Minutes of a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 16th September 2020 using the Zoom platform
Cllr A Barnes (Chairman), Cllrs D Brett, M Caton, J Harding, J Hudson, J Kavanagh, F Richards, T van de Bilt and D Wallace-Jarvis
ATTENDING Mrs Ruth Clifford – Clerk to the Council
Mrs Emma Philbrick – Admin Assistant
Mr Trevor Lloyd – Allotment Officer
1 member of the press
3 members of the public
374 TO RECEIVE APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – None
375 TO RECEIVE DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None
376 TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 19TH FEBRUARY 2020
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting held on 19th February 2020 as a true and accurate account.
377 MATTERS ARISING AND ACTION POINTS FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS
All action points are covered in the agenda apart from Gall End. Cllr Wallace-Jarvis and others had been working on ideas as to how this area could be best utilised for reforestation or other landscaping or social activities prior to putting any proposal to the land owners – Islington Borough Council. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions little progress had been made. Cllr Barnes asked if anyone had any free time could they possibly start looking into this project again.
378 TO WELCOME A YOUNG PARISHIONER TO TALK ABOUT PLAY EQUIPMENT
A 10 year old parishioner who lives on the Mountfitchet Estate had contacted the Council recently to complaint about the condition of some of the play equipment on Mountfitchet Green, the removal and non-replacement of a piece of play equipment and that there was not enough play equipment for the older children and wanted to discuss these issues with the Council. She had met on site with Cllr Caton who had suggested that she put her ideas to the committee. Consequently, both she and her mum joined the meeting and put forward the following ideas:
To make the park more fun for children of her age there needs to be more equipment designed for older children as nothing for children her age was currently in place. She would like to see picnic tables, football goalposts and a zip wire installed and also a flat roundabout for younger children. She commented on the need for more litter bins especially around the MUGA as teenagers leave their rubbish lying around in this area particularly. She also saw a need for more dog waste bins and for the grass to be cut more regularly. The grass grows quite long and people do not clear up after their dogs and you can’t see the waste until it’s too late she commented. In addition, the hedges around the Green need cutting back as this is dangerous for the children walking to and from the park as they negatively impacted sight lines.
Cllr Barnes thanked the young girl for her time and felt it was really positive for a young parishioner to be contacting the Council with ideas for improvements for the village.
He explained that unfortunately the Parish Council were only responsible for the fenced off play area and MUGA on the Green and that Uttlesford District Council were responsible for all other areas. The Clerk chases UDC regularly with regards to grass cutting and maintenance of the hedges and will continue to do so. The picnic tables, goalposts and zip wire would also have to be sited on UDC land so enquiries would be made as to whether they would permit this.
The Clerk is currently obtaining quotes for the back boards and nets in the MUGA and there are funds available in the budget for these. She will also be looking to the purchase of litter and dog waste bins and will ensure these are installed in their most useful places.
The Parish Council has previously asked UDC to transfer all of the land at Mountfitchet Green to SMPC, unfortunately, they have never been willing to do this. It was agreed that the Parish Council would try opening up the dialogue regarding this again.
The parishioners left the meeting and Cllr Caton advised that they had both previously offered to assist in fund raising towards improvements on the Green and this was welcomed by the committee.
The Clerk reported that there had been no issues reported but commented that there had been an ever increasing number of dumped disposable face masks seen around the village.
Cllr Kavanagh reported that she had spotted dumped garden waste in Water Lane. She had contacted Landpro, who are responsible for this area, as the waste could, potentially, be a health hazard. She had received a response from Landpro, however, no action had been taken to date. It was agreed that Cllr Kavanagh would forward the response to the Clerk who would report this to Uttlesford as fly tipping and attach a copy of the response for them to see.
380 FOOTPATHS – PERMISSIVE PATHS UPDATE
The Permissive Paths at Elms Farm were now open and are being well used. The Clerk had recently completed a site visit with the two Environmental Rangers to discuss the best places for bins to be located. The sites need to be accessible by the Rangers barrows as these can be quite heavy once full. A final decisions on bin locations will be made following further consultations and an order for the bins placed.
Cllr Wallace-Jarvis advised she had added the Permissive Paths to a map of PROW and would send this to the Clerk with areas marked on where she thinks the bins would be best situated having recently walked the area.
Cllr Barnes advised that, prior to lockdown, Cllr Brett had been involved in looking at the problem of overgrown and impassable footpaths around the village. The plan was to get a group of volunteers together and for the group to “fire-fight” these problem areas. It was felt that this approach was likely to be more productive than the PPP approach and should still be pursued, however more discussions on the terms of reference of the group are required.
It was agreed that a voluntary group would be established, independent of the Council, but would operate in a similar fashion to the Stansted Mountpickers litter collectors. Being independent the Paths Group could apply to the Council for a grant which, if successful, would be used to purchase the necessary equipment. Cllr Brett will draft a possible Terms of Reference document for circulation.
The Clerk suggested that Cllr Brett make a grant application to the F&GP committee by early next week as members would be considering distribution of the remainder of this year’s parish grant fund.
a) INTERMENTS AND MEMORIALS
The Clerk reported the Interments of:
The Clerk reported approvals of, or additional inscriptions on, memorials for:
b) EXTENSION UPDATE
Negotiations have been ongoing for the best part of a year and the Council has been offered a parcel of land by the Gemmill family. The Clerk had submitted a pre-application advice request before lockdown however, this was still with UDC as no response had been received. UDC are being chased for a response and the Clerk will report back when she has more information.
Cllr Barnes reported that, along with the Clerk, he had met up with Gary Neill of Daniel Robinsons & Sons Ltd (Funeral Directors) to discuss their offer to rabbit proof the St Mary’s cemetery. The offer letter had been circulated to council members. Daniel Robinson would pay for the existing Cemetery to be made be made rabbit-proof in honour of Bart Robinson and his wife who are buried in the cemetery. Over the years Bart and others had complained about rabbits eating the fresh flowers on graves and the company wanted to address this. The only cost to the Parish Council would be to arrange for the surrounding hedge to be cut back in preparation. The cost would be minimal as the hedge is already cut by our contractors, but it would need taking back further than usual. One aspect to consider would be the use of pest control measures as there are groups of rabbits already living within the cemetery area .
After discussion acceptance of the offer was proposed by Cllr Caton and seconded by Cllr Richards:
RESOLVED to accept the offer by Daniel Robinsons to make the existing Cemetery rabbit proof
Passed with 8 votes in favour and 1 abstention.
a) NEWMAN’S PLANTATION UPDATE
Due to Covid-19 delays the contractors had only managed to complete phases 1 and 2 of the work at Newman’s Plantation. The contractor have flagged 8 trees that they want to re-inspect once the Ivy has died off. The Clerk will follow up to get a confirmed date as to when the next phase will be completed. Cllr Brett reported that the work undertaken to date looked good and he had nothing further to add.
b) ESSEX FOREST INITIATIVE – TO CONSIDER ANY SITES FOR APPROPRIATE TREE PLANTING
ECC have a plan to plant 25,000 this year as part of their Forest initiative to plant 375,000 trees within the county over the next 5 years. Details of the initiative have been circulated with the agenda. The Clerk had spoken to the team at County Hall regarding this scheme and it had been confirmed that the Parish Council could specify what species they would like in any area and that the requested would be taken board and they would try to supply accordingly. Trees would be supplied during the 2021 planting season and that they would need to know Parish Council’s requirements by Summer 2021. After some discussion it was agreed to express an interest in the scheme and councils were encouraged to factor this offer into their areas of responsibility.
c) TREE MANAGEMENT POLICY
Cllr Brett had written a draft Tree Management policy which he had circulated to members for comment. It was confirmed that most people were in favour of taking the policy forward and a request for suggested amendments asked for. Cllr Brett will produce a final draft which will be circulated to the next Full Council meeting on 30th September 2020 for consideration and approval.
d) CONDITION SURVEY – TO CONSIDER UNDERTAKING IN 2021
The Clerk advised that the last survey had taken place 4 or 5 years ago. The survey is undertaken to assess the condition of all trees that the Parish Council is responsible for. The cost of the survey is expensive and she wanted to make members aware that this would need to take place again and that she would be obtaining quotes for this to be undertaken during 2021 and that the cost would need to be included in next year’s budget. It was pointed out that the scope of any tree survey could be reduced somewhat because of work already undertaken on certain areas e.g. Newman’s Plantation and by consultation with the SMPC Tree Warden.
a) ELMS FARM
A meeting had taken place with Cllr Caton, Cllr Barnes, The Clerk and the Elms Farm Allotment Association (EFAA). There had been a series of issues over the summer between the allotment holders and the Allotment Association. The Association didn’t see it as their role to deal with disputes and it was therefore agreed that the Parish Council would take on this role. The EFAA will continue in its original purpose of fund raising, cultivation support and social events. A summary of these changes in responsibility will be drafted and circulated to all allotment holders.
Cllr Caton advised that the Parish Council will, from now, play a more direct role in the monitoring of how the site is used and that there will be a closer alignment between the Council and the EFAA with all future official communications on non-EFAA matters coming directly from SMPC councillors or officers . Cllr Barnes is currently looking for a member of the Open Spaces Committee to be the Council’s link with the EFAA and to undertake plot inspections as required. It is essential to get this person in place without further delay and he would like to see councillors volunteer for this role.
The Parish Council will review the current tenancy agreements and Constitution of the EFAA in light of experience with the latter being circulated and put forward for adoption at the next EFAA AGM. Once finalised a summary of all the changes will be sent out to all allotment holders.
With regard to the public open space at Elms Farm, there had been no progress with Crest Nicholson on the required remedial work. A maintenance company are currently putting together a plan for this work which will be put forward to Crest Nicholson for action and financing.
Cllr Brett questioned if Uttlesford District Council would sign off on the POS without discussing with the Parish Council. The Clerk confirmed that in her experience they could. Cllr Caton asked that we pursue UDC on this point and get our District Councillors involved.
b) WALPOLE MEADOWS
Trevor Lloyd had been working with a number of people over the summer and some progress was starting to be made on the POS, allotments and play area. There are still issues with flooding even after French drains had been installed over the summer. The play equipment is now installed, however the exclusion safety taping around the play equipment had been removed although the Parish Council had
not received any official notification that this facility should be open. Emails had been sent to Emma Barry asking for confirmation but no reply had been received. Cllr Caton advised that she would ask District Cllr Caton to chase Emma Barry as to the status of this area and if ROSPA checks have been carried out yet.
The allotment fencing is now complete and the access paths are in although we are still awaiting a second access gate to go in. Emma Barry had been chased to determine when the allotments will be marked out and who is responsible for this work. No response has been received. (Post Meeting Note: We have been told that Emma Barry is on extended leave and that her responsibilities have been taken on by Nigel Brown)
The Parish Council had requested that standpipes be installed on the allotments for the supply of water and that four had been provided. However, these taps are “live” and without a locked facility these taps could be misused. It was agreed to ask for the water supply to be better controlled as any misuse would be both wasteful and expensive.
384 STANSTED IN BLOOM/ANGLIA IN BLOOM
Trevor Lloyd reported that even with the early doubts about whether the event would take place due to Covid-19 the 2020 Stansted In Bloom event had been a success. There had been 8 entries to the competition and also new judges involved (a representative from Liz Lake Associates, Paris Legore and her assistant). The entries were of a high standard and trophies had been presented to the winners.
It was proposed that future SIB and AIB competitions should be organised by a group independent of SMPC in order that additional people and expertise could be brought on-board and that grants for village improvements/beautification could be applied for. A constitution for this group has been drafted and will be reviewed by Cllr Caton.
It was agreed that any improvements that the group put in place would be managed in a sustainable way by the group themselves.
There was 1 abstention will all other members in favour of the group being formed.
385 REEVE ROAD PLAY EQUIPMENT
The Clerk had written to Uttlesford District Council to ask if there would be any planning issues with re-installing the play equipment on Reeve Road. It is now six months on and no reply had been received. Cllr Caton said she would ask District Cllr Caton to raise this with the Planning Committee.
Cllr Kavanagh had re-distributed her report. She commented that the information on the various boards around the village was inconsistent and that this is something the Parish Council could work on going forward.
Her recommendation was that a noticeboard on Walpole Meadows was required with the best position being near the play area and close to the allotments. The exact location would have to be decided once the area had been completed.
A notice board is also needed for the Hargrave Estate. The Clerk advised that this had been on the list for a long time awaiting funds. She felt that this notice board should be prioritised over Walpole Meadows. A proposal for financing would need to go to F&GP if the committee agreed to the two installations.
Cllr Kavanagh then proposed the following
RECOMMENDATION that the Council approve expenditure for two new noticeboards at the Hargrave Estate and Walpole Meadows.
The Clerk commented that there had been some budget savings in the current year and she would discuss this with the Chair and Vice-Chair of F&GP prior to the next Council Meeting.
Cllr Barnes thanked Cllr Kavanagh for the report
387 WORKING PARTY REPORTS
Most items had been covered already in the meeting and nothing further to add.
388 MATTERS TO BE RAISED FOR THE NEXT AGENDA
Cllr Brett asked if TPO’s could be placed on certain trees on Pennington Lane, it was agreed that due to the recent planning application that this would need to be looked at urgently and before the next meeting.
TPO’s around the village will be put on the next OS agenda as an item.
Trevor Lloyd gave a report on the Skatepark Jam which had taken place at the weekend. There were 80 people involved (mainly young). It was well organised even with the added complication of Covid-19. It went very well and was a huge success.
He would like an agenda item to be added at the next meeting to look at funding for the skatepark as it needs maintenance work undertaken. Seann Thompson, who arranges the event and is heavily involved in the skatepark, should be invited along to talk. Insurance issues also need to be looked at.
Meeting closed 9.30pm
378 Clerk to speak to UDC regarding Mountfitchet Estate
379 Report fly-tipping to UDC
380 Cllr Wallace-Jarvis to forward amalgamated permitted paths map to the clerk with any further comments on bin locations.
380a Cllr Brett to draft terms of reference
380b Cllr Brett to make a grant application to F&GP for paths maintenance equipment
381 Clerk to pursue cemetery pre-application advice request
381 Clerk to accept offer by Daniel Robinsons subject to further discussions
382a Clerk to find out when next phase of the Newman’s Plantation works will start
382b Clerk to Express an interest back to UDC
382c Cllr Brett to complete final draft and take it to Full Council
383 District Cllr Caton to be asked to chase Emma Barry
385 District Cllr Caton to be asked to chase the Planning Committee
386 Clerk to discuss with JOB and MJ
388 TPO’s around the village and the Skatepark to be put on the next agenda
NOTICE OF MEETING You are invited to attend a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE to be held on Wednesday 16th September 2020 at 7.30pm using the Zoom platform.
1 To receive apologies for absence
2 To receive declarations of interest
3 To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 19TH February 2020
4 Matters arising and action points from the previous meetings
5 To welcome a young parishioner to talk about play equipment
7 Footpaths – Permissive Paths update
a) Interments and memorials
b) Extension update
a) Newman’s Plantation update
b) Essex Forest Initiative – to consider any sites for appropriate tree planting (attached)
c) Tree Policy – to be drafted
d) Condition Survey – to consider undertaking in 2021
10 Allotments a) Elms Farm b) Walpole Meadows
11 Stansted In Bloom/Anglia In Bloom – To receive an update
12 Reeve Road Play Equipment – To receive an update
13 Noticeboards – To receive an update from Cllr Kavanagh
14 Working Party reports – Cllr Barnes to update
15 Matters to be raised for the next agenda
10 September 2020 – Ruth Clifford, Clerk to the Council