Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
Held in the Orpen Memorial Hall Wednesday 26th April 2023 at 7.15 p.m.
|In the Chair:||Cllr Brian Butcher|
|Present:||City Councillor Dennis Willetts, County Councillor Lewis Barber, various speakers and approximately 50 members of the public|
Before the meeting started, refreshments were served and there was time to browse the various displays. The Annual Report 2023 from West Bergholt Parish Council was distributed in a booklet, the unaudited Trust Accounts were available on display boards, as were the PC Achievements Apr 2022 – Mar 2023.
Apologies were received from City Councillor Sara Naylor.
1. Welcome and introduction from the Chair – Cllr Brian Butcher
The minutes of the 2022 Annual Parish Meeting were approved by those present and signed by Cllr Butcher as a true record of the 27th April 2022 meeting.
As chair of the meeting, Cllr Brian Butcher, drew the audience’s attention to the Parish Council’s Annual Report 2023 and expressed his thanks to the chairs and members of the council’s committees and sub-committees, the three village handymen, Matt Harkness, Nigel Weall & Simon Forrester. Thanks too were also given to Victoria Beckwith-Cole, the hall administrator, Dave Kingaby, our webmaster, Laura Walkingshaw, parish clerk and our new member of staff, Julie Gillott, the clerk’s assistant.
Cllr Butcher also thanked Mrs. Eileen Brown for the additional section she had created for the West Bergholt tapestry, displayed on the wall of the Orpen Memorial Hall, depicting the new king HM King Charles III.
2. HM Lord-Lieutenant of Essex – Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst
The King’s representative in Essex, Mrs. Tolhurst, gave an interesting talk on the history behind her role and what it entails, with its strong links to the military. A slide presentation was shown to the audience showing a variety of her work, including greeting foreign heads of state in lieu of the His Majesty, attending many various events and presenting the King’s Award for volunteers and enterprise.
His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Essex then unveiled a Richard Stone print of her late majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, which was recently donated to the Parish Council. The artist Richard Stone lives in West Bergholt, but sadly could not attend the evening’s meeting. The print will be displayed in the Orpen Memorial Hall and a plaque will be fitted underneath stating:
Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
This print of a portrait by Richard Stone was unveiled by Mrs. Jennifer Tolhurst, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Essex on 26th April 2023.
It was donated to West Bergholt by Mike and Marlene Smith, lifelong residents, dedicated fundraisers for cancer research and respected village house builders with McNally.
3. Essex, Suffolk & Norfolk Anti-Pylons Founder – Rosie Pearson
Rosie Pearson explained how she was horrified at approximately this time last year when she heard of plans to site 180km of new pylons through Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The planned route will go through her parents’ wood which had been planted some 30 years ago and most of the area would be destroyed to make room for the pylons. She established a Facebook group to begin the campaign and like all had just 7 weeks to respond to the initial consultation, but quickly gathered more than 20,000 signatures objecting to the project.
National Grid are not looking at any other options apart from overland, except for trenching (i.e., burying the cables in 100m wide trenches) in some areas, such as Dedham Vale, but even they will need to be dug up again in 40 years’ time for upgrading so there would be little point in replanting trees over the cables.
The campaign group are asking for a coastal route as there is little point going through East Anglia as that isn’t actually where the pylons are intended to end up. Every new windfarm off the coast gets a new cable to the shore, there are a spiderweb of cables around the east coast currently and there would be less infrastructure needed if they had a properly coordinated approach.
The previous consultation was established not to have been carried out correctly and so National Grid are about to hold another consultation. The goal is to stop National Grid from submitting to the Planning Inspectorate, the group has employed the services of a barrister to try to make holes in NG’s case. Rosie invited the audience to keep emailing their MPs (Bernard Jenkin), all of whom in the area are being very proactive and making lots of noise. They are also relentlessly talking to Ofgem and Government. She asked that residents took her business cards with website details on and sign up to the emails. On their website, pylonseastanglia.co.uk, there is information of where you can get banners and placards, as well as information of how to financially support the cause and help contribute towards the cost of the barrister.
Rosie specifically thanked West Bergholt Parish Council for being so supportive and proactive. She had asked parish councils along the route to write to National Grid and WBPC had written a great letter, which encouraged other local PCs to do the same.
Rosie then opened the floor to questions:
|Q:||A resident asked about a map of the proposed pylon route.|
|A:||Rosie explained that there is a link available on their website to the Norwich to Tilbury interactive map|
|Q:||A question was asked that if it was better offshore, why are National Grid not doing that?|
|A:||The main reason is the contract; National Grid have agreed on a piecemeal approach. Suffolk and Norfolk are under awful pressure from windfarm cables reaching the shore, but it needs to be properly coordinated.|
|Q:||What is the timeline?|
|A:||National Grid will hold their statutory consultation in 2024, following which they can then submit their Development Consent Order (like a big planning application) to the Planning Inspectorate, which will be examined in 2024-25. It is likely the pylons are planned for 2030-31, but we think they are already a year behind. A consultation event will be held in Langham on Saturday where Lewis and others will be speaking.|
4. Parish Council Grant Awards:
West Bergholt Parish Council’s Grant Awards for 2023 were then presented:
Orpen Players – £500
Of the annual grant allocation of £1,000 to local organisations, this year the Parish Council awarded a grant of £500 to the Orpen Players for a new keyboard, which could most recently be seen in use at the Panto at the end of January. Debra Hornigold, chair of the Orpen Players, collected the award and thanked the Council.
West Bergholt Care Network – £500
The other £500 was awarded to the West Bergholt Care Network for the establishment of their Warm Space at the WB Social Club meeting room. Cllr Harry Stone, chair of the Care Network, collected the award and explained that the Warm Space had already opened 41 times this year and has as many as 20 residents in attendance at a time. It was felt to be a real success story and was thanks in part to the set-up money received from the PC.
5. Essex Police, Colchester’s Community Policing Team – Sergeant Ben Knighton
Police Sergeant Ben Knighton has been the Sergeant of Colchester’s Community Policing Team for just two months but has 18 years of service with the Police. He is very passionate about his new post and is looking forward to doing some old-fashioned policing in the local community. The team covers a large area across the whole north of Colchester, including Highwoods, Greenstead and the hospital. They are not a response team, but more of a problem-solving team. They get an idea of the issues in a certain area, try to build up a picture and then look for solutions.
Sergeant Knighton reminded residents that the next Stoll with Patrol is due from the Orpen Memorial Hall on the 7th May at 6pm. It is an opportunity to walk around the area with the local community and discuss whatever concerns they may have. Although he also reminded residents to report all crimes online at essex.police.uk no matter how minor they appear, because they may help create a pattern that can lead to arrests.
The Sergeant then opened the floor to questions:
|Q:||A resident asked about the series of car thefts in the area.|
|A:||The local police were aware of the two cars stolen in the parish and put out more patrols, as it happens someone was arrested the previous evening for these crimes and so it is hoped that will be an end to the current spate of thefts.|
|Q:||A resident had spotted teenagers openly smoking cannabis in the park.|
|A:||Sgt Knighton explained that it is difficult to do anything about something like this after the event, it needs a real time reaction, however if there seems to be a pattern of when they are there then please let the police know. Events like the Stroll with Patrol are really useful in circumstances like this.|
|Q:||A resident asked about the speeding on around the village.|
|A:||Sgt Knighton explained that there is a team for speeding set up with the Speed Watch team, which was in West Bergholt last week, however they cannot spare the resources to send out a team regularly. With respect to this issue, Cllr Butcher explained how ECC do not have a policy on 20mph speed limit zones and so the PC had recently written to the County Council, along with other councils, requesting this.|
He also reminded residents that there is high quality CCTV around the hall, which can be reviewed by the police whenever there are issues nearby so, please tell the Parish Council about any problems around the hall or field and report everything online.
6. Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Volunteer – Roger Smith
Roger has been a volunteer with the Essex (& now Herts) Air Ambulance for twelve years. He works out of the Earls Colne base undertaking the induction of new volunteers and assisting with the elective induction of medical students (which happens about halfway through their medical studies) around the air base.
In 1997 the people of Essex decided that they needed a helicopter to assist with urgent medical emergencies and after a year of fundraising, it launched from New Hall in Chelmsford 5 days a week between the hours of 9-5. Ten years later, Hertfordshire also wanted an air ambulance, so together they began flying the free lifesaving service across Essex, Herts and surrounding areas, having moved to Earls Colne.
The helicopter can travel at 150mph, enabling it to travel between the furthest parts of Essex within 15 minutes. There are two pilots onboard each trip, one flying and one navigating (to check the high volume of air traffic in the area), as well as a doctor and a paramedic (trained in prehospital critical care). Roger explained that they now have 2 helicopters with another pilot and an additional doctor increasing the services they can offer. All crews are on a 4-day cycle, and it operates 24/7. It can fly at 1,000 ft in daylight hours and come down as low as 500ft when searching for a casualty. They also have four rapid response vehicles in the event of bad weather. They fly on average 6 times a day, receiving 3,000 calls a day to paramedics at Broomfield Hospital.
When the paramedic calls the appropriate crew, the helicopter takes to the sky. It circles around the scene to look for a safe place to land. The most dangerous part of the flight is when it is 10ft off the ground, once landed and the ground is clear, the doctor takes over. They ascertain the situation and quickly try to stabilise the patient. Only 6% of patients are then airlifted away, if stabilised, the majority can go to hospital by normal ambulance. That 6%, who are critically ill often with life threatening or changing injuries, are taken to Queens, Broomfield, Papworth, Basildon or the Royal London Hospitals.
Each time the air ambulance flies it costs £2,500, that’s £9 million for 24/7 cover, seven days a week, with no government funding, as it is a charity. Monies raised from events and lotteries fund the air ambulance. Please check their website, ehaat.org, on how to donate.
7. Issues from the Floor
What You Say Matters – Make your point and ask questions
Cllr Butcher opened the floor to questions:
|Q:||A resident questioned the number of potholes and roadworks in the parish.|
|A:||Cllr Lewis Barber, Essex County Councillor, asked to answer this question. He stated that the roads in Essex had really deteriorated this winter due to the weather. In February ECC voted for an extra £9M to be spent on the roads, although residents won’t have seen a lot of that yet as work cannot be carried out whilst it is still so wet. Hopefully residents will see the repair work soon, including on Nayland Road and near the Blue Bridge. The Councillor also mentioned his own repair budget list which residents were welcome to contribute specific road names too. A resident asked about King Coel Road in Colchester, which is outside of WB parish, but Cllr Barber will check it out.|
|Q:||A resident question the state of the pavement along Lexden Road.|
|A:||Cllr Barber also responded to this question. He, as an Essex County Councillor, is allowed to submit a list of schemes as priorities for the Local Highways Panel. He appreciates that the pathway is very busy, as a route to the school, and pavement parking also contributes to the damage. There is some work happening on that, but he agreed the need to repair the damage in the meantime. Cllr Gili-Ross raised the issue of the zebra crossing that the Parish Council & Councillors have been working together on for 2-3 years now, which it is hoped will cross the B1508 (Colchester Road) to Heathlands School. The Parish Council has pushed for this as much as it can with Essex Highways but seems to hit a block each time, with help from the City & County Councillors it is hoped that it can ultimately be achieved. He also reported some bad news to the audience, the Highways Devolution Scheme run for Parish Councils to carry out minor repairs in their parishes has now been terminated by Essex Highways. Where residents of West Bergholt had been able to get a quick resolution to an issue like rocky kerbstones, with repair work carried out by the Village Handymen, now they are no longer permitted to work on Essex assets and instead any issues will have to be reported to Essex Highways as previously. However, the Parish Council is currently in discussions with ECC trying to find a resolution to this. Cllr Barber stated that the termination of the Highways Devolution Scheme was just one of many major changes that ECC has had to make. He explained that in the context of budgets £2M/day is spent on Adult & Child Social Care in Essex, whilst just £170,000/day on roads, and that their decisions must keep a balance of the needs of schools/roads/social care. He asked residents to keep pressing for social care reform from the MP or else local council’s budgets may disappear altogether. Cllr Butcher used this opportunity to inform residents that the Parish Council had just received the Notice of an Uncontested Election. 10 parish council members, out of the statutory 11, were re-elected as one chose not to stand. He notified residents that there is now a vacancy on the Parish Council, and if anyone is interested they should email [email protected] or check out the website, westbergholt-pc.gov.uk.|
Cllr Brian Butcher, Chair of the Annual Parish Meeting, then thanked all of the speakers for their time and for residents for attending.
The meeting closed at 9.23 pm.