MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING,

HELD IN THE WELLS PAVILION

ON THURSDAY, 25th APRIL 2019, AT 7.00 P.M.

 

Chairman: Mr. Nigel Arthur Clerk: Mrs. Jane Potter

 

The meeting was also attended by:

 

Mr. Colin Ash, Mr. Brian Oliver, Mr. Steven Potter, Mr. Graham Rayner and Mr. G. Strathern (Parish Councillors)

Mr. Bernard Steeples (Chairman, Purleigh Playing Field Association)

Dr. Anthony Ashton (Chairman, Purleigh Community Shop Ltd)

Mrs. Christina Chan (Purleigh Community Fund)

Mrs Rachel Moore (Purleigh Community Fund and Purleigh Community Shop Ltd)

 

and six members of the public.

 

Apologies were received from Mr. Steven Bardwell (Parish Councillor) who was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment.

 

The Chairman extended a very warm welcome to everyone present and thanked them for attending the meeting.

 

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 26th April 2018, which had been approved at the Parish Council meeting held on 11th May 2018 (Minute 10/05/18), were distributed amongst those present. There were no matters arising from the Minutes to discuss.

 

Reports were then given by representatives of the following organisations regarding their organisations’ activities during the past year.

 

PURLEIGH PARISH COUNCIL

 

The Chairman commenced by reporting that the Parish Council had held twelve ordinary meetings during the year at which Councillors had made 66 attendances out of a possible 84. Two Councillors had attended every meeting and the Council’s thanks went again to its District and County Council Ward Members for attending the public sessions held before each meeting, listening to Members’ concerns and for keeping the Parish Council informed about the work of their respective organisations. Councillors had also attended a number of site meetings across the parish concerning amongst other things, the future of Purleigh Shop and plans to refurbish the children’s play area. The Chairman reported that Members had also represented the Council at meetings which had discussed wider issues for the community, such as changes to the District Council’s planning procedures and the roll out of superfast or ultrafast broadband. This year, for the first time, the Parish Council had a permanent representative on the Stow Maries Joint Consultative Committee, a newly constituted organisation which was designed to consult about Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome to create greater understanding and improve communication between the aerodrome, the communities its activities affected and other stakeholders.

 

The Chairman informed the meeting that during the year the Parish Council had commented on 55 planning applications, despite the difficulties faced as a result of the District Council’s decision not to provide it with paper copies of plans any more. The Parish Council had also responded to numerous consultation papers, including those concerning the future of Essex library services, local authority finance and supplementary planning documents.

 

The total amount of money the Parish Council had required from Maldon District Council for the year ending 31st March 2019 had been £40,000, the same as in the previous year.

 

During the year the Parish Council had continued to provide and maintain the pavilion and playing field for the benefit of parishioners, carrying out further improvements to the security of the building and continuing on-going repairs to the showers. A full electrical inspection of the premises had been carried out and the Parish Council had paid the sum of £1,080 for new picnic benches, part of the Purleigh Community Fund’s improvements to the area surrounding the existing children’s play area. Income from letting the pavilion during the year had amounted to £4,332, but £5,681 had been spent maintaining the facilities, £1,154 of that sum had been spent on general maintenance and £539 had been spent on improved security. An additional £2,820 had been spent cutting the playing field grass and works to trees around its perimeter.

 

The Chairman reported that during the year the Parish Council had continued to pay Maldon District Council’s Community Protection Team to enforce the parking restrictions in Pump Lane, assisted this year by match funding from Purleigh Community Primary School, and in April Officers had expanded their role in the parish by enforcing the speed limits in Chelmsford Road and Hackmans Lane using Tru-Cam. 114 Fixed Penalty Notices had been issued to speeding motorists since these patrols had begun and once the Police had agreed suitable sites, Officers would further increase their role to include the enforcement of the speed limits in Fambridge Road and Maldon Road.

 

One of the Council’s most significant achievements this year had been to facilitate and support plans to re-open a shop in Purleigh. To that end the Parish Council had assessed the viability of setting up a community owned shop in Purleigh via extensive research, the circulation of a questionnaire and the collation of its results, the identification of numerous groups and individuals to create a network of future support, and the identification of potential sources of funding and expertise. On 17th November the Parish Council had hosted a public meeting at which a group of people had come forward from whom a Management Committee had subsequently been elected to take the project further. Since then, the Parish Council had continued to support the Management Committee by paying its affiliation fee of £240 to the Plunkett Community Co-operative Network, a charity with most expertise in setting up community businesses. It had also given the Committee a grant of £2,500 to help with its initial costs and had allocated it a grant of the same amount in the current financial year. The Chairman thanked everyone involved most sincerely, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Gilbey, the owners of the shop premises, without whose support and generosity the plan to try to establish a community shop for Purleigh would have been impossible.

 

During the year the Parish Council had played a significant role in Purleigh’s commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, displaying a silhouette of a solitary soldier throughout the parish and publishing (and jointly funding with the author Steven Potter) a booklet entitled ‘Purleigh’s War Memorial and the Men it Commemorates 1914-1918’, which had been made freely available to any parishioner who wished to receive one. The Parish Council had also made a donation towards the Flower Festival held in All Saints Church and had purchased three small wreaths which had been laid on the graves of soldiers buried in Purleigh who gave their lives in the First World War, in addition to the larger wreath the Parish Council laid annually at the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

 

During the year the Parish Council had also made donations to the RNLI, Essex Air Ambulance and Farleigh Hospice.

 

The Chairman took the opportunity on behalf of the Parish Council to thank Jim Ovel for all his work in the parish, Mrs. Dilworth for her work at the pavilion and the clerk for continuing to efficiently administer the work of the council.

 

Finally, it was the Chairman’s annual duty to report that the council had one employee, white, British who had received training during the year. The Parish Council was not able to detect any pattern of inequality arising from this data.

 

PURLEIGH EDUCATION FOUNDATION

 

Mr. Steven Potter (Trustee) reported that the Trustees had met on the 15th February 2019. The foundation’s investments had produced an income of £582 last year. From this the Trustees had made grants of £100 each to Purleigh School, The Genesis Group and The Small Saints, and a book token valued at £100 had been given to a university student. The remaining £182 had been reinvested as capital.

 

PURLEIGH COMMUNITY FUND

 

Prior to the meeting, the Purleigh Community Fund had provided the Parish Council with a report, circulated at the meeting, which explained the Purleigh playground rejuvenation project’s status at April 2019, provided a funding plan and included the Purleigh Community Fund’s accounts for the year ended 31st March 2019.

 

Christina Chan commenced her report by informing the meeting that phase one of the playground rejuvenation project had been completed in 2018 thanks to a contribution from the Parish Council which had paid for new seating.

 

Work had also commenced on phase two, which aimed to revamp the compost area and install some log play areas. At community events held in October 2018 and March 2019 volunteers had cleared the ground and laid matting and, once more bark had been acquired, another community event would be held to complete this part of the scheme, hopefully in May 2019.

 

Christina Chan explained that the group was working hard to commence work on phase three of the project which aimed to install five new pieces of play equipment which had been chosen following extensive consultation with Purleigh schoolchildren. The estimated cost of this phase was £44,000 but the group had already raised over £27,000 towards this target. Due to the time constraints imposed on the grants the group had already received, it was hoped that work could commence in June 2019 with partial funding. Lots of other initiatives were being planned to try to raise sufficient funds to install all of the new equipment by the third quarter of 2019.

 

The meeting noted that the group would be looking at the plans to install a high climber (phase four of the scheme) later in the year, once further progress had been made to achieve phase three.

 

Purleigh Community Shop Management Committee

 

Tony Ashton (Chairman, Purleigh Community Shop Ltd) commenced by reporting that Purleigh Community Shop Ltd. (PCSL) was now a properly constituted organisation which had been registered as a Community Benefit Society with the Financial Conduct Authority under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, with registration number 8064. The Management Committee comprised a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and two other supporting members.

 

The Committee had received invaluable support from the Plunkett Foundation, which had helped establish over 300 community shops, as well as other community businesses, around the UK, and it had used their Model Rules as the basis for Purleigh Community Shop Limited’s Rules. Purleigh Community Shop was a not-for-profit society, managed by the community for the benefit of the community. Enshrined in its rules was the principle that trading surpluses, beyond those required for the needs of the business, would be distributed to local community projects as decided by the membership.

 

Dr. Ashton reported that a Business Plan and Financial Projections for the shop had been published and could be downloaded from https://www.facebook.com/purleighshop/. The Management Committee were confident that the shop was viable as a sustainable business and was making progress with its plans to open the shop on the 1st July 2019. The Management Committee was projecting annual profits of approximately £1,500 per year.

 

On 16th April, PCSL had issued a share offer inviting individuals, organisations or businesses to invest in the new Purleigh shop by buying shares. The Management Committee had previously received financial pledges totalling over £20,000 so the Committee was confident in raising the £18,000 minimum target, the basis for its financial projections.

 

Dr. Ashton explained that the shop was applying to HMRC for advanced assurance that the PCSL share scheme was eligible for tax relief as a Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. If approved, tax payers would be able to claim a tax reduction equal to 50% of their share investment. He then reported that the share offer would close on 8th May 2019.

 

The Management Committee was also continuing to pursue additional funding from various grant awarding bodies, but unfortunately most of these had funding decision cycles that fell towards the end of the year i.e. after the date on which the Committee hoped to open the shop. Dr. Ashton continued by recording the Committee’s formal appreciation for the grant awarded by Purleigh Parish Council which had given it the cash-flow to start making investments in the shop.

 

The Management Committee was planning to employ a shop manager to coordinate the day to day activities of the shop (28 hours across the Monday to Sunday opening times) and hoped to have this role filled by the middle of June, in time for the 1st July opening date. One of the key roles of the shop manager would be to coordinate the 30 or so volunteers who had offered to serve in the shop thus far. The first meeting of the VIPs (Volunteers in Purleigh) would take place on 26th April 2019.

 

The Committee had been working hard to try to establish Post Office services in the shop. The Post Office had suggested that an “outreach” approach would best suit its needs, where a member of their staff visited the shop for fixed hours per week. The main stumbling block at this juncture was finding an existing Post Office which would host these services.

 

The Committee had also been doing a lot of work preparing for the shop to open. A first main purchase had been a state-of-the art touch screen till system, whose selection had been based on its user friendliness for the VIP team. Dr Ashton reported that there was a massive amount of work that was on-going to set up the “back-office” infrastructure for the till system and link it with accounting software so that the treasurer, amongst others, could regularly check cash flow and ensure that bills were paid.

 

The Management Committee had also purchased several fridges and freezers from a Community Shop that had recently closed in Gloucestershire and was in the process of sourcing new shelving for the shop, putting in broadband for the till, setting up insurances and finalising the lease contract with the owners who continued to be very supportive of the venture. The Management Committee had also had local expert volunteers remove the asbestos from the old bake-house at the rear of the shop, the Committee’s phase two expansion ambition. It was also anticipating being granted a Premises Licence that would enable the shop to make off-sales of alcoholic drinks, which had featured highly in the questionnaire responses as desirable.

 

In response to a question from the floor Dr. Ashton elaborated on the Management Committee’s plans to eventually expand the business into the larger building behind the existing shop, which would give the potential to serve teas and refreshments in the smaller space.

 

Dr. Ashton repeated the Committee’s thanks to the shop’s owners, who had also committed to improving drainage at the site to reduce the risk of flooding and therefore insurance costs.

 

When asked about the prospect of the shop being able to sell National Lottery tickets etc, Dr. Ashton explained that having researched the matter, it didn’t appear viable, although the Committee would be exploring selling Essex Lottery and similar tickets instead, so hopefully the alcohol and gambling needs of parishioners would be met!

 

In response to a question from the floor, Rachel Moore informed the meeting that the recent Market Day had been extremely successful and very positive feedback had been received from local suppliers and shoppers which would help inform the shop’s purchasing policy. Thirteen local suppliers had attended to show-case their products, the vast majority of whom were interested in using the shop as a sales outlet. The Committee hoped that the shop would be a place where everyday essentials would be available alongside locally produced goods as these had been highlighted as a priority in the questionnaire responses.

 

PURLEIGH PLAYING FIELD ASSOCIATION (PPFA)

 

Mr. Bernard Steeples (Chairman, Purleigh Playing Field) commenced by reading out a report submitted by Josh Taylor (Purleigh Cricket Club). Mr. Taylor’s report outlined the status of the teams and their position in the league and extended a warm invitation to new players who would be very welcome to join the club.

 

According to Mr. Taylor, maintaining the cricket square without an external professional for the first time last season had been a baptism of fire but the enormous amount of work carried out by club members had led to a much improved wicket. Mr. Taylor’s report thanked South Woodham Ferrers Cricket Club who had contributed financially towards these improvements.

 

Both Cricket Clubs thanked Purleigh Parish Council for providing them with evidence of security of tenure at the pavilion which had enabled both to apply for grants from the England and Wales Cricket Board. Purleigh had been successful in securing a grant for new covers and a decision was pending on its application for a grant to improve the club’s social facilities. Mr. Taylor’s report also thanked the PPFA for its continued support of Purleigh Cricket Club and its activities.

 

Mr. Steeples reported that the Cricket Club would be holding a taster session in early June for potential new players, to coincide with the Cricket World Club. He hoped a lot of new members would come forward following the event. In terms of fundraising, the Cricket Club was holding a Race Night at The Fox & Hounds on 27th April sponsored by E.J. Taylor and Sons, and the 100 club was still going strong. Mr. Steeples explained that the Cricket Club would really welcome more engagement with the village community.

 

Mr. Steeples continued his report by congratulating the Purleigh Community Fund on their success fundraising towards the revitalisation of the Children’s Play Area. The group’s representatives had enhanced the PPFA who remained very supportive of the group’s aims.

 

Coffee mornings were still well attended and provided a great opportunity for local people to get together. The PPFA’s thanks went to Karen Elliott for the phenomenal job she did in organising them and providing refreshments. Mr. Steeples paid tribute to one regular attendee who would be 100 years old in January 2020 and remained an active participant in village life.

 

Mr. Steeples reminded the meeting that he was still Neighbourhood Watch coordinator for the area and in that role he attended regular meetings and circulated monthly crime reports. Mr. Steeples had some neighbourhood watch signs available if the Parish Council wished to site them around the parish.

 

The meeting’s attention was drawn to the condition of the pond, belonging to the Diocese of Chelmsford, opposite the village sign and seat, which Mr. Steeples considered to be in a disgusting condition, despite the many hours PPFA committee members had put into improving its appearance over the past few years. Mr. Steeples advocated that the pond needed properly cleaning out with a large excavator, the mini digger which had previously been offered no longer being able to cope with the scale of the job. He appealed to the Parish Council for assistance.

 

Mr. Steeples also asked if anything could be done to speed up the repair of the finger post and signage in Pump Lane and the renewal of the yellow lines, which although had been reported to Essex County Council remained either an eyesore or dangerous.

 

Mr. Steeples concluded his report by expressing residents’ frustration at the problems caused by illegal and inconsiderate parking outside Purleigh Community Primary School and the surrounding area. Most recently, on 25th April 2019, a refuse collection vehicle had got stuck, the highway being so obstructed by badly parked cars. When challenged, drivers often became abusive and showed scant regard, if not contempt, for residents.

 

In response, the meeting was advised that if the highway was blocked the Police should be notified by as many people as possible, as unlike other parking infringements, obstruction of the highway remained a criminal matter. The meeting agreed that a cultural change was needed whereby it became socially unacceptable to park illegally or inconsiderately in the environs of the school. It was agreed that the school needed to make it clearer to parents how negative an impact poor parking was having on residents and on the relationship between the school and the parish, even though most parents lived outside Purleigh. The possibility of including an item in the Parish Magazine to that effect was also discussed.

 

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

 

The Parish Council’s attention was drawn to the appearance of the British Telecom’ building adjacent to the playing field. Litter was strewn within its boundary and the premises had an air of abandonment. The Chairman agreed to investigate with a view to writing to Openreach about the site.

 

Returning to the subject of the pond opposite the village sign, the Parish Council was asked if it would be prepared to pay to hire a suitably sized digger to excavate the pond. It was agreed to put this matter on the Agenda of the May Parish Council meeting.

 

There being no further business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 7.51 p.m.

 

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Refreshments were then served.

 

 

The Clerk and Mr. Rayner were thanked for providing and serving the refreshments.