Minute of a meeting of the FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE held on Wednesday 29th June 2022 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex
PRESENT Cllr J O’Brien (Chair), Cllrs M Jessup, F Richards and T Smith
Mrs Ruth Clifford – Parish Clerk
Mrs Emma Philbrick – Deputy Clerk
Cllr J Hudson
Cllrs A Barnes, J Hogg, P Jones and L Prior – Via Zoom
1 member of the press – Via Zoom
1 member of the public – Via Zoom
92 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Caton and Hogg – holiday and Cllr Jones – Covid. Having been proposed by Cllr Smith it was unanimously:
RESOLVED To accept the apologies of Cllrs Caton, Hogg and Jones
93 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None
94 TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 18TH MAY 2022
RESOLVED to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 18th May 2022 as a true and accurate account
Cllr O’Brien updated regarding 38a – lighting column WR5 He has failed to make contact with the owner of the property where the light is situated but we will keep trying.
95 UPDATE ON ACTION POINTS FROM THE LAST MEETING – None
a) TO RECEIVE AN OUTAGE REPORT
A light in Norman’s Way is out and has been reported to the contractor today.
Cllr O’Brien advised that light JR1 is permanently on and Cllr Hudson advised that a light in Park Road is also constantly on. These will both be reported.
b) GENERAL REPORT
Cllr O’Brien advised that he made contact with our lighting contractors today to ask if it was possible to switch off some lights in certain roads early to save on electricity. The Clerk believes that this would involve installing control gear into the lights which would be too costly but would await a response.
97 FINANCE – TO APPPROVE THE LIST OF PAYMENTS
The Clerk advised that Cllr Jessup had checked and approved all the payments before the start of the meeting. He confirmed they were all correct. The list of payments was approved.
98 TO CONSIDER IMPROVING SIGNAGE AT CRAFTON GREEN
The Chair advised that correspondence had been received from a resident who was concerned that the Parish Council was not well signposted. The Clerk advised that they were holding out to see how Touchpoint developed as they will also need more signage. The Council has always been against too many signs. The Chair of the Council and the Clerk had looked at the signage on Chapel Hill and there would be room to add the Parish Council to this if UDC agreed. There was also room on the outside wall of the Day Centre so this was also a possibility. Cllr Smith commented that the Parish Council was showing up incorrectly on Google maps and this could be rectified if the Parish Council set up their own Google account. It was agreed that Cllr O’Brien would try to make contact with Google and ask for this to be changed. The Clerk will also speak to UDC regarding the signage on Chapel Hill.
99 CHRISTMAS LIGHTING – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES
Cllr O’Brien advised that he had covered this is in his Chair report. Cllr Jones commented on a number of factors in the budget that would need to be considered and that Christmas lighting was a luxury so should be carefully considered. Cllr O’Brien advised that they were trying to minimise the Council’s spend by making contact with the local businesses about sponsoring and/or providing lights. Cllr Jessup commented that they were only looking to spend the money on lights which had already been budgeted. The Clerk advised that the working group would need to ensure that any decision made did not have an ongoing binding effect. Any proposals from the working group will come back to the Committee.
100 BONFIRE NIGHT – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES
The Clerk advised that the Events working group would be meeting next week to start discussing this year’s event.
101 CRAFTON GREEN – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES
The Clerk advised that there was little to update. Touchpoint are currently working on another bid which would potentially give funds for further improvement work to be carried out. The work already agreed is due to start in the summer but we are still awaiting an exact date from the contractor.
DWP would like to get involved and they would need to use the large meeting room in The Mountfitchet Exchange. They have carried out their risk assessment and we are awaiting an update from them but hope they will start in September.
102 WINDMILL – TO RECEIVE ANY UPDATES
Cllr O’Brien advised that the planned summer fete was still due to go ahead as expected on August Bank Holiday Monday. They are looking into grants from the English Heritage and Lottery Fund to see how much re-pointing they could potentially do.
103 YOUTH MATTERS
The Clerk advised that along with Cllr Caton, they had been awaiting a meeting with Essex for some time, but their contact had been on long term sick leave. One of their colleagues has now stepped in and they are meeting with her next week. This will be to discuss such things as the overall running of the service, risk assessments, updates on when they are likely to move to the Peter Kirk Centre and what the business plan is.
104 STAFF MATTERS – TO RECEIVE ANY AVAILABLE UPDATES
The Clerk advised that there was nothing to currently report. The Chair, Cllr O’Brien, congratulated Emma on passing her CiLCA qualification which meant she was now a qualified Clerk and her position is now a Deputy Clerk at Stansted Parish Council. Emma thanked the Clerk, Ruth Clifford for all her time and support whilst undertaking
the qualification and advised she could not have got through it without the support shown.
Before closing the meeting, the Chair once again urged residents to respond to the NHS Pharmaceutical consultation.
The Clerk advised that the Chair of the Council, Cllr Caton was working on Council’s submission which will be submitted to the Health and Wellbeing Board once finalised and approved.
Cllrs Richards and Prior asked if it could be put on the Parish Council’s Facebook and Instagram feed as well as our website.
Meeting Closed at 7.55pm
98 Cllr O’Brien to make contact with Google to get the location of the Parish Council offices amended and the Clerk to contact UDC regarding signage on Chapel Hill.
By Chair John O’Brien
The ongoing inflationary forecasts for the UK seem to be forever upwards which does not offer any comfort for Local Government organisations looking forward to the budgetary calculations for the 2023/2024 fiscal year. The recent Bank of England prediction for inflation rising to 10% this year will, I fear, be surpassed without further interventions by central government. Without which I feel that we could be looking at as much as 12.5 – 15%, a return to the 1970’s.
At this point I should like to advise that we have been informed by the new CEO of Uttlesford, Peter Holt, that UDC will need to make significant savings in its budget from next year, adding to the potential woes as previously mentioned.
We have also recently been advised that Elsenham Parish Council have made the decision to withdraw their support for the PCSO jointly funded by Stansted, Elsenham and Henham Parish Councils. This will take effect from August of this year. Fortunately, Uttlesford have agreed to take on Elsenham’s share of the cost until the end of the fiscal year, but again this adds to the financial uncertainties for the 2023/2024 fiscal year and beyond.
The sombre news given above points towards the difficulties posed by external pressures that we are to face in the coming years.
One ray of hope – UDC recently announced that it had received grants totalling £1.7M for ‘Climate Change and Biodiversity’ projects and this council has made a bid which, if successful, will enable it to convert its streetlight stock to LED. This would give us a projected saving in energy costs of around 72%. This would equate to a saving in the region of £13,000. Let’s hope that UDC also sees the potential benefits for our community.
The public consultation on the ‘Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment’, offers members of our community an opportunity to push for a second dispensing pharmacy at Stansted Mountfitchet, has opened and will be open until 5th August. Access to it can be gained at: –
I urge all members of our community to take the time to make their opinions known in this important consultation process. The inability of the wheelchair bound to access Boots is nothing short of a discriminatory approach to pharmaceutical licensing by NHS East who seem oblivious to the hardships imposed upon residents with mobility issues.
Christmas Lights: – This has proved to be a challenging topic where initial ideas and opinions have had to be radically changed.
The working group has contacted business owners in Lower Street and met with Patsy Banks who has been the motivation behind the illuminated Christmas Tree outside the Castle Maltings.
Our aim is to set up bright, focal points of light in Lower Street area which does not have a consistent spread of light. So far there has been a positive response from businesses but there are still further discussions to be had.
The group is also looking into providing some lighting elsewhere in the village and especially at the Fountain Island, which will require some technical ingenuity. Report Ends
NOTICE OF MEETING You are summoned to attend a meeting of the FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE which will be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 29th June 2022 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 meetings held on 18th May 2022
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
7 Finance: To approve the list of payments for authorisation – To be tabled
8 To consider improving signage at Crafton Green
9 Christmas Lighting – To receive an update from the Working Group.
10 Bonfire Night – To receive an update from the Events Working Group
11 Crafton Green – To receive any updates on the community buildings
12 Windmill – To receive any updates
13 Youth Matters – To receive any updates
14 Staff Matters – To receive any available updates
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 23 June 2022