Wivenhoe Town Council
MINUTES of the Full Town Council meeting held on Zoom on 15 June 2020 at 7.30pm Chair Approved
Present: Cllr Tile (Chair), Cllr Boughton, Cllr Booth, Cllr Aldis, Cllr Maltby, Cllr Luxford-Vaughan, Cllr Evans, Cllr Needham, Cllr Wenaden, CBC Cllr Mark Cory, Maurice Howard (RFO) Jo Beighton-Emms (Town Clerk) and Emma Buckley
Public Questions; None
FC/06.20/04 Report from Members of County and Borough Councils;
The councillors considered the term ‘strongly viable’. Cllr Evans noted that a similar term had been used by the Inspector which was factually correct. The councillors considered that there are still a number of unknown elements, such as when schools would be built as well as issues regarding the RTS and the links to it. It was noted by Cllr Luxford-Vaughan and agreed that a coordinated approach was necessary to have any input. The Chair would construct a plan to approach neighbouring councils. Cllr Needham expressed concern about the route of the A120/A133 link and the traffic this would create. Cllr Needham to put this comment in writing.
He agreed with Cllr Luxford-Vaughan that a coordinated approach was necessary. He noted that Wivenhoe Society were focusing on the RTS. He confirmed that he had just sent an email to be shared by the Town Clerk regarding Salary Brook, which deals with making good what had taken place.
Cllr Cory updated on the Covid-19 situation in care homes in the NE Essex region. In his opinion the government had poorly handled the crisis with regards to care homes across the country but he confirmed that he had worked with the NHS CCG Board and the NE Essex area had done well.
Regarding CBC’s response to the crisis, he was proud of the work and the lines of communication and services which had been provided. He had attended 4 meetings and 2 national calls each week with cross party leadership. A recovery phase session is taking place soon.
The crisis had left a £9.5m hole in the borough’s finances, due to additional spending and loss of incomes. CBC were currently working hard on reopening facilities and the High St, with plans to promote walking and cycling. There will also be support for businesses in Colchester and Wivenhoe. Business rates relief had been awarded to local councils.
CBC’s website had been updated and improved and made reference to local schemes such as Wivenhoe Mutual Aid. CBC homes had proactively contacted 1000’s of people and locality budget contributions had been made to aid schemes and foodbanks.
Waste and recycling collections would resume as normal from 22 June. Cllr Cory thanked the Town Clerk for ensuring recycling supplies had been made available to Wivenhoe residents. CBC will be changing the supply scheme and he will speak to the Town Clerk about this.
He congratulated the council on taking up the E Cargo Bike scheme.
Cllr Cory noted the spate of local burglaries. He said that there was better communication with the current Chief Inspector, Colchester and he would be requesting extra patrols.
He noted the great work that had been done by ECC Highways in Wivenhoe, such as by the schools. This was excellent joint working
Cllr Cory thanked the Wivenhoe community for pulling together in the crisis, particularly, Wivenhoe Mutual Aid, the support for the rainbow trail and the ‘virtual’ VE Day 75 commemoration led by Sarah Hoy. He also noted the BLM initiative on Facebook.
Cllr Luxford-Vaughan noted that most points regarding CBC had been covered by Cllr Cory and that all critical information had been and would continue to be shared.
Regarding the A133/A120 link road and the concern expressed by Cllr Needham, she pointed out that an alternative route had now been set out which should disperse the traffic.
Cllr Evans asked about the next steps regarding Salary Brook and any biodiversity assessment. Cllr Cory said that this information is in the recently circulated email.
Cllr Wenaden asked if there was a coordinated approach by the schools to use alternative locations in September. Cllr Cory said that he had already updated all he could on this. Other locations were being considered.
The council considered a previously circulated report from Cllr Liddy which is attached as Appendix B. Cllr Luxford-Vaughan suggested that the council do not comment on Bradwell B.
FC/06.20/05 Update from the Chair; The Chair confirmed that he had remained in contact with the
Town Clerk and RFO throughout the crisis situation to ensure that the day-to-day
business of the council had continued
FC/06.20/06 Update from the Town Clerk; The council considered a previously circulated report
from the Town Clerk which is attached as Appendix D.
Cllr Booth agreed to assist in progressing the Office & Yard WG. Cllr Luxford-Vaughan
updated on an approach she had received from a local resident about renting office
space. It was agreed that this would be worth progressing as part of the plan. A
meeting is required.
Cllr Luxford-Vaughan requested an invite to the CALC meeting.
FC/06.20/07 Update from the RFO; The Council considered a previously circulated report which
is attached as Appendix E.
The RFO confirmed that a Finance Committee meeting was necessary before the next
Full Town Council meeting in July to approve the AGAR.
The council considered the schedule of payments which are attached as Appendix F.
These were proposed by Cllr Booth, seconded by Cllr Aldis and approved by all.
The RFO reported on the use of the Mayor’s Fund Account for the Wivenhoe Mutual
Aid donations. Cllr Luxford-vaughan confirmed that if the £1000 locality budget was
Not spent by this group it can be spent elsewhere, although there could be a second
wave of the virus.
Cllr Wenaden noted that funds will be required by the Health & Wellbeing
sub-committee. Cllr Aldis said that the funds should stay put and Cllr Evans agreed
that they were intended as a credit facility for WMA to use and they may still need to.
The RFO noted that a review of the staffing budget and the WLH were necessary. He
confirmed receipt of the £10,000 grant from CBC.
It was agreed that there was a need for the council to consider a number of factors
regarding the WLH. A Personnel Committee meeting has been arranged for 24 June.
The Town Clerk confirmed that contact had been made with the WLH users and the
RFO said that he needed the responses to assess future income.
FC/06.20/08 The Local Plan- Update from Cllr Luxford-Vaughan; Previously covered.
FC/06.20/09 Environment and Health & Wellbeing; Cllr Evans confirmed that an informal meeting
had taken place and that a committee meeting will be arranged soon. The Chair and
Terms of Reference had been previously agreed. The Town Clerk confirmed that the
TORs could be approved by the committee as it had delegated powers.
Cllr Wenaden reported that she was attending a zoom meeting with ECC the next
day. The Town Clerk had attended online training and the formal Health & Wellbeing
plan was to be drafted by the next FTC meeting. Cllr Wenaden also reported on a
green exercise initiative with the University of Essex. The Chair advised Cllr
Wenaden to speak to the RFO regards this group’s budget.
FC/06.20/10 Skatepark WG; Cllr Luxford-Vaughan reported that there had been one site visit and that she was speaking to CBC regards S106 funds for this project. The council need funding options and community liaison. Next steps would be a press article and a Facebook questionnaire. A further site visit was planned for 16 June- Cllr Booth said he would attend with the Town Clerk.
The RFO confirmed that there was over £40k in the budget for this project and asked about the possible reallocation of funds from the zip wire project. It was noted that a vote had taken place on the zip wire and that it was not going ahead. It was agreed that the Open Spaces Committee should hold a further meeting to consider this.
The Chair suggested that a message should be sent to the former manager, Kevin Harkin and he would liaise with the Town Clerk on this.
Cllr Aldis noted that planning applications were currently being considered by email. It was agreed that this would continue for now and that Cllr Aldis would call a meeting when necessary.
FC/06.20/11Date and time of the next meeting: It was agreed that the next Full Town Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday 20 July 2020 at 7.30pm.
The Chair closed the meeting at 20.56.
FC/06.20/12 Exclusion of press and public: In accordance with Paragraph 1 (2) of The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, the Council is invited to consider if the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following item(s) owing to the confidential nature of the business.
Report by County Councillor Julie Young June 2020
I hope that you are all well, I am sorry I cannot be with you this evening.
During the period of the pandemic Essex County Council have had a torrid time in managing the health and wellbeing of Care Home residents. At the start of the crisis the Governments eye was firmly on the demand on NHS services and Care Homes were struggling to cope. One Home in Harlow, Tye Green saw 17 deaths in rapid succession including a care worker. This was a big wake up call in all sorts of ways, the portfolioholder openly admitted that governance was sadly lacking. Against such a shocking situation , ECC together with acute and community health care services worked collaboratively to wrap support around care homes. Things improved greatly, additional beds were opened up in Clacton and Harwich and there are some incredible stories of people in their 90s surviving.
As you are aware we received the inspectors letter describing the East Garden community as strongly viable and ECC Cabinet agreed to move forward with the link road and the RTS. I think its imperative that we work collaboratively to ensure that this development provides a healthy community going forward as the virus has demonstrated that densely populated communities are more at risk and that open space and gardens are an absolute must.
This week sees the commencement of new cycle and walking capacity in the Town Centre. The prioritised route is from the Park and Ride, (with Park and Peddle) now on offer and extra space being given over to walking and cycling taking space from the road. The High street has been closed to through traffic but is still open for deliverers, take away traffic, disabled blue badge holders etc. No improvements have been made coming from the East or South of the Town. I have asked for consideration of a cyclepath along Hawkins road which would mean a continuous cyclepath provision be available from Wivenhoe to Colchester. We hope that the measures will be the start of better cycling and walking provision in the Town.
I hope members have seen the fantastic footpath improvements around Broomgrove school . If you recall I was able to nominate 12 footpaths for repair which I considered a priority, I nominated 5 for Wivenhoe and 5 for Greenstead. We were then offered two extra and I invested those to Broomgrove, I was really pleased at how much work was done from these nominations. I had taken a highway inspector each and every year to look at Broomgrove footways for 4 years so it’s a great relief and a small amount of pride that they are now done. I realise that there are plenty of potholes which persist and I have a zoom surgery with Cllr Bentley coming up to discuss outstanding repairs, wish me luck !
I attach some documents that might help members understand the Town Centre Changes better.
A Report to Wivenhoe Town Council for Monday 15th June 2020.
There are a number of issues members might wish to note:
Planning. Currently there are no major applications in Wivenhoe. The only ones that might be of general interest to members are 100 dwelling development at Dawes Lane Mersea by Mersea Homes and 119 one and two bedroom apartments in five blocks at Barrack St sidings.
Bradwell B. The Bradwell Power Generation Company (BPG) is holding a Stage One Consultation into its plans to build a new nuclear power station adjacent to original decommissioned one. The consultation is extended to Wednesday 1st July.
I am formulating a response in opposition to the proposal. There are many grounds on which to oppose it, primarily environmental, health and safety, and the tricky issue of national security.
I will submit an objection on the basis of the economic costs of nuclear energy. Since the cost of renewable energy is falling and supplying an ever greater proportion of our energy needs from local sources, the vast cost of these major capital projects is harder to justify. Also there there are the legacy costs of storing the spent fuel rods for thousands of years in geologically safe conditions,
I am quite happy to share my response with any one interested.
Ward Cllr. Cyril Liddy.
Monday 15th June 2020.
APRIL – MAY - JUNE REPORT
After three very drastic months there is naturally much to report.
There is much still to be done on this front (both by ECC and by us!). It now transpires from the Fby 2020 detailed Engineers reports that the Greenstead Rd route is if anything more favoured than the St Andrews Avenue route, because the congestion on the approaches to the roundabouts on the latter (the bus lanes being provided only on the uncongested sections!) outweighs the average delay time held up at Eastgates.
The whole question of Greenstead roundabout is evaded by dividing up the reports into ‘East of Greenstead rbt’ and ‘West of Greenstead rbt’ !! This is no doubt because they know that if the scheme were revealed it would provoke such an outcry that it would probably have to be given up, so it is much better to do the rest of it first and then say after it is ‘finished’ that in response to public reaction the RT will have to do without anything here!
They are still considering as a prime ‘east of rbt’ option one that avoids the University altogether.
The new ‘instant half-thought-out’ package of ‘green schemes’ announced last weekend (after consulting only those who could be trusted not to read it properly + those bound to be in favour) would if made permanent reduce eastbound delays in East Hill, it is true. But he real problem with the priority-less RT is what will happen on bad days / times.
The ECC decision on the RT means that those in CBC who want to fully pedestrianise the High St will now have to give up that idea.
At the end of the ECC Cabinet meeting Cllr Finch engaged in the extraordinary pretence that they have not yet decided which ‘mode’ of RT they will be adopting. There seems to be no limit to their attempts to evade using the ‘bus’ word in anything to be seen or heard publicly.
As Clews’ letter says that the RT needs to be built at the higher end of the upper level of cost, ECC are now some £20m plus short on the finances, but everybody seems to be ignoring that. [Personally it is difficult to see how a scheme involving so little could actually cost that much!].
Clews has of course totally ignored all the uselessnesses of the East of Colchester RT in his urge to be seen to approve at least one of the GCs.
I put a piece on the Forum re the possible significance of the decision to adopt the ‘western junction’ on the A133 instead of the eastern junction at the same position as the Elmstead Rd junction. However this provoked no interest; almost everybody seems to have lost interest in GC matters for the moment (which is understandable and does not really matter in the short term).
BUS ISSUES SINCE MARCH
The last three months have been pretty unpleasant for myself on this front. Sadly the existence of ‘virus extremists’ on the bus front (i.e. control-freaks who are not satisfied with people following the government guidance, but demand that their more extreme demands are followed instead) first became evident in Wivenhoe itself. Whilst waiting in the Coop queue by the bus stop I noticed that the disintegrating timetable frame needed taping up again, but no sooner had I done that than a yob appeared and ranted for several minutes about how I was ‘killing children’, and then left to return with gloves to remove the tape because ‘it had been near your body’. Subsequently the emergency timetables posted on the shelter were repeatedly rapidly torn down, probably by him. In due course I managed to find the (lost) key to the WTC frame and tt’s are now safely up there!
Similarly putting the emergency timetables on the Forum only produced responses from control-freaks demanding that nobody should be travelling on buses.
This sort of extremist behaviour has been encouraged throughout by the language used by government saying ‘Avoid Public Transport’ (as if they were indeed meaning that nobody should use it), implying that it is unsafe to travel by public transport, and, after 30 years of endlessly telling people to use cars less, suddenly doing a complete volte-face to the idea that everybody travelling beyond cycling distance should use cars and that those who ‘choose’ to use public transport are irresponsible plague-spreaders.
Much of this government language is no doubt due to its being prepared by central London civil servants whose notion of ‘public transport’ = the tube in the rush hour. It is of course totally irrelevant to the actual situation of empty buses and trains in most of the country (on top of which nothing very constructive was done to resolve the situation in inner London anyway).
The bus operators have been forced by government, as a condition of getting the special grant money, to put out messages themselves telling people not to travel. Whilst this was not far off being appropriate in the initial weeks of full lockdown, it has become increasingly daft since, given the massive unused capacity even under ‘distanced’ conditions, and the bus operators national body the CPT is getting increasingly infuriated with the continued anti-public transport stance as people with cars return to their normal habits. However it is clear that many former bus users have been pushed into the idea that it is ‘unsafe’ to travel by bus (pushing usage levels down even further than they would have been anyway by the absence of old people / schools / university, and the shutting down of ‘destinations’).
The increased services put on from 1st June at government request have seen the average number of people per bus reduce again from 3 to 1 (often 0) (although the 61 does better than that).
It puzzles me that First have reintroduced so many 62/62b journeys with the University gone until further notice.
All First buses were reduced to ‘distanced capacity’ last week by the shutting off of most seats, bringing the numbers down to 8 on a single decker and 18 on a double decker. This is no problem at present but will obviously become one if old people and schools return. It is not something that has been dictated by the government, and is not being done universally (including not by TfL).
I will refrain from saying anything on the great face-coverings fallacy! – the WHO offers much more useful suggestions on this and also seeks to relate the wearing of functional masks and the distancing situation sensibly with each other.
As another condition of the special grant money the bus operators were also told by government that the emergency timetables must be well advertised including at bus stops. This has been ignored, as they all take the attitude that ‘putting it on the website is enough’. (In fact it is ECC’s job in any case to put up info at bus stops but ECC immediately gave up; their system cannot cope with frequent massive changes). It therefore (surprise surprise) became MY ‘job’ to do this by putting up the emergency timetables at principal town centre etc stops. This worked OK for the first three weeks, but they were then systematically ripped down by a gang of a few of the most anti-passenger First drivers, who had in the previous days been swamping the colchesterbususers facebook group with attacks on me for doing this (claiming it encouraged people to make unnecessary journeys and would therefore kill bus drivers – it really results from their longstanding dislike of my work), also being abusive to people who sought information on the current services.
This resulted in a generally poisoned atmosphere on the facebook group which had to be closed down thereby depriving the 350 members of any info at a particularly vital time.
(Out in the real world, however, away from the evilnesses of socialmedialand, the new situation actually resulted in improved dealings between the now-few passengers and most bus drivers).
The ripping-down problem was then fudged for several weeks by my putting them up as far as possible in places where they were invisible from a driver’s seat. However it was necessary to put up full new notices everywhere for the 1st June changes, and they have already started ripping these down.
RAIL ISSUES SINCE MARCH
The Colchester Town trains were totally withdrawn in March (the only service in the region to suffer this); however it cannot be thought that anyone much would have used them then if they had been still running! They were restored in May to the Saturday timetable and there are signs that usage (which of course was never exactly high normally!) is building up again. In contrast London commuting remains virtually non-existent, as is evident from station car parks! – I came back from London yesterday on the 1818 and it only had 30-something on board the 12-car train leaving Stratford.
In contrast to the bus operators, TOCs including Greater Anglia seem to give the impression that management rather enjoy being paid their full salaries to achieve virtually nothing (and be considered morally virtuous by government for so acting!). They are now displaying even more aggressive messages about avoiding travelling on trains, and when you get on one of their empty trains there is a broadcast saying that you should not travel unnecessarily because the ‘little available space’ is needed by essential workers! Because of this insistence on ‘ultra’ propaganda, there is no attempt to give practical advice on what journeys can happily be made (currently = ANY on GA trains themselves!) and what journeys should really be avoided (notably those involving travel on the underground in inner London whilst the distancing situation there remains unresolved).
The whole already-creaking system of ‘franchises’ is obviously now broken beyond repair by financial ruin and the likelihood that London commuting will never return to anything like previous levels.
The promised ‘2019’ improved timetable is now announced for May 2022, but all dates are now meaningless, and it seems more likely that reduced services will now be appropriate rather than increased.
Town Clerk Report- Full Town Council meeting 15 June 2020
RFO FINANCE AND BUDGET REPORT UPDATE 31st MAY 2020 FOR COUNCIL MEETING 15TH JUNE 2020
A Finance Committee Meeting was held on the 27/05/2020, I understand that the draft minutes have previously been circulated.
Things to note are:
I reported that:
4 staff have been furloughed and 2 claims made by the payroll bureau on HMRC. (To date £1,887 has been received).
National Pay Award - The employers are understood to have made an offer of 2.75% to staff, an extra day’s, leave and a joint appeal to the government for increased funding to enable an increased pay offer. (The Council’s budget had made provision for 3%)
Recruiting a new receptionist has been temporarily suspended until the office reopens normally. The RFO estimates this is saving £800 per month.
Subsequently the need for increased cleaning hours to meet new safety requirements.
I would propose that the 2020/21 Staffing Budget be reviewed as soon as possible.
Bank Reconciliations –
31/03/2020 Confirmed Bank Balances £357,106
30/04/2020 Confirmed Bank Balances £506,746
Subsequently a further reconciliation has been achieved
31/05/2020 Confirmed Bank Balances £481,162
It was agreed that there should be a review of the 2020/21 budget as soon as the situation stabilizes with particular regard to Staffing and the William Loveless Hall.
(Following Andy’s report on subsidence at the WLH it had been confirmed that we are not covered by the recent policies. This cover could be added but the Insurer proposed that once things were normal they could arrange a visit by an account manager who would assist us in reviewing our policy. It was agreed that this would be done as part of the annual risk assessment.
It was agreed that the account managers visit should be arranged and also that an inspection should be arranged of the WLH subsidence by a surveyor to assess what needed to be done and at what cost.)
Our external auditor, PKF Littlejohn, is requiring the submission of the AGAR by the 31/07/20. If we are unable to meet that deadline, we must contact them.
I therefore request a formal meeting of the Committee and subsequently Council at the end of June/July to approve the AGAR and supporting documentation, including the Risk Assessment and Asset Register.
I asked whether there were any questions on the accounts. If not could the meeting formally approve the accounts and recommend their approval by the Council with the other section of the AGAR.
There were no questions and it was agreed that the Council should be requested to approve the Accounts at their July meeting.
There were no questions and it was agreed that the Council should be requested to approve the Reserves at its July meeting.
It was confirmed new debit cards on the old minibus account had been received for Town Clerk and Trainee RFO, these are to be used for future payments.
The Deposit and Interest accounts changes have been dropped due to the money market and the emergency. The movement of funds has been put on hold.
As agreed the acceptance of payments by debit and credit cards has been progressed and formal Council approval is now required to enter into a contract.
It should be noted that, the Council has now made loan repayments of £28,646 on the 24th and 27th April 2020. (The PWLB confirmed that as at 31/03/20 the Council owed £282,412.91, which is consistent with both the draft year end accounts and our long-term financial plans.)
I provisionally estimate, in the 3 months to the 30th June 2020, the following budget variances:
Estimated loss of rents £7,500
Payments made from emergency budget first 4 months £2,500
Recruiting Receptionist Delay £2,400
Furloughed Staff HMRC Grant £2,900
CBC Non Domestic Rates Relief Grant
25% of £10,000 £2,500
It appears that we are in a neutral position regarding the budget but this could change
with little notice.
Outstanding Issues following the approval of the accounts are the annual risk assessment, the exercise of elector’s rights, the internal audit.
RFO REPORT UPDATE
10TH JUNE 2020
Appendix F- See attached