Minutes of Parish Council 22nd February 2023

A brief summary of key elements of the PC Meeting on 22nd February 2023.  They:

Minutes of meeting
  • welcomed Sergeant Knighton, lead of the local Police Community Policing Team,
  • reviewed finances and payments, also approving some additional expenditures,
  • received reports from committees & approved recommendations,
  • agreed to reform the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to review the current plan,
  • received an update on the email and website migration project,
  • heard about progress being made by the Climate Emergency Working Party,
  • discussed the upcoming coronation, issues to raise with the Colchester Association of Local Councils, Village Quiz, Care Network & Recycling.

Full details are in the official minutes below.

Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting

Held on Wed 22nd February 2023 at 7.30pm in the John Lampon Hall, Orpen Memorial Hall, CO6 3BW

Chair:Cllr Brian Butcher
Parish Councillors:Cllrs Bob Tyrrell, James Owers, Manya Barrow, Harry Stone, Andrew Savage, Katie Pulford, Sara Cullis & Joel Fayers (Cllrs David Short & John Gili-Ross attended via Zoom but had no voting rights)
Also in attendance:Laura Walkingshaw (Parish Clerk)
Borough & County Cllrs:None
Members of the public:1 guest speaker

23/22          Receive /accept apologies and welcome to the public.

No apologies were required.

23/23          Questions from registered electors

There were no questions from registered electors.

23/24          Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

23/25          Previous Minutes

RESOLVED – the Minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on Wednesday 25th January 2023 were approved and signed by the Chairman, with no amendments. (See link to PC Minutes P10 Jan 23).

23/26          Guest Speaker – Police Sergeant Ben Knighton

Police representative, Sergeant Knighton, was welcomed to the meeting by the Chair of the Parish Council (PC) and although only three days into the job he discussed his new role as Sergeant to the Community Policing Team (CPT). He has been in policing for 18 years but is passionate about Community Policing and was thrilled to get the position, especially for such a large area which includes the town centre and the rural north of Colchester. The team is made up of one Sergeant, six Officers and a PCSO and although he hasn’t had a lot of time to look into the local area issues he hopes to be seen regularly out in the community. He asked for him and his team be invited to any local events.

ACTION – Clerk to extend an invite for the Annual Parish Meeting on 26th April to the Sergeant.

Cllr Butcher observed how approachable both PCSOs, Amy-Jane Robinson and Gary Woolford, have been in our dealings with them, with only positive feedback for Sergeant Knighton.

The CPT is separated into 3 shifts, which cover the town centre and rural north, although the Sergeant would like to engage in some cross border work with Suffolk as the boundary is so close. From his perspective there have been few issues reported locally of late, except some non-dwelling burglaries. The Council identified some local issues with minor thefts/shed break-ins at the Allotments but nothing major, save the recent hedging theft from Newbridge Farm and the three incidences of copper cable theft on Colchester Road.

The Sergeant encouraged residents to report crimes as much as possible as it can then build up hot spot pictures which the Police can focus on. He would also recommend the online reporting tool, which is easy to use and always gets allocated to an officer. Again, reporting this way can highlight a pattern which is then more likely to be allocated additional resources to deal with a problem.

Sergeant Knighton was thanked for his attendance and it was hoped that this can form the start of a good rapport between the PC and the local CPT.

ACTION – Cllr Cullis & Clerk to produce a communication’s item to encourage residents to use the online Police reporting tool, no matter how low level the incident.

23/27          Report from Colchester City & Essex County Councillors

There were no reports received from either Colchester City & Essex County Councillors.

23/28          Finance

a)   Statement of accounts for Jan 23

The final accounts for Jan 23 (83% through the financial year) were presented as follows: (See link to PC Accounts P10 Jan 23)

Receipts at 100%, General Expenditure 56%, Environment Expenditure 83%, Overall Expenditure 61%. Bank Rec at £137764.84.

No changes to the Projects & Reserves sheet.

b)   Payments

RESOLVED – to approve the February payments list in accordance with the 2022-23 budget. Proposed by Cllr Savage, seconded by Cllr Stone, all in favour.

DDBarclaysBank charges (no loyalty reward)8.50
SOJ & M Payroll ServicesFeb – wages, tax & NI4500.00
PC22170J & M Payroll ServicesFeb – wages tax & NI1313.00
PC22171J & M Payroll ServicesPayroll services48.00
PC22172WBFCGrass cutting Feb – LD Field50.00
PC22173CountrywideGrass cutting Feb – Poor’s Land186.00
PC22174Scorpius BooksSpring 2023 issue Village Bulletin180.00
PC22175Ingleton WoodSolar PV & WC (502319) – Reserves675.00
PC22176James OwersWest Bergholt Christmas Tree expenses113.65
PC22178Cox LandscapesYard Sales – allotments23.33
PC22179Kent BlaxillRepair washer/box of screws24.41
PC22180Kent BlaxillTimber PSE x 100mm3.36
PC22181NServInterim for WC refurbishment – from OH23016.07
PC22182Atlas SignsQuarterly Village Bulletin1026.48
PC22183Laura WalkingshawWebsite, stationery, notice board key, signs107.24
PC22184Cox LandscapesPly(signs), timber (Allotments), post mix (LD)63.28
PC22185McLean ArchitecturalSurvey & planning application work1560.00
PC22186Colchester City CouncilPlanning application – Community Hub/PO149.20
TfrHall to PCInterim for WC refurbishment – from OH-19180.06

c)    To approve the quote to clear the reeds at the Queen’s Head Pond and remove the spoils at a cost of £800.00, which if approved, the Finance Advisory Committee recommends using funds from the PC Reserves (Ringfenced Environment Projects).

There is currently £2,665.00 in the PC Reserves ringfenced for “Environment Projects”.

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage therefore proposed to approve the quote to clear the reeds at the Queen’s Head Pond and remove the spoils at a cost of £800.00. Cllr Butcher seconded. All in favour.

d)   To approve the Finance Advisory Committee’s recommendation of the annual quote of £2080 + VAT for litter/dog bin emptying from TBS Hygiene Ltd for a one-year trial, with an addition of one road sweep payment of £221.73 to CCC.

Members were shown a comparison document between CCC’s annual quote for emptying the 7 litter bins and 1 dog bin owned by WBPC for 2023-24 and an alternative private company, TSB Hygiene.

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed to approve the annual quote of £2080 + VAT for litter/dog bin emptying from TBS Hygiene Ltd for a one-year trial and maintain the road sweep with CCC. Cllr Fayers seconded. All in favour.

e)   To approve the purchase of 20 new tables at a cost of £1,100.00 for the Orpen Hall, which if approved, the Finance Advisory Committee recommends using funds from the PC Reserves (Ringfenced Orpen Memorial Hall Projects).

There is currently £6,542.42 in the PC Reserves ringfenced for “Orpen Memorial Hall Projects”. The Orpen Hall Management Committee (OHMC) made it clear that the proposed tables will not be as sturdy as the current ones but will be cheaper to replace, if necessary. A suggestion was made to purchase them in a darker colour to avoid staining. Concerns were also raised as to where the old tables would be stored, and which hirers would have access to them. It was proposed that the OHMC speak to the Environment Committee in regard to storage and create a relevant table use Policy at their upcoming OHMC meeting.

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed to approve the purchase of 20 new tables at a cost of £1,100.00 for the Orpen Hall subject to the OHMC creating a suitable policy. Cllr Barrow seconded. All in favour.

f)    Expenses reminder to Councillors prior to end of financial year

Councillors were reminded to claim any outstanding expenses prior to the end of the financial year. The Clerk has already circulated the Expenses Claim Form, but Cllrs were reminded to ask her if they needed it sent again.

23/29 Planning

a)   To note the following decisions made by the West Bergholt Parish Council Planning Committee at their meeting on 13th February 2023 (See link to Planning P11 Feb 2023):

  • 230120 – 1 Orpen Close, West Bergholt, CO6 3BG – SUPPORT – The Parish Council has no comment.

b)   To approve the following recommendation made by the West Bergholt Parish Council Planning Committee at their meeting on 13th February 2023 as a decision (See link to Planning P11 Feb 2023):

  • 230301 – 5 Bradbrook Cottages, Armoury Road, CO6 3JW – SUPPORT – The Parish Council has no comment.

RESOLVED – Cllr Tyrrell proposed to approve the above comment as recommended by the Planning Committee, seconded by Cllr Butcher. All in favour.

c)    To agree the updated West Bergholt Parish Council section 106 list of projects for submission to Colchester City Council

Members were shown the spreadsheet, Draft List of WBPC projects for section 106. There is currently a list on the website linked to the Neighbourhood Plan page for developers to check in advanced and CCC to use, however Colchester has recently reviewed its process and an update was requested by Karen Syrett, Lead Officer for Planning and Place Strategy at CCC, and this document now lists future parish council projects clearly and in a form which Colchester can use and sort however they wish.

Appendices have recently been added to reflect the initial discussions of three Working Parties (Poor’s Land Futures Group, Playground Advisory Group & William Sims Sports Field WP). The PC may not receive the levels of the money expected but there are situations where smaller developers want a lesser “shopping list” and the items in these appendices will provide that. A recent request for other Council’s experiences with some types of play equipment was included in the EALC’s (Essex Association Local Councils) latest E-Bulletin to aid discussions on some of the items listed.

The PC has a good line of communication with the Section 106 officers at present and this list also provides a good way to see what is proposed for West Bergholt parish going forward. Cllr Savage explained to other members that the advantage of a list like this makes it easier for developers to check what projects are hoped for by West Bergholt Parish Council.

RESOLVED – Cllr Butcher proposed to approve the updated WBPC projects list for section 106, seconded by Cllr Savage. All in favour.

d)   Amendments to the Neighbourhood Plan:

Members were provided with a Note on Possible Modifications to the West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan. Following a meeting in December with CCC Planning Officers it has been recommended that the West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group reforms temporarily in order to make minor amendments to the WB Neighbourhood Plan, ensuring that it is not modified to such an extent though that it has be go back for a second referendum.

Recommendation 1, work planned to conclude June 2023:

RESOLVED – Cllr Tyrrell proposed to agree to the reforming of the WBNP steering group, and in the short term their review of the 2009 Village Design Statement for P C approval, seconded by Cllr Savage. All in favour.

Recommendation 2, work planned to conclude Feb 2024:

RESOLVED – Cllr Tyrrell proposed to agree that the WBNP steering group should review in the medium term the Neighbourhood Plan and place before the PC any modifications they consider might be prudent for discussion, seconded by Cllr Savage. All in favour.

23/30          Environment & Highways

To note the minutes of the Environment Committee meeting of the 9th Feb 2023 (See link to Environment Mins P11 Feb 23)

The minutes were noted and most of the actions contained in them have now been completed. Thanks were given to all members of the Environment Committee for their hard work helping to run it.

No concerns have been raised by residents following the recent work on the ponds.

23/31          Council Documents

To review and ratify the West Bergholt Parish Council policies listed below:

The policies listed were circulated with minor recommended amendments, such as changes to PC contact details, to Cllrs in advance of the meeting.

  • Training & Development Policy
  • Community Engagement Policy
  • Disciplinary & Grievance Policies
  • Equality & Diversity Policy (as an employer)
  • Complaints Procedure
  • Grant Awarding Policy

Councillors just noted three additional revisions:

  1. Amend the word Chairman to Chair in each policy.
  2. In the Community Engagement Policy, it should be noted that the Newsletter will be on the noticeboards and Facebook.
  3. Use of the word Councillor throughout policies, rather than Member, for consistency.

RESOLVED – Cllr Butcher proposed to agree that all six policies be renewed, subject to the above revisions. Cllr Savage seconded. All in favour.

ACTION – regarding the Community Engagement Policy, Cllr Fayers intends to engage with the local Gazette for articles of interest on the Parish Council.

23/32          Zebra Crossing on Colchester Road

Cllr Butcher provided a verbal update on the provision of a zebra crossing on Colchester Road. The PC’s request has been rejected again as the speeds were 0.2mph over the recommended 35mph. Cllr Butcher has replied with 12 questions to the Highway Officer, from whom the council awaits a response.

23/33          Communications

a)   To receive a verbal update on the Councillor email addresses from Councillor Owers.

Cllr Owers reported that the new email system is now working, along with the .gov.uk website. He is currently looking at a Communications Policy. The Roundcube is rather clunky, however it is less so via a phone, although Cllrs will need to ensure that their device can be locked for GDPR proposes. He will be linking it through Outlook for “superusers” such as the Clerk and her Assistant. It has taken a while to get to this stage and there are bound to be teething issues, but the project got there in the end and Dave has done a great job. Thanks too to Cllr Owers for all his work on this, helping members & staff.

ACTION – Clerk to check tomorrow which Cllrs have moved onto the new .gov emails & server and who needs some more support from Cllr Owers. Clerk to also circulate a new Contacts List so that all members have each other’s updated details.

b)   To receive the monthly report from the Publicity Officer, Councillor Fayers

Cllr Fayers recently attended the very useful Meta training in January, which he hopes to make use of for the Council. The most popular post on Facebook recently was the “spot the solar panel” one. The format is now complete so in regard to community engagement consideration could be given to the use of Instagram.

ACTION – Clerk to set up meeting with herself, Cllr Fayers, Dave the webmaster & her Assistant.

c)    To note receipt of the Monthly Website Report from the webmaster, Dave Kingaby

Cllr Fayers discussed the outstanding actions on the website report. The action on the emails has been covered by Cllr Owers and the Cookies conundrum is progressing.

23/34          Community Hub/Parish Office

Cllr Tyrrell provided a verbal update on the Community Hub/Parish Office. The planning application was submitted last Friday and McLean’s are now working on the building regulations application. The instructions of what needs to be included in the government’s Contract’s Finder website have been sent to Cllr Tyrrell and Steve McLean.

ACTION – Cllr Fayers to prepare a post on the planning application as the near neighbours will receive a letter notifying them from CCC imminently.

23/35          Climate Emergency Working Party

Cllr Savage provided a verbal update on the Climate Emergency Working Party (WP). The WP has now met twice and is made up of several Parish Councillors and interested residents. It has discussed what the group is going to do and there is a sense not to waste time reinventing the wheel when so many others have already created useful information. Hoping to put together an area on the website dedicated to this as there are many reputable links to safe sources of information to help residents both save money and help with the climate emergency.

As an initial start, prior to the website being ready, the WP posted the information about the Essex Solar Together initiative due to the short time frame for residents to register their interest. The WP will consider if a source is reputable but will be adding disclaimers to pages to inform residents that they should also check to ensure they are also happy with the information before committing to anything. The webmaster contacted the Clerk today to say he would start work on an area for this on the website.

23/36          King Charles III’s Coronation

To agree to produce an early special edition Village Bulletin for the Coronation, highlighting the work of local volunteer groups for the Big Help Out and with a special feature on His Majesty King Charles III, at a cost of £250.

Not found much enthusiasm, here or at other PC’s, certainly not yet, for any events such as that for the recent Platinum Jubilee. The Orpen Hall is now booked to remain free and WBFC are playing away so the field is also available if anyone wanted to organise anything. It certainly wouldn’t cost the PC much to hire a couple of wheelie bins for the day, if required, but Cllrs were still not sure why residents would come here rather than their own homes or streets. The PC could put up the bunting if asked that it has. 

The Finance Advisory Committee did consider Coronation limited edition mugs, as it was noted that back in the millennium the PC gave one to each child at the school, but at a cost of £5 per mug for 400 children that equate to £2,000, which is a lot of money in these times, money that could be better spent elsewhere. Instead, it is thought that an early special edition Village Bulletin for the Coronation, highlighting the work of local volunteer groups for the Big Help Out (16 organisations advertising in 16 free spaces) for £250 might be a better idea. Please note, no special feature on King Charles.

RESOLVED – Cllr Butcher proposed to agree to produce an early special edition Village Bulletin for the Coronation. Cllr Stone seconded. All in favour.

Cllr Pulford asked if the PC could not buy something to commemorate the Coronation and dedicate it to King Charles. This was met with agreement from members and discussions will take place in regard to the proposed new flagpole and the inclusive swing on the Lorkin Daniell Field.

ACTION – Cllrs Butcher & Stone have a meeting with Heathlands shortly and will ask the school’s plans.

23/37          20s Plenty Campaign

To discuss & agree issuing a modified version of the 20’s plenty campaign’s letter to ECC to adopt a policy for implementing 20mph speed limits.

This is part of a national campaign to ask all County Councils to adopt the same policy to allow for the implementation of 20mph roads. The modified 20s plenty campaign letter to ECC was circulated to members in advance of the meeting.

Discussions took place in regard to who would police it, how roads would be classified and the difference it makes to accident survival rates even though a 20mph limit often means that people actually drive at 30mph.

Cllr Gili-Ross stressed that the campaign is simply looking for support, how it is implemented and policed is a completely different issue and many large conurbations have already approved this.

RESOLVED – Cllr Stone proposed to agree the modified 20’s plenty campaign letter to ECC. Cllr Tyrrell seconded. Carried by 6 votes out of 9 able to vote.

ACTION – Cllr Butcher will draft a version of the 20’s Plenty letter for the Clerk to send.

23/38          Colchester City Status

To agree views on Colchester’s City status to present to next CALC meeting of 9th March 2023

Both the CEO and Leader of Colchester Council will be attending the next CALC (Colchester Association of Local Councils) meeting on the 9th March 2023 and with two such important speakers present, the association would like to put forward any burning questions from local councils in advance to them. Secondly, CALC likes to regularly (every five years or so) check in with local councils to see when and how it is best for members to attend CALC meetings.

  1. Why can there not be regular meetings with the Chief Executive so that local councils can air concerns? This used to happen in the past and worked well, so why not again?
  2. Dog/Litter Bin Policy – What CCC are doing by increasing the price of bin emptying has meant that the WBPC has had to enter a contract with a private firm to get better value for its residents.
  3. Linked to the above, the cost of street sweeping was questioned as residents in the town do not have to pay an additional cost for this service as WB residents do, surely this is double taxation? 70% of Colchester area is made up of rural areas.
  4. In regard to how section 106 money is spent, WBPC has asked for a copy of the CCC policy but apparently there isn’t one, how can this be?

ACTION – Cllr Butcher suggested that if anyone has anything else they would like raised, then they should send it to the Clerk for inclusion in the email to the CALC Clerk.

Secondly, concerning when to hold CALC meetings, the council was in agreement that meetings via Zoom were okay but with face-to-face meetings held twice a year, generally in the Summer.

RESOLVED – Cllr Butcher proposed to agree the above points. Cllr Savage seconded. All in favour.

23/39          Foot/Cycle Crossing

To discuss & respond to the campaign letter from Myland Community Council on a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the A12 at Footpath 39

A letter from Myland Community Council looking for support for a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the A12 at Footpath 39 was circulated to members prior to the meeting. This will have an impact on West Bergholt but is due to be funded by Myland’s section 106 monies.

ACTION – The Council were happy to support the campaign and Cllr Butcher will draft a response for the Clerk to send to Myland Community Council.

23/40          Village Quiz

To discuss ideas in advance of the Spring Village Quiz

The Council recently received a question from the previous winners of the Quiz asking when the next one will be held, which has led to Cllr Butcher to ask if it is a good time to think about changing the format. Discussions took place over various food options, but in retrospect they would all result in waiting for people to finish eating before getting back to the quiz, and could put the timings out. It will be difficult to have it from March to May this year, so the beginning of June would be best. A cost of £5 per head was proposed this time, making it possible for those without a team to form a “nomad” team made up of individuals. Would also like to attain more sponsorship for the raffle, but it was questioned that as the current format works, why change it.

ACTION – Hall and quiz masters to be booked for June. 

23/41          Training/Networking Events

To note & receive feedback from the training/networking undertaken during the last month by Councillors or the Clerk:

  • Meta Training – Jan 2023 – JF
  • Election Briefing EALC – 26th Jan 2023 – BTB
  • Moving to Carbon Zero (RCCE) – 26th Jan 2023 – BT, AS, SC & Clerk
  • Election Briefing EALC – 21st Feb 2023 – Clerk

23/42          Items to Note

a)   Crime Statistics

  • 23rd Jan – 3 crimes: burglary, car crime and theft of hedge plants.

b)   Care Network Warm Welcoming Space

Cllr Stone updated members on the Warm Space, numbers have been dwindling of late, although did have 20 people attend the recent Coffee with Cops and will continue to open Monday & Friday mornings in the Social Club until the end of March. Have lots of dates planned with guest speakers:

  • Fri 3rd March – Cyber Security (WI providing cake)
  • Mon 3rd April – Fire Safety Talk
  • Fri 21st April – Coffee with Cops
  • Fri 23rd June – Coffee with Cops
  • Mon 4th Sept – Coffee with Cops
  • Mon 6th Nov – Coffee with Cops

c)    Recycling Centre

The new booking system at Colchester’s recycling centre is coming into effect on 13th March 2023, following which residents will have to book in advance to take items to the tip.

ACTION – Cllr Owers stated that the assisted freighter had also been cancelled this year by CCC, Clerk to check CCC’s website for confirmation and relay information on this to residents as it is a well-used service.

d)   Ideas for Annual Parish Meeting (26th Apr 2023)

The PC invited Roger Hirst, Essex Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, however he cannot attend the meeting due to the pre-election restrictions. The Council awaits to hear from the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst. A representative of Essex Fire & Rescue has also been invited and so an Emergency Services theme was suggested.

ACTION – Clerk to invite Sergeant Knighton, this meeting’s guest speaker and the Essex Air Ambulance.

e)   Expression of Interest for devolution in Essex

Cllr Gili-Ross explained how ECC had recently released a draft “Expression of Interest” document. The Leaders of Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea City Council and Thurrock Council – along with the Leaders of District, Borough and City councils, and the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner – have been debating the draft ‘Expression of Interest’ document, which contains several options. Proposals include an elected mayor, like Manchester or Birmingham. Councillors were advised to check the link on the ECC website; www.essex.gov.uk/plans-and-strategies/devolution-in-greater-essex.

23/43          Items for Next Agenda

  • Broadband report
  • Memorial benches/trees Policy
  • Annual Parish Meeting
  • Elections
  • Honours Board

23/44          In Committee

No matters were discussed in committee.

23/45          Date of Next Meeting

The next Meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Wednesday 22nd March 2023 at 7.30pm in the John Lampon Hall, Orpen Memorial Hall, Lexden Road, CO6 3BW.

Meeting closed at 21.50 pm

Signed:                                                              Date:

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