BRIGHTLINGSEA TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Online Council Meeting held on
Thursday 21st January 2021 at 7.30pm.
G Steady (Mayor)
J Chapman (Deputy Mayor)
M Barry, J Carr, G Chasney,
J Howard, M Judson and B Smith
Tracey Pulford – Town Clerk
County Councillor Goggin
2 Members of the public
110. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: None received.
111. (a) TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 10TH DECEMBER 2020 AND CONFIRM AS A CORRECT RECORD:
The Minutes of the meeting held on the 10th December 2020 were accepted as a true record. Agreed.
(b) TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MEETING HELD ON 12TH JANUARY 2021 AND CONFIRM AS A CORRECT RECORD:
The Minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on the 12th January 2021 were accepted as a true record. Agreed.
112. MAYORS ANNOUNCEMENTS:
A copy of the Mayor’s Announcements is annexed to the Minutes.
The Mayor stated that the role of local Councillors is changing rapidly, there are issues that we, as Councillors, have never been involved with at such an early stage before, i.e. the Colne Road issue, which County Councillor Goggin will be mentioning later in the meeting under his report. He said that as Councillors we have to step up to the plate and ensure that all our policies and structures are robust enough.
113. DECLARATION OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS:
The Mayor reminded Members to declare interests when necessary.
114. (a) TO RECEIVE AND APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & PROPERTY MEETING HELD ON 20TH JANUARY 2021 AND TO CONFIRM THE RECOMMENDATIONS THEREIN:
Councillor Carr proposed that the Minutes of the Finance and Property Meeting held on the 20th January 2021, are accepted as a true record, and the recommendations (as written) be accepted, with the following amendment:-
Amendment: The updated Asset spread sheet is to be circulated to all members.
Recommendation: (1) All Saints’ with St James; Brightlingsea –the grant for 2020/2021 is to be paid in full. (2) Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade – a grant of £646.00 be offered towards their project, however this amount will not be paid until the course is confirmed, and upon receipted paid invoices. (3) Brightlingsea Museum – £300.00 would be allocated to this project, and, as there are no funds left in the Discretionary Grants budget, this amount would be taken from the Standing Annual Grant budget. (4) A meeting with the Internal Auditor would be arranged, to review the criteria for the use of the Town Council bank accounts. (5) The updated Asset spread sheet is to be circulated to all members.
The minutes, with the amendment, were seconded by Councillor Chapman Agreed.
(b) TO CONSIDER AND APPROVE THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THOSE MEMBERS EXAMINING THE ACCOUNTS FOR THE CURRENT PERIOD:
The Town Clerk informed members that the Payments and Accounts for the period ending December 2020 (as shown on the attached appendix) are as follows:
General Account – 20 BACS Payments totalling £16,821.63 be authorised for payment.
These accounts were then proposed by Councillor Steady, seconded by Councillor Carr. Agreed.
Councillor Barry asked about the payment to Exo Environmental for £1,764.00, and asked what the payment was in relation to. Councillor Carr explained that this payment was for (1) testing/sampling from the gut-way in the Smack Dock; (2) to create a sample from sediment to create a paving slab and other street furniture, which could be used within the Heritage Quay and other areas; (3) planning permissions that Exo put down, as our agent, for the Heritage Quay.
115. REPORT FROM COUNTY COUNCILLOR GOGGIN:
County Councillor Goggin wished everyone a Happy New Year.
A copy of the report from County Councillor Goggin had been circulated to all members.
County Councillor Goggin mentioned the following:-
Item 8 – It is proposed that a draft joint letter, from Brightlingsea Town Council, endorsed by Essex County Council, is sent to residents of Bellfield Avenue, giving an update on the condition of the road and the way forward. The Mayor asked that the draft letter is circulated to all councillors before distribution. Councillor Steady then proposed that the draft letter is prepared, seconded by Councillor Judson. Agreed.
The Mayor asked for questions to County Councillor Goggin from Councillors:
Councillor Carr said that he was pleased to see that discussions were on-going with the Museum about the bus shelter outside their premises, and that it is acknowledged that they own the land which the current bench sits on. The Mayor said that this started off as a Town Council initiative, and we may have to look at a hybrid situation with the Council contributing, but also looking at advertising possibilities, similar to what Essex County Council are doing.
Councillor Howard asked if there was any update on the Covid vaccinations being administered in Brightlingsea.
County Councillor Goggin replied that he is pursuing the bus shelter outside the Museum, on behalf of the Museum. The Mayor then asked Councillor Judson to liaise with the bus company to get the stop renamed ‘Museum bus stop’. County Councillor Goggin said that this was a marvellous idea.
Councillor Barry mentioned Item 12 and the update on the current situation for Mill Street, in respect of speed limits and traffic control measures. He said that this has come about following representations from a local resident. He said that in County Councillor Goggin’s report he states “slightly surprised at request for update when all answers already available over last 24 months”, however Councillor Barry said that he cannot remember everything that has been discussed/reported on by County Councillor Goggin over the last 2 years. The Mayor advised that he has also been in discussion with the resident, and has e-mailed Councillor Judson and spoken to County Councillor Goggin about the situation. He asked Councillor Judson to liaise with County Councillor Goggin to re-progress the matter. County Councillor Goggin gave an update and stated that all the items requested have all failed the criteria for the Local Highways Panel – there have been no incidents, or accidents. The road also has a national speed limit and has national criteria. He said that this has been advised to the residents and the Town Council. He said that following representation from another resident he advised the resident that if a scheme has failed criteria, there has to be either an incident or a survey that shows the problems, alternatively Mill Street could be designated as a ‘quiet lane’. He advised that brochures on this were sent to Councillor Beckett some time ago. The requirement for a ‘quiet lane’ is that there has to be evidence i.e. accidents, or a speed and volume request, and he would be happy to take this request to the Local Highways Panel, however since June the speed and volume surveys have been suspended due to Covid. He reminded members that the Local Highways Panel request has to come from the Town Council. Councillor Judson advised members that the last time this was raised, he and Councillor Block looked at the request, and advised the resident that it was unlikely that a reduction in speed limit would be agreed. He said that he did give her the leaflet on quiet lanes, but received no further correspondence. He then said that as he is the Councillor for roads, members of the public should be referred to him, so he can deal with their enquiry.
Item 9 – All three locality grants have been approved.
Item 11 – At the Essex County Council budget meeting on Tuesday, it looks like ECC are proposing a freeze on the basic rate, apart from 1.5% on local care and care in the community. This still has to be finalised.
Item 13 – Essex County Council have delivered 42 laptops to the Brightlingsea Primary School this week.
Item 6 – The money is in for the zebra crossing at the Colne Community School, so this is now in the 3rd and final stage.
County Councillor Goggin then replied to Councillor Howards question about the Covid vaccinations. He responded that there was no update, but they have opened up a new venue at Clacton. The Mayor replied that a copy of the e-mail exchange from Bernard Jenkin MP had been circulated to all members. Councillor Chapman informed members that it is not finding facilities that is the issue, but finding volunteers. 46% of the over 80’s have been vaccinated in this area, transport is a problem, but there is transport available with the Volunteer Service and Helping Hands. Several over 90’s, particularly in Brightlingsea, have not yet been contacted or vaccinated, and they have asked for a list of these people, which has been sent through today – within ½ hour of this list being sent, a response had been received. She said that she cannot fault the system, and how it is working.
Colne Road Repairs – The Mayor briefed members that everyone had been copied into the e-mails/reports regarding the proposed works.
Councillor Barry declared an interest in this item. He then said that he had read County Councillor Goggin’s report, and had had a discussion with him about it. He said that this appears to be the way forward. It is vital that Colne Road is resurfaced, and it is resurfaced to give it a maximum life span, so that would involve closing the road for certain periods. The proposal for a one way system down New Street for the bigger lorries, would seem to have some merit, and equally a convoy system through the roadworks, once an hour, for the lorries leaving the wharf. One of the things we need to be clear about is communication with residents in both Colne Road and New Street, to tell them what’s going on and to offer some alternative parking options during the roadworks – i.e. Tower Street, Oyster Tank Road, Victoria Place Car Parks. Councillor Smith mentioned the condition of the road, and stated that the current specification is inadequate for heavy lorries going to and from the wharf and industrial estate. He asked County Councillor Goggin for assurance from his colleagues at County Hall that the specification for these works is going to be of such a standard that the residents of Colne Road are not going to be put in a similar position in a couple of years time. Councillor Howard mentioned Station Road, and the ‘pinch point’ areas, which sometimes causes problems with buses and cars, and maybe cones need to be put out in these areas. Much discussion took place.
County Councillor Goggin briefed members that the port are exporting scrap metal and importing cement, and the vehicles used are totally separate. The lorries coming in with scrap come in weighing 38T, and go out empty. The lorries that come in to pick up the cement, come in empty and go out weighing 44T. We do not want a 44T lorry coming up New Street, meeting a 38T lorry coming down New Street. The convoy system would be from the port side, coming out down Colne Road, on the hour. Work is due to take place from the 1st until the 9th February, from 8am until 4pm, and not at weekends, so people can still park overnight and during the weekend in these areas.
After more discussion, it was agreed that Councillors would meet at 9.30am in the morning, with County Councillor Goggin, via Zoom, to discuss the issue further.
County Councillor Goggin thanked Councillors for their input and support in discussing this issue.
116. QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC:
There were no questions.
117. TO NOTE THE MINUTES OF THE PLANNING MEETINGS HELD ON 17TH DECEMBER 2020 AND 14TH JANUARY 2021 AND NOTE THE PLANNING DECISIONS OF TENDRING DISTRICT COUNCIL:
Councillor Smith asked members to note the recommendations in the Minutes of 17th December 2020 and 14th January 2021 be agreed by Council, together with the planning decisions from Tendring District Council. This was proposed by Councillor Barry, seconded by Councillor Chapman. Agreed.
118. UPDATE FROM TOWN AND DISTRICT COUNCILLORS:
The following updates were given:-
Councillor Barry reported that an e-mail had been received this afternoon from James Ennos of Tendring District Council concerning his enquiry made about the flood prevention measures along the Western Promenade. He said that a case has been made to Mike Carran for the bigger scheme. They have looked at the sluice and as it was beyond economic repair, they are looking at a replacement and are in the process of obtaining quotations. They will try to fill in the cracks along the Prom, with resin, in the next couple of weeks.
Councillor Steady mentioned the tree planting around the town and advised members that 5 volunteers are interested in helping with tree planting and wildflower areas in the town. He has also been speaking to a resident in Marsh Way, concerning an area which has been left overgrown and desolate. The community have cleared the area and they are looking to do some joint activity with us regarding maintenance going forward.
Councillor Howard asked for members comments on the outdoor Table Tennis Table for the Western Promenade. Councillor Steady said that this, along with a 2nd petanque/boules area, is an excellent idea. It was agreed that this would be taken to the next finance meeting for discussion.
119. TOWN CLERKS REPORT:
Essex-wide Bus Shelter Project – Agreed that the Town Clerk would liaise with Councillor Judson about this.
Councillor Chapman declared an interest in the following item:-
Brightlingsea Carnival Association – Agreed that the Carnival Association can hold Car Boot Sales on the safe play area of the Western Promenade, on the following dates:- Mondays: 5 April (Easter); 3 May (May Day Holiday); 31 May (Spring Bank Holiday); 30 August (August Bank Holiday). Sundays: 13 June; 11 July; 12 September, subject to Government Guidelines.
Hare and Tortoise Running Club – Agreed, in principle, that the event can take place on 14th March 2021, subject to Government Guidelines, if restrictions allow.
Winterfest – Agreed Winterfest banners could be placed on the Lower Green/Victoria Place Gardens, however due to work taking place in that area at the moment, can they liaise with the Grounds Manager re location/positioning etc. Members feel that as the War Memorial gardens are ‘War Memorial Gardens’ it is not the correct place for banners etc. Also the grass is not mature enough.
Councillor Steady moved, in accordance with the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, in order to discuss items of a sensitive nature and items which are commercially confidential, the press and public be excluded. This was seconded by Councillor Chapman Agreed.
120. MOTION TO EXCLUDE THE PUBLIC IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PUBLIC BODIES (ADMISSION TO MEETINGS) ACT 1960 –To discuss the following:-
Land Registry Update – Question from Councillor Judson
Regeneration of Brightlingsea Waterfront
121. LAND REGISTRY UPDATE – QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR JUDSON:
Councillor Judson asked “Shouldn’t the council have been consulted before yet another application was made to the Land Registry?”.
The Mayor replied that this question is referring to the Smack Dock and Boat Park application. He then asked Councillor Judson if this was his own question or has it been asked in consultation with a member of the public? Councillor Judson replied that this is his own question, and as previously explained he has no intention of getting involved in this issue, with a private person.
The Mayor explained the situation as follows:-
The asset file was created.
The asset file was updated, and this has been mentioned in previous meetings, including the finance meeting held yesterday, 20.01.20.
The registration was carried out to solve a problem, which it did.
It has been quoted many times, if you wish to see any paperwork relating to this or anything else, please liaise with our archivist or the Town Clerk, however no one has made such a request.
Refer to Town Council Financial Regulations:-
Item 14. Assets, properties and estates
14.1. The Clerk shall make appropriate arrangements for the custody of all title deeds and Land Registry Certificates of properties held by the council. The RFO shall ensure a record is maintained of all properties held by the council, recording the location, extent, plan, reference, purchase details, nature of the interest, tenancies granted, rents payable and purpose for which held in accordance with Accounts and Audit Regulations.
14.6. The RFO shall ensure that an appropriate and accurate Register of Assets and Investments is kept up to date. The continued existence of tangible assets shown in the Register shall be verified at least annually, possibly in conjunction with a health and safety inspection of assets.
Refer to Legal Topic Note 46 from the National Association of Local Councils:-
Item 3 – About 25% of all land remains unregistered. Under the Land Registration Act 2002, it is now compulsory to register all unregistered land when ownership changes or there is a charge for the first time.
He then explained that this registration was in compliance with Government Guidelines and the Councils Financial Regulations, and said that he hoped this had answered the question. Councillor Judson replied, no, he was not querying the legality of it, but out of courtesy, the council, at a council meeting, should have been informed of what was intended. The Mayor replied that this has been mentioned on numerous occasions including:- 30th August 2019 – Asset file updated, this is a working document, and if you require a copy please request it; September 2019 – Solicitors in consultation about the ownership of non registered land with the Hard and Harbour in consideration; January 2020 – Progress made with land boundaries and assets within the Harbour area, Smack Dock and Dinghy Park. He said that all this information is freely available and can be accessed. He reiterated that things are changing and members have to step up to the plate, and hopefully this has now answered your question, and asked if there was any other discussion? Councillor Judson replied no, you have answered my question.
Much discussion took place.
The Mayor briefed members, and said that he thought it would be an inopportune time to bring on any new member via co-option, especially if the interviews are carried out via Zoom. He said that you could not get a flavour of people, over a zoom conference, and it is not fair on them – they could not do an induction process, could not shadow a councillor, could not take them round to show them the assets etc. He said that he thinks we should aim to do it when this lockdown is eased, so the interview panel can sit in the same room as the applicants.
The Clerk informed members that she had contacted a Town Council, who had carried out the co-option of one new member during the Covid period. She read out their comments, including “it is harder to get a feel for council work on zoom”.
Much discussion took place. It was then agreed that the co-option process would be reviewed nearer to the end of the Council year, i.e. May, subject to Government Guidelines.
123. REGENERATION OF BRIGHTLINGSEA WATERFRONT:
A copy of the action plan, business plan and minutes had been circulated to all members.
Councillor Carr updated members on the following:-
Planning – Coming towards the end of the validation of the planning application.
European Grant Funding – This is on-going. A bid for £100,000 has been submitted, the Council could receive 75% of this bid, with the Town Council being responsible for 25%. This 25% would come from the Land Registry refund on the Hard issue.
Regeneration of the Waterfront area – is progressing. Plans are being drawn up by a local architect.
Councillors Smith and Barry also gave an update.
124. PROPERTY REQUEST:
The Mayor briefed members that a request had been received for a lease/rental of the Hard Masters Hut at the Waterside. A discussion took place and it was agreed that, as the Hard Masters Hut is covered under the ‘agreement’ to the Harbour Commissioners, they are contacted in the first instance.
Batemans Tower Cafe – A discussion took place on whether or not a letter should be sent to the owner of the Cafe asking for information on the current situation.
Councillor Barry proposed that the letter, as drafted by Councillor Chasney, signed by the Town Clerk, is sent to the owner of Batemans Tower Cafe. This proposal was seconded by Councillor Steady.
A vote was taken:- For – 2; Against – 5; Abstention: 1. This recommendation falls.
Councillor Howard briefed members that she is in constant contact with the owner, and if there is any update, they will let us know.
125. CLOSE OF MEETING:
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 9.42 p.m.
Date: 18th February 2021