A brief summary of key elements of the PC meeting on 24th January 2024. At this meeting, as well as routine committee reports, they:
- Noted the Chair’s interview with BBC Essex in which he discussed the concerns the Parish Council has with Argents Lane (see audio below),
- Were updated on progress installing additional play equipment,
- Agreed updated 3-year plan, budget & precept request for the 2024/25 financial year,
- Discussed developments in the plan to improve Youth Engagement with the Parish Council.
Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting
Held on Wed 24th January 2024 at 7.30pm in the John Lampon Hall, Orpen Memorial Hall, CO6 3BW
|Cllr Brian Butcher
|Cllrs Bob Tyrrell, Andrew Savage, Harry Stone, David Short, Manya Barrow and Sara Cullis, James Owers and Paul Chamberlain
|Also in attendance:
|Laura Walkingshaw (Parish Clerk)
|City & County Cllrs:
|Members of the public:
|1 member of the public
24/01 Receive /accept apologies and welcome to the public.
Apologies were received from Cllrs John Gili-Ross and Katie Pulford. Apologies were also received from the City and County Councillors.
24/02 Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
24/03 Previous Minutes & Actions
RESOLVED – the Minutes of the Parish Council meetings held on Wed 22nd November 2024 were approved and signed by the Chairman, with no amendments. (See link to PC Minutes P8 Nov 23)
24/04 Questions from registered electors
There were no questions received from registered electors.
24/05 Report from Colchester City & Essex County Councillors
There were no reports received from the Colchester City and Essex County Councillors.
a) To note the following agreed comments made by the WBPC Planning Committee to Colchester City Council (CCC) at their meeting on the 18th December 2023 (See link to Planning Mins P9 Dec 23):
- 232641 3 Garling Walk, CO6 3LG – Support.
- 232722 Highfield Farm, Fordham Road, CO6 3DP – Support.
- 232751 Blackheath Bulb Co, Nayland Rd, CO6 3DE – Object.
- 232766 Old Rectory Lodge, Cooks Hall Road, CO6 3EX – Support.
- 232678 Poors Land adj to Heathlands Primary School, West Bergholt – No comment required.
- 232778 Land at Armoury Road, West Bergholt (NEEB) CO6 3LD – Object.
b) To note the following agreed comments made by the WBPC Planning Committee to Colchester City Council (CCC) at their meeting on the 15th January 2024 (See link to Planning Mins P10 Jan 24):
- 232716 49 Mumford Road, CO6 3BL – Support.
- 240018 Twain, Chapel Lane, CO6 3EF – Support.
24/07 Environment & Highways
a) To note the minutes of the WBPC Environment Committee from their meeting of 11th January 2024 (See link to Environment Mins P10 Jan 24)
The minutes of the 11th Jan 24 were noted.
- Truck repairs – The Parish truck has been fixed and payment agreed.
- Hedging – The free hedging has been planted on the corner of Armoury Road to reduce antisocial parking and to fill vacant patches in other areas around the village. The Council agreed that the hedging looked really good on the corner of Armoury Road and thanks were offered to both Cllrs Barrow & Stone for organising and to the Handymen for doing such a good job with the planting. However, the Clerk had received a call from an Armoury Road resident, who regularly uses their motorized scooter in that area, who said that he could no longer access the pavement now that the new hedging had been planted.
ACTION – Cllr Barrow will contact him to understand the issue and try to find a solution.
- NCR – The footpath along New Church Road was cleared of leaves and debris by the Handymen and again thanks were offered to them for all their hard work.
- Poor’s Land – Cllr Butcher visited the Poor’s Land as requested by the Finance Committee to determine the state of the pitch and found that it was frozen solid on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Argents Lane – Cllr Butcher was interviewed by BBC Essex at 8.10am on Monday 22nd Jan. He covered all of the PC’s concerns during the course of the interview, that it is an Essex County Council asset, the PC would like to see a 30mph speed limit, the gritter trucks do not currently visit it during cold days, flooding continues to be a problem and concerns were raised about what will happen when the A12 is closed for works. The recording is currently available on BBC Sounds.
- Lorkin Daniell Playground – work will begin shortly on the additions to the new playground equipment and safety fencing to the LD playground.
a) Statement of accounts for Nov-Dec 23
The final accounts for Nov-Dec 23 (75% through the financial year) were presented as follows: (See link to PC Accounts P8-9 Nov-Dec 23)
Receipts at 100%, General Expenditure 61%, Environment Expenditure 62%, Overall Expenditure 61%
Bank Rec at £144,023.75.
Two items were added to the Projects & Reserves sheet this month. From the Reserves, the plaque was purchased for the QEII print at a cost of £73.30 from the Ringfenced 2021 Historical Honour Board money leaving £579.20 unused in that item line. From the Projects and Grants, £825 were paid out from the PC’s Neigh Plan implementation for project work completed by the webmaster on the .gov website changes, email server and Gold Award.
RESOLVED – to approve the Nov payments list in accordance with the 2023-24 budget as listed below. Proposed by Cllr Savage, seconded by Cllr Stone. All in favour.
|Bank charges – loyalty reward (17.83-2.34)
|Wave – Anglian Water
|Water bill 03 Sep – 02 Dec 23 – Allotments
|J & M Payroll Services
|Dec – wages, tax & NI
|J & M Payroll Services
|Dec – wages tax & NI
|J & M Payroll Services
|Payroll services – Dec
|Grass cutting Dec – LD Field
|Grass cutting Dec – Poor’s Land
|4 x 1st class large letter stamps
|WHUK 05/12, stationery & 2024 calendar
|Litter/Dog waste collection Nov
|Project work – email & LCAS work
|E.T.C. Sports Services
|Annual tennis courts maintenance (Yr 2/5)
|Cllr Training Days 1 & 2 – PC – Jan 24
|Wave – Anglian Water
|Water bill 05 Sep – 04 Dec 23 – Poor’s Land
|Lateral drain application – Poor’s Land servery
|QEII Memorial Plaque
|B A Turner Site Investigation
|Poor’s Land borehole
|Annual homeworking expenses
|PC to Hall
|VAT Transfer (Apr 23)
|Bank charges – loyalty reward (10.78-0.57)
|J & M Payroll Services
|Jan – wages, tax & NI
|J & M Payroll Services
|Jan – wages tax & NI
|J & M Payroll Services
|Payroll services – Jan
|Grass cutting Jan – LD Field
|Grass cutting Jan – Poor’s Land
|Electricity for Christmas tree
|WHUK 05/01, blue rope, tap lock, door signs
|Litter/Dog waste collection Dec
|Essex Highways *
|Automatic Traffic Count – from Reserves
|24/Seven Elite Group Ltd
|New pipework fittings to Poor’s Land water tap
|Christmas Tree disposal – Young Farmers
|Steve’s Rubbish Removals
|Allotments – clearance of plot 121
|Quarterly invoice Feb-Apr 24
|Annual vehicle insurance subject to 24/08e
|Repairs to Parish truck
*The automatic traffic count is needed as evidence for the proposed zebra crossing on Colchester Road. The cables will be fitted in and near School Lane, in close proximity to the existing SID signs.
ACTION – Cllr Butcher to ask Essex Highways how long the speed recording cables will be left in place.
c) To note the current position of the Parish Council’s reserves & project monies.
The Current Reserves document shown to members gave an indication of the current Earmarked Reserve item lines which have been used up or will be added to from the current year’s projects by the end of March 2024. Overall, it provided a picture of the money available outside of the proposed budget. Some of this money may of course be spent by the end of the financial year, at which time the document will be updated and brought back to the Council for approval with the updated 2024 Reserves Policy.
d) To discuss and approve the 2024-25 Three-Year Plan, Budget and Precept Request. Noting Proposal B has been recommended by the Finance Advisory Committee.
The proposed Three-Year Plan for 2024-25 was then shown to Council, it is based on Year 2 of current Three-Year Plan with slightly more detail of the proposed projects. Three options were shown to members with the only differences being the addition of £2K for the Community Hub in Proposal C or less money for the Orpen Hall or Climate Change projects in Proposals A. The recently published WBPC Business Plan did state that the proposed projects budget for 2024-25 was likely to be £16K, and there is some logic to keeping it at £16K as it was only agreed a few months ago, so Proposal B has been recommended by the Finance Advisory Committee. All three options are as below:
Year 1: 2024-25
|Neighbourhood Plan implementation projects
|WB Community Hub
|Orpen Memorial Hall upgrade project
inc. new flooring corridors/JL wcs & retreatment of OH floor
|Climate Change Initiative project
inc. OH or MUGA eco-improvements
The choice of Proposal A, B or C feeds into the three options of draft Budget for 2024-25 below (full version available in the Finance section of the westbergholt-pc.gov.uk website), on which the increase in relation to the 2023/24 amount is clearly shown in red:
The proposed 2024-25 budget included new additional item lines of £250 for Communications and £1600 for Youth Engagement (including the possible hire of a youth worker for the drop-in café idea). The Trees budget had been increased as this year’s weather has led to an increase in tree maintenance costs and the Village Environs budget had also been increased to include the possible creation of a new shed.
An additional 22 Band D properties had increased the tax base to 1394.1, allowing the PC to possibly keep the overall increase as low as possible this year. It is understood that Colchester City Council will be increasing their council tax by 2.9% and ECC by 4.99% (although 2% of that is dedicated purely to adult social care). The PC’s Finance Advisory Committee recommended Proposal B to take account for both inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.
RESOLVED – to approve Proposal B of the 2024-25 Three-Year Plan, Budget and Precept Request. Proposed by Cllr Savage, seconded by Cllr Cullis. All in favour.
ACTION – Clerk to send completed precept request form back to Colchester City Council.
e) To agree to the Finance Committee’s recommendation of the MS Amlin Insurance quote for the Council’s vehicles.
The Clerk has received two quotes for the renewal of the Parish Council’s vehicles (ride-on mower and Parish Council truck). As both quotes are equivalent and similar in cost and were put before Council, the Finance Committee recommended acceptance of the lower quote.
|MS Amlin Insurance via Gallagher (ins broker)
RESOLVED – to approve the MS Amlin Insurance quote of £675.41/year for Parish Council’s vehicle insurance. Proposed by Cllr Savage, seconded by Cllr Butcher. All in favour
24/09 Ownership of Mumford Close greensward
To note the latest update from CCC on the Parish Council’s application to make the greensward an Asset of Community Value
The Parish Council received a letter on 2nd Jan 2024 informing them that their request had been approved:
The Greensward, Corner of Mumford Close between 29c and 41 Mumford Close, West Bergholt, CO6 3HY has been added to Colchester City Community Assets as of 21st December 2023
There had been concerns that a developer may purchase this particular greensward and build across it, although this approval cannot prevent that, it will mean that it will be more difficult, and the PC will be informed at the earliest opportunity.
24/10 Council Documents
To note updates to the 2023-24 Action Plan and agree draft 2024-25 WBPC Action Plan.
2023-24 Action Plan Updates
Several new developments and updates have been added to the current year’s Action Plan.
2024-25 WBPC Action Plan draft
Cllrs Cullis and Butcher have recently looked through both the Neighbourhood Plan Action and Implementation Plans and updated them. These will be circulated in full to the Council shortly, but for now they have pulled a couple of actions from the plans for inclusion in the 2024-25 Action Plan. In total, there is the addition of three new items from 2024-25 proposed Three-Year Plan and two from the Neighbourhood Plan’s Action/Implementation Plan.
RESOLVED – to approve the draft 2024-25 Action Plan. Proposed by Cllr Butcher, seconded by Cllr Cullis. All in favour.
a) To receive the monthly report from the Publicity Officer, Councillor Cullis
The social media figures this month were shown to Council; Highways, the Valentine’s Quiz and Donkey photo all scored highly recently.
The Photographic Competition for the under 18’s closed on the 16th Jan 2024, with some 21 entries. More entries were hoped for originally, but the fact it took place over the Christmas holidays was suspected to be why so few children had entered. There was simply not time to judge them ready for awarding at tonight’s meeting and so this will now take place at the February PC meeting. It is hoped that they can also be displayed on boards at the Orpen Hall and at the Annual Parish Meeting.
The 1st Feb is the cut-off date for any articles for the next Village Bulletin magazine edition. Cllr Cullis has now analysed over 150+ survey’s individual feedback comments on the Bulletin Survey and a conclusion report on it will shortly be available. In looking at the cost issues the Editorial Board is currently seeking more quotes and cost-cutting suggestions from three different printers.
b) To note receipt of and discuss the actions therein of the Monthly Website Report from the webmaster, Dave Kingaby
The latest Monthly Website Report from the webmaster was noted and the outstanding action of the need for an Email Retention Policy was noted.
c) To note the Finance Committee’s recommendation to send all group emails via blind copy in order to cut down on email traffic.
Although the Clerk needs to circulate a lot of information to members, the Finance Committee has recommended that group emails be blind copied to all in order to reduce unnecessary email traffic.
24/12 Youth Engagement
To note the minutes from the meetings of the 14th Dec, 9th Jan 2024 and receive a verbal update from Cllr Stone on the Parish Council moves towards youth engagement.
The minutes of the 14th Dec and 9th Jan meetings were noted.
Cllr Stone provided the Council with a verbal update in the developments for youth engagement achieved so far:
- The Councillor had visited the various youth organisations in the village along with other members of the Working Group over the past few weeks.
- They have found there is a real gap of facilities for the 11-16 age group and the idea of an after school drop-in café was raised.
- Cllr Stone contacted Colchester’s YES (Youth Enquiry Service), who in turn put him in contact with the YMCA. They can provide professional advice for the establishment of such a café and a Youth Worker to attend the sessions.
- An initial meeting was held to gauge interest with parents & young people in the idea of a café and it was well supported & positive.
- Looking at one session a week at first, possibly midweek, from 4-6pm with a professional Youth Worker, supported by parent volunteers. Unlikely to start until September so can catch the Year 6 campaign of school leavers from Heathlands, but hope to have a taster session in June.
- This is in no way competition with the services offered by Bergholt Youth Group or the Wired Church group.
ACTION – Cllr Stone to bring a paper back to the PC for the May/June full council meeting and to write an article for the next Village Bulletin.
ACTION – Cllr Stone & the Clerk to create Terms of Reference for the Youth Engagement Working Group.
24/13 Training/Networking Events
To note & receive feedback from the training/networking undertaken during the last month by Councillors or the Clerk:
- Colchester City Centre Levelling Up Tour – 30th Nov 2023 BTB. – Very informative, accompanied by the Chair of Stanway PC and have since arranged to meet with them to discuss s.106 monies.
- Councillor Training Day 1 – 17th Jan 2024 PC – Good, full day session at Dunmow, have second day on 31st Jan.
- VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme webinar – 19th Jan 2024 LW – Tips and advice of how to apply for the grant scheme as administrated by Groundworks UK. If we are eligible, we may be able to obtain a free IEA for the hall and then a grant for eco-improvements.
24/14 Items to Note
a) Crime Statistics
20th Nov 2023 – 21st Jan 2024: 1 car theft, 1 theft from dwelling. 2023 Year End Crime Stats also available. West Bergholt up from 32 offences in 2022 to 34 in 2023, an increase of 6%, however it is thought this may be due to an increase in the reporting of crimes.
It was noted that Coffee with Cops will be occurring at Friday’s Warm Welcoming Space on 26th Jan at 10am.
b) National Grid Pylons update – Cllr Short.
The Anti Pylons meeting held at St Mary’s on 1st Dec 2023 was well attended and informative, with thanks offered from Rosie Pearson to West Bergholt Parish Council for its support. She has written an article for March Village Bulletin, which will provide residents with a really good summary of where we are at present. There will be a meeting with a CCC Planning Officer onsite, along on the route of the proposed pylons, on 13th Feb with Cllr Butcher & the Clerk will attend. Finally, Cllr Short is due to attend the Royal Town Planning Institute webinar on 29th February for the Offshore Energy and Reinforcing the Grid in the East of England course.
c) Response from Fire Service on access to Heathlands School
The school reported an incident in November where the fire engine had struggled to get onto school property. This was fundamentally a parking issue, and the Fire Service advice has since been sent to Heathlands, but will also be discussed at the next meeting between Cllrs Butcher, Stone and the Head.
d) Meeting with Heathlands School – Nov 23
Meeting notes circulated to all members and noted. The next meeting will take place in two weeks’ time and discussions will include school articles for the Village Bulletin, Youth Engagement, Fire Service access (as above) and Parentmail.
Cllrs Savage and Stone met with the Eco Council of the school today (Wed 24th Jan) to discuss working with the school on environmental projects. Cllr Savage raised the idea of the “Bee squared” project with the children, which was positively received by them. This project, undertaken by other PCs in the country, gives out small packets of bee friendly seeds to residents for them to plant up a 1m2 patch or pots in their front gardens for bees to visit. A poster is also made available for children to colour in and put in the front window of the house and a map is populated with all the participants by showing bees where the sites are located. Cllr Savage is currently getting some guidance on where we can get free seeds otherwise an approach may be made to the Charity Allotment Stall.
Would ideally like to come up with one project a term to engage with the school, alternating whether the idea comes from the school or PC.
e) Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS)
Informed in December of unsuccessful application. Will be reviewing our application in Feb 24.
24/15 Items for Next Agenda
7pm start on Wed 28th February 2024:
- Presentation of the Photo Competition awards.
- Apologies in advance from Cllr Gili-Ross
- MUGA/Bulletin costs for 2024-25
- Annual Parish Meeting planning – CEO of CCC and Commander of the Colchester Garrison confirmed.
- William Sims Sports Field
- Revisions to Neighbourhood Plan
- Update of section 106 projects list for CCC
- Any final grant requests to PC for 2023-24 financial year
24/16 In Committee
No matters were discussed in committee.
24/17 Date of Next Meeting
The next full council meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Wed 28th February at 7.00pm, in the John Lampon Hall, Lexden Rd, CO6 3BW.
The meeting closed at 9.02pm.