Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting

Held in the Orpen Memorial Hall – Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 7p.m.

In the Chair:John Gili-Ross
Members Present:Brian Butcher, Jenny Church, Murray Harlow, Andrew Savage, Chris Stevenson, Harry Stone, Bob Tyrrell, Phil Walby, Rachel Howard
Clerk:Val Walsom
Present:Councillor Harrington, Councillor Willetts, Cllr Anne Brown – ECC
Approximately 100 Members of the public

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.

Apologies were received from Rosemary James.

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

John Gili-Ross welcomed all and highlighted the delights of the village.

John announced that this will be his last year as Chair of the Parish Council.  Val Walsom, the Clerk, has also decided to retire as Clerk after many years service.

The staff of the Parish Council were thanked – Val Walsom, the Clerk, Vicky Beckwith-Cole, the Hall Administrator and Steve Cook, our Village Handyman.

John highlighted the resurfacing of the Orpen Memorial Hall car park as one of the major achievements this year.

2.         Our Village Future is in your hands

Village Volunteers

John praised the work of the Parish Councillors and also the many volunteers of the village represented by those in attendance at the meeting who are the heart of the community.

The Next 20 years – Lets Shape it Together – Chris Stevenson

Chris Stevenson gave a report on the Neighbourhood Plan.  His report culminated in a plea for residents to complete the questionnaire and get involved with the Steering Group.

Q:  Rob Swan – What is going to be the pressure on new housing within the village?  How are we going to know how much we are going to have to accept?

A:  This will be dependent on the demographics of the people in the village – age being a factor and we need to encourage all age groups.  We would like to look at an increase of c.75 homes over the next 20 years, which is likely to be a requirement within Colchester Borough Council new Local Plan for the borough.

John Gili-Ross commented that this is the first time ever that we have had a say in the future development of our village.  This is a Plan which covers all aspects of this thriving village.

Our Future is Fibre Broadband – Connie Kerbst, Programme Manager, Superfast Essex

Connie leads the delivery of the Essex County Council Superfast Broadband programme with a team of 6 people to maximise the delivery of Superfast Broadband across the county using grant funding from ECC, BT and the Government (BDUK) office.

The size and coverage of the grant provides 87% of premises being reached in the county at a cost of £24M (Phase 1).  A further £20M will extend coverage to 95% (Phase 2a) which leaves the remaining 5% of county premises being served by alternate and yet to be determined means (Phase 2b) .

Rollout Progress –

West Bergholt is unfortunately part of the 5% or Phase 2b programme of connectivity.  The Phase 2a rollout phase is being planned with the contract being awarded to BT last month.  Phase 1 contract is expected to be complete by November 2017 and Phase 2a by 2020.

County Broadband has infrastructure in place to cover a large area of Essex, however ECC has yet to confirm the entire coverage and whether it meets the specification set by BDUK for superfast broadband. The cost of connecting West Bergholt to the Superfast Essex infrastructure is currently cost prohibitive but will be considered further as the programme roll-out continues.

Q:  Graham Broom was promised that Superfast Broadband would be in the village by 2015.  Because we have County Broadband have we been pushed back?
A:  West Bergholt has never been included in the Superfast Essex rollout plan for Phase 1 & 2b because of the projected cost of connectivity.  County Broadband being present in the area is not the reason for the village to be left out of the first two phases.

Q:  A resident has tried to get a supply from County Broadband but was unable to do so as they have now not got enough equipment to take on new customers.
A:  Connie advised that this is just the kind of information Superfast Essex is looking for.

Q:  Murray Harlow feels that County Broadband cannot provide and is not fit for purpose.  Several other residents disagreed with Murray’s statement.
A:  Superfast Essex does have some doubts about what County Broadband can supply.

Residents need to register their broadband need by using www.superfastessex.org.

ECC are trying to encourage any new housing developments of more than 25 homes to have superfast broadband infrastructure installed however planning development is determined by the relevant Borough or District Council.

John Gili-Ross thanked Connie for her presentation of the programme.

My Portfolio and Your Future – Anne Brown – Essex County Council

West Bergholt has 2 very good Borough Councillors who do the groundwork for this village.  Councillor Brown’s division covers 17 villages.

Councillor Brown’s Portfolio is Health, which amounts to approximately 60% of Council Tax.  The Government has recently brought out the Care Act which means that individuals will only have to pay up to £70,000 of their own money towards their elderly or infirm care.  Essex County Council has saved £40m in recent years and will have to save more in the future.

Colchester General Hospital is going to reshape its services to try to reduce its £39m deficit.

Colchester has a fantastic group of volunteers – the best in the whole of the county, trying to help the community and keep people in their own homes.

Essex County Council works to give best value for money.

3.         Issues From the Floor

Q:  Graham Broom – Questioned the use of stones in the car park right up to the grass.
A:  Stones are an inherent aspect of the drainage system used and is cost effective.

Q:  The pavement in front of the chemist is very uneven.
A:  The Colchester Local Highways Panel has been allocated £1M for highway projects part of which has been allocated to West Bergholt projects as part of the Traffic Safety Plan.  The pavement in question is a highways maintenance issue with footpath repairs coming from the ECC central funding.  This problem has been reported to ECC.

Q:  Do we know when the parking restrictions around the school roads are going to come into force?
A:  It is expected that the parking restrictions will be in place later in spring/summer together with the implementation of 20mph speed limits.

Q:  It is dangerous to walk passed the chemist with cars parking across the paths.
A:  John Gili-Ross suggested that some people need to be encouraged to park their cars in a sensible manner.

Q:  Will New Church Road be resurfaced before the parking restrictions are put in place.
A:  It is hopeful that this will happen.

Chris Stevenson gave some information about why the bridge in Bakers Lane/Spring Lane is taking so long to re-open.  It is expected to be open for general traffic again in May.

The Boundary Commission has made its decision regarding ward changes for West Bergholt and Eight Ash Green and they will form part of a new larger ward that includes Lexden and Braiswick.  This will not affect our village or the two Parish Councils included within the new ward however there will be a total of 3 Borough Councillors.

Harry Stone made a presentation to John Gili-Ross who has decided not to stand as Chair again following the elections in May.  Harry highlighted the work that John has contributed over the last 30 years on the Parish Council and particularly as Chair for the last 12 years.

The meeting closed at 9.30pm.