Minutes of Parish Council Meeting – 28th February 2024

Banksy style AI Generated Image of Village Events including photography competition

A brief summary of key elements of the PC meeting on 28th February 2024.  At this meeting, as well as routine committee reports, they:

  • Presented awards to winners of the Council’s Young Photographer Competition,
  • Discussed concerns about footpath closures despite having been in use for many years,
  • Were updated by City and County Councillors including on Budget, Pylons & local road issues,
  • Agreed a grant of monies to the Bergholt Youth Group, and
  • Heard about progress on establishing a ‘Drop-In Café for young people.

Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting

Held on Wed 28th February 2024 at 7.00pm in the John Lampon Hall, Orpen Memorial Hall, CO6 3BW

Chair:Cllr Brian Butcher
Parish Councillors:Cllrs Bob Tyrrell, Andrew Savage, Harry Stone, David Short, Manya Barrow and Sara Cullis, James Owers, Katie Pulford and Paul Chamberlain.
Also in attendance:Laura Walkingshaw (Parish Clerk)        
City & County Cllrs:Cllrs Sara Naylor, Dennis Willetts and Lewis Barber
Members of the public:20 members of the public

24/18      Receive /accept apologies and welcome to the public.

Apologies were received from Cllr John Gili-Ross.

24/19      Young Photographer Competition

To present the awards to the winners of the Council’s Young Photographer Competition

Awards were made to:

Under 12’s:

Harriet RossUnder 12WB Made/Grown1st Place
Sam RossUnder 12WB Landscapes 1st Place
Rowan OaksUnder 12WB Landscapes2nd Place

Under 18’s:

Isabella JackUnder 18WB Animals1st Place
Amelia Beckwith-ColeUnder 18WB Animals2nd Place
Alicia WaineUnder 18WB Animals3rd Place
Alicia WaineUnder 18WB Made/Grown1st Place
Rachel WalkingshawUnder 18WB Made/Grown2nd Place
Rachel WalkingshawUnder 18WB Landscapes1st Place
Joe BirchallUnder 18WB Landscapes2nd Place
Amelia Beckwith-ColeUnder 18WB Landscapes3rd Place

Cllr Cullis gave a presentation of all the winning entries with comments from judge, Tony Morris, noting the winning entries will be displayed on the westbergholt-pc.gov.uk website. All of the young people were congratulated on their creativity and the Chair thanked Cllr Cullis and Mr Morris for all their hard work.

24/20      Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

24/21      Previous Minutes & Actions

RESOLVED – the Minutes of the Parish Council (PC) meeting held on Wed 24th January 2024 were approved and signed by the Chairman, with no amendments. (See link to PC Minutes P10 January 2024)

24/22      Questions from registered electors

This item was revisited after the City & Essex County Councillors reports when two members of the public arrived after the Photo Competition presentation.

A resident raised a query over the footpaths that have recently been blocked, it is believed, by Fairfields Farm, with No Entry signs and wooden bollards now in place. His concerns arise from having used those paths for the past 50 years and his understanding was that if a path or way has been used for 20 years or more, and it is not recorded as a public right of way, it is possible to apply to the council (Colchester City Council) to have it recorded. The resident had sent links and an application form tor the Clerk for the Parish Council to review and he was willing to start a petition of local residents to have the paths reopened.

The Chair, Cllr Butcher, thanked the resident for his question and will pass the item over to the Environment Committee for them to discuss in detail. Cllr Barber suggested that working with the PC and lobbying Fairfields Farm themselves, if responsible, would probably be the best way to start rather than proceeding down the legal route, as that is likely to become very expensive.

ACTION – Clerk to forward the resident’s links on to the Environment Committee and to send the Committee’s agenda to the resident in advance of their next meeting.

ACTION – Environment Committee to discuss and report back to the PC.

24/23      Report from Colchester City & Essex County Councillors

Cllr Willetts reported:

Colchester City Council (CCC) Budget 24-25 – Out of the Council’s budget, £115-120 million is spent on services, with £90 million received in fees/charges, leaving a gap of some £25 million which the Council tries to plug with resident’s council tax, grants etc. This year will see a massive increase in capital expenditure, with 400 new Council Houses due to be built. The Council wants to avoid being in the same position as councils like Birmingham, where they have had to cut back all non-mandatory services, by making tough choices this year to make some savings.

Locality Budget – The three Councillors each receive £2,000 which they are allowed to spend on worthy projects in their ward each year. This year has seen West Bergholt’s share of the money spent on Village Fete (£1,000), Open Gardens (£300), Friends of Hillhouse Wood (£300) and Inclusive Play equipment (£500).

The Chair of the Parish Council thanked the City Councillors here for their contribution to the new Inclusive & Me to You swings in the Lorkin Daniell playground.

Call for Sites – Every 5 years the Local Plan is revised. Part of the revision process is to “call for sites”, these are sites where the owners are offering their land for development. 10 sites have been identified in West Bergholt, but just because they have been proposed, does not mean that they will be developed on.

87 Colchester Road (Uncle Kam’s Fish & Chip Shop) – As the owner did not comply with the planning conditions, the Council legal department made the decision to take him to court. The hearing was due in December but was adjourned for three months as the owner was out of the country, so it should take place in March. The City Council wanted to encourage local growth and employment, but also want businesses to adhere to planning.

131 Colchester Road (Chestnut Cottage) – Planning application appeal of its previous refusal has now been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in agreement with the City Council, due to its setting on the edge of the village.

Cllr Naylor reported:

Locality Budget – pleasure to contribute to things that make West Bergholt so special.

CCC Budget 24-25 – Cllr Naylor also reported on the recent Budget decision and noted it was sad that it will result in redundancies of Council staff.

National Grid Pylons – Cllr Naylor recently accompanied the Parish Council Chair and Clerk with CCC Planning Officer James Ryan to sites along the proposed pylons route, happy that West Bergholt PC was the first Parish Council to take up his offer of site visits. It is a complicated situation but there must be no choice but to pursue a twin path. CCC is a statutory consultee, meaning that although the City Council has no say in whether the pylons are constructed or not, it can point out areas of special interest etc. so that the impact can be somewhat mitigated. The visit was very instructive, learning about the alternatives to the 50m Nelson Column-size pylons, underground is not much better with 100m+ wide trenches with a venting station required every 500m. Agree that the existing infrastructure is antiquated, but the energy is being generated offshore then being unreasonably brought onshore to then go offshore again in the Thames at London, this is not NIMBYism it just makes more sense to stay offshore so will not stop pushing for an offshore solution.

Cllr Butcher, the Chair of the PC thanked the City Councillor for her report and noted that the PC has always pushed for an offshore alternative.

Essex County Cllr Barber reported:

Essex County Council Budget 24-25 – Budget of £2 billion agreed. A rise of 2.9% in council tax, plus an additional 2% for social care (the main spending on children, those with disabilities and home/school transport). Until the care situation is resolved at a national level council tax will keep rising. Highways has a relatively low budget in comparison, but the public is more conscious of it as they use it every day. There is more money available for enforcement and potentially for the Local Highways Panel (LHP) but that in itself is in a mess and not fit for purpose with items sticking in the system due to ECC staff shortages.

Argents Lane – work is apparently happening there currently, although appears based at the top of the lane.

Colchester Road zebra crossing – has stalled.

Cllr Butcher then asked if the County Councillor could check when the speed cables that the PC paid for last month would be installed.

Weight Restrictions on the Newbridge Hill bridge – although the weight restrictions are in place, they are no longer enforceable as although the Order was put in in 1983, the bridge was strengthened in 1984. Now looking at width restrictions rather than the structural weakness of the bridge, although farm vehicles will need to be allowed access. Cllr Barber had applied some years ago to the LHP but although the funding came through, he is still waiting for implementation some 3 years later.

Cllr Tyrrell asked a question of the Cllr in regard to the Road Closure signage at the end of Bergholt Road, by North Station, which had been blocking the road and restricting traffic for roadworks in Suffolk. Cllr Barber has already contacted Highways about this, and they are liaising with their Suffolk counterparts to prevent a future situation like this.

24/24      Planning

  • 240143 Pattens Yard, Oakview Landscapes, Nayland Road, CO6 3DQ – Support
  • 240210 Ivy Cottage, 38 Colchester Road, CO6 3JG – Object
  • 240171 Daniells House, Colchester Road, CO6 3SF – Support
  • 240295 Westacres, Bourne Road, CO6 3EL – Support with no comment.
  • 240254 Barns at Hall Road, West Bergholt – Object with the following comment:
    The proposal appears to be a c50% increase, with new build to the front, over the existing footprints and the refurbishment of the barn to the rear. The site is outside the settlement boundary and therefore not in accord with WBPC’s Neighbourhood Plan policy PP9. WBPC notes also it objected to the previous site application 213344 for the same policy reasons. The bulk of the proposed dwelling, opposite the Grade 1 listed St Mary’s Old Church is also a concern to the Council, and in opposition to WBPC’s Neighbourhood Plan policy PP10 Design in respect to the scale/proportion, completely out of harmony with the surroundings.
    Local knowledge indicates that the site is highly likely to have been contaminated by asbestos following a fire in the past and concerns were raised as to whether this has even been considered by the developer. It is also the Council’s understanding that there is a lack of service provision at this site, with concerns over the height of the water table.
    However, if CCC are minded to grant approval against PP9 then any new build should be limited to the existing footprint of the barns, and where relevant have regard to the requirements of Class Q regulations against which approval was originally granted.

RESOLVED – Cllr Tyrrell proposed to approve these amended comments to CCC. Cllr Savage seconded. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to add the comments onto the Colchester City Council planning portal.

24/25      Environment & Highways

The minutes of the 8th February 24 were noted. Updates since the meeting included:

  • Email on the flooding of Hall Road Pond – this will be discussed at the next meeting on the 14th March.
  • Tree planting – it has been established that the PC doesn’t have any space to plant any more trees and Heathlands School have also confirmed that they don’t have any trees from CCC, so the item is closed.
  • Police initiative with Speed Watch – Cllr Butcher asked that the Poor’s Land area be included in their locations to aid evidence for the proposed zebra crossing.

ACTION – Clerk to check the North bound speed sign with Cllr Barber, as it isn’t working currently.

  • Uncle Kams – the Chair of the PC went to see the owner to discuss the need for a litter bin, however he wasn’t there and hasn’t used the contact details left to enable him to get in touch, so the Chair recommends going back to CCC Planning.

ACTION – Clerk to contact the Enforcement Officer in regard to the litter issue at Uncle Kams.

24/26      Finance

a)    Statement of accounts for Jan 24

The final accounts for Jan 24 (83% through the financial year) were presented as follows: (See link to PC Accounts P10 Jan 2024)

Receipts at 100%, General Expenditure 67%, Environment Expenditure 71%, Overall Expenditure 67%

Bank Rec at £136,679.61.

Two items were added to the reserves in the Projects & Reserves sheet this month. “Please Close the Door” signs for the external toilet and £368.20 for the Colchester Road traffic count survey.

b)    Payments

RESOLVED – to approve the Feb 24 payments list in accordance with the 2023-24 budget as listed below. Proposed by Cllr Savage, seconded by Cllr Butcher. All in favour.

February 2024

DDBarclaysBank charges8.50
SOJ & M Payroll ServicesFeb – wages, tax & NI5,500.00
PC23161J & M Payroll ServicesFeb – wages tax & NI1,439.10
PC23162J & M Payroll ServicesPayroll services – Feb48.00
PC23163WBFCGrass cutting Feb – LD Field50.00
PC23164CountrywideGrass cutting Feb – Poor’s Land198.50
PC23165Cox LandscapesArris Rail – Allotments fencing12.24
PC23166Laura WalkingshawWHUK 05/02, westbergholt.net renewal65.21
PC23167TBS HygieneLitter/Dog waste collection Feb192.00
PC23168Julie GillottTraining event at RTPI for DS30.00
PC23169Atlas SignsBulletin printing – Winter 2023940.00
PC23170Kent BlaxillHG sticker remover – Allotments noticeboard5.74
PC23171PlayquipLD Field playground: me to you swing etc13,667.40
PC23172Cox LandscapesTimber & nails – Allotments noticeboard repairs9.85
PC23173SLCCAnnual membership288.00
PC23174Jacqui KibbyBulletin Editor remuneration – Spring 2024180.00
PC23175Laura WalkingshawPrizes for photo comp – Allotments250.00
PC23176Kent BlaxillArris Rail bracket – Allotments fencing6.82
PC23177Orpen Memorial HallUse of Orpen Hall Complex Apr 23 – Mar 24700.00
PC23178ARCO5 x Winter Hi Viz coats231.98
PC23179Bergholt Youth Group*Grant for cones and other equipment494.85

*N.B. Includes BYG grant application payment, if approved in item 24/26c below.

c)     To agree to the Finance Advisory Committee’s recommendation for the grant application by Bergholt Youth Group (BYG) be approved at a value of £382.92.

Bergholt Youth Group originally applied for a £494.85 grant from the PC for 15 new cones, the previous ones having been lost, and other equipment, including pool cues and PS4 games. However, since the application was submitted the cones have been found therefore the Finance Committee recommended approval of just 7 cones and the other equipment, making a new total of £382.92. Although when discussed, the Council agreed that the existing cones were old and tatty and the Youth Group could do with a completely new set.

RESOLVED – Cllr Owers recommended an amendment to this item, proposing to give BYG the entire £494.85 which they applied for originally.

RESOLVED – Cllr Pulford recommended approval of this grant application for a revised sum of £494.85, Cllr Stone seconded. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to inform BYG of their successful grant application.

d)    To agree to the Finance Committee’s recommendation to change the Village Bulletin to a A4 colour front/inside and B&W format, increase advertising costs by 2.5% and pick up the shortfall of approx. £75 each quarter to ensure continued production of the magazine.

(Bulletin Survey Proposal document created by Cllr Cullis was put before the Council (See link to Bulletin Survey Proposal), which confirmed the importance of the Village Bulletin magazine to many West Bergholt residents.

Changes to the design are therefore needed in order to keep costs down, including reducing the font size and the Bulletin Board wishes to change supplier to SDS Group for 2024/25, as they provided the most competitive quote for A4 Colour Front/Inside Cover and Black and White:

Colour Front/Inside Cover and Black & White£3.064.00
Total Income from Advertising£2,803.37
Potential Deficit:£260.63

Some quarters a 20-page edition is produced and in others it is 24-pages, but if 24-pages the Board requested agreement from the Parish Council to budget for this worst-case shortfall of approx. £75 a quarter as part of its commitment to community engagement.

Problems have occurred due to current national fluctuations in printing costs, no printer will guarantee costs for an entire year, only a quarter at a time. The new printers are based in Clacton, but there is no additional delivery charge. Jacqui Kibby (Editor) has been in contact with them and can confirm she is happy to proceed. The Hall Administrator has already asked advertisers if they are happy with the Black & White version and price increase and the majority are content to continue therefore it is proposed to increase the advertising costs by 2.5% as below:

Advertising costs (4 x quarterly Bulletins)VillagerNon-VillagerFull Page
Current cost£ 80£ 110£ 265
New 2.5% increase£ 82£ 113£ 272

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed to approve the Finance Committee’s recommendation to change the Village Bulletin to a A4 colour front/inside and B&W format, increase advertising costs by 2.5% and pick up the shortfall of approx. £75 each quarter to ensure continued production of the magazine. Cllr Owers seconded. All in favour.

e)    To agree to the Finance Committee’s recommendation of an increase in the cost of floodlight tokens for the MUGA from £1.00 to £1.50 (hire cost of £5.50/hr shall remain the same).

The MUGA Working Party has looked at many details of the tennis courts/MUGA facility and although item 24/27 will deal with the majority of their recommendations, in terms of the annual hire costs their recommendation, as agreed by the Finance Advisory Committee, is to keep hire costs at the same value in the 2024-25 financial year, but to increase the floodlight token costs to move in line with current energy costs:

Hire costsHire of one court (1 hour)Floodlight tokens (30 mins)
Current cost£ 5.50£ 1.00
Proposed new cost£ 5.50£ 1.50

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed to approve the Finance Committee’s recommendation of an increase in the cost of floodlight tokens for the MUGA from £1.00 to £1.50, seconded by Cllr Stone. All in favour

ACTION – Clerk to check status of token box with Hall Administrator

f)     To agree the updated WBPC section 106 project list for submission to CCC

Section 106 monies are the monies provided to a parish to negate the impact of development. The s106 Projects List was sent to CCC previously last year, but has been updated to reflect what has been completed or where there is now more information available cost-wise, for example, work has been completed on some of the playground equipment on the Lorkin Daniell Field and quotes have been returned in regards to the Poor’s Land Servery providing a better idea of the cost.

In essence, this is an annual review of the projects to be sent to CCC.

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed to send the updated WBPC section 106 project list to CCC for submission. Cllr Butcher seconded. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to send updated s.106 projects list to CCC.

g)    To agree to the Finance Committee’s recommendation for use of the PC’s Barclays and Unity Trust bank accounts as laid out in the supporting Bank Accounts paper.

The Council were shown a supporting Bank Accounts paper in advance of the meeting. Currently, if a bank should fail the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) would automatically compensate up to £85,000 per eligible account holder, per bank, building society or credit union. However, at the present time the Parish Council has over double that in its various accounts with Barclays Bank, all in the single name of West Bergholt Parish Council.

The accounts are all the same name for ease of use, as transfers between the various accounts are common, due to commitments of the 5 Trusts of which the PC is Sole Trustee. However, the council needs to find some way to separate out the money and still be able to conduct its business in an effective manner, therefore it has opened more accounts with Unity Trust Bank and the Finance Committee recommends use of the accounts as laid out in the supporting paper. Also, once the PC starts using Unity Trust Bank regularly and remains happy with their service then it can move more into its accounts over time.

RESOLVED – Cllr Savage proposed approval of the Finance Committee’s recommendation for use of the PC’s Barclays and Unity Trust bank accounts as laid out in the supporting Bank Accounts paper. Cllr Cullis seconded. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to make the necessary changes.

24/27      MUGA / Tennis Courts

To agree the MUGA Working Party recommendations as laid out in the accompanying report. (See link to MUGA WP Recommendations)

The recommendations of the MUGA Working Party had already been circulated to the Parish Council.

There are amendments to the original planning conditions for the use of the MUGA recommended by the Working Group including the addition of Walking Sports. The Council were content with the addition of Walking Sports, but concerns were raised over the nets, how the posts are lifted out and where the nets are stored whilst the matches take place.

ACTION – Cllr Stone to look into how to store the nets effectively, co-ordinate with the Hall Administrator and meet with any hirers to instruct them.

RESOLVED – Cllr Butcher proposed that the council agrees that the MUGA Working Party continues working on all the recommendations laid out in the report, including joining the LTA and submitting variations of the planning conditions to CCC. Seconded by Cllr Pulford. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to submit variations to CCC and complete LTA application.

24/28      Council Documents

a)    To agree the draft WBPC Annual Leave Policy.

Draft copy of WBPC Annual Leave Policy previously circulated to Councillors for their consideration, based on advice of Worknest, SLCC and NALC.

A query was raised over clause 9, Cllr Owers will check the wording and inform the Clerk, who will then recirculate the amended text.

RESOLVED – to approve the WBPC Annual Leave Policy (for staff), subject to a review of the wording in clause 9. Proposed by Cllr Butcher, seconded by Cllr Owers. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to amend clause 9 and recirculate the Annual Leave Policy once completed.

b)    To agree the Youth Engagement Working Party’s Terms of Reference

Draft copy of Youth Engagement Working Party’s Terms of Reference previously circulated to Councillors.

RESOLVED – to approve the Youth Engagement Working Party’s Terms of Reference. Proposed by Cllr Butcher, seconded by Cllr Owers. All in favour.

24/29      Communications

a)    To receive the monthly report from the Publicity Officer, Councillor Cullis

The social media report by Cllr Cullis was shared with the Council. Twitter (X) numbers are still low and so Cllr Cullis would like to investigate the Clerk’s Assistant’s suggestion of using Threads. Threads is part of the Meta Suite already in use by the PC and so it shouldn’t be too difficult to add it to the Council’s communications posts.

Cllr Butcher thanked Cllr Cullis, and the Clerk’s Assistant for doing such a great job.   

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 problem of the email storage acknowledged as an ongoing issue which requires resolution by the Publicity Officer, Cllr Cullis. The website is doing well at present.

24/30      Youth Engagement

To note the minutes from the meetings of the 24th Jan 2024 and receive a verbal update from Cllr Stone.

The minutes of the 24th Jan meeting was noted. An article will appear in the March Village Bulletin about the Drop-in Café proposal. Next meeting is planned for the 3rd April. Will be meeting with Heathlands Year 6 in the summer term to encourage them to come to the taster session in June, then onwards in September.

Cost-wise, the YMCA initially quoted £20/hr for a youth worker, but have now come back with £50/hr, which was a bit of a surprise, however it is for term time only and there is £1600 in the budget so will be able to afford it from Sept 24 to Mar 25, but will need to find other sources of income the following financial year, such as possibly the Locality Budget. No contract yet with YMCA. Parents who came to the meeting were very keen to volunteer and there is a list of roles which need to be filled.

24/31      Training/Networking Events

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

  • CCC Local Plan Review webinar – 12th Feb 2024 BTB & AS – Included a discussion of the new Call for Sites map. PC has asked CCC to come and discuss this with them on the next available date.
  • Martyn’s Law SLCC consultation webinar – 13th Feb 2024 LW – summary to follow, Law is being watered down at a Village Hall level with each passing month, basically an evacuation plan, but we await to hear the result of the consultation.
  • Meeting with Stanway Parish Council – 26th Feb 2024 BTB, AS & LW – meeting to primarily discuss section 106, but in fact Stanway have not received any lately, even with all their development, due to their lack of a Neighbourhood Plan. The meeting showed that there are common issues, even though their parish is three times the size of West Bergholt. Look forward to speaking to them again soon, along with our other neighbours, Eight Ash Green PC and Great Horkesley PC.

24/32      Items to Note

a)    Crime Statistics

22nd Jan -25th Feb 2024: 1 theft from vehicle.

b)    National Grid Pylons – update following walk of route.

BTB, Clerk and CCC Cllr Sara Naylor travelled the route of the proposed Pylons with CCC Planning Officer James Ryan on Tuesday 13th Feb. James will be attending next month’s PC meeting to talk to the Council and residents.

c)     Latest meeting with Heathlands School

BTB & HS met with the Heathlands Head on Tues 6th Feb from which the meeting notes have been circulated to all members and noted.

d)    First Buses – idling at Chapel Road bus stop (opp. Allotments)

PC has received concerns from a resident following the removal of the “No Idling” signs the bus stop in Chapel Road following the recent works which changed all of the bus stops in the village. The resident is pursuing this issue with First Buses, but the sign was obtained by default last time by former Essex Cllr Anne Brown and unfortunately Essex Highways do not officially recognize such signs. Current Essex Cllr Lewis Barber hopes to get a more positive response from Colchester City Council, as they have a no-idling campaign.

e)    Warm Space – Digital Access Support Team

CCC’s Digital Enabling team are visiting the Warm Space on Friday 1st March to provide help & guidance to residents with any of their digital devices (phone, iPad, laptop etc.).

24/33      Items for Next Agenda

Wed 27th March 2024:

  • Planning Officer James Ryan – Pylons
  • Confirmation of internal auditor.
  • Approval of latest asset register.
  • Renewal of Staffing, Complaints, Training and Grants Policies
  • Annual Parish Meeting
  • Roadmap for Local Council Award Scheme
  • Expenses Claims

ACTION – Clerk to recirculate current Expenses Form to all Councillors.

24/34      In Committee

A supporting paper for item 24/34 had previously been circulated to the members of the Council.

RESOLVED – to approve the Finance Committee’s recommendation to increase the Clerk’s Assistant’s hours as detailed in the 2024-25 budget. Proposed by Cllr Butcher, seconded by Cllr Savage. All in favour.

ACTION – Clerk to inform the Assistant of the decision.

24/35      Date of Next Meeting

The next full council meeting of the Parish Council will be held on Wed 27th March at 7.30pm, in the John Lampon Hall, Lexden Rd, CO6 3BW.

The meeting closed at 21.23 pm.

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