Harwich Town Council

The Guildhall,
Church Street,
Harwich. CO12 3DS

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Full Council Minutes 30th July 2014

MINUTES of the Meeting of the HARWICHTOWN COUNCIL
held at
The 1912 Centre, Cow Lane, Harwich
on Wednesday 30th July 2014 at 7.00pm

Present: Councillors Brown, Calver, Day, Flavell, Fowler, I Henderson,
J Henderson, King, McLeod, Morrison, Nicholson, C Powell,
F Powell and Thompson
In the Chair: Councillor Todd
Clerk: Mrs Lucy Ballard
Also present: 9 members of the public and 1 member of the press
45/14 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Cllr Thurlow
46/14 DECLARATIONS OF MEMBERS’ INTERESTS
None
47/14 PUBLIC QUESTIONS
Betty Holbrook referred to the Wellington Road car park and the use of it by motor caravans that need to park long ways and take up too many spaces.  She asked if there could be a notice erected to prevent them from parking there? Cllr I Henderson said he’d noted her concerns and will take this up with Tendring District Council (TDC).
Dr Rogers referred to his previous question from the last meeting, regarding the future use of the Gas House Creek land and said some answers implied it was important for Harwich, and development would start in weeks rather than months.  He asked for an update on the perceived benefits to Harwich because he has continuing concerns that the job creation proposed was not be realistic and unlikely to happen.  He asked if Harwich Town Council (HTC) could provide assurances that it’s not all hype.  Cllr I Henderson said he couldn’t give those assurances as it’s not within his remit but reiterated that a tender was applied for and the new leasee has taken over and the timetables of events indicated that activity would be seen on the site within weeks but that’s all he knows as it’s between Regeneration at TDC and the lease to determine the terms.  He confirmed that he’s seen the timetable and it would be within weeks that porta cabins would be on site but no definite answer can be given.
Cllr Calver said it’s not within the control of HTC but that of TDC.  Perhaps if it was HTC’s decision, it would be a car park.  He was hopeful that the more realistic proposals come to fruition.
Cllr I Henderson said the new company who is taking over are connected to the energy centre at Hamilton House which could lead to increased jobs in the areas we need.  It’s going in the right direction hopefully but uncertain of job numbers.
Cllr McLeod said we should be positive.
Cllr Day said previous proposals didn’t go ahead because the jobs went to Lowestoft and this was due to lack of proactivity in Harwich, but there may be opportunities in the future.
48/14 MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Mayor gave an account of some of his engagements since the last meeting, which included attending the Trinity House 500th Anniversary church service, opening and closing ceremonies for the Harwich Festival of the Arts, Scattering of the seeds at the Minesweeper’s Memorial, attending Landguard Fort at Felixstowe for Darrell’s Day, opening the Harwich Sea Festival and attending the Harwich on the Map event at the 1912 Centre by the Essex Records Office.
49/14 FIRST ESSEX BUSES
Ray Winnett and Lee Berry (who distributed copies of the new timetables) discussed ongoing issues with local bus services.
RESOLVED: to suspend standing orders to enable public discussion.
Linda Bradnum referred to a recent incident on 16th July at 2.15pm, where a bus hit a car whilst travelling the wrong way down a one-way road (Orwell Road), which was travelling off route.  She queried why the bus was going along the wrong route.  Ray said this would be investigated and he would speak with Steve Hartman tomorrow.
Cllr C Powell asked why the person wasn’t issued with a collision card, which is how they are trained?  Ray said that would form part of the investigation.
Cllr J Henderson thanked Ray for coming to Harwich to observe local services but questioned the training of the drivers and whether they know the routes.  She referred to HTC having received assurances that drivers know the routes when clearly they don’t.  She mentioned that even some destinations are mis-spelt (Parkeston).  Lee said when the new changes come in, the mis-spellings will be corrected.  Cllr J Henderson asked how they can reassure people the service will improve.  Lee said for the services he’s responsible for will have drivers with local knowledge.  He will only have 1 new driver and all are given route training prior to driving that route themselves, which includes a drive-round with a current driver and a 2-week mentor period. He confirmed that with the service changes it will be simpler as there will be a single route.  Cllr J Henderson said that is not good as services will be lost.  Lee confirmed services will be cut and it’s what the route can support.  Ray said there will be no more than a 40-min service under the new timetable.  He said there are multiple vehicles so if there are problems with one there will be another to pick up the service and keep it running.
Cllr F Powell referred to the new timetables and asked if they had been distributed to the public because it doesn’t give much notification.  Lee said no not yet.  He said there was a 2-week period following registration of the new routes during which it’s not public knowledge however that time period has lapsed and it is public knowledge now. Lee wasn’t sure when the new timetables would be published.
Dr Rogers said he was confused by what he’s heard.  He confirmed the frequency and routes have reduced due to lack of support but surely the lack of support is due to the problems in reliability in the first place so how can this be a legitimate reason.  Ray said they have to provide a service which is affordable.  Some of the current problems won’t happen because there will be back-up vehicles.  Some ‘link-up’ problems should also be resolved due to the rescheduling.  Lee said the Shopping village route has been dropped because they don’t carry passengers to the village.
Cllr C Powell said there was nothing to cover the school runs, and nothing to Parkeston in the afternoon.  Lee said the afternoon school runs saw hardly any passengers and they have to run viable services.  Charlie suggested stopping bringing vehicles over from Clacton empty which wastes fuel and have a depot back at Harwich.
Cllr J Henderson asked when the last bus was that came from Clacton to Harwich as she was concerned under the new timetable how workers would get home.  Lee said if there was call for this service from commuters, the statistics would’ve shown up.  He reiterated that all services must be viable and affordable.  If passenger loadings are such that it is deemed unviable, the service will be cut.
Cllr I Henderson said First has the monopoly and makes a lot of profit.  First cannot cherry pick the best routes and should take the rough with the smooth and the profitable routes should subsidise those routes that lose money.  He said there are subsidies available and the company is making money.  He felt these issues should be fed back to the directors.  Cllr I Henderson asked if HTC could be given the profit figures.  Ray said he would let us know what he’s allowed to.  He said we need to concentrate on Harwich but cannot carry on losing money on unviable routes.  They cannot pull out completely as then Harwich would have nothing.  He reiterated that they have to make their own profit.
Cllr McLeod asked if 103 and 104 are running as they should be.  Lee said no they changed about a month ago (increased).  Cllr McLeod said across the board we’re losing services and asked if we might get a better response from the Directors? He commented on the town expanding but that services are depleting.
Cllr Nicholson asked if it was a contractual reason why they couldn’t make changes to the timetables and route until end of August.  Lee said they currently run some Essex County Council (ECC) contracted services and it was agreed to take these on commercially with a diminishing subsidy, but with the condition that the timetable as it stood at that time wouldn’t change until 31st August 2014; and this is now the first opportunity to bring in the commercial timetables.  He confirmed the subsidies stopped about 2 years ago and there is now no contract or commitment currently as it’s commercial.
Linda Bradnum asked for confirmation that there’s no school bus.  She asked how they will get home and that this would affect 3 schools.  Lee confirmed that the number of passengers was minimal if none.
Cllr Calver said everyone was shell-shocked about the information received tonight.  The future service will be unacceptable in terms of its service level, but we don’t know who is to blame for this.  The reasons are uncertain and we need to find out from those making the decisions from First Bus and ECC so we can get to the truth.  It’s now a bigger issue than we first thought.
Cllr C Powell confirmed it’s gone beyond what HTC can discuss each meeting, and we should go to the top or the traffic commissioners.
Margaret Kennedy asked about the Clacton route not covering Clacton common and referred to some special needs passengers who travel there several times a week and who rely on this service.  Lee said the service needs to be able to run on time, which often they don’t at present, and loading figures suggest that there are minimal numbers of passengers to warrant keeping the service the same.
Cllr Nicholson stated it’s not a public service, but a commercial service.  He said as of 1st Sept what assurances can they give that the services, that will run, will be run on time and correctly etc.  Lee confirmed that everything should work but cannot give guarantees until the new timetable comes into force.
Cllr I Henderson reiterated the £ms of public funds spent on running the services, but referred to cuts in subsidies and asked when the subsidies stopped when First took over some of the former ECC contracted services.  He felt the appropriate people to write to would be the bus company.
Cllr Day asked if that was a fact that there was no subsidy for Essex and referred to OAP bus passes.  Lee confirmed the company receives a payment for every occasion when these concessional passes are presented and registered on the bus; they get a percentage of the fair for that journey.  Cllr Day asked if there were subsidies at all.  Lee confirmed that on contracted routes there are some subsidies.
Cllr Morrison asked about former records and asked if the number of passengers have reduced in the last 2-4 years and referred particularly to school children as numbers can change year on year.  Lee said passenger numbers do vary each year but in Harwich numbers have reduced.
Cllr I Henderson said they should be encouraging people to use public transport for environmental reasons.  He felt HTC should write to ECC and say because of the cuts and withdrawal of subsidies, ask them to reconsider reinstating the subsidies so that Harwich people can have a decent service. (See Ivan for wording).
Standing Orders were reinstated and it was RESOLVED: Write to ECC about the withdrawal of subsidies.
50/14 MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
RESOLVED: That the minutes and Confidential minutes of the meeting of the Town Council held on 18th June 2014 (previously circulated) be approved by the Chairman and signed as a true record.
51/14 MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES

  • Min 27/14 – Harwich Maternity Unit – Members discussed responses to letters sent to CHUFT, Bernard Jenkins MP and the CCG.  Cllr Calver referred to some information he’d received which implied that since the recruitment of 5.6 midwives to address the current shortfall, at least 4 midwives have left and therefore the retention will prove to be an even greater problem.  He proposed HTC write to Amanda Hallums (Head of Midwifery) and ask if she can confirm if indeed any midwives have left the service since the recruitment policy came into force and, if so, how many, and have they taken any steps to bring the levels back up to the required amount.
    RESOLVED: To write to Amanda Hallums
  • Min 29/14 – West End Recycling Centre – Members discussed an email from Jason Searles and request for further views and requests for improvements.  Cllr I Henderson gave his own account of needing to give up on waiting to access the site dues to unacceptable queues.  He didn’t believe that people are using other centres.  He referred to the new green waste service but stated that some may not be able to afford this.  He referred to a petition with 3000 signatures to be presented to ECC to prove the site is vital to Harwich and should remain.  He said that a new site which is more modern, more accessible and which is local may be an acceptable alternative.  He said HTC should submit the view that the site is maintained in its current location and to reiterate our position that HTC would still like ECC to consider opening 7 days a week during the summer months and during the winter months, that the closed days aren’t consecutive.
    RESOLVED:  To submit comments to ECC.
52/14 MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS
Min 141/13 – A120 – Members noted confirmation from the Highways Agency of the commencement of the Safety Scheme on 21st July.
Cllr McLeod said it’s welcomed but that we’ve waited far too long and action should’ve been taken much sooner, as there have been additional accidents.
Cllr Calver stated that what’s being implemented is what HTC suggested and thanked the Mayor for his proposal which has resulted in this.
53/14 REQUEST TO USE ARCHIVE MATERIALS FOR BOOK PUBLICATION
Members considered a request for copies of archived materials on Captain Fryatt for the purposes of publishing a book.   Cllr Calver said the story is so important to the town and anything that highlights this is good for the town.
RESOLVED: To grant request.  And make available any material(s) required, but in a manner that doesn’t cause the archivists any problems and on condition that HTC is credited in any publication.
54/14 VESSELS ENTERING UK WATERS
Cllr Todd provided an update on the impact of the proposed new regulations on sulphur emissions. Cllr Todd had received communications from Richard Howitt MEP saying no response had yet been received as yet, and Bernard Jenkin MP also stating that he’d heard nothing but that he was finding out whether the Maritime and Shipping All party Parliamentary Group would be making a submission and would be looking at the possibility of submitting an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue if it seemed a worthwhile idea.
Cllr Calver proposed that we write to the MP and state that HTC believe it is a worthwhile idea and ask that he proceeds immediately with submitting an EDM.
RESOLVED: Write letter to Bernard Jenkin MP.
55/14 ACCOUNTS
Payments and receipts, current balances, financial activity against budgets and earmarked funds were noted.
RESOLVED: to authorise payments as presented
56/14 BRIEF REPORTS BY MEMBERS

  • Cllr Flavell reported another successful Festival of the Arts and that Diana Burrell had transformed it from a local festival to a regional one, which had brought many people to the town.  He confirmed that Diana had now stood down from her position but that the festival will go from strength to strength.  The Festival committee thanked HTC for their grant. The Clerk agreed to send a letter to the Festival Committee congratulating them on their successful year and hard work and efforts.
  • Cllr McLeod confirmed attendance at a meeting of the Older people’s Forum and referred to local health checks which are being carried out where people go door-to-door to check that people are ok.
  • Cllr McLeod also confirmed attendance at a TDALC meeting and referred to rural road signing and the condition of the highways in general.
  • Cllr J Henderson confirmed attendance at a Teen Talk meeting.  She commended them on such a good job and the support they give to young people and their families, and referred to some successful grants to assist them to make improvements to their building.  She said that a lot of time is put into writing these bids and it’s time taken away from front line services.
  • Cllr C Powell received information from a meeting of the Parish Transport Meeting and raised issues about the importance of rural bus services.  The meeting focuses largely on ECC services but Harwich don’t have any so it’s hard to contribute to discussions.
  • Cllr Todd confirmed attendance at a MNWB meeting where he referred to the sulphur emission issue.
57/14 CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED IN THE POST OR RAISED BY MEMBERS

  • Cllr McLeod referred to some lights being lit during the day and that it defeated the object because there was a cost to implement the system and will add further cost having them on when they shouldn’t be.
  • Cllr Nicholson was congratulated on his achievement at becoming a member of the Fellowship of the Royal institute of Navigation, for his services to navigation.
58/14 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of Harwich Town Council will be held on 10th September at The 1912 Centre, Cow Lane, Harwich, at 7.00pm, or at the rise of the Town Planning Committee, whichever is the later.
59/14 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

The Chairman closed the meeting at 8.38pm.