Pre-Christmas Council Capers

To the Town Council Office! …on Monday evening, via the bright lights of the West End comes to Wivenhoe. The Christmas lights at the William Loveless Hall [where else?] looked lovely anyway.

And first up on the agenda at the December meeting of Wivenhoe Town Council was another similar West End Comes to Wivenhoe experience, albeit a slightly scaled down and far more sustainable all round experience.

Those decent folk of Transition Town Wivenhoe have asked WTC about the possibility of putting on an outdoor pedal powered cinema at the King George V Playing Field on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

I’m wagering that An American Werewolf in London won’t be on the seasonal schedule as the pedals power the projector.

With WTC now holding the licence for the KGV, permission was required ahead of the plan being put into action. What followed was an incredibly reasonable, open and understanding conversation about the cost involved.

A charge needs to be made as a precedent is being set. WTC isn’t use to *ahem* hiring out its facilities by the hour, if you know what I mean…

The solution?

£10 towards the coffers of WTC and the West End glitz can come to the KGV over the Christmas period.

Hurrah!

Plus a nice touch was the £10 coming out of the pocket of Cllr Neil Lodge before the decent folk of Transition Town Wivenhoe had the chance to go about saving the planet, or whatever decent act they undertake on a Monday evening.

Moving on with the agenda and it was time for the West End Girls and East End Boys of Colchester Borough Council to deliver their monthly reports.

Too many shadows, whispering voices. Faces on posters, too many choices etc.

Cllr Julie Young updated WTC over events regarding the recent Cedric’s bus accident:

“I have received resident’s feedback following the Cedric’s incident. A full investigation has been carried out and no blame is attributable. This has led though to a review of the quality of the Cedric’s busses. There are possible safety concerns over the age.

Moving onto the Philip Road Centre and Essex County Council has allowed the existing user groups to use the facility until at least the end of the summer term of 2013. The Library has looked into moving into the building but has concluded that it does not meet the needs.

Finally the Health Centre. Richard Warner emailed me today. He has not yet been able to fix a date with the owner of the old Cedric’s site.”

Cllr Mark Cory of CBC spoke next:

“The Borough Council has a £2.3m budget to keep the weekly black bin bag collection going. This will compliment the new food collections that are being introduced in the New Year.

The Trees for Years [snappy] scheme is also continuing. WTC can request twenty trees to be planted. Finally I have requested that the salt bins be stocked up towards The Cross.”

Which I’m sure Santa will appreciate as he makes his way around the Broadfields estate seven days from now.

Cllr Cyril Liddy of CBC said:

“The pool of water by Valley Road is now being seen to. Sadly a motorcyclist had an accident here.”

Which led very nicely into a Q from Cllr Kevin Read of WTC:

“Do you now why the Flood Barrier wasn’t closed yesterday?”

*not* linked with Valley Road.

Conversation then turned towards the exact direction of the flow of the water that led to canoes being moored up outside the Rose and Crown. The source seems to have been upstream, rather than downstream. The barrier is there to protect Colchester. Cllr Liddy agreed to make enquiries.

Concluding the If, when, why, what? How much have you got? …theme was Cllr Jon Manning of CBC:

“Planning appears to be not about what the people think – it is all about policy. I urge you to keep the Town Plan up to date. It carries weight.”

The ever-inquisitive Cllr Read continued with his fine line of questions:

“When is the deadline to spend the £2k ward purse for each Councilor. If it is not spent by then, will we lose it?”

Cllr Manning confirmed that April is the cut off, and yep – use it or lose it.

And before County and Borough Councillors left the chamber [You’ve got a heart of glass or a heart of stone. Just you wait ’til I get you home…] Cllr Bob Needham wanted to place on the record:

“Wivenhoe Town Council facilitated – but did not take part – in the recent meeting held in the Council Chamber regarding the Health Centre. We want to avoid the misconception that we hold any bargaining power.”

Noted.

The remainder of the meeting was a head’s down, minimal debate and make sure that WTC is well positioned for the challenges of 2013.

Cllr Read updated with the Cook’s shipyard situation:

“The car park and the dingy park aren’t quite ready to be handed over. The Wivenhoe Gig Racing Club has made an enquiry about the possible use of the store.”

Cllr Andrea Vaughan asked if any of the Councillors wanted to take the lead on the Wivenhoe Town Plan that is being updated in 2013. Cllr Needham replied that it is the intention that this will be a resident led initiative.

Finance – something wicked this way comes to Wivenhoe…

Cllr Lodge said:

“We have no idea what the budget will be for next year. We should hear by the 19th January. This doesn’t help us when we are expected to set a budget. All the various groups have put their requests in.”

Working on the Blind Man’s Buff theory of Economic planning [imposed] and WTC has drawn up five possible budget scenarios. These have been rated on a scale of 1 – 5. The trick will be to select the most appropriate spending scenario, once the funding levels from higher up the political food chain are known.

An example was given of the amount of money we’re talking about on Scale 1, the highest budget level. The will involve a precept increase of 40.9% per household, which roughly equates to a rise of around £25 per year.

Cllr Lodge cast a cautious figure:

“Think about what you might NOT get. We have got some hard decisions to make.”

Estates covered the repair work to the skateboard park and the completion of the cargo net climbing frame. William Loveless Hall has a leaky roof. Not so much fixing the roof whilst the sun shines, but four quotes have been sourced.

The Community Opportunity Group is considering the possibility of an all-weather surface up at Broad Lane.

It is also better news on the Jubilee / Wildlife Garden [depending on who you talk to…] following the funding withdrawal from Cory Environmental last month. A new plan is about to be re-submitted. This is more environmentally friendly and doesn’t rely upon utilities for the water feature.

The NAP report covered the possibility of changing the parking arrangements up at Vine Parade. ECC has come back saying that the scheme isn’t in the top ten of projects being considered, and therefore is off the agenda for now.

The volunteer led Speed Watch is continuing around the town. Colchester Road and Elmstead Road are both showing positive results. Rectory Road continues to be a concern.

A speedy meeting with much caution, and a little glittery glamour.

Nice Christmas Tree in the corner.

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