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Witham Town Council Town Hall, Newland Street, Witham, CM8 2FE. Tel: 01376 520627 Fax: 01376 501358 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.witham.gov.co.uk MINUTES Meeting of: Town Council Date: Monday, 22nd February 2010 Present: Councillors: B.J. Fleet (Town Mayor) Miss L. Barlow P.R. Barlow Mrs P.A. Brunton S.J. Goodfellow J.C. Goodman P.A. Heath (arrived at 7.32p.m.) S.E. Hicks M.C.M.Lager Mrs J.M. Money Mrs K.E. Tearle W.S. Tearle Also in attendance Cllr. James Abbott (BDC Member for Rivenhall) PRAYERS Prayers were led by the Town Mayor’s Chaplain, Revd. Tim Bedward Jones, he spoke of Daniel and how he held high public office in administration but in all his dealings he showed integrity and honesty. He prayed that the Members of the Town Council would display integrity and honesty in all their deliberations and decisions on behalf of the people who live in Witham. APOLOGIES Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C.F. Coughlan and Mrs P.M. Lee. Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. 93. MINUTES RESOLVED That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 11th January 2010 be confirmed as a true record and signed by the Chairman. 94. INTERESTS The following Declarations of Interest were received from: - Cllr B.J. Fleet at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as he is a member of the Twinning Association. The Town Clerk – at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as she is a member of the Twinning Association. at Item 12 – Resources Committee – Minute 110 – Staffing and Accommodation Sub-Committee – A personal and prejudicial interest as her employment with the Town Council is the subject of discussion. Cllr S.E.Hicks - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal and prejudicial interest as he is a friend of the Chairman of the Ladies’ Football Club. Cllr Mrs J.M. Money - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as she is a member of the Twinning Association. Cllr P.R.Barlow - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as he is a member of the Twinning Association. Cllr Miss Lucy Barlow at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as she is a member of the Twinning Association. Cllr S.Goodfellow- at Item 11 (a) – Committee Reports – Community – Item 78 – A personal interest as he is a governor at Templars School. Cllr M.C. Lager - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as he is a member of the Twinning Association at Item 11 (a) – Committee Reports – Community – Item 78 – A personal interest as he is a governor at Templars School. at Item 11(b) – Committee Reports – Environment as he is a member of the Local Development Framework at BDC. Cllr Mrs K.Tearle - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as she is a member of the Twinning Association. Cllr P.A. Heath - at Item 6 – Grant Aid – A personal interest as he is a member of the Twinning Association. Cllr James Abbott - at Item 11(b)- Forest Road as he is a Member of the Local Development Panel at Braintree District Council. 95. QUESTIONS AND STATEMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC The Town Mayor invited comments from the members of the public who were present. Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. Paul Hart, Manager of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau talked about the application that he had made in the sum of £20,250 for the continued support of the Bureau’s work in Witham. He said that he was indebted to Witham Town Council for its on going support for the debt money advice service, which regretfully was needed now more than ever during this time of recession. The Bureau was grateful for the pilot telephone advice service that had been instigated by the Town Council. Now running for four months, it had been such a successful service with two members of staff job sharing and manning a telephone line between the hours of 10.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. each day. The service provided a gateway access process enabling many people to be spoken to. Some 420 calls had been received over the period and the service had been extremely busy with a great deal of follow up work from those calls with personal interviews arising as a result on some occasions. Mr Hart said he would be happy to answer any questions that may arise. The Mayor invited comments from Members but as none were made he thanked Mr Hart for his attendance at the meeting. At the conclusion of this item Cllr Barlow declared he had a personal interest in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau as he is a Trustee. He does not believe his interest is prejudicial. Cllr James Abbott spoke of the Forest Road Item contained within the Environment Minutes at Item 11(b). He thanked the Town Council for the support it had given and he and the Parish Council of Rivenhall of which he is Chairman would continue to work with the Town Council in order to try to convince the District Council that the Forest Road site is the wrong site with Conrad Road having much more to offer. He spoke of his concerns that the District Council had been unwilling to accept local knowledge of the area. He hoped that the two local councils will continue to work together in order to produce the right result for the area. Mr David Coe – President Witham Twinning Association. Cllr Hicks had declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this matter and left the Council Chamber. Mr Coe said he was at the meeting to hear the discussion on the application for grant aid for the Witham Twinning Association and Ladies’ Football Club and the Ladies’ Football Tournament planned for May 2010. He introduced the four other members of the public accompanying him. He explained the history of the Twinning Association in Witham and said that since 1993 the Twinning Association had been self sufficient. Mr George Ellis – Witham Twinning Association – past Chairman read from a prepared script. He explained the difficulties in which the Association found itself as he had asked the Town Clerk to release £300.00 of the sum of £2,950 that the Council had promised to underwrite in March 2009 in order to pay the deposit to Fairplay House for accommodation for German and Polish guests. This request had been refused as a sum of money earmarked by the Council for the event had been Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. given to another organisation in the town. He hoped the Council would now agree to clarify the situation and release the promised money to the Twinning Association. The Town Mayor thanked the members of the public for their contribution and agreed to bring Item 6 – Grant Aid forward. 96. GRANT AID A declaration of a personal and prejudicial interest had been received from Cllr Hicks and he remained outside the Council Chamber for this item. Declarations of a personal interest had been received from the following who are all members of the Witham Twinning Association: - Cllr Miss Lucy Barlow Cllr P. R. Barlow Cllr B.J. Fleet Cllr P.A. Heath Cllr M.C. Lager Cllr Mrs J.M. Money Cllr Mrs K.E. Tearle The Town Clerk The Town Clerk clarified the position in this matter. She confirmed that she had advised Mr Ellis in 2008 that if the Twinning Association wanted to submit a grant aid request it would be helpful to the Council if advance notice was given thus enabling funds to be spread over a number of years. Indeed £2,050 had been earmarked from the 2008/2009 budget for the Witham Twinning Association/Ladies Football Club and this is a matter of public record appearing in the Town Council’s accounts. That amount remained earmarked for this purpose until 11th January 2010 when Members vired the money to pay a grant to Witham Homestart who urgently needed funds at that time [Item 87(a) refers]. The consequence of this decision by the Council results in no funds remaining in the budget for Community Support for the remainder of this financial year. When a request was therefore sent to her to release £300.00 to the Twinning Association for the payment of a deposit she was unable to do so without reference to the Council [Standing Order 82(b)]. Following a request from a Member as to why the request from Mr Ellis for the deposit made on 21st January 2010 could not have been considered by the Council at a meeting before 22nd February, the Town Clerk reminded Members she informed the Community Committee on 25th January 2010 of this situation [Item 78(a)] but at that meeting Members deferred a decision on all Community Support until 30th March 2010. Much discussion followed regarding this matter, the credibility of the Council, what the word, “underwrite” in the original Resolution meant and how that expectations had been raised that this event could go ahead and necessary arrangements had Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. already been put into place. Concern was expressed that still no report on any sum of money raised to mitigate the amount required from the Town Council had been made to the Council. All Members were in support of the application and agreed that the previous resolution should be honoured. Further discussion ensued as to the pressures being made on the Community Support Budget this year with applications far outweighing the reserves that will be available from 1st April 2010. RESOLVED That the Town Council confirms its previous resolution in this matter and that the sum of £300.00 be paid to the Witham Twinning Association with immediate effect and that the remainder of up to £2,176.00 be paid as required all of which is to be paid out of the 2010/2011 Community Support budget. RESOLVED That the Community Committee planned for 30th March 2010 reviews the Witham Town Council grants’ policy. RESOLVED That the Resources Committee investigates any virements that it deems necessary from the 2010/2011 budgets. Cllr Hicks returned to the Council Chamber. The Town Mayor agreed to bring forward the following item. 97. COMMITTEE REPORTS – ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE 18TH JANUARY 2010 Item 77(b) – Forest Road Cllr M.C. Lager and District Cllr J. Abbott had declared a personal interest in this item. It was confirmed that the Town Council has a position in this matter and concern was expressed that the District Council has not properly investigated the Conrad Road site which though it was earmarked for 150 houses only could be extended towards the west along Cressing Road where development of the agricultural reservoir had already taken place. It was agreed that the Town Council should give all the support necessary to reverse the decision made by Braintree District Council to include the Forest Road site in its site allocations within the Local Development Framework and thus protect the green wedge between Rivenhall and Witham. Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. It was explained that the matter will now go to formal consultation that commences in April and will run for 6 weeks. Concern was expressed that the District Council had not given sufficient weight to local opinion and the strength of feeling that there is against this development. Members also considered the matter of the Lodge Farm site and the Town Clerk advised that an article in the next edition of Withams’ Voice will be published in the next few weeks. This will advise residents of the proposals for both Forest Road and Lodge Farm. It was confirmed by the member for Witham South Ward that at this stage there appears to be little opposition against such an expansion of the town at Lodge Farm. RESOLVED That a paper is prepared for the meeting of the Environment Committee planned for 15th March 2010 in which investigation is made on the possibility of seeking expert advice on how the Council’s case can best be presented for Forest Road including exploring the option of an extension to provide 300 houses on the Conrad Road/Cressing Road area. 98. TOWN CLERK’S REPORT The report of the Town Clerk was received. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted. 99. TOWN MAYOR’S CORRESPONDENCE (a) POWER OF WELL BEING A letter was received from Cllr John Buchanan congratulating the Town Council on its qualification to use the power of well being. RESOLVED That the letter be received and noted. (b) NOTICE BOARD A letter was received from Fenn Wright advising the Council that it wished to apply for Listed Building consent to remove the walled garden area in which the Town Council Notice Board is located. The owners, Fenn Wright invited the Town Council to assume responsibility for the upkeep of the garden. RESOLVED That the letter be received and noted and the offer declined and if necessary the option of relocating the Notice Board be explored. Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. 100. NALC CONSULTATION Cllr Hicks reported on the consultation event that he had attended on behalf of the Council on 5th February 2010. He explained that NALC is intending to make changes in the way it operates in the future. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted. 101. MEMBERS’ INFORMATION Members’ Information sheet number 66 was received. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted. 102. DIRECT INFORMATION SHEETS Direct Information Sheets 721 to 726 were received. Comment was made on 724/4 – Christmas bonuses for small towns but unfortunately Witham would not have qualified as it is not considered to be in the top half of most deprived local authority areas base on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted and the matter be investigated should such an option be available in future. 103. TOWN MAYOR’S ENGAGEMENTS The Town Mayor’s Engagements for the period 12th January – 21st February 2010 were received. He reported that he had attended an additional event not listed in the report – namely he had accepted an invitation to the Open Day of Sign-a-rama on 15th February 2010. He was able to report that the business is doing well. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted. 104. COMMITTEE REPORTS Cllrs S. E. Goodfellow and M.C. Lager had already declared an interest in this item. (a) COMMUNITY COMMITTEE HELD 25th JANUARY 2010 Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. Minutes 66 - 79 (inclusive). Councillor Mrs J. M. Money Chairman of the Community Committee gave her Report en bloc. Item 69(d) PCSO. In answer to a question the Town Clerk was able to report that she had met with Inspector Mike Pitcher and Sgt. Mark Wilson of Witham Police Station in this regard. Information had been supplied that will help in the preparation of a report that will go to Members of the Committee at the next meeting on 30th March 2010. Item 71 – Youth Café. The Town Clerk reported that no further information was to hand in this regard. Members considered this lack of progress a cause for concern. Item 76 – Grant Aid – Citizen’s Advice Bureau Cllr Lager confirmed the Braintree District Council gives £100,000 per annum to the C.A.B based in Witham, Braintree and Halstead but Halstead Town Council gives no grant and of course Braintree does not have a Town Council. RESOLVED That the Report be received. (b) ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE HELD 18th JANUARY 2010 Cllrs M.C. Lager and District Councillor James Abbott had already declared an interest in this item. Minutes 71 – 84 (inclusive). Councillor S.E. Hicks, Chairman of the Environment Committee, gave his Report en bloc. Item 77 – Local Development Framework It was urged that the Town Council should look at Supplementary Planning Guidance within the LDF in order that what is best for Witham can be developed and enhanced. RESOLVED That the report be received and noted. . (c) RESOURCES COMMITTEE HELD 2ND FEBRUARY 2010 Minutes 94 – 108 (a) (c) (d) and 109 (inclusive) Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held 22nd February 2010 continued. Councillor M.C.Lager, Chairman of the Resources Committee, gave his Report en bloc. RESOLVED That the Report be received. EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC RESOLVED That under the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meeting) Act 1960, the public and press be excluded from the Meeting for the following items of Business on the grounds that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest. 105. COMMITTEE REPORTS (CONTINUED) The Town Clerk had already declared a personal and prejudicial interest in item 110 and left the Council Chamber for the whole of the discussion in private session. RESOURCES COMMITTEE HELD 2ND FEBRUARY 2010 Minutes 108(b), 110 and 111 (inclusive) Councillor M.C. Lager continued his Report en bloc. RESOLVED That the Report of the Resources Committee be received. 106. PUBLIC DOMAIN RESOLVED That no items be brought into the public domain. There being no further business the Town Mayor closed the Meeting at 9.35 p.m. Cllr B. J. Fleet, Town Mayor AH/AH/23/02/2010
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