Minutes & Reports – 13 March 2019

Annual Parish Uploaded on May 3, 2023



MOUNTFITCHET PRESENT Cllr M Caton (Chairman of the Parish Council) and 8 other Parish Councillors Ruth Clifford – Clerk to the Council Trevor Lloyd – Assistant Clerk County Cllr Ray Gooding and Dist Cllr Alan Dean 23 parishioners The Chairman, Cllr Maureen Caton, welcomed everyone to the meeting and advised everyone of the fire exits. 1 APOLOGIES Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs C Dean, S Dunn, M Jessup, J Kavanagh, R Rands and J Salmon.

2 MINUTES The minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2018 were approved.

3 ACCOUNTS Cllr Jones reminded the meeting that a copy of the full audited Annual Governance and Accountability Returns for 2018 and the budgets for 2019/20 and 2020/21 have been available on the Parish Council website. The report in The Link had stated that a hard copy was available on request to the Parish Council. Having been proposed by Cllr Sell and seconded by Cllr Barnes, the accounts for the year ended 31 March 2018 were unanimously accepted.

4 FINANCIAL REPORT Cllr Jones highlighted the following:

 Longer than expected rental income from the clinic and the failure to recruit a PSCO had a positive impact on the budget.

 ECC announcement n November of their intention to review their library provision, which carried with it a threat that our library would be closed, was a major hammer blow and left the Parish Council with the possibility of losing £20,000 of income.

 In the light of the loss of income an increase in council tax would be needed to maintain the reserves at the required level.

 The final cost of building the Mountfitchet Exchange was likely to be £1.2m.  An early decision on the future of Crafton Green House was vital to stop it becoming a drain on resources.

 The future of the Day Centre was currently being discussed with UDC. There is a potential saving of £5,000.

 If savings can be made, then the Foresthall Park S.106 Fund, which has been used to help finance the Mountfitchet Exchange project, should start to be re-established.

Cllr Jones stated that this would be his last financial report as he was not seeking re-election after 43 years on the Parish Council. Whilst he regretted the delays that had been caused to The Mountfitchet Exchange project, he had no regrets at all about embarking on the project; he believes that it will contribute to the wellbeing of the whole community and become a focal point for a variety of local services.

He then invited questions from the floor. Mr Hollis asked how figures could be so precise. Cllr Jones explained that may of the items of expenditure were known well in advance and were not estimates. Dist. Cllr A Dean sought clarification on the £109,000 figure shown as free reserves for 2020/21.

Cllr Jones explained that the new Council would have to monitor this and decide how much it wished to allocate to specific projects. Mr Stiles stated that he had first joined the Parish Council 40 years ago, and Peter Jones was then already an established councillor.

He has been at the core of the Council, and the community owes him a huge debt of gratitude for his outstanding service.

5 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Cllr Caton updated her report which had been circulated via The Link. Copy attached.

6 NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH REPORT Cllr Trundle presented her report on the work undertaken by the village NhW group.



a Mr Snow asked why the Stansted Pharmacy was not open on a Saturday. Cllr Richards explained that it was not economical for them to open on Saturday but this would change if they were granted a dispensing licence. Cllr Caton agreed to approach the management to raise the issue re Saturday opening.

b Mr Woodcock:

 thanked the Council, particularly retiring members, for supporting him.

 requested that the Parish Council continues to fight for a dispensing pharmacy in the south of the village.

 stated that poor air quality was still a major concern. He is seeking access to the data that has been collected and is prepared to use a freedom of information request to make sure the data is in the public domain.

 reported that the Speedwatch team are still recording vehicles doing disturbing speeds. He appealed for new volunteers to join the team.

c Mrs Hollis:

 commented on lights not working at pedestrian crossings which she considered presented a serious road safety hazard. County Cllr Gooding said he was working with Highways to try and get improvements.

 reported cars being parked at Linden House. The Chairman agreed to remind them of the clause in their planning consent which restricts parking on the site.

 expressed her relief that work had started on the Three Colts site and that the original building was being restored.

 reported problems encountered by Day Centre customers because of a lack of parking spaces at Crafton Green. Cllr Jones explained that spaces would be released once the Mountfitchet Exchange was open. The Parish Council were also working with UDC to add additional parking spaces.

 added her thanks to Cllr Jones for his years of service.

d Mr Stiles commented on poor illumination of traffic bollards and posts on the B1383 near the Sworder’s Sale Rooms entrance. County Councillor Gooding explained that there was an issue with UK Power Networks but he was trying to persuade Essex Highways to install some internally-illuminated posts, even if only as a temporary measure.

e Mr Snow expressed concerns about the mini roundabout at the bottom of Chapel Hill which he considered a significant hazard. The Clerk explained that a recent audit had recognised a number of issues but there were very limited options to improve the layout.

f Mrs Wellings asked if there had been any prosecutions for fly tipping or littering. The Chairman responded that there were none known to date.

g Mr Stiles requested an update on the pedestrian crossing proposal in Lower Street. The Clerk reported that UDC and Essex Highways were pressurising the developer to fund the work as he is required to do as a condition of his planning permission.

h Cllr Trundle commented on the difficulties of accessing different parking areas in the Lower Street Car Park.

i Mrs Gott raised the issue of vehicles being parked on pavements creating a hazardous obstruction for wheelchair users and carers with buggies. The Clerk explained that obstruction was a police issue but she agreed to write to residents again and appeal to them to park more responsibly.

The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and invited them to stay for refreshments.

Mrs Hollis proposed a vote of thanks to the Parish Council for all that they did on behalf of the community

The meeting closed at 9.00pm


CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Cllr Maureen Caton writes: Another year to look back on and look forward too! Elections are looming and there may be changes to the incumbent Parish and District Councillors that represent us. Peter Jones, who has been a Councillor at both levels, serving the community for 43 years, has decided to retire. His financial expertise, aligned with his common-sense approach to issues, will be sorely missed. John Salmon is also bidding farewell to council life; John has also served on both Councils and retires after 32 years. Thank you both for your years of dedication and commitment to our community.

We hope the Local Plan will be passed and leave us in the position of only accepting another sixty homes in the period up to 2033. This, aligned with our Neighbourhood Development Plan, which outlines how we expect any future development should be assessed in line with policies and principles in the plan. Public consultation on the NDP should take place in late Spring of this year. This may well be followed by a call for sites suitable for new almshouses to be built, following the release of funds from the old site on Church Road, ringfenced to be reinvested in Stansted. Welcome to the new residents of Walpole Meadows and Elms Farm; we hope they will part of,and participate in, our vibrant and caring community. This years Community Achievement Award winners, who were acknowledged at a celebration event at Uttlesford District Council Offices were Judy Colliver, Alan Corbishley and Marion Pretty. Between them, they illustrate our ability to care in our community.

We held a civil ceremony this year to mark our “twinning” with Rungis in France. We are looking forward to individuals, families and organisations in the village taking the opportunity to exchange visits and social/cultural experiencesthat will strengthen our bond of “entente cordiale.” The decision on the expansion of Stansted Airport was controversially approved by UDC, with the Parish Council requesting the Minister to review the decision. Likewise, we are questioning the validity of the 2015/18 Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment that states that we only need one dispensing pharmacy in the village; some significant consultees omitted to comment on our needs and this negligence requires a review, significantly in the south ward. The Essex Health and Wellbeing Board are not prepared to visit and hear the views of the community and, therefore, will not issue a reviewed statement of need.

We have no alternative than to seek the support of the Minister for Health to achieve this outcome. Essex County Council’s Library Strategy Consultation was a complete surprise to the Parish Council. We have been in discussions with the Library Service since 2011, culminating in an agreement that our new hub, The Mountfitchet Exchange, would be designed around the central resource of a library. To hear that our library was in tier 4, deemed for closure, displayed a lack of transparency and partnership working to say the least. The consultation document is, we believe, flawed; not least it uses statistics taken during the period that the library was based in the mobile vehicle and latterly in a small room in our offices. We are robustly pursuing ECC to honour their commitment and obligation to our community and to review the statistics and the development opportunities from the hub – to place us in Tier 2. We hope to have a UDC presence providing community information from the hub, CAB services and a base for our joint-funded PCSO who has been recruited and will hopefully be with us in April.

The increase in our precept this year (£6 per household at Band D) comes as a result of ECC ‘s current position where they have not signed the lease on the new building, depriving us of an income of £20,000 per annum, although they agreed the Heads of Terms of the lease some years ago. Should ECC honour their commitment, this money will be used to reinstate the Foresthall Park S106 fund used last year to buy out the legal rights over the Crafton Green land and car park owed by a third party. The completion of the new Mountfitchet Exchange, and the relocation of the Health Service, gives us the opportunity to review the future use of Crafton Green House. We are also discussing with UDC the possible use of the grass area adjacent to the house to create additional car parking spaces.

We are in discussion to set up a Youth Council in conjunction with our schools and the Youth Centre, to promote the views of young people being heard and responded to within our democratic systems, and to help prepare our young up-and-coming community champions. We are in a dialogue with the Environment Agency who are focusing their Natural Flood Management programme to the north of Gall End Lane and contact is being made with local landowners to agree further actions on flood alleviation for Lower Street specifically. Thank you to our staff who have risen to the challenge of a difficult year, and to my fellow ouncillors who volunteer their services freely in support of our community. Report Ends

Chair’s Update:

I will not read out the report that has been published in the March version of the Link and is available here tonight; however, I propose to update you on a number of topics I referred to in the report: Firstly, The Mountfitchet Exchange will be opened to the public with a working, stocked and more up to date service as soon as possible in April. It is planned for the Parish Council Office and the library to open at the same time. The achievement on the library follows successful campaigning and lobbying by our Library campaigners who continue to work to ensure our library is maintained beyond the first year part fund by ECC, and fully funded for the next 10 years at least. I asked ECC, at the Extraordinary meeting called in response to the public outcry against the proposed library closures, if they were going to honour their funding agreement in full. Cllr Barker responded that she would talk to us again after the analysis of the consultation response!

We are back to square one in the recruitment of a PCSO. There were 2 candidates, one did not pass the vetting process, and the other declined to continue with the training. We have involved our MP, Kemi Badenoch in the process to secure a second pharmacy in the south of the village. She has requested representatives of the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board visit the community and discuss and see the issues we face. Discussions are ongoing with UDC in relation to the Crafton Green Car Park and additional capacity. For any project to go forward we need to ensure funding is available – which UDC is pursuing – and reach agreement on how any additional funds required would be paid back.

There could be a possible 10/12 additional spaces made available in the future. The village Neighbourhood Development Plan is in the final draft stage and it is hoped consultation will commence in the next few months. There are no surprises, as dependent on the Uttlesford Local Plan gong to Public Inquiry in July and, if adopted, we expect no further proposed large developments in Stansted; but we also need to acknowledge that with no development comes no funding for infrastructure change. We are now successfully twinned with Rungis. Our schools are participating in correspondence exchange and some village organisations are making links with their French counterparts. We are hoping to have an event in the summer and invite French families to attend – but we still need villagers to sign up to host (on a B&B basis) – so please let us know if you are able to accommodate anyone on an exchange visit.

We have identified Link Councillors for each of our schools to promote communication and support between us, and to give our young people an insight into the work of the Parish Council. We also hope to set up a Youth Council to feed in ideas from the younger generation to enhance and sustain our village for their future. All the allotments on Elms Farm are now taken – but Walpole Meadows have some vacant plots for anyone who is interested. The Council thanks Daphne Wallace-Jarvis for her many years of work on the Birchanger Wood Trust and the handover to the new Trustees. Finally, our thanks to all the Councillors as this term of office ends, especially those of long standing – Peter Jones and John Salmon, Valerie Trundle, Samantha Dunn and Rachel Rands who will not be standing for future office. Thank you also to the Clerk and her staff, who do all the work behind the scenes to maintain and promote the village. Update Ends