Harwich Town Council

01255 507211

9.30am – 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Annual Meeting 16th April 2013

TUESDAY 16th APRIL 2013 at 7.02pm

Present: Cllrs Brown, R Callender, C Callender, Day, Calver, Fowler, Powell, Morrison, Thompson, King, Mcleod, Todd, I Henderson, J Henderson
Also present: 17 members of the public and no press
Chairman Cllr J Thurlow
Clerk Mrs Michelle Townsend

A minutes silence was observed to mark the sad death of Vicky Williams who had served the town as a Councillor from 2003 to 2007.

Apologies were received from Councillor Flavell
RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on 17th April 2012 (previously circulated) be approved, and signed by the Chairman as a true record.
Dr Rogers inquired about the vision of HTC to take the Council forward and how does it plan to achieve its vision. Members informed the public that the Council intend to move forward, in partnership with District and County Council to assist them with their statutory obligations. An update was given on the planned meeting with the TDC Chief Executive and ECC regarding Dovercourt Rediscovered. Although there were big issues requiring substantial funds, there were other aspects which could be put in place to help regenerate the town. Additional priorities for the Council mentioned included tackling untidy sites, the possible development of Beacon Hill and to continue with community involvement to aid support for improvements like the swimming pool refurbishment.Dr Rogers was informed that the strategy for tourism is disseminated from TDC and that an economic strategy for growth for the Tendring area would shortly be presented.Cheryl Thompson asked what the total budget for grant funding was for the current year and what process is in place to check that funding awarded is spent on the purpose for which it was granted. The Clerk confirmed that the budget was in the region of £35k and at present, all grants awarded over the amount of £500 are required to supply a written report and financial breakdown. Following the last F&GP Committee, it was agreed to review the Council’s policy and consider possible modifications to improve the application process and administration monitoring.Jackie Denton raised the issue of 20 Market Street and was informed by members that TDC enforcement officers had issued a S215 notice giving the owners 28 days to comply with enforcement conditions. HTC will continue to work with TDC to tackle untidy sites and fly tipping and make all those responsible accountable, including landlords.   Members confirmed that they share the public’s frustrations. As well as losing skilled enforcement staff, TDC have to work with an annual budget for enforcement of £7500 for the whole of the Tendring area.

Deborah Rich asked members if they would consider making themselves more accessible to the community by hold bi-monthly surgeries. The Labour group confirmed all were welcome to attend their coffee mornings and the Conservative group issue Harwich Matters to every household detailing news, updates and contact details. Contact details for all Councillors can be found on the website, Town Guide and the office. Members hoped that should a member of the public have an issue, they would contact their local councillor immediately.

Mr Sergeant made reference to the poor state of several areas including Station Lane, Patrick Lane, the bottom of Victoria Street and the Old Victoria Hotel. Members hoped that the Old Victoria Hotel could form part of Dovercourt Rediscovered and a review of what help could be given to move the development of the site on. Members urged the public to report fly tipping and promoted the forthcoming Tidy Tendring Campaign.

Mr Rutson expressed his concerns about access to the Council website and was informed that the cause could be connected to his browser and pop up blocker. Dr Rogers felt there were issues relating to draft minutes not being published and was given assurances by the Clerk that it would be looked into.

Betty Holbrook enquired why the recent by-elections were not held on the same day as the ECC elections to help reduce costs. Members confirmed that the election is determined by the date at which the election is triggered and the timescale is dictated by electoral law.

Dr Rogers raised a question regarding applications where comments were made by HTC with some form of objection and asked for the percentage of those applications which were then approved by TDC. Cllr Mcleod agreed to request this information from TDC.

Deborah Rich stated that at the recent TDC Question Time, a suggestion was made for HTC to create a committee for tourism and asked if HTC was considering this as she felt that the town was missing out on business from the cruise ships. Lesley Pollard confirmed that the local paper had unfortunately misquoted people which did not lead to a positive article. All parties are hoping to work together and plan for the next scheduled cruise ships so that Harwich is promoted as open for business.

Mr Rutson referred to a reply received from the Clerk where reference was made to training offered to Councillors for finance and budget matters and asked who had undertaken training. Certain members confirmed training and knowledge had been obtained through their private work as well as the Council.   The Clerk confirmed that training is always available from the Clerk or trained specialists at a cost.   Councillors regularly contact the office to enquire or question aspects of the finances and felt confident that Councillors would ask for help if it was required.

Dr Rogers asked if the Council felt the market was successful taking into consideration the disadvantage of the disruptions and that only 2 or 3 stalls were in place some weeks in the winter. Lesley Pollard confirmed that the minimum number of stalls had not gone below 5 and that funds from the market was paying for the promotion of the town at the Port as well as the hanging baskets and Christmas lights. The Council believe it has been a success and should continue to support it in the future.

Following Peter Halliday’s visit to the last HTC meeting, Deborah Rich asked if contact had been made with the Co-op to request improvements are made to their property in Kingsway. The Clerk confirmed that a copy of the letter had been received and would be forwarded to Councillors in due course.

The Chairman acknowledged and welcomed the improved attendance and thanked the public for taking their time to attend the meeting.

The Chairman closed the meeting at 8.40pm