Minutes of Annual Parish Meeting 25th April 2018

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting

Held in the Orpen Memorial Hall on Wednesday 25th April 2018 at 7.30 p.m.

In the Chair: Chris Stevenson
Clerk: Laura Walkingshaw
Present: Borough Councillors Dennis Willetts, Lewis Barber & Brian Jarvis

Approximately 30 members of the public

The Annual Report 2018 from West Bergholt Parish Council was distributed in a booklet.

Before the meeting started, refreshments were served.

Apologies were received from County Councillor Anne Brown.

1. Welcome and introduction from the Chairman – Chris Stevenson

The chairman, Chris Stevenson, welcomed back David Short to the Parish Council. Next year will be an election year for the parish, last time there was competition for council positions, which is a healthy demonstration of the attitude of people in this village.

Thanks go to the chairmen and members of the council’s committees and sub-committees, the three village handymen, David Hewitt, Matt Harkness & Nigel Weall. Thank you also to Vicky Beckwith-Cole, the hall administrator, Dave Kingaby, our webmaster and Laura Walkingshaw, parish clerk.

2. West Bergholt Local History Group

Peter Noakes gave a very interesting talk covering 1,000 years of West Bergholt history condensed into 15 minutes. Please see the attached presentation “Our Village Past and Present. The group have been donated a large stack of 19th-20th century postcards & photographs which provide a great comparison between West Bergholt now and then. As more information about these is discovered more will be put on westbergholt.net for everyone to enjoy.

3. Keep the Bell Ringing

Martin Long from the Friends of St Mary’s Old Church gave an update on the Keep the Bell Ringing fund. Nine years ago, when Pam & Eileen felt that the time had come to relinquish their responsibilities for looking after the old Church a meeting was called by the Churches Conservation Trust which a few of the current committee attended. Being the oldest building in the village it was felt that the most important thing was to keep the Church open and a group of people agreed to look after and lock/unlock the Church on a regular basis. A donation from the late Mrs Henderson, which specified that it was for internal decoration, however it was quickly realised that it would not be possible until the exterior & internal structure of the building was restored. The CCT would provide the grant, but £10,000 had to be raised with community involvement. Fundraising began in earnest in September 2016 and it was heart-warming to know that funds came in from all avenues and reached the money remarkably quickly.

The Friends have not been able to get into the Church from September 2017, the work has overrun, as have the costs as more problems have been found in such an old building. The recently held “Italian Lunch” raised £500, showing how generous the village is. Hope to be moving onto the decoration stage very soon, there is reason to suspect that there are more wall paintings under the lime wash. A conservator is currently looking at what the internal decoration will look like.

Future plans are to raise more money and also to use the building more as a community resource, however for that to happen the issue of lightning and sanitation will need to be resolved. Things are looking good for the future of the Old Church and Martin thanked the committee for all of their hard work along with the village for all their support in keeping the building going.

4. “Men at Work” what they do for you – Cllr John Gili-Ross (Chairman – Environment Committee)

Cllr Gili-Ross noted that we live in a great village, which is full of people who want to make a difference, from the History Group, the Friends of the Old Church, the Snow Patrol and the Litter Warriors to name a few. On behalf of everyone in the village thank you to all who contribute.

Village Handymen – Most of the grass verges in the village are either the responsibility of the Borough or Council Councils, however in recent years they have found it difficult to meet their obligations and the Parish Council has been covering these jobs as there have been more & more cut backs within the public sector. This lead to the Parish Council looking into getting 2 handymen, David Hewitt & Matt Harkness, dedicated to working in the village rather than elsewhere.

Flooding in Albany Close – a good example of the use of our own resources was illustrated with the issue of flooding in Albany Close. Even after the Borough and County Councils had investigated, the water kept coming back, so Cllr Gili-Ross and the handymen decided to get in the ditches and see the problem. This ditch had not been cleared in living memory and over the next two days they worked hard to clear 100m all the way to the village sign. Even though the Environment Chairman was almost completely submerged at one point the ditch was finally cleared and the problem eradicated.

Village Warden – The clearance of the ditch highlighted the fact that sometimes contractors were needed for certain jobs in order to greatly reduce the work time required. It was decided that a Village Warden would be employed to deal with contractors for this sort of thing and the recently approved Local Services Fund seemed perfect for this. The Parish Council applied for a £15,000 grant, to be spread over a 3-year programme, which will source all of the services which the Borough & County Councils can now longer provide. David Hewitt has been given the role of Village Warden and Nigel Weall has backfilled as the second handyman. The Parish is lucky to have such skilled people, who have a willingness to get on and do. You can recognise them around the village by their Hi-Viz jackets with WBPC written on the back.

Many thanks to the guys, they are out there doing a great job and the village is lucky to have them. This is where the precept is going, directly into the services which matter around the parish.

5. Neighbourhood Plan Update – Cllr Brian Butcher (WB Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group)

Cllr Butcher stated that whilst the History Group presentation earlier had brought us right up to the present day, the Neighbourhood Plan will now take us into the next 15 years. He then proceeded to give the attached presentation “West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan” and updated the audience from the Annual Report 2018 booklet, details of which are available below.

6. Grahame Stehle – Colchester Neighbourhood Watch (Chairman)

Grahame Stehle, Chairman of the Colchester District Neighbourhood Watch, gave the attached presentation “Crime in West Bergholt”. 5 years ago, the Colchester Neighbourhood Watch was dead, however this has slowly been built back up from 6 initial schemes to now the 90 which are currently running in the Colchester district. Members of Safer Colchester include care workers and the zone wardens, people in regular contact with the public. The crime figures from the Police website look a lot higher than the actual crimes committed as the police have stuck to the old ward boundaries and note crimes which are currently under investigation or not even proven yet.

Grahame co-ordinates his own village’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme in Great Horkesley and would love to see a scheme get off the ground in West Bergholt. If you wish to be involved, please email [antibot mailto=”[email protected]”].

7. Jacqui Kibby – Village Bulletin (Editor)

Jacqui Kibby was unable to make the meeting and so a short break was held at this time.

8. Parish Council Grant Awards:

Family Worker at St Mary’s Church – £500

Jo Jeffries, the newly appointed Family Worker for the three parishes, thanked the Parish Council for the £500 grant. Her work is spread between Great Horkesley, Boxted and West Bergholt, where she undertakes 6 hours in each parish. Her role is to strengthen family relationships and to make the Church more of a community hub. The hope is to encourage the youth to use the Church as a place to come at weekends in the future. This village has a pioneering edge and is always searching for excellence and the work at the Church hopes to provide help to many parts of the village.

WBFC German Twinning Celebrations – £250

Mick Bell, Chairman of West Bergholt Football Club, thanked the Parish Council for their £250 grant. The club used the money to look after and entertain their twin football club of R.S.V Bublingshausen, from Wetzlar in Germany, when they recently visited over the Easter weekend. The clubs have been twinned for 42 years and take it in turns to visit one another biannually. The German club always look after the West Bergholt team well when they visit and Mick hoped that the village team returned the favour this time. The club had already raised £1500 through various means to entertain and feed them, but the grant helped with the costs. Thank you.

9. Issues from the Floor

What You Say Matters – Make your point and ask questions

Q: A resident remarked that many of the village road signs are in urgent need of repair or cleaning.
Cllr Gili-Ross replied that although the Clerk has already informed the usual departments at both the County and Borough Councils, but this is a perfect example of the use that can be made of the new Village Warden role. He will be co-ordinating a contractor to clean all of the village signs, bus shelters etc. on a twice-yearly basis.
A resident expressed how dangerous the parking on the double yellow and zigzag lines has become.
Cllr Stone replied that we now have a Traffic Safety Group in the village. Photos have been taken of those infringements and where a commercial vehicle is involved, the company is informed, and the drivers reported for the bad behaviour. In most cases this works well, however some drivers will ignore all deterrents and there is very little that can be done. Many people in the village are using Trygve (now called Safeland) to report bad parking.

Borough Cllr Barber added that bad parking is one of the biggest problems in the village and he will be meeting the cabinet member (following the May elections) to request if any action can be taken retrospectively. It is a problem all over the borough, but there are very active people in this village trying to work on the problem, putting notes on driver’s windows etc. The Councillor has asked for more resources to be distributed to the rural parts of the borough as well as the urban. There are two main areas of concern in this village, around the school and the Co-Op, until people are prosecuted it will remain a problem.

A resident asked what the latest developments were regarding broadband.
Cllr Stevenson answered that the village now has three commercial suppliers, we are definitely on the broadband map. He called County Broadband today for an update and they stated that they felt their fibre project was spiked by Virgin coming in before them. They are now working with their investors to provide stronger radio waves to compete with Virgin. Fibre has been brought in from the A12 and they will now be able to beam in faster and have notified people that they can take on more customers, although on a slightly different business model via the aerial route.

With regards Virgin, there were many roads in West Bergholt that they couldn’t get into to lay their cables as they were unadopted roads. It is unsure as to whether they will be coming back to have another go.

BT will only supply if there is a commercial offer, unless there is a community champion. This is what they did with the Maltings, Heathlands School and those properties supplied by the cabinet next to it. When last contacted BT had no plans to go any further into the village and there were no other community champions coming forward at the present time.

Cllr Barber informed the audience that he recently attended the Superfast Essex presentation. There will be an announcement to be made soon, after the May elections, but he cannot talk about it currently due to purdah rules.

West Bergholt certainly has a lot more providers than some, there is not another parish in the borough which has 3 suppliers. More money is coming from the government and “Ultrafast” should be here in approximately 2022. However, there is not 100% coverage here and it is nowhere near as good as down the road in Colchester.

A resident enquired if the Lorkin Daniell Playground was set to have any improvements.
Cllr Gili-Ross commented that it took a £92,000 grant 28 years ago to get the playground which you see there today. The Council know more needs to be done and that the area requires refreshing, although it is part of the handymen’s programme to repair what is there on a regular basis. Everything takes time, the council ordered the replacement Spring Rocker in December and only just received it. It will take money and community involvement to say what is needed and the space to put it.

Chris Stevenson, Chair of the Parish Council, then thanked all of the speakers for their time and for showing what makes West Bergholt so special.

The meeting closed at 10.15 pm.


Signed: Date: Position on Council:

You can view the Annual Report 2018 from West Bergholt Parish Council on this site, it was distributed in a booklet form at the meeting

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