Documents

Draft Minutes, Report, & Agenda – 6th March 2024

Open Spaces Uploaded on February 29, 2024

OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE DRAFT MINUTES 

Minutes of a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 6th March 2024 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

PRESENT       Cllr J Kavanagh (Chair), Cllrs A Barnes, M Caton, A Guney, A Love, L Prior and T van de Bilt

ATTENDING   Mrs Ruth Clifford – Parish Clerk, Cllrs Ghosh and Jones

468      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Khan – still at work

RESOLVED    To accept the apologies from Cllr Khan.

No apologies were received from Cllr Braeckman

469      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST      –           None

470      TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 22nd NOVEMBER 2023

RESOLVED    To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd November 2023 as a true and accurate account.

471      TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ACTION POINTS FROM THE LAST MEETING

Action points were noted in the Clerk’s report.

472      TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE CHAIR, CLLR JO KAVANAGH

Report from Cllr Jo Kavnagh

Site Visits

Walpole Meadows and Elms Farm

The Clerk and I made site visits to Walpole and Elms Farm this morning – as part of an imminent handover of POS to the parish council. Our report and that of the s106 officer will be circulated with the draft minutes of this meeting. This does mean that the Elms Farm Working Group needs to be activated.

GARDENING MONITORING REPORT

The Clerk and I also met with our gardening contractor this morning.

 ALLOTMENTS

For the avoidance of confusion, the idea was always to get an allotment association that would take on all responsibilities other than the actual lease agreements which must remain with the PC. At Elms Farm, SMPC took full responsibility for all management aspects during my predecessor’s tenure as Chair, this was only because the EFAA, as it stood then, would not take it on.

During her time as allotments officer, Laila had many conversations with the new members of the EFAA, they were interested in taking on the full role of an allotment association. All plot holders were advised of what was to happen – they were all invited to a meeting some months ago and given the opportunity to join the committee.

Emma, with some input from Ruth, completed the handover of the admin.

This model will be used for the Walpole Meadows allotments.

DOG FOULING

Following some reports on social media last year, I decided to look into what we could do with regard to the dog fouling reported around Stansted, specifically those areas where bins were already available – hot spots appear to be Peachey Walk and Wilkins Crescent. I contacted Cllr Emanuel, Newport Parish Council as they had an initiative a few years ago. Her response has been circulated to members.

It is an offence to allow your dog to foul, but this is difficult to enforce as UDC does not have a dog warden service and, unlike other parishes in Uttlesford, our own environmental rangers clear any mess, but we cannot enforce.

This is not an agenda item for this evening, but Cllr Emanuel has offered to attend a future meeting to speak about how Newport dealt with the issue should we consider this matter for follow up.

LITTER PICK

Originally scheduled for next weekend, this event was postponed due to the lack of committee councillors available. Four councillors were unavailable for the date, and two did not respond. A date will be agreed this evening. It is expected that councillors will make every effort to promote and attend the event.

OTHER MATTERS

Reseeding of goal mouths on Recreation Ground

You will recall that this was postponed because of the closure of the Rec following the discovery of the sinkhole. The adult Sunday morning footballers seem to have reappeared, so this may now have to be revisited.

Waste and Recycling

During February, I attended a presentation with a member of Sustainable Stansted on ‘What happens to our Waste’, by the waste and recycling officer of UDC to members of Elsenham WI. It did unfortunately take place during the recent saga with bins, but was quite informative. UDC has a very good system in place and outperforms other councils in what it collects and recycles.  On the day after our black bins were missed for the first time (one day later), I walked around Stansted and observed that there was an excessive amount of rubbish – 2 bins-worth (normal amount for those households at that time) – outside many homes. Food waste was also mixed with other waste.

2026 is the food waste deadline set by our current Government, a target that other councils may not achieve, due to cost and lack of suitable lorries; there is currently an 18-month waiting list for the duel/split trucks required, which UDC already uses. UDC is in a good position, although the facility, which processed our black bin waste, went bust, so this now all goes to landfill and I understand that Essex may be forced to burn such waste in an effort to reduce landfill.

I would like to see this committee, with the help of all our district councillors, promote ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ in our community.

Public Rights of Way

I recently attended a training session by the Open Spaces Society on the protection of public rights of way. An interesting fact that was not known by the presenter, was the power of a parish council to cut or tidy land where the owner cannot be identified – under Part XI S47 of the Essex Act 1987. Another was that the surface is considered to belong to the Highways Authority, while the subsoil, vegetation is down to the landowner. There may be a way we can get one or two of our village paths fixed.

There are currently more laws protecting PRoWs than roads! End of report

Cllr Kavanagh read her report to the meeting. This included reference to an outstanding action point on dog fouling, a report on which is also attached for information.

Referring to a meeting held earlier in the day with the gardening contractor, Cllr Kavanagh explained to members that no autumn bulbs had been planted in 2023 and so the budget funds allocated could be used to supplement planting in various borders. By a show of hands, members supported the suggestion to plant day lilies (provided these are not poisonous to animals), crocosmias and peonies.

Cllr Barnes reminded the meeting that a discussion had taken place regarding the planting of poppies in the Memorial Gardens and the Clerk undertook to raise this with the contractor again.

473      TO RECEIVE A CEMETERY REPORT

Included in the Clerk’s report and noted.      

474      TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM SUSTAINABLE STANSTED

Received and circulated to members ahead of the meeting.           

475      TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE BIODIVERSITY WORKING GROUP

The report had been circulated prior to the meeting.

Cllr Barnes reported that the working group were meeting the following day to pursue the wildflower project. The draft policy on the use of glyphosate should be ready for consideration by members in the near future.

476      TO RECEIVE THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON GARDENING AND GRASS CUTTING CONTRACTS

The report had been circulated earlier in the day and the Clerk pointed out that two compliments had been received for the gardening contractors since the last report. It was agreed to add the watering of the three commemorative trees to the schedule.

477      TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK FROM THE PLAY AREAS WORKING GROUP FOLLOWING THEIR SITE VISITS

Comments from two members of the working group, following the site visit in January, had been circulated as part of the Clerk’s report. A discussion took place around the list (previously circulated) of repairs/maintenance required and the associated costs. Cllr Barnes pointed out that the estimated costs exceeded the budget agreed for 2024/25. With permission from the Chair to speak, Cllr Jones suggested splitting the maintenance work over two years, allocating up to £5,000 per year leaving some funds available for unforeseen events.

It was agreed that the working group would meet again, with the Clerk, to prepare a report on each of the key play areas. Each report would include a list of the items in the area, which if any required maintenance work, which if any were nearing the end of their life and which if any should be replaced or removed.  It was agreed to delegate authority to the Clerk in consultation with the working group members to place contracts for necessary repairs within the financial framework above.

The Clerk stated that the previous weekend, Cllr Caton had been informed that the zip wire at the Mountfitchet Green was broken. On investigation by our Environmental Ranger, it was confirmed that it is still working but has been vandalised further. Weekly reports have identified damage in the form of large teeth marks around the rubber seat and the base of the fabric which protects the chain. Photographs indicated that the damage was likely to have been caused by a large dog, possibly using the equipment as a large dog toy. It was agreed that a post should be prepared for social media with residents asked to alert the council if they witnessed any such misuse of the equipment.

478      TO SET A DATE FOR A LITTER PICK

A date has been set for Saturday 27th April 2024. Cllrs Barnes, Caton, Jones, Kavanagh, Love and van de Bilt agreed to attend. The event will run from 10am –     12noon with volunteers meeting outside The Mountfitchet Exchange. The Clerk stated that she would notify members of the Youth Council and the Youth Club and Cllr Jones agreed to inform Sustainable Stansted. The office would publicise the event and if any member noted any areas of the village which are particularly bad, they should notify the Clerk ahead of the event.

479      TO REVIEW THE TREE MANAGEMENT POLICY AND TO RECOMMEND ADOPTION BY FULL COUNCIL

A draft copy of the policy showing the proposed amendments had been circulated ahead of the meeting. The Clerk explained the reasoning behind the proposed changes and these were supported by members. In addition, it was agreed to incorporate wording suggested by Cllr Hogg in relation to wood for burning.

Members unanimously supported the following:

RECOMMENDATION  That the Council adopt the amended Tree Management Policy.

Members noted that our current Tree Warden is temporary and asked that the Clerk make another attempt to find someone willing to serve on a permanent basis.

480      TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE REPORT ON FOOTPATHS

No report available.

Meeting closed at 8.50pm

ACTION POINTS

472      Clerk to raise the planting of poppies in the Memorial Gardens with the contractor.

476      Add watering of the 3 commemorative trees to the gardening schedule.

477      Working Group to meet with the Clerk and prepare a report on key play areas.

478      The Youth Club, Youth Council and Sustainable Stansted to be informed of litter pick date and event to be publicised on social media.

479      Advertise for a permanent Tree Warden

AGENDA

Members of the Council you are hereby summoned, and members of the public and press are hereby invited, to attend a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE which will be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 6th March 2024 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 17th November 2023

4          To receive an update on action points from the last meeting

5          To receive a report from the Chair, Cllr J Kavanagh

6          To receive Cemetery report from the Clerk

7          To receive a report from Sustainable Stansted

8          To receive reports from the Biodiversity Working Group if available

9          To receive quarterly review on gardening and grass cutting contracts

10        To receive feedback from the Play Areas Working Group following their site visits – see attached

11        To set a date for a litter pick

12        To review the Tree Management Policy and to recommend adoption by Full Council

13        To receive an update report on footpaths – To follow

Parish Clerk, 29th February 2024

Any intention to record, film or take photographs during a meeting must be notified to the Clerk prior to the start of the meeting.