Minutes of a meeting of the FULL COUNCIL held on Wednesday 18th January 2023 at 7.30pm in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex
PRESENT Cllr M Caton (Chair), Cllrs A Barnes, A Guney, J Hogg, J Hudson, M Jessup, P Jones, J Kavanagh, A Khan, J O’Brien, L Prior, F Richards, G Sell andT Smith
Mrs Ruth Clifford – Parish Clerk
Mrs Emma Philbrick – Deputy Clerk
Cllr George Braeckman – via Zoom
District Councillor Melvin Caton – via Zoom
5 members of the public – 3 in person and 2 on Zoom
307 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Braeckman as he is at university. Having been proposed by Cllr Smith and seconded by Cllr Richards, it was unanimously:
RESOLVED to accept the apologies of Cllr Braeckman
Apologies for absence were also received from County Councillor Gooding
One member of the public spoke on behalf of himself and read a statement from another resident of Stansted, regarding the need for a second dispensing pharmacy and detailing the issues experienced as a disabled user of the only dispensing pharmacy currently in Stansted.
308 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None
309 TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS HELD ON 16TH NOVEMBER AND 14TH DECEMBER 2022
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meetings held on 16th November and 14th December 2022 as a true and accurate account.
310 TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ACTION POINTS FROM THE LAST MEETING
The Clerk advised that Cllr Lee Scott had been chased for all outstanding answers on a couple of occasions, but we are still awaiting them. In response to a question from Cllr Prior, Cllr Lee Scott has been advised of the dates of future Full Council meetings so that he can come back as promised, but so far he is yet to agree to any of them and is potentially only meeting with residents of Grove Hill instead. He has been advised that this is not what was agreed and that other residents in the village also want updates. The office will continue to chase.
311 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE CHAIR, CLLR MAUREEN CATON
Cllr Sell commented that he was cautious about the discussions with The Flyer as this could threaten the viability of The Link. Cllr Caton stressed that it was The Flyer who had approached the Council and that she had made The Link aware of the meeting. She advised that there are various issues to explore and address.
312 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE DISTRICT COUNCILLORS’
Attached report from District Cllr Caton
Cllr Sell reported the following:
Along with District Cllr Caton, he attended a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee last night. They discussed the Local Plan with officers, and he has significant concerns which he expressed. They have 9 officers working on the plan, 3 of whom have resigned and 1 is on long-term sick leave. This is having an impact on the work of the small team. The Director of Planning took his points. The concern is, they are low on senior planners and as they are under designation, some people may be put off joining the team due to this. Cllr Caton had raised the point that as a small District Council, do they have the capacity to deliver? It will be made clear next month whether or not there will be further delays to the Local Plan and UDC will be subject to more speculative plans with serious consequences.
Cllr Sell also gave the following updates following a Highways Panel meeting:
Church Road – the County have decided that there is no point digging up the road again and something more drastic is required. They are looking into a Flood Alleviation Strategy.
20 is Plenty – he had asked for an update on behalf of Cllr Khan – The scheme submitted for Walson Way is in validation. The decision on whether this is feasible and what the cost would be, should be published by March.
Cllr Jones asked if District Councillor Caton could, outside of the meeting, give an idea what functions are being talked about in his report. This was agreed.
313 TO RECEIVE A REPORT FROM THE COUNTY COUNCILLOR
a) LIST OF PAYMENTS
The list of payments was tabled, and the Clerk confirmed that Cllr O’Brien had checked and signed the invoices off against the payment schedule before the start of the meeting.
RESOLVED To approve the list of payments.
b) TO RECEIVE THE INCOME AND EXPENDITURE STATEMENT TO 31ST DECEMBER 2022
This was circulated to members with the agenda.
c) TO RECEIVE THE VAT RETURN TO 31ST DECEMBER 2022
The Clerk showed this to members and confirmed it had been submitted.
d) TO NOTE THE INTERIM INTERNAL AUDITOR REPORT
This had been circulated to members ahead of the meeting scheduled, and postponed, in December.
315 TO CONSIDER THE LIST OF PLANNING APPLICATIONS
1 UTT/22/3242/FUL – REAR OF STONER HOUSE, SILVER STREET
Erection of 1 no. one bedroom detached bungalow
The Parish Council believes that its previous objections have not been addressed and they are still relevant – We will be objecting again on these grounds.
2 UTT/22/3527/HHF – 7 MEADOWCROFT
Proposed single and double storey rear/side extension – amendments to that approved under UTT/22/2097/HHF
3 UTT/22/3529/HHF – 5 BENTFIELD ROAD
Replacement of outbuilding with garage and car port
No objection as long as it meets the Uttlesford Parking Standards
4 UTT/22/3479/HHF – ROSE COTTAGE, BURTON END
Conversion of existing garage/workshop into a habitable residential Annexe
No objection as long as it is kept as part of the property
5 UTT/22/3351/FUL – STABLES AT THE NOOK, BURTON END
Conversion of former stable/holiday let to 1 no. dwelling
No objection as long as the Public Right of Way is not obstructed
6 UTT/22/2958/LB – 1 LOWER STREET
Proposed new painted and hanging signage to the front elevation, replacement of existing CCTV camera to front elevation, painted door and shopfront window. Internal alterations – removal of two stud walls and glass brick wall, new flooring throughout (concrete on shop floor, tiles in WC and prep kitchen), painting of plastered walls and ceilings, tiling of WC walls, replacement of kitchen cabinets in prep kitchen, removal of cupboards in corridor, installation of timber framed service counters with concrete fascia and tiled surface, installation of fixed wall shelving behind service counter, installation of bench seating, renovation of WC
The Parish Council objects to this application on the following grounds:
The outdoor shelving is not mentioned in the description, and this is a safety issue due to it being on the corner and the footpath should be kept clear.
The frontage is not owned by the property.
Signage needs to be kept in keeping for a Conservation Area
7 UTT/22/2959/AV – 1 LOWER STREET
Painted fascia sign and flag sign on the front façade
The Parish Council objects to this for the same reasons as listed above
316 TO CONSIDER REFURBISHMENT OF THE CORONATION SHELTER ON CHAPEL HILL
Cllr Barnes advised that this was discussed at Open Spaces but it has come to Full Council as it is an unbudgeted item with wider implications. The condition of the shelter is deteriorating rapidly. It has a leaking roof, rotten rafters, the paintwork is poor and there is mould growing down walls. The second aspect is how could we incorporate the Coronation of King Charles III? Ideas of adding an additional plaque have been discussed or move the current one inside the shelter and put the new one on the outside. There is also an ingrowing branch which will need to be removed before the roof can be repaired. The quotes received so far indicate that the cost to do everything will be approx. £2,500. He asked for the Council to sanction taking it back to Open Spaces to work on and will bring back to Full Council for a final decision to be made.
Cllr Caton advised that she had been approached by a resident in Bentfield End who would like to give a donation towards the costs of the refurbishment and offered support to promote contributions to achieve some of the cost. Cllr Sell advised that he had also been approached by someone who’s late husband was one of the builders who erected it and they would be willing to make a financial contribution. Cllr Sell and Cllr Jones voiced their support for this project, and it was agreed that this would be a project for the Open Spaces Committee to work on.
317 TO CONSIDER IN PRINCIPLE WHETHER TO PURSUE ACQUISTION OF A SITE WITHIN THE BOUNDARY FOR SPORT/RECREATIONAL USE
It was unanimously agreed to defer this item until the end of the agenda.
318 TO CONSIDER A RECOMMENDATION FROM THE PERSONNEL SUB- COMMITTEE REGARDING THE POST OF HANDYMAN.
All members had received the draft Personnel sub-Committee minutes which contained the recommendation. Having been proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Jones, it was unanimously:
RESOLVED That the handyman post not be filled during the forthcoming fiscal year in order for us to assess the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the continued method of operating.
319 F&GP – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS HELD ON 7TH DECEMBER 2022 AND 11TH JANUARY 2023
The minutes of the meetings on 7th December 2022 and 11th January 2023 were received.
320 TO CONSIDER APPROVAL OF THE BUDGET FOR 2023/24
The draft budget had been circulated to all members ahead of the Finance Committee meeting and no changes had been made since then.
Cllr O’Brien advised that the Finance Committee asked for there not to be an increase in the Band D amount of £127.88. It was agreed that it should remain this amount to recognise the difficulties being experienced by the community. The draft budget which was circulated to members, outlines a 0% increase with the Band D figure staying the same. He also advised that to achieve this, he would be making a recommendation that any shortfall in the fiscal year of 2023/24 be taken from the FHP Community Fund and repaid in the 9th year. The current agreement is that £25,000 a year is paid back over 8 years.
Cllr Sell congratulated Cllr O’Brien and officers for the great work they have done by taking on the concerns of residents and understanding the pressures they are under.
Cllr Jones advised that he supports the budget as outlined and he would support the recommendation to take any shortfall from the FHP Community Fund but only for the year 2023/24. He would not support doing this in future years.
Following on from a question from Cllr Prior, the Clerk confirmed that although there is no increase in the Band D figure, there is a small increase in the precept but this is covered by there being more Council Tax payers in the village for the next financial year.
Having been proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Caton, it was unanimously:
RESOLVED to accept the draft budget for the financial year 2023/24
Having been proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Caton it was unanimously:
RESOLVED that any shortfall incurred during 2023/24 be reclaimed from the year’s payment into the FHP Community Fund with the amount claimed to be paid in the year following the end of the agreed term of the Fund’s repayment agreement.
321 TO SET THE PRECEPT FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR 2023/24
Having been proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Sell, it was unanimously:
RESOLVED to set the precept for the financial year 2023/24 at £436,650 and keep the Band D Parish Council Tax at £127.88
322 TO CONSIDER ADOPTING THE REVISED UDC MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
This was circulated to members ahead of the meeting and the Clerk read out an email from UDC which explained what changes had been made and advised that historically, the Council had always adopted the same as the district.
Cllr Khan commented that this is a very important document that sets out the standard of behaviour expected whilst in public office. He stressed that members should abide by the document and role model the behaviour.
Having been proposed by Cllr Khan and seconded by Cllr O’Brien, it was unanimously:
RESOLVED To adopt the revised UDC Model Code of Conduct
323 EMERGENCY PLANNING SUB-COMMITTEE – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH NOVEMBER 2022
The minutes of the meeting held on 9th November 2022 were received
324 OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23RD NOVEMBER 2022
The minutes of the meeting held on 23rd November 2022 were received
325 WINDMILL SUB-COMMITTEE – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 7TH DECEMBER 2022
The minutes of the meeting held on 7th December 2022 were received.
326 PERSONNEL SUB-COMMITTEE – TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 4TH JANUARY 2023
The minutes of the meeting held on 4th January 2023 were received.
Having been proposed by Cllr Caton, it was unanimously
RESOLVED That under Section 1(2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, in view of the confidential nature of the business to be discussed, the public and press be instructed to withdraw.
The meeting closed to the public and press at 8.34pm
317 CONT.. TO CONSIDER IN PRINCIPLE WHETHER TO PURSUE ACQUISITION OF A SITE WITHIN THE BOUNDARY FOR SPORT/RECREATION USE.
A confidential report was circulated to members ahead of the meeting and discussions took place on its contents.
The Chair, Cllr Caton reopened the meeting at 9.02pm
Having been proposed by Cllr Jones and seconded by Cllr O’Brien, it was unanimously;
RESOLVED that the Sports Strategy Group be asked to prepare a report as outlined in the confidential report circulated to members.
Meeting closed at 9.04pm
NO ACTION POINTS
CHAIR REPORT: Maureen Caton
- LEAP – this organisation currently holds the monies (£817,000) for the reprovision of Alms Houses in Stansted. We have requested they join us to visit the Youth Centre site ( presented in the Call for Sites) along with representatives of ECC and ourselves, to discuss the possibility of this being an affordable build on this location. We will keep you informed of any outcome.
- We will also be visiting the Peter Kirk Youth Centre building at the same time, and hopefully will be able to agree a definite date to relaunch the Youth Club provision. The partnership meeting held prior to the Christmas break was successful; with a good exchange on ideas for mutual support. ECC were keen the centre should be used as much as possible when the youth service did not need to occupy. They invited groups to contact them if this would meet their needs.
- Following research on various other established Youth Councils, it would appear that many are struggling getting secondary schools interest and therefore that of the young people’s – as commitments within and out of school are time consuming for the age – group. Many have changed tack and are recruiting young people from the last year in primary school and gaining interest and commitment at this stage. We will now follow this route and visit our primary schools to promote our group. I have also met with Daniel Burford (MAG) who is setting up a Youth Forum in relation to the airport – the experience/service and prospects for youth – we have agreed to mutually support and promote each of our groups to gain the maximum interest locally.
- The Clerk, Deputy Clerk and myself had a brief meeting with the Communications Manager from Gigaclear. They are hoping/planning (awaiting sign – off) to focus on broadband instatement in the North of the village in April this year. They are setting up communications for households and drop- in sessions locally, as well as on-line presentations and a social media presence. He will be sending across a presentation for us to share with parish councillors but has stressed that, at this point, it is confidential as commercially sensitive information, so please do not forward it to anyone else. It was interesting to find out that they are responsible for highway reinstatement for 2 years following completion of their works….Does Essex CC follow up on this requirement with all agencies ?
- We have recently met with the Advertising and Sales Manager of the Flyer Magazine to listen to their proposals in relation to the distribution of the material we currently produce for the Link. The Link group have been made aware of this approach to us. As a result, we are planning to set up a group to consider presentations from both parties on their strategies to support the presentation of our material and consider how we allocate the funding available.
- We await a number of clarifications on various issues in relation to our support for a second pharmacy. I, along with the Clerk, was interviewed yesterday in relation to my submission to Health Watch on community pharmacy provision. We hope to have sight of the report that is being prepared for the Integrated Care Board for Herts and West Essex. We await responsibility for commissioning various services will transfer to the new ICB’s this year, including dispensing licences for pharmacies.
- Following a discussion with the Planning Officer at UDC – it would appear that the re – siting of the 3G pitch at Forest Hall School will probably proceed there – as Sport England wish to see a pitch in place at the same time as the development on site at Northside commences. We have reiterated our previous concerns in relation to lack of benefits to Stansted, from what will be an extensive development that will impact our village and have requested in addition an agreed funding amount for this council to put into its projects going forward. We have requested a further meeting with Columbia Threadneedle to address these issues.
- Following UDC’s initial exploration into the willingness of Parishes to fund the Highway Ranger Service- it would appear the larger Parishes where the funding stream would emanate were unwilling to support UDC undertaking this. ECC disbanding of this service will now proceed.
- The UDC Community Achievement Awards evening showed, through a strong representation of Stansted awards winners, what a supportive and inclusive community we have. Mark Gerber and Mike Byrne representing the Scouts received awards in the Youth section. Catherine Dean for her community and charity work involvement, but also for her support of the work of the Day Centre in its previous guise. Tudor Owen and Richard Thomas for their work in maintaining and promoting the windmill.
Congratulations to all on the work you have done and continue to do – your awards are well deserved.
- Finally thank you to those who have kept the brook flowing freely and prevented flooding on Lower Street over these rain-soaked weeks. CHAIR REPORT ENDS.
County Council Report: Ray Gooding
If it is not too late I would wish everyone a happy new year for 2023.
Council Tax. It has been announced that the uplift in Council Tax for 2023/24 will be 3.5 % and that is one of the lowest increases for any Upper Tier Authority in this years round and is less that the maximum of 5% that was recommended by the government. The 3.5% is made up of 2% Social Care Precept and 1.5% Council Tax and it has to be recognised that Social Care remains the largest commitment that the County Council has. To put this in context, Social Care accounts for approximately 85% of the council spending and has a gross cost of £844 million this year. Clearly these are sobering figures and this represents a commitment that is not seen by residents generally. However, it is evident that at some time in our lives almost everyone will have a a need for this support whether it be for themselves or a member of their family.
Local Highway Matters. It is agreed that a meeting is to be arranged regarding Grove Hill and the date for that will be notified shortly. It is necessary that Kemi Badenoch attends that meeting because we need her support in finalising the Government Legislation that is required for this issue. Clearly given our MP’s commitments that is something that both myself and Cllr Lee Scott are discussing with her regarding her availability.
Church Road has again been the subject of flooding despite the works that Highways have carried out over the recent months and it has been confirmed by Highway Officers that the improvement works that have been completed to that drainage within the area of their responsibility, namely the Highway Network has now been exhausted. In view of this I have asked that the area of Church Road be put forward for a full review under a Flood Alleviation Scheme that will assess the issues for the entire area.
Potholes. I can confirm that I have entered a number of the potholes within Stansted under the Members Pothole Scheme and although I have experienced some IT issues with the reporting program I am working with the Officers to ensure that the repairs are completed as soon as possible. It is evident that the potholes I have reported will not be exhaustive given the time of year and the recent weather but hopefully it will be a start.
Peter Kirk Centre. I have arranged for the Chairman and the Clerk to visit the centre this week to view the alterations that have been made to enhance the property. In conjunction with this we will also be visiting the old youth centre in Lower street to discuss the future of that building. Report Ends.
DISTRICT COUNCILLOR REPORT: Melvin Caton
At end of November District councillors heard from officers that Uttlesford District Council will need to make substantial savings amounting to £5m over the next five years to balance the council’s budget. This will mean the loss of council jobs and a reduction in the number of services provided and their quality.
Although the budget for the next financial year (2023/24) has not been made or fully discussed yet the Chief Financial Officer advised members that to “balance the budget” it would likely be necessary to use up either £4m of the council’s reserves (of £12m) or to sell one or more of the Council’s investment properties. Both these options would be “one offs” and expenditure at the current level is not sustainable in the long term.
The council will decide its 2023/24 budget on the 21st February. Like they did successfully last year, the Stansted district councillors have already been arguing for Uttlesford to fund more local actions tackling the Cost of Living Crisis in the district. Before Christmas they collectively contributed £2000 towards Touchpoint’s Kids Christmas Appeal from their Ward Initiative Funding. Funding has been given to local primary schools to support the provision of hot school meals for pupils in need and other projects.
At a special Cabinet meeting just before Christmas the Chief Executive reported on a number of issues concerning the Housing function.
Chiefly it had been discovered that the wrong inflation measure had been applied which meant that rents of our Council Houses were increased by 1% more than they should have been over the last two years. The council has apologised to tenants and is arranging to refund the overcharge (plus interest) as quickly as possible. In September the Council had already referred themselves to the Regulator of Social Housing because of their failure to meet maintenance and other health and safety checks on its stock of around 2800 homes.
The Cabinet also agreed to provide an additional £260,000 per annum to support the district’s three leisure centres. The increased support is required because Covid has reduced the number of people using the Centres and spiralling energy costs. It is a concern that changes to the opening hours at the Centres are under consideration. According to the report any changes “will have the most impact on the Mountfitchet Romeera Centre, which has experienced the most significant drop off in usage”.
At the beginning of January, a District Council by- election was held for the Dunmow South and Barnston ward following the resignation of a R4U councillor who moved to Norfolk in August 2021. 1n a low turnout election R4U, the majority party on Uttlesford, lost nearly 30% of their previous vote to lose the seat to the Conservatives. Perhaps it is an early indication that local residents are looking for more competence from their local council leadership. All councillors will be up for election on 4th May 2023 including the new councillor elected in Dunmow last month.
Later in January the Council will discuss the pros and cons of a deal with the Government to devolve some functions and funding to a Greater Essex partnership of Essex County Council, Southend -on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Unitary Council. District Councils will not be party to the deal but the leader of Essex County Council is asking for them to vote on the proposals before they are submitted to the Government by the end of January. Some councillors are concerned that the decision is being rushed through before the local elections in May without proper consultation or consideration.
Finally, on February 7th Stansted Airport is organising a Jobs Fair at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the airport (CM24 1PP) between 10.00 and 14.00. Report Ends
NOTICE OF MEETING You are summoned to attend a meeting of the FULL COUNCIL which will be held on Wednesday 18th January 2023 at 7.30pm in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted, Essex where the following business will be transacted:
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 meetings held on 16th Nov and 14th Dec 2022
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 the District Councillors’ Report
7 To receive the County Councillor’s Report
a) To approve the list of payments – To be tabled
b) To receive the summary Income & Expenditure statement to 31st Dec ‘22
c) To receive the VAT return to 31st Dec ‘22
d) To note the interim Internal Auditor report – attached
9 To consider the list of planning applications received– see attached
10 To consider refurbishment of the Coronation Shelter on Chapel Hill
The following item will be taken in Part 2
11 To consider in principle whether to pursue acquisition of a site within the boundary for sport/recreational use
12 To consider a recommendation from the Personnel Sub-Committee regarding the post of Handyman
13 F&GP – To receive the minutes of the meetings held on 7th Dec ’22 & 11th Jan ‘23
14 To consider approval of the budget for 2023/24
15 To set the Precept for the financial year 2023/24
16 To consider adopting the revised UDC Model Code Of Conduct – attached
17 Emergency Planning Sub-Committee – To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 9th November 2022
18 Open Spaces Committee – To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd November 2022
19 Windmill Sub-Committee – To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 7th December 2022
20 Personnel Sub-Committee – To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 4th January 2023
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 12 January 2023