In these changing times of reduction in budgets, I think it is prudent to make a statement on the two areas that this committee is responsible for.
- Out of the three strands of Local Government: County, District and Town, the Town is the one which has not cut its budget.
- The End of Year Statement has been accepted by the External Auditor, which gave us a clean bill of health, as in previous years
- Healthy reserves to underpin the Council’s aim of improving services and facilities for our community
- Keeping the town’s precept at a low level
The Town Council is the custodian of our community’s assets.
In the last 2 ½ years, two challenges have been made regarding the community ownership of the Town Hard:
- An application for adverse possession was dismissed by Land Registry in July 2015
- An application for alteration of the Land Registry Register was made on November 2016
These challenges have confirmed that our objective of undertaking an asset review was a correct one.
- It is evident that Council documents were held in different locations, especially where the Town’s Hard is concerned, ie Town Council, Museum, Harbour Commissioners, Essex County Council Records and individuals.
- To obtain information and documentation, Councillors Barry, Smith and Yallop visited Essex County Council Paralegal Department in June 2016, who confirmed that “the view of the Council that it has found no evidence to support the existence of a highway of any particular category at The Hard.”
- Councillor Judson attended County Hall in Chelmsford, who in turn contacted the Records Office, but no documentation was found.
- To ensure all avenues were exhausted, the Council employed an archivist to do research for any further documentation regarding our community’s assets
- Information concerning the Hard was found at the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford, at the Harbour Commissioners, the Museum and the Council’s own records
- Information concerning other community assets have also been located
An asset file has been created, as a working document, and this was presented and adopted at full council on 17th August 2017. To clarify, this is the current Council’s document, and as the leases/agreements become due for renewal, the file will be updated accordingly.
In conjunction with the asset review, services supplied to the Council by various agencies have been reviewed. This has enabled a more focused, but flexible, approach when dealing with varying issues. The action taken fits in with the Town Council’s commitment, made several times over the last three years, that issues brought to its attention will be investigated by researching the information available and by contact the relevant agencies.
Graham Steady – Chairman of the Finance and Property Committee