Minutes of a meeting of the Open Spaces Committee held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 7th June 2023 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex
PRESENT Cllr J Kavanagh (Chair), Cllrs A Barnes, G Braeckman, M Caton, A Guney, A Love and L Prior
ATTENDING Mrs Emma Philbrick – Deputy Clerk, Mrs Laila Azure-Marxen – Projects Officer, Cllr P Jones, 2 members of the public (via Zoom)
45 TO ELECT A CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE
As Chair of the Council, Cllr Caton called for nominations. Cllr Barnes proposed Cllr Kavanagh and Cllr Braeckman proposed Cllr Prior. With Cllr Kavanagh receiving 4 votes and Cllr Prior receiving 3 votes, it was:
RESOLVED that Cllr Kavanagh be elected as Chair of the Open Spaces Committee for the Civic Year 2023/24
46 TO RECEIVE APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – None
No apologies were received from Cllr Khan
47 TO RECEIVE DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None
48 TO ELECT A VICE-CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE
Cllr Kavanagh called for nominations. Cllr Caton proposed Cllr Barnes and Cllr Braeckman proposed Cllr Prior. With Cllr Barnes receiving 4 votes and Cllr Prior receiving 3 votes, it was:
RESOLVED that Cllr Barnes be elected as Vice-Chair of the Open Spaces Committee for the Civic Year 2023/24
49 TO APPOINT:
- a) THE TENNIS CLUB REPRESENTATIVE
Cllr Kavanagh advised that she had been the representative previously. Following discussion, Cllr Jones offered to take this role. This was unanimously agreed.
- b) THE PARISH PUBLIC FOOTPATH REPRESENTATIVE
The Deputy Clerk advised that this had been done by Bill Stiles for a number of years and that he had confirmed he was happy to continue. It was unanimously agreed to accept his kind offer.
- c) THE PARISH TREE WARDEN
Cllr Braeckman kindly offered to continue in this role. It was unanimously agreed.
50 TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 19TH APRIL 2023
RESOLVED To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 19th April 2023 as a true and accurate account.
51 TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ACTION POINTS FROM THE LAST MEETING
449 The office contacted the licence office at Essex County Council and has received the application and guidance needed for planting wildflowers.
The office has written letters to request donations for the Coronation Plaque, contacting 9 local businesses. One donation of £500 has been received. A decision on how to proceed with this project is on the agenda.
452 Sustainable Stansted were re-invited to the meeting, but no members were available. Cllr Jones has provided a written report and will update on the group’s activities at tonight’s meeting.
454 The play equipment maintenance spread sheet is on the agenda
457 After reviewing last year’s correspondence with Churchill’s the office concluded that it would not be beneficial to ask for more vouchers at this time. Any future working group will have to find alternative ways to sponsor the event.
458 Mr Stiles walked the Bentfield area as requested by the Committee and it is included in the footpath report.
No Mow May is not included in the current grass cutting contracts, and has never been included for practical reasons. If the Committee believes the Parish Council should support No Mow May, this can be considered for the contract’s renewal in 2025.
Trevor Lloyd attended the meeting and gave a progress report on Stansted in Bloom and Anglia in Bloom. He said that the support for several ideas had been disappointing but that they would continue with the Anglia in Bloom application. Cllr Prior asked several questions relating to publicity surrounding the various initiatives that the group had been promoting. She reiterated advice she had given at previous meetings and how it was essential to promote repeatedly.
52 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE PROJECTS OFFICER
(See below to read the report)
The report was circulated to members ahead of the meeting.
Cllr Barnes asked about the possibility of getting a water supply to the fountain. The office will seek advice as to whether this is possible in principle. Cllr Barnes also requested that the fountain be decorated with bunting at future events, as this creates a central visual impact.
53 CEMETERY – TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE CLERK
Memorial Permit Granted:
John and Dorothy McHale
54 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM SUSTAINABLE STANSTED
This was circulated to members ahead of the meeting.
Cllr Jones advised that the group were looking at doing a biodiversity survey for the whole of the parish.
- a) TO DECIDE ON WHETHER TO APPLY FOR A LICENCE FOR THE LOGS ON RAINSFORD ROAD
After discussions it was agreed that the Parish Council would not apply for a licence for the logs that had been placed there anonymously, and it would be up to Essex Highways if they wish to remove them.
- b) TO DECIDE IF IT IS FEASIBLE TO SOW WILDFLOWERS ON THE CORNERS OF RAINSFORD ROAD
It was unanimously agreed that an application to sow wildflowers should be made. It was also agreed that the Parish Council should inform residents if/when the work was due to go ahead.
56 TO RECEIVE A QUARTERLY REVIEW ON GARDENING AND GRASS CUTTING CONTRACTS.
This was circulated to members ahead of the meeting.
Members asked regarding the impact of the bank holiday Monday’s preventing cuts at the Cemetery in May. It was suggested that when reviewing the contracts, that the cut days could be moved to a different day of the week to prevent this happening in future.
57 TO RECEIVE A REPORT ON PLAY EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE
This was circulated to members ahead of the meeting.
The Clerk provided a written report which asked members to decide if they would like the swing at Walson Way to be replaced with a timber or metal frame. Cllr Barnes asked what the life span of each was to see whether it was worth spending the extra on the metal frame. Having been proposed by Cllr Braeckman and being unanimously agreed, it was:
RESOLVED to go ahead with the metal frame in principle but for the office to find out the life span of each and together with the Chair, Cllr Kavanagh, to decide if spending the extra was cost effective.
58 TO CONSIDER QUOTES FOR:
- a) REDUCING THE CANOPY OF THE MAPLE ON CHAPEL HILL
The Deputy Clerk advised that a quote had been received for £995 to cut back the tree by 1/3 with the crown to be shaped and thinned. She commented that the price was slightly higher due to the need for traffic management (traffic lights) being needed for the work to be carried out safely. It was unanimously:
RESOLVED to accept the quote for the Maple on Chapel Hill
It was agreed that this should be publicised once a date for the work is known.
- b) CUTTING BACK TREES ON THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN FORESTHALL PARK AND THE MOUNTFITCHET ESTATE.
A quote and map of the proposed works was tabled at the meeting.
Having been proposed by Cllr Caton it was unanimously:
RESOLVED To accept the quote for cutting back trees on the boundary between Foresthall Park and the Mountfitchet Estate.
It was agreed that the Council should publicise the work once a start date is known. The Projects Officer confirmed that the work would be done towards the end of the year.
59 TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH A PLAQUE FOR THE CORONATION SHELTER
The Project Officer had included in her report that they had written to several local companies asking for donations but had so far only received sponsorship of £500 from one of them. After discussions, it was agreed that the office should do one final push for sponsorship but in the meantime, the Committee would like to ask the Full Council to underwrite the costs to cover either the remaining money towards the plaque or if the Committee decides to go with the individual little plaques to cover the costs and hopefully over time, make the money back from people wanting to purchase a small plaque.
60 TO CONSIDER PLANNING A VILLAGE LITTER PICK IN AUTUMN 2023
The Committee decided that this should not go ahead in the Autumn but instead be put on an agenda later in the year to be arranged in line with the National Litter Pick in Spring 2024.
61 TO CONSIDER FORMULATING A POLICY ON ADDITIONS/CHANGES TO EXISTING MEMORIAL PLAQUES.
The Committee decided that any changes to plaques on Council assets would be discussed at Committee meetings as and when required. It was also decided that the plaque in memory of Dr Gabb should be placed on the new bench on Chapel Hill.
62 TO DELEGATE AUTHORITY TO PROJECTS OFFICER AND COMMITTEE CHAIR TO AGREE ON PROJECTS FOR UDC GRANT APPLICATIONS.
It was unanimously agreed to delegate the authority but the Committee asked for a list of projects being applied for be sent to the Committee for information.
63 TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE REPORT ON FOOTPATHS
This was circulated ahead of the meeting. A number of missing way-markers had been noticed. The office has reported this to Essex Rights of Way at Essex County Council.
64 MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NEXT AGENDA
Members asked for the following items:
Cemetery – how many spaces left
Update on Dairy Lane (Elms Farm)
Update on Walpole Meadows
Meeting closed at 9.30pm
52 Office to seek advice on a water supply to the Fountain
55b Make an application to sow wildflowers on corners of Rainsford Road
57 Life span of metal and timber swing for Walson Way to be investigated
59 Office to do a final push for donations towards the Coronation Shelter plaque and take to Full Council to consider underwriting the costs
60 Put on future agenda for Spring litter pick
Open Spaces Project Report
By Laila Azure-Marxen, Committee Support and Project Officer
The planters from the Welcome Back Fund are being installed around the village, one with flowers in already. GWB will be installing the remaining planters as and when his team is available to do the job.
Sustainable Stansted – item 10
Sustainable Stansted is not attending the meeting as planned. Cllr Peter Jones has provided an update report.
Rewilding – item 11
We have contacted Essex Highways regarding the type of application needed for wildflower sowing on the corners of Rainsford Rd/Longcroft. Highways supports the initiative, and it should be possible to get a licence if we follow their guidelines. On the attached document “Wildflowers Rainsford Road” you can see the area left after leaving 1.5 m from the kerb and 0.45 m to the path side.
Unfortunately, the Essex Licence officer noticed the logs left (by persons unknown) on one corner. They asked us to remove these as they are illegal. As the Committee seemed in favour of these logs at the last meeting, we can try and apply for a licence for something similar but these are highly unlikely to meet their criteria. I can investigate further if the Committee feels this is necessary. Years ago, the Parish Council placed some taller, white painted logs there and these were removed by Essex Highways.
Coronation plaque – item 15
Ruth and I drafted a Request for Donations letter and sent it out to 9 local businesses. We set the deadline for responses as the 14th June. One company has offered to donate £500. The OS Committee must decide if they want to proceed with the project, if we are not successful in raising the full amount. A decision to raise the remaining funds will be on the next Full Council agenda if you decide to proceed but the cost will have to come from the Council’s free reserve as this was not a budgeted item. Further costs may be incurred depending upon where the plaque is to be located – if it is to be on the wall next to the existing, then the litter bin will probably need to be moved.
If the full amount is raised, we offered that any contributors donating more than £500 would have a small plaque on the Coronation Shelter as a thank you. This was to encourage larger donations but there will be an associated cost, guesstimated at around £40 for a small brass plaque.
Village Litter Pick 2023 – Item 16
At the last Open Spaces meeting it was suggested to do an Autumn Litter Pick, but the final decision on when and who was deferred to after the elections. The Committee must form a working group if it wishes to proceed with the event.
After reading the correspondence with Churchill’s at the last Litter Pick event, the office believe it would not be appropriate to ask for more food voucher contributions this year. They appeared upset about being asked to donate a lot more vouchers than expected, so this should be approached with extra caution. We suggest a new working group come up with other ways to attract villagers to the litter picking event. This could be competitions on finding the strangest piece of litter, heaviest full bag, or trash bingo for the kids. This could be rewarded with a gift card to local establishments, willing to donate.
These are just suggestions to the working group, if one is formed.
Policy on additions/changes to existing memorial plaques – item 17
In recent years we have changed, or plan to change, a number of memorial plaques. The office suggests that the committee formulate a clear policy of handling any additions or changes to existing memorial plaques.
If the Committee agrees this is necessary, a working group should formulate a protocol around wording, removal, or replacement of existing memorial plaques. This includes any memorial plaques on parish owned land and attached assets (benches). Memorials in the Cemetery not included.
Example 1: The old “Doctor Gabb” memorial bench on Chapel Hill has been replaced with a new one, and the memorial plaque was removed from the old one. The old bench must have been 30 years old at least, had been repaired numerous times and finally reached the point of no return. The family no longer lives in Stansted, but some residents have asked for the memorial plaque to go on the new bench. Should the plaque go back, even if it is not donated by the family?
Example 2: The planned Coronation plaque is an addition to an existing Coronation plaque. How should the existing Coronation plaque be handled? Can/should it be moved to make room for the new plaque?
UDC Community Project Grant – item 18
The Community Project Grant is open for applications again. We already have one project in mind: Insulating the roof space of Crafton Green House. As we can apply for more than one project, we ask the committee to consider ideas for projects suitable for the grant: https://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/article/8479/Community-Project-Grants-scheme-open-for-new-applications?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Any project ideas must be sent to the Projects Officer by Wednesday June 21st.
At the meeting we ask the Committee to decide on delegating authority to the Projects Officer, in liaison with the Committee Chair, to agree on projects to apply for.
From the Clerk
UPDATE ON SINKHOLE ON RECREATION GROUND
On Thursday 25th May we received the initial survey report from Herts and Essex Site Investigations (HESI) which was inconclusive on the cause of the sinkhole. However, they do consider that the unusually high footfall across the Rec on the day of the Coronation event, added to the vibration from vehicles, music and the stage, all contributed to it. Please be aware that the Bowls Club have had 2 such holes in the last month, although not on the scale of the one on the Rec.
HESI cannot rule out a repeat and have therefore recommended that we have a Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the whole area and that we keep the public out until the results of that are known. Keeping the public off the Rec is very difficult unless we erect Heras fencing all the way around. I hired some fence panels on Friday morning and, with Lucy and Levi’s help, erected these across all of the entrances onto the open space. We put up posters at all entrances to explain why the Rec was closed, and also put out a message on the Stansted Facebook pages.
I have invited quotes for the next survey from 4 companies and, as I write, 2 have responded. Quotes will be discussed early next week with the Chair and Vice-Chair of F&GP and an instruction to proceed will be given to one of the firms. If we do not progress to this stage, and another hole appears, we would be held liable for any damage or injury incurred. I have sent photos of the fenced-off Rec entrances to our insurers and asked them to let me know if they expect us to fence the whole area. By the end of the weekend, all fencing panels had been pushed down or moved – Lucy replaced them all and this morning (Wednesday) the one by Spencer Close had been completely bent around by someone determined to gain access.
The Heras fencing is currently costing £42 per week but this will increase hugely if we have to fence the whole area. I will report any further progress to you through Laila/Emma at the meeting.
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 31 May 2023
PS The Clerk has been notified that we need to relocate the flood container at the former Youth Centre site on Lower Street. This follows ECC’s decision to dispose of their site.
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 7th June 2023 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex where the following business will be transacted:
1 To elect a Chair of the Committee
2 To receive apologies for absence
3 To receive declarations of interest
4 To elect a Vice-Chair of the Committee
5 To appoint: a) The Tennis Club representative b) The Parish Public Footpath Representative c) The Parish Tree Warden
6 To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 19th April 2023
7 To receive an update on action points from the last meeting
8 To receive a report from the Project Officer – to follow
9 To receive Interments report from the Clerk
10 To receive report from Sustainable Stansted – to follow
- a) To decide on whether to apply for a license for the logs on Rainsford Road
- b) To decide if it is feasible to sow wildflower on the corners of Rainford Road
12 To receive quarterly review on gardening and grass cutting contracts – to follow
13 To receive a report on play equipment maintenance – to follow
14 To consider quotes for:
- a) Reducing the canopy of the maple on Chapel Hill
- 2. b) Cutting back trees on the boundary between Foresthall Park and Mountfitchet Estate
15 To decide whether or not to proceed with the plaque for the Coronation Shelter
16 To consider the planning of a Village Litter Pick Autumn 2023
17 To consider formulating a policy on additions/changes to existing memorial plaques
18 To delegate authority to Projects Officer and Committee Chair to agree on projects for UDC grant applications
19 To receive an update report on footpaths – to follow
20 Matters to be considered for next agenda
Parish Clerk 1st June 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.