Harwich Town Council

01255 507211

9.30am – 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Full Council Minutes 18th June 2014

held at
The 1912 Centre, Cow Lane, Harwich
on Wednesday 18th June 2014 at 7.15pm

Present: Councillors Calver, Flavell, Fowler, I Henderson,
J Henderson, King, McLeod, C Powell, F Powell and Thurlow
In the Chair: Councillor Day
Clerk: Mrs Lucy Ballard
Also present: 5 members of the public and 1 member of the press
Cllrs Brown, Morrison, Nicholson, Thompson and Todd
Cllr Calver – Non pecuniary interest in item 20 – sits on executive committee of CAMRA
Betty Holbrook referred to the Morse Code on Harwich Green and asked who’s paying for it and why didn’t they get local gardeners in to do the work.   Cllrs Day and Flavell confirmed that the money came from European funding via Essex County Council, which was earmarked for Public realm works and is funding towards part of the Journeyer arts project. Betty also asked when the mowing on Harwich Green will be finished.
Dr Rogers referred initiatives to create employment in and for Harwich and that none of the expectations in relation to job creation had been fulfilled.   He asked what is HTC’s view of proposed new Fibre Optic company to be housed on part of the old Gas House Creek land and how this fits with the Mayflower project?
Cllr I Henderson said the lease of the land was put out to tender and there was an element of job creation as part of those tenders, however they were independently judged on who could deliver.
Cllr Calver said that HTC do not know but that it would be preferable to be told that any new initiatives would include job creation rather than to be given specific numbers of new jobs to be created. He thinks it should be welcomed and understood that there will be activity on site within a few weeks.
Cllr I Henderson said that we are close to getting a dedicated officer to connect with and look at opportunities for Harwich. All HTC can do is put pressure on TDC to put measures in place to take advantage of opportunities as they come along.
Insp. Chris Willis gave a briefing about local policing issues. He referred to recorded crime figures, which showed a slight decrease based on the same time last year – 347 offences in 2013 in comparison to 341 in 2014. Burglaries are down but there are 3 times as many vehicle break-ins than this time last year. Someone is currently in custody for a recent crime. He referred to some recent success including a local man having been given a 2-year sentence for handling stolen goods and a local shop owner sentenced for handling stolen goods. Police are using more technical means to fight crime. Cllr Day referred to a recent incident where there are was significant car crime and property damage – figures may be down but they’re more serious. Insp. Willis confirmed this didn’t appear to be part of a pattern and seem to be an isolated incidence; appears to be no motive either. Every effort has been made to investigate the crime.   Was a serious impact on the community.   Cllr C Powell ask for assurance that if they report a crime they will get an incident number. Insp Willis said it will be reported as a crime if there’s any suggestion of it but that giving an incident number is not necessarily routinely a requirement. It is different to a Crime Reference Number.
Cllr Day asked how they records their statistics. Insp Willis said it’s victim centred rather than based on the number of incidences.
Cllr Calver asked about whether the person caught on CCTV for the arson would’ve been seen if the lights were on.   Insp Willis said they were only visible once the sensor light of the property was activated, however their face wasn’t visible anyway due to their clothing. He feels there are crimes that will happen and those that won’t with the lights going out. There are many factors which affect crime, street lighting being just one. Cannot necessarily comment on whether the lights out have a direct affect. Cllr Calver referred to crime figures showing remarkable increase (almost 50% difference) between April and January 2014 and asked he would agree that it’s more difficult to detect a crime in darkness than in the light. Insp Willis says there are pros and cons. Data suggests that crime is affected by street lighting, but there are various other local variations. He assured council that he will monitor crime levels closely to see if there are any correlations with the lights being out and has asked for street lights in and around Brooklyn Road for 7 days.
Cllr I Henderson said that lights are on in town because they’re protecting valuable assets, but aren’t people’s homes valuable assets? He said he felt let down by the police. Insp Willis didn’t want to offer an opinion but reassured members that there is no politics with the police and the PCC is a grassroots officer with true policing as his priority. It was a political decision to turn off the lights, not the police’s.
Cllr Day referred to confusion over CCTV areas and ask if it had been resolved. Insp Willis said there was an issue and got engineers in to sort it but is unsure of the current status of the new camera installation.
Cllr Calver referred to incident numbers and said that the perception that they’re not being given automatically was having an impact on the credibility of the police amongst the public. Can this be requested that they are issued automatically? Insp Willis said he can raise the issue with those responsible for issuing the Incidence numbers.
Insp Willis relayed that they’re in a period of flux and change with a new Chief Constable who isn’t happy with the organisational structure. One change will be that Chris will become a shift inspector, possibly based at Harwich.   Hopeful for more Harwich based police officers but don’t know final numbers for the district (constables and possibly sergeants). It won’t affect the front office opening hours at this moment in time. Cllr Calver asked Insp Willis to advise HTC of the present establishment of Harwich Police so it can be monitored if numbers are affected.
The Clerk, on behalf of the Mayor, gave an account of some of the engagements attended since being elected, including being guest of honor at the 1st/2nd Parkeston Scout Group AGM, Harwich Amateur Boxing Club, Luney Club dinner and dance, and Autism Anglia at the Park Pavilion, as well as meeting with a delegation of Chinese Officials at the Guildhall, welcoming participants of the ‘Ciara’ charity cycle ride, and a day of planting with All Saints School pupils in Grange Road. Other engagements included D-Day celebrations at Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club, Teen Talk meeting and Brightlingsea’s Blessing of Waters event.
Kingsway Hall Evangelical Church attended by Cllr Day as Deputy Mayor.
RESOLVED: That the minutes and confidential minutes of the meeting of the Town Council held on 16th April 2014 (previously circulated) be approved by the Chairman and signed as a true record.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Extraordinary meeting of the Town Council held on 28th May 2014 (previously circulated) be approved by the Chairman and signed as a true record.
Cllr J Henderson referred to Min 163/13 and said she had met with the Dog Warden to discuss measures to educate dog owners. There are only 2 wardens and they are limited in what they can do and any calls that come in for stray dogs take priority over other tasks. Has asked TDC to review their website, which is out dated, which may help to report issues.
Ray Winnett and Lee Berry discussed ongoing issues with local bus services. It was RESOLVED: to suspend standing orders to enable public discussion. Cllr C Powell mentioned buses going off route a lot and referred to an incident in Parkeston. Lee confirmed all drivers have back-up maps so shouldn’t get lost but there are some new drivers and ask Cllr Powell to provide more detail on this incident.
Cllr Day referred to previous apology for the poor service and asked what had been done. Ray Said they had addressed the issues and actioned directly with drivers over them taking too long to ‘turnaround’.
Cllr J Henderson asked if they had gone along to particular problem sites but Ray said not as yet and another date would be arranged to do so. Cllr Henderson asked if it would be a permanent move to have mobile inspectors.   Ray said he’d look into it.
Cllr McLeod say it wasn’t cost effective to have depots in other towns as we need local drivers with local knowledge.
Linda Bradnum said ‘no shows’ are a regular occurrence and some services just don’t run. Lee said the current timetable must remain until the end of August. Clacton and Colchester services will be reviewed during June. If anything can be done in the interim to alleviate issues then this is a separate matter.
Cllr C Powell said that buses were always recorded as they came in and went out, but this isn’t now happening.   Harwich needs a supervisor at the depot.
Cllr Calver referred to the volume of queries raised with councillors over the bus service. He also relayed some concerns from a resident: the service is a lifeline to the elderly and any deterioration to the service has a disproportionate effect on the elderly and wanted First Essex to be aware of that.   Also that if services alter in August, are they able to ensure up-to-date bus timetables are easily available. Also mentioned the rudeness of drivers. Ray wants to hear of each individual case as this is a conduct issue and will be dealt with accordingly.
The buses have GPS installed so they can be monitored if they’re late or on time so if individual cases are reported via Cllr Powell then these can be looked into. They can only be tracked after the vehicle has completed its block of work and not live.
Cllr J Henderson said they are not sticking to the timetable now so how is it different to having to wait until August.   Ray said the traffic commissioner doesn’t permit them to make changes without the necessary notice. He said the service needs to be fit for purpose and that takes time.
Cllr I Henderson said that if services aren’t run then they will lose the required revenue to warrant keeping the service, which may then be terminated.
Cllr J Henderson referred to the TDC-issued car parking permits only providing free parking from 11am and raised issues with the current parking arrangements in the town centre on Fridays given that on-street restrictions have also been changed. She proposed that we ask TDC for a dispensation to open the Dovercourt Town Centre car park free of charge from 9.30am, for pass holders only, on Fridays only.
RESOLVED: Send letter to Mick Page as portfolio holder for Regeneration and Rachel Fryer as Town Centre Manager.
Cllr Calver relayed concerns over the intended recruitment of midwives which would enable the reopening of Harwich unit as a 24/7 unit. In fact the recommendation was to re-open as an on demand birthing unit. They would need an additional; 12 midwives over and above the 5.6 being recruited in order to re-open 24/7. It would mean that up until this point they are running 17.6 midwives short between Colchester, Clacton and Harwich.   Whilst there were initially 4 options, pressure has meant that we are being given a birthing unit rather than closing completely, it is a terrible reduction in service. Cllr I Henderson said there would be a 3-month consultation and urged everyone to respond to it.
Cllr Calver proposed we write to CHUFT for an explanation to this sudden announcement that an additional 12 midwives, over and above the 5.6 being recruited, would be required to reopen HRW and Clacton maternity units as midwife led 24/7 units with full post natal facilities.
Also write to MP to ask if he continues to support HTC’s desire to retain all existing services. (see Garry for wording for letter).
Also ask for Dr Shane Gordon to attend a meeting of HTC to give the facts and whether the CCG agrees with CHUFTS figures and whether they intend to fund a 24/7 midwife led maternity unit in Harwich.
RESOLVED: To write letters to CHUFT, Bernard Jenkin and Dr Gordon.
Members considered a request from the CPP to make free use of the Guildhall for the following year for the purpose of panel meetings.
RESOLVED: To approve free use of Guildhall chamber for the forthcoming year.
Members discussed the proposed closure of the Harwich facility and a number of resident complaints/concerns. Cllr Calver referred to a request to Cllr Bentley which was never replied to, and that we should request this. We need to write to the current portfolio holder of Regeneration with a copy of the original letter. Cllr I Henderson said there was a locality board meeting and it was made clear that there will be no closures, and that we should seek assurances on this.
RESOLVED: Write letter to portfolio holder of Regeneration.
Members considered a request for use of the Harwich Coat of Arms. The Harwich Coat of Arms is identical to the Football Club’s badge and since they have already sought permission from the Harwich borough over 100 years ago then permission has been sought from the football club and is not required from HTC.
RESOLVED: Permission not required. With a note of caution that it’s not promoted by Harwich Town Council but they can use the football club badge.
Members considered a request from Grassroots Charity to spend £1k capital transferred to them by Harwich Town Council in 2004.
RESOLVED: Agree but with a caveat that we are advised which local charities will benefit.
Members discussed the impending plans to free local councils from a 103-year obligation to provide plots of public land for cultivation and agreed to set a policy for Harwich Town Council not to sell of any HTC-owned land if changes in the laws are made.
RESOLVED: To adopt this policy.

  • Members considered reverting the vacant area from residential to business use and to make it fit for purpose.
    RESOLVED: to revert the vacant area from residential to business use.
  • Members considered relocating the Archivists to the newly refurbished area to accommodate storage and display of the council archives, and also to enable the creation of additional office space for council staff and councillors on the ground floor.
    FURTHER RESOLVED: To relocate the Archivists to the newly refurbished area.
    FURTHER RESOLVED: To spend up to £5k from existing Earmarked funds on making the vacant area fit for purpose.
Cllr C Powell put forward a motion to propose that:
Harwich Town Council responds to the consultation on the EU directive regarding sulphur emissions from all vessels operating in EU waters by saying that this directive should not be in any way implemented until the EU is in a position to implement it in all EU waters.  To further give as a reason the fact that the partial implementation will have a serious and unfair negative impact on the local economy of affected communities due to the creation of a trading cost imbalance between ports in areas in which the directive is being implemented and ports in which it is not.
RESOLVED: To proceed with responding to the consultation. Much thanks and gratitude was offered to Cllr Todd for his efforts and hard work on this issue.
Members considered local projects for consideration by the Rural Projects Panel at the district council.
RESOLVED: Refer to E&C committee pending further clarification on whether it’s relevant to Harwich.
Cllr King made a request to gift 50 of the commemorative Jubilee coins to the Ark Centre as part of their 60th Anniversary on 26th June.
RESOLVED: To gift the coins.
RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting of the Environment & Community Committee held on 20th May 2014 (previously circulated) be received. Members congratulated Cllr Flavell on the successful siting of the community noticeboard by Harwich Green.
FURTHER RESOLVED: To ratify the decision of the E&C Committee to nominate the Trafalgar Public House as an Asset of Community Value.
RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting of the Finance & General Purposes Committee held on 10th June 2014 (previously circulated) be received.
FURTHER RESOLVED: the Confidential minutes of the meeting of the Finance & General Purposes Committee held on 10th June 2014 (previously circulated) be received.
Payments and receipts, current balances, financial activity against budgets and earmarked funds were noted.
RESOLVED: to authorise payments as presented

  • Cllr Flavell as rep for Harwich Festiva lof the Arts and referred to the lack of acknowledgement of HTC in their festival leaflets since these were printed prior to funding being confirmed but that they have now added the Coat of Arms on their festival literature.

  • Cllr Fowler raised the issue that the armet on the Harwich Coat of Arms is facing the wrong way on the HTC website. The Clerk agreed to ask the webmaster to correct this.
The next meeting of Harwich Town Council will be held on 30th July at The 1912 Centre, Cow Lane, Harwich, at 7.00pm, or at the rise of the Town Planning Committee, whichever is the later.
43/14 Exclusion of public and press
Pursuant to Sub-Section 2 of Section 1 of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 the meeting was closed to the press and public for the transaction of the under-mentioned business:
Estates Supervisor
To confirm appointment to the post

The Chairman closed the meeting at 9.35pm.