REPORT on the Open Meeting held after the AGM
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Presentation on Progress with the Regeneration Project for Connaught Avenue and Plans for 2011
Beverley Gould, District Highways Manager, Essex County Council, explained that the Regeneration Project had come about as a result of Connaught Avenue looking tired, together with the problem of tree roots causing trip hazards. Funding of £1.5million had been identified for the shopping area and the ultimate aim was to improve the footways, trees, put in street lighting to meet current standards and install build out areas because Connaught Avenue was a wide and difficult road for elderly people and those with prams etc to cross easily with parked cars on both sides; build outs would make it narrower at specific points. The built out areas would be positioned at Harold Grove and at either end of the shopping area, making a gateway feature (near the current keep clear areas). Parking would be maintained although with 6 less spaces, but they were looking into taking away any restrictions that were not necessary. A decision had been taken that footpaths would be paved with the darker, smaller one of the paving slabs shown in the three trial areas outside the Spar because it had proved to wear well and did not show the dirt which would mean low maintenance and thereby reduce future costs.
She clarified the diagram she brought up onscreen, pointing out that trees and light columns were evenly space, and that time had been spent on identifying services to the properties so that trees etc were located in the right places. Streets lights would be of traditional style, have facilities for hanging baskets, a high level socket on each, and have angled heads so that they illuminated the path and road, rather than the buildings as this was also a residential street.
She explained that the new trees had been set back from the kerb so that car doors could be opened and branches would not be damaged by delivery vehicles. A lot of diseased trees had been found and even younger tree roots had become entangled with services so all trees had been replaced. Twenty-eight new trees had been planted in Connaught Avenue, plus two memorial trees had been replaced in other locations and ten additional trees had been planted in the Avenues in an effort to try and level existing footways. New trees had been planted in pits 1.6 metres deep and 1.5 metres wide (big areas when pits were empty). The pits had been filled with gravel, a root cell system to encourage roots to go down rather than push the footway up, with pipework as an aeration system and a root deflector had been used. Then soil, a textile material and bitumen had been placed on top. To avoid having supports for trees, a ground anchor system had been installed.
ECC had worked with statutory undertakers (National Grid) who had come in ahead of the Regeneration Project and this had lead to disruption because they had found difficult engineering problems which had to be overcome. However, they were now ahead of their original programme and would be finished by the end of week beginning 26 April 2010. ECC had also worked with the Chamber of Commerce and shopkeepers in the area to minimise disruption and had taken parking into consideration while work was being undertaken. Work on the remainder of the Regeneration Project was due to start in 2011.
Q1: What species of trees were planted?
A: Four species of trees have been planted, and I believe they include Silver Birches and Cherry trees so that there is blossom in the Spring and leaf colour in the Autumn. A 2-year maintenance contract has been arranged with the suppliers and we are hopeful that this will be extended to 5 years.
David Foster queried why Silver Birches had been planted when these had not been included in the list on the window of Wrights’ Deli and Beverley Gould agreed to look into this.
Q2: How often are the trees going to be watered?
A: This would need to be checked with the contractors because watering is their responsibility.
Councillor Vanda Watling expressed disappointment that only 28 trees had replaced the 52 trees there previously, but she was happy that Connaught Avenue would start to look like it used to.
Q3: Should a budget become available in the future to put more trees in Connaught Avenue, would this be possible?
A: The statutory services have been identified, and if there was an opportunity to put in more trees, we would need to look at the drawings, but we have tried to get a regular pattern of trees and lampposts. It could be looked at it in the future, but there is no budget at this particular time.
Q4: Will the parking spaces be designated, ie marked out for single cars?
A: The parking space will be marked out as a long line, not separated into individual bays because bays can mean less parking space. An allowance of 5-7 metres per car has to be made in bays and small cars can take up much less space.
Q5: Does parking in other areas of Frinton come under your remit because we have a situation with commercial vehicles parking in residential roads.
A: It depends how big the vehicle is, but although enforcement of parking regulations is the responsibility of TDC, problems can be referred to ECC and to me personally today.
Charles Harrison expressed concern about chairs, tables, and ‘A’ Boards on pavements as he felt that these caused problems for blind people, etc, and it was very important that they could walk up and down Connaught Avenue safely on clear pavements. He asked if regulations were going to be enforced.
Jerry Russell wanted to redress the balance as he felt that tables and chairs etc outside shops were perfectly acceptable if correctly positioned, especially if they aligned with ramps outside the PO and Lloyds Bank which already restricted the pavement width. He suggested that ‘A’ boards could align with trees.
Beverley Gould explained that Councillor Mick Page was setting up a Working Party to look into this issue and come up with a set of regulations on what was to be allowed and how these regulations were to be enforced. The Working Party would include shopkeepers, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, TDC, the Town Council and the Residents’ Association. The first meeting would be taking place at the end of May.
The Chairman added that Project Board meetings had been taking place monthly from the inception of this project, with representatives from all the organisations mentioned above attending and providing a lot of input. She pointed out that many hours of planning and decision-making had gone in, and thanked Beverley for an interesting presentation. She then stated that she was sure that the end result would be very pleasant and that in the current climate it was very good that this project was being carried out.
Matt Bushell, Deputy CEO & Director of Commissioning and Business Delivery, NHS NE Essex PCT, explained that the Primary Care Trust was there to plan provision of health services in the area. It dealt with quality, health issues, etc, and worked with all the community services. He stated that they had five strategic goals:
(1) Improving Life Expectancy – although life expectancy was generally increasing, they were trying to improve this norm by introducing Health Checks so that there was early intervention and avoidance of emergencies in the future. They had instigated Stop Smoking Campaigns, and provided advice on Bone Health and avoidance of long-term conditions such as strokes and diabetes.
(2) Reducing Health Inequalities – they were working towards overcoming gaps in provision
by directing resources appropriately.
(3) Improving Patient Experiences. He asked if anyone had completed Mori polls recently on this subject (some people had). He then asked if people could please fill these in, and stated that Colchester Hospital and surgeries had attained 72% satisfaction (a key aim was to improve this in partnership with the hospital). With regard to primary care and access to surgery, there was currently 74% satisfaction, but they were working to improve this to 90%. To do this, they were agreeing quality incentive schemes, obtaining feedback through the surgeries or via the Internet. In February, over 1,300 people had provided feedback on services and these figures were summarised every month. As a result they were working to improve particular services and the two examples stated were dementia and maternity services.
(4) Improving Patient Safety – to ensure no avoidable patient deaths and reductions in MRSA, C.diff, etc. He asked if anyone had completed surveys known as the Dr Foster Patient Safety Score (some people had). He explained that Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust (CHUFT) current achievement was only 35%, but they were working towards 100%.
(5) Providing Value for Money (making the best use of public money) – currently they had a financial balance which they would maintain. Ten work streams had been developed to cope with challenges such as shifting care out of hospitals into the community and, in some instances, into the home.
He concluded his presentation by stating that PCT recognised the need to map out the vision for the future, but that it took years to make changes. Quality was an issue on which they wanted to place emphasis. In 2009 they were the winner of the Regional Health and Social Care Excellence in Commissioning Award, and in 2008 Award Winning Youth Health Trainers. They had gained national recognition for projects, were delivering within the 18 weeks maximum wait from referral to treatment, 98% of patients were getting an appointment within 2 weeks of referral, and were the top performing PCT for smoking cessation services in the East of England region.
With regard to residents’ concerns regarding security of the proposed Summary Care Records, Matt Bushell explained that the new system was going slower than anticipated and it would be a few years before it was operational. However, eventually, being able to refer to patient records electronically in an emergency situation would be an improvement. From the security aspect, access would be limited to NHS staff with a password and a SMART card, and also limited to those undertaking specific roles. Audits would take place of those who were accessing records, and patients would be contacted before the system was set up.
With regard to residents’ concerns about the long distance to be travelled to obtain specialist heart treatment, Matt Bushell explained that since the service started in Basildon Hospital in September of last year, 10 to 20 people per month had been blue-lighted there and it appeared to be working well with 165 minutes recognized as being the maximum time from call to treatment. A test had been carried out where they blue-lighted from the Frinton area and had arrived within that time. Current information had revealed that only two cases had not made it in the time; one was from out of the area and the other was delayed for clinical reasons. He stated that there was a reason why the Specialist Centre had been based in Basildon.
Q6: I know testing of ambulance times has taken place recently, but now planning permission has been granted for a dementia home in the locality, together with another one proposed within 50 metres. This will put a massive strain on local resources, and what will happen to the rest of the community then?
A: We are looking at what we can do in the community. We are recognizing that.
Q7: I am very concerned that we have to travel 40 miles to Basildon for specialist treatment, and then at the end of the day you have to go home from Basildon to Frinton. It is a long way and countless older people do not have someone to take them to Basildon. Not only do you have the practicalities of getting to Basildon as patients, but also as visitors. Is this going to go on for ever?
A: Basildon Hospital is a Centre of Excellence for this type of treatment and it has been proved that larger centres get better results. I do not believe that this situation will change. There is eligibility for transport other than by ambulance. I realise that people are not getting transport when they should, and I am happy to look at particular incidents. Voluntary organisations offer transport, and there is better communication at the Centre.
With regard to residents’ concerns about the need for an additional surgery in the area to alleviate the problems being experienced at the Walton Surgery, Matt Bushell stated that the key was to map out a vision of the future to cover the next 5-10 years. He reported that he had met recently with the partners at the Practice in Vicarage Lane and discussed what could be done in the Community, stating that he would then know what was needed, ie premises, workforce, etc, and be able to justify the business case first. He stated that it took time to do this; planning, etc, takes time.
Councillor Mick Page stated: “You still have not convinced us at Vicarage Lane. This has been going on for 5 years. Over 11,000 patients are registered at that surgery. You are saying more care for the patients and not providing facilities. We cannot wait. There are too many people at that surgery. Patients are queuing out the door. Something must be done.” (There was wide applause after this statement.)
Matt Bushell replied by saying that they fully recognized that residents were concerned, but there was goodwill among the GPs. He had allocated a Project Manager to keep the momentum on this project. He agreed with the views expressed and stated that PCT do recognize the frustration of how long it takes.
Councillor Iris Johnson reiterated concerns that PCT was not doing its job properly in respect of Frinton, Walton and the local villages. Last year she had been told that there was no intention to build another surgery. She pointed out that the ideal spot was in Elm Tree Avenue, but Mike Doherty had said that it was not going to happen. However, residents want to see that this materialises in the very near future.
Matt Bushell stated that PCT was concentrating on areas of depravation and repeated that it was really important to map out what they were going to do in the future, especially in terms of locations, difficulties in travel, etc.
Councillor Iris Johnson continued by saying that the problem of travel had been coming up for some time. Elm Tree Avenue was centrally positioned and travelling there would not be a problem. Patients were currently having to travel to Clacton. She felt that the travel issue was being used as an excuse, and stressed that local treatment for all our residents was needed now.
Councillor Denzil Watson referred to ‘the golden hour’ within which patients needed to be treated if they were to survive and he questioned the practice of transferring patients between hospitals.
Q8: Did this mean that there would be delays with patients having to register at both hospitals? Was it true that with Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals being twinned, patients would experience an hour wait at each hospital?
A: Specialisms are done at local hospital before transfers take place.
Councillor Giles Watling queried where NHS money was being spent as he felt that it should not be spent on health bureaucracy and administration, but needed to be spent on nurses, etc. He could not understand the statistics stating that 98% of patients spent two weeks on a waiting list.
Matt Bushell replied that it was an important improvement that all urgent cancer patients were being seen within two weeks (this was now part of the NHS Constitution).
Gillian Sanford (FRA Health Spokesperson), stated that she hoped Matt Bushell had noted the strength of feeling in this area. She pointed out that the FRA had written to Professor Sheila Salmon (Chairman, NHS NE Essex) who had at least provided the name of someone who would keep the FRA up-to-date. Travelling was of concern, but if the surgery was built in Elm Tree Avenue, she had been assured that the branch surgery in Walton would be retained. She explained that she had personally experienced a 1¼ hour wait at the Walton surgery and compared this to the Frinton surgery where the wait was not more than ½ hour. She also felt that the argument that two surgeries (Frinton and Elm Tree Avenue) were too close to each other did not stand up. The difficulties that patients attending Walton Surgery were facing, had increased over the years and doctors with particular skills could not use them because there was no space meaning that patients were having to travel to Clacton. She concluded by saying that the residents would like Matt Bushell to go back to PCT with the message that this is urgent and tell them that it has gone on long enough.
Councillor Terry Allen suggested that Matt Bushell needed to look back to the time when Tendring and Colchester PCTs were merged when Tendring had a surplus of £9.5 million. This was taken to bail out southern area PCTs, but the PCT said that Tendring money would be used to return facilities to this area in the future. He said that we now want that money back in Tendring.
Matt Bushell replied that there were lots of investment initiatives in the Tendring Area, a number of which had started since he had joined the PCT. One example he provided was that over the last 4 years, Tendring had moved from being an under-doctored area to being one with above the national average number of GPs. He added that they were doing a lot to improve health in both areas.
The Chairman stated that the additional surgery issue needed to be addressed immediately and concluded discussion on this subject by saying that individual points could be taken up with Matt Bushell personally at the end of the meeting.
Presentation on Policing in Frinton-on-Sea, including the arrangements for Cricket Week 2010
Police Sergeant Pete Gerard started by saying that it was a pleasure to come back and meet the members of the Frinton Residents’ Association as there was good communication with the FRA and other local representatives on how policing was carried out locally. He reported a better staffing position in Frinton and Walton, with 8 Community Officers and 3 Neighbourhood Specialist Officers engaging with the Community and responding to policing needs, together with sufficient Officers at his disposal and himself managing it.
He understood that Frinton Cricket Week caused some concern in the community and he assured those present that he would be making sure that it was policed properly. He had noted that policing had been a bit deficient the previous year, but he had talked with Frinton Cricket Club and been heartened to see that their organisation for the event was thorough. They were providing their own security and had realised that management of the event needed to take place as the club would suffer; they were concerned that the bad press would affect their licensing application, etc. He reported that since 2006, there had been 19 incidents, 7 of which were specific to the club, but he had ascertained that what happened inside the venue was fine and managed quite well. Afterwards, he accepted that it was the responsibility of the police to manage correctly, and planning and policing would not take place just on the week. Disorder from the event last year had included an incident of an assault that was probably alcohol-fuelled. Therefore, the police were planning to engage with licencees prior to the event, and also make sure that there would be a confiscation from anybody found to be unruly in possession of alcohol. He realised that when they finished at the venue, behaviour might fall below expectations, but then police would be available. He had arranged for mounted police to be present explaining that it was a rural area and therefore they would be appropriate patrolling the beach, etc. He added that they provided an excellent resource because they were visible. He stated that although they were planning for the worst, they were hopeful that it would be a good event, without much impact on the local community, and that the policing methods had come about through identified trends.
Sgt Gerard then observed that speeding was another trend which came up regularly and warned that in May speed detection devices would be around every day unless Officers were directed to other incidents. The aim was education as opposed to fine generation, and he explained that they were trying to educate those who were coming into the world of driving, adding that there was good reaction to these initiatives.
He also pointed out that the Beach Hut Association had provided valuable statistics which Essex Police had not previously known about when fundings were agreed. In the past beach hut incidents had been reported by the owners when they had been discovered, but information on a daily basis was fantastic to receive. As a result, during the month of April, Officers would be patrolling the seafront, and in response to the statistics, extra Officers would be on the Promenade until 3.00 am. He explained that it was not simply a case of Officers’ presence, but that they also wanted to bolster security on the beach huts through consultation with representatives; thereby ensuring that more secure doors were recognised as being advantageous.
He concluded by saying that he would like to take tasks from the local community, and repeated that the communication routes were fantastic. He asked those present to please participate and encourage other local residents to take part. He pointed out that Neighbourhood Action Panel meetings took place in a drive to tackle local issues. These needed to be driven by local residents, but at present, attendance was low. The next meeting was taking place on 9 June, in Lower Kirby Church Hall, and all meeting details appeared in the local paper.
Q9: Are you going to police speeding on The Esplanade in the evenings?
A: We have identified several roads and The Esplanade is where we will have officers during the day. Yes, we will do the Esplanade. We are looking to re-ignite Community Speed Watch. Local residents will be trained with a speed device and further information will be available in the media soon. Do get in touch if you would like to be involved.
Q10: Where are the horses coming from?
A: Writtle Agricultural College. They will be in town on the Thursday and Friday of Cricket Week until 1.00 am.
The Chairman thanked Sgt Gerard.
John Barter of the Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust explained about a Project entitled “The Victoria County History of England (VCH)” which had an international reputation as a reference for local history and aimed to portray the history of towns and villages in every English County. Eight years’ work had already been done and it was now on the Internet (www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/Essex) . He asked those with access to look at the draft chapters and check them, as well as reading them for interest. Subjects included evacuation to and from our area in the Second World War, the 1953 floods, political conflict, etc. He also pointed out that the Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust were organising a trip to Shuttleworth D-Day Air Display on the 6 June.
Linda Ellis (also of the Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust) pointed out that the ‘Gates’ would be erected in the Frinton Station Garden soon and the re-built Signal Box would be open later this year. She also reminded everyone that the Spring Fair would take place on 15 May.
Councillor Robert Bucke raised concerns about proposals for two dementia homes to be built on opposite sides of, and within 50 metres of the railway bridge at Kirby Cross; one being a 70-bed and the other a 35-bed unit. This would result in single file traffic under the bridge and there were concerns that traffic could be queueing up for 15-20 minutes to get into Frinton. The Town Council had objected to this, and he asked those present to object to Highways.
The Honorary Secretary reported that although the Association had agreed to pay for the cost of purchasing and installing one additional dog litter bin in an area of concern in Frinton Town Centre to try and ascertain if this would help alleviate the problem of dog fouling in that area, neither Tendring District Council nor the Town Council would agree to pay for collections from this bin. Councillor Iris Johnson felt that if the Town Council was approached officially, it would agree to this.
Secretary’s Note: The Town Council were subsequently approached officially and they still refused to pay for collections.
The Chairman concluded the meeting by stating that the FRA May Ball was to take place on 22 May 2010, a competition was being held to design the front cover of the FRA Newsletter and she encouraged those members who had not paid their subscriptions, to pay before they left the meeting. She also mentioned that Open Days were taking place in Pedlars Wood from 1-3 May 2010, and then thanked everyone for attending.
Secretary’s Note: The May Ball to be held on 22 May 2010 was subsequently cancelled due to lack of support.