Minutes of Town Council Meeting 15 February 2021

23rd February 2021

HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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DRAFT MINUTES OF TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Monday 15 February 2021  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   Apologies
Councillor M Fincken   Present
Councillor D Hume   Present
Councillor A Munday   Present
Councillor Mrs J A Pell   Present
Councillor Miss L Smith   Present
Councillor G Warren   Present

Also in attendance: Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)                             

209.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE  Cllr Dingle sent her apologies, as she was unwell.

Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of these apologies, seconded by Cllr Warren and unanimously agreed.

210.  DECLARATION OF INTERESTS:  Cllr  Pell  declared NPI 19/00493/OUT (AM) as agent is known to her,  20/01381/HH (Revised) as in her road,  21/00235/HH as agent is known to her, 20/02238/REM as she had been contacted by a resident in her ward,7a as a member of CSGMC, and 7d as contractor is known to her. Cllr Munday declared NPI  item 5, as he is a member of BDC planning committee. Cllr Gronland  declared NPI  20/02191/HH as agent is known to him.  Cllr Caulfield  declared NPI item 5 18/02313/OUT (Revised) – Land East of Sloe Hill, Halstead as coordinator of the Hands Off Chapel Hill and Sloe Hill campaign. Cllr Hume  declared NPI Item 5 20/02191/HH, 21/00235/HH, as agent is known to him, Item 7a, Item 7b as a member of CSGMC, item 18 as some residents are known to him, and item 20 as a member of BDC. Cllr Atkinson declared NPI 19/00493/OUT (AM), 18/02313/OUT (Revised) as a member of the 21st Century group (although these applications had not been discussed at 21st Century group) and item 18 as a member of 21st century group and Mary Atkinson is her sister. Cllr Claydon and Cllr Warren declared items 7a and 7b as a member of CSGMC.

211.  PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

Council registered receipt of a strong objection to the planning applications at Mount Hill and Bournebridge Hill from a resident Roger Warren, which it would take into account when discussing these applications.

212.  MINUTES To approve the minutes of the Town Council Meeting held on 11 January 2021, and to note the public session Minutes of the Staff Advisory Committee meeting of 26 January 2021..  Minutes had been circulated and proposal to adopt minutes of 11 January 2021 was put forward by Cllr Fincken, seconded by Cllr  Gronland. There were 7 in favour and 4 abstentions.

The Minutes of the public session of the Staff Advisory Committee of 26 January 2021 were noted.         

213.  PLANNING  APPLICATIONS

Cllr Hume took the Chair this part of the meeting. Cllr Munday left the meeting.

19/00493/OUT (AM) –  Land Off, Bournebridge Hill, Greenstead Green – Outline application for up to 200 residential dwellings (including 30% affordable housing), planting, landscaping, public open space and children’s play area and sustainable drainage system (SuDS). All matters reserved with the exception of access.

Councillors made very strong objections to this application for the following reasons. It was proposed by Cllr Radley and seconded by Cllr Gronland that the objections be compiled by the Town Clerk and the Chair and Vicechair of planning.

  • This application is within the boundary of Greenstead Green parish, who had already raised a strong objection.
  • Although the application is outside the Halstead boundary, it would have a huge impact on the infrastructure of Halstead, as residents had nowhere but Halstead to go to for schools, surgery and all other services
  • There is not enough parking included in the design of the estate
  • The revised drawings showing the link road were unclear and did not show the position of the roundabout
  • There was a road leading to nowhere which might be an indication of further development planned for a later date
  • For matters of road safety lights would be needed in relation to the roundabout, but were not mentioned, and such lighting would lead to light pollution in the open countryside
  • The traffic survey was done during lockdown
  • There is very poor visibility coming onto the A131 from Russells Road
  • There is concern about road safety if the amount of traffic increases. This is already an accident blackspot near Pennypots
  • If this application was passed it would present a real danger to the line of the future bypass
  • There is frequent flooding already onto the A131, and the effect of further building on open fields will be to increase flooding and will force the creation of deep open ditches, which are a danger to children.
  • The application showed no concern for the biodiversity of the area
  • There will be a severe visual impact on the open countryside, and the plans unacceptably extend the urbanisation of Halstead
  • This area was protected under the 2017 Local Plan

20/02191/HH – 9 Hedingham Road. Halstead, Essex – Erection of a garage and boundary wall.

Cllr Pell proposed no objection to this application, seconded by Cllr Atkinson, provided that the comments made by the Historic buildings inspector are borne in mind, and that the building is not used for domestic purposes. Doors should be of a type suitable to a garage, and not bifold. This was unanimously agreed.

20/01381/HH (Revised) – 46 Highfields, Halstead, Essex – Erection of single-storey garage attached to existing dwelling

Cllr Atkinson moved no objection to this application, seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

20/01170/FUL (Revised) – Parkfields Baptist Church, White Horse Avenue, Halstead, – Demolition of Baptist Church and construction of two pairs of semi-detached dwellings.

Cllr Hume moved an objection to this application on grounds of overdevelopment, seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed. Council objected in August 2020, and still objects: there are too many houses for the site, and access should be from the side road, it being too close to the junction on the main road.

Cllr Warren left the meeting.

20/02238/REM – Land West of Mount Hill, Halstead, Essex – Reserved matters (appearance and landscaping) pursuant to outline planning application ref 18/00774/OUT for the erection of 71 dwellings with associated garages garden curtilages, a Substainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS), public open space, hard and soft landscaping.

HTC objected to the original application in 2018, and this was also refused by BDC, but was allowed on appeal. HTC is therefore aware that it can comment only on the reserved matters at this point. Cllr Hume proposed that delegated authority be given to the Town Clerk and the Chair and Vice Chair of planning to compile the objections. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

Councillors made very strong objection for the following reasons:

        • The SUDs scheme is inadequate to cope with the existing runoff let alone what will be caused after the building
        • The flood water running off will damage the existing houses at Greenbanks and Monklands
        • The new houses will overlook Greenbanks
        • A meeting had been called with the residents but the developer called it off
        • The houses are to be built over a sewer, which is illegal
        • There is no screening between the houses on several plots
        • The materials and appearance of the new buildings are inappropriate when adjacent to the historic building at Blamsters Farm, as mentioned by the Historic Adviser
        • A more detailed landscape plan is needed to take into account the historic buildings report
        • These plans will destroy all existing trees and hedges whereas attempts should be made to preserve them
        • The planned ponds appear to be on the wrong side of the development
        • Ecology condition to be applied as per objection letter
        • Traffic incidents including fatal on the A131 since approval was given.  

        Cllr Warren returned to the meeting.

      21/00235/HH – 1 Tidings Hill, Halstead, CO9 1BW – Alterations to existing outbuilding in order to create annexe accommodation Cllr Pell proposed no objection, seconded by Cllr Caulfield and unanimously agreed.Cllr Caulfield left the meeting18/02313/OUT (Revised) – Land East of Sloe Hill, Halstead – Erection of nine dwellings and access

      Cllr Warren proposed a strong objection to this application, seconded by Cllr Pell and unanimously agreed, on the following grounds:

          • HTC objected to this development in June 2020 because of inadequate access and egress, on environmental grounds. The access has been revised but remains too close to the corner
          • The layout of housing is out of keeping with the linear development of previous building in the road
          • The site is outside the development boundary
          • There will be light pollution in the open countryside
          • There is a planned entrance to the nature reserve which suggests further development in future
          • There will be further flooding if trees are cut down to make way for the development.
          • Wildlife survey done while animals in hibernation
          • Licensed owl box adjacent to the site and a nesting pair have been spotted coming on to the land

          Cllr Munday and Cllr Caulfield returned to the meeting.  

          The Chairman thanked Cllrs Hume and Pell for their work on the lengthy and complex planning matters.

          214.  MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS

          Cllr Radley reported that he had been unable to attend any events due to the lockdown in place.

          215.  FINANCE Cllr Claydon chaired this part of the meeting

          a)  To receive the income and expenditure report for the month of January

          Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the income and expenditure report, seconded by Cllr Warren, and unanimously agreed.

          b)  To approve the List of payments to be made in February

          This was the first month when there would be no cheque payments. All suppliers would be paid by direct transfer.

          Cllr Radley proposed approval of the List of payments. This was seconded by Cllr Atkinson and unanimously agreed.

          c)  To approve the reconciliation of bank and petty cash accounts to 31 December 2020

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

          d)  To consider a request from the Christmas lights contractor to replace bulbs

          Because the Council does not wish to spend unnecessarily, it was though better to wait until later in the year.

          Cllr Radley proposed, seconded by Cllr Gronland, that the Town Clerk should discuss with the supplier how late in the year we could buy these bulbs.  There were 10 votes in favour and 1 abstention.

          e)  To consider the cost of sending deeds to Land Registry to prove ownership of Chapel Street carpark

          Cllr Warren proposed, seconded by Cllr Munday, that this payment should be approved. This was unanimously agreed.

          f)   To consider replacing the locks at Kings Road toilets

          Cllr Gronland proposed, seconded by Cllr Warren that approval, should be given to the replacement of the locks, subject to clarification of the maintenance and service costs.  This was unanimously agreed.

          g)  To note the application made for Community funding to the National Lottery Fund

          Councillors welcomed the initiative to seek funding from the National Lottery Fund for the replacement roof and for the heating and ventilation through a combined application with the Empire Trust.

          216.  To receive reports from District Councillors

          Cllr Munday reported that he had attended 2 planning meetings, and the Performance Management Board and would be attending Full Council on 22 February.

          Cllr Hume reported that he had also attended the Performance Management Board relating to the budget, and a Local Plan meeting, a Member development session, and would attend Full Council on 22 February. He had been asked to speak to HTC on his understanding of the Local Plan part 2 on 17 March. This part may go before the Inspector in July 2021.

          Cllr Pell reported that she had attended the Performance management board, Member development, and Leaders’ meetings. She will attend Full Council on 22 February. She stated that Elections for County Councillors and Police and Crime Commissioners will go ahead, but without canvassing.  She has attended 2 meetings of the cycling group. The Licensing group is considering new conditions for taxi drivers. Councillors’ community grants can be carried forward if not fully used in this financial year.

          Cllr Radley reported that he had chaired the Performance management board on 3rd February, where the request had been made to cabinet to freeze Council tax – this was subsequently agreed by cabinet on 8th February. The budget includes the Town Centre improvements for Halstead. He said that further Covid grants would be available in the coming financial year. He said that BDC would be setting aside £0.5 million to spend on action to counter climate change. He would also be attending a developing democracy meeting, and Full Council on 22 February.

          Reports were noted

          217.  To receive reports from Champions

          Police –  Cllr Warren reported that Halstead now has 2 specials with a third in training. He said that Sam Roberts has been attached to Braintree to sort out the speeding problems on Colchester Road,  He also mentioned a recent incident in the car park.

          Surgery – nothing to report due to current Covid-19 workload at Surgery

          Open spaces and environment – Cllr Fincken that he and Cllr Atkinson had attended a Climate Crisis conference put on by EALC, and were, with the Town Clerk, preparing a report on this for the March meeting. He also reported that they were still working with the EC2H cycle route group, and were trying to explore ways to get the cycle way into the town centre. Cllr Atkinson said that the River Group were hoping to start planting before the end of March.

          Education – nothing to report, but Cllr Hume reported that the Earls Colne Educational trust had donated £10k for purchasing and lending equipment for children to work from home, which had been used exclusively for primary age children.

          Tourism – Cllr Pell reported that there would be no May Day in 2021, but that a special anniversary for the Queen would be celebrated in 2022. Cllr Smith reported that there would be no Summer Fayre but that preparations were beginning for the Christmas Fayre planned for 27 November. Talks were continuing on the market.

          Champions’ reports were noted

          Cllr Radley proposed that Standing Orders should be extended until the end of business. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

          218.  FOOTBRIDGE  UPDATE.

          Cllr Munday reported that there had been a meeting of the Riverside Bridge working group, and that a way forward had been agreed with the Town Clerk. It had been decided that it would be better to get all the painting done before the bridge was opened. Town Clerk had been asked to seek 2 further quotes and to make sure that the bridge was insured.

          Cllr Pell proposed investigating funding options for painting the railings at the same time as the bridge. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

          219.  To consider the committee structure at Halstead Town Council

          Cllr Pell proposed that HTC agrees to retain Planning and Finance as part of the Full Council meeting, led by a Representative and Deputy Representative. They are not Committees of the Council. This was seconded by Cllr Hume, and it was agreed that this resolution would be implemented at the next Annual Town Council meeting.

          220.  To consider supporting the Holdfast Credit Union

          Cllr Pell proposed that HTC agrees to support the Holdfast Credit Union, to advertise its services, to provide a space for confidential meetings, and to sign up to the Loan Shark Charter. This was seconded by Cllr Fincken, and unanimously agreed.

          Town Clerk was asked to make a statement on our website, that HTC supports their work, without advertising them.

          221.  To consider using the General Power of Competence

          Cllr Pell proposed that HTC approves the use of the General Power of Competence to replace the powers used under S137, as it meets the criteria of having more than 2 thirds of elected councillors, and a qualified clerk. This was seconded by Cllr Atkinson, and unanimously agreed.

          222.  To review Risk management policy and internal control

          Cllr Radley proposed that HTC note the internal control report, seconded by Cllr Warren and unanimously agreed.

          Cllr Atkinson proposed that HTC approves the update to the Risk management policy, subject to the risk assessment for car park attendants, and the GDPR policy being reviewed at the next meeting. This was seconded by Cllr Munday and unanimously agreed.

          223.  To note the interim audit report

          Cllr Radley proposed that the excellent interim audit report be noted, seconded by Cllr Claydon and unanimously agreed.

          224.  To consider the letter from the newly re-formed Braintree District Association of Local Councils

          Cllr Fincken proposed that HTC endorses the proposal to revive BALC, seconded by Cllr Atkinson. There were 10 votes in favour and 1 against.

          225.  To consider a request from Congregation House to assist them with the installation of a light.

          Cllr Pell proposed that this was not an HTC matter and that the residents of Congregation House should be redirected to Essex Highways. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

          226.  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”.

          Exclusion was proposed by Cllr Radley and seconded by Cllr Pell, and agreed unanimously

          Private session

          227.  To note the Minutes of the Town Centre Public Realm improvement group

          The Minutes of the Town Centre Public Realm improvement group were noted.

          There was no further business.  Meeting closed at 22.22

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