Minutes of a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 24th November 2021 in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex
PRESENT Cllrs A Barnes (Chair), M Caton, A Guney, J Kavanagh, J O’Brien, F Richards
ATTENDING Mrs Ruth Clifford – Clerk to the Council
Mrs L Azure-Marxen – Committee & Project Support Officer
Attending Cllrs: P Davies, L Prior
1 member of the public
1 member of the press
Gareth Broad from GWB Horticulture – to speak on item 6a
Cllr Barnes noted that Cllr Davies had forwarded questions on tonight’s agenda and that these would be covered under the items in question.
253 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Cllr Davies sent his apologies that he could not attend the meeting due to family matters. He was listening in on Zoom. Cllr. Davies was informed that although he could participate in discussions he could not vote on any resolution as he was not attending in person.
Cllr Khan sent his apologies that he could not attend the meeting due to being away on a 2-day board strategic event in Bristol.
RESOLVED: to approve apologies for absence from Cllrs P Davies and A Khan.
254 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Cllr Guney declared an interest as she lives on Dairy Lane close to Elms Farm.
255 TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 6th October 2021
Cllr Hudson pointed out that Amherst spelling needs correcting.
Cllr Kavanagh confirmed with Laila that misspelling of her name was corrected.
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting held on 6th October 2021 as a true and accurate account.
256 TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ACTIONS POINT FROM PREVIOUS MEETING
195 – The Clerk explained that there isn’t any planning obligation on paving the footpath.
196 – Emma and Laila will collaborate on sending the allotment tenants an email if there is a need of volunteers for the tree planting
All action points have been dealt with.
257 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT See attached
Cllr Barnes read out his Chairman’s Report.
a GARETH BROAD FROM GWB HORTICULTURE TO SPEAK ON PLANTING PLAN
b TO DISCUSS THE NEXT STAGE PLANTING PLAN FOR 2022
The Chairman welcomed Gareth Broad. Mr Broad is the head of GWB Horticulture and is the current contractor for gardening and general grounds maintenance. The Clerk explained that the gardening contract is going out to tender and as the Council’s current contractor Mr Broad
will be reviewing tasks undertaken in 2021 and some spring planting suggestions for the village in 2022. It was stressed that although the incumbent, there are no guarantees for GWB Horticulture to be successful on the contract starting 1st April.
Gareth Broad described what his company has done throughout the village in the last 5 years: GWB does various grounds maintenance but primarily landscaping work, which includes border management in the old and new parts of Stansted. GWB has planted various herbaceous borders, and these might need reviewing in the coming year as they have a lifespan of around 5 years. They also manage the Memorial Garden, flower beds throughout the village, planters, and hanging baskets. They cut shrubs and hedges in Foresthall Park. Foresthall Park has been a 3-year work in progress due to the lack of maintenance in handover, but it is improving.
Continuing with Foresthall Park, Mr Broad added that the vegetation along the SUDS needs an annual or twice annual cut to maintain. In the open space/urban square by the school he suggested introducing an herbaceous border and shrub border, and to plant bulbs in the grass area. He also suggested an herbaceous border and bulbs in the grass at Wilkin’s Crescent. On Livings Way the hedges are huge and need to be maintained and some work needs to be done before June 2022. The Clerk commented that unfortunately the space on Livings Way was mistakenly not handed over by Croudace to the Parish Council and Mr Broad has been doing mercy cuts. The Council’s solicitor has tried to reach an agreement with Croudace to have this area added to the handover documents but their legal team have ceased to communicate since pre-Covid.
Cllr Richards asked if Mr Broad had any ideas for spring flowers:
In the Blythwood Gardens planter he suggested sizeable annuals, as the current pansies are too small to make an impact. He would also put in an herbaceous border that only would need replenishment.
Cllr Kavanagh asked for suggestions for the open space opposite the Windmill. Mr Broad suggested beautifying the area with planters. Cllr Richards also added that the holly tree also needs trimming. Mr. Broad also suggested revamping the herbaceous planting throughout town, and to put a new raised planter on the triangle at the end of Lower Street.
Cllr Barnes explained that the planter on Lower Street has been discussed for a year, as it is a prominent position in the village and needs updating. Mr Broad was asked to quote on the planter as he had constructed something similar for Blythewood Gardens. Mr Broad added that the current and former small planters are badly perished, and something a bit bigger and more impressive would be suitable for the space. The planter suggested would equalise the ground without obstructing the view for drivers, and make sure that grass cutters can come around. There would be a variety of planting options to make it a feature. The Clerk asked if the planter required work below ground, and Mr. Broad commented that it would only require marginal work below grass level. The Clerk commented that such a planter would need a licence from Essex Highways and they would want a drawing detailing any below groundwork.
The local Community Christmas Tree group hope to plant a fir on the same spot. It was asked if this can be incorporated with the planter? Mr Broad’s advice was to reconsider planting a fir in the planter as it would limit the planting options and a fir such as this has a limited lifespan. After 6-7 years it will need to be cut down depending on the size. Roots might be an issue if there are any cables in the ground, as well as any overhead lines. If the Council cannot obtain a licence to plant a tree it is suggested to incorporate a cut Christmas tree in the planter. Mr Broad also suggests planting a Yew tree as an ever-green alternative, as it will be less aggressive, shallow rooted and growth can be controlled by cutting.
It was discussed that the Council needs to work with the Christmas tree group to combine ideas, and that the outcome will be dependent on Essex Highways giving a licence. Cllr Kavanagh also commented that in the long term the Council might need permission to do any work on a tree there, as it will be planted in a conservation area.
c TO CONSIDER QUOTE FOR A PLANTER CLOSE TO THE DOG AND DUCK PUB
The Chairman explained that since we have only received one quote for the installation and supply of the planter this item is for the Committee to consider if it wants to go ahead in principle with the plan of installing a planter. If so, the office team would obtain 2 more quotes for the supply and installation of a sleeper bed. As the planter will be located on land belonging to Essex Highways, the Council will need to obtain a licence to dig in the planter. The location has also been marked as a possible location for a permanent Christmas tree, so the project should be coordinated with the Christmas tree for Stansted group. The planter will replace the old planters which are falling apart and has been modelled on the one Mr Broad constructed for Blythwood Gardens.
RESOLVED The Committee agreed in principle to install a sleeper bed planter if a licence from Essex Highways could be obtained. The project needed to be coordinated with the Christmas tree for Stansted group and efforts should be made to obtain a total of 3 quotes for the supply and installation of the planter.
d TO CONSIDER DELEGATION FOR THE SELECTION OF GRASS AND GARDEN CONTRACTORS TO THE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN AND VICECHAIRMAN IN LIAISON WITH THE CLERK
The Clerk explained that the grass cutting, and gardening contract are up for renewal in 2022. The original grass cutting contract has now been split into two with the larger grass cutting contract covering most areas in Stansted and the smaller two specialist areas. Six companies have been asked to tender for this contract. They are mostly local, but as the work requires big machinery and manpower it limits the number of local companies that may tender. The smaller contract covers the St. Mary’s Churchyard, the Parish Cemetery, and the Allotments. The benefit of using a local and smaller company to do the smaller contract will be that they are able to be more flexible around weather conditions. Five local companies have been asked to tender for this contract. The deadline for tender submission will be on the 10th of December. The Gardening contract is still be issued for tender and local companies will be invited for this as well. Cllr Guney asked if the contract needs to be advertised. The Clerk explained that we do not legally have to advertise because of the scale of the contract, and this is not something the Council has done in the past. But if the Council want to adopt this it is something to consider in the future. [NOTE the Clerk corrected this statement at the F&GP committee meeting to confirm that the Gardening contract WILL be advertised on Contract Finder. When setting the budget last year members had agreed to join the village and Foresthall Park into one overall contract which puts it above the £25,000 threshold]
RESOLVED Proposed by Cllr Richard and seconded by Cllr Guney it was unanimously agreed to delegate the selection of grass and gardening contractors for 2022 to the Open Spaces Chairman, Open Spaces Vice Chair, Chair of Finance, in liaison with the Clerk.
Cllr Davies raised his concerns that he was not made aware about the tender process for the grass cutting and gardening contracts. He has not seen any documents on how the submissions are to be evaluated. It was explained that the renewal of contracts has been discussed several times earlier in the year, but it might have been before Cllr Davies became part of the Council. Cllr Davies hopes that documents on the tender documents and how the decision is being weighted will be shared among the councillors.
The Clerk did not read out the internments as she was interrupted, and the Council moved on to the next item. The names and dates have been added post meeting.
Elsie and George Stoddart, 12 November 2021
Gertrude Foster, 17 November 2021
Rosamund Chalkley, 24 November 2021
b TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON THE REVISION ON THE CEMETERY RULES AND REGULATIONS (CLLRS GUNEY AND RICHARDS)
Cllrs Richard and Guney spoke on their progress revising the Cemetery Rules and Regulations. They have been researching documents from other authorities. They have found that although some have a better flow, the language is very concise and specific, because of Statutory rules that must be in there. They have a meeting scheduled for next week where they are going to look at how to make the wording more modern and easier to understand for the residents. Cllr Kavanagh asked if the statutory rules that the Council cannot do anything about could be split from the Council’s own rules? Cllr Richards commented that this might be possible but was unsure about how much extra time this would require. The benefit of separating the rules will be that it’s easier for the Council to identify what rules we can change in the future.
Cllr Richards explained that they were considering changing the format of the Rules and Regulations, so it can fit on a trifold leaflet. They had researched designs from other Councils, and they look more accessible for the residents as it was more simplified. Cllr Caton asked for a timeframe of the document to be completed. Cllrs Guney and Richards agreed to have the first draft ready for the next O/S meeting in January. Cllr Barnes asked to have a section on maintenance included/revised as the grass cutter has had issues with unmaintained graves which makes the strimming difficult.
a TO RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON THE REFORESTATION OF NEWMAN’S PLANTATION
Cllr Barnes gave a brief update referring to Laila’s project update report (see attached).
Members were asked to volunteer for the tree give away planned for the same day as the tree planting (22nd January). Cllrs Guney and Caton volunteered to give trees away. An invitation for tree planting will be handed out to the immediate neighbours of Newman’s Plantation and put up on the notice board on Walson Way. The invite will go on the Council’s website as well. The tree planting will not be advertised on social media as we are trying to limit the number of volunteers (5-10 in total). If we find that not enough residents step forward, we will consider sharing it in the local Facebook groups. Cllr Davies volunteered for the tree planting if extra hands were needed.
Cllr Davies asked if a tree survey has been undertaken on the land before handover and if there were any liability costs identified. The Clerk explained that a survey had been done after the land was handed over as the developers would not do one and the Council did not get any more money from the developers to undertake this work.
b TO CONSIDER A QUOTE FOR THE REPLACEMENT TREE IN THE MEMORIAL GARDEN
The tree, replacing one originally planted in 1985, should go in during this planting season and be dedicated later in the summer for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Cllr Caton questioned the price, and it was explained that the tree is a 4-4.5 meters tall specimen and that is not cheap. It was asked for the office to clarify if the removal of the dead tree was included in the quote.
RESOLVED to agree to replace the tree in the memorial garden as the quote is within budget.
261 TO APPROVE THE PURCHASE OF A TELESCOPIC BOLLARD AT ELMS FARM P.O.S.
Cllr Kavanagh wanted to make it clear that the need for the bollard was because of a break-in at Elms Farm. Cllr Barnes explained that the landowners originally planned for the access point from the POS to the private road to be closed off by the placement of permanent wooden bollards at a distance of 1.5m. As access to the POS from the roadway will likely be needed once the POS was developed, this plan was considered restrictive and it was suggested that a security rated telescopic bollard should be used to replace one of the permanent bollards. The landowner agreed to cover the cost of installing the telescopic bollard if the council covered the cost of purchase which would be approximately £500.
A discussion ensued as to whether this was the right location and whether the bollard would be on private or Council land. The Clerk confirmed that if it went on the land which is to be handed over to the Council, this would be permitted as there are legal documents to evidence this.
Cllr Richards asked to have a proper quotation at hand before deciding. Cllr Kavanagh suggested having a quote for the removal of wooden posts if we need to change it in the future. Cllr O’Brien pointed out that the instalment of a telescopic bollard will be a pragmatic solution and will be safeguarding both properties in the future.
The Councillors discussed how the bollard will be funded. The Clerk pointed out that bollard can be covered by the materials budget, or the Councillors can ask the Chair of finance to take it from the reserve. The Clerk also reminded the Councillors that when the land is handed over it will come with a developer contribution which will cover any maintenance.
RESOLVED to agree to wait on contributing to the telescopic bollard until the Council has a conversation with the landowners about their commitment and the obtaining of a proper quote. It was also agreed to explore the option of securing the Dairy Lane end.
262 TO RECIVE AN UPDATE ON FOOTPATHS
Cllr Barnes gave thanks to Mr Stiles for sending the footpath report.
The maintenance of Elms Farm public open space will be under consideration as we move towards the land will being handed over.
FP24-FP25: An extension of footpath will be in the neighbourhood plan and has also been mentioned as part of the benefit in kind from the airport development.
263 MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NEXT AGENDA
Cllr Kavanagh asked for toilet facilities for the skatepark to be added on the next agenda.
Cllr Richards asked for litter to be added to the agenda.
Meeting closed 21.17
258d Dog and Duck planter:
The Office to investigate a licence from Essex Highways for installing a planter and a fir tree
Coordinating the planter project with Christmas tree in Stansted group
The office to obtain 2 more quotes on the supply and installation of a sleeper bed planter
260b the office to confirm if removal of the dead tree is included in the quote on the new tree for the Memorial Garden
261 Get a detailed quote on the telescopic bollard from the landowners
Get a quote on removal of wooden posts and instalment of a telescopic bollard
I only have a few points to report on that are no on the agenda or covered in Laila’s project update;
- In conjunction with Cllr Dean we have sort further reassurances from UDC that the S-106 provisions for Elms Farm and Walpole Meadows are being undertaken by the developers. Information provided this week for Elms Farm is that the de-weeding and spraying off has been completed and that the developer is awaiting quotes on the necessary landscaping works. This should include destoning, rut filling and debris removal. Further information as to the timelines for this work has been requested. The replacement of the dead whips on EF is the responsibility of the EF management company. On Walpole Meadows little has changed, the dead orchard trees will be replaced and the playground should be gated and fenced off, however the allotments are still proving a sticking point and the land drainage and the condition of the paths are a planning issues and do not form one of the S-106 conditions.
- On Elms Farm I met with Tom Holt from the ETI to discuss the feasibility of reforesting part of the Elms Farm POS. To this end he will develop and present his ideas for a possible planting plan and suggestions for suitable tree types. I also approached a commercial landscape company concerning their participation.
- We are awaiting the results of our CIT grant application for additional play equipment on Mountfitchet Green and FHP. To date we have had donations from our county councillor and UDC. As soon as the results of the CIF applications are known we will better know what we can provide and work should start soon after.
- Due to the increased involvement of O/S committee members with the provision of new play equipment across Stansted, as from the start of 2022 we will include playground metrics as a standing item on O/S agenda. These data will give committee members information concerning inspection records, faults found and any maintenance undertaken in support of all SMPC responsible play grounds. My hope is that this will increase transparency and accountability in this important area.
- I cannot report any further progress on the acquisition of land for the provision of additional burial plots to the current St Mary’s cemetery. Project details and costings have been obtained up to the planning approval stage and we await the agreement of landowners before proceeding.
- We have invited our current landscaping contractor, Gareth Broad of GWB, to attend tonight and give the sub-committee information as to GWB’s current work programme and ideas going forward and to give councillors a chance to ask questions on this important part of village life . To facilitate the ongoing landscaping contract tendering exercise, the Clerk and I recently met with Gareth to discuss current workloads. Report Ends
SUMMONS You are summoned to attend a meeting of the OPEN SPACES which will be held on Wednesday 24th November 2021 at 7.30pm in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted, Essex
1 To approve apologies for absence
2 To receive declarations of interest
3 To receive the minutes of the Open Spaces meeting held on 6th October 2021
4 To receive an update on action points from previous meeting
5 To receive the Chairman’s Report
6 Gardening a) Gareth Broad from GWB horticulture to speak on planting plan
b) To discuss the next stage planting plan 2022
c) To consider quote for Dog and Duck planter
d) To consider delegation for selection of Grass and Garden contractors to the Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman in liaison with the Clerk
7 Cemetery a) Interments and memorials – to receive a report from the Clerk
b) To receive update on the revision on the Cemetery Rules and Regulations (Cllrs Guney and Richards)
8 Trees a) To receive an update on the reforestation of Newman’s Plantation
b) To approve quote for the replacement tree in the Memorial Garden
9 To approve purchase of a telescopic bollard to Elm’s Farm access road
10 To receive an update on footpaths
11 Matters to be considered for next agenda.