Council Update – Agenda No. 11
Council Meeting 21st May 2020
VE Day – 8th May 2020
With Covid-19 lockdown casting a shadow over our day to day lives, the 75th anniversary of VE day was no exception, due to the social distancing guidelines, arrangements for marking the day had to be reviewed.
The day started at 6.30 am with the Chairman of the Royal British Legion Brightlingsea branch Dereck “Spud” Murphy raising the Union Flag, the Town Mayor, Councillor Graham Steady then laid a wreath on behalf of the Town Council. Reverend Caroline Beckett, at approximately 7.15am, laid wreaths on behalf of the organisations which she is Chaplin to. At 11am after the church bell rang, there was a two-minute silence, after which the national anthem was sung. Adhering to the social gathering guidelines, these events were not advertised, so people could be kept safe.
Traveling around the town, it was gratifying to see all the decorations on show, also barbeques and cream teas being enjoyed.
Our community activity will ensure that the 75th Anniversary of VE day will not be forgotten.
Covid-19 Update (Councillor Chapman)
The Town Council’s volunteer support scheme is now well established and providing a regular service to many residents. There are 85 registered volunteers with approximately 75 active in delivering prescriptions, undertaking shopping trips and other tasks as needed. 560 registered clients have been supported by the community volunteers with over 2000 prescriptions being delivered. The plan is to carry on until June and hope to ease back on the prescription and shopping deliveries.
The following e-mail has been received, from the family of a local resident, who needed support during the covid-19 lockdown period:
“I wonder if you could pass on a message of thanks to Councillor Chapman.
Back in March I registered my uncle, as a vulnerable Brightlingsea resident who may be in need of assistance. This week we had need to call on that support – the person who had kindly been taking shopping to him during lockdown was no longer able to do so. I phoned the Council, and within no time at all Councillor Chapman had phoned me back to put me in contact with one of your marvellous volunteers, Will.
The response from the Council has been extraordinary. Will, the volunteer, has been immeasurably kind and helpful. My uncle, my family and I cannot thank you all enough. The support you are providing to the community is truly heroic.
With gratitude and warmest wishes”
Hard & Harbour (Councillor Carr)
On the 24th March the harbour issued a notice proclaiming that effective immediately the harbour was closed to the Public, however some commercial operations continue as per the governments Covid 19 restrictions.
On the 13th May a statement allowing some harbour activity to be reinstated, after consultation with the Town Council it was decided that the town jetty would continue to remain closed at this time for crabbing, this is due to the fact that social distancing would be very difficult to maintain on our Jetty. The full statement from the Harbour Commission was issued as follows:
Having reviewed the related Government documentation, we interpret that from Wednesday 13th May Brightlingsea Harbour can be used for local exercise, sport, or spending time outdoors, where social distancing can be maintained.
Should you wish to use your vessel please bear in mind each step of the process and how you can maintain social distancing, especially whilst accessing pontoons or landings which might become busier than normal as people venture out, as well as making every attempt to remain safe and reduce the chance of requiring outside assistance.
Please be aware your boat is considered as a second home.
The Harbour will remain closed to visiting yachtsmen (from sea) as government guidance is clear that, apart from day trips, leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at a second home for a holiday or other purpose is NOT ALLOWED. This also pertains to resident vessels cruising elsewhere; local ports will not be expecting arrivals.
The Town Jetty is open but with social distancing measures in place, please pay attention to the signage and any directions you are given by the harbour staff. Crabbing is not permitted from the jetty as this cannot be managed within the current social distancing guidelines.
Those wishing to launch boats may do so, however they should liaise with Harbour office or their particular boatyard or club prior to doing so.
Until further notice the Water Taxi will run 7 days a week, but only between 08:00 and 17:00, monitoring VHF channel 68. Crews will be delivered to boats independently, no mixed crews. This will mean waiting at some times.
Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners will attempt to monitor activity to the best of our ability and may impose limits or restrictions on accessing certain facilities (or busy areas) should their use prove to be concerning.
The Harbour Office is open with social distancing measures, able to take card payments, sell tokens, etc., in a safe manner, please take direction from staff. We continue to monitor our phones and email Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00.
All staff are operating to a revised risk assessment to ensure their (and others) ongoing safety in line with current Government guidelines. We anticipate this safe system of work may have to be adjusted without notice to follow any further guidelines which may influence our services or to adapt to local issues as they are identified.
The Brightlingsea/Point Clear/East Mersea ferry is not in service.
Inner Bench Head Buoy
The Harbour Commissioners are cleaning up the Harbour, at the same time replacing the Inner Bench Head Buoy. They believe it is cheaper to replace with new than to refurbish the old.
They have asked if they tidy this one up, does the Council want it for show, perhaps outside All Saints Church, at the entrance of Brightlingsea?
Lido (Councillor Barry)
At the present time the position of the trustees is that the Lido will not be opening in 2020 – apart from the technical and practical work required, there is a sense that encouraging mass movement of people to the coast is not something to be encouraged until we are in control of the rate of infection spread. There is also a need to be reassured and have measures in place to guarantee testing, tracking and tracing going forward.
Looking ahead it is hard to imagine a sunny day with 400 people sunbathing and swimming inside, and hundreds more outside queuing to get in, as we experienced in 2018/19. As far as we can see in the future it is unlikely the Lido experience will ever be the same in terms of admissions and style of use. We will have to rethink our whole business plan and operational procedures. Issues such as social distancing, hygiene measures, numbers on site, use of volunteers etc. – in short, everything we do will have to be reviewed to ensure safe practices and public protection.
The Lido will not be alone in undertaking this exercise – all public leisure facilities will have to go through the same process, and what shape future group leisure activities will take is uncertain. Much depends on establishing local monitoring, testing, and tracing facilities and creating a different ‘normal’ in terms of social contact and personal hygiene measures.
Given that the Lido will have no income from swimmers this year and it is further unlikely that the café will open in a ‘normal’ business sense, we are pleased to say that we have received government grants and rate relief so that future opening in 2021 will be guaranteed.
These are uncertain times but we will regroup and reformulate our plans, and with community support we will make sure the Lido survives and opens to a whole new world next year.
Western Promenade (Councillor Howard)
The Beach Huts in the Western Prom are unfortunately still in disarray from the recent surge. Tendring District Council who are responsible for the Beach Huts (except the ones around the boating lake which are Brightlingsea Town Councils responsibility) had to wait for the car park field and road to dry out and waivers to be received before reinstating of the huts. Unfortunately, the week this was due to happen the Corona Virus lockdown came into force so it could not go ahead with adequate social distancing. We very kindly had an offer from the Colchester Army Barracks (as they could not parade) to help re-site the huts but Tendring felt that they should wait until the relaxed lockdown rules were published. Our District Councillors have been told that this will be a priority as soon as it is safe to do so.
Lakeside Touring Caravan Park
Lakeside Touring Caravan Park was also affected by the recent surge, where all their electric ‘Hook Ups’ were flooded and now need repairs. Mr Miles McCarthy from Lakeside Caravan Park has informed us that fortunately the flood did not reach the newly refurbished Utility Room. The recently refurbished toilet block and repaired W/C drainage system was also not affected. He will be resurfacing his roadway ready for when they are told they can open which he hoped would be in July.
Planning – Continue to have your say (Councillor Smith, Chair, Brightlingsea Town Council Planning Committee)
In normal times Brightlingsea Town Council would hold fortnightly meetings to discuss planning applications which had been submitted to Tendring District Council and on very rare occasions Essex County Council (which is the Minerals and Waste Planning Authority). The public were always welcome at those meetings and the planning committee were always interested to hear what local people had to say.
Unfortunately those meetings at the Parish Hall can no longer take place until government guidelines are changed. However, ‘meetings’ still take place and you can continue to have your say in two ways. The committee meets via ‘Zoom’ every fortnight. Most people find Zoom relatively easy and you can practice on the web to familiarise how it works. You must notify Tracey Pulford, the Town Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you an invitation to the meeting. Simply click on that five minutes before the meeting and she will ‘let you in’! At the appropriate time you will be invited to speak. The agenda for the meeting is published a week before and lists the applications to be discussed with their respective application numbers. The latter is important because you can then go to the Tendring District Council Planning web site and click on ‘Public Access’. This allows you to look at all the plans and documents relating to the application.
If you don’t want to join the ‘Zoom’ planning committee meeting to give your comments you can write or email Tendring District Council Planning Department but it would be greatly appreciated if you could send a copy of your comments to the Town Council so we can consider these when we ‘meet’.
The Town Council does not have any kind of veto on the applications but the officer dealing with the application or the committee (if the application goes before the Planning Committee) always take note of what local people say.
It is important that new buildings and alterations to buildings in the town are of high quality in terms of design and help retain the quality and character of the Brightlingsea environment. On behalf of BTC Planning Committee we want to work with the public to achieve that. Please do continue to have your say.
Open Spaces (Councillor Steady)
We are aware of comments of dogs on and off leads, so to make dog owners aware that there is help available, please see the article below and/or facebook page @georgiespawpad
“Hello dog lovers of Brightlingsea!
My name is Georgie (Georgie’s Paw Pad) and some of you may already know me as the crazy dog lady who is often running around the fields with multiple dogs or walking dogs round the streets of the town.
I have been given the amazing opportunity of writing for the council website once a month to provide tips, facts and advice to the community.
I’ll use my first article to tell you a bit about myself.
I have always been in love with dogs; working and studying them my whole life. I got my first Saturday job at 10 years old working in a groomers. I left school and went into College to obtain my diploma in animal care and a few years later I worked at the RSPCA in Wethersfield. I have also run a kennels where I lived on site and now run my own dog care business.
I recently attended the wolf and dog behaviour course which was taught to me by Shaun (‘the wolf man’) Ellis which has opened my eyes and given me more knowledge than I could have ever imagined.
Mainly I learned how unfortunately a lot of the old school approach towards dog training and owning can sometimes damage our dogs and stop them from being stable and happy.
Dogs require nurture and love as well as boundaries of course but not to be confused with obsessing over us being the top dog or boss in the household but allowing the dog to be it’s true self and for us to be the character it requires us to be.
Since I haven’t yet obtained my instructors course in this field I am unable to go into too much detail so I will keep these articles light and informative without going in too heavy when it comes to dog training.
I suppose the best tip I can give is that if it feels wrong, then it most probably is.
Anger and stress should never come into training and if it is then a different tactic should be used.
Calmness is always key.
If you’re having issues with your dog then try not to get frustrated as you won’t see changes overnight. Take your time and take baby steps towards any desired goal for your beloved dog.
The most important thing is that you first help your dog to learn that it can trust you and never needs to be afraid of you.
I offer 1:1 training sessions but I would say that they are more about providing information to the owner on how to enrich your dogs life, help them overcome anxieties or previous traumas they may have gone through and how to encourage a happy and healthy relationship that you both benefit from.
I hope you all check in next month and in the meantime, stay safe!”
This is in line with a facility that Brightlingsea Town Council would like to share with the residents of Brightlingsea whereby they can have a link on our web-site to their web-site or facebook page.
Other items requiring action:-
Schools re-opening 1st June 2020
Councillor Barry would like to propose Brightlingsea Town Council sends the following letter to:
Clare Kershaw – Director of Education, Essex County Council
Ray Gooding – Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Essex County Council
cc Julia Hunt Headteacher Brightlingsea Primary School, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, County Councillor Alan Goggin.
‘Brightlingsea Town Council is aware that the local Primary School is being asked by The Government to open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 students from 1st June.
BTC is also aware that ministers and County Council officials have stated that the ‘Health and Safety of children and staff remains everyone’s first priority during this period.’
The Town Council supports this statement but also has a wider remit in terms of protecting the whole community and would make the following observations:
- Return to school is not compulsory for parents or children nationally.
- Return to school is not deemed to be safe and is not being pursued in Wales or Scotland.
- Teachers are not being provided with PPE or allowed to wear PPE in the classroom.
- Reception and Year 1 pupils are the least able to observe and maintain social distancing measures.
- The proposed return will be for six weeks only prior to the official school summer holiday.
- Brightlingsea School has been providing excellent support to children and families throughout the lockdown period via online resources, telephone calls and contact with parents.
- Brightlingsea School has remained open for the children of key workers and children with recognized vulnerabilities.
- Assessment of local social media posts indicates there is little support amongst parents for a return to school for these children at this time.
- Teaching Unions have expressed concerns at the lack of evidence regarding child infection/transmission, and the lack of proper resourcing for the return.
- The BMA have stated the risks of infection are still too high to open schools safely.
Brightlingsea residents have been hugely compliant with the stay at home and lockdown requirements and the rate of infection in the town appears to be low. In the light of the above observations Brightlingsea Town Council is concerned that opening the school at this time could create a ‘spike’ in infections within the town. Consequently the council would like updated information from the Director of Education and The Cabinet Education Portfolio holder on the provision of facilities for the following:
i) Testing arrangements for staff, parents and children.
ii) Daily monitoring arrangements for staff and children.
iii) Infection Control measures, including cleaning and PPE provision.
iv) Post testing, the provision of contact tracing measures.
The Council would request this information is provided prior to any opening of the school, and further updates are given on a regular basis.
At the April council meeting, the Clerk was instructed to contact Bradwell stating that ‘due to the current situation, the consultation period should be extended further’. The following is their response, which has been circulated to all members. Members comments please.
“Dear Ms Pulford,
Many thanks for getting in touch on behalf of Brightlingsea Town Council, I hope you are all well at this difficult time.
It is extremely important to us that the Stage 1 consultation remains accessible to everyone who wishes to take part in it.
As well as extending the deadline of the consultation period by 5 weeks to now end on 1st July, we believe we have taken the right steps in promoting a range of alternative methods through which people can access information about the plans online, over the phone and by post.
The new approaches we have introduced include a range of ways in which residents can raise questions and get feedback from experts within our team, as they would at public exhibitions, and we are confident they are a fair and flexible means of dealing with the unprecedented circumstances arising from the COVID-19 crisis that allow people to make their views known.
The specific public consultation approaches we have implemented to allow people to have their say include:
- Bookable 20-minute telephone surgery sessions for residents to speak directly to our expert team. You can see further information on our website, and book slots via the web or over the phone: https://bradwellb.co.uk/telephone-surgery/
- The existing telephone and email community lines continue to remain open for enquiries outside of this initiative;
- Exhibition boards are available as part of a virtual exhibition online;
- The proposals have been published as part of an interactive webpage, in addition to consultation documents themselves being available online, which provides an additional route to explore the information;
- Parish Councils have been offered the opportunity for meetings that are managed virtually through dial-in by telephone or home computer accessed video conference; and
- Easy-read and large print versions of the consultation materials can be made available for anyone who might need them, and translations are available into other languages on request.
Residents and councils can request further hard copies of our Stage One Consultation documents, and we are more than happy to post these out in the event people are unable to access these documents online. We are also working with various community groups, local businesses and other organisations to further raise awareness of the project, particularly to reach those with limited ability to access the proposals and engage in our consultation via traditional means.
As with most major projects, we will be delivering a further stage of consultation on our proposals at a later date, once we have taken into consideration the consultation responses at this stage and results from our investigative works. We also fully intend to continue engaging with you and the local community outside of the formal consultation stages.
The Bradwell B scheme is a nationally significant project for which there is an urgent national need and it is in the public interest, including in light of the COVID-19 crisis, that consideration of this proposed development is not indefinitely or even substantially delayed. We are satisfied that the new approaches we have adopted are robust, meet the objectives of the consultation, and allow the public to fully engage with the proposals via telephone and post, as well as online.
I trust you will find this response helpful but if there are any further points you would like to discuss, please let me know.
We have previously offered to provide a briefing to Brightlingsea Town Council, giving you further opportunity to ask questions, whether by phone or by online conference facilities dependent on your preferred method. If you would like to do this before the close of consultation, and ahead of you submitting a consultation response, do let us know and we are happy to arrange.
Bradwell B Community Relations team”
Essex County Council – LTEN172007 – Church Road jw Well St, Spring Chase and Ladysmith Avenue, Brightlingsea – Traffic Management Improvements
At the April Council Meeting, County Councillor Goggin mentioned the above project, and that the Town Council needs to decide on the next steps. All the necessary documentation has been re-circulated to all members, and the recommendation is that the Councillors responsible for Transport and Highways look into this further.