SAMPFORDS’ PARISH COUNCIL
Clerk: Miss Wendy Peacock. 2 Robletts Villas, Great Sampford, Essex, CB10 2RN
Tel:- 01799 586065 e-mail:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly meeting held on Thursday 18th April 2019
PRESENT: Mr William Burton (Chairman) Mrs Kay Ade
Mr George Smith Mrs Jane Lawrence
Ms Kath Thompson Mr Simon Howell (D/Cllr)
Mr Graham Keen Mr James Woods
Ms Wendy Peacock (Clerk) 2 Members of the public
1 Apologies for absence:
Mrs Rhian Chappell, Mrs Lynn Bowles, Mr Gordon Deuce and Mr Simon Walsh (County Councillor)
2 Minutes of the Parish Assembly held on the 12th April 2018 were signed as correct.
3 Report from Mr Simon Howell (District Councillor).
I am pleased to be able to report a year of solid progress.
The Council’s Finances
In the last four years Uttlesford has successfully navigated a one-third reduction in funding and grants income from central government. Despite this, there have been no reductions in the front-line services and the Council has decreased investment in a number of core areas – including funding extra PCSO’s, more money on litter picking and a programme of investment to replace the Council’s vehicle fleet. We end the year with a surplus.
Chesterford Research Park
The council’s investment in Chesterford Research Park, in partnership with Aviva, is continuing to prove its worth. In its second year of ownership the Park will generate net income of £1.6m following a net income to the council of £1.5m in its previous year. Further investment in the Park including planned refurbishment of one unit will further increase revenue from 2019/20. Although any commercial venture brings new challenges, not least cultural, I firmly believe if we had not made this investment, we would by now be experiencing significant cuts in service.
Uttlesford’s Local Council Tax Scheme
The Local Council Tax Support Scheme contribution has been frozen for 5 years. The Council is to hold the contribution rate for working-age recipients at 12.5% for a further 12 months. Our local scheme continues to be the lowest of any council in Essex.
Supporting Local Businesses
Changes to business rates regime has resulted in over one-third of the business across the District paying no business rates. In the last year the Council has put in place additional transitional arrangements to smooth implementation of the new business rates arrangements, including further reliefs for many of our High Street properties.
Supporting the voluntary sector
An area that is particularly important is the Council’s continued support of the voluntary sector across the District. I have been privileged to serve as a member of the Voluntary Sector Grants Board for the last four years, which awarded £300,000 to 11 organisations in the year, including Citizens Advice (both in Uttlesford and East Herts), Support4Sight and Uttlesford Community Travel. I am pleased the Council has been able to support numerous communities, sports and cultural organisations across the District. In total the Council awarded grants of more than 540,000 in 2018/19. I believe that per-head of population, Uttlesford is the highest grant awarding council to the voluntary sector in Essex.
Investment in Superfast Broadband
Superfast Essex has reported that its forecast 97.8% coverage of superfast broadband in Uttlesford by July 2020 and Gigaclear contractors are laying fibre in various of the more isolated communities across the District. This is good progress on the position four years ago, when it looked likely coverage may only exceed 90% of the district’s households. Uttlesford’s grant funding £500,000 towards extending coverage of superfast broadband is particularly important in the more rural areas.
Delivering good quality affordable homes for local people
A key priority for the Council is delivering good quality affordable homes for local people. You will recall that in 2012 the council borrowed £80m to purchase its estate of over 2,000 sheltered housing and council properties. As a result of this investment, Uttlesford is one of only a handful of councils across the country that owns and continues to build council houses. This year Uttlesford’s development programme delivered 43 new council houses, and a further 309 new build affordable properties were completed by registered providers, such as housing associations. The Council’s programme of refurbishing and redevelopment of its sheltered housing continues, including Reynolds court, Hatherley House and Walden Place. The Council has also been working closely with Essex CC and L&Q to deliver the district’s first Independent Living Scheme, Cornell Court, in Saffron Walden, which will provide 71 units of accommodation. A total of 11 properties were sold under the Right to Buy. The proceeds from such sales are always reinvested in new council housing.
Waste & Recycling
Uttlesford residents continue to achieve excellent recycling rates. The Council’s target is that 51% of all household waste should be recycled or composted. Across the district we constantly achieve a recycling rate of 53% and in the period April-June 2018 achieved an all time high of 59% recycled or composted. Some areas across the district continue to achieve much higher recycling rates than others and the focus is on trying to improve some of the poorer performing areas. The programme to replace the Council’s fleet of refuse vehicles is underway and will ensure we have a fit-for-purpose service well into the next decade.
Uttlesford’s share of your council tax bill is approximately 8.5% of the total. The Council agreed a 2.99% increase in Council Tax for this year. For a Band D property Uttlesford’s share of the council tax bill is £151.611p per annum – an increase of £4.40p per annum. In 2010/11 Uttlesford’s council tax for the same band property was £147.42p – representing a 2.8% increase in total over 10 years. Uttlesford continues to have the lowest council tax in Essex.
As you will be aware, I am not seeking re-election to the Council in May: after 20 years as a councillor, it feels like the right time to retire. I have enjoyed greatly the challenge and the opportunity to represent my community and my neighbours. It has been a privilege and an honour to serve you.
Cllr. Simon Howell
Member for the Sampfords’ Ward
4 Report from Mr Simon Walsh (County Councillor)
Essex County Councillor’s Annual report 2018-2019
Budget: Over the past four years we have made savings of £311 million, by improving value for money, generating income and reducing costs. And despite finding further budget savings of £60 million for the next financial year, we have had to raise the County Council’s portion of Council Tax by 2.99%. For a Band D property this is equivalent to 94 pence a week.
The Council continues to face major financial challenges; this coming year, our main grant from Government will be reduced by £27 million, staff costs through National Insurance and agreed pay increases along with other support costs, particularly those of our contractors continue to expose the Authority to significant financial pressures. In addition, a growing population, changing demographics, and increasing demand across many of our services all add to the challenges we face.
We have lobbied Government hard over ensuring sufficient funding is made available to ensure a stable Adult Social Care Service and are still pushing for more details regarding the use of Business Tax as an alternative to the Government’s Revenue Support Grant.
So, in a year of financial challenge, your County Council has still managed to achieve a lot.
Children’s Services have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED, which ranks us as one of the best in the country.
The County Council has been ranked in the top ten of all UK Local Authorities, which reflects well in the way that it is managed.
A number of my Cabinet Colleagues are working nationally to advise failing councils, and example of the high regard the administration is held.
Examples follow which highlight a number of achievements over the past year
I continue to be Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, a portfolio brief that covers not just the functions of a Waste Disposal Authority, but flood prevention, renewable energy, (including the proposed new nuclear power station at Bradwell), rural matters, coastal partnerships, heritage, country parks and the County’s woodland estate. In addition, I represent the County Council on a number of external bodies, including two regional flood and coast authorities, the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority, Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area for Outstanding Natural Beauty (it is being extended into Essex) and the Kent and Essex Inshore Fishery and Conservation Authority. I also sit as an executive member of the Rural Community Council for Essex and represent the ECC on the Stansted Airport Community Consultative Committee. Twice a year I represent the rural interests of Essex (as Chairman of the Essex Rural Partnership) with Government Ministers from DEFRA. Nationally, I sit on the Local Government Association’s Coastal Special Interest Group (SIG) and another SIG concerned with New Nuclear Builds.
County Councillor for the Thaxted Division
5 Report from Mr William Burton (Chairman)
Chairman’s Report 2019.
his has been an unusually quiet year in the Parish, which has made the role of being Chairman of the PC particularly pleasurable.
Looking back at last year’s Report, I note that we are still battling the old problem of lack maintenance on the roads, although a large part of the Thaxted Road has recently been repaired, I refer particularly to Sparepenny Lane and Maynards Lane. The speed limits up Hawkins Hill and past the houses on the Thaxted Road have still to be moved. Speeding through the village continues to be a concern. I have written to Cllr. Simon Walsh requesting a site meeting to review all these concerns and I will keep everyone updated when I receive a reply. I have also suggested that a 20mph speed limit would be appropriate past the school at the relevant times of day. As Ashdon has just had this put in place this I do not see why Gt. Sampford should not as well. Something that I am keen not to have, however, are unsightly banners all over the village requesting that motorists should slow down.
There is one planning issue that does not seem to want to go away. I refer to the bungalow on Thaxted Road. In spite of the PC’s objection to the structure remaining, the planning inspector disagreed and has allowed it to remain. There is now an application for an extended car park, Gordon has again written a very good letter objecting. One of the pleasures of this council is that we all seem to want the same result from various planning applications.
Fortunately, this has not seen the resubmission of the planning application on the land behind Willets Field. Hopefully in due course the Local Plan will be accepted by the Government which should put an end to speculative developments of this type.
The grass cutting and other general hedge cutting continues to be undertaken by Chris Butcher. His standard of work continues to be outstanding and I would be surprised if there were any complaints. As well as the village greens and play area, we also pay for the grass to be cut in all three places of worship in the villages, which is a benefit to all.
The PC has agreed to undertake the annual servicing of the clock at St. Mary’s. The clock is a village asset and not of the church, therefore it is correct that the PC should fund this.
The Village Hall has now come under the direct control of the PC, albeit run with a separate committee. This year they have raised the necessary funds to replace the chairs with lighter models. It is noteworthy that they have not had to resort to asking the PC for funds and the commitment shown to the hall by the committee is most praiseworthy and deserves the villages thanks. I am sure that we are all looking forward to the “Pop up Pub” evening on the 27th April, here in the village hall. I would, at this point like to thank the VHC for all their hard work in raising funds and ensuring that the relationship between the school and village works well. I believe that at the moment it is as good relationship between the two that has ever existed.
The play area continues to be well used and I think that as a community we are very lucky to have such an area in the heart of the village. There are a couple of pieces of equipment which need updating, which we will have done. The cost of such equipment is staggeringly high, so we need to be sure that we replace each item with carefully sourced pieces at the right price and quality.
The village now has a new web site which is more user friendly to those running it. I have had several complimentary comments regarding this, and I hope that it will continue to expand with more events and suitable pictures. The site will only be a good as the quantity and quality of material that is asked to be posted on it. I would urge all organizations within the village to make use of it.
Financially the village is in good heart, thanks mainly to my predecessor, Chris Robinson’s excellent budgeting in raising the precept to a level where a surplus could be built up. I was very pleased to be able to lower the precept this year, however that is done with the proviso that it may need to be raised in the future, but, I hope, not yet.
The four-yearly cycle of elections has come around and it is with sadness that we say goodbye to two of our councilors, who are both moving away from the village so are unable to stand for re-election. To both George Smith and Lynn Bowles, we say thank you very much for all that you have done for the village in your time as councilor’s and we wish you both well for the future.
We now say welcome to our two new councilors’, Will Parker and Jamie Woods. I hope that your time on the PC will be an enjoyable experience.
I would also like at this point, to thank our retiring District Councilor, Simon Howell, for all that he has done for the village in his eight years as DC for the Sampfords. His counsel has proved to be invaluable to the PC particularly where planning issues have been involved. I am sorry to report that he is also moving away from the village and I for one will certainly miss his presence.
In finishing, I would like to thank every one of the PC’s for their help and support during the past year and for all that they do for our community. I would also like to thank others in the village who run voluntary organisations or tend to parts of the village which do not fall under the PC’s remit. It all makes the Sampfords a very special place to live.
4 Any Other Business
Mr Simon Howell thanked all the councillors for their efforts over the last year. He commented that the PC is doing a fantastic job. The Councillors thanked him for all his help and support and wished him well for the future. He will be greatly missed.
GS thanked the PC for his 5 years on the council.
KT mentioned that the snowdrops have been planted on the high path. KT also passed out a map of the footpaths from 1949. Some paths have been closed through lack of use. If they are to be re-instated, the PC has until 2022 to do so. If any parishioner knows of any footpaths that they want re-instating, please contact the Clerk.
Chairman thanked everyone for coming and meeting closed at 20:38.
William Burton (Chairman)
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