REPORT FROM DISTRICT COUNCILLOR
Mr Howell reported briefly on the Extraordinary Meeting of Uttlesford District Council that had been called in response to issues with Local Plan. It had been a long and difficult meeting and underlined the problems caused by the government’s housing targets for the district. Strong feelings were in evidence in all the alternatives discussed.
Mr Howell was asked about this year’s New Homes Bonus. He said that this was still available and suggested a contribution to the Play Area scheme. This was agreed unanimously by the Parish Council. The Clerk would contact Mr Howell with details of where to send money.
He reported that the Police presence in the area was now limited to an office in UDC building during office hours. Otherwise the nearest contacts were Great Dunmow and Braintree. The Council considered this as totally inadequate and agreed that the Clerk should write to the Police Commissioner asking him to attend a Parish Council Meeting.
There was better news on the Footway through the village. Work on poles and trees was imminent with the main work being done mid January to February. County Councillor Walsh had been working hard to ensure completion of the project.
Councillor Howell was thanked by the Chairman and left the meeting.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING 4 October 2016
were agreed as a correct record.
There were none not covered elsewhere.
The Limes The Council agreed that there were no grounds for any comments to be made, other than emphasising to Uttlesford Planning Department that the updated area of the property should not be allowed to be sold separately. It was agreed that the Clerk should communicate this to Uttlesford
Peer Review of Uttlesford Council The Clerk reported on a focus group that he had attended that was part of a peer appraisal of Uttlesford District Council by councillors from South Oxford District Council. The purpose of the group was to obtain feedback from Clerks and others on the performance of the Council.
The general view was that although officers seemed approachable and usually diligent, when decision making went to the next level processes often slowed.
One issue that came to light was that it was good practice to allocate space on the Parish Council agenda for County and District Councillor reports or contributions. This was agreed since it corresponded to the changes of reporting contributions by members’ of the public recently agreed.
Deer Signs Sampfords Parish Council has asked if Hempstead would object to deer warning signs being erected near Anso Corner. The Council were strongly against further signage and the ‘urbanising’ effect that this produced. It was agreed that the Clerk would pass these feelings on to the Sampfords Parish Council.
HIGHWAYS AND PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY
Footway The Council were pleased to note the comments from Councillor Howell earlier in the meeting and looked forward to successful conclusion.
Mr. Drane Reported that he continued to follow up on the usual issues of railings, problems at Wash Cottage, Harvey Way and fingerposts with no significant response. However, success had been achieved in the refurbishment of the bridge on Footpath 29 to the north of the village.
Road Safety Schemes In response for calls from The Local Highways Panel for schemes for possible adoption, it was agreed that the Clerk should reply.
Flooding Mrs McNeill had invited Charlotte Smith(Flood Assessment Officer) to the next Parish Council meeting and it was agreed that she should be allocated a half hour slot to outline her plans for the future.
Mr Sladen reported that Chris Stoneham from EEC was chasing the engineering department for answers to issues raised with him.
Christmas Tree It was unanimously agreed to again put a lighted Christmas Tree on the green by the bus shelter. It was considered that a larger tree would be more appropriate after last year’s trial. Mr Welbourn and Mrs McNeill agreed to organise this with an agreed budget of £100.
Tree Survey This had been undertaken but no report yet received from Chas Johnson. Mrs Scott agreed to chase this with Mr Johnson since there were some eighty foot tall trees, that although not posing any immediate threat could do so in the future.
In view of the reduced police presence outlined by Councillor Howell it was agreed that the Clerk should invite the Police Commissioner to a future Parish Council Meeting.
As the timescale for Precept setting was likely to be tight the Plans and Objectives of the Council and Budget for 2017/8 were discussed and updates agreed. It was then agreed that the percept should be maintained at the same level as last year £8500 (to be made up of Precept and LCTS grant).
Cheques were signed as follows:-
£37.44 to HMRC: PAYE for November. Rural Community Council of Essex £48 subscription.
3rd Planet Garden Services : £200 for ditch clearance.
Donation to Royal British Legion for wreath. £25.
£450 to J Basham: Grass cutting (signed outside meeting 9/11)
It was also agreed that the charities to be supported this year were Essex Air Ambulance £50 and Home Start £50 Cheques to be prepared at next meeting.
The Clerk had prepared a letter for the transfer of funds from the deposit account held on behalf of the Village Hall Management Committee to their own deposit account. However it was agreed that the Clerk would first examine the possibility of a direct transfer of the account
A meeting was planned to clarify the accounts of the Play Area held by the Village Hall Management Committee.