Update  from Town and District Councillors – Agenda No. 08

Council Meeting 26th April 2020

Amenity Areas (Councillor Steady)

New seat to be installed at Gravel Field, saplings planted in Church Road just up from the Grove Cottages –  part of the planting initiative.

Spring Hedge planting:

Please see below e-mail sent to Nature Networkers from Susie Jenkins: 

“Dear Nature Networkers,

Courtesy of Mr Cooper the farmer up by All Saints Church we will be planting this year’s Spring hedge right on the bend as you come into Brightlingsea – A lovely spot for a Blackthorn, Dogwood, Hawthorn, Rowan, Crab apple, Dog rose, Hazel and Birch hedgerow.

The Woodland Trust had a hold up with their sapling delivery this March which suddenly arrived this week.

I know the Bsea Nature Network is usually up for a challenge so we have organised this hedge planting in a flash!

Starting this weekend of Saturday 24th April right through the week until the following Sunday 2nd May you are welcome to pick up a hedge pack from the doorstep of 36 New Street and wander up to the church with the help of the map and your spade for some rural recreation.

We have decided to stick to the same format as the Lockdown 2 hedge but this time you are free to go in a sociable group of up to 6 people or 2 bubbles – or of course you can go and enjoy the peace and quiet by yourself!

Please do get involved as we have 420 saplings to get planted which in years to come will make such a pretty boundary with plenty of blossom, fruits and cover for wild birds and creatures.

Please let me know by email or by phone when you would like to go and I will book you in for that time.  Mobile: 07527003655

The saplings are very small at present, the rootball is approximately 10cm by 3cm which makes this a family friendly activity that even young children can be part of.  As the hedge is being planted inside the fence boundary there is also very little danger from the road.

Please do not drive onto the field as it is to be left as a hay crop this year – more good news for wildlife.

A photo of your planting would be much appreciated as a celebration of the event if you are happy to appear on social media and the BNN newsletter

Feel free to print out the attached poster if you like.

In other news:

Chris Gibson a well-known ecologist from Wivenhoe will be leading 3 wildlife walks around Brightlingsea over the summer.  They cost £10 for 2 hours and having been on one last week I know they are well worth it.

They will take place on:

Friday May 21 – A walk from Batemans Cafe, along the seawall a short distance, then back to the Lozenge for an exploration of the bugs and beasties that are living there.  We would finish the two hour-session there, so people can stay to look around there further should they wish to.

Friday June 25 – A walk along the estuary in the opposite direction, including the Rope Walk, ending back at the starting point (still to be agreed, but probably near the floating pontoon).

Friday September 24 – An exploration of the All Saints’ churchyard and environs.

Chris Gibson

 

We have applied to Essex County Council for a wildflower planting licence for the patch of ground in front of the cottage at number 1 Hurst Green.  The plan was to clear off the grass completely and rake the soil in preparation to plant wildflower annuals – poppy, cornflower and corncockle.  It seems to be a long process to obtain a licence so maybe we can look to the autumn or next Spring…

Number 1 Hurst Green

 

The pollinator bed at The Lido is taking off well.  We have left some wild plants in the bed and added some nectar rich perennials with single blooms.  I can’t wait to see the Echium with its tall spike of blue flowers – usually dripping with bees.  Already more insects have been seen around the area than before and some of the plants seem to be showing signs of beginning to settle in to their dry salty spot in full sun (and wind!).

Thank you to the lido volunteers and Julie & Lynn from Springmead for their time and plant donations.

Lido pollinator bed

 

Another activity – we need to weed and check the first hedge we planted.  If there are any volunteers for this or the latest hedge planting please do let me know.

Hope to see you all soon

Enjoy the warm weather 

With wild wishes

Susie Jenkins”

Harbour and Heritage Project Task Force Meeting (Councillor Steady)

Took place – 23rd March 2021

Present Cllrs:-  Steady Chairman

                         Carr      Heritage pier

                         Barry    Business Plan

                          Smith   Planning

                         Chasney Communication

The Chairman welcomed everyone and said it was a councillor only meeting and the objective was to clarify the scheme.  The responsibilities of all were explained and how each role fitted in with the overall scheme.  After a discussion Cllr Carr stated that as far as he was concerned the heritage pier was separate to the overall scheme and that was all he was interested in delivering.  After more discussion when questions were posed it became evident that there is disagreement over the way forward.  The meeting ended with a consensus that the whole project needed to be clarified.

Hard (Councillor Carr)

Update on EMFF Grant project as of April 7th 2021.

 1) Anchored Pontoon Solution    My last communication, 26th March, gave details of the difficulty the technical team faced because the old naval concrete slab was found to be a much larger construction and in a differing position than shown on the archival navy drawings.  The technical team investigated alternative methods of holding the pontoons on station.  The piled fixing method  was no longer an option due to the date constraints on bird nesting and additional concrete breaking. A method of anchoring  was looked at.  This method is similar to that used for the CYC jetty and hammer head.  This system involves holding the pier pontoons in place with anchors led from new and existing mooring points located on the hard.  Some Cllrs’ familiar with the geography of the hard will be aware that there is an old historic mooring chain system in place, we are researching the holding capacity of this historic system. At this time however it is thought that this old system would not be suitable for our purposes.

We have placed three anchors, consisting of old railway wheels, that will be used as mooring / anchor points.  These buried wheels will be led and chained to the pontoon section, and are ideal to resist the lateral load of the pontoon.  The Harbour Authority has endorsed the laying of the temporary anchors under their Harbour Act.  All the works were completed on the 31st March as per the MMO licence condition. 

The design and stability of the pontoons and the revised mooring system is currently being assessed by our volunteer  technical team and the pontoon suppliers (Walcon).  The design and capacity of the anchor system will be forwarded to contacts in Ove Arup and Partners Limited, a civil engineering consultancy of international repute for peer review.  This design will be shared with council in my next update. 

I confirm that two greenheart piles have been driven into the hard.  These will hold the northern three pontoons nearest to the existing promenade.  They are consistent with the existing planning proposal.  These piles were located outside the naval slab and did not encounter obstructions.

2)   EU Grant Funding  – As we are have changed from a piled mooring to a anchored system for the pier, we are consulting with our EU funder.  It is not unusual or unheard of for this type of funded project to have revisions on the build.

3)   Pontoons  – We now have a planned gap of 6 to 8 weeks before the ordered pontoon sections arrive in Brightlingsea.  The plan is for the eight pontoon sections to be delivered to Morgan Marine on three lorries, where they will be craned into the water and floated to site.  We felt this to be the best way to off load the pontoons because Morgan’s have a crane on site to offload the lorries.  If we were to bring a hire crane on the hard we risk of breaking through the main crust of the hard which will have an adverse effect on  tractor and boat hauling.

4)  Existing Dolphins  – The discussion of the dolphins is still on going and a structural survey has been commissioned from an independent surveyor.  I understand that the survey will be made available for public / resident consultation.

5)   Archaeological Report  – I have commissioned a desk top study archaeology report from UCL for the whole registered BTC asset area of the hard.  This report will identify any existing archaeology in both the hard and smack dock ahead of any planning applications for regeneration on the entire hard area registered with land registry.

6)   Pier Location  – There have been some verbal comments on the waterside regarding the pier not being built in the location set out in the planning application.  When the unforeseen concrete slab was encountered the option of moving the pier was considered so that the fixing piles would avoid the slab.  However, the anchor solution is independent of the concrete slab and so I can confirm that the pier pontoons will be located at the position shown in the planning application.

It is planned to further update council before w/c 19th April

Additional harbour reporting:

1)  I attended a meeting with the harbour master, following a meeting the commission had with TDC regarding the next stage of safe bathing area that will be identified by buoys. This new area is shown on the attachment safe swim areas 2021.

2) The HM has asked that if we could look at additional signage to curtail the large amounts of fishing boat tenders that are now being permanently berthed behind the knuckle on the hammerhead of the town jetty.  As the harbour slowly returns to a more normal service where the harbour launches can take skippers and passengers out to the moorings it is my thought that the large amount of dinghy’s may naturally fall away, I will however ask the HM’s thoughts on the congestion perhaps in June.

Lido (Councillor Barry)

The Lido refurbishment programme is moving ahead and gaining momentum as volunteers have been able to return in larger working groups.  Although freezing temperatures haven’t helped the condemned old pump has been removed and replaced with a newly reconditioned one, the small pool has been emptied and some fence painting has started. 

The café team have worked hard to establish themselves and business has been steady; they opened for extra days over Easter. 

There has been a good response to the advertisement for an Operations Manager and the selection process will start soon after the 19th April.

        

Regeneration (Councillor Chapman)

The final touches are taking place on the town centre and plaques for the seats have all been ordered.  Plants are in the gardens around the war memorial and fountain.  

Brightlingsea Town Council has taken over the maintenance of the memorial gardens for this year due to new grass etc.  A meeting will take place between Brightlingsea Town Council and the Royal British Legion later to plan the future.

Been working with Councillor Carr on the refurbishment of the Hard Shelter.  As previously advised, Essex County Council are sponsoring a ‘good to talk’ bay, we are pleased to report that NEEB Holdings have confirmed that they will fund the outstanding amount of the full refurbishment.

Tourism (Councillor Chasney)

LAKESIDE CAMPSITE

Planning

Following an anonymous complaint made to TDC regarding planning permission for the redevelopment work, I spoke to Development Technical Ben Bowler who confirmed the work comes under the heading of operational development, and requires planning permission. This needs to be submitted within 28 days from 16 April, and the site operator, Michael McCarthy, has given me his assurances that he will comply with the request.

Mr Bowler has confirmed that bookings can continue while approval is being sought and sees no reason why it would be rejected.

COVID

A query has been received as to why Lakeside is operating in contravention Covid guidelines. Quite simply it is not; it is following those guidelines by locking the showers and toilets and limiting use of the utility area to 2 persons at any one time. Other restrictions such as social distancing are being fully observed.

TOWN GUIDE

Nothing further has been instigated since this was last brought to Council. At that time a proposal was made to produce it to cover the two years 2021 and 2022. This would be extremely difficult as we have no information about event dates for next year, and at this time that also applies for 2021 for several events. The Town Clerk confirms the only dates we can confirm so far are:

Carnival car boot sales – Mondays – 3/5, 31/5, 30/8; Sundays – 13/6, 11/7, 12/9

Bloomers Plant Market – 29th May

Bert Stocks Fun Fair – 7-20 June (still to be agreed by full council)

Open Gardens – 26/27 June

Regatta – Water only events – 10/11 July

Food & Drink Festival – 27-29 August (still to be agreed by full council)

Thus my recommendation would be not to publish a town guide this year, but to consider producing a smaller events publication early summer once organisers have had a chance to make or abandon plans. It has also been suggested by Tracey and Julie that we could use the balance of 2020 guides with an update leaflet attached.

Welfare (Councillor Chapman)

A lot of work has been done over the last few weeks with the Community Agents and Social Services.  Hand rails and assisted living equipment have been installed in many residents homes.  

Many inquiries about help especially with people suffering with forms of dementia.  It is increasingly worrying that residents don’t seem to know what help is out there, and the financial support many families could be getting to help them.

Western Promenade (Councillor Steady)

Various issues are being reviewed. 

Town Council Staff (Councillor Chapman)

I have had several zoom meetings with the grounds staff over the last year and after what has been an exceptional year, with exception circumstances and exceptional staff, I would just personally like to thank the staff on the way they have worked and handled the situation.  No front line services have been stopped and although I know the Groundsmen have had to overcome quite difficult situations, especially with some members of the public and social distancing, they have gone about their jobs and achieved remarkable results.  

Although many businesses are re-opening from the 12th April 2021, the Government Guidance is still “you should continue to work from home if you can.”  Under the Employment Act Section 44, the Office staff will not be returning to the office until both have received at least one vaccination.  The recently installed intercom system will remain in use, once the office has re-opened.

Tendring District Council Reports: 

Councillor Barry

22nd March 2021 – Along with Cllrs Chapman and Steady met with TDC chief executive and corporate directors. Discussed Brightlingsea issues particularly the provision of community sports facilities at Colne School, asset management, Western Promenade, Freeports. This was following up on previous representations made by District Cllrs at full TDC meetings.

29th March 2021 – Attended Resources and Services Scrutiny committee meeting – set agenda for scrutiny programme 21/22 – Housing budget, re-allocation of unspent reserves, Waste and Re-cycling targets, Disabled Facilities Grants.

8th April 2021 – with Cllrs Chapman and Steady – met with Mike Carran and Tourism Portfolio holder Alex Porter to discuss seafront issues.  Raised –  waste bins, size and emptying for summer season; paddling pool cleaning, refurbishment of shelters and general Beach Management System. We asked for shelters to be prioritized as they seemed to fit criteria for funding from ‘Back to Business’ and seafront spending budgets.

I have received some feedback from TDC planning enforcement officers regarding a couple of issues raised by residents.  Unfortunately it has taken over six weeks to get a response to my initial enquiries – apparently there was a mix up over allocation of the requests and apologies received.  Here is the response:- 

 ‘The silo at the site known as Essex Cement Ltd, Oliver’s Wharf, Shipyard Estate, Brightlingsea, having checked, appears to have been installed in accordance with Schedule 2 Part 7 Class I of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and therefore does not require planning permission.

In regards to the site known a Lakeside Caravan Park, the alterations works requires planning permission which the owner, Mr McCarthy has been made aware of.  He intends on submitting a planning application to resolve the situation.  I have requested the application be submitted within the next 28 days.  The concerns raised regarding the spacing between pitches has been passed onto the Environmental Health team, who have been copied into this email.

I hope this assists.’

The touring camp site is accommodating a number of caravans already, apparently on a long term storage basis – from observation there does not seem to be pitch space for 30 tents as communicated to Cllrs some months ago.  This is subject to further enquiries.

Councillor Steady

22nd March 2021 – Attended meeting with Chief Executive, Asset Officer and Cllrs Barry and Chapman regarding asset transfer.

Attended Community and Leadership Committee main issues were rail fares and the impact on residents and commuting and an update on Tendring 4 growth

8th April 2021 – Meeting with TDC Portfolio Holder Porter, Corporate Director Mike Carran and Cllrs Barry and Chapman regarding budget for coastal towns.  Main issues discussed beach management and shelter restoration.

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