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MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
HELD ON TUESDAY 16th APRIL, 2003 AT 8.00 P.M.
THE TOWN HALL, MARKET HILL, MALDON.
Amendments.

PRESENT: In the Chair: Councillor Peter Roberts, Town Mayor
In Attendance: 50 members of the public, District Councillor Keighley and numerous local organisations.

Mrs. H. Vincent (Town Clerk), Mrs. J. Grant (Administrative Assistant), Rev Canon David Atkins, Sergeant Richard Miller, Mr. Ray Stannard and representatives of the Primary Care Trust .
Councillors: E Bannister, Mrs. M. Curtis, Mrs. V Foster, T Kelly, W Prior and S Savage.
  
Prior to the commencement of the meeting various local organisations had information on display and were available to answer questions from the public.
  1. WELCOME BY THE TOWN MAYOR

The Mayor opened the Annual Town meeting and welcomed all those present to the Town Hall, particularly Rev Canon David Atkins, Sergeant Richard Miller and Melanie Crass, Primary Care Trust.
  2. OPENING PRAYER

Rev Canon Atkins commenced the meeting by reciting a poem and conducting prayers.

MAYORS AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY

The Mayor presented Mr. Brian Olley with the Mayors Award 2003 in recognition of his work for many charities in Maldon including the Essex Air Ambulance, Friends of St Peters Hospital, St Clares Hospice and the Maldon Mud Race. Mr Olley thanked the Mayor and said he was very surprised when he received the telephone call from the Town Council Office informing him he was to be presented with the Award.
  3. GUEST SPEAKER

MELANIE CRASS (PRIMARY CARE TRUST)

Melanie Crass thanked the Town Council for giving the Primary Care Trust the opportunity to talk about the proposal to build a new hospital in Maldon and reported that St Peters Hospital is very busy and has excellent staff.

Melanie Crass reported that St Peters Hospital is a 19th Century workhouse within a Conservation Area and has a 3.8 million backlog of maintenance work with another 6 million for future years, also there is inadequate parking.

St Peters Hospital is required to meet Statutory Compliances for fire precautions, contamination and the Health and Safety and Disability Discrimination Acts, as well as NHS Compliances such as single sex accommodation, space standards and energy targets which could never be met in the existing facilities. The new hospital would offer a better environment and more facilities so people do not have to travel so far to hospital.

The PCT had considered the following options:

Do nothing (not an option)
Do the minimum
New build on site
Partial rebuild
Relocate away from the current site

After all options were considered the preferred option was to build a new hospital at which new services would be developed such as minor injuries, therapy services and an assessment and rehabilitation unit. It is estimated that the cost to build a new hospital would be in the region of 20,000,000.

The Primary Care Trust is at present considering a short list of suitable green field sites within close proximity to Maldon and hopes to be in a position to announce the site before the end of the formal consultation period.

The next steps are:

Advertise for a private sector partner - January 2004
Start building - January 2005
Occupation - December 2006

Questions from the Public

Is there a variation in price depending on which location is chosen and why Maldon?

Maldon is a mid Essex area and the PCT are working closely with the Essex County Council regarding the site. The public can take part in the consultation and information on how to take part was circulated.

The new hospital is a large community issue and the public need to know where and what is to be built on the new site?

Once the decision is made the community will be informed.

Will there be an Accident and Emergency Unit at the new hospital?

An Accident and Emergency Unit will not be included in the new hospital as such units have to have specialised facilities for emergencies.

As you stated previously the cost to build the new hospital is 20,000,000 is that dependant on the sale of the existing site? Yes

Some areas of St Peters site are listed, will there be a mixture of types of new houses built with parts of the building retained?

The use of the site would depend upon the purchaser but any proposals would be subject to Planning Permission and public consultation. In answer to a further question Melanie Crass explained that the NHS buy the land, the private sector would build the hospital and the NHS would pay back the cost over 25-30 years and it would then be passed back to the NHS.

The Mayor thanked Melanie Crass and the representatives of the PCT for attending, speaking and answering questions.
  4. MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING HELD ON 26TH APRIL 2002

The Minutes of the Annual Town meeting held on 26th April, 2002 were circulated at the meeting and were agreed as a correct record.
  5. MATTERS ARISING

There were no matters arising.
  6. TOWN MAYORS REPORT

The Mayor reported that this was his fourth term of office as Mayor and that it had been a very busy year, he also thanked Cllr Mrs. Foster for being the Mayoress.

The year started in May followed by various events including:

Cabbie Day in July - as always this was an excellent day and as this was the 50th anniversary to commemorate the event the Town Council had a plaque engraved, with a picture of one of the taxis, which had been placed on the wall of the Moot Hall. This was much appreciated by Mr. and Mrs. Alan Lebby, the organisers of the day.

Carnival week in August - was the wettest Carnival day ever, however this did not deter the many visiting Mayors who stayed to the finish regardless of the bad weather.

Twinning visit to Cuijk in September - an excellent time was had by all and representatives of the twin town will be visiting Maldon next year.

The Maldon Town Regatta was an excellent event and seeing the yachts coming in was a marvellous site.

During October the children of Chernobyl assisted the Mayor in the official opening of the extension to the Tesco Store. They were looked after well and Tesco donated 1000 to the Mayors Charity Fund and 1000 to the Children of Chernobyl which will give them a good start for next years visit. The Mayor explained that each year a Braintree organisation arrange for approximately 14 children to visit England from Chernobyl. These children have cancer and the visit to England for one month extends their life by three years.

Remembrance Sunday and The Rotary Club Fireworks in November.

Two excellent Victorian Evenings were held in December as well as the Plume School Christmas Party for the elderly residents of the town.

The Mayor said he had participated in the Maldon Mud Race and raised 1,000 and the Mayor's Charity Ball which was held in March had raised 1,300 for local charities. During the year over 5,000 had been donated to various Charities and the Mayor thanked all those who had supported and sponsored him throughout the year and he said the money donated would be well spent.
  7.

  a.
CHAIRMEN'S REPORTS

Finance and General Purposes Committee

As the Chairman and Vice Chairman were not present there was no report of the Finance and General Purposes Committee however, the Town Clerk said she would answer any questions.

A member of the public felt that a letter should be sent to the Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee stating that he should have forwarded his apologies and ensured that a representative of the Committee was in attendance at the meeting.

The following was raised:

Reference was made to the amount of precept received at the beginning of the 2002 financial year and the question was asked why was there 97,440 remaining in the Deposit Account at the end of the financial year?

The Town Clerk reported that money had been set aside for projects such as St Peters Churchyard and Moot Hall repairs. The Mayor stated that the Town Council has to have reserve money in case emergency expenditure is required for items such as repairs to walls in closed churchyards. The Town clerk also reported that some of the reserve had been used to reduce the 2003/04 precept.
  b. Planning Committee

The Mayor introduced Councillor W Prior, Chairman of the Planning Committee.

Cllr Prior reported that the Planning Committee principally acts as a consultee to the Maldon District Council, Essex County Council and various other organisations. Planning applications and issues regarding the town go before the Committee for their comments and during the year 236 planning applications had been considered including developments, extensions and works to trees.

The Planning Committee considered a broad range of consultations such as the following:

Improvements to West Square, and the relocation of the town sign outside all Saints Church to West Square
The pedestrian crossing at the bottom end of the town was requested by the Town Council
The Draft Replacement Local Plan
Parking restrictions including two public consultations
Maldon Future, A Community View, this is very important to the development and heritage of the town and is taken into consideration by the Planning Committee.

The following questions were raised:

Has the Planning Committee been consulted regarding the new hospital?

The Chairman reported that the Town Council had not yet been consulted as it was too early.

A member of the public felt that the anti skid surface leading to the pedestrian crossing in the High Street was excessive as the speed limit was 30 mph and suggested speed signs may help. The Chairman said the Town Council would look into this.

Who made the decision regarding the removal of the traffic calming at the junction of the High Street and Wantz Road; what did the Town Council feel about this and would they consider pursuing the reinstatement? The Chairman reported that the Town Council had divided views regarding the traffic calming but it could be discussed again by the Town Council.

Is there a completion date for the improvements to West Square? The Chairman reported that the work should be completed in 2-3 weeks.

What is the application for a development in Dyers Road? The Chairman reported that it was an outline application and there were no further details.

The Chairman informed the public that letters of objection to planning applications can be sent to the Town Council as well as the Maldon District Council.

The Mayor thanked Councillor Prior for his report.

The Mayor introduced Councillor Mrs. M Curtis, Chairman of the Environment Committee.
  c. Environment Committee

Cllr Mrs. Curtis reported that the Environment Committee is responsible for churchyards, allotments and other environmental issues. There are three allotment sites in Maldon which are well tended and at present have no vacancies. Members of the Town Council regularly visit the sites and produce reports. Brickhouse Farm allotment site has recently had a new path and compost bins installed. Market Hill Garden has recently had Plume School students working at the area to improve the garden, they have done a very good job under the guidance of the Parks Department, Maldon District Council. The Poets' Estate Residents' Association have now planted the concrete rings provided by the Town Council at an amenity area which has reduced vandalism resulting in a great improvement. A section of All Saints Churchyard wall is to be rebuilt and the Millennium Garden and St Peters churchyard are to be improved with lighting, footpaths and landscaping with the help of the Landscapers, Essex County Council and hopefully grant funding. This project will be an ongoing programme over a few years and will greatly enhance the centre of the town. The Town Council has undertaken tree works in the closed churchyards and grass cutting around the town, not all owned by the Town Council but undertaken to enhance the areas.

The Maldon in Bloom Working Party is part of the Environment Committee and improves the High Street each year with provision of hanging baskets.

The following questions were raised:

Are the Christmas Lights the responsibility of the Environment Committee? The Chairman reported that they come under the Finance and General Purposes Committee but, after the teething problems of last year they are being reviewed for this year. A member of the public congratulated the Town Council on their work with regard to the Leech Memorial Garden and enquired if the Town Council would consider contributing to maintenance improvements in respect of the private road that runs the length of the garden. The Chairman said that this matter would be submitted to the Town Council. The Mayor thanked Councillor Mrs. Curtis for her report.
  8. FINANCIAL ACCOUNT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST MARCH 2003

Those in attendance received a copy of the accounts attached to these minutes, there were no questions regarding this item.
  9. QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC FOR SERGEANT MILLER

What is your policy on car dumping and fly tipping?

Sergeant Miller informed the member of the public that there is joint protocol between the Police and the Maldon District Council regarding the dumping of cars and fly tipping; the police do a background check on dumped cars to ascertain if they have been involved in a crime and then inform the District Council who will remove the car or large items in a few days.

If the owner of a dumped car or rubbish can be traced would they be charged costs?

Sergeant Miller informed the member of the public that often cars are burnt out and there are no details available and frequently the DVLA have not been notified of a change of owner and in these cases costs cannot be recovered. However, if the owner is located then they would be expected to reimburse costs incurred.

Councillor Bannister enquired if the Police or the newly appointed Parking Attendants had the power to prosecute car owners who park in and around the doctors surgery and are not visiting the doctors?

Sergeant Miller said that recent changes in legislation has resulted in Local Authorities, such us District Councils, being responsible for Parking Enforcement but obstruction is still at the discretion of the Police. The Maldon District Council have three part time Officers engaged in parking issues and a member of the public said that the Maldon District Council were trying to recruit a fourth Officer, each Officer will work 22 hours on a shift pattern and will not work to commission or target figures.

Are there any developments on increasing the number of Police Officers being available to walk around the town?

Sergeant Miller reported that Beat Officers are a matter of supply and demand, and they cover areas of the town that require closer police attendance. Beat Officers are usually Special Constables who do a wonderful job throughout the District.

A member of the public made reference to a large quantity of underwear that appeared to be dumped at London Road and then disappeared. Sergeant Miller was unaware of this.

Are the Parking Attendants concerned with cars parking on pavements as this can often stop the elderly or a mother with a pushchair from passing?

Sergeant Miller said that as previously reported obstruction offences remain in the remit of the Police and they would look at each case on its merit at the time, it is hoped that a common sense solution can be resolved as the matter of parking on pavements is not stated in law. A member of the public stated that he had encountered problems in Wantz Road with cars parking on the pavement, he left a polite note on the windscreen and this solved the problem, he felt that most people would take notice of this sort of action. The view was expressed that there appeared to be double standards as Barclays Bank Security van parks on the new pavement when they have access to the rear.

Sergeant Miller said that he felt that Maldon residents take pride in policing themselves and the crime rate in Maldon has remained fairly static bearing in mind that the population has increased. The Town is a credit to the people and the type of people that live here make it a fairly safe place to live.

What age does a young person become responsible for their actions?

Sergeant Miller informed the member of the public that the age had been reduced from 14 to 10 years of age in order to give options so legal remedies can be brought into force.

Where are the police between 11.00pm and 2.00am?

Sergeant Miller said that the Officers are out there but cannot deal with every incident, if they are informed most incidents are dealt with promptly. Generally on Friday and Saturday nights there are six Officers predominantly in the residential and High Street areas.

The Mayor thanked Sergeant Miller
   A member of the public enquired who was responsible for the footpath by the gypsy site at Woodham Walter as there appeared to be a large amount of items dumped in this location. The Mayor said he thought it would be the responsibility of the Essex County Council and that the Town Clerk would look into this matter.
   The Mayor thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

Meeting closed at 9.35pm.



ITEMS   (copy, report herewith)  are available for inspection at the Town Hall during normal office hours.

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