Report of Foxearth and Liston Parish Council Meeting – 19th Feb 2014

The Council met on19th February with Cllr. Clive Waite in the Chair and about 45 local residents present.

Resignation: The Chairman reported the resignation of Cllr Peter Highmore. The Acting Clerk outlined the options for filling the vacancy.

Flooding; Local residents expressed serious concern at flooding in Foxearth during the recent prolonged heavy rain. Three properties had been affected with others under threat. The problem appeared to be, once again, the inadequacy of a 150 year-old deteriorating culvert to deal with a situation for which it was never designed. County Cllr. David Finch said that the District Council had been asked to identify the top priority problems and he would ensure that Foxearth was included. CCTV footage of a survey several years ago would be made available to residents. A Liston resident pointed out that there had been road flooding there too possibly due to the river being insufficiently dredged.

Stafford Park: It was noted that there had recently been two “open” days here so that people could see the owner’s proposals for development. District Cllr. Julian Swift emphasised that no decision had been taken by the District Council. There was criticism from several residents of the Chairman’s approach to this matter. It was agreed that when a contentious or especially important application comes before the Council it would be appropriate to consider holding a special meeting so that local views could be fully aired – and this would certainly be the case if and when an application is made for a development of Stafford Park.

Solar Farms: Cllr. Swift said that it was possible that a decision on this proposal to install solar farms on the Belchamp Farmland Plateau would be made in March. Opposition was widespread and there had been argument about the interpretation of the relevant planning regulations. He paid tribute to the work of the four-parishes committee – and particularly the Chairman – for the research undertaken and the organisation of a 600word petition against the plan.

District Council Report: Cllr. Swift referred to the Boundary Commission’s proposal to amend the Braintree wards. Along with a reduction in the numbers of councillors this would result in his personal responsibility being increased from 8 parishes to 12. In this situation he felt that it would be impossible to represent constituents’ views as fully as he would wish.

County Council Report: Cllr. Finch explained that following financial re-evaluations it was possible for the Council to freeze council tax for 2014 for the fourth year running (warm applause!) He expressed disagreement with the proposed ward changes in the Braintree district and understood Cllr Swift’s concern. For the future there were early signs that changes in the organisation of health and social care would increase the responsibilities of local authorities.

Broadband:  The Chairman reported that County Broadband would begin an upgrade programme in March which would improve Broadband speed threefold – perhaps a bit more.

Planning: No objections were expressed to a proposal to make extension, window and other minor changes to a private dwelling in Foxearth.

Grass Cutting – Liston: An offer from a local resident to cut the grass at the church road junction at no charge this year was accepted with thanks. An ex gratia payment to a former cutter was agreed.

Grants to Church Councils: It was agreed to fix the awards to church councils for five years as previously recommended.

Parish Clerk: The newly-appointed Clerk, Mrs Hannah Griffiths was introduced and welcomed.

Public Rights of Way: A minor amendment to the route of public footpath number 21  was agreed.

Next Meeting:  16th April 2014 Council Meeting and Parish Assembly.

Ken Nice.

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