mr Lister said that the Essex Wildlife Trust will appoint a Monitor as it was felt that lack of maintenance on Essex rivers could lead to harm for people and for wild life. Cllr Mrs Diver asked that this Monitor liaise with Halstead TC on this matter.

Mrs Henerley said that lighting in Dooley Road was not working and it was felt that this was dangerous due to terrain and the age of residents.  It was noted that these lights were the responsibility of Greenfields PH and faults had been reported.  Mr Henerley asked if Halstead TC could engage an electrician to effect repairs and charge Greenfields but was told that this is not possible.  It was said that Halstead TC will be putting pressure on Greenfields to effect repairs as soon as possible. 

Mr Tinton spoke about the poor street lighting within the Town and asked if lux levels could be improved.

Mr Henerley asked if Halstead TC could give a vote of thanks to the lady who had set up a rail for donations of clothing to the needy, he felt this was a public spirited act and should be commended.  He was assured that Town Council gives full support for this action.

389. MINUTES  To approve the minutes of the meeting on 13th November 2017 and the Extraordinary meeting held on 4th December 2017.   Minutes had been circulated and minutes of 13th November were adopted with 3 abstentions.  Cllr Mrs Pell noted amendment to plans on minutes of 4th December and these amendments had been circulated. Proposal of amended minutes was put forward by Cllr Mrs Pell and seconded by Cllr Munday.  Minutes adopted with 1 abstention.

390. PLANNING APPLICATIONS There were no applications to discuss.  Cllr Hume thanked Cllr Mrs Pell and all Councillors for their work on planning applications in his recent absences.

Cllr Mrs Diver noted a busy round of appointments and attendance at a tea dance on 14 December was added to the diary list.  Report was noted.

392.  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 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. In view of the money in hand Cllr Radley proposed that the work to convert the previous disabled toilet at Queen’s Hall for use by staff, which would cost about £800.00 should be brought forward into this financial year. After discussion, Cllr Radley’s proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday and carried by unanimous vote.

Cllr Radley noted the spend on Christmas lights (£5000.00) and said that more would be planned for Christmas 2018; he was asked if thought could be given to lights in churchyards and group were asked to consider and make recommendations; it was noted that new lighting has been purchased and not leased.  Cllr Mrs Sutton noted that Halstead Gazette had reported sale of the former Public Toilets in Chapel St. Car Park at £60,000 which was not the case; Clerk was asked to write and complain as this was misleading to the Public.  Cllr Mrs Diver proposed this action which was seconded by Cllr Munday and adopted by unanimous vote.   Cllr Radley that there were still some renovation work outstanding at Queen’s Hall, namely fire doors to be fitted.

7b. & 7b(a) Payments to be approved.  Cllr Gronland conducted discussion and answered Cllr Dingle’s query about payment to St. John’s Ambulance.  It was said that Council will pay and re-charge the Courier Group.  The fine for using ‘bus lane in Colchester was queried and it was said that this was Council van on Council business.  Discussion took place on who should pay and, as there is no policy in place for payment of fines by employees it was decided that Council will pay the £30 fine on this occasion.  Cllr Munday proposed that Town Clerk be asked to write a policy on payment of fines for infringements by employees and bring to subsequent meeting.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Dingle and carried by unanimous vote.  The cost of Mayor’s reception following Torchlight Procession was queried and was said to be less than previous year with little wastage.  Cllr Warren asked why two payments for Christmas lights had been listed.  It was said that payment to Halstead Electrical Wholesale was for purchase of lights and payment to Halstead Auto Electrical was 50% of cost of contracted price and included purchase of bulbs and making of brackets for lights.   Cllr Gronland proposed acceptance of these reports. This proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Diver and carried with 2 abstentions.

7c. Summary of developer contributions under section 106 Cllr Radley gave an update on outstanding monies and said that contributions for permissions at Sudbury Road had now been agreed and signed off and were in line with what had been requested.  It was said that S106 money could not be reallocated by Council and that all sums were listed on Braintree DC web site. Verbal report was noted.

7d.  Braintree DC Budget Meeting.  A verbal report was given and it was noted that extra car parking charges for Braintree had been agreed as was an additional amount for Council Tax.  An amount of pass back to Local Council’s had been agreed and it was said that Halstead will receive £2841.  The Localism Grant will be reduced by 50% and £7000 will be awarded.  Money for the Community Centre was set aside and would be carried forward..

7e Portway Bridge.  Town Clerk noted that this refers to the Footbridge which has been wrongly called Portway Bridge.  The name for this bridge was decided as Footbridge by Riverside Court although it was suggested that the Crown Estate documents should be consulted.  Essex CC have now estimated cost of repair at £55,000 but have indicated that they will not take ownership.  Braintree DC have also declined to take ownership but it has been offered to Halstead TC at a cost of £1.  It was said that the main issue is how to fund the repair costs.  It was questioned whether this would be a capital cost and Cllr Radley said that Halstead TC cannot take on responsibility for expenditure, but that if repairs were effected to the correct standard by Essex CC then further discussions on ownership could take place.  It was said that Sainsbury’s had said again that they might want to get involved with payment for repairs and it was also said that grants might be available.  Cllr Munday noted that the estimate of £55K included a cost of £8000 to eradicate the infestation of Japanese Knotweed which was on land owned by Greenfields PH who will take responsibility.  Cllr Munday felt that this expenditure should be put on an Open Space Action Plan so that in future Section 106 money might be allocated.  Cllr Radley noted that the revised estimate for repairs was given by Engineers from Essex CC and that the original estimate was for dismantling of the bridge.  Ongoing maintenance costs were discussed but it was said that the work identified, if carried out, would give a 15 year repair free period with painting required every 5 years.  Cllr Mrs Sutton felt that Council was being forced into ownership, with no money but Cllr Mrs Diver said that ‘repair money’ could be accrued as is the case with repairs to other town assets, such as the Empire Theatre.  Cllr Mrs Allen said that the bridge is a valued amenity for the Town’s residents and that taking ownership would move the re-opening of this amenity forward.  Cllr Radley counselled that taking on ownership would mean taking on the debt with the way forward unclear and Cllr Mrs Pell said that local rights must be clear if crossing private land.  Cllr Warren proposed that Council agree in principle to take ownership of the bridge but only when a clear funding plan is established for the repair.  Cllr Munday agreed but said that there should be an amendment to proposal that this bridge be put in Open Spaces Action Plan re. Section 106 payments and with this amendment seconded the proposal.  Vote was taken with 9 votes for and 3 abstentions.  Motion carried.

Cllr Mrs Diver resumed Chair of the meeting

393.  COMMUNITY  HALL REPORT Cllr Mrs Pell said that a meeting had been arranged with Essex CC in the new year to discuss way forward. Report was noted.

394.  YOUTH REPORT Cllr Mrs Penn noted that the project at Resource Centre was moving forward. A further meeting to take place on 8/1/2018 to discuss youth strategy. Report noted.

395.  DISTRICT  COUNCILLORS’  REPORT.  Cllr Mrs Pell had lodged a report but some amendments were made as bad weather had made attendance impossible.  Cllr Hume asked if District Review had taken place and was told that this will happen at a later date. Cllr Mrs Allen had also submitted her own report.  Report was noted.

394  SUGGESTED  MEETING  DATES  2018/19  a report had been circulated with amended dates.  Annual Town Meeting now proposed for 29th April, but Cllr Mrs Pell said this was still rather close to date of election and feared non-attendance by County and District Councillors.  15th April was proposed as a more suitable date.  A revised schedule will be submitted.  Report was noted by unanimous vote.

 395.  BECOMING  A  QUALITY  COUNCIL. Cllr Mrs Pell said that in her time as Chair of Braintree DC several of these Awards had been given, but felt that there would be a cost involved for production of Newsletters, etc. Cllr Munday proposed that the Council becomes part of the Local Award Scheme starting at Foundation Level.  This proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Penn and carried unanimously.

396.  TOWN PLAN UPDATE.  Cllr Mrs Diver said that the survey had been completed a long time ago and now needs the assistance of all Councillors to assimilate results and consider what actions need to be put into place to fulfil residents’ hopes.  All results have been analysed and the next step is a draft town plan to present to residents.  Gt. Saling’s plan was held as an example and it was felt that prices for print should be obtained.  Cllr Gronland felt that a ‘Plan’ couldn’t be made, but that a presentation of results of survey should be made.  Cllr Diver felt that all Councillors now need to look at the answers received and, by group email, formulate a plan to get the process moving.  Cllr Radley felt that an Action Plan should be drawn up which Council will present and then drive forward.  Cllr Gronland noted that Colchester Institute had agreed to work on graphics for any presentation.  Councillors Noted and Accepted the Report.

Cllr Mrs Diver moved that standing orders be extended for 45 minutes.  Cllr Munday seconded this motion and it was carried with 2 abstentions

397.  A TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR HTC.  Cllr Munday said that he asked for this Agenda item as he felt that Halstead TC should engage with the digital society.  Discussions took place about the merits of Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc.and Cllrs Fox and Warren both noted that considerable administrative time would be needed to run any social media account. Cllr Munday said he felt that Halstead TC does not promote itself in the public domain and that the web site doesn’t engage sufficiently with the public.  After considerable discussion it was put to vote.  Cllr Mrs Diver proposed that a FaceBook account for Halstead Town Council be opened.  Cllr Radley felt that staff should be consulted and the proposal was amended to be that Council agrees in principle to a FaceBook account for Halstead TC but that staff should be asked to evaluate and report back.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Mrs Dingle and carried by unanimous vote.

398. LETTERS  TO  THE  ROYAL  FAMILY.  Report was before Council regarding cessation of Halstead TC writing letters to the Royal Family on significant occasions.  Town Clerk said that this practice was felt to be a waste of resources.  Cllr Hume said that in his time as Chair of Council only a few letters and therefore minimal time had been utilised on sending letters to the Royal Family, he felt that it would be a shame to discontinue this practice.  Cllr Mrs Pell said that Town Council is a branch of local government and that it would be disrespectful not to acknowledge significant royal occasions on behalf of Halstead residents.  Cllr Warren felt that it would be churlish not to send letters to mark special events. Cllr Mrs Diver proposed that Halstead Town Council is in favour of sending letters to the Royal Family to mark significant events.  Proposal was unanimously adopted.                                                                                 

399.  NAMING  OF  SITE OFF RONALD  ROAD.  Discussions took place about naming this small development and as houses have been built by Greenfields PH.  Cllr Mrs Pell proposed Greenfields Close as a suitable name.  This proposal was unanimously carried.

400.  MODULAR  STAGE FOR QUEEN’S HALL.  It was noted that Essex CC has granted £1700 towards provision of stage in Queen’s Hall.  Quotes had been sought and discussions took place about the size of stages on the various options put before Council.  Cllr Warren proposed that the Modular Stage System 2nd Quote for 24 units in 6 x 4 formation 358mm high with transformer trolleys be accepted.  Motion was seconded by Cllr Dingle and carried by unanimous vote.

401.  POLICE  PRESENCE  IN  HALSTEAD.  It had been noted in the local press that Witham TC had recently decided to invest in 5 police specials to help with crime situation in that town but investigation showed that these specials would not work exclusively in Witham but could be called away to wherever they were needed.  It was noted Essex Police has said that number of Special Officers will be doubled by December 2019 and after investigation is was ascertained that it would cost the town £1000 per annum for each special required.  There was no guarantee that the investment would help as specials could be moved around as needed.  Cllr Munday proposed that a working group be appointed to explore the possibility of recruiting some specials to work for Halstead and this was seconded by Cllr Fox.  Motion was carried by unanimous vote.

402.  EVENTS  LEAFLET.  Proofs of the proposed leaflet were shown and comments were made about commercial advertising of events, particularly of the Empire Theatre.  It was also said that the colour was too dark and type font too small.  Costings were considered reasonable.  Cllr Munday proposed that with discussed amendments the leaflet should be printed.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Mrs Diver and carried by unanimous vote.

403.  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’

404.  ACOUSTICS  IN  QUEEN’S  HALL.  Some complaints had been received from users of the Hall about echo and poor acoustics.  To counter this Clerk had explored the possibility of acoustic panels that can be fixed to walls.  Discussion about quotes took place; Cllr Mrs Sutton asked if the panels can be cleaned and this was not known.  After report was written a quote from Eco Sorba Ltd had been received at £2972.06 plus VAT.  Cllr Mrs Diver proposed acceptance of this quote, but to ask how panels can be cleaned.  Cllr Radley was concerned about these panels can be funded, Chair said that this would be delegated to the Finance Group.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Fox and carried by unanimous vote.

405. LOCAL  BUSINESS  ENQUIRY.  Report was before Council regarding the Carwash business at Empire Theatre.  A change of lessee is requested and also an interest has been expressed in purchase of the land which has been valued at £65,000.  Discussion took place and it was said that any change to lease must be at lessee cost.  Cllr Gronland proposed that lessee be advised that change could be made at their cost but that land is not for sale at this time.  Proposal was seconded by Cllr Munday and adopted by unanimous vote.

406.  STAFF  REVIEW  GROUP.  It was proposed by Cllr Mrs Diver and seconded by Cllr Munday that Council confirms the 2 decisions made at the Staff Review Group meeting on 11 December.

The proposal put forward by Cllr Hume was not agreed.

There being no other business meeting was closed at 10.30 pm.