MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING
2nd of MAY 2012 8.00pm at THE VILLAGE HALL
1.OPENING REMARKS. The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting, there being 21 persons present and thanked Con Steve Joynes and Community Support Officer Kelly Bowen from Essex Police for attending. The Chairman then recalled some of the matters and events affecting the Parish during the year and gave her Annual Report.
It's good to see so many of you and pleasing to note that several of you have been to our Council meetings over the last year and have put your points of view or asked questions on matters that have concerned you. It's been another busy year - with the Local Development Framework of the Core Strategy still ongoing. There are still consultations going ahead with the actual sites for housing and employment areas now being identified. It appears they will be going ahead with the "North of London Road 550 houses" and the 200 on the industrial site, with the preferred access through Rawreth Lane; also the "Hullbridge" site which is in fact 3/4 in Rawreth also to be accessed through Rawreth Lane and the Hullbridge road. Rawreth Lane as you all know is already up to capacity but that doesn't seem to matter at all to Rochford. There are no published plans to improve the road structure so it will be even worse than ever. I took photos outside my house in Rawreth Lane in March of the traffic at a complete standstill once again, because there were problems on the A13 and the A127 was closed due to an accident. This went on for hours - where on earth do they think the traffic is going to go when they put in almost 1,500 more houses for Rawreth and Hullbridge. We’ve had our regular flooding problems, the last being last Sunday when Alistir closed Watery Lane. Several cars were rescued by the Fire Brigade again. Old London Road was flooded by the Chichester and in Church Road the Brook was absolutely to the brim and several gardens were under water.
Talking of the houses in Church Road, some of those residents have applied for inclusion in a scheme through ECC for property level flood protection. Hopefully they will now get some help where their properties have flooded internally.
Last year we had the very real threat of unwanted occupation of our public spaces in Rawreth with the eviction of the travellers at Dale Farm. At one point we found an area of hedging along our Community Garden had been deliberately cut down, obviously to access the garden. Fortunately our maintenance gardener spotted it straight away and we were able to put in place concrete blocks some of which are still in situ. This cost us a lot of money but we felt it was important to prevent occupation of our land. It would have cost a great deal more to evict them had they been successful. We have now put in hand permanent works to raise the boundaries of the vulnerable areas of the garden. I want to say a big thank you to James Pinkerton our garden maintenance contractor here. Throughout this particular incident and on several occasions such as when our water supply at the garden sprung a leak, James has done a lot of work free of charge. This does not happen very often these days but he feels it is important within the community.
We know that the problems for some of our residents with the extra football pitches in Old London Road have not gone away, but with ongoing meetings between Hayley and myself and the RBFC we have now got things on a much better footing - we can discuss any problems and get action before things get out of hand.
On the Financial side the biggest thing this year is that, because we had to spend so much money on protecting our Parish from unwanted visitors, we have had to use our Reserves and double our Precept. This results in every household paying a small amount extra per annum, but I am sure you will all agree is a very worthwhile increase. It would have cost a great deal more money to have effected an eviction.
Many thanks go to Hayley, for her very strict monitoring of our finances, which have kept us inside Budget. This has been a very difficult year for her, regularly keeping us within the very strict confines. Thank you very much.
Planning: Although the Travellers appealed against Rochford's decision to refuse their application on the A1245 at the Bedloes junction - this appeal was dismissed by the Inspector late last year. No action has yet been taken by RDC and I understand that this is because to date they have not yet found a suitable site to make provision for the amount of pitches that they are required to make.
As you can see a busy year and I want to thank my Councillors and Hayley for their help.
2. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE. None. .
3. APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES. The minutes of the previous Meeting held on the 4th of May 2011 were approved and the Chairman signed them as a true record.
4. PARISH ACCOUNTS FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR APRIL 2011 / MARCH 2012. The approved and signed receipts and payments reports were presented to those present. No questions were raised.
5.OPPORTUNITY FOR VISITING COUNCILLORS and the NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING TEAM TO ADDRESS THE MEETING.
Constable Steve Joynes from the Rayleigh Neighbourhood Policing Team introduced himself and Community Support Officer Kelly Bowen. Con Joynes spoke about the role of the NPT and how they are committed to making the neighbourhood a safer place to live, work and visit. Con Joynes explained how the team can be reached and emphasised that in an emergency 999 should always be used. Con Joynes then spoke about the monthly NAP Meetings, Con Joynes confirmed these take place on the last Tuesday of the Month at the Rayleigh Town Council Offices, The Pavillion, King Georges Playing Fields Rayleigh starting at 7.30pm. Con Joynes explained these meetings are for everyone, they are not Police or Council led, they are public meetings where areas of concern can be discussed. Con Joynes then confirmed he would take questions from residents in the public part of the meeting.
District Councillor Chris Black then addressed the meeting and firstly he thanked Con Steve Joynes for responding quickly to recent emails and being so proactive in responding and getting community matters sorted.
Cllr Black then spoke about ECC Highways and echoed concerns that matters are not being dealt with properly or promptly and that the department is getting worse. Cllr Black confirmed that a new Localism Panel for District Council’s is coming which it is hoped will enable District Council’s to oversee highway matters themselves. It is understood the panels will consist of both District and County Councillors but has yet, the one for Rochford is not operational.
Cllr Black then touched upon the subject of future housing and the LDF. Cllr Black stated that the LDF is still dragging on and that a High Court action being taken against the Council is delaying things and is extremely costly. Cllr Black indicated that 550 homes will be built on Land to the North of London Road, as near to Rayleigh as possible, however all access will be via Rawreth Lane, Cllr Black confirmed that a further 220 homes are still planed for the Rawreth Industrial Estate. Cllr Black also confirmed that the houses in Hullbridge look like going ahead, despite that fact that the land also lies within the Parish of Rawreth and access will also be from Rawreth Lane.
Following on Cllr Black spoke about other proposals under the CS and said that it is being indicated that new “dirty” employment land site will be situated at Michelins Farm, this will consist of industrial use, plus it has been rumoured the civil amenities site in Castle Road will relocate there. Furthermore a “clean” employment land site has been suggested for the land either side of Swallows Nursery in London Road, although plans are very vague at the moment it is indicated this will be office type use.
Cllr Black then spoke about two brownfield sites and confirmed that any houses being built on the old EON site will not count towards any housing targets and will therefore be in addition to any figures quoted. By contrast proposed houses for The Timbergrove site should however count towards final targets but a recent application for development of 43 houses on the site was refused as no affordable housing was being offered, the reason given by the developers was that they were already proposing to pay all costs in relation to demolishing and rebuilding the existing Timbergrove Home on the site which is much needed
Cllr Black then touched upon the finances of RDC and confirmed they have been forced to cut their spending and are just about managing. Cllr Black confirmed that the Council still have a backlog of work in certain areas due to the fact that the contractors used by the Council went bust earlier in the year and they are still rearranging contracts, areas most affected are grass cutting, parks and open spaces etc.
Lastly Cllr Black spoke about the District Council in general and confirmed that a further officer has now been assigned to the Enforcement Team following a review that showed there were 500 planning enforcement cases and only 2 officers. The third officer is now in place but there is still a huge backlog. Cllr Black then advised that the Standards Committee for the District is changing , under the changes some of the powers currently given to District Councillor’s on the Committee will be taken away.
6. QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC. The following questions, concerns and points were raised by members of the public.
a. What can be done about speeding around the Parish, in particular in Church Road? There have been several near misses and the road is used as a cut through and excessive speed is used which is worrying considering the road has a Nursery, Church and Village Hall all within a very short distance. There are chicanes in the road but these seem to have little effect in slowing traffic despite the fact they should denote a lower speed limit. Con Joynes said it was unlikely due to operational duties and costs that speed checks would be made in the road, however Con Joynes advised that residents can look at forming a Community Speed Watch Team, the team would need a minimum of 10 people and full training would be given by Essex Police. The idea of the group would be to deter speeding around the Parish and Rayleigh Town. Residents would need to wear hi-visibility coats and would be issued with a speed check gun which would show the speeds that motorists are travelling at, residents would have no power to stop motorists but it is hoped that the presence of the team would deter speeding. Support would be on hand from the Police and in other areas of the County this initiative has proved very productive. The Clerk agreed to make a note of the names of any residents who are interested in taking part and pass the details onto Con Joynes.
b. Can an illuminated speed sign be erected in Church Road? The Clerk advised this would be down to funding but enquiries could certainly be made.
c. Why are the Brooks around Rawreth not cleared like they used to be? Cllr Hopkins advised, purely down to cost and a change in roles of those responsible for the upkeep.
d. It has been rumoured that Tesco have taken an option out on the land opposite Wheatley’s Nursery, is this true? Cllr Black replied that he had not heard anything along these lines, however he did advise that when Tesco submit applications for anything it is done in an agency name.
Cllr Hopkins thanked everyone for coming
The meeting closed at 9.20pm. SIGNED…………………………….. CHAIRMAN