Minutes of the F&GP Committee meeting held on Wednesday 20th September 2023 at 7.30pm in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex
PRESENT Cllr J O’Brien (Chair), Cllrs M Caton, S Ghosh, J Hogg and P Jones
ATTENDING Mrs Ruth Clifford – Parish Clerk
Mrs Emma Philbrick – Deputy Clerk, 1 member of the press via Zoom, 1 member of the public via Zoom
176 APOLOGIES FOR
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Khan – Holiday and Cllr Sell – Holiday.
RESOLVED to accept apologies for absence from Cllrs Khan and Sell
177 DECLARATION OF INTEREST – None
178 TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 28TH JUNE 2023
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting held on 28th June 2023 as a true and accurate account.
179 TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ACTION POINTS FROM THE LAST MEETING
85 – Clerk to forward her emails to Fiona Gardiner to Cllr Sell who will try to obtain answer – Fiona Gardiner came back to Ruth but she still sent all emails to Cllr Sell.
88b – Cllrs O’Brien and Jones to draft a proposal detailing which streetlights should be trialled for part-night lighting – Done
180 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE CHAIR, CLLR JOHN O’BRIEN
REPORT STARTS: As stated in my June report, “This year is proving to present increasing financial challenges for members of our community which, no doubt, will present even greater challenges for the Parish Council into the future.”
We have thankfully seen inflation reduce from 10% in January down to 6.8% in August. This may be good news for some, but we are not out of the woods yet, as we have seen over the summer.
Since June we have experienced a significant increase in the need to have trees attended to by tree surgeons. This seems to be the result of last year’s heatwave’s effect on those trees which, under more normal circumstances, would have survived.
A recent Structural and Electrical Safety testing process on our Streetlight stock has highlighted a number of faults which require attention. Unfortunately, two lighting columns had been found unsafe and have had to be replaced. However, we have since found out that UK Power Network have reviewed their fees and we are facing fees 150% higher than last year. This may have a direct implication for budgetary assessments, where extra provision may be required.
The Zero-Carbon Grant work of converting our Residential areas lighting stock is due to commence in October, subject to delivery schedules, and information of its progress will be published on The Parish Council’s website and social media.
We have at last received the final approval of a licence to install a second set of trash pins in the bed of the Ugley Brook and to reinforce the adjacent banks. However, there is yet another tranche of forms to fill in – no pain, no gain as they say.
Over the past few months, we have seen an increasing number of Local Authorities facing financial difficulties. Uttlesford District Council is having to make savings of £4M over the next 4 years, but does that mean Parish Councils may have to take on extra responsibilities?
The issue facing us is that Parish Councils are expected to declare their Precept requirements first before the higher echelon authorities publish their own budgets and any announcements of service cuts.
Watch this space. REPORT ENDS.
- a) TO RECEIVE AN OUTAGE REPORT
Light out on Chapel Hill near the bus stop by Spencer Close – awaiting reconnection of the power supply by UKPN. 1 light in Lower Street – contractor has made several attempts to reach but no luck so far due to parked cars. Will keep trying.
- b) TO RECEIVE A GENERAL REPORT ON LIGHTING AND UPDATE ON CHRISTMAS LIGHTING
The structural and electrical tests of our lighting stock were completed in July. Two columns were found to be unsound and have been removed and replaced – one in St John’s Crescent and the other in Millside. Both are awaiting reconnection of the power supply by UKPN.
We are working our way through the electrical report, but this may have budget implications going into next year.
Regarding Christmas lighting, we have been given the same price as last year including the Social Club. We are waiting licensing approval for lights to be put on the new columns by mini roundabout but it’s doubtful this will now be received in time.
- c) TO DECIDE THE DESIGN OF REPLACEMENT LED LANTERNS FOR THE RECREATION GROUND
The Clerk tabled two designs which our contractor had found for the Recreation Ground and also for Bentfield Road. One was very similar to the existing lanterns at £1,025 per light and another was a slightly different design at £750 per light. The Clerk and Cllr O’Brien advised that their preferred option was the cheaper due to the budget implications and the fact that they thought they would still look in keeping in a Conservation area. After discussions by members and having been proposed by Cllr Caton and seconded by Cllr Hogg, and with 3 votes in favour and 2 votes against, it was
RESOLVED to replace the existing halogen lanterns with the LED ones similar to the style there now at £1,025 per light.
- a) TO APPROVE THE LIST OF PAYMENTS FOR AUTHORISATION
The schedule was checked against the invoices before the start of the meeting by Cllr Jones. There were no questions, and the payment schedule was approved.
- b) TO RECEIVE THE INCOME AND EXPENDITURE STATEMENT TO 31ST AUGUST 2023
This was tabled at the meeting.
183 FLOODING – TO CONSIDER THE REVISED QUOTE FOR AN ADDITIONAL SET OF POLES IN UGLEY BROOK
The quote was circulated with the agenda and Cllr O’Brien advised that the increase was due to additional requirements by the Environment Agency. Cllr Hogg asked if it was the responsibility of the Parish Council, and it was advised that it is actually Essex Highways but for many years they have never cleared out the Brook or carried out any work on it. All requests have been ignored. Cllrs O’Brien and Jones reported that at their site meeting, the Environment Agency had stated that the location where the flood wardens stand to pull out the debris is dangerous due to parked vehicles and it should be adapted for safety. After further discussion it was agreed to make a formal complaint to our Essex County Councillor and if no response then escalate it to the Chief Executive. It was also agreed to request a site visit by representatives of UDC and ECC.
Having been proposed by Cllr Caton and seconded by Cllr Jones, it was unanimously
RESOLVED to accept the revised quote and go ahead with the work whilst pursuing the above.
184 CRAFTON GREEN – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES ON THE COMMUNITY BUILDINGS
The Clerk advised that the insulation in Crafton Green House was replaced this week so hopefully this will make a difference to the energy costs.
185 WINDMILL – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES
Cllr O’Brien reported the following:
The profit from the fete was £3286 which is a good result.
There are no major mill works anticipated for the rest of the year. The autumn without a cherry-picker.
‘Santa at the Mill’ will be taking place on Saturday 9th December.
186 YOUTH MATTERS
A report from the current providers was circulated to members ahead of the meeting. Cllr Caton advised that Essex Youth Service has a new member of staff who will be looking after Uttlesford Youth Centres. She has already attended a meeting at Forest Hall School with the Parish Council and has lots of new fresh ideas to bring forward and will work on better marketing. Cllr Caton voiced her disappointment at the report and results received but is enthused by the new member of staff taking over and is hopeful for better things.
After a question by members, the Clerk advised that funding for this service by UDC in 2024-25 is not guaranteed and if not received then the Parish Council would have to decide whether or not to pick up the shortfall.
187 STAFF MATTERS
Nothing to report. Meeting closed at 8.17pm
183 Make a formal complaint to our Essex County Councillor and escalate to the Chief Executive if necessary.
183 Request a site visit from representatives of UDC and ECC
Members of the Council you are hereby summoned, and members of the public and press are hereby invited, to attend a meeting of the FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE which will be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 20th September 2023 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex where the following business will be transacted:
1 To receive apologies for absence
2 To receive declarations of interest
3 To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 28th June 2023
4 To receive an update on action points from the last meeting
5 To receive a report from the Chair, Cllr O’Brien
- a) To receive an outage report
- b) To receive a general report on lighting and update on Christmas Lighting
- c) To decide the design of replacement LED lanterns for the Recreation Ground
- a) To approve the list of payments for authorisation – To be tabled
- b) To receive the Income and Expenditure statement to 31st August 2023
8 Flooding – To consider the revised quote for an additional set of poles in Ugley Brook
9 Crafton Green – To receive any updates on the community buildings
10 Windmill – To receive any updates
11 Youth Matters – See report attached for members relating to the Youth Club
12 Staff Matters – To receive any available updates
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 14th September 2023
Any intention to record, film or take photographs during a meeting must be notified to the Clerk prior to the start of the meeting.