The 2013 Annual Report comprises a number of sections as follow:

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting
Held in the John Lampon Hall
Wednesday 25th April 2012 at 7p.m.

In the Chair:                   John Gili-Ross

Members Present:  Jenny Church, Bernard Colbron, Murray Harlow, Andrew Savage, Chris Stevenson, Harry Stone, Bob Tyrrell, Rachel Young

Clerk:                    Val Walsom

Present:               PCSO Hayley Howe, Councillor Harrington, Councillor Willetts,

                                   4 members of the public

Apologies:          Sue Day, David Short

Reports from the committees and the minutes of last year’s Annual Parish Meeting were distributed in a booklet.

Before the meeting started refreshments were served.

1.  Welcome and introduction from the Chairman — Mr John Gili-Ross

John Gili-Ross welcomed all including Murray Harlow and Rachel Young onto the Parish Council.  He thanked Liz Harrington, retiring member of the Parish Council.

John Gili-Ross explained that the new Localism Bill is a golden opportunity for Parish Councils to have a real influence in our communities.  A Neighbourhood Plan will be on the agenda for future Parish Council meetings.

PCSO Hayley Howe gave a brief outline of crimes within the village over the last year, which include:

  • 1 Assault; 5 suspicious circumstance calls; 1 criminal damage; 1 burglary and 1 theft from a motor vehicle.

Changes within Essex Police have resulted in new responsibilities and policing areas.  Contact details will be made available on the village website.

Chris Stevenson asked about the problem of anti social behaviour.  PCSO Howe advised that this has dropped off but that she will be keeping an eye on things.  The aim is that there will be some police presence within the village on most shifts.

2.  Village Celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

John Gili-Ross explained how the village will be celebrating as follows:

4th June 2012 – Beacon Lighting Celebration

A beacon has been made by a village resident which will be sited on the Lorkin Daniell Field for the event.  Later it will be permanently sited on a prominent area in the village which has yet to be decided.  The evening will include a hog roast, fireworks and both the Football Club and Social Club bars will be open.  The West Bergholt Concert Band will give a live concert.  The evening will be geared towards older residents within the village and may also include a film or live feed to be screened in the Orpen Hall.

16th June 2012 – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Village Fete

A village fete will be held on the Lorkin Daniell Field.  This is being organised by the Parish Council, Heathlands PTA, Bluebells, BYG, the WI who are organising a card competition and many other village organisations.

Events include a best dressed scooter competition where younger children will parade from the school around the village to the Lorkin Daniell Field.  A tea party is being organised by Bluebells.  Village organisations will organise their own stalls and games on the field for all to enjoy during the afternoon.  A budget has been earmarked by the Parish Council.

The event will start at Midday which will hopefully coincide with the Queen’s flypast!

 3.  IT Projectors in the Orpen Memorial Hall

Bernard Colbron explained that projectors have been installed in both halls and a large screen is available in the Orpen Hall.  Both projectors have Wi-Fi capability and are available to all users.  Broadband has been installed by County Broadband and all users have 1 ½ hours access per session.  Instructions are available from the Hall Administrator.

The equipment will be used by the Planning Committee and their meetings will now take place on the third Wednesday of each month in the John Lampon Hall.

4.  Any issues raised from the floor

A resident asked if a one way system is to be considered for School Lane in light of the school’s expansion.

A meeting is being arranged for school governors and staff, Councillor Brown (ECC) and members of the Parish Council to discuss traffic issues.  The Parish Council was keen for ECC to have a sensible approach to traffic when agreeing the Planning Application for the school expansion.  However, this did not happen.

A resident asked if the Parish Plan is to be reviewed in line with the Localism Bill.

Chris Stevenson advised that a Village Design Statement has been produced and endorsed by CBC.  A Neighbourhood Plan is the next step which would be a ‘blueprint’ for the future.

A resident asked if there are going to be any bicycle shelters installed at the Hall.

This is currently under discussion by the Hall Committee.

Clare Cunningham objected to the gates, installed behind the football clubhouse.  She advised that they are against the regulations of usage for the land and would like the Parish Council to hold a key.  She considers the gates to be unlawful and asked if the Football Club would remove objects leaning against her hedge.

Ms Cunningham also advised that the Interpretation board on the Village Green is in need of repair, verges on New Church Road are being worn away and hedges have been damaged.  She asked about the situation regarding the illegal substation on the Village Green.

John Gili-Ross advised that the Trustees had not succeeded in getting rid of the substation and the lease expires in 16 years.

Ms Cunningham asked that planning regulations for the Scout Hut are checked and amended, if necessary, before a new lease is agreed.

5.  Concluding Remarks

John Gili-Ross thanked all the Parish Councillors for their hard work and dedication during the year.

He also thanked the Parish Clerk, Hall Administrator and both Village Handymen for all their hard work.

The meeting closed at 9.05p.m.

 

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN – JOHN GILI-ROSS

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the West Bergholt Annual Parish Meeting.

I have always believed that community volunteers are the heartbeat of village life.  Imagine how different our village would be without the many voluntary hours many residents give to providing our village with clubs, recreational pursuits, youth organisations, church communities, institutes and associations.  The theme of our 2013 annual meeting is an appreciation of our village volunteers and a big thank you for making our village so very special.

The Village Design Statement was completed and adopted by Colchester Borough Council as a supplementary planning document providing a yardstick for acceptable development in the village.  The Localism Act was introduced by Government at the end of 2011 changing the face of local decision making, providing communities wish to take up the challenge and have real influence in the future growth and development of our villages.  It is extremely pleasing to note that again our volunteers step forward to accept the new challenge of Localism and are working to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.  When completed the Neighbourhood Plan will be subject to a referendum by the people of the village ensuring the Plan will be recognised and accepted by Colchester Borough Council and potential developers alike.

The Parish Council was fully behind the celebrations that occurred in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.  We know that the hard work that was put in by so many in the village made 2012 a year to remember and one that we hope will encourage our village youth in similar celebratory events in the future.  The two celebratory events that were organised on our playing field and in our village halls bought residents and families together to enjoy both the music night and our traditional village fete.

You will read about the activities carried out by the Parish Council sub-committees working on behalf of the village during the last year.  Meeting most months, members donate many hours of their free time, addressing day to day issues and activities to achieve greater efficiency and easier decision making by the Parish Council as a whole.  We strive for good practice and transparent decision making in all that we do and welcome all who wish to attend Parish Council or sub-committee meetings.

I wish to thank Essex County Council for its continued project funding support of our village over the last twelve months.  We now have a superb youth shelter which was built by one of our village residents, made possible by match funding provided by ECC and the Parish Council.

Regrettably Colchester Borough Council again reduced its Revenue Support Grant to West Bergholt reducing the income to the village by nearly £4,000 for 2013.  The net effect of this reduction has left the Parish Council with little option but to meet the shortfall through a rise in the council tax paid by each village household.

I would like to convey my personal thanks to all our Parish Councillors for their commitment, dedication and professionalism.  It has again been an honour to have led the Parish Council for the last year, a role much simplified by the hard work and support of my fellow Parish Councillors.  I would like to thank Bernard Colbron who has chosen 2013 to be his retirement year from the Parish Council after 12 years.  In addition June Mayhew retired as the Halls Administrator at the end of 2012 after 27 years.  The village halls have benefitted greatly from Bernard and June’s dedication to making our halls such valuable village assets.

I would like to welcome our new Parish Councillors – Murray Harlow, Rachel Young and Phil Walby and trust they gain as much satisfaction as the other councillors have done in helping to shape our community day to day activities.

In summing up I would like to give particular thanks to Val Walsom our Parish Clerk, for ensuring the affairs of the Parish are kept in order and that it operates efficiently.  Thanks also go to our council support staff, – Vicky Beckwith-Cole the Halls Administrator, Gary Walls and Stephen Cook the village handymen.

I am sure our village will continue to develop and change but trust the change will match the majority of those who live in the village and make it such a special place in which to live.

REPORTS FROM THE COMMITTEES

ENVIRONMENT AND HIGHWAYS REPORT – David Short

ALLOTMENTS – Despite some challenging growing conditions most plot holders feel they have had a good year and the management of the allotments has been helped with the input of willing volunteers. The bonfire routine has been interrupted because of the exceptional bad weather and this has necessitated in the employment of additional skips for the disposal of debris.

Several plots have become available due to the bad weather which caused some plot holders to discontinue their activities.  However other participants have taken their place and as a result most plots are now taken up. The Allotment sub-committee looks forward to another successful year for the forthcoming season.

VILLAGE GREEN – The heath was cleared of brambles and bracken again this year. Also the hedges in the village, which are the responsibility of the Parish Council, were trimmed at the end of the season by the tractor flail, this time by a new contractor as Bill King has retired.  The new arrangements worked out very satisfactorily and we plan to repeat this exercise in the forthcoming season.

POORS LAND – In addition to the usual maintenance of the land i.e. mowing and hedge cutting etc., residents will be aware that the school underwent considerable building works which necessitated access to the school being made over the land thus causing considerable damage to the surface area. This damage is now being repaired and the field will be returned to its original state although this will obviously take time to repair itself.

In addition the contractors have installed, free of charge, a pathway adjacent to School Lane enabling parents and children to access the school without walking on the road. This scheme was installed as part of the Traffic Safety plan described below.

QUEEN’S HEAD, HALL ROAD AND LEXDEN ROAD PONDS – Clearance of the reed mace from the ponds was again undertaken in October by BCT Volunteers and the debris was removed by a contractor. Further work may be required on the Hall Road pond this year and also some work on the Lexden Road pond is envisaged.

VILLAGE MAINTENANCE – The epidemic of theft of household rubbish and consequent fly tipping continues but at a much reduced frequency which is probably due to the fact that residents are being advised not to put their rubbish out until the morning of collection. Our handymen Gary and Steve both continue to do excellent work in keeping the village clean and tidy in addition to which they have carried out various tasks which are too numerous to describe individually but suffice it to say that we are very fortunate to be able to call on such multi-skilled personnel.

TRAFFIC CONGESTION AND PARKING – The committee and the Parish Council undertook a major exercise to finally address the question of traffic congestion particularly around the school. The plan was undertaken as part of the Parish Plan and the committee is pleased to report that the plan was submitted to the relevant authorities and was accepted largely in full and will be implemented in due course. Thanks are due to Harry Stone who put in a lot of work in actually compiling the plan and also to Marcus Harrington and Dennis Willetts our Borough Councillors and to Anne Brown our County Councillor who lobbied successfully on our behalf.

THE QUEENS DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS – The committee was actively involved in celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee and in the construction and maintenance of the shelter being used as a rendezvous point for the young people of the village. Also the committee was actively involved in the erection and lighting of the beacon for the celebrations.

MUGA AND SPORTS FACILITY – The new booking arrangement was introduced for use of the MUGA with the excellent co-operation of the Co-Op store and this has worked very well and has resulted in increased use of the facility. Also the committee was involved in the re-marking of the courts and the general maintenance of them.

SNOW CLEARANCE – At the start of the winter the Parish Council and the committee continued the scheme of snow clearance carried out by a team of volunteers.  This scheme seems to have again been well received by residents in general so much so that further volunteers have come forward offering their services for footpath clearing. We are very grateful to all concerned and particularly to Mr Harry Stone for organising the works.  It is proposed to purchase a salt spreader in the near future which should ensure a more efficient use of the salt supplies next year.

TREE CONSERVATION – A programme is in the course of preparation so that all trees on Parish owned and administered land will be regularly inspected and any problems with the trees can be dealt with within the rules pertaining to Tree Preservation Orders.  Any residents who own land containing trees which fall under the said orders (of which there are many) are invited to contact the Parish Council should any problems with their trees be identified.

 

PREMISES AND RECREATION REPORT – Bernard Colbron

The Parish Council celebrated the Queens Diamond Jubilee with a village fete, run jointly with Heathlands Primary School, on the Lorkin Daniell Field and in both halls.  A Jubilee beacon was also erected on the Lorkin Daniell Field and lit as part of the national celebrations, accompanied by fireworks.  Both events were very successful and attended by many village residents.

Both the halls have had a high level of lettings. These cover the regular groups as well as weddings and private parties that we cater for.  For the playing field we have had full day hires and regular use by the football club.

The Hall kitchen has been a large concern for the Parish.  For various reasons it was decided that we would take control of the repairs and refurbishment.  At this point we are dealing with the insurance company and have invited contractors to redesign and quote for a new kitchen after the repairs have been completed.

On the sporting side we have put up a practice goal with a rebound net behind, which was suggested by some of the teenagers of the village.  Funding for this was made possible with the help of a grant from the Community Initiatives Fund through our Borough Councillors.  The tennis courts continue to be used on a regular basis and the facilities have been made available to some of our village organisations.

A Communications Officer has been appointed and he is looking at installing a third Parish Council notice board.   Discussions are ongoing.

The Parish Council is currently looking at a project to resurface the hall car park using Grant funding and Parish Council Funds.  At the same time bicycle racks will be installed.

Over the year we have had minor repairs and replacements completed to maintain the fabric of the Hall complex.  Further minor improvements will take place as and when we can fit them in around the hire of the halls.

Our thanks go to June Mayhew who retired as Administrator after twenty seven years of looking after the halls.  Our new Administrator is Vicky Beckwith-Cole.

 

PLANNING REPORT – Chris Stevenson

The Planning and Development committee has several functions:

  • It is a statutory consultee on planning applications submitted to Colchester Borough Council (CBC) and Essex County Council (ECC);
  • Similarly it is a consultee on development planning generally, examples being the Local Development Framework for Colchester Borough Council area or for Minerals and Waste proposals from the County Council;
  • It develops guidelines and forward planning advice covering the way the village should maintain its distinctive character, and wherever possible enhance this through sympathetic development.

1.   Planning Applications

The most active of the above activities concerns planning applications. These may range from a simple house extension, to a new dwelling or indeed an application for commercial premises. As a consultee the Parish Council cannot prevent or stop a development from taking place, but its recommendations do form a powerful local response, to be weighed in consideration with other evidence submitted to Colchester Borough Council.

In 2012/13, 22 general domestic planning applications were received, which was 50% down on the previous year, reflecting the economic downturn. This is the third year in succession that applications considered have fallen and it is noteworthy that in three months no applications were considered at all, a further indication that households are either delaying their plans or not being in a position to consider expanding or improving their homes. Of these applications, the Parish Council supported 13, rejected 2 and gave observations only, on a further 7. Generally speaking the Borough Council approved the vast majority of the applications, although some were passed with a number of planning conditions attached.

2.   Development Planning

Colchester Borough Council continued to consult with the Parish Council on Local Development Framework and derivative documents related to changes in National Planning Guidance. The main activity in this regard in 2012/13 was the consultation on the proposed Northern Gateway Urban Extension in the town. The PC sent extensive comments on the development mainly on matters relating to traffic and access.

3.   Design Guidance

In recent years the committee has joined forces with the Parish Plan Group to produce a Village Design Statement (VDS). This is the first year that the VDS has been used to assist in determining the Parish Council’s stance on Planning Applications. The VDS endeavours to assist those seeking planning permission by drawing their attention to some basic design principles covering new or altered buildings, as well as setting the context for development in the village by outlining the distinctive character areas of the village and its rural setting. The VDS is available on the Village website.

The Committee has regular meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm in the Lorkin Daniel Hall. The agenda is published some three days in advance. Anyone who wishes to express their views on a planning matter is welcome to attend, and the Committee welcomes pre-planning application discussions.

 

PARISH PLAN REPORT / NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN REPORT– Chris Stevenson – Chair

1.   Introduction

The Parish Plan was prepared between 2006 and 2008 and was published in September 2008. It has been adopted by the Parish Council as forming the forward plan of concerns and activities that the village community wants to see addressed or carried out. The plan is available to view on the village website: www.westbergholt.net.

The plan is overseen by a Steering Group whose current members are presently 7 strong. It is a requirement that at least one member of the steering group is also a Parish Councillor.

There are eight areas of the Parish Plan and each area has an action plan which has been assembled to summarise the activities which are to be carried out. Some of the actions can be carried out by the Steering Group, some by village organisations or by the Parish Council. However many fall to other public bodies and so in this regard, the Steering Group acts as a lobby group.

A full monitoring report was produced last year and reported through the Village Bulletin. Following this report further achievements have been made including the successful application for funding and implementation of a youth shelter and meeting point as well as improving facilities for young people on the Lorkin Daniel Field and introducing a directory of village businesses on the website.

However the most significant development was to focus attention on a successor plan to the parish plan and the decision to produce a neighbourhood plan.

2.   Neighbourhood Plan

Neighbourhood Plans area new form of community-based planning which enable villages or similar localities to produce a planning document which covers how they would like to see their areas develop in the future. Once adopted, they form the blueprint for new development and sit within a District or Borough Council’s own local plan document. NPs are a key part of the localism agenda and are enshrined in legislation under the Localism Act. NPs are primarily about land use planning and future development but they can also include projects similar to those in the present Parish Plan.

3.   Main Activities carried out

Commencing in September 2012 preliminary work has been started on assembling the NP including the activities summarised below.

  • The present PP steering group has now expanded and a number of members of the community have now joined the group. The Steering Group comprises of around 15 people including some from the PC
  • A workshop was held in November to start to outline the planning and project areas which might be included in the Plan
  • A project plan has been devised
  • Liaison with Colchester Borough Council has commenced
  • The NP area has been agreed as covering the Parish area
  • Evidence relating to land use, environment, transport, demography and many other topics has commenced
  • Work is underway to circulate a questionnaire in the summer to households seeking their views on issues and ideas for the future

The steering group has split its activities into communications, evidence gathering and plan development. The key focus over the next 6 months will be surveys of residents, students, organisations and businesses.

 4.   Programme

It is thought that the NP will not be finalised until early 2015. The rough timetable is as follows:

  • Surveys and evidence gathering 2013
  • Ideas and proposals in by March 2013
  • Consultation on draft plan June 2013
  • Referendum in Autumn 2014
  • Public Inquiry in NP Winter 2014
  • Adoption of NP Spring 2015

Although there will be consultations taking place the NP is a statutory document and so a referendum and public inquiry will be needed to formally endorse any plan.

5.   Getting Involved

Although there is a steering group already it is not a closed shop. Anyone can come to the regular meetings or join the group either to undertake specific activities or to act as a wider group of critical friends. The contacts below are the ways to get in touch.

  • Chris Stevenson, Chair, cdstevenson@gmail.com or 01206 241708
  • Jakki Jenner Secretary
  • Murray Harlow Communications

Please visit www.westbergholt.net  for further details.

6.   Thank you

Attempting to produce and implement a Parish Plan, and then embark on a more complex Neighbourhood Plan is not easy for busy people who are all volunteers. I am indebted to the enthusiasm of all those on the Steering Group, past and present who make my job as Chairman a pleasure to undertake.

 

FINANCE REPORT – Andrew Savage

The accounts for the following year, ending March 2013, are currently being prepared and the pre-audited figures can be summed up as follows:

The Parish Council’s General Accounts show an income for the year of just over £52,000 as against an expenditure of just under £45,000.  This difference, of around £7,000, is to be used to contribute towards the cost of the forthcoming resurfacing work to the Orpen Memorial Hall car park.

The Orpen Memorial Hall Accounts show an income of over £38,000 and an expenditure of nearly £27,000.  Half the difference is accounted for by the Public Works Loan annual interest payment (£5,370) for the construction of the John Lampon Hall being paid out of the General Account whilst the remainder will also contribute towards the above car parking work.  Following the successful grant application for £12,000 for this work’ the Orpen Memorial Hall re-roofing project has been put on hold for one year with the earmarked funds from both accounts currently totalling £25,000.

Over the past year there have been completed projects such as installing Audio Visual Equipment in each of the Halls, the provision of the shelter on one side of the Lorkin Daniell Field together with the large football net on the other.  In addition, the Parish Council also contributed financially to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee village celebrations.  Whilst much of our funding comes from the village precept, a significant amount has been received as grants from various organisations and we would therefore like to record our appreciation of their assistance.

Moving forward to this year’s finances, the Parish Council agreed to increase the Precept by less than one penny per household per day based upon a Band D property (305p per year).  This was felt to be reasonable in the current climate.

[Click to view Accounts – Summary Accounts March 2013]