SMPC Chair’s November Report – 2023

SMPC Chair’s November Report – 2023

The weather failed to rain on the Parade at this year’s Remembrance Service, says Chair Maureen Caton

Remembrance Sunday was very well attended – even given the rain! The donations on the day also exceeded last year and will be given to the Royal British Legion. The wreath laid on behalf of the Union National des Combatants (the Rungis Veterans Association) was laid by a member of the Stansted Twinning Committee; as was our wreath from the Parish laid by their French counterpart at the ceremony in Rungis. We have also written to the Rungis Veterans to thank them for the Remembrance Plaque they have sent to the Parish – which we hope to place in the Parish Church.

Almshouses Future in Doubt

We are in grave danger of losing the funds, currently held by LEAP (Legacy East Alms house Partnership) , if we cannot locate land to reinstate the provision formerly on Church Road. We have asked for a meeting with Bloor and the landowners to see if there is any potential to re – provide through their proposed developments.

Attendance at Meetings

Councillors have mentioned their unease with the system of agreeing absence – as this is an area where they feel they have no option but to agree the reason offered. However, whilst I totally agree with the sentiments expressed – The Good Councillor Guide states- that whilst not required by law – it is good practice to give reasons for apologies. The Council then considers whether or not to accept them. If not accepted this counts as non-attendance and goes towards the 6- month rule. Acceptable reasons are considered to be illness and work commitments, going to a football match is not.

I therefore propose – having given this a great deal of thought – that changing the system will not have any additional impact or consequence. Councillors should/ have the right to  object if they feel non-attendance is impacting the work of/ commitment to the council. I however, propose, that we publish the attendance of Councillors at Full Council and Committee meetings at 6 monthly and annual intervals.

A discussion took place around the need for members to give reasons for their absence – this is good practice rather than legislative.  Those present at the meeting agreed that in the interests of transparency a record of attendance should be published every 6 months in The Link and on our website.       

New Business Group Set Up

The Economic Development Working Group is now established and its Terms of Reference agreed. The group currently consists of representatives of the Business Forum, and local businesses, UDC and ourselves. We plan to ensure we communicate widely all the issues raised and the agreed strategies/actions to address them, to ensure and promote the maximum benefit within the community. The issue of debris in drains adding to flooding issues and impacting businesses has been raised for discussion at the next meeting.

One of the first items in the Working Group’s in-tray is Christmas parking, which has become a hot issue again. UDC have taken the decision to agree free parking on 2 days only this year – 24th November and 23rd December – we were not consulted on this decision and neither were our Business Forum or local service providers. Last year we had 4 half days in each week  in November and 2 full days on 25/26th November. The week was also free between December 25th to January 1st. This cost £12k in revenue from car parking fees. This year the loss will be only £6.5K. It would seem this is a cost cutting exercise to recoup some of the UDC income deficit- robbing Peter to pay Paul. Also, as we are partners with UDC – given they manage Crafton Green on our behalf for a return of 50% of the  fees – consultation would have been respectful. I expect the Economic Development Group on behalf of businesses to take up this issue.

Surgery Update

I have spoken to the Practice Manager at the Stansted surgery and can confirm there is a desire to apply for planning permission for a 24hr easy to use collection point for medication on the Crafton Green site. This will be a costly installation with funding support being sought from UDC and MAG. A delivery service for medication is active from today. A home visit service is also available. We also discussed the use of the Crafton Green / Parish Council buildings being used as supplementary posts by the surgery for flu and major vaccination programmes to reduce the impact of Chapel Hill for some residents when Boots is no longer available. The surgery is very willing to consider how they can support the North of Stansted.

Consultation Gets Underway

The draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) was discussed and approved for public consultation by an Extraordinary District Council meeting on 30/10/23. We are to be allocated 445 homes within the plan but with 55 of those already in place or with consent (leaving 390 additional). Cllr Sell’s report has been circulated and he will answer any questions raised in relation to the discussion. However, my concern is the impact on the B1383, especially the impact on Silver Street/Pines Hill, in the south, which is forecast to exceed its design capacity by 2040 without making allowance for Local Plan allocations. The mitigation measures proposed are insufficient to address this issue at peak times.

Youth Service Provision

We have a very enthusiastic group of young people now fully participating in our Youth Council – 6 in total. They are meeting with their Citizenship tutor at Forest Hall School this week to finalise their ideas for issues/projects they wish to promote at our next meeting later this month – ultimately, we hope to see them presenting to Full Council. We are looking forward to travelling to London, along with our French students from Rungis, for our tour around the Palace of Westminster this coming Friday. The French students will have already spent the day at the school and met our Youth Councillors who will have supported their experience of an English education.

I am pleased the partnership working with the school and the Academy has progressed significantly. We are awaiting final submission of expressions of interest in delivery of our Youth Club provision -as a review of the previous contract awarded to Essex Youth Services is now due. We expect at least 2 submissions- from what is an ever- decreasing pool of providers. A formal review process will consider all applications against our specification for the service delivery and outcomes and will be undertaken by the Chair of the Council/ Chair and Vice Chair of Finance and the Clerk. The service will be expected to deliver within our set budget and within the tripartite arrangements agreed with UDC and ECC.