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Draft Minutes, Agenda & Planning Applications – 28th February 2024

Full Council Uploaded on February 22, 2024

Draft Minutes

Minutes of a meeting of the FULL COUNCIL held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 28th February 2024 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

PRESENT       Cllr M Caton (Chair), Cllrs A Barnes, S Ghosh, A Guney, J Hogg, P Jones, J Kavanagh, A Khan, A Love, L Prior, G Sell and T van de Bilt

ATTENDING   Mrs Ruth Clifford – Parish Clerk, Mrs Emma Philbrick – Deputy Clerk, Dist. Cllr Alan Dean Cllr George Braeckman (via Zoom), 2 Members of the public (1 via Zoom)

457      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr O’Brien – family commitment and Cllr Braeckman – away at university.

RESOLVED    To approve the apologies for absence from Cllr O’Brien and Cllr Braeckman.

Apologies for absence were also received from County Councillor Gooding.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

One member of the public spoke regarding damage which had occurred to his vehicle on two occasions due to potholes in the village. He asked how the Parish Council can work closer with UDC and Essex Highways to help residents.

The Chair commented that we do push Essex Highways regularly regarding potholes and suggested he writes into the Parish Council so that it can be taken to the next Highways sub-Committee, and to copy in County Councillor Ray Gooding. The Chair advised that we have asked for a report on potholes but have not yet received this. We will give residents all the support we can but that anything we can do will be limited.

Cllr Sell advised that the Parish Council is also inviting Cllr Tom Cunningham (Essex Cabinet Member for Highways) to a meeting, and this is one of the things that will be raised with him.

458      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST      –           None

459      TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 17TH JANUARY 2024

RESOLVED    The minutes of the meeting held on 17th January 2024 were approved as a true and accurate account.

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

328 – Office to contact Elsenham Parish Council – done by Cllr Caton

332 – Clerk to ask Maria Shoesmith to set up a meeting between the Parish Council and the developer – done but was too late in the planning process

332 – Clerk to speak to Touchpoint – done

337 – Members to email their comments to the office by 24th January 2024 – done by some members.

461      TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE CHAIR, CLLR MAUREEN CATON

UDC are proposing to retain the Long Stay facility at Crafton Green Car Park, as requested by SMPC. The Cabinet are, however, recommending the higher charge for season tickets – to bring this in line with charging in Dunmow and Saffron Walden. This decision will impact local employees and may displace some vehicles to be parked on local streets – this will have to be monitored.

In discussion with our Local District and County Councillors, I have agreed to approach the Business Forum to pursue the ‘first 30-minute free’ scheme that exists in the Bishop’s Stortford and Harlow districts – for both Crafton Green and Lower Street car parks.

Cllr Sell has confirmed that UDC’s Scrutiny Committee has established a Task and Finish focus group to investigate the refuse collection issues e.g. the absence of a licence to operate. Cllr Sell is a member of this group. Meanwhile, UDC’s planned budget allows for 3 new refuse vehicles and an additional route to be undertaken.

Cllr Gooding has confirmed he has formally requested the removal of the chicanes on Church Road. This is unlikely to be addressed quickly and will require a safety review. SMPC has also requested through Cllr Gooding that ECC Highways provide a report of what potholes in Stansted have been reported – and which ones have been actioned. This information, if provided on a monthly basis, will enable us to keep residents informed of temporary and permanent fixes.

Colleagues are to discuss tonight The ECC Minerals Plan Review, and to consider whether we should comment. I have circulated, via the office,  the comments from Henham Parish Council. We need to carefully evaluate all the issues with the sites within our 3 localities and ensure any risks are identified and considered very carefully, including increase in traffic movements and potential routes.

Joint meetings between representatives of the Parish, District and County Councils have been reinstated. The first one has taken place and further meetings are scheduled for approximately every 6 weeks. We are aiming for the beneficial outcomes of joined up working, understanding of the impact of issues and agreed strategies to address them. Minutes of the meetings are to be distributed.

Work has begun this week in the Day Centre to create four individual unisex toilet cubicles (one of which has full disability access) and to update the kitchen with new appliances and worktops. A ramped link will be created between the Day Centre ad Crafton Green House, enabling better use of the two buildings. The ramp also means that it is not necessary to create a fully accessible toilet in CGH.

It is hoped that work will be completed by the end of March. Please note that the Annual Parish Meeting will be held in the library. The majority of funding for the project has been raised through grants by Touchpoint along with funds which are held by the Parish Council. The Licences to Occupy both buildings have been merged into one to reflect the linkage between the Day Centre and CGH.

I am pleased to inform colleagues that interest in the Youth Club provision has increased by 100% on each session held to date and the feed back from the young people has been very positive – we hope the provision will go from strength to strength.

Our thanks need to be registered to the Flood Wardens, and to Lucy and Levi for their sterling work on clearing the debris from the screen of the Brook. Some new poles will be ordered to replace the original ones that ran across the flow of the Brook as several did not survive this winter. REPORT ENDS.

462      TO RECEIVE WRITTEN DISTRICT COUNCILLOR REPORTS

Report from District Councillor:

This was the most serious operational failure in Uttlesford’s history. The failure to have the appropriate licence has cost residents dear. Refuse collection is the most visible service that the Council provides. It is also a universal service. This failure should never have happened.

It was obvious to myself and Cllr Alan Dean that all was not well with the refuse service. This was why I asked the head of the service to come before the Scrutiny Committee in November 2023 to present a report. It was clear that the service was under enormous pressure with vehicles regularly breaking down. Several key managers had abruptly left the service. Complacency had ruled the day.

Where are we now?

  • Replacement of three new refuse vehicles at a cost of £885,000 in the next financial year.
  • An additional round to be established at a cost of £137,000
  • The green waste charge which was due to be increased by £10 to be frozen
  • The need to use vehicles from Braintree Council and Widdington Waste to collect the waste we should have been collecting comes at a cost to residents. This is estimated at £90,000.

A task and finish group has been established by the Scrutiny Committee to find out how things went wrong and what can be done to ensure this is never repeated. Together with one Conservative and two Residents for Uttlesford councillors I am also a member. I am determined that there will be no whitewash. REPORT ENDS.

Report from District Councillor Gooding:

The issue regarding the UDC’s failure to renew their transport operators’ licence in a timely manner and its subsequent suspension has continued to cause problems with the collection of domestic and trade waste throughout the district.  Indeed, despite the Council now being provided with an interim licence, even up until the last few days several areas including Leaden Roding still had waste from prior to Christmas piled outside residents properties.  In the main, the waste collection within Stansted now appears to have caught up but it is an understatement to say that the inconvenience caused to residents is a defining issue that has significantly damaged the reputation of the District Council. Braintree District Council and Widdington Recycling should however, be thanked for coming to the rescue whilst the interim licence was awaited by UDC.

In this regard a motion was presented to the Council at this weeks by Cllr Moran asking for details of the costs that have accrued to the council as a result of that failing.  That motion was passed and it agreed that the information will be provided.  However, during the course of the debate on that motion, Cllr Sell asked a question of the Leader and the Portfolio Holder regarding their lack of visibility during the worst stages of the problem.  Whilst that question was not necessarily pertinent to the wording of the motion, I did agree that it was relevant to the management of the council.  The answers provided by the Leader and the Portfolio holder were completely inadequate and suggested a lack of understanding of the structure of a politically led organisation.  The Portfolio Holder implied that he was not visible because he was supporting the welfare of the staff and therefore the Chief Executive was fronting the media.  The Chief Executive is formally the Head of the Paid Service and it is his responsibility to manage the staff whilst Politicians, who can after all be removed by the electorate, should face the media.  I leave it to others to draw conclusions from this. REPORT ENDS

District Councillor Dean reported the following:

A meeting took place at Norman Court today. They hold these 6-monthly with residents. They discussed the state of Norman’s Way and will be in touch with the   Parish Council imminently regarding this. Cllr Kavanagh asked if she could be involved in any discussions as she had today attended a course on Protecting Public Rights of Way and may be able to offer extra advice and knowledge.

The UDC Full Council meeting took place on Monday. In Cllr Dean’s opinion UDC is dysfunctional. He cannot go into too much detail as to what was discussed during Part 2 (confidential business) but a summary report has been published. He thinks the Council is in serious trouble.

Cllr Sell advised that details in the press release confirm they will be selling their 50% share in the Chesterford Research Park. Cllr Sell and Cllr Dean confirmed they both abstained in the vote.

Cllr Khan asked if there were any issues in the UDC budget that we need to be aware of. Cllr Sell doesn’t believe there was anything other than the new refuse vehicles and route as reported in the Chair’s report. Cllr Khan also asked if there were any counter motions put on the budget and Cllr Sell confirmed not, although he had not been able to support it due to the increased season ticket charges for the Uttlesford car parks.

Cllr Jones asked regarding the 20% reduction in staffing. Cllr Sell said that 5 people are to be made redundant but that when a position now becomes available, if it has to be filled then they put people on fixed term contracts.  Cllr Jones asked if work on the Local Plan has been affected. Cllr Sell does not believe so and they expect to see the outcome of the first consultation in March.

Cllr Guney asked three questions regarding “bingate”:

  1. a) they currently have an interim licence – has someone now passed their qualification to hold the licence?
  2. b) when will they stop using Braintree as extra support?
  3. c) with the three new vehicles being bought and the introduction of a new route, will they be employing additional loaders to help with the increase in houses in the district?

In response, Cllr Sell commented that

  1. a) the interim licence is held by an individual but he doesn’t know the exact position. The Chief Executive was evasive when asked about staff training so he can’t answer this. The Task and Finish Group at UDC will need to investigate and find out. B) Members have been told that things are getting back to normal, but this is clearly not the case as some areas have still not had any collections.
  2. c) yes, the new vehicles and additional route will address the new housing in the district.

463      TO RECEIVE A WRITTEN COUNTY COUNCILLOR REPORT

Report from County Cllr Gooding:

Sticking on the issue of waste I can confirm that the results of the consultation on the booking system for the waste sites throughout the County has now been concluded and the decision has been to retain the process universally.   Am aware that this has not been popular for users of the Saffron Walden site but it has generally been concluded that in reducing the queuing and conflict that previously occurred at other locations it has proved to be extremely successful.  It is evident that residents of Stansted would probably use the Bishops Stortford Site and whilst this does require users to register online it does offer some flexibility in this area and this is due to the resolution between the respective counties regarding the disposal of neighbouring authorities waste.

I can confirm that I have been pressing for a contribution toward the renovation of the verges in Walson Way that were considerably worsened after the Affinity Water Works on the B1383.  Affinity Water have no contractual responsibility for this but whilst I know that people will say that it is an Essex Highway responsibility, I always baulk at the thought that Council Tax Payers should indirectly bear the cost of the consequential damage created as a result others.

I have agreed with the Parish that a number of schemes will be presented to the Local Highways Panel and I am currently agreeing a date for that to take place.  I will advise the Clerk and it is intended that representation from the parish is made for the respective schemes at the Panel Meeting. REPORT ENDS.

Regarding the verges in Walson Way, Cllr Caton stressed that we need more information about what has been done so far about this.

Cllr Khan commented that at the Highways sub-Committee meeting last week it was pointed out to Cty Cllr Gooding that the verges, which are the responsibility of Essex Highways, were in a poor condition before the Affinity Water closed the B1383. They did not form part of the official diversion route and therefore the responsibility for making them good again lies with ECC and they need to be pressed to deal with it.

464      FINANCE

  1. a) TO RATIFY THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE DATED 8TH FEBRUARY 2024

This was ratified by members.

  • b) TO APPROVE THE LIST OF PAYMENTS

The list of payments was checked against the invoices by Cllr Jones ahead of the meeting. The list of payments was approved.

  • c) TO RECEIVE THE SUMMARY INCOME & EXPENDITURE STATEMENT TO 31ST JANUARY 2024        

Tabled and received by members. Cllr Khan asked regarding the overspend on professional fees and the Clerk confirmed that the bulk of this was due to costs incurred as a result of the sinkhole on the Recreation Ground last summer.

465      TO CONSIDER THE LIST OF PLANNING APPLICATIONS

1  UTT/24/0068/FUL – EASTFIELD STABLES, MAY WALK

Change of use from agricultural grazing land and construction of a tennis court

Object on the following grounds:

This is an incomplete application as there is insufficient information, such as there is no mention of any chain-link fencing around the tennis courts and no dimensions shown in the diagrams. 

2  UTT/24/0161/FUL – EASTFIELD STABLES, MAY WALK

Change of use from agricultural grazing land to land in connection with the commercial use of the wellness hub. Construction of a swimming pool and associated operational development.

Object on the following grounds:

This application has insufficient information. Would the pool need a plant room to enable it to be heated? If so, has a noise assessment been done? Where will changing rooms be situated? Is there enough parking for the wellness hub and the swimming pool? This would increase the number of visitors so there needs to be more parking.

3 UTT/24/0251/HHF – 19 DAIRY LANE

Single storey side extension

No comment

4 UTT/24/0302/HHF – KIRKROYD, ELSENHAM ROAD

Double storey front extension, with first floor extensions and double storey side extension. Garage conversion and single storey rear extension with   complete house remodel. Changes and additions of fenestration and changes to external materials

No comment 

5  UTT/24/0256/FUL – 6A RIVERSIDE BUSINESS PARK, STONEY COMMON

Proposed change of use of second floor loft space (storage) to office with WC and installation of 9 no. conservation roof lights

No comment

6  UTT/24/0243/HHF – 72 LOWER STREET

4 replacement windows

The Parish Council supports this application which will increase energy efficiency.

7  UTT/24/0409/FUL – SAINT THERESA ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, HIGH LANE

Section 73 application to vary condition 90G (hours of use) and remove condition 90H (use of building) of UTT/1003/00/FUL (erection of new church, church hall and presbytery with associated car parking) – amend to allow for opening until midnight

The Parish Council supports this application as this is a great community benefit.

466 ECC MINERAL PLAN REVIEW 2025-40 – TO CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT TO COMMENT

This was discussed by members, and it was agreed that the main concern was the traffic and the increase in HGVs using our roads when we are trying to remove these altogether. A document that Henham Parish Council had created for its residents had been circulated with the agenda and Cllr Hogg advised that if it had not been an agenda item for the Parish Council then he would not have known anything about a consultation.  How can it be called a Public Consultation when no one knows about it? He proposed that a similar document be created for the residents of Stansted. It was agreed that Cllr Barnes and Cllr Hogg would draft a document to be sent to the office and subsequently put on our website. The document will then be used to draft the Parish Council’s response.          

467  HIGHWAYS SUB-COMMITTEE – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING  HELD ON 14TH FEBRUARY 2024

The minutes were received by members.

Meeting closed at 8.31pm

ACTION POINTS

461      Minutes of joint meeting to be circulated to members

463      Ask Cty Cllr Gooding what has been done so far re verges on Walson Way

466      Cllr Barnes and Cllr Hogg to draft document

Agenda

1 To receive and approve apologies for absence

Adjourn for public participation

2 To receive declarations of interest

3 To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 17th January 2024

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

5 To receive a report from the Chair, Cllr Maureen Caton

6 To receive written District Councillor Reports

7 To receive a written County Councillor Report

8 Finance:

a) To ratify the payment schedule dated 8th February 2024 (circulated previously)

b) To approve the list of payments – to be tabled

c) To receive the summary Income & Expenditure Statement to 31st January 2024

9 To consider the list of planning applications received – see attached

10 ECC Minerals Plan Review 2025-40 – To consider whether or not to comment – see attached

11 Highways Sub-Committee – To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 14th February 2024

Parish Clerk 21st 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.